A prominent leader in the field of “social emotional learning” in K-12 schools surrendered her therapist license days after an investigation by The Daily Wire found she may have repeatedly violated her duty to report child abuse she learned of during her discussions with “young teens” about sex.
On September 1, a week after The Daily Wire published an investigation on Jennifer Freed, she wrote on her blog that she was surrendering the license she had held for the past four decades.
“I ‘retired’ my MFT [Marriage & Family Therapy] therapist license after being a licensed therapist for 42 years,” Freed wrote. “I no longer identify with being an MFT therapist. I am more of a spiritual consultant and advisor. … These days, I want to be more mutual with people, sharing in the great journey of meaning-making and discovery.”
Freed called it a “conscious eraser” and referenced the potential of “being pushed out” of the profession. “This erasure will happen for all of us, one way or another, by choice or by circumstance,” Freed wrote. “Choosing to leave is so much more powerful than needing to leave or being pushed out.”
Freed is the founder of AHA! Santa Barbara, which is paid by public schools to conduct talk circles with children, while also running after-school programs where Freed talks with them about topics like their pubic hair grooming habits. Evidence suggests that Freed — who was ushered into schools based on her credentials as a psychologist, but markets herself as an astrologist and sex guru — repeatedly failed to disclosure cases of rape or abuse, and is accused by one woman of pressuring her not to press charges against a teacher who sexually harassed her, The Daily Wire reported August 24.
RELATED: ‘Social Emotional Learning’ Guru May Have Concealed Sex Abuse While Pushing ‘Young Teens’ To Enjoy Sex
Audry Nafziger, a career sex crimes prosecutor in Southern California, said the license forfeiture could be designed to allow her to continue to pressure teens into sexual conversation with fewer legal requirements for reporting abuse. Freed’s SEL group is still running programs on public school campuses and is now paying students $10 to come to them.
“Now that she’s surrendered it, she’s now likely not subject to any hearing from [the California Board of Behavioral Sciences] since all they have to hold over her is her license,” Nafziger told The Daily Wire, adding that “nobody gives up their license for nothing.”
Her license was set to expire on November 30, according to California records, making the fact that she took action to switch her status to “inactive” before then highly unusual.
The move could also allow her to function with impunity moving forward. “She won’t be a mandated reporter anymore. It’s a great asset for her, she can now do whatever she does without having to report on anyone,” Nafziger said.
Freed, who has been feted by celebrities like Prince Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow and currently has a best-selling self-help book, says she was helping students with their emotional health. But Freed’s own writings suggested that she was coaching young teen girls to be more sexual in order to relive experiences from her own youth.
“I had great sexual experiences with guys in junior high and high school, I had beautiful lovers, they were amazing, that was very lucky. And then I was with women too,” she said on the podcast Sex With Emily, where she was pictured surrounded by sex toy paraphernalia.
“Right now, redesign your first sexual experience… where would you be, who would you be with, who would know about it, who wouldn’t know about it. You just really get into all the possibilities to make it the most incredible initiatory experience you could ever have,” she continued.
“I had just finished my PhD in psychology and what my 400-page dissertation was on is teen girls and sex… It led me to realize what’s missing in education is what’s missing for girls and guys – I created this program called Sexual Wisdom,” she said. (It was billed to parents as Relationship Wisdom.)
In that dissertation, reviewed by The Daily Wire, Freed repeatedly says she looks at sex by young teens as a religious experience and views herself as a priestess ushering young girls through it, even fantasizing about how the boyfriends of young girls “taste.”
“Entering junior high school… we slowly progressed to genital play, where we delighted in the miracles of our mutual arousal,” she recalled of her own youth. “When we were joined as one, my skin and sex were holy places, and he was the ‘body of Christ.’”
