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  Strake Tells of Sex Allegations against Ex-Teacher

By Tara Dooley
Houston Chronicle
May 9, 2002

A recent accusation of sexual misconduct against a former principal and teacher at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory high school was not the first such complaint against the Rev. Vincent Orlando.

In 1984, a Strake student reported that Orlando "had attempted to touch him inappropriately," while on a school ski trip, school officials said Wednesday. At the time, school administrators and the rector of the Houston Jesuit community investigated the complaint and met with the student and family members.

School officials at the time decided the incident did not require the involvement of civil authorities. But it was reported to the regional Jesuit authorities in New Orleans and Orlando was admonished, school officials said.

At the time, Orlando denied that anything inappropriate had occurred, said the Rev. Daniel Lahart, who has been president of Strake Jesuit since August.

"I think the information then (made it) difficult to clearly determine what happened," he said.

The 1984 incident is outlined in a letter sent Wednesday to about 8,000 Strake parents and alumni.

"We are just trying to be straightforward in dealing with the information we now have and putting it out there," Lahart said.

Wednesday's letter follows a similar one sent April 23 to the same group of parents and former students about a recently reported allegation of sexual misconduct by Orlando with a minor in 1985.

After a preliminary investigation, Orlando was dismissed from his position at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla., on April 22.

He is no longer allowed to perform duties as a priest.

The alleged victim of the 1985 allegation was not a Strake student or a Houston resident, and the incident did not occur in Houston, Jesuit officials have said.

The investigation into the allegation continues, the Rev. Thomas Stahel, a spokesman for the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus, said in a written statement.

Stahel's statement acknowledged that the New Orleans Province was aware of the 1984 allegation.

The allegation was "not at the time thought to be a substantial case of abuse, based on what was said and reported then, it was not reported as such to us and was not acted upon as such," Stahel said in the statement.

Orlando taught at Strake from 1979 to 2000, before moving to the Tampa school. He has also taught at Jesuit College Preparatory in Dallas.

In the April 23 letter, school officials solicited responses about other sexual abuse allegations.

The school received many supportive calls, letters and e-mails and a few that reported incidents, including the one in 1984, Lahart said. Wednesday's letter attempted to address those concerns.

"It is a difficult letter to write," Lahart said. "It is somewhat embarrassing. We think it is important that people know how seriously we take this."

The recent letter also included information about a lay teacher at Strake who is under investigation for sexual misconduct. School officials suspended the teacher - who works at another school but had limited duties at Strake - and reported the allegations to Child Protective Services.

Lahart declined to provide details because the allegations are under investigation.

The second letter also told of a 1992 incident involving a Strake student who had recently graduated and a lay teacher. The teacher admitted to inappropriate behavior and resigned.

It also outlined a 1992 allegation against a lay Strake coach by a female student from another school. The coach denied that anything inappropriate occurred.

Authorities were not contacted and the coach is still employed by the school.

 
 

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