CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - New evidence shows the former Dunston Elementary school employee charged with molesting students was specifically trained in preventing child sexual assault.
New evidence shows that training happened fourteen months before Marvin Gethers was arrested.
The Charleston County School District detected child pornography on Gethers’ school laptop in 2014.
Our ongoing investigation showed CCSD didn’t fire him until two years later, after Gethers was charged with possessing child pornography and molesting students.
Gethers died in 2017. At least seven alleged victims have come now forward.
Local attorney Mark Peper is handing several of the lawsuits filed against CCSD.
He subpoenaed training records from Darkness to Light, a nationally recognized organization that teaches adults to prevent child sexual assault and recognize the signs of abuse.
Such training is considered vitally important for people like educators, who are mandated reporters.
Last month, a judge ordered Darkness to Light to turn over these records as evidence in the lawsuits.
The records showed Gethers was one of at least two people in Dunston Elementary who trained with Darkness to Light.
It says Gethers completed “Stewards of Children” training on January 14, 2015 online. So did his supervisor, Principal Janice Malone.
That was a year after the district detected child porn on Gethers’ computer. It was a year before he was eventually arrested.
In a statement to Live 5 Tuesday, Mark Peper said:
We continue to uncover troubling information on our journey to justice. This particular evidence seems to indicate that Principal Malone received specific training on how to properly supervise Dunston employees and what signs to look for to ensure the safety of her students. Even more troubling is that Marvin Gethers continued to molest these children after he himself received education and training. Sadly, these atrocities could have been prevented had CCSD simply fired Gethers once they found child pornography on his district issued computer. Instead, CCSD awarded and promoted him.
Peper is referring to Gethers being named Certified Employee of the Year and given a promotion in 2015.
We asked CCSD for more information about Darkness to Light training in CCSD schools and how many employees are certified in such training.
They told us they are working to gather answers to those questions.
Gwen Bouchie, Darkness to Light Director of Marketing and Communication, provided the following statement:
Because we believe that it’s an adult’s responsibility to protect children from abuse, we welcome anyone to take our training, either in-person or online. We know that the reality is that people who abuse children can and do attend our trainings. In fact, we directly address this reality at the beginning of the training by stating that “some of you may be sexually abusing a child, breaking safe boundaries, or thinking about children in ways you shouldn’t.” Our hope is that by attending our training they would see the devastating effects child sexual abuse can have on the survivor and get help.
About one in seven girls and one in 25 boys with be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to statistics provided by Darkness to Light online.
Their research shows only about 38% of child victims disclose the fact they have been sexually abused; some never disclose.
D2L also says about 90% of children who are victims of abuse know their abuser. Only 10% of sexually abused children are abused by a stranger.
To seek help for a child or report suspicions of child sexual abuse, check out these steps from our local Dee Norton Child advocacy Center.