Dallas Resources – July 2003
By Rod Dreher
July 2 (CWR) - Dallas: There is no question that this Texas city will figure prominently when historians write the story of the current Church sex scandal. Will it be as the place where the US bishops first attempted to deal together with the worst crisis in American Catholic history? Or will it be where a discredited and unpopular bishop set a new standard in grasping for power as his diocese continued a long slide under his leadership? Fast-breaking events in Dallas this spring may answer the question.
Before the bishops' conference gathering here last summer made Dallas a byword for the reform policies, the city's name was shorthand in Catholic circles for the worst abuse-related courtroom disaster in Church history. In 1997, a civil jury found the diocese liable for sexual abuse committed by Father Rudy Kos, and awarded his 11 male victims and their families nearly $120 million--a record sum later reduced to $31 million in a settlement.
The Kos trial put Bishop Charles V. Grahman--then, as now, the Dallas ordinary--in a terrible light, as it did his predecessor, Bishop Thomas Tschoepe. Evidence showed that Tschoepe, who had been bishop for nearly the entire period of Kos' abuse, and his top aide Msgr. Robert Rehkemper, were frequently made aware of the pedophile priest's deeds, and did little or nothing.
The retired Bishop Tschoepe never testified at the trial, claiming to be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. After the trial, the Dallas Morning News found him saying Mass and keeping a full schedule as assistant pastor of a small-town parish south of the city.
Bishop Grahmann had only been bishop for two years before finally removing Kos, but testimony showed that he and Msgr. Rehkemper had been informed earlier, both orally and in writing, about Kos’ activities, and had not acted. The bishop's reputation took a beating during the trial, and Msgr. Rehkemper’s post-verdict interviews, in which he said the child victims and their families were partly to blame for the assaults, did not endear him further to his people.
It was no surprise when the Holy See named a coadjutor bishop to the Dallas diocese, given the financial and pastoral catastrophe for which Bishop Grahmann bore significant responsibility. It had to have come as a shock to Grahmann, who had requested an assistant bishop, not a coadjutor. The appointment of a coadjutor is universally recognized as a sign from Rome that it expects the sitting bishop of a problem diocese to retire and make way for new management. Bishop Joseph Galante of Beaumont, Texas, was installed in Dallas in January, 2000 - whereupon Bishop Grahmann announced he had no intention of resigning before he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Still in the Saddle
That Bishops Grahmann and Galante did not get along well has been a more or less open secret here for some time, with strong hints of this being aired in a Dallas Morning News story in June 2002. Five months later, Bishop Galante took the extraordinary step of taking their feud public by telling the Dallas Morning News that he had tried in vain to convince Grahmann to suspend the cathedral rector from ministry after the priest, who is close to Grahmann, was accused of fondling an adult male during a blessing. Aides to Grahmann told the News that Father Alvarez’s conduct with the man was inappropriate, but consensual, and that he would remain in ministry. This appeared to contradict the diocese’s own policy, which states that sexual misconduct of any sort "will not be tolerated under any circumstances."
"You see what kind of influence I have," Galante told the newspaper. "I’m keeping a very low profile."
Father Reese says, "It’s extremely rare for a coadjutor and a bishop to be publicly at odds. The closest comparison is the situation in Seattle back in the 1980s, with [Archbishop Raymond] Hunthausen and [Auxiliary Bishop Donald] Wuerl, but Wuerl wasn_t a coadjutor."
An Agreement to Resign?
Although Bishop Galante -- a USCCB spokesman who cuts an impressive figure in media appearances -- has a national reputation as a hard-liner on clerical sexual abuse, he is not particularly well thought of by many orthodox Catholics in Dallas. They remember how he protected and defended two Dallas priests involved in the lewd St. Sebastian's Angels website for homosexual priests, even as he publicly justified the reassignment of two conservative priests for failing to complete background checks of all employees and volunteers at their parishes. Father Reese says Bishop Galante is highly regarded by his episcopal colleagues, but several area priests, despite having been ordered by Bishop Grahmann not to talk to the media, told Catholic World Report that many in the Dallas presbyterate consider Galante to be little more than an ambitious careerist.
Nevertheless, Bishop Galante’s image received a boost when he went public in November of last year with his criticism of and frustration with the intransigent Bishop Grahmann over the case of the cathedral rector. Days after the interview was published, the News published an editorial calling for Bishop Grahmann to resign, accusing him of enforcing the diocese’s sex-abuse policy "inconsistently--and sometimes not at all--at the diocese’s great peril."
