Victims to Leaflet Statewide Church Meeting
May 16, 2014
Holding signs and childhood photos, child sex abuse victims will hand fliers to Methodist ministers and congregants from across Michigan at their annual conference. The leaflets urge church officials and members to
–warn others about a professor at a Michigan Methodist college who admitted molesting two teenagers, and
–pressure the college president to disclose the professor's admissions to students and staff.
They will also beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered any crimes or misdeeds by the professor to “speak up, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing.”
Saturday, May 16 at 11:00 a.m.
On the sidewalk leading to the Bell Tower at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan
Two-three members of a self help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
Leaders of SNAP will hand leaflets to passers-by and to Michigan Methodist church officials and members about a professor at a local Methodist college who admitted molesting two girls and is accused of molesting at least one more. He's also accused, in court records, of getting one of them pregnant and giving her a sexually transmitted disease.
He is Dr. Thomas Hodgman, a music professor at Adrian College since in 1999. Adrian officials hired him despite the fact that Hodgman admitted his crimes against the two girls.
Hodgman's former employer, a Catholic high school, had to pay $1.6 million to a California woman who was repeatedly sexually violated by Hodgman when she was a vulnerable high school student.
Earlier this week, SNAP wrote two letters about Hodgman.
One was to a U.S. Education Department official charging that Adrian college staff may have violated a federal law called the Clery Act that requires colleges “to give timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees.” SNAP alleges that Adrian's “continuing secrecy” surrounding Hodgman's past “violates the spirit of the Clery Act and may well violate its letter too.”
A copy of that letter is here:
The other SNAP letter was to Bishop Deborah Kiesey (517 347 4030, 800 334 0544) who heads the Michigan United Methodist Church. SNAP wants her to warn church members and staff across the state about Hodgman. The statewide conference meets at Adrian for several days this week starting on Thursday. (Adrian is a Methodist institution.)
From 1986-1990, Hodgman taught at Mater Dei High School in Orange County California, where he met the three girls. The names of two of them are confidential.
But the third, Joelle Casteix, is now an award-winning advocate for abuse victims and SNAP's long time volunteer western regional director.
California Catholic officials paid Casteix a $1.6 million settlement after she sued them and Hodgman.
In 2004, Casteix traveled from her California home to Adrian and met with then-President Stanley Caine. She expressed her fear that Hodgman might still be molesting children. But Caine took no action, telling Casteix that her motivation was "sour grapes."
In court documents, Casteix also says that Hodgman impregnated her and gave her a sexually transmitted disease.
Through her civil lawsuit against Hodgman and his former school, Casteix has obtained roughly 200 pages of personnel documents, which she has posted on her website: TheWorthyAdversary.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 of Hodgman's crimes,
-- A letter from the principal to a school superintendent, detailing the abuse, but blaming the actions on Casteix's alleged "emotional problems.”
“It’s no doubt tempting for Methodists to do nothing about Hodgman and convince themselves that he's the college's problem, not theirs," said SNAP director David Clohessy. "But that’s precisely the kind of self-serving and short-sighted and irresponsible hair-splitting that Catholic bishops engaged in for decades, and caused incalculable damage to Catholic children and families and to the church's reputation and membership.”
"If Adrian College officials will cover for an admitted child predator, who raped his student, what hope do sexual assault victims at Adrian really have?" said SNAP leader Claudia Vercellotti. "If the campus climate predator friendly, what message does that sends to any college victim of a sex crime who needs help? Who do they come forward to when the college president keeps a child predator on staff?"
Hodgman is (or has been) the Artistic Director and Conductor at Lenawee Community Chorus and “works with other educators and students to offer a music class to community preschoolers,”according to an Adrian official.
He attended Westminster Choir College and then taught at Jersey City State College before moving to Adrian.