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  Sex Abuse Victims Criticize Michigan Governor, Senator for Praising Admitted Child Molester

Voice from the Desert
August 19, 2008

http://reform-network.net/?p=1924

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is asking two Michigan politicians to distance themselves from a teacher who admitted molesting a child.

Last year, Senator Carl Levin and Governor Jennifer Granholm sent commendation letters to Dr. Thomas Hodgman, who is a music professor at Adrian College in Adrian. (The letters are on the college's website - http://www.adriancollegemusic.org/Gov%20letter.htm)

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Levin and Granholm, asking them to rescind the praise.

"These politicians will likely say these letters are somewhat 'routine,' but it's still hurtful and intimidating to victims when high profile figures endorse a child molester -," said Claudia Vercellotti, who heads the Toledo SNAP chapter. "It's bad enough when religious officials applaud predators. It's even worse when secular officials do the same."

Joelle Casteix, one of Hodgman's victims, has worked for almost 20 years to warn others about Hodgman. She's worried about the safety of unsuspecting college students, staff and local kids in and around Adrian.

In addition to the molestation, Casteix alleges that Hodgman impregnated her and gave her a sexually transmitted disease.

In a 2005 meeting with former college president Stanley Caine, Casteix was rebuffed and told that her motivation was only "sour grapes." http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050419/NEWS02/504190310/-1/NEWS

Through her civil lawsuit against Hodgman and his former Catholic employers, Castiex has obtained roughly 4 pages of personnel documents, which she has posted on a website called http://protectkids.wordpress.com They include:

A signed confession in which Hodgman admits molesting at least two teens,

A signed document from a school administrator who admits she knew about the abuse for at least a year,

A glowing recommendation from the school principal, despite his knowledge that Hodgman had molested at least two students,

A letter from the principal to a school superintendent, detailing the abuse, but blaming the actions on Casteix's alleged "severe emotional problems."

"It's bad enough that Adrian officials won't take the simple, cheap, and morally prudent step of warning their students and staff about Hodgman," said SNAP's letter to the two politicians. "But it's worse that you are compounding his victims' pain and adding to a predator's reputation said Vercellotti.

The group also praised Castiex.

"Having been molested by a trusted adult, then betrayed by a church hierarchy, some become debilitated, depressed and powerless," said the SNAP letter. "Others, however, become compassionate, cautious and determined. That's Joelle. And we applaud her for her courage and concern."

(The letters were sent today by fax and e mail to Levin and Grandholm. A copy is below.)

Last December, a community college in Missouri ousted another former Mater Dei teacher who'd admitted molesting a girl. Larry Stukenholtz was suspended, and later fired, after one of his victims, Sarah Gray, spoke to the college's board.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/education/story/D993EB5C42CFC37A862573BC00107008?OpenDocument

Contact:

Claudia Vercellotti, SNAP Toledo Director 419-350-9234

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director, 314-566-9790

Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, SNAP SW Regional Director, 949-322-7434

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm

State of Michigan

P.O. Box 30013

Lansing, Michigan 48909

Fax: (517) 335-6863

Senator Carl Levin

Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building

477 Michigan Avenue, Suite 1860

Detroit, MI 48226-2576

Fax (313) 226-6948

Fax (202) 224-1388 (D.C.)

Dear Governor Granholm and Senator Levin;

We are members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org), the United States' largest self-help support group for those who were abused by clergy or anyone in a position of power within a religious organization. We are writing you today to express how disturbed and upset we are that both you are openly supporting and commending an admitted child molester.

Last year, you sent commendation letters to Dr. Thomas Hodgman, music professor at Adrian College in Adrian. (The letters are on the college's website - http://www.adriancollegemusic.org/Gov%20letter.htm).

Perhaps you have not read the about Dr. Hodgman in the media. Perhaps your aids did not know that Hodgman was the subject of a 2005 $1.6 million sex abuse lawsuit. Perhaps you have not read the documents released as a part of the settlement, which include:

A signed confession in which Hodgman admits molesting at least two teens,

A signed document from a school administrator who admits she knew about the abuse for at least a year,

A glowing recommendation from the school principal, despite his knowledge that Hodgman had molested at least two students,

A letter from the principal to a school superintendent, detailing the abuse, but blaming Hodgman's actions on Casteix's alleged "severe emotional problems."

All of the publicly released court documents may be reviewed at http://protectkids.wordpress.com.

One of Hodgman's victims, Joelle Casteix, fought for 20 years to get those documents released. She did this despite the fact that Hodgman denied her allegations, including accusations that he impregnated her and gave her a sexually transmitted disease. She also did this despite the fact that officials at Adrian College said her allegations were just "sour grapes" and although they know that Hodgman is an admitted molester, they continue to allow him unfettered access to children, teens and young adults.

And now, by commending him for his work, you are emboldening a child molester and telling all victims of sex crimes that you do not care about children's safety. We hope that is not the case.

It's bad enough that Adrian officials won't take the simple, cheap, and morally prudent step of warning their students and staff about Hodgman. But it's worse that you are compounding his victims' pain and adding to a predator's reputation.

Having been molested by a trusted adult, especially a popular high school teacher, then betrayed by a church hierarchy from two different denominations, some become debilitated, depressed and powerless. Others, however, become compassionate, cautious and determined. That's Joelle. And we applaud her for her courage and concern.

We ask you to think about the victims of all sex crimes, not just Joelle and Hodgman's other victim(s).

Please, for the sake of victims, do the following:

Rescind your commendation letters for Hodgman and his choirs,

Ask that the letters be removed from the Adrian College website and Hodgman's personal website (www.thomashodgman.com),

Demand that Adrian College remove any admitted, proven or credibly accused child molesters from their faculty and staff, and

Promise you'll more carefully investigate the histories and backgrounds of individuals who ask for your praise in the future.

These small steps can help keep kids safe in Michigan, RIGHT NOW.

 
 

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