Sex Scandal Apology Sent to Jesuit Parents

By Michelle Bearden
Tampa Tribune (Florida)
May 11, 2002


TAMPA - For students at Jesuit High School, Friday was just another day.

But for the Rev. Joseph Doyle, school president, it meant another painful letter to parents, this time about a former Jesuit English teacher removed from his priestly duties because of a "credible" accusation of sexual abuse.

"I'm sad and disappointed," Doyle said. "I apologize to anyone connected to Jesuit High School. This is a terrible time."

On Thursday, Doyle learned that a former Jesuit student came forward to lodge an accusation of sexual abuse against the Rev. Thomas Hidding. The incident allegedly occurred at the school in the early 1980s.

Hidding was a Jesuit "regent," or seminarian, at the time, according to the Rev. Thomas Stahel, a spokesman for the Jesuit province in New Orleans. Hidding worked at the school from 1980 through 1982. After his ordination, he served several churches, including Sacred Heart Church in Tampa from 1993 through 1997, as associate pastor.

An investigation concluded the allegation was credible, and Hidding was discharged from his position as associate pastor at Gesu Catholic Church in Miami.

Doyle sent a letter to Jesuit parents on Friday, saying the school has been "inflicted with a terrible wound, which will take time to heal."

In late April, he wrote a similar letter, announcing the Rev. Vincent Orlando, a math and computer science teacher, was relieved of his priestly duties after an accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor. The religious order had determined the 1985 incident was credible.

Doyle said students didn't seem as affected by Friday's news because the Hidding incident happened so many years ago. With Orlando, "it really hit home because he was their teacher."

"I'm taking this a lot harder than they are," Doyle said. "The school has my name on it. This is a painful time."



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