Texas Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, responded by launching a campaign against the News, a drama that had special poignancy because the publisher of the News, James Moroney III, comes from one of Dallas’s oldest and most distinguished Catholic families. That set off Wick Allison, an active Catholic layman and publisher of the monthly city magazine D, who devoted his February 2003 column to defending the Moroney family. [See sidebar.] "In the process," Allison recalled to CWR, "I revealed that the bishop had reneged six years ago on a deal with a group of Catholic businessmen, who included the older Mr. Moroney and myself, to resign."
Responding in the diocesan newspaper, Bishop Grahmann admitted meeting with the laymen in the immediate aftermath of the Kos judgment, but denied that there was a resignation protocol. His aides gathered a group of mainline Protestant leaders, including the Lutheran, Episcopal, and Methodist bishops of Dallas, to state their public support for their Catholic counterpart, and to take a shot at the media. Allison responded tartly in a News op-ed column by charging, "The bishop had to elicit support from other denominations because he obviously enjoys so little support within his own."
"The response from the Catholic community was overwhelmingly supportive," Allison says. He continues: “This includes people from all walks of life, lay leaders from many parishes, and even some clerics, including a retired bishop in our province who urged me to press the case with the papal nuncio. There are few ways for Catholics to express themselves, and the message I received was one of gratitude that someone in a position to speak out had done so.”
New Revelations, New Crises
The next bombshell to drop on the weary diocese came in early May, when Bishop Galante granted another interview to the News, this time saying that he expected the Holy See to move him to another diocese. "For the good of the diocese, I would like to see this situation resolved. I would expect Bishop Grahmann to feel the same way," he said. Bishop Grahmann offered no comment.
"I came to Dallas expecting to spend the rest of my life here," Bishop Galante told the News, with shocking frankness. "When I was appointed coadjutor, I was told that I would become bishop of Dallas in a reasonable amount of time."
Clearly Bishop Galante feels betrayed and abandoned by the Holy See, which is reluctant to force the stubborn Bishop Grahmann to go. Colleagues have said the beleaguered coadjutor wants the opportunity to lead a major diocese before he is compelled by age to retire. Bishop Galante’s taking the extraordinary step of admitting in public that Grahmann has worn him down shows how desperate he is to get Rome’s attention and assistance.
Meanwhile, it is shaping up to be a long, hot summer in Dallas. New revelations have recently surfaced that Bishop Grahmann gave special treatment to an Irish-born priest with a long history of credible child-molestation accusations, on which the diocese has paid legal claims. Bishop Grahmann let Father Patrick J. Lynch retire in good standing in 1995, after a record of alleged abuse stretching back 30 years. The News reported that Grahmann sent Lynch to Ireland with a letter commending him "on doing such a great job for the people of the diocese." Two years later, Bishop Grahmann suspended Lynch after media reports of his past, but waited a year to notify the bishops of Ireland and England. To this day, the diocese refuses to consider laicizing the priest, and claims it doesn’t know how to find him - even though it sends a monthly pension check to Lynch’s overseas bank.
More ominously for Bishop Grahmann, in mid-May the diocese announced that a Filipino-born priest suspended last summer after being accused of having raped a nun 20 years ago, was being reinstated and moved to St. Francis of Assisi, a parish in the suburb of Frisco. The News promptly reported that this priest, Msgr. Ernesto Villaroya, had signed a sworn affidavit admitting paternity of the child conceived in the sex act with the (now former) nun, which the priest contends was consensual.
What’s more, it turns out that the civil suit the woman filed last year against the priest was indeed dismissed by a California court, as the diocese told the public; but it was dismissed only because the statute of limitations had tolled; the evidence against Villaroya was not heard in court. Finally, the background check that the diocese insists cleared Msgr. Villaroya was so sloppily done that neither Villaroya’s accuser nor the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where Villaroya served several troubled years and was refused incardination, were contacted by Bishop Grahmann’s investigators. Yet the diocesan review board - of which Bishop Galante is a member - approved reassigning Villaroya to parish ministry.
As this issue of CWR was going to press, the Villaroya imbroglio appeared to be turning into a serious crisis for the diocese. Three months ago, a heavily Hispanic parish had its popular Spanish-speaking pastor removed overnight and sent out of the country, without explanation from the chancery. The parish had been furious with Bishop Grahmann over this, and had been desperate for a Spanish-speaking priest to replace him. Now they have learned that Bishop Grahmann sent them an accused rapist and admitted father of a love child with an ex-nun. Local Spanish media have been covering the story intensely. Said one observer, "That place is getting ready to blow sky-high."
