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Credible, ‘horrifying’ sexual-abuse accounts at Curtis Institute of Music, law firm finds


GeorgeH
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Let's try to stay on topic and to avoid culture-war buzzwords that don't really mean much.

VicM and l33tplaya, before you venture too far into the weeds here, perhaps you both ought to own up to how much you actually know about the topics of Wagner and 19th Century European Anti-Semitism.  These are both extremely deep topics to venture into and if either or both of you is just a casual historian, maybe you should cite what you've read and the sources you trust.  Because it seems like you two are about to have a silly semantic argument about a serious topic that has been thoroughly examined by serious historians.

Alex Ross has a new book on the topic Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music, a little bit overly erudite, but it gets deep into it.  And then I think I've already recommended Barry Millington's The Sorcerer of Bayreuth: Richard Wagner, His Work, and His World.

---

Bill, where do you get the idea that "the 80s was a special time for that type of thing"?  That seems a very strange thing to believe.

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9 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

@PhilipKT "in the day. Wagner was literally no different from the normal person. The enlightened person who accepted the difference between a protestant and a Jew without problem was very much the exception to the rule. It is wrong to judge the past by the standards of today."

NO. Never. He was quite different. 1) It was never OK;  there may have been more people, or people more open about being anti-Semitic, but it was never OK, and never the majority back then. 2) When human beings are not treated correctly, the standards of whatever age do not matter.  Tempted to make a straw man argument here masquerading as a Hobson's choice, butwon't. The concept of not applying standards of one age to another only matters for mores, not for gross mis-treatment.  That is the argument that the BLM movement is (or should be) trying to make, not the voices of some "free radicals," pun intended. But I digress.

For almost everyone else: Most of you have no idea of what sexual trauma can do to a person, especially when they are not believed, are helpless, and the trauma is persistent. A very close firend of mine has made a life long study of sexual trauma and treating its effects: what Laura did, and is going through, is more typical than not of past trauma. Who is to say she would or wouldn't have done that album cover had there been no abuse? And yet, hyper sexualization is a frequent byproduct of past trauma. 

What might get Laura either large sums or at least the recognition of a horrible past wrong to be corrected is that she had the eggs to complain, repeatedly, and not only did the institution not protect her, they denied there was a problem,  proceeded to either cover it up, or at least ignore the problem, and again, did so repeatedly.  So the instiutution was put on notice, but chose to ignore it.  It has nothing to do with the fact that the perpetrator may not be around now. 

 

You misunderstand me. I am not at all suggesting that anti-semitism , or hating anyone because of their religion or race, is in any way acceptable. But in Wagners time, it WAS common, almost pervasive, and societally acceptable. Wagner was extreme, but he was an extreme example of a common attitude. It is certainly not acceptable in our time( though it certainly remains) but our time is not theirs. That’s not a straw man at all, its not even an argument, it’s just an acknowledgement of how things were.

Even Brahms, who discounted every and all religion, once went into a vicious tirade against Bruch, to his face, because Bruch was Jewish.

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10 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

Who is to say she would or wouldn't have done that album cover had there been no abuse? And yet, hyper sexualization is a frequent byproduct of past trauma. 

Both of those statements are of course correct, but it is wrong to make a concrete explanation without any evidence. The claim,”because it is possible, it must be so,” is so incorrect it shouldn’t warrant discussion. Also it is de facto incorrect to claim that it is always the case. Sex sells, Sex appeal sells, That is undeniable, and eventually sex appeal was going to intrude into classical music, so if somebody wants to use that for their benefit, I don’t necessarily approve, but whatever. But it is flat wrong to claim, Without any evidence at all, that her experience led to her album covers. There might be evidence and that’s great, I’m happy to see it presented along with the claim. But haven’t seen it yet.

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26 minutes ago, Ron MacDonald said:

Max Bruch (full name:  Max Christian Bruch) was not Jewish.  Don't know where Philip gets his information.

