Man Sues Jesuit School, Alleges Abuse

By James Ewinger
Plain Dealer [Cleveland Ohio]
May 20, 1993

A Cleveland man yesterday sued a Jesuit-run high school in Cuyahoga Falls and a former teacher, claiming he was sexually abused by the teacher for two years.

The incidents occurred in the late 1970s, according to the complaint filed in Summit County Common Pleas Court by Michael Curran, 33, of Cleveland.

Curran's lawsuit said he was seduced by Howard J. McDonough, once a brother in the Jesuit order and a teacher at Walsh Jesuit High School. The lawsuit said that under the guise of disciplining Curran, McDonough seduced him, and the two engaged in various sexual acts during Curran's sophomore and junior years.

The lawsuit said McDonough left the school when Curran was a senior. Curran graduated from Walsh in 1978.

Father James Von Tobel, an assistant to the Provincial, or regional head of the Jesuit order in Detroit, said McDonough is no longer a member of the order, but did not know how or when he left.

McDonough could not be reached for comment last night. McDonough lives in Washington, D.C., according to the lawsuit.

Edward W. Cochran, Curran's lawyer, said last night that Curran filed a criminal complaint with Cuyahoga Falls police in the past month. The department confirmed that a report was filed, but said there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal charge. Police said they would watch the outcome of a deposition Cochran intends to take from McDonough in the near future, and could bring charges based on that information.

The lawsuit said Curran was trained to "admire, trust and revere brothers of the Jesuit order, which made it difficult for him to resist the entreaties and false counseling of McDonough."

The lawsuit also said that McDonough wrongfully instructed and counseled Curran in religious matters, and told Curran their sexual activities were not wrong and "were authorized by the Catholic Church." McDonough also told Curran not to tell anyone.

Cochran said Curran suppressed his memory of the episodes with McDonough. "I don't think it would be right to say he had amnesia," Cochran said. "He put it (the memory) in an area where he seldom thought about it directly. He never addressed it or faced up to it, all of these years, or told anybody."

Cochran acknowledged that the statue of limitations will be an issue. He said it does not begin to run until the plaintiff becomes cognizant of suffering a legal injury.

Cochran said the episodes came to the forefront of his client's consciousness late last year after a recent traumatic episode with another person. The lawyer declined to elaborate on the incident.

Richard Sistek, a spokesman for Walsh Jesuit, declined to comment.

Cochran said Curran suffered severe guilt and depression because of McDonough, and that Curran could not pursue a college degree or permanent employment because of the resulting trauma.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.