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  Counselor Gets Nights in Jail for Sex Crimes

By Michael D. Sorkin
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 25, 1995

A member of the Christian Brothers who pleaded guilty to sodomizing an 11-year-old boy he was counseling at the order's headquarters here will continue working there by day as he serves a year in jail at night.

Brother Felix Bland was sentenced Monday to 15 years' imprisonment. St. Louis County Circuit Judge Bernhardt C. Drumm Jr. suspended all but one year of the sentence.

Drumm also put Bland on a work-release program. Bland will spend nights in a county jail facility. During the day, he will continue working at the local Christian Brothers headquarters in Glencoe, 25 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Drumm received a letter from a man who said his five sons had been molested by Bland.

The boys now are 5 to 18 years old. The younger ones are too frightened to return to their schools and are being taught at home, their father said.

"I can't go to my regular job because I'm at home taking care of my children," the father said. But Bland "can leave jail to return to work," he said.

"Is that justice?"

The man is suing Bland and the order.

The judge said he had suspended most of the sentence because of Bland's age - he is 63 - and because the other brothers have counseled him and agreed to keep him away from youngsters.

"He was very remorseful," the judge added.

Bland is a longtime member of the Christian Brothers order. Brothers receive about five years of training before taking vows with the religious order of educators.

In St. Louis, they operate Christian Brothers College high school in Clayton.

Headquarters for the order's St. Louis region is the LaSalle Institute in Glencoe. Ten brothers work there.

Bland will do manual labor there.

"He's excellent at woodwork. . . . He put a ceiling up in our gymnasium all by himself," said Brother Vincent Malham, the order's regional head.

Bland never has been a classroom teacher but has done social work with children, Malham said.

Bland formerly worked as a volunteer counselor for the Jefferson County Juvenile Court. He also counseled other youths who were referred to him.

Bland pleaded guilty to six acts of sodomizing the 11-year-old boy at the LaSalle Institute in 1988.

The Christian Brothers offered five times to provide counseling for the youth, Malham said.

Later, the boy lived briefly at a juvenile facility in Ohio. He told authorities there that Bland had molested him, said St. Louis County police Officer Thomas Smith.

Authorities in Ohio made a hotline report to Missouri, but by then Bland was working in Africa. He later returned.

Malham said Bland was not sent out of the country because of the molestation investigation.

 
 

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