I got my information from an excellent biography of Brahms. I’ll dig up the story and share. That particular copy fell apart and was discarded, and I am perfectly willing to buy another copy just to dig up the story for you.

 

I just did some research and yes Bruch was apparently protestant, which makes me wonder about the source of the story in the Brahms Biography. But it’s a real story and I really read it.

However, that doesn’t change the truth of the pervasive anti-Semitism of the time

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11 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

2) When human beings are not treated correctly, the standards of whatever age do not matter

You might like to think you'd have been marching against slavery in ancient Rome, but the idea would never have even occurred to you.  Hindsight bias is a great problem today, maybe the problem.

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1 hour ago, Bill Merkel said:

You might like to think you'd have been marching against slavery in ancient Rome, but the idea would never have even occurred to you.  Hindsight bias is a great problem today, maybe the problem.

You're not wrong. Hindsight bias is 2020. Maybe I'm guilty, but I won't apologize for having a bad feeling about something I can see but can't describe...

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Why would someone repeatedly dig up this old charge against an old dead man?

Revenge? Publicity? Fear? Responsibility to protect others? Self Empowerment, maybe a bit of all of the above plus much more

Humans do as humans are it seems,,,we have to settle on an answer, a belief,,, we have to come to a conclusion, it is how we are wired, we have to believe something , even if we know nothing about the situation , or the subject at hand.  How did DNA write itself,,  the most complicated observable thing in the universe, ,and form proteins and  onto the complex workings of the living cell ,, bursting forth out of some primordial goo, when the soup itself would dissolve the very  proteins,,, yet a couple of lines on a wall in the back of a cave somewhere is a sign of intelligent life?

Please watch your blood pressure, strokes are real, and thinking too hard can possibly cause  internal sparks that might cause certain persons to spontaneously combust, or  spew forth certain  emotional  self centered hateful defensive ramblings,, not unlike certain pre-teens deprived of their  co-co puffs for breakfast.

 This is really too complicated a subject to address without writing a thousand and one pages on it.

Children are born with boundaries, as certain as the orbit of the moon around the earth, as they grow and mature these boundaries become more defined and trusted. It is their safe world. In the most ideal conditions, they grow and expand into these boundaries,, sadly many , in fact most,, do not have the advantage of these ideal conditions. Parental substance abuse, emotional bickering and fighting, economic hardships that create undue tensions, among  a thousand other things cause a child to look at and question their boundaries. A child has the propensity to blame themselves when something is not going right,

“if I wasn’t here they wouldn’t fight, if I didn’t eat we wouldn’t have to buy so many groceries, if I was good enough dad would be happy with mom,”  it goes on and on with things you would not even be able to imagine. We are the boundaries we live within, for better or worse. They can empower us to do great things, or out of fear, they can stop us from living..

When someone has been sexually violated it permanently destroys a most assuredly certain and personal boundary. The  most insensitive and barbaric thing to be said is, “can’t they just forget it, get over it, what’s the big deal” Yet I have to give such a one the benefit of the doubt in that from their viewpoint ,,they think that is how they would deal with it,, or they themselves are a perpetrator, and the victim having a bad reaction is a bit inconvenient for them.

Victims can get mostly over it, the average time has been listed at about twenty years of staring it in the face and dealing with it to get a real grip, results can vary,, of course.

The coping mechanisms are many, including multiple personalities, one can be a beautiful fairy like person kind and gentle, it is who they want to be, recapturing the innocence of childhood, another a sex god, another a pervert with a abhorrence to all things sexual, another, an angry and bitter soul confused and lost. Rather than destroy the whole, they enjoy what they can, and deal with the rest, one part at a time. 