The 2003 dissertation set out to establish the need for programs like Social Emotional Learning (SEL), which has since swept K-12 schools. In it, Freed published transcribed interviews with four girls talking about their experiences as young teens. She hoped to paint a portrait of a utopia where “young teens” had lots of great sex, with sharing the details with an adult mentor (her) an essential component. Instead, all four girls described situations they regretted, despite Freed repeatedly trying to get them to talk about their “pleasure.”
The first of the four teens described, at 13, getting “really drunk” before an “older” guy “took my virginity.” She did not want to have sex, but “he was very aggressive,” she said. The man left the bedroom and had sex with the girl’s friend, and is now in jail for killing someone, she said.
Freed asked the girl whether she got “pleasure” out of the experience and said, “So it sounds like, in your mind, sex is a great thing and a wonderful thing.”
Another teen described being raped by a 19-year-old when she was 15 and drunk at a party. “Were you aware of your own desire?” Freed asked the girl. “Did he know what he was doing? Like was he a good lover?”
The interviews did not support the argument she wanted to make — that teens were having great sex at a young age and wanted to talk about it with an adult — but Freed said they actually meant the opposite, but they were “reluctant to admit their desires” and “it was as if their right to have help was a new idea to them.”
All four of the interviewees disclosed apparent crimes to Freed — either outright rape or a sex crime based on age differential. But there is no indication Freed reported the incidents to authorities, which would be a violation of her mandatory reporter responsibilities.
Freed, who did not return a request for comment for this story, in August would state only that she followed all rules on reporting sexual abuse.
“As a mandated reporter I have followed all rules and regulations in reporting child abuse,” Freed said in an email. “All cases are confidential.”
Nafziger, the prosecutor, said her dissertation makes it “pretty clear she wasn’t interested in truly helping these girls.”
“As a licensed social worker she’s a mandatory reporter,” Nafziger said. “If an underage girl tells you she’s been raped, especially by force, you don’t put it in your dissertation and try to convince her it was actually a positive experience. You report it to the authorities.”
“People confide in her because of her status, and her dissertation makes it pretty clear that she wasn’t interested in truly helping these girls, she just wanted to brainwash them that being raped was a good thing,” she said. “I think the relevant question for today is under the guise of her nonprofit, how many conversations has she had with young people who had been sexually assaulted, and how many of those has she provided to law enforcement? Any?”
One teen girl who was paid for her involvement in AHA, who The Daily Wire is referring to only as Maria, said that Freed pressured her to masturbate and engage in lesbian sex. She’d say she wasn’t interested in women, “and Jennifer would question that and say, ‘Why can’t you be both?’” she told The Daily Wire.
Maria was attacked in a sexual manner by her teacher, and told The Daily Wire that Freed pressured her not to press charges. Freed allegedly told the girl that she’d be contributing to the over-incarceration of black men if she came forward with allegations against her black teacher — she said Freed wanted to personally host a “restorative justice” session instead of criminal proceedings. Maria refused Freed’s entreaty, and the teacher was convicted of battery and fired, and Maria received nearly a $1 million settlement. (Freed denied the allegations without explanation.)
RELATED: Woman Abused As Teen Says School’s ‘Social Emotional Learning’ Guru Pressed Her To Drop Charges Because Her Teacher Assailant Was Black
Nafziger said Freed’s suggestion amounted to abuse in itself. “Putting a victim of a sexual assault in a room with the offender and trying to make them work it out is completely abusive,” she said of the proposal for “restorative justice.”
SEL often brings students into contact with adults for intimate discussions, sometimes touting that former gang members and the likes have a unique ability to relate to youths. AHA has hired staff off of Craigslist, it says.
Freed used social media to lure participants into her sessions, posting a picture of a child-like drawing along with a prompt inviting children to an “all genders connect group.”
“Do you know a teenager 14-19 who wants to discuss deep topics around sexuality and relationship?” Freed wrote.
Just this month, AHA posted on Instagram that it would pay youth $10 to come to its “Ally” or “Guys Group” sessions at Santa Barbara Middle School and Santa Barbara High School. The payments further suggest that the adults want to spend time with the children more than the children want to spend time with them.
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