Democrat and Chronicle
January 31, 2019
By Sean Lahman and Steve Orr
When Tom Chiarella read last month about sexual abuse allegations against seven priests once assigned to his alma mater, McQuaid Jesuit High School, he was sick to his stomach.
Chiarella had known that sexual abuse had occurred at the Brighton secondary school because he was a victim of it. The trauma hung over his head for years before he could find a way out.
His personal escape culminated in the bold step of telling the world what had happened to him in an article for Esquire magazine in 2003 called “My Education.” Chiarella recounted how French teacher John J. Tobin had harassed, stalked and sexually abused him between 1975 and his graduation in 1979.
What disturbed Chiarella were allegations that came to light Jan. 15, when a regional Jesuit organization named 50 priests who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. Seven of those priests once taught at McQuaid.
Publication of that list has prompted a new stream of allegations against staff who taught at McQuaid, with the Brighton police and the Democrat and Chronicle receiving multiple calls. At the same time, the release has raised questions about the thoroughness and transparency of efforts to acknowledge and resolve past abuses.
Asked about the Jesuits’ list, leaders at McQuaid failed to make clear when and where the misconduct by the seven priests occurred, how many McQuaid students were victimized, and why the school had previously denied knowledge of credible allegations against many of the priests named.
“I think it’s amazing, the institutional indifference to these problems,” Chiarella said. “They’re perpetuating a system where a 15-year-old boy feels he shouldn’t and can’t speak out.”
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