Here is only one rabbit hold they can go down running from this,,, there are many,

After sexual assault the victim often has a permanent sense of dread and doom, and self worthlessness. It has not changed their boundaries, it has been surgically inserted into their space within their boundaries. They are now stuck within their boundaries in a living nightmare, living with a monster of unimaginable proportions. They alone have to deal with it. When others won’t listen, or deny, or blame the victim, it is devastating,, the sense of worthlessness and pain can elicit a wide range of coping mechanisms, reactions and responses that a “normal’ person would not be able to imagine.  In this process many irrational buttons are  subconsciously developed that make having a relationship with them extremely difficult. Not because they are bad, they are  often afraid and angry and confused and their reactions to the world  and others around themselves to protect what is left of themselves,, appears irrational to those around them.

There often develops a continual testing of others to insure they, (the victim) is safe. To the unknowing friend or spouse, their own normal, rational, casual reaction  to the victim immediately dissolves into a state of caous and confusion , accusations and defensiveness,, it is now a cause for alarm and we are gonna fight this time, nothing bad is going to happen to me again. So now the unknowing man who fell in love with her becomes the victim.  The children raised in such situations are confused and wounded, so on and on it goes. Boys can obviously face certain doom.  Once the spouse gets training on how to respond without “pushing the buttons”, and understands what is going on the victim has an opportunity to grow into trust again, it can be a constant job, but gets better with time, it can and probably will take a lifetime. All over some out of control nitwit,,,,

In counseling the husband the conversation is often the same,

She says Z, and you say T and she goes crazy,, You don’t have a clue what happened? Right, I don’t understand her reaction at all! I am confused and dazed! It makes no sense!

So you do H and she goes ballistic. Yes! What happened! It all seems so irrational, The husband now becomes the victim,, it goes on and on,, it can effect generations of people. One little moment of sexual satisfaction for some out of control self centered pervert can change many people’s world, forever. Should we discuss the ripple effect? A good friend of mine suggested that being killed by having  a millstone tied to their neck and thrown into the depths of the sea would be better for them, than facing his punishment for such crimes against humanity. I believe He’s right, He always is.

Another coping mechanism for a victim is to be a sex creature, have sex with everyone, get naked, that is what I’m about. By doing that,, they feel that they have taken control and are now in charge of their lives. They go out and find guys and they call the shots this time around! You’ll find prostitutes in this group, it’s what they are, a  sexual object.

It’s not normal for a young girl to get naked for a photo op,,,

It is proper for someone to have a call for justice,,

clue for the clueless,,,,(It's all about empowerment)

They are often exceptional and insanely aware and smart people, it is what they have become, by their choice with the debris that is left after their pain.

I have always been attracted to abused women, they are often kick ass people, they know what they think, you won’t walk over them, they are extra smart, they know how to handle themselves, I have known many personally, I seem to attract them. Think" wonder women",, Smart, elusive, always one step ahead, turning around and watching to see it you get it, loves a challenge, not afraid to grab life and shake it hard. I just met a 70 year old recently. I pull up on a scooter after an all nite ride in the cold, on the coast, She saw me. Offered to find me a camp spot, it was over the “Big Weekend” it was insanely crowded, her and her sister cooked me breakfast and coffee every day, campfires at nite, it was magical,, but that is my life normally,, just magical like you will never imagine. After a few days at the fire she told me about being sold by her very own father to a man he owed money to. She was eight years old. It continued ,,,, all the time,When she was seventeen she became pregnant by him,, and he was done with her now. He denied the child, she was tossed out like a used rag. She is beautiful, still recovering,,,just the last few years she has made leaps and bounds of progress. She sleeps in a tent year round, hubby in the house, she builds, plants, works hard, smokes like a chimney. She just really needed to talk, it is always critical for their (her) recovery, she is being watched over, blessed and taken care of. She has a half dozen kids she’s rescued from homes and shelters,, they call her mom. Why do I get put in these situations? Dozens of stories,,, I’ve had these discussions over the vegetables at the grocery store with perfect strangers that walk up to me and start talking,,,, though not really strangers at all. I guess that sometime people need to talk and so I am the chosen vessel to give them the bit of boost that they need. It is really amazing to connect with people on that level,, it takes a bit of compassion and being able to “Hear”.

