Principal Put on Leave after Sex Claim

By Susan Clary
St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
December 13, 1994

The principal of Jesuit High School was placed on administrative leave Monday after three men claimed he sexually assaulted them more than 30 years ago when they were students at a boarding school in Italy.

Thomas Mulryan, 62, who has been at Jesuit since 1988, taught at Notre Dame International School in Rome from 1959 to 1963 when the alleged sexual misconduct took place, the Rev. James P. Bradley, the president of Jesuit, said at a news conference Monday evening.

Mulryan has not been criminally charged and a local HRS investigation into possible sexual misconduct at Jesuit turned up nothing, Bradley said. HRS officials could not be reached for comment Monday night.

"The faculty is strong in their belief that he is of the highest moral caliber and a strong religious person," Bradley said. But he said he felt he had to remove Mulryan until all questions are answered. Mulryan has been placed on paid leave.

Mulryan could not be reached for comment Monday evening, but his attorney reiterated his client's claims of innocence and expressed puzzlement over the accusations' being made public.

"We've been caught a little off guard by this press conference business," said attorney Terry Brocklehurst. He said he spoke with Bradley early Monday, but was not told about plans for the news conference. "I don't understand why it went public."

Brocklehurst said he did not want to attempt to characterize his client's reaction to the sudden, and very public, airing of the accusations. When asked if Mulryan was shocked, he said, "Yes, I guess you could say that."

Two of the three accusers, all of whom are in their 40s, came forward with their allegations to the brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross during the summer. Notre Dame International School, which closed some years ago, was operated by the brothers.

The men, who live in Washington D.C., did not know each other until they met at a school reunion in which they discussed their memories of sexual misconduct. After the men contacted the brothers, a letter was sent to former students of the Notre Dame school who attended when Mulryan was a teacher.

A third man, who lives in Florida, came forward less than two weeks ago to say he also had been assaulted. The third man was acquainted with one of the other accusers. All of the men were teenagers when the attacks allegedly occurred.

One of the men contacted HRS, which prompted the local investigation, Bradley said. The man also was looking into Italian law to determine whether charges could be filed in that country.

"The men came forward to tell their stories, not only to help themselves deal with troublesome memories but also to assist others who may have been similarly approached," Bradley read from a prepared statement. "The accusers are determined to see Mr. Mulryan removed from situations which place him in contact with young men and to ensure he enters an appropriate counseling program."

Although Bradley has spoken with all three of the accusers, Mulryan has not been given their names.

"Mr. Mulryan has been kept very much in the dark," Brocklehurst said.

Jesuit High School has about 650 students, all between the ninth and 12th grades. Bradley told the student body of the allegations Monday afternoon, and a letter was sent home to parents explaining Mulryan's removal.

"He has been a wonderful, very supportive person and he is very kindhearted," said Floy McNolty, whose son attends Jesuit. "I find this allegation hard to believe. I hate to see him removed because I think he is a good man and his reputation at Jesuit has been clean."

Students were surprised.

"I was pretty shocked because a lot of the seniors had him as a teacher when we were freshman," said Pat Browning, a senior and co-captain of the football team. "He didn't come around campus that often, but he was always nice. We were just shocked because he doesn't seem like a person who could do something like that."

Joe Mannion, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, which includes Tampa, said: "The Diocese is saddened by the news of the accusations (of incidents) that allegedly occurred some 30 years ago, and expressed its compassion for the anguish that it is causing the accusers and their families, and the accused and his family.

"The archbishop is confident of the ability and the integrity of Father Bradley and the Jesuit fathers to deal with these very serious accusations."

After Mulryan left Notre Dame International School, he worked for a few years at a public school in Massachusetts, Bradley said. He left the brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross in the early 1970s.

He sold insurance, real estate and worked in communications for a department store in the following years, Bradley said. When his wife was found to have cancer, the couple moved to Florida and he took a teaching job at Jesuit. His wife has since died. The couple has two adopted sons and a grandson.

Brocklehurst said he planned to meet today with Mulryan and then "decide what kind of response we'll have."

Bradley could not say why the men decided to come forward after 30 years. "It's very difficult to know why after all these years," he said. "I don't have any reason to disbelieve Mr. Mulryan."

School officials did not know when it would be decided if Mulryan could return to Jesuit.


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