Several Jesuits who spent time at Strake Jesuit accused of sexual abuse

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter, Click2Houston.com Staff

HOUSTON - Multiple Jesuits who spent time at Houston's Strake Jesuit College Preparatory were named in a list of those with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, the Jesuits U.S. Central and Southern Province released Friday.

The five men who have ties to Strake Jesuit include a former president and a former principal at Strake. One other man with ties to a Houston church was also named.

The estimated time of abuse occurred between the 1960s and 1980s, according to the Jesuits.

Four of the six men have died.

The Jesuits said the men, 42 of whom are named in the full list for the central and southern region, fall into one of three categories: 

  • Jesuits of this province against whom one or more credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor or a vulnerable adult have been made; 
  • Jesuits from other provinces against whom there are credible claims resulting from their work while assigned to this province; 
  • Jesuits of this province whose names have been published on diocesan websites or the websites of other Jesuit provinces.

The Jesuits point out "inclusion on this list does not imply that the allegations are true and correct or that the accused individual has been found guilty of a crime or liable for civil claims." 

KPRC2

Those with Strake Jesuit ties who are accused of sexual abuse.

Here's a list of those who had ties to Houston's Strake Jesuit:

Jody Blanchard, SJ (ONE ALLEGATION)
Blanchard, 65, left the Jesuits and is now a counselor to the elderly, according to his LinkedIn page. He  reportedly lives in Louisiana.
Birth: 1953
Ordination: 1983
Status of Individual: Left Society of Jesus 1994
Estimated Timeframe of Abuse: 1980s 
Removed from Ministry: Left Society of Jesus 1994
Pastoral Assignments:
St. Charles Borromeo Church, Grand Coteau, La.
Tulane Catholic Center, New Orleans 
Immaculate Conception Parish, Baton Rouge, La.
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, Houston

Thomas J. Naughton, SJ (ONE ALLEGATION)
Naughton was president of Strake Jesuit in 1989 and 1990, according to an assignment record. He died in 2012. No public allegations appear to involve Strake students.
Birth: 1933
Ordination: 1965
Status of Individual: Left Society of Jesus 2009; Deceased 2012
Estimated Timeframe of Abuse: 1970s 
Removed from Ministry: 2002 
Pastoral Assignments:
Jesuit High School, New Orleans
Jesuit High School, El Paso, Texas
Jesuit High School, Tampa, Fla.
Jesuit College Preparatory School, Dallas
St. John's Co-Cathedral, Shreveport, La.
Manresa House of Retreats, Convent, La.
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, Houston
Jesuit Seminary and Mission Bureau, New Orleans
Montserrat Retreat House, Lake Dallas, Texas
St. Killian Parish, Mission Viejo, Calif.

Vincent A. Orlando, SJ (ONE ALLEGATION)
Orlando was principal at Strake Jesuit from 1979 to 1984 when a student reported him for inappropriate touching. Orlando stayed at the school until 2000. He now reportedly lives in Missouri.
Birth: 1941
Ordination: 1974
Status of Individual: Removed from ministry and lives under supervision
Estimated Timeframe of Abuse: 1980s 
Removed from Ministry: 2002 
Pastoral Assignments:
Jesuit College Preparatory School, Dallas
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, Houston
Jesuit High School, Tampa, Fla.

Charles G. Coyle, SJ (MORE THAN ONE ALLEGATION)
Coyle worked at Strake Jesuit in 1977 and 1978, according to an assignment record, but his position isn't listed.
Birth: 1932
Ordination: 1965
Status of Individual: Left Society of Jesus 2004, deceased 2015
Estimated Timeframe of Abuse: 1960s – 70s
Removed from Ministry: 2002
Pastoral Assignments:
Jesuit High School, New Orleans 
Jesuit College Preparatory School, Dallas
Jesuit High School, New Orleans 
Jesuit High School, Shreveport, La. 
Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala.
Woodstock College, Woodstock, Md.
Newton High, Newton, Mass. 
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, Houston
Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala. 
Holy Cross High, New Orleans 
Tulane University, New Orleans 
Ignatius House Retreat Center, Atlanta, Ga.
Montserrat Retreat House, Lake Dallas, Texas
Pastoral Ministry, New Orleans

