Catholic Brother out of Job
Teacher, Director Leaves Lewis Post over Old Charges
By Todd Lighty and Rick Hepp
April 11, 2002
A Catholic religious order disclosed Wednesday that it removed a brother from public ministry after re-examining old allegations that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with children in Georgia and in "inappropriate behavior" with students at an all-boys Catholic high school in Chicago.
The Order of Carmelites said that several weeks ago it began a review of the allegations stemming from the 1970s and 1980s at the request of the brother himself, Robert Murphy.
"The re-examination was prompted by Brother Murphy's own concerns over these previous matters in light of the current national and international focus on the issue of sexual misconduct," the order said in a statement.
Applying more stringent policies adopted in the 1990s, the order's Advisory Group on Sexual Misconduct recommended that Murphy be removed from public ministry.
That ruling also meant that Murphy lost his job at Lewis University, a Catholic university in Romeoville. Murphy had worked at the school since 1987 as director of ministry and as a history teacher, said Carol Wassberg, a university spokeswoman.
Brothers are members of religious orders who are not ordained but take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Murphy, 51, could not be reached for comment.
Rev. Leo McCarthy, the prior provincial for the Carmelite order based in Darien, was unavailable for comment.
The latest public disclosure of alleged sexual misconduct involving the Catholic Church came one day after the Archdiocese of Chicago sent a memorandum to school administrators offering guidelines for teachers and parents in discussing with children the ongoing revelations of sexual misconduct by clergy.
Those guidelines recommend that adults first bring up the topic and that the adults carefully listen to what children have to say while reassuring them that their feelings are important.
According to the Carmelites, Murphy had been accused of sexual misconduct with minors in 1973 in Georgia. The Diocese of Savannah reported the allegations to the Carmelite Province.
Sal Lema, a spokesman for the Carmelites in Darien, would not provide details but said the allegations were credible. He said Murphy underwent treatment and that the Savannah Diocese offered counseling to the victims.
Murphy later became a history and English teacher at Mt. Carmel High School, an all-boys school of about 800 students on Chicago's South Side.
In 1985, the order removed Murphy from the high school after allegations surfaced that he had engaged in "inappropriate corporal punishment," or spanking, involving students, Lema said. Murphy was restricted from all unsupervised contact with minors and underwent treatment from 1985 through 1999, Lema said.
Lema said the order has notified the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Joliet Diocese about the allegations and actions taken against Murphy. In addition, Lema said, the order was "in the process of notifying civil authorities."
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