The Silent Treatment

The Silent Treatment

Fordham Offers “No Comment” To Allegations of 1960’s Clergy Abuse

by Peter Mullin
Co-Sports Editor
with Bill Donahue
Co-Editor-in-Chief

In April of 1994 an 18-year-old freshman walked into the office of the Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, a place that, according to the University’s mission statement, concerns itself with fostering an “environment that celebrates and protects the dignity of the human person.” Inside the confines of that office the young woman started the process of protecting that dignity. She told the Dean a story of how, after a night of drinking in the city, her philosophy professor took advantage of her in his office. By the end of the semester, her professor had resigned.

Ten years later that scene would come to national attention in an article by Joseph Feuerherd published in the National Catholic Reporter. The story detailed the alleged 1994 sexual misconduct of Deal W. Hudson, a top advisor to George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, while he was a tenured professor of philosophy at Fordham.

That July, Fordham spokeswoman Elizabeth Schmalz issued a statement to NCR saying, “Sexual Harassment is not tolerated at Fordham University.” It continued, “Fordham followed its policy rigorously in this case and initiated an investigation into the matter upon receipt of the student’s complaint.”

The Dean in the NCR article, described as “sympathetic” and giving “every indication that he believed [the girl’s] story,” was Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., Fordham University’s current president. In 1994, it appears that he listened intently to the aggrieved student and quickly iniated actions to remove Mr. Hudson from his position. And in 2004, Father McShane presided over the University when it publicly and explicitly denounced sexual harassment after the allegations against Mr. Hudson surfaced in the media.

Why then, after compassionately and publicly dealing with a case of alleged sexual harassment, did Father McShane and Fordham University take a seemingly different approach in handling another, more recent allegation of sexual abuse on campus? Why have they remained so silent?

* * * *

As reported in the New York Times on October 21, 2008, a pair of advocacy groups for victims of clergy sex abuse say that two Jesuits accused of molesting children were sheltered on campus well after Fordham was made aware of the situation. The groups–the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and BishopAccountability.org–held a press conference on Fordham Rd. outside of Murray-Weigel Hall, the infirmary for the New York Province of the Society of Jesus. According to the organizers, that event was the first time the accusations against Rev. Eugene J. O’Brien, S.J., a former President and Principal of the Fordham Preparatory High School, and Rev. Roy A. Drake, S.J., a former science teacher at the Prep School, were made public.

Murray-Weigel Hall
Murray-Weigel Hall

Father O’Brien is accused of molesting a former Fordham Prep student over a period of several years, starting when the alleged victim was a student at the high school from 1964 to 1966. The alleged victim, a 58-year-old who spoke at length to the paper on the condition of anonymity, said that the priest molested him on numerous occasions, including several of which he claims occurred during a trip through Europe with Father O’Brien and five other Prep students.

“I don’t know if I was raped or penetrated, but I was violated,” Father O’Brien’s accuser told the paper. “He would jump in the bed with me and I would just shut down, close my eyes and go somewhere else,” he said of the man he recalled as “a real father figure.” After the alleged incidents of sexual molestation, the now-middle aged man said he “just repressed it all,” even to the point that he allowed Father O’Brien to perform his marriage ceremony.

The alleged victim also claims to have had an encounter with Father Drake in the Fordham University Seismic Observatory, next to Freeman Hall. Inside the observatory, Father Drake attempted to molest him: “I was literally running around in circles around this table to get away from him until I could escape.”

He repressed the memories until 1997, when he met a counselor for victims of clergy sex abuse who, he says, helped him go through the process of bringing his allegation to the attention of the University. “I was after an apology, some kind of an explanation to what had happened,” he said.

According to a copy of a 1997 settlement available online, the ensuing lawsuit involving Father O’Brien was settled for $25,000. In addition to the Jesuit priest, the New York Province of the Society of Jesus, the Archdiocese of New York, Fordham University, and Fordham Prep were named in the settlement and released from any “past, alleged or actual, current and future liabilities.”

When the paper attempted to confirm the terms of the settlement by contacting the office of Rev. Thomas R. Slon, S.J., the executive assistant to the head of the New York Jesuits who spoke with the Times, he was unavailable for comment. Peter Feuerherd, a communications consultant for the Province who spoke with the paper, said he was not familiar enough with the situation to comment. In the Times article, Father Slon would neither confirm nor deny the terms of the 1997 settlement regarding Father O’Brien.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, when asked by the paper to confirm the terms of the settlement, said the Archdiocese “could not find anything in the files.”

