Chelsea Burkett was a 16-year-old student when one of her teachers targeted her for sexual abuse.
“He first kissed me in this park in L.A.," Chelsea told "Nightline." "It was scary and it felt weird and gross. And, once he started abusing me it was just like accelerated very very quickly.”
The perpetrator was Joseph Koetters, a prominent English teacher at Marlborough, a prestigious all-girls
school in Los Angeles.
For Chelsea, now 32, what started as mental manipulation eventually crossed all lines “When I got pregnant, this part of me that I thought I was, this like woman who is sophisticated and like worldly and wise just fell apart,” she said. “So I continue to go through the motions but I was just kind of like dead inside.”
She says her trauma reached a crisis on a winter morning when driving to a friend’s house to work on a school project. “I got like massive cramps in the car and I was really really scared," she said. "By the time we got to her house… I ran straight in the front door straight past her mom and miscarried in the bathroom."
The shame and self-blaming lasted more than a decade, as Chelsea kept her harrowing experiences private. “I became like severely bulimic when I got pregnant and was for over seven years," she said. "I tried to kill myself in college… my sort of working assumption in life was that I wasn't worth anything."
Then a moment came in June 2014 that made her see differently, when another Marlborough alum broke her silence with similar allegations against the same teacher.