Right after we published Melissa Osadchuck’s story, Weimar University responded to our story with a statement that reads:
“Weimar University takes employee and student safety very seriously. While privacy laws do not allow the university to provide further information at this time about personnel matters, it should be known that Weimar acted immediately and appropriately at every step.”
Neil Nedley, MD
The story we publish here requires some background information for the reader.
On November 13, 2019, I traveled up to the Weimar area to interview someone for a story I was writing for Compass Magazine (which is now defunct). Every time I plan to drive up the 5 Freeway, I think I will wake up early, get on the road, and avoid the infamous Southern California traffic. My alarm went off at 3:35 am, but I forgot why I was waking up this early and went back to sleep. At 4:30 am, IA co-founder Mike was outside my house calling me. I got out of bed, into the shower, put on clean clothes, and was in the car by 4:50 am. By this time, we had no choice but to join the heavy traffic going up to northern California.
Even though I was driving up North for another story, I had also received a news tip alleging there had been four sexual assaults on minors and one sexual assault on an adult female student on the campus of the then Weimar college. In all five cases, the perpetrator was the same person. The assaults were reported to the administration, the minors were being “biblically counseled,” and the perpetrator was “banned from the Weimar campus” and California. IA has yet to determine the identity of the “biblical counselor.” We believe this therapist, physician, or counselor has a duty to report underage assault victims to the police.
We stopped at Weimar so I could ask to talk to someone in charge. It turned out that the entire school was out on a day of local community service (was told that students do acts of kindness in the community and help build relationships with people near Weimar and it has resulted in “hundreds of baptisms.”) I met a student or office worker at the reception window and was told that the person to speak to about anything related to students would be Dr. George Araya. I left a note for Dr. Araya, which is reproduced below in this article.
I assume the receptionist must have opened the envelope and read the contents herself because I soon received a text (also reproduced below) confirming a meeting.
I interviewed my other subject and then returned the campus to meet with Dr. George Araya after the evening vespers. I recall that Pr. Mackintosh was speaking at the vespers so I waited until the meeting was done to meet Dr. Araya. Dr. Araya introduced himself and another colleague, whose name now escapes me. This gentleman oversaw or was associated with the Weimar Academy. Dr. Araya informed me that Pr. Mackintosh would be meeting me as well so we all waited at the back of the campus auditorium for Pr. Mackintosh to finish speaking with students and join us.
After the three of us sat down – by this time, most of the student body and staff had cleared out – I began to speak. I reiterated what I had heard, and directed my question to Dr. Araya regarding how he and presumably his administration dealt with the issue.
Pastor Mackintosh, however, spoke for all three of them. He categorically denied knowing anything regarding the cases that I had mentioned. He further stated, “I want to be clear that we have absolutely nothing to do with that stuff.” I asked the other gentlemen if they agreed, and they did. I had nothing more to say – it had been an incredibly long day – and I still had to drive back to Southern California. Pr. Mackintosh then offered to give me stories of “this kind of stuff” on liberal Adventist university campuses. I politely thanked him, and then one of the gentlemen prayed, and we were done.
Sometime after this trip, I shared the experience with some friends and former Weimar students and they encouraged me not to take Pastor Mackintosh’s forceful denial at face value. Later, a friend approached me and told me that they had managed to get the suspect’s name. I arranged for them to call this person from my office and I listened as they talked. And, while they did not admit to any assaults on the phone, I heard the suspect confirm that they had indeed been “banned from California.”
I then went back and tried to convince my original source who gave me this tip to tell me the name of the adult victim so I could speak with her directly. But the source refused. They insisted that they needed to be a go-between me and the victim because the victim would not talk to me directly. I was reluctant to agree to this arrangement, however, and since I had no other leads to follow and other stories to write on, I placed this story on the shelf for the time being.
About this time, the pandemic engulfed the world and caused additional delays, though we did manage to publish several other impactful stories you can read on our site’s pages.
Finally, only a few days ago, we received the news of a court filing against Weimar. We published Melissa’s story in a previous article.
Soon after this story broke, the source that initially sent us the Weimar tip contacted me again.
I immediately asked for the adult victim’s name again and this time they gave it to me. I sent a message, and the victim wrote back and told me that she had moved on and wanted to put the incident behind her. She had gone to therapy and barely got over what had happened to her at Weimar.
I told her I respected her wishes, thanked her, and apologized for reigniting all those terrible memories. I shared with her Melissa’s story and told her that we had published other stories that had led to direct changes in the church. (I prayed that she would have the courage to share her story with me.)
It is very hard for some victims to retell their stories. It brings back all the memories and manifests itself in extreme stress, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety attacks, and in some cases debilitating fear. Some victims tell us that they are unable to even read what we have written about their stories.
A few hours later, she wrote back and said she would share her story. The courage of victims who come forward to share their stories and even those who aren’t able yet to share their stories inspire me. I hope this victim’s story inspires you too.
Here is her story.
Lisa (a pseudonym) shared with me that she began attending the Depression and Anxiety Recovery Seminar on the Weimar campus. She had had a suicide attempt before attending the seminar.
The suspect immediately targeted her and began to befriend Lisa. They hung out together at some place called “the bridge.” The suspect eventually talked to her about doing a “modeling shoot.” He pressured Lisa into wearing a swimsuit for the modeling shoot. Lisa declined because she considered herself “a hard-core conservative.”
