In a move aimed at restoring trust with parishioners amid the clergy abuse scandal that has engulfed the Catholic Church, the Jesuit order on Friday revealed the names of 42 members — mostly priests — suspected of sexual abuse while they worked in a region that includes Louisiana.
Nineteen of the men on the Jesuits’ list had ties to New Orleans, and a half-dozen of the named priests, brothers and would-be clergy worked at Jesuit High School in New Orleans when the alleged abuses took place.
Leaders of the Jesuit religious order released a list of 42 priests and other members Friday morning who have been credibly accused of sexual …
The Jesuit order released a list Friday morning of 42 priests and other members who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
Two of those six — Edward DeRussy and Francis Landwermeyer — had not been previously identified, either in media reports or in a similar list of suspected clergy abusers released last month by the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
A seventh man on the list — Ben Wren — had previously been accused publicly of sexual misconduct while working at Loyola University in New Orleans.
Many others landed on the Jesuits' list based on allegations of abuse that took place elsewhere. For a handful of those named, the date ranges for their alleged abuses overlap with their assignments in New Orleans, but it was unclear where they occurred.
Of the 19 with ties to New Orleans, all but three are dead.
Regional Jesuit officials declined a request to specify where some alleged incidents occurred, citing a desire “to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the victims.”
That explanation rang hollow to Terry McKiernan of the abuse watchdog website bishopaccountability.org.
“Not providing (that) is not transparency,” McKiernan said Friday. “Especially with the ‘new’ priests whose allegations have not been known until now, it’s really important we know details about the allegations. Because there’s nothing on the record at the moment about those cases.”
Richard Windmann, who received a $450,000 financial settlement from the order after accusing Cornelius Carr — one of those named on Friday’s list — of abusing him in his adolescence in the 1970s, said Friday that he thinks officials sometimes hide behind the concept of victims’ privacy.
He said his settlement agreement included a confidentiality clause that supposedly came at his request, though he never asked for it.
“Only they stood to benefit from any confidentiality clause,” said Windmann, who recently opened up to the media about how Carr happened upon Jesuit High maintenance man Peter Modica raping him. Carr’s response, he said, was to participate in the abuse by fondling himself.
The president of Jesuit High School sought to reassure a shaken Jesuit community Thursday that while he was “horrified” by the sexual abuse th…
Compiled by the Jesuits’ U.S. Central and Southern Province, Friday’s list follows a similar release published Nov. 2 by New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond.
Aymond named 57 Catholic priests and deacons who were removed from ministry based on credible allegations they molested children during the last several decades, or who died first.
Like Aymond’s list, the Jesuit roster of abusers is meant as a step to assuage Catholics appalled by the latest flare-ups of a child abuse scandal that first boiled over in Boston in 2002. The scandal hit another fever pitch in late July, when a Pennsylvania grand jury published a report exposing allegations of abuse by hundreds of priests.
“Words cannot possibly suffice to express our sorrow and shame for what occurred,” said a statement from the Rev. Ronald Mercier, the head of the Central and Southern Province.
His statement referred to safeguards against abuse adopted since 2002, and he invited victims to contact the order, saying, “Caring for these survivors — and preventing any such future events — must be our focus as we move forward.”
Of the two new names linked to abuse at Jesuit High, it appears that one, DeRussy, spent a significant amount of time there. The priest taught English and Latin from 1969 to 1978, the school said in a statement. He faced multiple abuse claims and was “restricted from ministry with minors” in 1991, according to his order.
The other new name was Francis Landwermeyer, who taught Latin and English at Jesuit from 1961 to 1962 while he was studying to become a priest, the school said.
Like several others on the list with ties to New Orleans, he also worked at Loyola. His order said he was removed from ministry in 2010 and was the subject of multiple abuse claims.
Two others on Friday’s list tied to abuse at Jesuit High — Carr and former school president Donald Pearce — were among six Jesuit priests on Aymond’s release.
Aymond’s clergy-only release omitted two Jesuit employees from the 1970s who appeared on the order’s list Friday: Claude Ory, a religious brother, and Donald Dickerson, who taught English and theology while studying to become a priest.
Lawsuits alleging sexual abuse targeted both of those men and resulted in out-of-court settlements for the accusers.
The Rev. Christopher Fronk — who became Jesuit High’s president in early 2017 — said in a statement Friday that the school has adopted measures making it safer in the decades since the abuse cases mentioned in the new list.
One day before the Jesuit order’s regional leaders identify priests and other members of the order suspected of sexually abusing minors, the p…
The rest of his statement echoed Mercier’s, saying, “We move forward as a community by acknowledging these acts of abuse from over 35 years ago and doing everything we can to make sure they never happen again.”
Among men with ties to the New Orleans area on Friday's list, the 80-year-old Ory is the only religious brother and one of only three men still living. The order said he lives “under supervision” at a Jesuit home in Baltimore.
Another one of the living is Bernard Knoth, who resigned as president of Loyola University in New Orleans in 2003 over an abuse allegation stemming from a prior assignment in Indianapolis in the 1980s.
Loyola’s current president is former federal prosecutor Tania Tetlow, a longtime advocate for sexual assault victims who helped craft reforms for the New Orleans Police Department's handling of such cases.
“Our hearts break for every person whose life has been impacted by abuse of any kind, no matter how long ago,” Tetlow said in a statement Friday.
One of the most alarming of the previously unreleased cases involved Norman Rogge, a Jesuit who remained a priest until 2002, despite two prior arrests related to allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
Rogge was arrested in Florida in 1985, accused of sexual misconduct with an 11-year-old Tampa boy at a vacation spot the previous year while he served as pastor of a Catholic church in the northern Louisiana community of Montgomery. He pleaded no contest and wound up at a Catholic treatment facility in New Mexico, according to a 2002 news story.
Rogge also had been accused of groping a young teen and “fondling others during nude swimming lessons.” He had earlier pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, in 1967.
Still, he went on to serve at Christ the King Church in Opelousas and St. Charles Borromeo in Grand Coteau before the Diocese of Lafayette ousted him, according to news accounts.
In a move aimed at restoring trust with parishioners amid a clergy abuse scandal that has engulfed the Catholic Church worldwide, the Jesuit o…
Friday’s list also reminded the public about a case that shocked devotees of the Manresa Retreat House in Convent, a popular Jesuit institution that was run for most of the 1980s by a priest named Thomas Naughton.
Naughton in 2002 was stripped of his duties at a church in Mission Viejo, California, following accusations that he molested a boy in 1978 when he was president of a Jesuit school in Dallas.
Aside from Jesuit High, Loyola and Manresa, the Jesuit order’s presence in Louisiana these days largely revolves around a spirituality center in Grand Coteau and churches named Immaculate Conception in downtown New Orleans and north Baton Rouge.
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The St. Louis-based Central and Southern Province, which released Friday’s list, manages Jesuit institutions and members in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, southern Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico and Belize.
Founded in 1540 by a Spanish warrior who ultimately became known as St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuit order is known for its commitments to education and social justice.
Its 16,000 members make it the Catholic Church’s largest male religious order. In 2013, Francis was elected as the Roman Catholic Church's first Jesuit pope.
The regional province has said it believes its list is complete. Nonetheless, it hired Kinsale Management Consulting — run by retired law enforcement officers — to review the province’s nearly 3,000 personnel files beginning this spring and publish a full report of its findings.
Ricky Windmann wasn’t nervous when he accompanied janitor Peter Modica to his ground-floor maintenance office at Jesuit High School on an othe…