According to the anonymous accuser, the most emotional day of his life came when he met Father O’Brien again in 1997. At that meeting, Father O’Brien blamed his actions on alcohol abuse and would not apologize. “I wanted an admission of guilt,” the alleged victim told the paper. He says he was never concerned with taking the Jesuits down. “It’s [about] accountability,” he said.

alleg2

Richard Cerrick, a 53-year-old lawyer from Connecticut, claims he was raped and sodomized by Father Roy Drake in 1968. In extensive interviews with the paper, Mr. Cerrick said Father Drake provided him with alcohol and then raped him in the bedroom of the Jesuit’s apartment on Fordham’s campus when he was 13-years-old. The alleged attack occurred the night before a weekend ski trip to Hunter Mountain that the 8th grader was invited to go on by a friend who went to Fordham Prep.

Though he says he was able to keep the incident secret until 2002 or 2003, when the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in archdioceses nationwide he says he wondered what had happened to Father Drake. In 2005, after two years of searching, Mr. Cerrick says he found Father Drake listed on the Internet as living at Murray-Weigel Hall. In October of that year, Mr. Cerrick had his attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, inform the Jesuits and Fordham University in writing of Father Drake’s presence on the campus of Fordham University. According to the advocate group Bishop-Accountability.org, Father Drake resided in Murray-Weigel from 1994 until some point in 2006.

He notified the school in order “to remove Father Drake from any proximity and contact with high school and college kids,” said Mr. Cerrick. “If I can protect one, or two, or five kids, whatever ages, I would be providing a service,” he continued. In October 2007, he was assured by the head of the New York Province that “Roy Drake is not in a position of access to minors.”

Though it is believed that Father Drake died this past August, the paper has been unable to ascertain exact details about his whereabouts during the final few years of his life or even a confirmation of his death. According to BishopAccountability.org, in 2006 he was transferred to a sexual abuse treatment center in Missouri. But a fall 2006 Jesuit newsletter describes Father Drake as a liaison between the residents of Murray-Weigel Hall and a construction company performing renovations. Finally, an August newsletter from the Jesuits of the Missouri Province lists Father Drake’s death as occurring on August 21 in the Bronx. But in the Times article, Father Slon of the New York Jesuits would not confirm that Father Drake had died.

* * * *

In April of this year, Pope Benedict XVI made his first trip to the United States. The Holy Father raised eyebrows across the country with his repeated acknowledgements of the pain and suffering that plague the many American Catholics whose lives have been affected by the clergy sexual abuse scandals of the last decade.

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

“I am deeply ashamed and will do whatever is possible so that this does not happen in the future,” said the Pope just before landing in the United States for his April visit the BBC reported. “It is more important to have good priests than many priests. We will do everything possible to heel this wound.”

In regards to the Pope’s statements in the United States, Father McShane told the Times, “None of us expected it, but everyone is grateful that he did. What he realized is that this is a pastoral visit and he must be pastor to those who are hurt most — and that is the victims.”

With the Pope in town and Father McShane on the front page of the Times, Mr. Cerrick felt it was time to contact Fordham once more. In a letter obtained by the paper, dated May 8, 2008, the alleged victim asked the university president to “reach out in a pastoral and healing manner” to prove to him that his and the Holy Father’s words were more than “hollow and deceitful pronouncements.”

Eight days later, Father McShane responded with a short, 58-word letter that acknowledged Mr. Cerrick’s letter, but simply referred him to his lawyer regarding “an amicable resolution of this matter.”

The letter’s recipient was less than pleased. Calling the response he received “garbage,” Mr. Cerrick terms the treatment he has received from the University, Fordham Prep, and the New York Province since he first reported his incident three years ago “like ripping a scab off an old wound.”

Five months later, Mr. Cerrick decided to go public with these accusations, and soon he and the leaders of his supporting advocacy groups were standing on Fordham Rd. “For three years I wanted to give Fordham, the Archdiocese, and the Jesuits every opportunity to do the right thing,” the 53-year-old man told the paper. “They have done absolutely nothing in three years.”

