The trust and protection that a teacher inherently must provide was violated in the most despicable of ways by 74-year-old Christopher Kloman, a former teacher at the Potomac School in northern Virginia. Kloman was sentenced to spend more than four decades in jail, essentially ending his life surrounded by metal bars and concrete, much like the mental prisons imposed upon his teen and pre-teen victims 40 years ago.
Incredulously, the sentencing concluded a trial that was started only after a former victim, walking with her son in the same halls she spent her school life in, actually saw her abuser. Kloman was still teaching, still had access to children.
Victim Anne Sullivan, who for years had repressed the abuse, could keep her silence no more. She recounted:
“Imagine my surprise, walking down the hallway of my son’s school a couple of years ago, and seeing Mr. Kloman, the seventh grade teacher who assaulted me in a swimming pool 40 years earlier,” Sullivan said. “Kloman still had access to kids? My son’s classmates could be his victims? Enough.”
Sullivan, a victim at only 12-years-old, was the first to tell her story. She certainly was not the last. As is the case of many abused children, her courage opened the door for other victims to expose their pain and end a cycle of abuse that lay dormant for decades.
Other adult victims from Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda, Md. unburdened themselves with their stories.
“After five months of abuse – five months – I made myself numb, emotionally shut down in order to cope with my internal misery of guilt and shame at being lured, and now it’s called groomed, and raped,” Cricket Beauregard said.
NBC News picks up the story at Kloman’s sentencing this week:
“Kloman would not look at the victims as each of them testified, even when one yelled at him to look at her. He showed no emotion. When his sons, daughter and wife testified on his behalf, he broke down. He tried to read a written statement but became too emotional. Later, he composed himself enough to tell the victims he was sorry and it wasn't their fault.”
Victim Laura Gill summarizes her feelings, expressing disgust that Kloman’s deviant behavior was allowed to foster under a hushed environment and culture of abuse that was ever common in the 60s and 70s. One only needs to think of the Catholic Church to underscore that fact.
“Today, this sexual predator is going to prison,” Gill said. “There is certainly justice in that fact. The truth remains, however, that I did not have to be Chris Kloman’s victim. I believe that others reported Kloman years before this ever happened to me.”