Please do continue to blather on in you blindness about her right and privilege to get naked for a picture of her FIRST album,,, her presentation  of herself to the world.

The Universe is listening.

 

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So this is an important topic. "Horrifying" sexual abuse and pedophilia at the Curtis Institute, and the subsequent cover-up must be publicized and talked about so it does not happen again.

There is no place in this discussion for criticisms of Lara St. John, who was 14 years old at the time she was raped and abused by her teacher. She has continued to suffer abuse as an adult by thoughtless and judgmental people who criticize her for speaking out about what happened to her, who did not believe her story, and try to psychoanalyze and slut-shame her for her beautiful album covers.

The nude human body is a beautiful form that has for centuries been the subject of some of the greatest artwork ever created by mankind. Artistic painting, drawing, sculpting  and photographing nudes is rarely about sex. If all you see in Lara St. John’s album covers is her sexuality to criticize, then that is about you, not her.  Many of us recognize the artistry and beauty in her covers that has nothing to do with sex.

Lara St. John deserves to be applauded, not criticized, for the work she has done to expose what happened to her and other children at the Curtis Institute. If her rapist-teacher was still alive, then he should be in prison. Had the the Curtis Institute acted on what they knew was happening at the time, then he would have been arrested and prosecuted. But he got away with child-rape, and those who think we should not talk about it because he is dead and can’t defend himself are just continuing the cover-up. He was an evil human being who used his great talent to rape children at an iconic institution that condoned it and covered it up.

That is what is important here.  

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I for one would never accuse Lara of being a slut.

Those who abuse and rape children should be executed, period.

I wrote all I wrote, because it seems that some do not have a clue how serious and long lasting this type of abuse is,, and can be.

I would not criticize her. She spoke out, no one would listen,,, what would it take for people to see her and pay attention.

Eighteen years after the abuse, she looked healthy happy and totally modest, it is who she is, her choice, she is totally awesome.

Look at her website, she is modest, strong and awesome. she never gave up.

No blame or condemnation toward her for her album cover, she was called a liar, attempted suicide, continued to persevere, speak out.

What would convince a young girl to remove her clothes,,, to believe  that is what you have to do for arts sake, what kind of society demands that of a person?.

I guess I've had too many children, all of the which would never think of that, it's a bit weird,,, at least some think so.

How does that equation enter into a child's world.

How can someone know what happened to her and really think she was emotionally functional, no one else could be, why her?

When I first saw her picture I wondered,, What Happened to Her?  Is she OK?

I feel for her and would much rather cover her up and comfort her than seeing her expose herself for all to see,, she must hurt.

She has done nothing wrong at all.

Please continue to blather on about how wonderful and artistic her picture is.

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I don't think it's a good idea to colour the issue, too much, with personal opinions of how an adult woman may "legitimately" conduct herself.

Let's agree to agree that adults (any, but especially those in positions of power or paternal figures) should not, and should not be allowed to "get away with" sexually assaulting children.

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

I don't think it's a good idea to colour the issue, too much, with personal opinions of how an adult woman may "legitimately" conduct herself.

Let's agree to agree that adults (any, but especially those in positions of power or paternal figures) should not, and should not be allowed to "get away with" sexually assaulting children.

Well, okay, but are there limits? Obviously you don't jam to WAP, so where's the line?

Evan (and myself) never spoke against people's rights to do what they want. He is looking at her with empathy. So was I but you all thought I was judging her. I could never. I also think she's awesome, for the reasons Evan mentioned and more. 

This thread has been really exhausting. 

