love and relation

Instructor at prime women’ college and college pressured to resign twice for sexual misconduct that carried on for many years

A outstanding musician is accused of sexual misconduct together with his college students – together with a teenaged highschool pupil – over a span of 20 years. Auckland College now faces questions over the best way it dealt with a grievance from a former pupil, who claims James Tibbles groomed and exploited susceptible younger ladies for intercourse. Alison Mau reviews.

In December 2020, the top of Auckland College’s music college was referred to as to a gathering to reply allegations of significant sexual misconduct, lodged towards him by a former pupil.

James Tibbles​ resigned on the spot.

Now, a Stuff investigation can reveal Tibbles resigned in nearly an identical circumstances from an unique Auckland women’ college twenty years earlier; that point, he was questioned about an inappropriate relationship with a teenaged pupil at St Cuthbert’s School​.

In each instances, by resigning, Tibbles prevented being additional questioned about his behaviour; each establishments telling complainants there was no extra they might legally do.

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Within the 20 years between these two resignations, Tibbles is accused of focusing on quite a lot of susceptible ladies, together with teenaged college students.

The ladies allege Tibbles:

  • Wrote a St Cuthbert’s School pupil love letters, then satisfied his colleagues she was at fault.
  • Initiated intercourse with an 18-year-old pupil at Auckland College in 2004, months after her mom had died of most cancers.
  • Introduced an grownup pupil from Europe to stick with him for 2 months in 2017, initiating sexual acts along with her whereas she was depending on him for meals, lodging and coaching.
  • Messaged and referred to as a music pupil in 2012 late at evening, prompting her dad and mom to confront him
  • Messaged a pupil in 2018 “day and evening”, requested what she wore in mattress, and requested her to go on a street journey with him.

The ladies Stuff interviewed consider St Cuthbert’s School and Auckland College deserted their obligation of care to college students and allowed others to be focused by letting Tibbles off the hook.

St Cuthbert’s admitted in a press release this week it dealt with the grievance poorly and mentioned it was “deeply sorry” for the misery and ongoing devastating impression on its former pupil. College of Auckland mentioned it had investigated and made a discovering of significant misconduct towards Tibbles, however he resigned through the course of the investigation so no additional disciplinary motion was potential.

It mentioned it deeply regretted the hurt triggered throughout his time on the college.

Former Auckland University Head of Music, James Tibbles, at his home in Oxford, Canterbury


Former Auckland College Head of Music, James Tibbles, at his dwelling in Oxford, Canterbury

An unlikely bond

Jenny Thomas​ and Sara O’Brien​ have by no means met in individual. Thomas, a musician, lives in Europe; O’Brien is an Auckland-based advertising and marketing skilled.

Nonetheless, the 2 ladies have discovered extra concerning the painful components of one another’s pasts than lots of their closest pals.

In a video name from her dwelling in Jap Europe, Thomas mentally winds again the clock to look at her 17-year-old self. She’d graduated from a personal women’ college a 12 months forward of her pals, and regardless of having already proven enormous musical expertise at college, she remembers missing confidence as she appeared for college choices in 2004.

When advised about UoA’s early music course, she signed up for a minor in fortepiano. She claims the trainer – famend Baroque and classical music specialist James Tibbles – largely ignored her at first, turning as much as “about half” her classes.

Former University of Auckland student Jenny Thomas


Former College of Auckland pupil Jenny Thomas

Within the winter of 2004 Thomas’ mom was identified with a mind tumour, and Thomas put her research on maintain as she helped nurse her mom at dwelling, till her demise in early 2005. She says a number of weeks later, nonetheless crippled by grief, she went to see James Tibbles to ask if she ought to resume her research.

Later, Thomas could be identified with PTSD from the trauma of her mum’s sickness, however on the time, she didn’t realise the bodily have an effect on her grief had wrought.

“I used to be affected by panic assaults and flashbacks, and I had misplaced half my body weight.” Tibbles was instantly completely different along with her, she claims.

“He’d barely given me the time of day earlier than. And [then] he made some remark about my look, about what I used to be sporting. I simply keep in mind feeling shocked.”

