In recent months, victims of the ongoing sexual assault and abuse legal case against Valley Forge Military Academy have shed some light on several instances where abuse such as hazing, sexual assaults, and fighting took place. To summarize the initial complaint placed against the military academy, there were reports of the following scenarios including but not limited to torture, beating with foreign objects, waterboarding, recording sexual relations, and “tooth pasting”. Since then, former cadets have come forward to tell their stories and experiences during their time at the military academy.
Jordan Schumacher shares his story as a patrol officer at Valley Forge Military Academy and what happened on a cold night in September 2020. Because school officials were doing little to address the violent environment on campus, Schumacher had taken it upon himself to monitor the grounds as much as possible. He noticed something strange while going along a mossy brick road this evening: a gang of upperclassmen was teasing a few trembling cadets behind a storage shed, out of view of campus security cameras. He'd come across an unofficial version of the "cap shield" exam, an induction ceremony in which new recruits are tested about the Forge's nearly century-long background. The exam marks the end of a sort of boot camp for incoming university students.
Schumacher has been a part of the Military Academy since 2019, and himself has been a part of many school rituals with hopes to focus on the Academy’s curricula on cybersecurity and counterterrorism. During his time as a student, he witnessed various encounters of sexual violence amongst students including extreme hazing from higher ups like campus leaders.
Nothing in their military experience has been as terrible as their years at the Forge, according to several graduates who serve in the military. Young Sheng, a 2015 graduate, remembers a world of sleep deprivation, verbal abuse, and "smoking," or rigorous physical fitness that made cadets puke and pass out. Sheng claims that the torture "amped up my anger issues," leading him to assault others. "Letting students have this much control over each other's life is really careless," he remarked. "Abuse of every aspect of a person's being was rampant in the culture." "I didn't feel like a human the bulk of the time I was there," says another alumni.
Students of color and female cadets were welcomed, though not enthusiastically. Harold Price, chair of the foreign languages department at Forge, said in a 2007 racial discrimination lawsuit that the school wasn't painting away racist graffiti—the suit mentions one Black cadet who equated the school culture to a "race war." Racial slurs were frequent, according to some sources: "15-year-old white guys with silver spoons in their mouths saying the n-word." "It was revolting," a 2020 graduate says.
These are just a few examples of the sexual assault and abuse experiences cadets faced while being enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy.
Over the last four years, Radnor Township Police Department has responded to the Military Academy for serious injuries by students that should have been punished but was not retained nor received any consequences for their actions. Alleged offenses made include a stabbing incident where one student used a pair of scissors to stab another as well as a student using a baseball bat to bash another. Aside from the constant brutality classmates had against each other, staff members of the academy allegedly pocketed student tuition which was between $38,000 to about $48,000 depending on the grade level per student.
Due to financial constraints, administrators have eliminated sports, reduced course offerings, and assigned teachers to subjects they are unfamiliar with, resulting in an academic declining trend so severe that some Forge cadets claim some schools no longer accept transfer credits for several of their courses. The campus is deteriorating as well, with rats, insects, and mold infesting the barracks on a regular basis, and cadets complaining of burnt and rotten food in the dining hall. Assault, arson, burglary, larceny, narcotics and weapons possession, stalking, and rape are all documented in the police records and campus security files.
Administrators at Valley Forge refused to answer specific questions regarding the issues presented in this report or to make named personnel, administrators, or trustees accessible for interviews. 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," according to retired Marine Col. Stuart Helgeson, the school's president.