Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas [Dallas TX]
March 29, 2022
By Michael A. Earsing
March 29, 2022
Dear friends of Jesuit Dallas,
Recently, an agreement was reached with nine of the men who filed lawsuits describing sexual abuse they experienced over 35 years ago when they were students at our school. In reaching this agreement, we have been guided by a desire to find a solution that best reflects the values central to our school’s mission. Focusing on our shared values led us to seek a path toward reconciliation and away from an adjudicatory process.
This has not been an easy journey for these men, or for us. You will recall that in December 2018 the Jesuits’ Central and Southern Province released a list of Jesuits and former Jesuits against whom there were credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors. In January 2019 the Dallas Diocese released its own list of priests who were credibly accused of having inflicted abuse on minors. These lists included some priests who taught at Jesuit Dallas decades ago.
While none of us wanted to believe that any of the priests at our school could inflict such heinous injury, the fact is, a few did. This letter’s purpose is not to recount the painful details of the abuse, but rather to acknowledge that abuse occurred.
I have spoken with each of these men. I listened as they told me what happened. I heard how their lives have been affected and their futures altered. The priests identified by these men as their perpetrators are Fr. Dickerson, Fr. Koch, Fr. Smylie, Fr. Malatesta, and Fr. Callery. Three of these priests are deceased, one has been expelled from the priesthood, and Fr. Callery denies the allegations against him.
After listening to these men, I believe them. I have communicated to each of them my sorrow, my own spirit of disconsolation, and an apology.
None of these men seeks vengeance. Their foremost desire has been assurance that protocols and procedures are in place so that what happened long ago could never happen again. I have assured them, and I assure each of you, that Jesuit Dallas has had no other credible reports of sexual abuse of any kind involving an adult abusing a minor in decades, other than those lawsuits filed since 2019 which involve allegations from more than 35 years ago. We have a safe environment zero tolerance policy. We provide, and will continue to provide, a safe environment for every student, which includes electronic and on-site security and on-going education for every member of our community – students, faculty, staff, and parents – about the reality of sexual abuse and how to prevent it, identify it, and safely report it.
Had we pursued litigation and engaged in an adjudicatory process, we could have asserted various legal defenses, including the statute of limitations; however, such an approach would not, in my view, have been aligned with our school’s values or have achieved reconciliation.
These nine men have taught me how much resolve is required to come forward, even for men who hold power, position, and prestige in the world. While I hope all those who were harmed have come forward, an invitation to follow this path of reconciliation remains open to anyone who sincerely seeks it. The school and I are committed to healing, restoration, and reconciliation whenever possible and to making reporting long-ago abuse less difficult for others.
There is a temptation to turn the page on this chapter in our history. Yet to turn the page would, for me, dishonor these men, their stories, and their courage in coming forward as they have. And so rather than turning away from our past, we will memorialize it by creating a special space in our chapel where our community may pray for all people who have been abused by priests or anyone in religious authority.
We live in a time where we are confronting anew painful facts about our country, our fellow citizens, and our Church. Silence and obscuration are not options in a school that values both faith and reason. In coming forward, these men have exemplified our school’s motto of being “men for others.” For that, I am forever grateful. Because yesterday we were apart, and today we are reunited.
Michael A. Earsing