Tibbles pushed her to renew her research she says, giving her “double” the variety of classes different college students had been getting. That included late evening classes during which they labored on sustaining eye contact, which he mentioned was vital for her profession as a musician. At a kind of classes, he kissed her.

“I simply keep in mind my abdomen dropping.. I would seen him in a mum or dad function, as a guardian. It felt like this vaguely incestuous factor, to be crossing that boundary.”

Thomas says the kiss, and the sexual relationship that adopted, was technically a consensual one. Years later she got here to know her emotional state on the time, mixed with the ability imbalance between pupil and trainer, meant she would have been unlikely to say no to him.

“He did cease and verify (however) he had me wrapped round his little finger at that stage. I used to be completely depending on him for my research. I used to be dwelling for this music by then.”

Thomas says this was her first-ever intimate expertise. Tibbles was 46.

Within the opinion of Medical Psychologist and ED of Auckland HELP, Kathryn McPhillips, Tibbles crossed ethical in addition to skilled boundaries.

“There is a social pact … that we do not reap the benefits of individuals in a weakened state, as a result of we all know individuals (in that state) do not make good choices.”

McPhillips believes Tibbles’ behaviour matches a “predator/perpetrator” profile the place “excellent victims” are chosen.

Kathryn McPhillips, executive director of HELP.

Alden Williams/Stuff

Kathryn McPhillips, govt director of HELP.

“It is the basic ‘making a sufferer’ state of affairs. He is been drawn to her in a roundabout way, he is most likely drawn to vulnerability, she’s not going to protest, she’s not going to inform, and if she tells she’s not going to be believed.”

Emails and messages between Thomas and Tibbles present the connection continued for 4 years; Thomas says a lot of the encounters occurred on campus at evening. Tibbles would usually cowl the home windows of the music room with cardboard, to forestall employees from seeing them collectively, she claims.

On one event in 2006, Thomas cried as she advised him her father had simply been identified with aggressive prostate most cancers.

“I used to be sobbing, saying I used to be actually scared. He initiated intercourse whereas I used to be crying.”

Tibbles inspired her to cease grief counselling classes with a UoA counsellor when he realised their relationship may very well be mentioned, she claims, telling her “you completely can’t do this.”

Thomas withdrew from the classes, with Tibbles discovering “a good friend of his spouse” for her to see as an alternative.

Thomas moved to Europe for additional research in 2009. Proof considered by Stuff reveals Tibbles wished the connection to proceed, sending her sexually specific emails, movies and pictures – however Thomas claims “inside a couple of weeks” she started to see how inappropriate it had been.

“It was like waking up from a foul dream.”

She says she struggled for years with the results, and in 2018, wrote to Tibbles to confront him. In a letter seen by Stuff, Tibbles replied, admitting he had been improper.

“Studying your letter has pressured me to acknowledge and are available to phrases with realities I had not beforehand recognised, and I now see that our relationship was essentially inappropriate, and damaging” the letter reads.

Tibbles admits Thomas was “not ready to offer consent” and that the connection was “inappropriate, unhealthy and adverse”.

Thomas lodged a grievance with College of Auckland in October 2020, and now is aware of there have been a string of different college students who really feel they had been focused by Tibbles, together with one who says her expertise occurred months after he wrote of his remorse at his “inexcusable” behaviour.

The music trainer and the schoolgirl

A decade earlier than Jenny Thomas’ mom died, St Cuthbert’s School schoolgirl Sara O’Brien’s younger life was quick falling aside.

O’Brien dryly remembers her 13-year-old self as “an unfit match for the varsity” and its guidelines, which she discovered restrictive and pedantic. Though a succesful pupil, she suffered from anxiousness and panic assaults, and was typically in hassle.

“One space the place I did not have any hassle was music. It was my ardour.”

Round that point, O’Brien started one-on-one classes at college with Tibbles. O’Brien says from the beginning, she beloved the best way the music trainer handled her “like a daily individual.”

“There was none of this ‘oh right here comes Sara, the unhealthy woman.’ I relied closely on him as a result of I knew this (music) was one thing I actually wished to do, and nothing else made sense.”

