Identities Revealed of Three Former Palma Employees Accused of Child Sexual Abuse
February 27, 2012
The Herald has confirmed the identities of the three religious employees who were "outed" at a press conference this morning by a group that claims Palma High is one of many Irish Christian Brothers schools that harbored men convicted or credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
Not all of the men are accused of molesting boys at Palma, whose students have until Aug. 1 to come forward with any claims of abuse or lose their right to do so. The court-ordered deadline comes from the federal court where the Irish Christian Brothers and the Christian Brothers Institute of New York have declared bankruptcy in the wake of mounting abuse allegations.
One of the men, Brother Jerome Heustis, was Palma's principal for six years in the 1980s. He has been accused by at least two boys, one of whom, Robert Hoatson, is suing Heustis and is a creditor in the bankruptcy case. Hoatson alleges he was abused in the Midwest.
Another of the named men is the Rev. Gerald Funcheon. Palma President Brother Patrick Dunne confirmed Friday that Funcheon was chaplain and taught at the school from 1984 to 1985. Newport Beach attorney Mike Reck said he is preparing a lawsuit and bankruptcy claim on behalf of a former Palma student who alleges he was molested by Funcheon.
Funcheon was a Crosier priest from Minnesota who had been banished from the Diocese of Indianapolis after allegations of sexual abuse, according to Joelle Casteix, regional director of Survivors Network of those Abused by
Priests (SNAP), which called this morning's press conference.
Funcheon was one of the perpetrators named in a class-action lawsuit in Minnesota in 2006.
Funcheon arrived at Palma, with the blessings of Bishop Sylvester Ryan and his own Crosier provincial, after allegations arose at Damien Memorial High School in Hawaii in 1984, according to press reports at the time.
The third man, Brother Robert Brouillette, taught at Palma from 1964 to 1968. He subsequently also taught at Damien in Hawaii in the 1970s and 80s.
In 1997, he was arrested in a Cook County, Ill., sting operation when he attempted to meet a 12-year-old boy he'd met in an online chat room, press reports confirm. Brouillette later admitted to collecting and distributing more than 400 images of child pornography.
He was convicted of ten counts of possession of child pornography and sentenced to four years probation.
Casteix said at least three men have come forward and filed child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuits against Brouillette and the Irish Christian Brothers. The suits allege that Brouillette abused children in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois and New Mexico and that the Irish Christian Brothers intentionally moved him from state to state to cover up his abuse.