Sexual, Physical, and Mental Abuse at Catlin Gabel: Five More Women Sue

three big pictures of plaintiffs as young girls

Our firm issued this Press Release today:

Portland, OR




When she was in middle school, she gave her teacher a Mickey Mouse watch she bought with her allowance money. She thought he was her boyfriend. He first molested her in a windowless storage room beneath the library at Catlin Gabel.

Mary Doe 1 is one of five women who filed four lawsuits today for abuse at Catlin Gable they suffered when they were students. The lawsuits allege sexual, physical, and emotional abuse from the late 1960s to 2001 involving five Catlin Gabel teachers.

Gilion Dumas, one of the attorneys for the five women who filed cases today, said, “These cases publicly identify three alleged Catlin Gabel perpetrators for the first time by claiming sexual abuse by Fred Corbett, physical abuse by Susan Sowles, and mental cruelty by Dale Rawls.” Rawls still works at Catlin Gabel.

The other two teachers, Sam Crawley and Richardson “Dick” Shoemaker, were two of 21 former teachers and staff at Catlin Gabel discussed in a report on sexual abuse that the school released last December. The report discussed sexual impropriety by adults at the school with minors dating back to the 1960s that ranged from boundary violations and grooming to criminal acts of sexual assault. The report identified six men by name, with detailed allegations of their sexual molestation of minors, including Crawley and Shoemaker.

“Catlin’s report shows that the school did not follow mandatory reporting laws,” said Ashley Vaughn, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “Instead of calling the police when the school learned a teacher was physically or sexually abusing a child, Catlin administrators denied the abuse or ignored it. Because of the school’s inaction, children continued to be abused. These cases show why mandatory reporting training and laws that apply to all teachers, including those at private schools, are so important,” said Vaughn.

The lawsuits allege Catlin Gabel was negligent for its own conduct in knowingly allowing child abuse at the school. The lawsuits also claim that Catlin Gabel is vicariously liable for the abuse by its teachers. Vaughn said that the cases also include fraud claims that Catlin Gabel covered up the danger of sexually predatory, violent, and bullying teachers at the school, putting the students at risk.

“Talking to former students and reading Catlin’s own report makes clear that that the sequestered culture of Catlin Gabel fostered sexual and physical abuse by adults with students,” said Dumas. “But we now know that the report was just the beginning. We expect many other former Catlin students still have stories to tell.”

Gilion Dumas and Ashley Vaughn specialize in cases involving child abuse and adult sexual assault. They represent Kim Wilson, who filed the first lawsuit against Catlin Gabel for sex abuse by Shoemaker.


  1. Mary Doe 1

Plaintiff Mary Doe 1 alleges that Catlin teacher Fred Corbett sexually abused her in approximately 1968-1970, when she was in the 7th-9th grades and was 12-14 years old. The Catlin Report did not name Corbett, but identified him as “Employee 2.” Mary Doe 1’s experience with Corbett is described in the Report as:

A student reported that this employee showed an inappropriate romantic interest in her when she was in the 7th and 8th grades. He reportedly told her to meet him at various locations on campus including the library, where they would have sexual intercourse.

This description is not accurate. “When I read the Report, it hurt me that they couldn’t even get it right,” said Mary Doe 1. “It was like Catlin didn’t listen to me.”

Mary Doe 1’s Complaint alleges that Corbett molested her on five or six occasions, each time involving kissing, fondling, and forcing her to give him oral sex. On at least one occasion, the Complaint alleges, Corbett forced her to engage in mutual oral sex. The abuse did not happen in the school library, but once in a windowless room under the library, two or three times after basketball games, at least once in his car, and once at a house where she was babysitting. She seeks $6 million in noneconomic damages.

  1. Emily White and Mary Doe 2

Plaintiffs Emily White and Mary Doe 2 both allege that they were abused by Catlin teacher Samuel Crawley. Crawley was a high school English teacher at Catlin from 1973 to 1984. The Catlin Report details allegations of sexual abuse by Crawley against “multiple” former CGS students during the period of his employment.

White alleges she was abused by Crawley beginning when she was 17 and the sexual relationship ended when she was 19. White graduated in the class of 1984. Mary Doe 2 alleges she was abused by Crawley beginning when she was 17 and the sexual relationship ended when she was 18. Doe graduated in the class of 1983. Each woman seeks $1,550,000 in damages.

Both women bring claims for child abuse for the kissing, touching, and sexual exploitation that happened before their 18th birthdays. Both also allege claims for battery for Crawley’s sexual assaults after they turned 18. They bring these claims under Oregon’s new extended statute of limitations for adult sexual assault that went into effect January 1, 2020. They allege he groomed them for a sexual relationship when they were minors by isolating them from friends, peers, family, and other teachers at Catlin and manipulated them to become emotionally codependent on him.