Former St Cuthbert's College student Sara O'Brien received love letters from her teacher, James Tibbles


Former St Cuthbert’s School pupil Sara O’Brien acquired love letters from her trainer, James Tibbles

Tibbles “made me a part of his household” she says, however she doesn’t recall realising the connection was uncommon, till the day as a 16-year-old he advised her he beloved her. O’Brien says she was notably susceptible on the time.

“My good friend and flute trainer had handed away . I used to be devastated, and I grew to become very depressed.”

On the finish of her remaining lesson earlier than exams, Tibbles made an surprising admission.

“He held my hand and declared his love for me, insisting it was a secret [and] that no-one else might know.”

A day later he got here to her class with “music I had forgotten”, she says. Contained in the leaves of sheet music, was a letter.

“I can not consider I used to be truly courageous sufficient to truly say these phrases .. and even admit them silently to myself,” Tibbles’ letter reads.

“I suppose you understand what the phrase LOVE means. I am nonetheless shaking each time I consider you.” The letter is typed, however on the backside, written in pen, are the phrases “burn this!”

The impact on O’Brien was instant, she says. Her psychological well being spiralled, and she or he started to have suicidal ideas. Paperwork seen by Stuff present Tibbles wrote to O’Brien’s dad and mom presenting himself as a involved good friend, gave them a e-book about youngster suicide, and realizing that O’Brien desperately wished one, provided a harpsichord price tens of 1000’s of {dollars} on everlasting mortgage.

On the similar time, he started to strain O’Brien to remain quiet, she claims.

O’Brien’s dad and mom discovered Tibbles’ letters to their daughter and contacted CCAFS (now Oranga Tamariki). In a letter to the O’Briens, a CCAFS employee expresses alarm on the “transgression by James Tibbles {of professional} staff-student boundaries” and says CCAFS “have raised this concern with the varsity.

“We’re involved that this concern must be addressed on condition that James works with women, together with Sara, and desires to proceed to work with women. To make sure the security of Sara and others it’s important that James is accountable for his actions” the letter reads.

On July 4, Tibbles took Sara out of faculty and drove her to an workplace on the College of Auckland, the place he was working part-time.

“He advised me I might lose my probability to check at Auckland College. Did I wish to wreck his life? Was I going to interrupt aside his household? Did I need him to lose his job, his profession, his standing within the music group?”

The O’Briens lodged a proper grievance with St Cuthbert’s School on July 23, however Sara O’Brien says Tibbles remained on the college for per week and repeatedly pressured her to drop the grievance.

Paperwork present he additionally wrote to O’Brien’s dad and mom claiming the “love” he had expressed was platonic, and described himself as “a Christian individual of excessive ethical values.”

The reduction O’Brien initially felt as soon as her dad and mom intervened, didn’t final lengthy. She says employees members near Tibbles, together with Head of Music Dr Graham McPhail, had been brazenly hostile to her, and blamed her for his or her colleague’s suspension.

“He advised me how ashamed I must be of myself.”

Kathryn McPhillips’ advised Stuff analysis reveals telling others the focused individual has lied or is manipulative, is one other widespread behaviour of the “predator/perpetrator”.

Responding to questions from Stuff , Graham McPhail mentioned he didn’t recall making the feedback to O’Brien and would contemplate them inappropriate.

He mentioned Tibbles had advised him “nothing about his relationship with Sara”, he had not mentioned the state of affairs with different employees, and that he had discovered concerning the love letter solely after Tibbles resigned.

”I believe what occurred was seen as a gross/silly error of judgment on James’ half to ship an inappropriate letter to Sara.”

Nonetheless, McPhail advised Stuff he then wrote a “very supportive” letter of advice to Auckland College when Tibbles utilized for a lectureship at UoA round 12 months later.

He advised Stuff if he had “had extra details about what occurred” he would have responded otherwise, however admitted if the UoA had recognized why Tibbles left St Cuthbert’s it might have made a distinction to his appointment.

