Accused of Abuse, O'dea Principal Brother Karl Walczak Quits
By Lynda V. Mapes
October 31, 2012
Brother Karl Walczak resigned as principal of O'Dea High School in Seattle Wednesday, the same day the school announced he is accused of sex abuse of a minor.
The allegations relate to Walczak's time teaching in another diocese in the early 1970s, the school said. Walczak denies the allegations, according to a statement to O'Dea parents on Wednesday by Zachary Lell, chairman of the O'Dea School Board.
Operation of the school will continue under the leadership of Acting Principal James Walker.
Walker took over at the school last August, when Walczak was called away to New York by the Christian Brothers to "assist in resolving a proof of claim in the Christian Brothers Institute bankruptcy proceeding," according to a news release from the school.
The School Board did not learn until Wednesday that Walczak had been accused of sexual abuse, according to Lell's statement to parents.
"Jim is prepared to assist you and your son with any questions or concerns you may have regarding this matter," the statement to parents said. "We ask for your prayers and support at this time for all victims of abuse, Brother Walczak and our entire O'Dea community as we look to a future built on a tradition of excellence."
John Shuster, Seattle co-director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) accused O'Dea and the Archdiocese of Seattle of a cover-up.
"They could have done something back in August. "We want the public to know about this and not have it hushed up. As far as we are concerned, it is another Roman Catholic cover-up."
Shuster in a news release stated that the allegations of abuse dated to the 1970s when Walczak was a teacher at Brother Rice High School in Chicago.
Shuster is holding a news conference about the situation outside O'Dea Thursday morning.
Greg Magnoni, spokesman for the archdiocese, on Wednesday evening called the accusation of a cover-up "spurious."
There was nothing in Walczak's record concerning any accusation of abuse, Magnoni said.
He said archdiocesan lawyers had been working since Walczak's departure last August to discern and publicly release any finding that he had been accused of sexual abuse.
Because of the confidential nature of the proceeding, the archdiocese was not able to announce the allegation until Walczak, the victim's attorney, and the Christian Brothers all gave permission to do so.
That did not occur until Wednesday, Magnoni said.
Walczak was appointed principal at O'Dea in 2011, according to O'Dea's website. He had worked in various positions at several Christian Brother schools in Illinois, California and Hawaii. He was the principal of Damien High School in Honolulu for 10 years and the president of Brother Rice High School in Chicago for 12 years, according to the website.
Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter @lyndavmapes.