Priest Is Placed on Leave over Sexual Misconduct Suit

Erie Times-News (PA)
January 28, 1997

The Erie Roman Catholic Diocese has suspended the headmaster of Bradford Central Christian High School pending the outcome of a civil lawsuit against him, alleging sexual misconduct. In a written statement, the diocese stressed that it believes the charges against the Rev. H. Desmond McGee are "groundless and untrue."

"We recognize that sexual abuse indeed has happened in the church," the diocese said. "We do not wish to minimize the harm inflicted when young people and their trust are violated by abuse behavior."

"On the other hand," the statement said, "we do not wish to minimize the harm inflicted on the innocent when they are unjustly accused."

The accuser in the case, according to the diocese, is Edward Rodgers, who attended Bradford Central Christian High School from September 1986 through January 1990.

The statement said McGee expelled Rodgers because of absenteeism and poor grades.

Last May 20, diocesan officials met with Rodgers and his attorney, Barry Lee Smith of Warren, and heard Rodgers' allegation of sexual misconduct, the statement said.

Following that meeting, diocesan officials spoke with Frank Hakel, administrative coordinator of the diocese, whom Rodgers had identified as a key witness in the case, the diocese said.

The statement said Hakel claimed Rodgers never reported to him any claims of sexual misconduct by McGee.

McGee, Rodgers and Smith could not be reached for comment this morning. The diocese said it will have no further comment, other than the written statement, for now.

The statement said McGee remains principal of the school, but has been placed on administrative leave.

Tina Slaven, principal of St. Bernard Elementary School in Bradford, has been named interim supervisory principal of the Bradford Catholic School System, which includes McGee's school, the statement said.


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