A message thread between O’Brien and McPhail after James Tibbles’ resignation from Auckland College in December 2020 reads: “[m]y belief has been misplaced. If you end up near somebody it is arduous to see the reality I suppose.”

Dr McPhail, now a senior lecturer in music schooling at Auckland College, advised O’Brien “I might do it otherwise now.”

O’Brien claims St Cuthbert’s School Principal on the time, Lynda Reid, additionally didn’t correctly help her after her dad and mom’ formal grievance. Regardless of seeing Tibbles letters, Reid recommended in an inner memo to O’Briens’ mom in September 1998 that mediation was the “finest probability of clearing the air and ridding ourselves of the doubts and confusions we’re all working in.”

Many years later O’Brien nonetheless has questions for her former Principal.

“Why was there no public announcement of the explanations for his resignation? We had been left to subject questions and abuse from employees, dad and mom and youngsters, with out the backing of the varsity.”

Lynda Reid during her time as St Cuthbert's College Principal


Lynda Reid throughout her time as St Cuthbert’s School Principal

Lynda Reid, who left the varsity in 2016, declined to reply questions on the best way O’Brien’s case was dealt with, telling Stuff a press release issued by the varsity “could be handled as being a press release from me as nicely.”

St Cuthbert’s Belief Board Chair, Hayley Buckley, mentioned the School acknowledges the hurt achieved to Sara O’Brien within the Nineteen Nineties, and condemns Tibbles’ “appalling and unacceptable sexual conduct” and the varsity’s choice to maintain it quiet.

“We completely and unreservedly apologise to Ms O’Brien and her household for the misery and devastating ongoing impression triggered to them by what occurred. We will solely think about how tough it’s for Ms O’Brien to come back ahead. We commend her braveness in doing so, and thank her for giving us permission to make a public apology.

“Whereas we do perceive that the School made real efforts to handle what occurred on the time, we acknowledge that the School’s investigation in 1998 and subsequent actions weren’t adequate, and didn’t put Ms O’Brien or her welfare on the centre of decision-making. We’re deeply sorry for this.

“What occurred at St Cuthbert’s shouldn’t have been stored confidential, and we’d deal with allegations of this nature very otherwise right this moment. St Cuthbert’s has strong Youngster Safety Insurance policies in place to help the security of our college students, and if this example arose right this moment, we’d instantly notify the suitable authorities and make sure the ongoing care and security of our pupil.”

O’Brien lasted only a few extra months on the college in 1998, finally withdrawn by her dad and mom, after she and a gaggle of others had been questioned about drug use.

She had assumed since her early teenagers she would have a profession in music, however now discovered she couldn’t play – and after learning for a short time at Waikato College, she gave it up altogether.

The usually calm and composed 39 year-old turns into emotional when she talks about shedding music.

“It was simply poisoned for me, the entire thought of it. Now I’ll play the piano often however it’s tinged with a variety of issues. I’d play a bit that I performed once I was 15, and I am going to battle via it. I really feel upset that that was taken from me.”

After the grievance

Jenny Thomas, who now works as a contract musician, author and editor, knew her profession prospects trusted staying on good phrases with James Tibbles. She says she did her finest to “keep a collegial relationship”, together with performing with him once in a while. The final of these performances was in March 2017.

Thomas says in 2018, “a brand new perspective” led to her write the letter that prompted Tibbles’ request for forgiveness.

“At that time, I lastly felt in a position to threat burning my bridges with James so as to make him conscious of the injury he’d achieved years earlier.”

Very similar to Sara O’Brien, Thomas says Tibbles’ actions had lasting results on her relationship with music. In her six-page grievance to Auckland College, she describes the early music devices taught by Tibbles at the moment are “tainted” for her.

Her grievance explains how household help and years of counselling had made her robust sufficient to see the grievance course of via.

“This is absolutely the earliest I might have undertaken this course of,” she advised UoA within the doc.

In December 2020, information of James Tibbles’ resignation started to unfold via music networks. Sara O’Brien was advised about it by a contact and had a hunch concerning the grievance’s origin, deciding to electronic mail Jenny Thomas in Europe. In January 2021, she additionally laid a grievance with UoA.