This is significant because Bishop Grahmann has always thought of himself as a special friend to the city’s Hispanic Catholics, who make up 61 percent of the diocese, and who are believed to be far more supportive of the bishop than Anglos. Bishop Grahmann and his cabinet are quick to tell reporters about the wonderful relationship he has with Latinos.
If Grahmann loses the Hispanics, he will have no base of support left. Then again, with Rome disinclined to take firm measures to end the prolonged leadership crisis in the Dallas diocese, Bishop Grahmann doesn’t really need one.
[Rod Dreher is an editorial writer and columnist for the Dallas Morning
By Reese Dunklin
The Texas attorney general's office has found questionable spending and lax financial controls in a Dallas Catholic priest's ministry to immigrants but has agreed to let it continue operating if numerous reforms are made.
Under a settlement that averts legal action by the state, the Casita Maria charity will require its founder, the Rev. Justin Lucio, and a top aide to pay $ 23,000 in restitution to cover credit-card expenses that had benefited the two personally. The charity will also guarantee repayment of interest-free loans made to staff members - a violation of state law - and halt the practice.
Attorney General Greg Abbott said Tuesday that his office found no evidence of "willful violations of the law." Instead, the improprieties were largely the result of unfamiliarity with proper charitable operations, he indicated.
Father Lucio referred calls seeking comment to the charity's lawyer, Frank Sommerville, who could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Abbott said he hoped the deal with Casita Maria would "result in significant changes in the way they conduct their business." The state insisted that Casita Maria implement broad new oversight measures and appoint a new board of directors - a move that removes Father Lucio as chairman and his aide, Joe Granados, as vice chairman. The two can keep working as employees.
Legal action possible
The state cautioned that legal action - suing to recover misspent funds, or closing the charity - remained possible if Casita Maria didn't follow through on its pledges. The status of two federal inquiries into the charity was unclear Tuesday.
"These sound financial principles," Mr. Abbott said in a written statement, "are designed to keep the mission of this worthwhile charity thriving within the immigrant community that depends on its services."
No church money
Dallas Diocese spokesman Bronson Havard stressed Tuesday that the charity is independent and that Father Lucio receives no church funding.
"The responsibility for managing Casita Maria rests with its board of directors, and state and federal agencies," he said, and praised the state for helping Casita Maria "correct its management problems."
Father Lucio remains a priest in the diocese, but he cannot work in parishes. Former Bishop Thomas Tschoepe let Father Lucio launch Casita more than a decade ago after removing him from ministry because of allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Bishop Charles Grahmann, after taking over the diocese, continued the assignment.
Father Lucio has denied those accusations. Mr. Havard previously has said that the allegations of sexual misconduct were never substantiated and that diocesan officials were unaware that the priest had acknowledged in a 1991 lawsuit deposition that he sometimes handled Latino parishioners' genitals when they had health concerns.
State and federal investigators began examining Casita Maria in January after The Dallas Morning News detailed how the charity had spent large sums of money in ways that benefited Father Lucio and his associates while charging poor people millions of dollars for help - primarily with immigration issues.
Some Casita officials acknowledged to The News that they made incorrect statements to federal agencies about the charity's activities.
After the stories appeared, the Internal Revenue Service and federal immigration authorities started investigating. Officials of those agencies could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
In late March, dozens of people expressed support for Father Lucio by picketing The News with signs protesting the paper's coverage.
Among the questionable financial deals reported by The News was the charity's purchase of a DeSoto house that it rented to Father Lucio for $ 10 a month and tens of thousands of dollars in loans it made to insiders, including Father Lucio and Mr. Granados, his aide.
In the settlement, the attorney general's office said those kinds of irregularities could have been averted if the Casita board had been "properly educated in nonprofit-entity management and fiduciary duties." The charity told the state, for example, that its previous lawyer had advised that it could make loans to staff members.
The state said it was encouraged that the charity was "willing to take corrective measures to ensure that Casita Maria assets are protected and used only for its mission."
Might sell holdings
Officials in the attorney general's office said the charity had indicated that it was considering selling the DeSoto house and other real estate.
In addition to ending staff loans, Casita agreed in the settlement to restrict the use of credit cards and more closely monitor all financial transactions, including travel expenses. State investigators had questioned some staff members' out-of-town travel, such as a trip to Las Vegas; Casita Maria responded that it was for training seminars.
