In October 2017, Presentation High School (PHS) 1991 alumna Kathryn Leehane wrote an article, When the Legal System Fails Sexual Assault Victims, We Have to Find Our Own Closure, for The Washington Post. Kathryn intended to highlight the broken legal system and sought to reassure other sexual abuse survivors there are many ways to heal.

Although no specifics were disclosed in the narrative, many people recognized the teacher, and dozens of victims and witnesses of childhood sexual abuse at PHS came forward. One of those was PHS 1991 alumna Cheryl Hodgin Marshall who witnessed then Vice Principal Mary Miller intimidate a different victim into withdrawing her sexual assault complaint.

Kathryn and Cheryl joined forces to advocate for the dozens of survivors of childhood sexual abuse from PHS, fighting for strict adherence to mandated reporting laws, permanent changes in leadership and policy to protect all PHS students, and accountability and justice for the survivors. Make Pres Safe was born.

Timeline of Events

October 2017:

November 2017:

December 2017:

January 2018:

  • Jan 11: Make Pres Safe website launches. It includes a detailed timeline of sexual-abuse allegations spanning decades and involving dozens of students and over ten abusers. (That website has since been taken down; the independent investigation includes all the allegations previously on the website.)
  • Jan 12: Make Pres Safe Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account launch. (The Twitter and Instagram accounts have since been closed down.)
  • Jan 30: At the State of the School event, PHS Principal Mary Miller calls victims and victim advocates “critics” who are trying to “rewrite history.”
  • Media coverage:

February 2018:

March 2018:

April 2018:

May 2018:

July 2018:

  • PHS Principal Mary Miller is promoted to President.

August 2018:

September 2018:

November 2018:

  • Nov 1: Kathryn Leehane and Cheryl Hodgin Marshall meet with Board Chair Sister Pam Chiesa, Vice Principal Andria Bengston, and Director Chérie Somavia to give them information, recommendations, and resources to further make PHS safe and to help move forward. PHS does not act on any of the information.

December 2018:

January 2019:

May 2019:

  • Kathryn Leehane presents The Accidental Advocate: Protecting Our Children from Sexual Abuse at The Sons in Retirement of San Jose.
  • Kathryn Leehane speaks to The Santa Clara County Child Abuse Prevention Council committee to raise awareness of the sexual abuse and misconduct scandal at Presentation High School.

June 2019:

  • Kathryn Leehane speaks to The Santa Clara County Child Abuse Prevention Council committee to encourage the committee to seek justice for the survivors.

July 2019:

August 2019:

  • Kathryn Leehane speaks to The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to encourage the committee to seek justice for the survivors.
  • Kathryn Leehane speaks to The San Jose City Council to encourage the committee to seek justice for the survivors.

September 2019:

July 2020:

  • PHS releases the results of the independent investigation into allegations of past sexual abuse and misconduct, as well as a letter outlining the support they are offering to the survivors and the changes they’ve made at the school to protect all students.
  • Make Pres Safe publicly praises the transparency, accountability, and compassion shown by PHS and deactivates the website and all social media accounts.
  • Media coverage:

September 2020:

  • PHS announces new Board of Directors. The new Board includes many members of a former advisory board, several of whom, including the new Board chair, previously issued public statements declaring their unwavering support of Mary Miller and expressed harsh criticism of Kathryn Leehane and other survivors and advocates.
  • Kathryn Leehane calls on President Holly Elkins and the new Board of Directors to release a public statement in support of the survivors. They decline to do so.
  • PHS rehires an employee who repeatedly violated mandatory reporting laws and participated in a sexual-abuse cover-up that allowed a pedophile to work at PHS for 20 years.
  • Kathryn Leehane calls on President Holly Elkins to cancel that employee’s contract. She declines to do so.
  • Kathryn Leehane re-activates Make Pres Safe Facebook page.
  • Media coverage:

October 2020:

  • Kathryn Leehane publishes a case study on Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS) describing advocacy efforts.