Joelle Elizabeth Casteix (born 1970) is an American writer, journalist, and victims’ rights advocate. She is a leading global expert, author, and keynote speaker for survivors of child sexual assault and institutional cover-up. With more than two decades of strategic communications experience, Casteix is an expert in child sexual abuse prevention, digital accountability, social media safety, and international online privacy issues. Casteix is a former western regional director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Early life and education
Casteix was born in Orange, California, and graduated from Mater Dei Catholic High School in Santa Ana, CA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Santa Barbara (1992) and completed a Secondary Teaching Certificate at the University of Colorado, Denver, in 1995. She also studied at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England.
Since coming forward publicly in 2002 as a survivor of child sexual abuse, Casteix has devoted her career to exposing abuse, advocating on behalf of survivors, and spreading abuse prevention strategies for parents and communities. She is a regular speaker for the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, and The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Casteix runs the Worthy Adversary blog, which provides information and commentary on child sexual abuse prevention and exposure.
Casteix is vice chair and founding board member of the Zero Abuse Project, a national nonprofit committed to transforming institutions in order to prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse. She has helped launch ZeroAbuse.ai, an innovative AI tool that evaluates the risk factors that suggest potential predatory individuals within an organization and those associated with cover-ups. Casteix is the leader of STOP: Survivors Taking on Predators, an organization dedicated to exposing child predators and cover-ups through legislative change and activism.
Casteix has collaborated with many plaintiffs’ attorneys nationwide and worked with the National Crime Victims’ Bar Association and legislators across the country to create victim-friendly laws and help victims get access to civil remedies, including civil window legislation for adult survivors of child sexual abuse in California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam.
Casteix is a volunteer national leader for the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and a RAINN Speakers Bureau member. She was on the initial lay review board for the Diocese of Orange. Later, she stepped down and became an outspoken critic of the boards.
Casteix is the host of two podcasts, The UNASKED Podcast and SpotTheLine podcast. She has appeared on several podcasts, including The Brand Called You, Bakersfield Observed with Richard Beene, VoiceAmerica, the RJI podcast series, and Guam’s K57 Radio station. She presented a Tedx Talk on The Power of Responsibility. She has been featured in documentaries, including The Case Died With Her and appeared on Real Crime Profile, discussing abuse detailed in the Netflix series The Keepers.
Casteix is on the advisory boards of numerous organizations dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse, including SafeHiringSolutions and SpotTheLine.
• The Well-Armored Child: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Sexual Abuse • The Power of Responsibility: Six Decisions That Will Help You Take Back Happiness and Create Unlimited Success • The Compassionate Response: How to help and empower the adult victim of child sexual abuse • Scram: A Parent’s Quick-Start Guide to Preventing, Identifying, and Ending Bullying • The Well-Armored Teen: Easy Tools Protect Your Teen and Tween From Sexual Abuse, Bullying, and Exploitation (The Well-Armored Child Library Book 1) • Yes, My Son. Wine Is One of the Five Food Groups: Finding Humor in Domestic Chaos, One Facebook Post at a Time
Casteix lives in Newport Beach, California, with her husband and son.
In 2005, the Catholic Diocese of Orange County, California, paid a $1.6 million settlement to Casteix after she filed a civil lawsuit alleging that then-choir director Thomas Hodgman repeatedly sexually assaulted her and gave her an STD in the late 1980s. Casteix was his student at Santa Ana’s Mater Dei High School. She was 15 years old, and he was 25. Documents released as part of the settlement show a 1989 letter signed by him and Mater Dei’s principal stating that Hodgman admitted to dating an underage Casteix and another student and having sexual intercourse with them. After more than a decade of advocacy, Hodgman was finally forced out of his job as a music professor in Adrian, Michigan, due to the sexual abuse of Casteix and one other girl while a teacher at Mater Dei High School.