High School Seminary Rector Suspended in Sexual Misconduct Allegation
By Annysa Johnson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
July 16, 2012
For the second time in recent weeks, the Capuchin Catholic religious order has removed a high-profile priest for a decades-old allegation of sexual misconduct involving a minor.
Father Dennis Druggan, rector and president of St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mt. Calvary — the nation’s oldest and largest school of its kind — was placed on administrative leave Friday, pending an investigation. The incident is alleged to have involved a minor at St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, Mont., about 25 years ago, the order said.
The Rosebud, Mont., County Attorney’s Office received the allegation in June and initially told the Capuchins that it would not investigate because it was beyond the statute of limitations. But County Attorney Michael Hayworth said Monday that he has since learned that Druggan left Montana within 10 years of the alleged incident — essentially stopping the clock for prosecution — and that the case remains open.
Capuchin spokeswoman Colleen Crane said Druggan has denied the allegation and that there have been no complaints against the priest at St. Lawrence, where he has served since 1992. She said the Detroit-based order would hire an independent investigator for its own review.
Father John Holly, the local minister of St. Lawrence Friary, has been appointed the acting rector of the seminary; and Academic Dean David Bartel will serve as acting principal.
Druggan graduated from St. Lawrence in 1974 and worked at the Montana school from 1984 to 1991.
Like a number of Catholic boarding schools, St. Lawrence has struggled with its history of sexual abuse. In the 1990s, two dozen men came forward to allege they'd been molested at the school over a period of decades. St. Lawrence was the subject of a failed civil racketeering lawsuit by victims who alleged the Capuchins covered up sexual abuse crimes there; and an investigation sponsored by the Capuchins found 14 allegations of sexual abuse involving six friars between 1968 and 1986.
Druggan’s suspension comes just weeks after the Capuchins retired 85-year-old House of Peace co-founder Matthew Gottschalk in part because of inappropriate behavior involving a minor 30 years ago.
In that case, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said the incident didn’t rise to the level of a crime.
Two other allegations against Gottschalk involving adults also were not prosecuted, one because it did not constitute a crime, the other because it was beyond the statute of limitations.