Thomas says the formal course of sparked by her grievance appeared promising; Vice Chancellor Daybreak Freshwater appointed a committee to research, and Tibbles was suspended from his place as Head of Faculty.

In mid-December, Tibbles was invited to the assembly to permit him to answer Thomas’ allegations. He resigned, efficient instantly., and Thomas was advised college insurance policies meant the investigation couldn’t proceed.

The College mentioned it had investigated Thomas’ grievance and a discovering of significant misconduct was reached. It mentioned the committee contemplating the matter concluded if not for his resignation it was extremely doubtless he would have been dismissed.

”Nonetheless James Tibbles resigned and left the College through the course of the investigation, so no additional disciplinary motion was potential.”

UoA mentioned it had relied on three “formal references”, together with from Dr McPhail, for Tibbles appointment in 2000 “as per the follow on the time”.

”Except issues had been raised by a referee or a proper grievance made to the College.. it couldn’t be thought of a think about his appointment as a result of we’d be unaware of any issues.”

The College mentioned it deeply regretted any hurt triggered to UoA college students by Tibbles.

Stuff has spoken to 3 different ladies and reviewed messages between them and Tibbles. All requested for anonymity, however are talking as much as help Thomas and O’Brien.

One in all them, a musician in her 30s, says she was struggling main melancholy, an consuming dysfunction and a efficiency “disaster” when, at a music occasion in Europe in 2016, Tibbles provided to fly her to New Zealand for 2 months of intensive coaching.

Whereas she stayed in his household dwelling in 2017, he organized outings to nude seashores “the place the expectation was that I might be bare with him” and booked a {couples} therapeutic massage and spa classes, the lady claims.

She says she “fell” into agreeing to some sexual acts with him as “the unstated worth I needed to pay for his generosity.” On one event, she claims he grew to become offended and stormed away when she rejected his advances.

In 2012, one other of his college students started to really feel involved about Tibbles’ “fixed” messaging and cellphone calls.

“On the finish of my first 12 months I used to be actually depressed. I used to be medicated via the uni well being companies and he knew [all about that] . He positioned himself so I used to be depending on him as this grownup who knew what was occurring and will look out for me” the lady, who was 19 on the time, advised Stuff.

The scholar mentioned her dad and mom grew to become involved and drove to Auckland to confront Tibbles.

Six years later, a second 12 months music pupil at UoA started to get messages from Tibbles “from the second I awakened within the morning and till I fell asleep at evening.”

She says the trainer stored “emphasising the idea of ‘friendship’. At the moment, stupidly, I actually believed that he was simply making an attempt to be ‘pals’ as he insisted.”

The lady grew to become alarmed when he requested her whether or not she shared her cellphone with household, then described their friendship as “unorthodox” however “crucial.. so as to know one another extra, in order that I can help you higher to grow to be extra profitable in your profession.”

Stuff has sighted messages despatched to the coed from Tibbles, asking her what she wore in mattress and suggesting she sleep bare.When approached by Stuff, Tibbles cited privateness and “confidentiality obligations” and declined to reply a listing of questions. He gave the next assertion:

“I’ve made errors in my previous and now know that my errors have harm individuals. That was by no means my intention, and I’m deeply sorry. I don’t consider it’s applicable for me to debate these issues intimately. To take action would breach confidences in relation to issues which are deeply private to me and others. Having recognised my errors, I’ve retired from music educating.”

Talking for the group of girls, Thomas and O’Brien say they’re involved Tibbles has been allowed to depart UoA, with out the explanations being made public..

A foyer group set as much as deal with sexual harassment at tertiary establishments says this end result is widespread.

“Cease Sexual Harassment On Campus has lengthy argued that perpetrators are in a position to escape punishment by going from College to College, and on this case inside the Training system,” say SSHOC’s spokesperson, Professor Rhema Vaithianathan.

“It isn’t sufficient for Chancellors to put on a cape and a robe and shake fingers at graduations. Chancellors must step up and ask – are the employees and college students at their Universities protected?”

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