* * * *

As of press time, Fordham University has remained silent. The official university response came from Bob Howe, Fordham’s Director of Communications, who declined to comment, citing school policy. The Province and the Archdiocese have also chosen not to comment. And the office of the President of Fordham Preparatory School, Rev. Kenneth Boller, S.J., did not return the paper’s request for an interview.

When the paper again attempted to contact Fordham, this time after discovering the public statement given by the school in 2004 regarding the sexual harassment allegations involving Mr. Hudson, the response was the same. “We’re not commenting,” said Mr. Howe.

And thus the question remains. Why have the school and its administration chosen to handle this affair in secrecy? Why, when the university has shown in recent history an ability to openly and efficiently deal with a public situation of sexual harassment, can it not find the means to do the same in this case? Indeed, this entire ordeal raises quite a few questions about transparency in Fordham University’s administration. But from the looks of it, we’re not about to get any answers.

48 thoughts

  1. Many thanks for your incisive article. It is I who was sexually abused by Fr. Roy A. Drake, SJ and I who publicly exposed him and Fr. Eugene J. O’Brien, SJ for the first time publicly in October.
    I did so to protect other potential victims and to try to bring some measure of accountability to these institutions. I sincerely hope that any Fordham University or Fordham Prep student or anyone else who saw, experienced or has learned of any sexual abuse or improprieties against any youth or student by a Fordham Jesuit, teacher, brother or employee come forward as soon as possible. My contact information will be provided to you and you can also contact snapnetwork.org and bishopaccountability.org for help in dealing with these most serious matters.
    Rich Cerick

    1. I was a student at Fordham Prep in the early 70’s. Fr. O’Brien twice invited me to go swimming in the univeristy pool after hours, naked of course. I fortunately declined as his intentions were asll too obvious. A lay teacher there, Jack Sullivan who taught Calssics and was a basketball coach could not keep his hands off me, always fondling my head, neck and shoulders during tests. He too invited me to go skinny dipping in the university pool. I knew that there were gay teachers and priests at Fordham Prep, the majority were decent, kind, and excellent men. The only pedophiles I knew of were O’Brien and Sullivan.
      I applaud your bravery in coming forward to expose these sick men. It is shameful how the Church and Jesuit Hierarchy shield these monsters from the law.

  2. Thank you, Mr. Cerick, for taking up this cause and exposing these sick men at Fordham. Fordham was a very big name for those of us growing up in New York. I can only imagine how taken by surprise you were to have to run around a table from a priest chasing you for sex. Fordham is just another gross Jesuit playground for pedophiles. And New York State remains a haven for such predators. But Fordham won’t be silent forever. And neither will New York State keep its ridiculous statute of limitations for much longer. Hope you are in good health, as your efforts reach many, many people.

  3. I have never been sexually abused by a Catholic priest or anyone else but I have been so throughly and completely abused by the lack of any thing Christ like in the RCC. The lies of hipocracy that have been perpetrated on the faithful for centuries is more than any normal person can take in at one time. It must be told and told and told again. The truth of this ORGANIZATION must be put out there into the light so the people, young and old can come to grips with what kind of a place the RCC REALLY is. I was a convert to the RCC at age 13 & am now in my 80th yr. My husband and I were enlightened in 2001. [married 57yrs, 2008, 4 grown children,6 grandchildren and 1 greatgrand child.]We now know what it’s like to have been brainwashed for generation unto generation but it can be stopped and it MUST! We must see the end of the RCC, THE FAUX CHURCH, in our time. Christ is the answer…The Kingdom of God is within. We have really been had but we can survive. “Shake the dust from our feet” and move on. God will guide.

