I am curious as to why you feel you can "provide context" for my experience and for events that you were not present for?
I can tell you how it played out from my perspective. The man I was in love with came to me and said Soryu asked me to do write this letter stating that this was loving and consensual and we are abiding by the rules of the Monastic container ( all of which was true except for the consent piece) because the board of directors is worried you might sue the organization or speak up publicly (something I had no intention of at the time); he then repeatedly brought this up to me despite my hesitancy and tried to get me to sign this letter. Finally I was told not asked told we would sign this in front of the whole community. I felt extremely pressured both by him and by the community and other leaders to do so. It seems pretty messed up to me that Soryu personally asked the man I was in love with and whom had sexually assaulted me to write this letter and get me to sign it - followed by immediately instructing OAKs leadership to send me away with 24 hrs notice while this man resumed leadership. All of these to my knowledge were decisions made by Soryu and MAPLE leadership NOT OAK's leadership though they are certainly responsible for their participation. Sending this person was problematic for many reasons not only was I more vulnerable to this person because we had fallen in love; already feeling confused about my experience because nobody was talking to me about what happened or available to walk through the incident with me; but this person had more power in the community as the recently removed ED, had been in the community far longer, and as a donor who had pledged 200,000 to the organization which still hadn't been received and whose personal and professional ties were key in the organization receiving a 300,000 grant from BERI that they were being considered for - all of these are power dynamics; and ultimately he stood the most to gain from securing a letter that stated consent. If there is a question about whether an interaction was consensual or not you don't send the involved party to secure a letter that state consent - that's messed up. That's a great way to end up with coercion. The idea that they didn't know is also bullshit - their leadership should have spoken directly to me about what happened. There should have been a third party investigation then but instead Soryu sent his girlfriend to sort it out during which she spoke to me only only and then only to briefly acknowledge my presence. According to this man - he told me that after we signed this letter the Acting Director who had orders from Soryu told him what was going to happen with me; he objected and said this is unethical and was told that he didn't have a choice about sending me away and resuming his position as director that was also messed up. It would have been messed up even if the sexual interaction had been consensual given that I had not broken any agreements. So yeah I am hella critical of Soryu - because what kind of trustworthy teacher would ask his students to do something like that. what kind of teacher instructs a student/an executive director to cover up his sexual misconduct and get rid of the woman without ever speaking to her? What kind of person tells a man to betray the woman he loves? The man in question never should have participated in those actions but he did - and it broke him, and it broke us completely. I doubt you or very few others will ever understand the depths of betrayal and heartache between myself and this man, myself and this organization. What happened at OAK destroyed any trust between us and we never recovered. The initial incident was not ok and it never should have happened for many different reasons; but the sense of betrayal, being coerced and silenced, and then being kicked out of and basically ignored by a whole community and it's leadership over the next year that was really fucked up.
I think they are trying to spin it like they didn't know and it maybe that they intentionally did not speak to me because they were already afraid it might not be consensual. There is no excuse for this organizations board, OAK and MAPLEs leaders to not speak to me directly about the incident - which frankly I need support to even process it. Which btw many people would say consent isn't possible within a power dynamic. I simply would have liked to be treated with some basic respect and compassion - instead of being mistreated by an entire community for an incident that I did not choose. I loved this man; but I should have had a choice about when, how, where, and under what circumstances I wanted to engage in a sexual relationship. Ultimately, the response of OAK AND MAPLEs leaders and this man's participation in covering this up caused far greater suffering and harm to me personally than even the original incident did. I would like for the person whom directed these actions to be responsible and accountabile.
So yeah, I think the response of this organization is bullshit and I do not trust this organizations leaders whom have failed to make an repairs with me in over a year since all this occured. I doubt that is just a big "mistake". An internal investigation into these events is a massive conflict of interest, it was a year ago and still is today. The fact that Soryu hasn't stepped down while a third party investigation takes places is telling and could have serious consequences for the organization. If there legitimately was a misconception or breakdown in communication or legitimate error made by leadership then that further points to the fact that there are serious error in the program design and model that needs to be corrected. These are not the kinds of actions or "mistakes" that should be happening in ANY organization; they cause real damage and if incidents continue to be mishandled causing serious harm to others it will likely lead to the organization losing credibility, donors, and collapsing.
