Prep Teacher Quits in Kissing Incident

By Simone Weichselbaum
Philadelphia Daily News
November 15, 2005

A popular history teacher at St. Joseph's Prep - caught up in the shadow of the Catholic Church sex scandal - has resigned from the exclusive boys school after admitting to having kissed and hugged students in the 1990s, officials announced yesterday.

Charles Ginn, a 30-year teaching veteran and an ordained deacon at St. Katharine of Siena Parish in Wayne, last week told school president Rev. Bruce M. Bidinger that he would leave his teaching post after learning that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was about to expose his past.

"It shadows all of our lenses," said Bidinger of the priest sex-abuse scandal.

In March 1996, two students said, Ginn - then a counselor - hugged and kissed them on the mouth during two separate counseling sessions, said Bidinger during an emotional meeting with parents last night at the school, on Girard Avenue near 17th Street.

Ginn admitted to having touched the boys and told the archdiocese that he had hugged a third boy in 1999, said Bill Avington, the school's spokesman.

The former students involved in the 1996 incident want to remain anonymous, Bidinger said. And the former student, whom Ginn said he hugged in 1999, said he never felt victimized.

The Prep's then-president, David Sauter, ordered Ginn to counseling after the allegations in 1996, removed him from his counseling position and took away his office, Avington said.

But in 2001, Sauter learned that Ginn had put his arm around a student in public and dropped another teen off at home, Avington said. Ginn was warned that he would be terminated if he broke the rules again.

A year later, Bidinger became president, ordered a report on Ginn's past and said a therapist had determined Ginn was not a threat to children.

"If I had to do it again, I would have let him go," Bidinger told the crowd. "I felt it was safe for him to be there."

That same year Ginn became an ordained deacon in the Delaware County parish.

Ginn's past remained unquestioned until Oct. 25, when a St. Katharine parishioner informed church officials of the 1996 incidents.

On Nov. 7, Bidinger said the archdiocese had contacted him about Ginn.

"I said there was a file," Bidin-ger told parents.

Last Wednesday, Ginn quit, saying he could not teach while being investigated, Bidinger said.

After Bidinger spoke, parents and students questioned school leaders about why no one had seemed to know about Ginn's past until last night, how Ginn would survive without income and why their sons should feel safe at school.

Others expressed support for Ginn.

"I know Charlie," said one mother in a gray sweater. "Do you have any evidence that he is a pedophile?"

"None," said Bidinger.

Ginn and archdiocese officials could not be reached for comment last night.



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