An unfortunate JET story

Other than Big Daikon, I’m not sure where this story was shared on the [expat] net. Last month in Maryland, a teacher was arrested on a charge of abusing minors. The accused, Kevin Ricks, had been a JET in Kyushu in the early 1990’s.

As the Washington Post reports in a timeline:

Going overseas with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET), he moved to Kyushu, the nation’s southernmost island, to teach English. Hired as a town teacher in Oguni, he was treated like a rock star and befriended many local youths. He had a special living space called “Kevin’s Room” where he regularly gathered with young boys. After Ricks married on Dec. 20, 1992, Abby Ricks joined him in Japan.

In 1994, Ricks took one boy, T K, on a trip to the United States and drove across the country with him. In a California hotel room, Ricks gave K shots of tequila until he passed out, K said. Law enforcement officials say Ricks then made nude videotapes and photographs of K while molesting him.

Ricks left Japan in 1995 after he was accused of shoplifting and school officials refused to renew his contract.

Although Kevin Ricks was apparently able to evade detection for several decades, you have to wonder whether some of this JET “exchange” treatment gave the guy the perfect cover to do bad things.

That’s another reason I say Japan should scrap JET in favor of a “Teach for Japan” program.

17 thoughts on “An unfortunate JET story

  1. OH my god. No way. I refuse to believe you use “proof” like this to argue against the JET program. If 90 percent of JETs were child molesters, then you might have a point. But as it stands it looks like ONE single individual in the history of the program.

    That is so much LESS than the percentage of people in the general teaching population who are child molesters. There fore, you could say if you loved to manipulate statistics as much as I KNOW you do, that JETs are LESS likely to be child molesters than the average Joe Teacher somewhere.

    Does school in GENERAL then provide “perfect cover to do bad things”?

    1. Kei, I’m not offering it as proof. But the fact is, it happened. It happened because JET just goes out into the world and picks anybody. Then, treats them like rock stars.

      I don’t think it’s just one individual in the history of the program. I have no doubt it is one among those caught. It’s like Catholic priests.

      I am not manipulating statistics. I’m merely saying that it’s an unfortunate incident and it makes the JET Program look bad. Do you think it makes it look good? Who’s manipulating the statistics?

  2. I’m just so angry you would even post this. You’re so logical otherwise!! But you just go nuts and right wing on this issue that can be reasonably argued both ways, refusing to concede to another point of view or accept efficiency revisions to the program instead of total elimination, and stick to this baseless ideological premise that JET is somehow fiscally irresponsible and “BAD” for reasons you cant quite prove without resorting to shock stories like this.

    the next thing you’ll be using phrases like “anti-family” to describe JET.

    What is it about the program that just makes you so….. republican????

    1. Well, I am not a Republican in the contemporary sense. If you want to walk it back about 40 or 50 years, then, yes, I could fit the bill as Republican. Back then, the party was much more moderate and liberal.

      I am only posting about what the Washington Post reported. It’s fact. Kevin Ricks had a problem, and he served in the JET. Frankly, the JET, as an exchange program, sucks. It does. The whole campaign to “save” it is coming from ex-JETs who refuse to see the big picture. They just reminisce about their time as JETs.

      It’s like the people who won’t let Japan enforce its health care and pension laws. They live in their own prefabricated world, and never mind what’s going on in the rest of the world.

      Picking people out of the blue to be these Exchange-Ambassasor-“Teachers” is plain stupid. You can argue whether a “Teach for Japan” is a scrapping of JET or a major revision. But honestly, there needs to be a change. The Kevin Ricks’s are sideshows to the fact that there has to be a change.

  3. and all of a sudden you’re in favor of something you call a “Teach For Japan” program. And what exactly would that be except… REVISIONS TO THE JET PROGRAM!!! Both would be highly exclusive, both would be government run, and both would end up selecting a mixed pool of applicants with good and bad results.

    Do you just not like the acronym JET? Prefer TFJ??

    1. I don’t think so. “Teach for Japan” would be a teaching corps. The idea of “exchange” is totally out of it. You teach just like a regular teacher. No Japan Gaikokujin Rock Star shit. It’s a job.

      As to whether it would be “highly exclusive”, I beg to differ. Someone associated with the school would be doing the picking, maybe the government administrative board. Right now with the ALT Dispatch system, a lot of the picking is being done by Heart, Interac, RCS, JALSS, etc. What kind of background checks are they doing? They essentially are looking for a warm body so that they can take their $5,000 a head. They can get away with that pricing structure because of the presence of JET.

      Make it one government organization that is pulling talent from both within Japan and outside of Japan, and you clear up a lot of the problems that surround teaching English in Japan.