The organization should not be putting this responsibility on to residents but should be enlisting support from experienced third parties about how to address past reports of abuse and harm from multiple parties and how to navigate crisis.
That maybe your understanding. But that's actually bullshit on so many levels.
I would like to see them take responsibility for their organizational negligence and/or ethical misconduct of it's leaders - and be honest about knowing about these allegations in their public statement. Their public statement is appalling for many reasons - but their lying about not knowing about these allegations is especially upsetting when I shared my grievances in an email exchange in May. I would also like to see 3rd party investigation and a 3rd party nonprofit evaluation of their systems and program - if they are serious about integrating feedback and transparency these are obvious next steps for any organization with a headteacher facing multiple reports and allegations of harm and abuse (many of which are not public.)
Further justification would just be adding insult to injury. I get that you are just a skeptical stranger on the internet whom isn't personally affected by this situation (unless you have an undisclosed affiliation.) But there have been serious abuses of power and breeches of ethics here that are seriously fucked up and have caused deep suffering and heartache that still affects me personally. So at this point in time I'm done sharing information. I'm done engaging. This is too complex of a situation to address in this forum. 🙏
The reason why I was being pressured to sign a letter (which is another seperate document then the agreements) so that "everyone can relax and feel safe" was in the context of that the organization was afraid I might attempt to sue them or speak up publicly. To me this indicates that they were aware to some extent of serious ethical breeches. It is difficult for me to know to what extent the board and Soryu were aware of these breeches; were they covering things up because they realized the breech between an ED and student in the program was a serious ethical breech and liability OR were they covering things up because something he said indicated to the leadership that there were other clear indicators that this was not consensual interaction. Why did Soryu send is girlfriend to investigate these issues? Why was I exclude from all these conversations? Why did no one ask for my account?
If they don't put the onus on me for breaking the rules as stated above - the context of the letter being about " in the context of blaming me for breaking the rules and making up for violations of rules" (which is not the context) doesn't exist.
At this point in time I would not withdraw public statements without extensive organizational change and accountability including Soryu Forall stepping down from leadership while a third party investigation looks at ALL reports of harm and abuse for myself and others - and accountability for the results of such an investigation. It is standard in many practicing communities to do so when these claims come forward. The organization stands to lose a lot of support and credibility by not having a 3rd party investigation of ALL incidents of abuse and harm. These issues are much deeper than just my experience - those whom have been harmed, current and future prospective students, donors and other major stakeholders should all have access to this information and the steps the MA is taking to address these issues so that they can make informed decisions about there support and participation. The fact that they are conducting an "internal investigation" is telling; if they do not believe there are significant issues regarding harm and abuse then why has the organization not taken steps in this direction. I hope they will.
The problem with what you just said is that the proper ethic code and agreements were never shared with me until after this incident occurred, were not reviewed with me when I arrived as was supposed to happen, and were never signed by me. All major organizational oversights. The definition of sexual misconduct that I was aware of when I entered the training was that sexual misconduct was defined as sexual harassment and sexual assault. I'd be more than happy to share a copy of the agreements I received; though according to what Unreal has posted those agreements are not up to date.
These are the agreements I received:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/62fexgtupgzt6a6/agreement%2C liability%2C media release docs_maple.pdf?dl=0
When I had difficulty viewing and printing these agreements which were sent appx. week prior I contacted the people running the program to inform them of this issue. I was told we would review and talk about these agreements when I arrived at the center at that time. This never happened - largely in part because of their disorganization and the reshuffling of residents between centers.