Aside from the financial irregularities, the state took issue with the dual roles of Father Lucio and Mr. Granados as board members and top employees. The arrangements did not directly lead to financial abuse, nor were they prohibited by state law, attorney general's officials said.
But, "we as the agency that would monitor charities feel more comfortable not having dual roles," said spokesman Thomas Kelley. "Avoiding those appearances of impropriety is always better."
The state decided to let Father Lucio and Mr. Granados remain as employees because Casita officials insisted that they would be difficult to replace and that the charity could suffer without them.
[Photo Caption: Justin Lucio.]
Web Site Supports Embattled Bishop
By Susan Hogan/Albach
A Web site calling on Dallas Catholics to support Bishop Charles Grahmann has been unveiled, less than a week after a local group launched an online petition drive calling on the bishop to resign.
The pro-bishop site was started by Bishop Grahmann's spokesman, Bronson Havard, and a handful of Mr. Havard's friends, who said the bishop is being unfairly maligned by those seeking his ouster.
"We need an alternative point of view," Mr. Havard said. His Web site's address iswww.pleasebishop.com.
Meanwhile, the drive seeking the bishop's resignation has garnered more than 1,000 signatures, according to organizers. They said they were unmoved by the site started by the bishop's supporters.
"This is not a popularity contest," said Neil O'Brien, a spokesman for the group. "The question is whether the bishop's leadership has eroded or not."
Bishop Grahmann, whose picture is featured on the pro-bishop site, along with Pope John Paul II, was said to be unavailable for comment. The site makes no reference to the effort by critics to force the bishop's departure from office.
Rather, the site urges the bishop to "stay the course to reform and protect the church." And it invites supporters to send e-mail.
"Growing numbers of Catholics are realizing the issues here are about how the church should govern itself," Mr. Havard said. "There's great merit in the church's tradition of having bishops answerable only to the Holy Father."
Pressure for Bishop Grahmann to step down has escalated in recent months, after a series of decisions he made that favored three priests accused of sexual or financial misconduct.
The petition drive calling for his resignation is at www.concernedcatholics.com.
The drive to unseat Bishop Grahmann was launched by more than three dozen area Catholics - including present and former board members of prominent Catholic institutions - after an appeal to the pope's ambassador to the United States went unanswered.
The lay group, which calls itself the Committee of Concerned Catholics, told the ambassador, known formally as the papal nuncio, that Bishop Grahmann had not effectively addressed the sexual abuse crisis and that that failure caused a leadership crisis in the diocese.
Mr. Havard dismissed the petition drive last week as the work of a disgruntled few.
"We are disappointed this small group seems to be seeking to divide the church," he said in a written statement.
The pro-bishop Web site includes a statement implying that loyalty to the bishop is closely tied to loyalty to the church:
"In the tradition of our fathers and mothers who remained faithful through other difficult times over the past 2,000 years, we remain loyal to the church and pledge to work together to stay the course of reform," it says.
A parishioner from Carrollton wrote: "Please do not resign and don't worry. We will keep you in our prayers."
[Photo: Charles Grahmann.]
More than 5,000 Sign Petition Backing Bishop
The announcement came exactly a week after prominent local laypeople unveiled a Web site inviting priests, nuns and other Catholics to add their names to a petition asking Grahmann to step down.
In spontaneous displays of support, more than 3,000 parishioners at Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Dallas signed statements backing Grahmann, as did more than 1,300 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Grand Prairie and nearly 1,000 at Immaculate Conception Parish in Grand Prairie, diocese officials said.
"That number dwarfs the number of people who signed the other petition calling for him to resign," said the bishop's spokesman, Bronson Havard.
"I expect it to keep rising exponentially."
Grahmann, under fire for his handling of the sexual abuse crisis in the church, was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Spokesmen for the Committee of Concerned Catholics did not immediately return telephone calls from The Associated Press.
The lay group reported earlier this week that its Web petition drive had garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
However, Neil O'Brien, a Concerned Catholics spokesman, told The Dallas Morning News earlier this week, "This is not a popularity contest. The question is whether the bishop's leadership has eroded or not."
Grahmann has long tried to repair the damage caused by pedophile and former Dallas priest Rudy Kos, who was convicted of molesting three altar boys and sentenced to three life terms in 1998.
The bishop has touted the diocese's safe-environment policy as a national model. But he has drawn criticism in the last year from within the diocese for how he has handled some cases.
Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Galante, assigned to the Dallas Diocese to succeed Grahmann when he retired, last year took the rare step of publicly disagreeing with Grahmann after he refused to remove a priest who allegedly groped and propositioned a parishioner in 1991.
Other bishops across the country have faced anger over the scandals that, by some estimates, led more than 400 priests and a handful of bishops to lose their ministries last year. The pressure prompted bishops to gather a year ago in Dallas and adopt national standards calling for the removal of any priest or deacon who molests a child.
On the Net:
We won't second-guess the attorney general's office, whose investigators have more information and legal expertise than we do. But we take issue with the position taken by the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, whose spokesman, Bronson Havard, washed the bishop's hands of Father Lucio. Mr. Havard says that the charity is independent of the church and receives no church money, and thus the bishop has no responsibility to take any action in this case.
In reality, however, Father Lucio is not independent of the bishop's authority. Bishop Charles Grahmann's predecessor allowed Father Lucio to start the charity after removing him from parish ministry amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Father Lucio, who admitted in 1991 that he had rubbed parishioners' genitals, spent the charity's money lavishly on himself and his pals while wringing millions out of immigrants.
This may not technically qualify as criminal behavior. But it's certainly un-Christian. It's called getting rich on the backs of the poor (Proverbs 22:16).
Bishop Grahmann could order the disgraced Father Lucio to dissociate himself from the charity this very day. The bishop has that right, and that responsibility. Why won't he?
The Case for Abolishing Child Abuse Statutes of Limitations, and for Victims' Forgoing Settlement in Favor of a Jury Trial
By Marci Hamilton
Recently, in Stogner v. California, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional California's law retroactively lifting the statute of limitations on child abuse. The Court held that the law violated the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause, which prohibits certain retroactive criminal laws. The purpose of the Clause is to protect citizens from arbitrary government action changing the legal status of actions that occurred in the past.
Abuse victims were deeply and understandably upset by the decision in Stogner. As a result of the ruling, predators bound for prison got off scot free. For some, it seemed too much to bear.
But the Supreme Court had little choice. Upholding California's law would have required a rather drastic revision of the Ex Post facto prohibition.
The real fault is not with the Court, but with state legislatures. The statute of limitations for child abuse in California, and in many other states, is simply too short.
Why Child Abuse Statutes of Limitations Must Be Lengthy to Address the Crime
Some of the ugliest comments in the clergy child abuse scandal have been by defenders of the Church who have argued that since the child knows what is happening during the abuse, a short statute of limitations is fair.
Not only are their comments cruel, but their premise is inaccurate. Children often live with the ugliness of child abuse for years, held within themselves, precisely because they are not certain exactly what happened, or how to judge it. They need maturity to comprehend the situation.
It is understandably hard for a child to fully understand that the fault belonged to a trusted, revered authority figure, charged with interpreting the word of God - and not to the child himself or herself. A child's mind may find it hard to reckon with the idea that the same figures who meted out advice, and in some cases, sanctions, now deserve sanction themselves.
He or she may also wrongly feel somehow culpable in the abuse, especially if he or she did not fight against it, or tell anyone else about it. When abusers offer "love" and gifts in a bid to guarantee the child's silence, the guilt may only intensify.
For this reason, it is all the more important that the victim sees his or her abuser eventually go to prison for their crimes. Even when many years have gone by, the victims still feels a sense of justice and safety. The prison term validates the victim's experience; society's fingering the one who is really to blame frees the victim from guilt and feelings of implicitly culpability.
In light of these realities, it is only fair to extend, if not eliminate, the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. There is no statute of limitations on murder. And because the abuse so often kills the child's innocence and childhood, the analogy is not inapt.
Some states have accordingly abolished any statute of limitations for criminal child abuse - and other states should follow their lead.
Abolishing the Statute of Limitations May Prompt Confessions
Among other benefits, abolishing child abuse statutes of limitations may prompt confessions - confessions that the victims desperately need to hear - and settlement. That is exactly what occurred in one case after California retroactively extended its child abuse statute of limitations, and before Stogner negated the extension.
The case arose when two men in their thirties came forward to allege that, as altar boys in the 1970s, they had each been abused numerous times by the same priest - Edward Lawrence Ball of Our Lady of Fatima Church in San Bernardino, California. (Neither boy had previously known about the other's abuse.)
The result was to prompt Ball to confess to molesting the boys, and also to prompt a record settlement. Under the settlement, the archdiocese and an Illinois religious order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, agreed to each pay $2.1 million to the men. (The men did not settle their claims against Ball himself, however.)
