Stanislaus Responds to Abuse Allegations

By Dwayne Bremer
The Sea Coast Echo
July 25, 2007

Mississippi — Last week, a Wyoming resident filed a federal lawsuit against St. Stanislaus College, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and Brother William Leimbach claiming that Leimbach—a former dormitory supervisor at SSC—allegedly sexually and mentally abused a then-15-year-old student during the 1983-1984 school year.

This week, school officials answered questions about another alleged incident of sexual abuse involving Brother William which took place seven years later.

SSC President Brother Ronald Hingle said Tuesday that Leimbach was removed from St. Stanislaus after an alleged incident during the 1990-1991 school year. The alleged incident involved two sophomore students and Brother William, but no further information on the incident was given.

"When the allegation was made, we reported it to the authorities and Brother William was removed from active ministry with students."

Hingle said that Leimbach has not had any contact with students since the alleged incident, although he has been back at St. Stanislaus on a few occasions for meetings.

"He was removed from ministry to students in 1991," Hingle said. "For the past 16 years, he has been ministering with adults and doing internal ministry with members of the order. He is currently living in a retirement community of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in the New England area."

Hingle said the school's administration in 1991 was open with parents and faculty about the incident.

"Brother Paul Montero ('91 president) called the parents of the students involved in the situation so they could meet with their sons," Hingle said. "After speaking with the families, he called the authorities.

"He also informed both the faculty and the families of the students (at the time) at SSC of the matter.

"He encouraged students to speak with responsible adults if they had any questions on the matter. He wrote to the staff in a faculty bulletin, ". . . be sensitive towards students who might have been affected emotionally or otherwise by the circumstances of last week and may not be showing it or sharing their concerns with anyone else. Don't hesitate to notify me. . .or any member of the guidance department if you notice anything about a student that you feel should be checked on.

"Bro. Paul also communicated a similar message in a letter to the parents," Hingle said.

Montero is currently a General Councilor for the Institute of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in Rome.

More recently, Leimbach has been stationed at a retirement home in Burrillville, R.I., a story published in "The Call Newspaper" in nearby Woonsocket, R.I. said on July 20.

According to the Brother Martin High School (New Orleans) website, Leimbach's assignment is in Rhode Island, but the website does not specify what the assignment is.

Brother Ronald Corteau—the President of Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket— said Leimbach has been at the retirement home since Hurricane Katrina, but he has never been a faculty member at the school. Corteau said Leimbach came to Rhode Island along with three elderly brothers after Hurricane Katrina. Leimbach's position is as a supervisor over the elderly brothers' medical care, Corteau said.

"He basically lives and works at the retirement home and he does not have contact with minors," Corteau was quoted as saying.

Mount St. Charles and Saint Stanislaus are both Catholic high schools run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. St. Stanislaus was founded in 1854. The "Brothers" are a holy order which is independent from the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.

All Brothers take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The group owns and operates 10 Catholic Schools in the United States and one in England. Worldwide, there are more than 1,200 brothers in 32 countries.

Jim Thriffiley, a former teacher at St. Stanislaus, gave a little more information about Leimbach, but declined to comment on Leimbach as a person or the issues raised by the lawsuit.

Leimbach graduated high-school in 1968 from Saint Stanislaus, Thriffiley said. Leimbach then graduated from Our Lady of the Holy Cross College in New Orleans and became a "brother" sometime in the late 1970s, Thriffiley said.

During his time at SSC, Leimbach was a history teacher, a dorm supervisor, known as a '"prefect," and at one time he was the moderator of the student council, Thriffiley said.

Corteau said Monday that Leimbach—now in his 50s— had been staying at the retirement home; however, he recently took a brother in need of nursing home care back to Louisiana, the Rhode Island story said.

Leimbach is expected to return to Rhode Island after he delivers the elderly brother to Louisiana, the report said.

Corteau said the sexual abuse allegations have had an affect on the brothers in Rhode Island.

"It's the same as if someone in your family—your child, your wife, or some other relative—is accused of something," he was quoted as saying. "You are affected. You may not be legally involved, but it is upsetting and dispiriting."

On July 19, St. Stanislaus sent a letter to all parents of current students, the school's website said.

"This former faculty member (Leimbach) has not been at SSC for many years now," the statement said. " Allegations of sexual abuse perpetrated against any individual always give us pause for prayer. But, allegations of abuse of a young person by a member of the SSC staff deeply sadden the entire educational community at St. Stanislaus because such behavior is antithetical to our mission and to all we hold dear. The entire faculty and staff pledge themselves to honor the sacred trust that you have placed in us. We will be ever vigilant in our attempts to provide a healthy and wholesome atmosphere for your son and for all the young people in our care. Allegations of abuse of a young person by a member of the SSC staff deeply sadden the entire educational community at St. Stanislaus because such behavior is antithetical to our mission to all we hold dear. St. Stanislaus has a 'zero-tolerance' sexual abuse and harassment policy. Should any allegations come to light at our school, we will follow all applicable laws and cooperate fully with legal authorities."


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