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Published on October 30th, 2012 |

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Sex scandals hit 2 major Buckhead private schools

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    Sex scandals of a sort have plagued two of Buckhead’s prominent private schools—the Westminster Schools and Pace Academy—this week, involving a student athlete and fine arts teacher. Both have been arrested and are facing local charges and federal charges.

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this morning reported that a 17-year-old football player for Westminster Schools was in the Fulton County jail Monday awaiting a bond hearing on a charge that he sexually assaulted a teammate in the gym showers according to a police report.

    Pace Academy’s
    Fred Assaf
    William Jackson Houk reportedly turned himself into Atlanta Police on Sunday. He is charged with aggravated sexual battery.

    Meanwhile, Joey Villemez, who was the middle and upper school fine arts teacher for the last seven years at Pace Academy has been arrested and charged with possessing child pornography which he allegedly purchased from a home computer, according to a letter the school sent home to parents on Monday.

     “These images came to light as a result of a multi-year federal investigation, which we learned about today,” Pace headmaster Fred Assaf said in the letter. He told the AJC in an email that the teacher was fired Monday morning after the school was notified of the charges. The teacher is no longer employed by Pace Academy, the letter said.

    “We are cooperating with federal agents as they continue their investigation. I want to stress to you that, according to federal investigators, [the teacher] has not involved any current or former Pace students in this situation, and there is no evidence of inappropriate physical contact between [the teacher] and Pace students or other children,” Assaf said in the letter.

    He said the faculty was made aware of the arrest after school on Monday. He said school officials planned to meet with students in the middle and upper schools Tuesday morning.

    “The emotional wellbeing of our students is our primary concern at this time. This news is incredibly shocking and upsetting to all of us in the Pace community, and we know that healing will take time,” Assaf wrote.

    Westminster Schools
    William Clarkson
    Westminster Schools also sent an email Monday afternoon to parents, school trustees and staff alerting them to what police are investigating as a sexual assault, but it provided few details.

    School president William Clarkson wrote in his email that the incident took place last week and the school learned of the incident when some coaches overheard players talking about it at a practice and questioned the alleged victim.

    The alleged victim’s parents had left for an overseas trip when the school contacted his aunt, who was taking care of him while the parents are away.

    According to police, the incident occurred on Oct. 22 and the aunt learned about it from the school the following day. She, her nephew and an official from the school went to Children’s Health Care of Atlanta on Oct. 23 and that is when Atlanta Police were called.

    Clarkson said this is believed to be the first time an incident like this happened at the school in its 60-year history. 

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      3 Responses to Sex scandals hit 2 major Buckhead private schools

      1. Anonymous says:

        Not surprised. Pace Academy is in major denial when it comes to issues involving faculty members or their children who attend there and get away with all sorts of things. I know this for a fact, from my own experience with the school.

      2. Anonymous says:

        Worked at pace for three years and always thought mr villamez had an inappropriate relationship with students in the lower school

      3. Anonymous says:

        Not surprised either, 80’s Westminster graduate here. I was also the victim of an aggravated sexual assault, of which at least two coaches were aware, and they did nothing to help me, rather, they made it worse by threatening me if I continued to speak out.

        This kind of behavior has been swept under the rug for years, and many children have lived their adult lives with trauma issues because of it. As much as I am horrified to hear about this latest incident, I am glad that light is finally getting into these long-hidden dark corners.

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