Edward D. DeRussy, SJ (MORE THAN ONE ALLEGATION)
Birth: 1926
Ordination: 1957
Status of Individual: Deceased 2001 
Estimated Timeframe of Abuse: 1970s
Removed from Ministry: Restricted from ministry with minors 1991 
Pastoral Assignments:
Jesuit High School, New Orleans 
Jesuit High School, Tampa, Fla. 
Jesuit High School, El Paso, Texas 
Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala. 
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, Houston
Sacred Heart Church, Tampa, Fla. 
St. Joseph Church, Zephyrhills, Fla.
St. Benedict Church, Crystal River, Fla.
Ignatius Residence, New Orleans
St. John's Hospital, Nassau Bay, Texas

Austin N. Park, SJ (MORE THAN ONE ALLEGATION)
Birth: 1918
Ordination: 1955
Status of Individual: Deceased 2013 
Estimated Timeframe of Abuse: 1960s 
Removed from Ministry: N/A - already out of ministry due to dementia when allegations received
Pastoral Assignments:
Jesuit High School, Shreveport, La. 
Jesuit High School, New Orleans 
Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and Shrine, San Antonio
Colegio San Ignacio, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Jesuit High School, El Paso, Texas 
Gesù Parish, Miami, Fla.
Christ the King Church, Grand Coteau, La.
Sacred Heart Church, Tampa, Fla. 
Immaculate Conception Parish, New Orleans
St. Joseph Church, Houston
St. Mary's Church, Greenville, S.C. 
Our Lady of the Rosary, Greenville, S.C.
Sacred Heart Parish, El Paso, Texas 
Oakdale Facility, Oakdale, La.
St. Philip Neri, Kinder, La.
St. Charles College, Grand Coteau, La.

Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the release of the list.

Strake Jesuit sent a statement to KPRC2 that read:

"Today the U.S. Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus published a list of the persons who the Province describes as “Jesuits with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.” The list includes six names of Jesuits who were assigned to the school in decades past.  With the Province, we hope this information will promote trust and healing through greater transparency. 

"Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our students.
 
"The school has a zero-tolerance policy regarding the sexual abuse of minors. We have comprehensive measures and policies in place to ensure a safe environment for students. Strake Jesuit actively promotes a culture of accountability and conducts training on mandatory reporting, proper boundaries and sexual abuse detection and prevention. All employees undergo criminal background checks and participate in regular safe environment training.

"We join the province in urging anyone who experienced sexual abuse as a minor to report the offense to local law enforcement or child protective services. 

"For further information related to the province list, please contact Therese Meyerhoff, Director of Communications at the U.S. Central and Southern Province at tmeyerhoff@jesuits.org."

Father Ronald A. Mercier, S.J., Provincial released the following statement Friday:

"The storm that the Church experiences today calls forth from us an unprecedented and yet needed response. Silence in the face of the events of recent months cannot be an option. 

"Our first response must be directed to those who have survived abuse at the hands of a member of the Society of Jesus when they were minors, a terrible evil that wounds the soul. Words cannot possibly suffice to express our sorrow and shame for what occurred, our promise of prayers for healing, and our commitment to work with them. Caring for these survivors – and preventing any such future events – must be our focus as we move forward.

"The People of God, including our companions in mission, who have experienced a blow to the trust they place in the Society, similarly deserve a response marked by openness and contrition, one that recognizes our history and seeks to create a new way forward. We deeply regret the pain this causes our colleagues as they share with us the mission given by the Lord.

"Over the last three months, I have discussed our response with a broad range of people. One consistent theme has emerged, the need for transparency through publishing this list of Jesuits with credible accusations of abuse of a minor, painful as it may be. I have heard too the voices that call, rightly, for attention to the standards of justice in any such revelations. I am grateful to all those who participated in these conversations. In the end, though, the decision is mine.

"The province staff has worked tirelessly to put together a list of those credibly accused of having abused a minor. That has meant reviewing the processes used in decisions over the last four decades. Since 2002, we have had the benefit of Province Review Boards including lay men and women versed in law, medicine, and psychology who have provided us excellent advice in deciding cases. Earlier, the province staffs investigated allegations, giving the results to the provincial for his decision. We have reviewed all those files, relying as well on the careful research done in the former Missouri and New Orleans Provinces as they prepared for initial accreditation by Praesidium, Inc. 

