Yesterday HSLDA issued a response regarding its involvement in the Old Schoolhouse abuse cover-up allegations. Today our attention was drawn to a statement allegedly written by Heidi St. John about her involvement.
The statement alleged to be St. John’s was posted on Facebook by Melissa Crabtree (image archived here). Crabtree is Heidi St. John’s virtual assistant. St. John herself has not posted this statement on any of her publicly accessible social media accounts. We have repeatedly attempted to contact St. John — both to verify this statement’s authenticity and to give her the opportunity to comment on our “When Homeschool Leaders Looked Away” piece prior to publication — but she has refused to respond. (Update, 10/18/2014: Heidi St. John has finally confirmed the statement’s authenticity and posted it on her Facebook page.) However, numerous factors indicate the statement is authentic, so we are sharing it here:
Statement from Heidi St. John
For more than six months now, a variety of accusations have been swirling within a fringe segment of the homeschool community suggesting that I, along with other respected homeschool leaders, have been involved in a “scandal.”
In a series of increasingly wild allegations, I have been accused of all sorts of terrible things, including causing a homeschool vendor to be disinvited from a homeschool convention.
I did not request anyone be disinvited from a convention. I did not cover up a child abuse scandal. Both of these accusations are completely false.
While the Internet provides a wonderful platform for encouragement and information, I am now learning first-hand that it can also be used to spread false information. It is a place where people of character can have their reputation attacked with little recourse.
Even my blog post has been used against me; proof that words written from a good heart with good intentions can be twisted by a clever wordsmith with evil intentions.
God’s Word is clear:
A tree is known by its fruit.
Assuming this truly is Heidi St. John’s statement, I have two comments:
First: Honestly, I’m not sure who or what St. John is referring to when she says, “For more than six months now, a variety of accusations have been swirling within a fringe segment of the homeschool community suggesting that I, along with other respected homeschool leaders, have been involved in a ‘scandal.'” If she is referring to Eric Novak and Jenefer Igarashi, that certainly is not true. Eric Novak is an outspoken Christian homeschool graduate and former employee of The Old Schoolhouse. And Jenefer Igarashi is a frequent speaker and vendor at Christian homeschool conventions, the sister of Gena Suarez (one of the alleged abusers), and also a former employee of The Old Schoolhouse.
Both Novak and Suarez were and are at the heart of this situation; they are as far from “fringe” as possible.
If St. John is referring to Homeschoolers Anonymous, that also is not true. Our first mention of St. John being aware of the alleged cover-up is the piece we published just last week, “When Homeschool Leaders Looked Away.” We mentioned St. John in passing (to provide context about the Suarez family) in our June piece, “Paul and Gena Suarez, Old Schoolhouse Publishers, Accused of Protecting Known Child Predators,” but we never insinuated her involvement because we were not aware of it at the time.
So if St. John means either Eric Novak, Jenefer Igarashi, or Homeschoolers Anonymous, she is either speaking falsely about the “fringe” part or the “more than six months” part — or both.
Second: St. John claims that, “I did not request anyone be disinvited from a convention. I did not cover up a child abuse scandal. Both of these accusations are completely false.” We have testimony backing up the allegation that she had a hand in getting Jenefer Igarashi blocked from attending the 2014 Ohio Great Homeschool Convention. We also have an email sent to Igarashi from Heidi St. John herself wherein St. John refused to help her. St. John’s email was sent in response to a message from Igarashi, which directly mentioned abuse cover-up. In fact, the subject of the email is “Re: TOS Magazine molestation cover up… advice?”:
On Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 9:49 AM, Jenefer Igarashi [redacted] wrote:Here is the letter that was sent to Mike Smith. It has also been sent to [redacted]. And as I mentioned earlier [redacted] is actually one of the first hand witnesses who gives testimony against the Suarez’s (she witnessed, first-hand, the bullying/intimidation of the Suarez’s when they demanded that Roy Ballard continue being allowed access to family gatherings AFTER a little girl told the adults she had been groped. Roy Ballard was later imprisoned for sex crimes against children) The 20 people named in the group letter are only the tip of the iceberg.
You can see from the time stamp that Igarashi’s email was sent at 9:49 am on April 10, 2014. Less than 2 hours later, on the same day, St. John replied with the following email:
From: Heidi St. John [redacted]
Date: Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 11:15 AM
Subject: Re: letter
To: [redacted], [redacted], “Jay St. John” [redacted]
Jenefer, I asked Mike yesterday about this dispute. … HSLDA will not be getting involved in it.
… We are not central to your grievance and we do not wish to be involved in it. …
This is a huge distraction for us in the middle of the busiest season of the year. We have neither the time nor desire to be part of it. Again, I ask that you honor our request to be removed from your grievance against your sister and her husband.
St. John was clearly aware of the allegations of both the abuse and its cover-up. She also chose to do the opposite of what the blog post she mentions said.
In short, with no “wordsmithing” required: Heidi St. John turned away.
Update, 10:45 am:
Both Eric Novak and Jenefer Igarashi made statements today. Links to them are posted below:
Jenefer Igarashi: “Too Hard To Apologize”