LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Interview With Joelle Casteix
Aired June 27, 2003 - 19:42 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A more recent Supreme Court ruling is drawing fire from victims of sex crimes who say they need more time to bring their abusers to justice. In a 5-4 vote yesterday, the justices struck down the nation's only law designed to ensnare molesters who committed crimes far in the past. That leaves alleged victims, like Joelle Casteix of Corona del Mar, California, feeling left with no legal recourse. When she was in high school, she was allegedly raped by her choir teacher. After years of keeping quiet, Joelle finally found the courage to report the alleged crime, but now the Supreme Court's decision puts a halt to legal action like Joelle's.
Joining me now from Los Angeles is Joelle Casteix. Joelle, thank you so much for being with us. I know it's tough to be here. Take us back first to what happened. You were 15 years old. What went on?
JOELLE CASTEIX, VICTIM OF ALLEGED ABUSE: Between the ages of 15 and 17 I was repeatedly molested by one of the teachers at my Catholic high school in Southern California. He was the choir director, and unfortunately I was a highly vulnerable student, and he knew that, and so, an unfortunate -- a very unfortunate thing, and unfortunately there also was no legal recourse taken by either the school or any other responsible adults.
COOPER: That is the thing, so -- one of the just the many horrific things about your story, is that you say you talked to school administrators, you talked to your friends, you talked to even to your parents, and they all basically rejected you.
CASTEIX: That was the hardest part. And it's a very unfortunate part of the Catholic culture, that it's so easy to blame the victim, because child molesters are dynamic, outgoing individuals. Otherwise they wouldn't attract children to them. And so it was very, very difficult. The school administration knew, and the state of California has a mandatory reporting law that requires that any adult who has even the slightest suspicion of child abuse has to report that person to the proper authorities.
And that should have been done in my case, and it wasn't.
COOPER: And your parents as well? I mean, your dad -- they...
COOPER: They supported the church?
CASTEIX: I wouldn't exactly say they supported the church, but at the same time, the level of blame was strictly placed upon me.
COOPER: So when was it that you came to face what had happened to you and to decide to try to do something about it?
CASTEIX: It's been a long process. It's been a good 15 years of healing and counseling. I originally came forward a couple of years ago when there was a large settlement, a civil settlement in Orange County, against another priest who was the principal of my high school when I was there.
COOPER: Right, that's the other thing. The principal of your school at this time later went on to be convicted of other offenses against other children?
CASTEIX: Correct. He was never criminally charged, but there have been allegations from at least 15 students and a civil lawsuit that was -- that ended up being settled, where he was at fault.
COOPER: When you heard that the Supreme Court had ruled this way yesterday, basically -- I mean, does it eliminate your chances of any sort of criminal prosecution, pursuing anything through the courts?
CASTEIX: Yes, unfortunately it does. But it's one battle that we have lost, but there are many more that we can continue to try to win. Although criminally I really have no way to go about making sure that my perpetrator's behind bars, I have the civil courts, and I can pursue a civil case.
COOPER: But you were pursuing criminal charges. I mean, you had a police officer involved. You were all ready to go?
CASTEIX: Correct. When I filed my report in February, I worked with the detective, and we were ready to go, full force, as soon as we found out about the Supreme Court decision.
COOPER: Well, Joelle Casteix, I appreciate you coming in, and good luck to you, and I hope you find some peace in all of this. Thank you very much for being with us.
CASTEIX: Thank you.
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