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20 hours ago, VicM said:

You are talking total nonsense. You have absolutely no idea how antisemitic Europeans used to be. This is not only documented very well but to be antisemtic was an obligation on most of Europe. It tool a lot education to start to adress this and a lot of decent people to do this education and give the right example. The Jews did not have a very hard time in Europe ( and Russia !!! ) because 3-4 people did not like them. The Jews suffered horribly because MOST people were indoctrinated to not like and to hate them. Do not minimalize the problems other peoples had with your social justice nonsense.

Not true.  I have seen European anti-semitism first hand.  My emphasis should have been that Bill's argument was falacious, that even if many believed as Wagner did, it was not OK, because of the "times."

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13 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

You might like to think you'd have been marching against slavery in ancient Rome, but the idea would never have even occurred to you.  Hindsight bias is a great problem today, maybe the problem.

Oh I would have.  Hindsight bias exists, but some behaviors violate intrinsic norms. Sexual abuse would certainly have been seen as wrong at Curtis; that's why they denied it, and tried to ignore it. 

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14 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Both of those statements are of course correct, but it is wrong to make a concrete explanation without any evidence. The claim,”because it is possible, it must be so,” is so incorrect it shouldn’t warrant discussion. Also it is de facto incorrect to claim that it is always the case. Sex sells, Sex appeal sells, That is undeniable, and eventually sex appeal was going to intrude into classical music, so if somebody wants to use that for their benefit, I don’t necessarily approve, but whatever. But it is flat wrong to claim, Without any evidence at all, that her experience led to her album covers. There might be evidence and that’s great, I’m happy to see it presented along with the claim. But haven’t seen it yet.

I never stated that  I believe the sexualized covers exist because of the abuse.  I only pointed out that it is common for abused patients to have aberrant sexual desires and behaviors. The covers could exist partly or fully for that reason.  Or not.  The point is, those who criticized her for the covers should cut her some slack. 

Healing from sexual abuse can take decades.  A few heal more quickly. Some never acknowledge it, and never heal. We hope that Lara has fully recovered. 

 

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7 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

I never stated that  I believe the sexualized covers exist because of the abuse.  I only pointed out that it is common for abused patients to have aberrant sexual desires and behaviors. The covers could exist partly or fully for that reason.  Or not.  The point is, those who criticized her for the covers should cut her some slack. 

Healing from sexual abuse can take decades.  A few heal more quickly. Some never acknowledge it, and never heal. We hope that Lara has fully recovered. 

 

All right, I appreciate that clarification. I have never seen those covers at all, and I am pretty conservative in taste. I think it is cheap and tawdry to use sex to sell classical music, it’s like using racy pictures in the Song of Solomon to sell the Bible.
It’s inappropriate, but people have the right to be tasteless If they wish, and society has been trending in that direction for a long time.

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I have been reading the thread and not horrified or shocked but saddened as it brought back memories of Juilliard and the NY Philharmonic.

I think we should remember that these problems are on no way limited to Curtis. I, in no way, wish to minimize what happened at Curtis, but it seems that we focus on one problem at a time instead of the overall problems of abuse in society and the music profession. 

In my limited experiences in the 1970's there were teachers at Juilliard who "took advantage of" students. It was well known at the time and other teachers not involved were completely aware what was going on. 

Well known teachers, not only at Juilliard, but feeders to Juilliard, devastated their students with abuse. YM, a famous violinist, was a complete pervert. Yes, I could have been more subtle but that is what he was.

JG, a famous teacher, although, as far as I know not sexually abusive, was a major abuser who has keep therapists in business for decades. 

Sociopaths do not care about the results of their actions. (obviously) But the people around them should not be complicit. Some observers are not brave enough to come forward and some do not care or are too self obsessed.  

These things happen repeatedly generation after generation because we learn nothing as a society and therefore as individuals. We should be vigilant now to  not let it continue with other people who are entrusted with children, teens and adults. 

My years at Juilliard are filled with the joy of music, of learning and hard work, and the sadness of abuse. 