After Stogner, Ball was released from jail. In theory, the Court could have demanded reconsideration of the settlement. But it did not - probably due to Father Ball's confession and the outrage prompted by the abuse he committed.
As the victims have stated repeatedly, these lawsuits are not about money. Rather, they are about teaching the Church a lesson it sorely needs to learn: It is responsible for the children who come into contact with its priests.
Settlement Versus Jury Trial: Which Is the Better Option for Victims
The resolution of the two men's case against Ball leaves open a larger question: Are settlements or jury trials the best option for child abuse victims?
One advantage of a jury trial is that it can place responsibility exactly where it belongs. For instance, the Dallas diocese lost a civil trial based on Rudy Kos's sexual abuse. The jury found that the diocese had committed fraud and engaged in a conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse, and awarded the plaintiffs $119.6 million. When it rendered its verdict, the foreman read the following brief statement: "Please admit your guilt and allow these young men to get on with their lives."
The courtroom, by all accounts, erupted in applause. (The plaintiffs later settled for $23.4 million, probably to avoid endless appeals, but the point had been made - and made very publicly.)
The recent settlement reached with the Boston archdiocese was not nearly as satisfying a vindication for victims. Originally, the agreement would have been for $30 million. But the Church - despite its ability to go after its insurer for the money - claimed it could not go on with its mission to aid other victims if it paid that much. The claim seems dubious, to say the least: Later investigation revealed approximately $160 million in land holdings alone.
In the end, the Boston settlement had victims apologizing to other victims for getting so little.
They explained that they just could not go on with a seemingly endless process that prolonged the pain.
That is certainly a reasonable consideration. But victims should think twice before accepting a settlement in lieu of a trial. As difficult as a trial may be for victims, it offers an opportunity to have their community--via the jury--express its outrage on their behalf, which can have a strong healing effect. In the Dallas case, for instance, the victims - once isolated - through the trial found supporters to condemn the Church's wrongs in no uncertain terms.
Victims may, in the end, find greater satisfaction in airing the crimes and wrongs to a jury of persons from their community - not just to the attorneys negotiating their settlement. It is hard for a settlement to match the justice rendered by that Dallas jury in 1997 - and more victims should persevere to seek that kind of justice, which they deserve.
Marci Hamilton holds the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.
By Terri Langford
Workers began chipping away Friday at the façade of the old St. Ann's School after a developer secured a demolition permit from the city to tear down most of the building.
Built originally as an elementary school for Hispanic children in 1927, the school was expanded in 1946 and became the first high school in Dallas for Hispanic girls. The Catholic Diocese of Dallas sold the property in 1999 to help pay multimillion-dollar settlements resulting from priest sex-abuse cases.
Friday, as construction workers fanned out across the grounds of the
school at 2514 Harry Hines Blvd. to size up the project, officials from
Harwood International, now the property owner, drove
Harwood's demolition plans were never a secret. Last year, the company told community leaders it would keep the original portion of the school - because of its protected historic landmark status - and tear down the 1946 addition, leaving the colorful mosaic and school's cornerstone intact.
Final plans on how the remaining walls of St. Ann's will be incorporated with Harwood's future office high-rise were not available. Calls to Harwood's offices for comment were not returned Friday.
However, city officials were able to learn a few details about the developer's intentions.
"They're leaving a lot more than they have to," said Jim Anderson, a senior planner with the city's historic preservation section.
The walls along Moody and Harwood streets will remain intact. Harwood International plans to use the walls removed from the interior to frame a park or garden area, Mr. Anderson said.
Community leaders tried for years to save all of the building because of its importance to the nearby Little Mexico neighborhood. Some were disappointed that the demolition was moving ahead.
"Those rascals!" said Albert Gonzales, a community leader who had worked to save all of St. Ann's. He would not comment further, referring calls to his attorney.
Council member Veletta Forsythe Lill, a preservation advocate who pushed for a historic landmark designation for the entire school, learned of the news Friday while on vacation in Illinois.
"I am saddened that the corporation could not find a way to include the 1946 portion of the site in the new development. ... The 1946 portion was an important part of Dallas' history," Ms. Lill said.
Once it became a high school in 1946, St. Ann's grew in its importance as a Hispanic community center. Weddings, parties, dances and other activities were often held there.
Ms. Lill said she was heartened by Harwood's reputation as an urban designer and hoped that final plans would keep more of the school's façade.
"I do respect Harwood's reputation in the community and willingness
to abide by the historic designation on the 1927 portion," she said.
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