Several months ago, I wrote a Care2 post about the surprisingly frequent instances of sexual abuse in schools. Unfortunately, this issue hits very close to home as my former band teacher, Steve Orland, currently faces multiple charges of sexual abuse, has been fired from his job, and may receive extensive prison time if convicted. I was close to Mr. Orland, and have a hard time believing that he could act so inappropriately… but the evidence seems to prove otherwise.
According to the Daily Herald:
- Orland exchanged 31,339 text messages with one of his accusers and 15,552 text messages with his other accusers– a total of 46,891.
- Orland sent one victim nine notes and greeting cards to her locker and her home. Some notes said he was thinking of her and wanted to spend more time together.
- Orland made sexual advances toward one girl while on a band trip to Peoria from Jan. 26 through Jan. 29, 2011.
Despite these claims, Orland’s family believes that he is innocent and continues to stand behind him through court proceedings. He could face up to 45 years in prison.
Whenever a situation like this arises, the focus is always on the victims (as it should be). But teachers influence hundreds or thousands of students over their careers, and any inappropriate behavior affects not only current students but also ones who knew the teacher years ago.
Although my friends and I are out of college now, each new newspaper article about Mr. Orland spurs discussion and anxiety. We ask each other, “Do you think he did it? Could he have done it? Was he doing it while we were there?” We look back on our good times in the band room and wonder if something sinister was going on behind our backs. We doubt the authenticity of our entire high school experience.
I hope Orland realizes the gravity of his actions. He ruined his own career. He allegedly sexually abused underage high school girls, an unforgivable offense. And he inadvertently hurt every single student that ever looked up to him as a role model. Thanks, Mr. O.
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