Victims of the ongoing sexual assault and abuse lawsuit case against Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, PA, have recently revealed details about many incidents of hazing, sexual assaults, and fighting. To paraphrase the initial complaint filed against the military college, there were claims of mistreatment, beatings with foreign objects, waterboarding, filming sexual interactions, and "tooth pasting," among other things. Former cadets have since come forward to share their experiences and memories from their time at the military college.
Jordan Schumacher recounts his experiences as a patrol officer at Valley Forge Military Academy, including what occurred on a chilly night in September 2020. Schumacher had taken it upon himself to watch the grounds as much as possible because school officials were doing little to address the violent situation on campus. While walking along a mossy brick road this evening, he spotted something odd: a band of upperclassmen was taunting a few terrified cadets behind a storage shed, hidden from campus security cameras. He'd discovered an unofficial version of the "cap shield" exam, a ceremonial induction in which new members are quizzed on the Forge's nearly century-long history. For incoming university students, the exam marks the end of a sort of boot camp.
Schumacher has been a member of the Military Academy since 2019 and has participated in numerous school rituals with the aim of focusing on the Academy's cybersecurity and counterterrorism curricula. He witnessed several incidents of sexual assault among students throughout his time as a student, including harsh hazing by higher-ups such as college leaders.
According to numerous graduates who are currently serving in the military, nothing in their military experience has been as bad as their time at the Forge. Sheng, a 2015 cadet, recalls a world of sleep deprivation, verbal abuse, and "smoking," or hard physical conditioning that caused cadets to puke and pass out. Sheng believes that the torture "heightened my rage issues," prompting him to assault others. "It's incredibly reckless to give students this much control over each other's lives," he said. "In the culture, abuse of every facet of a person's being was prevalent." Another alum states, "I didn't feel like a human for the majority of my time there."
Female cadets and students of color were accepted, but not enthusiastically. In a 2007 racial discrimination lawsuit, Harold Price, chair of the foreign languages department at Forge, claimed that the school was not removing racist graffiti—the suit quotes one Black cadet who compared the school culture to a "race war." According to some stories, racial slurs were common: "15-year-old white lads with silver spoons in their mouths saying the n-word." A 2020 graduate describes the experience as "revolting."
These are just a few examples of the challenges cadets faced during their time at Forge Valley Military Academy.
The Radnor Township Police Department has responded to the Military Academy several times in the last four years for alleged serious injuries caused by students who should have been punished but were not retained or faced any consequences for their actions. A stabbing incident in which one student used a pair of scissors to stab another, as well as a student bashing another student with a baseball bat, are among the alleged infractions. Aside from the frequent cruelty between students, staff employees of the institution allegedly stole student money, which ranged from $38,000 to $48,000 per student depending on grade level.
Due to financial concerns, administrators cut sports, limited course options, and assigned teachers to subjects they were inexperienced with, leading in a major academic decline. According to several Forge cadets, some schools are no longer accepting transfer credits for several of their courses. The campus is also deteriorating, with vermin, insects, and mold often contaminating the barracks, and cadets complaining about burnt and rotten food in the dining hall. Police reports and campus security files detail assault, arson, burglary, theft, narcotics and weapons possession, stalking, and rape.
Valley Forge administration refused to respond to specific questions about the difficulties raised in this study, or to make specified workers, administrators, or trustees available for interviews. According to retired Marine Col. Stuart Helgeson, the school's president, the Forge has "zero tolerance for hazing and illegal and inappropriate activity," "thorough policies and procedures in place to address allegations of wrongdoing," and "a proven track record of taking action to address concerns quickly and appropriately."