   

 

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20 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I got my information from an excellent biography of Brahms. I’ll dig up the story and share. That particular copy fell apart and was discarded, and I am perfectly willing to buy another copy just to dig up the story for you.

 

I just did some research and yes Bruch was apparently protestant, which makes me wonder about the source of the story in the Brahms Biography. But it’s a real story and I really read it.

However, that doesn’t change the truth of the pervasive anti-Semitism of the time

Which Brahms biography? I probably have it.  I think you're mistaken though.

Perhaps you're remembering the comment Brahms made after hearing Goldmark's setting of some Lutheran stuff... "Too bad it was by a Jew." Goldmark was present to hear the remark and took it rather as a compliment. He was friendly with Brahms for a while. Others in the room thought it was more derogatory, but I trust Goldmark's take on the situation.  Plus, the fact that Brahms was vocally pro-Jewish at times allows me at least to cut him some slack.

 

Bruch on the other hand was a casual and nasty anti-Semite.  Perhaps that's what's twisted in your head?

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27 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

I think it is cheap and tawdry to use sex to sell classical music, it’s like using racy pictures in the Song of Solomon to sell the Bible.


It’s inappropriate, but people have the right to be tasteless If they wish, and society has been trending in that direction for a long time.

????

Seriously?

Have you ever seen a classical or romantic opera?

Also, have you ever read Song of Solomon?  Sheesh, how could pictures make it less pornographic?

As far as I can tell, the more things change, the more things stay the same.  Sex has always been a key part of the content and marketing of what we now call "classical music."  I read and recommend McClary's Desire and Pleasure in 17th Century Music.

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To me, this has nothing to do with album covers, cultural mores, or accuser/accused credibility.

It is an absolute failure of institutional oversight--knowingly turning a blind eye to allegations of abuse for fear of damaged reputation. We have seen it with Penn State football, with the US national gymnastics team, with Canadian junior hockey, and with the Catholic church.  It is beyond disgusting and should be flatly condemned.

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On 10/1/2020 at 1:41 PM, Bill Merkel said:

You might like to think you'd have been marching against slavery in ancient Rome, but the idea would never have even occurred to you.  Hindsight bias is a great problem today, maybe the problem.

 

12 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

Oh I would have.  Hindsight bias exists, but some behaviors violate intrinsic norms. ...

And if you are an engineer, if you were a resident of ancient Rome you would have invented the computer and we would be 2000 years ahead...

We are products of our times, including our "intrinsic norms".  I'm surprised at you not getting this most basic thing!  Many people don't but I always thought it was more like it didn't occur to them and they would if presented with it directly.  

What's more, you'd have been cheering on Saturday afternoons while gladiators were fed to the lions :)

 

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9 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

 

And if you are an engineer, if you were a resident of ancient Rome you would have invented the computer and we would be 2000 years ahead...

We are products of our times, including our "intrinsic norms".  I'm surprised at you not getting this most basic thing!  Many people don't but I always thought it was more like it didn't occur to them and they would if presented with it directly.  

What's more, you'd have been cheering on Saturday afternoons while gladiators were fed to the lions :)

 

Don't put words that are untrue in my mouth. Don't presume to know how I think. Nor are all of us products of our times. 

13 hours ago, crazy jane said:

To me, this has nothing to do with album covers, cultural mores, or accuser/accused credibility.

It is an absolute failure of institutional oversight--knowingly turning a blind eye to allegations of abuse for fear of damaged reputation. We have seen it with Penn State football, with the US national gymnastics team, with Canadian junior hockey, and with the Catholic church.  It is beyond disgusting and should be flatly condemned.

Exactly.  As well as the long term  consequences of abuse, especially when hidden. I know of two well-known coaches who turned down what would have been the career move - to coach the US National Team - because US Gymnastics did not have its house in order, even after all that. One of them is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. So some still have integrity, and her offer to take the job if US National Team Board issued a public apology and sought to help all the injured parties was met with crickets.  

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