The first page of this document with a different definition of sexual misconduct which included romantic and sexual relationship was presented to me after the incident. the second page was presented to me as I was running to catch a train as an "injury waiver" after being injured. I did not intend to pursue any legal action regarding the facial injury experienced while training. I regret not reviewing this document in depth. In retrospect this document reads to me like the organization is well aware of serious risks to participants. These risks are not disclosed to participants anywhere; not on the website, not on this document, these risks were not discussed when I was being recruited or considering training. In now way, shape, or form did I have any indication that there was some serious messed up stuff happening to people that was causing long-term damage. It is concerning to me that apprentices and residents have been asked to sign away liability without being notified of risks. From my viewpoint this compromises a persons ability to make informed decisions about their safety and participation; and compromises their agency and ability to consent to the training.
I had not agreed to any of these conditions prior to entered the container due to organizational oversight. And frankly even if I had been aware of the agreements; a violation of the policy does not make me responsible for or excuse sexual assualt or the organization for covering up this incident. It really does not matter what I said or did in this situation he was the Executive Director and he was aware of the Ethics code and had signed agreements regarding his own conduct. Whatever feelings or action had did not change the fact that this was a serious ethical breech; and that covering up this incident was also a serious ethical issue.
Thank you Unreal for acknowledging that OAK and MAPLE messed up in some big ways.
OAK shutdown in March of 2021 several months later
It is my understanding that the Acting Director spent much of this past year on tour in collaboration with the MA's mobile tour and recruiting potential participants for the MA. I recently learned that OAKs teacher has since left the organization. I had also heard that he is still active in the community, supports it, and intends to build a cabin as part of MAPLEs village. As you have addressed OAKs former director is training at MAPLE.
It nice to know the MA doesn't blame me for NOT following rules and agreements that weren't clearly communicated to me. The statement that you don't blame me for breaking the rules feels out of place considering I did not have a choice in the incident that occured. This is news to me. This still brings up the question as to why I was asked to leave with 24 hrs notice; in combination with the Director stepping back into his position.
None of the statements I've seen made address that Soryu directed what to me seems like a poorly executed coverup (i.e. telling OAKs leaders to secure this document, get rid of me, and having the Executive Director returned to power). This is issue is not resolved; Soryu's role in directing actions at OAK and the response of MAPLE to these events is the PRIMARY thing I would like to see addressed. The boards later removal of this man from power does not change the impact that these events had on me. It is not helpful to simply chalk this up to a mistake and a learning experience when ones actions have serious consequences and cause real suffering for others. Not seeking and integrating my perspective during or after events was a serious error, and reflects poorly on the organizations ethics and intentions. When the organization was very aware that I was deeply hurt and impacted by how it handled issues it still did not reach out or make amends. This organization seems to think they adequately handled OAK while take zero responsibility for it's unethical actions, organizational negligence and practices that created these events, and it's harmful impact on myself and others. These statements also do not account for the fact that many such "mistakes" resulting in real hurt and harm have happened repeatedly in this training environment over the last 10 years . This organization actively ignored, dismissed, failed to respond appropriately to my attempts to communicate grievances and respond to allegations until I said I would be making a public statement. Even now this organization has not made a public apology or taken responsibility for the actions that caused this suffering - or made any other attempts to make amends in over a year.
Based on this MA report I was under the impression the OAK was rebooted this fall: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1mfx3hzhy9k9fe8/quarterlyreport-maple-fall2021-web.pdf?dl=0
Opening lines for feedback on grievances is important; especially now. I was glad to see that there is anonymous link for giving feedback. However, ALL reports of harm, misconduct, and abuse need to investigated by a 3rd party investigator. I personally would be best supported by this organization if an extensive 3rd investigation happened regarding Soryu's conduct and treatment of students. I believe many others would be to. If indeed Soryu is willing to be accountable and responsible in the way he speaks to in his teaching this should not be an isssue. If there is a pattern of abuse and harm it will be made clear through a 3rd party investigation; if there is not a pattern of harm and abuse affecting many parties than this will also be made clear. However, based on my current awareness these patterns have been ongoing over the past 10 years. The justification of risks and denial of responsibility in the MA response to my letter further alienates people like myself who have legitimate grievances and whom have been deeply hurt by this organization and community. The current actions bring taken make it difficult to trust or engage with the organization.The vast majority of people I am aware of whom have been harmed or had very negative experiences in this training do NOT feel safe engaging directly with the MAs leadership and/or persons whom have obvious conflicts of interest in an investigation. It seems unlikely that the current approach being utilized will actually yield the kind of honest feedback that is needed.
