Inside Higher Ed
April 29, 2021
By Greta Anderson
Boston College president Reverend William Leahy is facing scrutiny from students who believe he did not adequately respond to complaints made more than 20 years ago about “inappropriate behavior” by a priest at the Jesuit institution who ran volunteer programs overseas in which the college’s students participated, The Boston Globe reported.
The Reverend Ted Dziak, the former administrator, left Boston College in 1998 and went on to work at Loyola University New Orleans and Le Moyne College in upstate New York. He was recently accused of raping a former volunteer during a 2004 service trip, Nola.com reported. Several other volunteers — some of them students — said that Dziak was emotionally abusive, according to Nola.com. He was removed from Le Moyne in September, the news site reported.
Boston College students, faculty and staff members who knew of Dziak’s alleged misconduct between 1990 and 1998 compiled complaints made in 1997 and 1998 and sent them to university administrators, Nola.com reported. However, Leahy, who has been president since 1996, denied that the complaints included allegations of sexual misconduct, according to a statement he published in The Heights, the university’s student newspaper.
Leahy said he “learned of concerns about Fr. Dziak … pertaining to his social interactions with students at Boston College,” but “there were no reports of sexual misconduct by Fr. Dziak at that time and none have been made since.”
Loyola officials also told Nola.com that there were no complaints of sexual assault against Dziak made during his 14 years at the university, but some former students alleged inappropriate behavior.
“When allegations arose in the fall of 1997 that Fr. Dziak was being emotionally controlling with students, Fr. Leahy met with him and immediately reported his concerns to Dziak’s Jesuit superiors in the New England Province of Jesuits,” Jack Dunn, a university spokesperson, wrote in an email. “Jesuit assignments are made by the Jesuit’s religious superior … Fr. Leahy and Boston College had no role in his placements before or after his time at BC.”
A petition that calls for Leahy’s removal had received 400 signatures as of Tuesday, the Globe reported. But “Fr. Dziak’s actions at Boston College did not involve sexual abuse, as the petition falsely implies,” Dunn wrote. He said the complaints alleged “controlling behavior.”