Father Martin Solma Says 16 Have Come Forward about Abuse at Chaminade
By Mike Rush
February 7, 2012
We have new information tonight involving allegations of sex abuse dating back to the 1970s at Chaminade College Preparatory.
The head of the Marianists says the same graduate who came to him a few months ago, had reached out in years past, and he says there were other accusations of abuse by others against the two former teachers in question.
Father Martin Solma says the complaints came in about these men at least eight or nine years ago. While he says they may not have been handled correctly then, the father, who's been at the helm for less than two years, says he'll do the right thing now.
Solma says it was late September of last year when a graduate of Chaminade came to him and reported he was sexually abused by two of his teachers in the 1970s, Brother Louis Meinhardt and Brother John Woulfe. Both men are now dead.
In mid-January, Solma sent this letter to 1,600 other alumni who attended during the years Meinhardt and Woulfe were there.
Solma, who has only held his post for the past year and a half says his research shows the same graduate reached out before in 2003 and 2009.
"He did make some attempts, early on in varied ways," said Solma.
And that there had been other allegations in the past against both men, including several letters alleging abuse by Meinhardt.
"Some that requested anonymity. One that I think was dealt with in 2003. I would say, I would deal with them differently today," said Solma.
Outside the Marianist headquarters, two people from the group SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, blasted the church. They say they didn't respond fast enough or reach out to enough people who may have been in contact with the men.
"The Marianists continue to very begrudgingly, very belatedly, very partially disclose information about these predators and their crimes," said David Clohessy with SNAP.
But Solma says, while he can't speak for previous leaders, he's committed to doing the right thing.
"That somebody in our order has contributed to the failure and to the hurt, I think it's appalling and it's shameful, no I'm not proud of that," said Solma.
So why did it take from September until January to get the word out? Solma says he was out of the country part of the time.
Sixteen more people have come forward saying they were either abused by the men witnessed some abuse.