Please also note my recommendation for an outside evaluation of board governance, program model/risks/outcomes, organizational policies, and organizational health, ect. I believe doing so would have tremendous benefits for everyone.
Thanks for your response.
For the record I think people usually do recieve these documents, ethics code, and are asked to sign a liability waiver for all risks associated with training (without being informed of the specific risks and some of the negative outcomes which also becomes an issue of informed consent) before and apprenticeship and residency. This is definitely a specific case where OAK dropped the ball on providing the correct documentation and orientation to the training. I would not be surprised if others may have encountered similar issues. I hope that future onboarding will be more transparent about training risks; the organizations history, goals, and teachings; and transparency about the lack of training and prior experience in organizational management and monastic practice/ training of teachers.
It is concerning to me that an organization that aspires to create "the most intensive training environment in North America" as so little regard for common and best practices of monastic training environment and of nonprofits. There seems to be a practice of "throwing one's self in" to areas of responsibility and power that have a serious impact on others without previous knowledge or being equipped to hold such a role and a lack of accountability that produces and justifies harm. It is my observation that this produces an environment where mismanagement, harm, and abuse of power is more likely to happen - additionally I believe this training does not produce leaders who are equipped to have a positive impact; but ones who in fact have a lot of healing, deprogramming, and unpacking to do before they can show up responsibly to a leadership position.
It's also worth noting the person appointing to do an "internal investigation" into grievances is a board member who was recently added after she and her husband purchased and invested substantial finances into MAPLEs village (potential conflict of interest) and whom is the mother of one of the four men (OAKs teacher) implicated in covering up this incident in my letter (definite conflict of interest) and I believe she may also be student of Soryu's whom is regarded is a beloved teacher.
There needs to be a 3rd party investigation into ALL the reports of harm and abuse.
Thank you Lukas; it was incredibly hurtful and it is my experience that the organizations unethical response to this incident caused far greater harm and retraumatizion to myself than even the original incident.
You bring up a good point about intent vs. "cluelessness". These are my thoughts. It is difficult to me know how much of this was a result of inexperienced leadership trying to cover up what they may have thought was a consensual experience at the direction of their head teacher (who no doubt was well aware of the risks this posed to the organization) vs. they recognize the issue of consent and the power dynamics were a serious issue and intentionally collaborated to cover this up. Either way I believe that OAKs leadership knew that these actions were unethical.
I do believe that much of the organization's response was in many ways due to having a high risk program model which places people in positions of nonprofit leadership they are not prepared for while also undergoing intensive psychospiritual training. Because everyone is simultaneously having a very intense experience it becomes much more likely that both minor and major organizational oversights and mismanagement will occur. There is a real need for restructuring in the organization and program including separation of key roles like ED and Care Director to avoid future harm and adequate support for participants in training and grounded organizational management. Additionally, in an environment where many unaware and inexperienced (in nonprofit management) leaders look up to and idolize a beloved teacher (Soryu) who they believe to be trustworthy; many of these leaders are acting under the direction of a headteacher whose motives I believe to were driven by seeking to protect the organization at whatever cost necessary. I have never spoken to this head teacher despite multiple requests for a meditating conversation with this man.
Because this program has been running for so long despite many reports of harm and other mishandled situations I ultimately hold the Head Teacher and the board of directors responsible for the decisions they made and instructions they gave to OAKs leaders. While I do think much of OAKs leaders cluelessness maybe forgiveable; there are other leaders in this organization whom are well aware of the substantial harm caused to many people over the years as a result of maintaining this program model. It was and is upsetting to me that this Head teacher and organization knew I was deeply hurt and did not address the harm they had caused through their actions. It is also upsetting to me to see the organization and various members continually justify and support a program model which I believe to have been a significant contributor to the many organizational oversights and unethical actions that created my experience. Experiences like mine should not be considered a justifiable risk of intensive training or simply a "mistake"; especially when the organization does not take steps towards accountability and making repairs with people like myself.