Orders Have Been Home to Groups of Abusers

By Reese Dunklin, Brooks Egerton
Dallas Morning News
August 8, 2002

Clusters of abusers have been identified at many schools and other institutions run by Catholic religious orders. Order leaders say they've put reforms in place; victims' advocates say that a culture of secrecy persists and that some documented abusers have been allowed to keep working. Here are some examples of order scandals:Benedictines

After enduring abuse allegations and legal troubles in the early 1990s, the Benedictines are again facing questions about the conduct of monks at St. John's Abbey in Minnesota.

In recent months, order leaders have acknowledged that about 14 of the 190 monks living there were under restrictions because of credible allegations that they had abused preparatory school students or other monks. Despite the limitations, four of the monks continued to travel freely until this spring - and two of those also were working in public jobs before they were removed in July.

More recently, a new lawsuit filed by two men accused past abbey officials of leaving two monks on duty despite previous abuse allegations. The lawsuit cites abbey files showing that officials about knew one of the monk's troubles, sent him for treatment and returned him to work. "I know it is a risk," according to a 1987 entry by former Abbot Jerome Theisen. Abbey lawyers have cited the statute of limitations in trying to halt the suit.

Since the revelations, new Abbot John Klassen has apologized "for the pain we have caused." In June, he wrote that "we recognize that it was our failings that provoked this attention."

Congregation of Christian Brothers

Widespread sex abuse at Christian Brothers' orphanages and schools in Canada, Ireland and Australia has taken a staggering toll: tens of millions of dollars in court settlements and penalties, dozens of members jailed, and several hundred victims.

The order has mass-circulated letters and published newspaper advertisements apologizing to victims. "In a way, we are putting up our hands and saying this happened," a Christian Brothers spokesman in Ireland was quoted as saying in 1998.

The order, which primarily operates abroad, has some facilities in the United States.

Most recently, it has tended to the financial fallout of the abuse. Last month, the Christian Brothers' Canadian branch agreed to pay $ 12 million to help cover about $ 45 million in court-ordered victims compensation. The money will go to about 90 of the people abused over several decades at the now-shuttered Mount Cashel orphanage in Newfoundland. About a dozen Christian Brothers have been convicted in those assaults.

In Ireland, meanwhile, Roman Catholic leaders agreed this year to a major settlement with victims abused at church schools run primarily by the order. And in Australia, where a recent government inquiry documented cases of pedophile priests and child sex rings, the order agreed to set up a trust fund of about $ 3 million to assist victims. The number of people sexually and physically assaulted at Christian Brothers' Australian orphanages exceeded 260.

Crosier Fathers and Brothers

The order's problems surfaced this summer with the disclosure that Brother Gregory Madigan had lived under restrictions near a Minnesota church without members' knowledge.

The Crosiers' U.S. leader said he made a mistake in not informing parishioners about Brother Madigan's past, including his 1988 admission to abusing a teenage boy at a Crosier preparatory school and a financial settlement.

The Crosiers subsequently revealed that another 10 of their 87 members also were under restrictions and living at the order's U.S. centers because of past accusations. Like Brother Madigan, three other restricted Crosiers had allegedly abused students at the order's preparatory school, which closed in 1989.

The Crosiers have declined to name most of the restricted members or discuss the allegations. A spokesman said some had been previously cleared of wrongdoing but were suspended pending a new investigation. The spokesman also stressed that the incidents spanned several years, when the order was much larger. One of the restricted Crosiers, the Rev. Neil Emon, had kept working in parishes in recent months despite past complaints against him.

The order announced in June that it had hired a law firm to investigate past sex-abuse complaints against its members. The Rev. Thomas Carkhuff, the Crosiers' provincial, said the order would take "whatever action is warranted" after the investigation was complete.

Franciscan Friars

In 1992, two former students at St. Anthony's Seminary alleged abuse at the California boarding school. A year later, an investigation commissioned by Franciscan leaders concluded that 11 friars had sexually abused at least 34 students over the years.

The accused accounted for one-fourth of the friars serving on St. Anthony's faculty from the mid-1960s to mid-1980s. One friar had seven victims, another had 18. Some victims were as young as 7 years old.

Some of the accused friars still have work assignments, but a spokesman for the Franciscans' provincial office in California insisted that none was with children. Their jobs were cleared through an independent review team established as one of several reforms after 1993; spokesman Brother John Kiesler would not discuss the men's duties or the restrictions placed on them. He said the order was "doing the best we can" and not taking the past scandal lightly.


Allegations of sex abuse and misconduct at Jesuit high schools, seminaries and other institutions in at least five states have stung the nation's largest religious order. Some of the accused clergy stayed in the ministry despite complaints and warning signs.

At least six Jesuits who once worked at Dallas' Jesuit Prep have been accused. Officials at the Jesuits' Houston high school were brought allegations that the Rev. Vincent Orlando had tried fondling two students in the 1980s, but he kept working there until 2000. He was teaching at the Jesuits' Tampa, Fla., high school when he was suspended this year.

Abuse has been exposed at schools in at least three other states, including at least five accused priests who had worked at Boston College High. Beyond schools, two order members have been sentenced in the last year for repeatedly molesting a retarded man at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Northern California. Those two are among the four Jesuits accused in a civil lawsuit of molestation and sodomy at the center as recently as 2000.


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