Jesuit Principal on Leave As Sex Allegations Surface

By Sally Kestin
Tampa Tribune
December 13, 1994

The principal of Jesuit High School was placed on paid leave Monday over allegations of sexual misconduct with three boys at an Italian boarding school 30 years ago.

Two men, who live in the Washington D.C., area, came forward over the summer and accused Thomas Mulryan of sexual improprieties when he was a brother at the Notre Dame International School in Rome in the early 1960s.

The religious order that operated the school sent out a letter in September to other alumni informing them of the allegations. The letter did not name Mulryan.

One of the men who received the letter then made similar accusations against Mulryan.

Mulryan left school Monday morning and could not be reached for comment.

He is "steadfast in asserting his innocence," said Father James Bradley, president of the private school of 650 students.

Bradley emphasized that the school has received no reports of sexual impropriety by Mulryan since he came to Jesuit in 1988 as an English teacher. Mulryan was named principal in 1992.

Mulryan, who is in his early 60s, was an assistant principal for nine years in Massachusetts and taught for two years in Rochester, N.Y., before coming to Jesuit, Bradley said. Mulryan got married and adopted two boys after leaving the order in the mid-70s. He is now a widower.

In the Catholic Church's structure, brothers are similar to priests in that they take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They are considered "lay persons," as distinguished from clerics, who are ordained priests and deacons.

Bradley said he has talked to all three of Mulryan's accusers since learning of the allegations last summer.

"It's very difficult to know why after all these years they've come forward," he said.

One of the men, Larry Roeder, said that at the time of the incident, he tried to tell his father and the headmaster of the school but neither believed him.

Roeder, now a crisis management specialist with the State Department, said he met Mulryan in 1961 when he was in the seventh grade at Notre Dame. Mulryan ran the snack bar and the book store at the school, Roeder said.

Mulryan gave him free milkshakes and offered him a job at the book store but told him he must first take a physical examination, Roeder said.

In a dressing room, Mulryan tried to get Roeder to perform a sex act but he ran away, Roeder said.

He said he tried to tell the headmaster.

"He said he knew what I was going to say and didn't want to hear it," Roeder said.

His father also was skeptical and told him to just stay away from Mulryan, he said.

Roeder said he didn't attempt to report it again because he didn't think people would believe him. But through a friend this spring, he met a former classmate, who also said he had been abused by Mulryan.

The two men contacted the Congregation of Holy Cross in New York, which operated Notre Dame until it closed five years ago. The order sent out a letter Sept. 30 to alumni, saying that two men had accused a brother at the school of unwanted sexual contact.

"Critical elements of both stories are identical," said the letter from Brother John Gleason. "Each has come forward to tell me their stories not only to help themselves deal with troublesome memories but also to assist others who may have been similarly approached."

After reading the letter, the third man, who lives in Florida, contacted the order.

Bradley said the school decided to take action against Mulryan because the third man's story "seemed to independently verify what the other two said."

All three of the men's stories involve single incidents. The identities of the two other men have not been disclosed.

Bradley said Mulryan has been a good administrator and the decision to place him on leave was difficult. He said Mulryan doesn't know who his accusers are.

"One of the problems here is where does he receive due process?" Bradley said.

Bradley said he will be acting principal until the school decides Mulryan's future.

The school held an assembly Monday and sent a letter home to parents about Mulryan.

Roeder said he is satisfied with the school's handling of the matter.

He said the three men have no plans to file a lawsuit.

"Our view is the church has suffered enough and they've offered to provide counseling to any victims," he said. "We want to make sure if there are any other victims ... and if any need help, they get help."

Meanwhile, reaction at the school Monday was one of disbelief.

"I was shocked," said student President J.C. Sanchez. "I didn't expect something like this from a person like Mr. Mulryan."

"This was news to all us," said his father, Ray Sanchez. "It does concern me if there was any kind of sexual harassment going on. These sort of problems are always a concern to parents."

"As a teacher, students did very well with him," Jesuit math teacher Ron Scarcelli said. "As a principal, he was as good as there was." Staff writers Barbara Boyer and Michelle Bearden contributed to this report.


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