"While we are confident in the provisional list we provide today, we wish a greater degree of certainty and transparency and so have contracted with Kinsale Management Consulting to review all files for anyone who was a member of the Missouri and New Orleans Provinces and the Puerto Rico Region after December 31, 1954, roughly 2500 files in total. We also include those Jesuits from other provinces who were assigned to one of those entities. This audit will begin in March and will provide us with results in the late spring. If necessary, we will then update the list. 

"The list we are releasing today will no doubt surprise or shock many. This represents a sinful part of our history, one that calls the Society of Jesus to repentance and to a renewed commitment both to create a safe space in our ministries for all God’s people and to provide the openness that can become the foundation for renewed trust. 

"I would make two notes of caution. First, inclusion on this list does not imply that the allegations are true and correct or that the accused individual has been found guilty of a crime or liable for civil claims. In many instances, the allegations were made several years or decades after the alleged events, which makes it difficult to be assured the truth is known.

"Second, while a list of each man’s assignments is included, it is important to note that the allegations do not necessarily stem from any of the listed assignments.

"I must say a word of thanks to the members of the Society who continue to minister so well, who provide true witness to our charism. They provide a reason to believe because of the care they show to so many people.

"As always, we urge anyone who has experienced abuse as a minor by a Jesuit to please contact our Coordinator of Pastoral Support and Outreach, Carol Brescia, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, at 314-915-7168 or UCSOutreach@jesuits.org. She will respond with compassion and confidentiality.

"As I close, again I express the sorrow of the Society of Jesus for the abuse and the breach of trust people have experienced. Much has changed; we have learned how to provide safer spaces and better ways of responding to allegations. Nevertheless, these steps cannot take away the pain so many know. We pray that God may provide healing and peace and we stand ready to assist.

"I began by noting the storm buffeting the Church today. While we Jesuits must do all that lies in our power to respond, ultimately this is God’s work and we trust that God’s mercy and wisdom will help the healing of the wounds suffered and provide a light for a way forward for all of us.

"Sincerely yours in the Lord,

"Ronald A. Mercier, S.J.
Provincial"

Here's the full list of names that was released Friday:

  •     Michael O. Barry, SJ
  •     Charles Bartles, SJ
  •     Jody Blanchard, SJ 
  •     Claude P. Boudreaux, SJ
  •     John Campbell, SJ
  •     Cornelius J. Carr, SJ (New York Province which is now part of USA Northeast Province)
  •     Mark A. Clark, SJ
  •     Francis X. Cleary SJ
  •     James A. Condon, SJ (Chicago Province which is now part of USA Midwest Province)
  •     Charles G. Coyle, SJ
  •     Edward D. DeRussy, SJ
  •     Donald Dickerson, SJ
  •     Burton J. Fraser, SJ (Wisconsin Province which is now part of USA Midwest Province)
  •     Chester E. Gaiter, SJ
  •     Thomas J. Hatrel, SJ
  •     Thomas J. Hidding, SJ
  •     John W. Hough, SJ
  •     Francis J. Kegel, SJ
  •     Dennis P. Kirchoff, SJ
  •     Bernard P. Knoth, SJ (Chicago Province which is now part of USA Midwest Province)
  •     Philip D. Kraus, SJ
  •     Francis M. Landwermeyer, SJ
  •     Gerhardt B. Lehmkuhl, SJ
  •     Alfonso Madrid, SJ (Province of Mexico)
  •     Eugene A. Maio, SJ
  •     Vincent R. Malatesta, SJ    
  •     James L. McShane, SJ
  •     Edward P. Murphy, SJ
  •     Thomas J. Naughton, SJ (Priest of the New Orleans Province, NOT Brother Thomas Naughton of the Missouri Province)
  •     Patrick H. O’Liddy, SJ
  •     Vincent A. Orlando, SJ
  •     Claude L. Ory, SJ (Brother, formerly in New Orleans Province, now Maryland Province)
  •     Austin N. Park SJ
  •     J. Donald Pearce, SJ
  •     George M. Pieper, SJ
  •     Paul C. Pilgram, SJ
  •     Elmo J. Rogero, SJ
  •     Norman J. Rogge, SJ
  •     Anthony J. Short, SJ
  •     Arthur O. Verdieck, SJ
  •     Richard H. Witzofsky, SJ (Brother)
  •     Benjamin Wren, SJ

Click here for a list of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province's abuse policies. 

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