  1. Sarah Jones

Plaintiff Sarah Jones alleges that Catlin teacher Dale Rawls mentally abused her in 1994 and teacher Susan Sowles physically and mentally abused her in 1996. The Catlin Report does not mention either Rawls or Sowles. One of the criticisms of the report is that Catlin limited its scope to sexual abuse and did not include complaints of physical abuse or mental cruelty. Rawls still works at Catlin Gabel.

Jones started at Catlin as an eight grader in 1993. Her lawsuit alleges that at her eighth grade graduation ceremony, when it was her turn to be individually recognized in front of her class, their families, and teachers, Dale Rawls intentionally, sexually shamed her for “dating her way through the eighth grade.” He said that he saw her kissing a boy on campus, made sloppy kissing noises with his mouth and hands to demonstrate, and talked about how she tried to make friends and fit in at her new school by kissing “all the boys.” Rawls concluded his prepared statements by presenting Jones with an “award” of a pair of windup toy lips. Because of Rawls’s public, sexualized humiliation of Jones, the case alleges, she was taunted for being a “slut” all through her high school years at CGS.

“What Dale Rawls did came out of the blue. I thought he was going to talk about how I played soccer or had a major role in the class play, like the other teachers talked about the other kids. Instead, he humiliated me on purpose and made it about promiscuity,” said Jones. “I’ve been terrified of speaking in public since then or even speaking up in a group for fear of humiliation at that level.”

When she was a junior, the lawsuit alleges that Jones and her friends were talking too loudly in the library. Susan Sowles forcibly grabbed Jones by the shirt and pulled her out of her chair. Sowles put her hands around Jones’s throat and pushed her up against a bookcase so she could not move. Sowles yelled at Jones to “shut her mouth” and “respect” the librarian. Sowles then commanded Jones follow her to Sowles’s office. There, Sowles was enraged, shook her hands in Jones’s face, and threatened to have Jones kicked out of Catlin if Jones told anyone what happened. Sowles threatened Jones that, if Jones reported Sowles, no one would believe Jones because Sowles had worked at Catlin for a long time and, Sowles said, Jones was just a “stupid, disrespectful teenager” and Sowles would tell everyone she was lying.

The lawsuit alleges that Jones did report the incident to another Catlin teacher a few days later, a music teacher named Glenn Burnett. A few days later, Burnett told Jones that she should never speak of the incident to anyone at Catlin again because, if she did, she would be kicked out of the school. Jones does not believe that the librarian, Burnett, or anyone at Catlin reported Sowles’s abuse to law enforcement or the Department of Human Services.

Jones alleges that Catlin Gabel is vicariously liable for the abuse by Rawls and Sowles because they were acting in their roles as Jones’s teachers when they abused Jones. She seeks a total of $750,000 in damages.

  1. Mary Doe 3

Plaintiff Mary Doe 3 alleges she was sexually and psychologically abused by Richardson “Dick” Shoemaker during the 2000/2001 school year when she was in the sixth grade. Shoemaker was her math teacher and girls’ basketball coach. Shoemaker was named in the Catlin Report and was the most notorious of Catlin Gabel’s sexually abusive teachers. The Report notes that prior to Mary Doe 3’s abuse, several girls had gone to CGS teachers or administration on different occasions to complain that Shoemaker had molested them. On more than one occasion, Catlin employees responded to these complaints by telling the girls that they had to confront Shoemaker themselves.

Mary Doe 3 alleges that, beginning when she was just 11 years old, Shoemaker abused her at his desk by touching her hips and buttocks at least six separate times; touching her breasts over her shirt at least once; and forcing her to sit on his lap. According to the earlier lawsuits and the CGS Report, Shoemaker was notorious for this kind of conduct and abused countless girls the same way for years. She and her friends sat in the back of the classroom and escaped to the bathroom during class to cry about Shoemaker’s abuse and comfort each other. Shoemaker also abused Plaintiff repeatedly during basketball practice, under the pretense of teaching her different moves, like “boxing out.”  He grabbed her hips, put his hands between her thighs, and thrust his pelvis against her backside.

During the 2000/2001 school year, a group of Mary Doe 3’s classmates reported Shoemaker’s abuses to the school counselor; instead of reporting Shoemaker to the authorities or disciplining him, the counselor told the girls they should confront Shoemaker themselves. When Doe 3 found out that the counselor didn’t take her classmates seriously, she reported Shoemaker’s abuse to Paul Berg, the head of the middle school. Berg told her that he wasn’t going to do anything about it, since Shoemaker was leaving at the end of the year anyway.

“I saw my classmate’s anguish after they had to confront Shoe themselves and could not stop him harassing and touching them. So I went to Paul Berg and he just told me to drop it. We all felt like we weren’t getting the help we needed,” said Mary Doe 3. “None of the adults would protect us so we tried to hide in the girls’ bathroom during math class as often as we could.”

Mary Doe 3 seeks $2,000,000 in damages.

Even after Shoemaker “retired” in 2001, he continued to show up on campus to volunteer, including around kids. Later, when he was supposed to be banned from campus, he continued to attend alumni events until he died in 2018.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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