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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 4, 2020 11:11 AM
From: Representative Thomas P. Murt
To: All House members
Subject: Resolution calling for Children and Youth Committee Investigation
“It was that culture of denial that allowed my abuse to take place to start with. It wasn't until 1984 that the Department of Health added the category of 'sexual abuse' to its list of harms that can befall children.” - Carolyn Spring

In the 1980’s, William McKendry, a Social Studies teacher in Lower Merion School District, sexually abused a female student, Elizabeth Goldman. In addition to love letters, gifts, promises of marriage, sexually explicit discourse and sexually explicit correspondence, McKendry sexually assaulted and abused this young woman on numerous occasions in 1985 and 1986. Some of the assaults took place in the Bala Cynwyd Middle School in Montgomery County.

When made aware of the abuse, the Lower Merion School District, settled this matter when a guidance counselor, directed McKendry and Goldman to avoid one another and to stay on their respective floors of the Bala Cynwyd Middle School. At the time, and at no time since, no contact was ever made with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. No report of McKendry’s actions to PDE, nor revocation of McKendry’s teaching credentials was ever made. He was free to abuse again, and the children of the school district were not afforded proper protection(s) from an admitted perpetrator of child sexual abuse.

In 1999, Goldman, then a medical student at Case Western Reserve University, met with two administrators from the Lower Merion School District and physically presented the correspondence she received from McKendry. She was received by the administrators with hostility and disdain and was threatened with not being permitted to leave the building with the physical evidence she had respectfully presented in good faith.

In 2005, Goldman, again, approached the Lower Merion School District, and was informed that “the Lower Merion School District considers this matter closed.” The Lower Merion School District refused further discussions with Goldman, a victim of child sexual abuse - by one of their own teachers. Despite his actions and admissions, McKendry was still teaching in the Lower Merion School District at this time.

A few weeks ago, I personally made an open records request to the Lower Merion School District which was summarily denied. I simply desired to know if there were other complaints made against McKendry, and why the school district never notified the authorities about Goldman’s claims when they were first made aware of them.

I will soon introduce a resolution which would authorize our Children and Youth Committee to establish a subcommittee to investigate this matter. The resolution will afford the Children and Youth Committee the ability to examine the necessary testimony, documents and information to discern this matter correctly and truthfully, to protect our children and to provide justice.

Our Commonwealth can no longer allow institutions to turn a blind eye to the sexual exploitation of children they should be protecting. This is a case which will not be resolved until the truth is known.

Please consider co-sponsoring this resolution.

Introduced as HR944