O'dea Parents Seek Answers after Principal Resigns Amid Abuse Allegations
By Jamie Lynn
November 2, 2012
Parents of O'Dea High School students want to know how a man accused of sex abuse became their children's principal.
There are many questions surrounding the timeline, from when the sex abuse claim was filed against principal Karl Walczak, to when the principal was removed and what information parents were given throughout the process.
Students and parents were caught off-guard when they were told Walczak had resigned from his post as principal amid accusations of sexual abuse.
"I never felt threatened in his presence, not once," said former student Sascha Stipe.
But the alleged victim claims Walczak sexually abused him at Brother Rice High School in Chicago where Walczak taught in the 70s.
According to the alleged victim's attorney, the claim was filed in July. A letter sent to O'Dea parents in August mentioned nothing about the alleged abuse; it only stated that Walczak had been placed on leave.
"(The letter said) that he was assisting in some investigation with the Christian Brothers Organization in regards to their bankruptcy filing," said one parent.
The Christian Brothers, who oversee O'Dea High, did file for bankruptcy in April 2011 amid multiple claims of sex abuse.
But the Seattle Archdiocese claims it only learned of the allegations against Walczak on Wednesday
"No, I don't buy it," said Mary Diespenza, a coordinator for the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "I think that is what we are continuing to confront in the recent years -- the hiding, the secrecy, the covering up."
Christian Brothers told KOMO News, "Upon receipt of this allegation, he (Walczak) was, in fact, immediately removed from ministry."
But some wonder why authorities took so long to remove Walczak from his position if the allegations first surfaced in July.
"Part of the problem with the Christian Brothers and the whole Catholic clergy scandal is the church has not been open and upfront," said Michael Pfau, an attorney representing the numerous alleged victims who attended Christian Brothers schools.
O'Dea parents were finally notified of the allegations on Wednesday.
"Whatever happens, I just hope the truth comes out, and I'll accept that truth," said O'Dea senior Abdul Luna.
And though alleged sexual abuse took place in Chicago, it is important to note that many parents and students at O'Dea say they remain proud to be a part of the school despite the allegations against their principal.