Courage of Ford's Testimony Helps Former SLU Student Find Her Voice

By Tony Messenger
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 5, 2018

Virginia Lawton Boller was questioning her faith.

It was 1973. Boller, then 30, was a year removed from earning her master’s in social work from St. Louis University. She was working for the city health department and decided to attend a retreat put on by the Rev. Daniel O’Connell, who was on SLU’s psychology faculty. Boller had attended a Mass that O’Connell celebrated in a girls’ dormitory from time to time, and had met the Jesuit priest there. At the retreat, during a confession, O’Connell suggested Boller see him for some one-on-one counseling.

The sessions lasted for about a year, until O’Connell was named the president of SLU in 1974. At the end of every session, Boller says, O’Connell would get out from behind his desk, and sit in a rocking chair next to where she had been sitting. He then motioned for her to sit on his lap, and for five minutes or so, he embraced her as they rocked.

“I felt uncomfortable,” she says now. “I immediately knew it was wrong.”








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