Sunday, December 21, 2014

Principal apologizes for speaker, ID'd as swinger guru

Life coach Jason C. Jean, at center in black shirt and khakis, posted this photo from a presentation last year at Upper Dublin High School on his social media accounts and website.
Life coach Jason C. Jean, at center in black shirt and khakis, posted this photo from a presentation last year at Upper Dublin High School on his social media accounts and website.

Upper Dublin school officials are apologizing for not having fully vetted the background of a self-billed “life coach” whose past came to light when students started searching his name online during an assembly at which he spoke.

Turns out, the speaker, Jason C. Jean once ran “the ultimate swingers vacation” website.

The message by Principal Robert Schultz was sent to parents and guardians and cited “a number of concerns” that were raised about Thursday’s assembly for 11th- and 12th-grade students at the high school, as well as about “the credentials and background of the speaker.”

The speaker addressed some seniors last year, the principal said, and was invited back to meet with a larger group based on “very positive reviews of that gathering.”

More coverage
  • Principal's full apology to parents
  • In an email, Schultz declined to comment beyond the listserv message. He did not name the speaker. A phone call to Upper Dublin School District headquarters wasn't returned.

    But students and social media posts identified the speaker as Jean, a central Pennsylvania motivational speaker.

    Jean -- whose website and Tumblr page show a photograph from an event at the high school last May -- confirmed he spoke at the school this week.

    In an email Saturday, Jean said he was "unaware" of any issues with the assembly until he saw news reports about the apology.

    In the wake of Thursday’s event, questions about Jean’s past have risen. He is the founder of SwingFest, which the event’s website calls “the ultimate swingers vacation for adult couples and singles looking to get away for some sexy adult fun.”

    Upper Dublin High School senior Amanda Willis, who attended the event, called Jean “a terrible speaker.”

    “He was talking about how he played football for Penn State and that he was drafted into the Phillies at age 16, and that he owned a pasta sauce company and various night clubs,” Willis said.

    It was Jean’s mention of pasta sauce that spurred Willis and a friend to Google the self-proclaimed life coach. They wanted to know what company he helmed.

    But the results went beyond Bolognese or red gravy. They found an unflattering portrait of him on one blog post. 

    “We posted it on Twitter during the assembly,” Willis said. “Heads started shooting up and looking around. And they retweeted and retweeted.”

    The most Jean touched on his past during the speech was a mention of getting suspended from school for drinking at the age of 14, according to Willis. In fact, “he said he used to drink a lot in high school and said we should call our parents when we were drunk," Willis said.

    Indeed, a quick Internet search, as well as Jean’s own website, suggests his background may be somewhat more colorful.

    Jean appears to have been highly active in the adult-entertainment industry, described in a Playboy Radio press release as the “King of Swing” and giving a “Swinging 101” interview to Miami.com in 2009.

    Additionally, Jean filed for bankruptcy in 2010, asking to be excused from paying creditors. One creditor, however, filed court papers accusing Jean of funneling more than $170,000 from his swinging event companies to his wife’s bank account in order to hide his assets from creditors during bankruptcy proceedings. Jean agreed to pay that creditor $75,000 over five years, but admitted no wrongdoing.

    Jean said in the email that he spoke to the students about the importance of communication, bullying, being comfortable with oneself and other issues.

    "I spoke to the students regarding life and how you will NEVER make 100 percent of everyone happy or like you, so be you and love who you are," he wrote. "The only person who needs to love you is the person looking back at you in that mirror and that if you can't love or like yourself, others will have a hard time doing the same."

    Jean, who says he was not paid for the presentation, disputed some of the details of Willis' account of the event, saying he told students he simply bottled his own pasta sauce and played football during college, not specifically on Penn State's team.

    Willis said that, after the presentation, she and her friend showed Schultz the links they’d uncovered.

    “Our principal panicked and said he had nothing to do with the assembly,” Willis said. “We sent him more emails. Then he called me down to the office. He was mortified.”

    In the message to guardians, Schultz wrote: “While assemblies and speakers are often quickly forgotten, a strong reminder was served today that careful vetting is a must, and I assure you that it will not happen again.”

    On his website, Jean mentions being arrested once. He was charged in Lycoming County in 2009 with theft by deception for allegedly failing to do any home construction work for a customer, despite cashing the person’s nearly $20,000 check. That case was later dismissed, according to court records.

    But Jean’s motivational-speaking website makes little mention of his adult-themed enterprises.

    He describes himself as an entrepreneur and says his most successful businesses were “the construction company and the exclusive lifestyle event.”

    According to Willis, Jean told students that he used to make $7 million a year from his business investments until falling off a roof and deciding to spend more time with his family.

    “The whole thing was really weird,” she said.

    But, she said, the student body's sympathy toward Schultz has grown since local media outlets picked up the story.

    “We feel really bad for our principal because he’s a really great guy,” she said, noting Schultz apologized at the end of classes Thursday. “We’ll have better speakers in the future.”

    Philly.com staff writers Sam Wood and Alex Wigglesworth contributed to this report.


    Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

    Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443 or BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

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