Eventually, he wore her defenses down and convinced her that she should wear something “cute” (lingerie), so he could see her body, after which he would schedule the modeling shoot with his friend.
On or about the night of October 14, 2018, she took a sleeping pill to help her rest. He texted her and convinced her to meet him at the hospital on campus, which has a basement facing the railroad tracks. She agreed to do it and met him there at 11 pm. He pressured her to take her street clothes off almost as soon as she arrived.
While she stood there dressed in lingerie, he said, “You’ve been friendly.” She said, “no.” He replied, “you know you like me. I’ve worked hard to get you this modeling shoot.” He demanded her to perform oral sex on him. Lisa remembers him grabbing her upper arms. She said, “let me go.” The next thing she remembers is that she was back outside. Her mind had blacked out and she doesn’t recall how she ended up in her room again. She recalls doing a body check. She didn’t find any bruises. She denies performing oral sex. And she denies that he raped her.
By now, the sleeping pill was in full effect. Lisa was crying. Her friend was concerned and presumably reported her state to the dean. At 12:30 am, the dean awakened her and walked with her to Wanda Swenson’s trailer-camper. Dr. Nedley was present there as well.
They grilled her on why she went to see him and why she texted him and told her she should be the one to apologize for the whole thing. Lisa believes this coercion to be a form of the purity culture movement where victim shaming and victim blaming are common features. Often women are ostracized for tempting the man.
Because of her prior suicide attempt, she was placed in the principal’s office, and when she woke up the following day, her phone was gone. Lisa asked for her phone and was told it was taken away as a punishment for contacting the suspect. Her punishment was that she would lose her phone for two months. Moreover, she was denied access to a computer or phone, and no one else was allowed to let her use theirs. Nor was she allowed to communicate with her parents.
Over the two months, she once tried to run to Auburn on the railroad tracks to report to the police what had happened, but eventually, it got dark, and she got scared and returned back to campus. Incidentally, she saw the suspect on campus at least once before he was “shipped off to Texas.”
Wanda Swenson, Rodolpho Ramirez, and Dr. George Araya were part of the “expulsion committee” set up by the school board to deal with her actions on the night of her assault. The result of the committee deliberations was that she was to write a note apologizing for causing “chaos, drama, and a ‘false accusation.’ As part of her punishment/character growth, she was asked to read the note in front of the entire school or otherwise be expelled from Weimar. She declined and left the university.
When I met with Dr. Araya et al., I specifically asked about Lisa’s case. In his denial, Pastor Mackintosh never cited any school or personnel privacy reasons. And by their silence and Pastor Mackintosh’s verbal denial, they emphatically denied this case ever occurred or that anyone was asked to leave the campus for any reason. Lisa’s testimony and the phone call to the suspect both confirm certain shared facts.
I find that Lisa’s incident undercut Dr. Nedley’s statement regarding the University’s commitment to the safety of its staff and students. It is a culture that flows from the very top. We find the account of his direct involvement in the care of a known mental health victim, if true, to be less than the standard of care, especially for a victim who has experienced assault or battery. We are asking Dr. Nedley to confirm or deny his presence, and the role he played, in this incident. We are asking also for a direct confirmation of the suspect’s “ban” from Weimar and or from California.
Update: It was only after the incident that Lisa discovered that the same person had done this to four other girls who were also under age. If the administration had dealt with the situation appropriately, she would not have had to go through this experience.
Intelligent Adventist has now obtained the names of the then-underage victims. From our sources, we understand that one of the underage victims was given a rape test at a nearby healthcare facility. We are not aware if the victim or those who took her there reported the name of the attacker. However, the suspect remains free.
We have reached out to law enforcement and encourage anyone who knows about this event, the events regarding the four potential underage victims, or any other cases like them, to report them directly to the Placer County Sherriff’s department. The number is (530) 886-5375. Please keep in mind that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. IA makes no claim on the guilt or innocence of any person mentioned directly or indirectly in this story. We are choosing not to publish the name of the suspect currently.
Any incident regarding assault, incest, molestation, or rape of an underage school victim is considered a mandated reporting event. Any college teaching or administrative staff are mandated reporters, as are pastors, therapists, and medical personnel for specific victims. They are not to question the victim’s validity or whether it occurred. Most universities in the United States, if not all, are required by law to maintain a record of sexual assaults and other crimes on their campuses and publish the number of instances and the associated statistics.
We know from the victim that at least one underage victim was rape-tested at a nearby hospital. All four rapes occurred before her assault.
We cannot confirm whether Dr. Nedley and his staff reported the incident with Lisa to the police. According to Lisa, she was never allowed to call the police after her assault. She doesn’t believe that the staff reported her case to the police.
We are sharing this story, hoping the underage victims will come forward and speak with law enforcement.
If these victims choose, we are ready to share their story here on Intelligent Adventist in the way they prefer, anonymously, or with their names being public.
Lisa has attempted suicide eight more times since her assault. She shared her story because she believes it may help fix Weimar University and prevent others from suffering as she has.
A year after her assault, Lisa visited Weimar University and saw her attacker on campus again.
It turns out that apparently, the suspect was back on campus six months after Lisa’s assault.
It was a few months after that, that I sat down to talk with the three gentlemen.