  4. It is interesting that you use the catholic church as a paralell, since the catholic church ONLY received attention in connection with child molestation because of the sheer NUMBERS of priests getting caught molesting boys. If there had only been ONE reported instance of a priest molesting someone, you think it would have raised concern as to whether or not the clergy needed reform????? NO!!!!

    You are also saying JET “picks people out of the blue” when we both know that is not true. Neither of us can pinpoint exactly HOW selective JET is, but we both know there is some criteria that distinguishes it from programs like Interac. And what you’re saying, pulling tallent from both within and outside Japan or expanding the program to put crap like Interact out of business all amounts to “REFORM” which I am totally for.

    And stop saying Rockstar! Because that phenomenon has nothing to do with JET and everything to do with Japan.

    I just can’t believe you would post this article.

    JETs are LESS likely to be child molesters than NORMAL JAPANESE TEACHERS for christ sake. You have any idea how many of them get “relocated” or “reprimanded” for having inappropriate relationships with their own students? No, you don’t, because those types of numbers aren’t even recorded. They’re just brushed under the rug and forgotten.

    Please tell me you see my point on this article.

    1. Kei, I agree that statistics would show that there are bad people in any group. All that the Washington Post pointed out is that there was a bad JET that few, if any, people knew about.

      But, I think you have to admit that JET as currently structured is not really defensible.

      1. I find I have to agree with Kei.

        Saying there are huge problems with JET is one thing. Claiming one of their problems is a paedophile managed to infiltrate into the organisation is a bit of a non sequitur.

        1. Unless you interpret it as: after 20 years, authorities finally caught up with a bad apple.

          Despite Kei’s histrionics, what I actually said was this:

          you have to wonder whether some of this JET “exchange” treatment gave the guy the perfect cover to do bad things.

  5. I don’t know what to say about your posting of this article except to repeat what I’ve already said. It doesn’t prove anything and it barely relates to JET. Its nauseatingly anecdotal and belongs on Glen Beck’s talk radio show.

    How does the “cover to do bad things” provided by JET differ from any situation in which potentially bad people who passed background checks are entrusted with the safety of children? I.e. teachers of any type, anywhere, in any country in the world who aren’t found out until way too late.

  6. I agree that it doesn’t prove anything about the JET program by itself. My point about JET goes back to the several blog posts in July. Kevin Ricks is just a sideshow.

    What I said is that some of this “exchange” (the “E” of J-E-T that many JETters are focusing on) provided great cover for someone who was essentially a bad guy. I still believe that that’s a fair assessment, and I don’t think it’s a shot at the program.

    Yes, obviously, the man went back to America and got pure teaching jobs, and got away with what he was doing for years. Plus, the revolving door of dispatch teachers would present the same problem within Japan, would it not?

    The article was in the Washington Post, of all papers—read by many of the movers and shakers in the capital. I can appreciate that some people who are associated with JET don’t want the story publicized. But my readership is not the size of the Washington Post by any means. So if I point out that a bad apple is yet one other reason why they (whoever in Japan that’s running it) should do a review of the program, I don’t see why anyone should get their socks twisted all out of shape.

    The budding JET-tantrum on the net is starting to sound like “Who Moved My Cheese”? It’s the 2010 summer version of the health care cheater Free Choice scam.

  7. I just didn’t think you posted sideshows is all. But Im happy you called it what it is.

    You are AGAIN saying that the E in JET provided great cover for someone who was a bad guy, and its essentially saying that if it had been called TFJ, it might not have happened. No scrapping of JET or reform to the program would prevent child molesters anywhere from obtaining jobs that put them in close proximity to children. How does the “exchange” aspect of JET provide cover in a different way than the “teaching” aspect of the same acronym.

    You keep saying you’re not using this article as proof and that its not a shot at the program… and then you say, “a bad apple is yet one other reason why they (whoever in Japan that’s running it) should do a review of the program”

    No, a bad apple is NOT a reason to review the program. It has absolutely nothing to do with the program.

    1. I’m not going to answer the parts that really were quoted out-of-context. I gave other reasons why JET is no good as it currently stands, and I don’t want to focus on Kevin Ricks.

      Where you say, however, that a “bad apple is NOT a reason” to review a program, we just disagree. A bad apple like Kevin Ricks is always a reason to review a program. You want to find out how the bad apple got in there.

  8. There is more than just Kevin in the last 10 years. The problem isn’t the program, the problem is Japan wanting that sweet Gov. money per ALT. They don’t care how well the ALT does, just so long as they keep getting the money. Why else do you think they keep recontracting deadbeats?

    1. I didn’t know Kevin, so I can’t particularly say. But it seems that the program is more of a holding pen to place young westerners so that Japan can have its young people do working holidays abroad. I don’t expect that ever to change.

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