      1. Praise God for Gloria McNamara in her letter above… I left the Roman ‘church’ too. It stank when I was a kid, now I know why. The Bible tells the truth. The terrible things done to the children by popes and royal families, Jesuits, politicians and all in high places in different jobs will be judged by Almighty God. Whether you believe in the work Pastor Annette or anyone else does not matter. God knows. I do believe all about this child abuse and believe the witnesses . This child abuse and murder has happened. Jesus is the Judge. Jesus said,” I am the way the Life and the Truth and no man comes to the Father but by me.” Truth is sure not in the false church. It is a lie from hell. senile? this woman has more brains and faith in God, and she has something you do not have. It is the leading of the Holy Ghost and she can smell rot that is going on in our wicked churches and government that many of us now already know. ” we are tabernacles of God not made with human hands.” ” we ought to obey God and not man.” It seems that eating and drinking blood of children is not an important subject to many. Abortion is also done to appease Satan. No wonder we will have a war and a depression, which is also judgement from God Almighty for the disgusting sins done behind our backs for years. It has been allowed by all apostate churches that spit on Jesus Christ. In the name of world peace, fear, greed, money and power who worship devils and demons. What crap we were brainwashed into. World peace, in the meantime, murdering babies, kids and adults. Thank you Jesus for opening our eyes through your Word and having gutsy men and women speak out. I applaud you Gloria and others like her. Others? their heads are in the sand to keep the ‘traditions of men.’ it is all that matters to them. they want to keep traditions no matter how much blood is spilled. they are in la la land. Churches and ordinary people need to wake up and smell the shit going on, because most preachers are not preaching the gospel and are ‘hirelings’ that run away when trouble comes. Read the Bible because they would rather you didn’t.

  4. This article was not written to spread or encourage anti-Catholic sentiment; to do so would be losing focus on the issue at hand and the people involved. Intelligent discourse on the matter is encouraged, but please keep your prejudices to yourself.

    1. If the Pope is not the issue now that he has been charged with ritual child abuse, eating and drinking their blood I don’t know what is. The Queen is protestant and she does not same. so…stand by Jesus, not institutions who do not even obey the 10 commandments and truly follow Jesus Christ but spit on him and worship devils literally and lie to their church peoples.

  5. I am a recepient of many benefits attributable, in some ways, to the Catholic Church. I was raised from age 6 to age 18 at a Catholic institution, which also helped finance my college education. I love the Catholic Church; I dispise its lack of leadership since 1984, when Fr. Doyle & others alerted what is now the USCCB of the nature & extent of the clergy abuse problem.

    I think the explanation for the difference in the treatment to Messrs. Hudson & Cerick is clericalism. Mr. Hudson is a lay person, Mr. Cerick’s perpetrator is a cleric. That said, I also believe it is the laity that allows &, in some instances, even encourages clericalism. Until the Holy Spirit rouses the people who warm the pews, the leadership structure of the church, which is temporal, not spiritual, in nature, will continue the same sorry display of indifference & hypocracy we have consistently seen since 1984.

  6. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” Please free yourselves, admit to the charges and apologize to its victim! Be a Christian!

  7. Our Church needs our(the laity) help. We(all of us), in the pews have to be involved in helping somewhere in the Church. “Yes, Father” is not necessarily helpful.

  8. The institutional or organized church is completely of human origen. It certainly can be restructured or deleated so that it is not heirarchical nor monarchical. It is likely to self destruct for lack of replacement clerics.

  9. I am just now catching up with this news. I lived in fear of Fr. O’Brien. As a young man grappling with his sexuality, O’Brien was a predator and the rumors were rampant about his exploits. He was so powerful that for all of the rumors, no one dared speak or hear the truth for many years. I was warned by a brave faculty member to avoid any approaches by O’Brien, particularly to join his “prayer retreats to Saranac Lake.” Many to this day will deny O’Brien’s abuses and defend him, I’m sure. Everything said here confirms what I heard from students and teachers in my time at the Prep (’71-’75).

    1. Hello Bob Sledzaus & David Belog: I found your names on a thread that had to do with Fr.O’Brien. Bob, I was chilled by your sentence: “twice invited me to go swimming in the university pool after hours.” I actually did go to the university pool after hours one night when a priest I didn’t know knocked on my dormitory bedroom door where I was staying alone over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was 1965. I was a freshman at Fordham U. from Missouri who did not fly home. The dorm was empty but for myself and I was 17 yrs old. Having been on my high school swimming team, having used the pool already, I was pleased to get the opportunity this unknown priest offered on a weekend I was alone and bored. I thought it was a kind gesture. I was sexually inexperienced and completely innocent.
      Nothing suspicious occurred to me until I actually entered the gym. My intuition started warning me something was wrong as we walked toward the locker room, but the priest was unthreatening, quiet spoken—he said almost nothing—and not very tall. (Does this sound like Fr. O’Brien?) I criticized myself for being suspicious. I had no tangible “proof” of misconduct or malevolence. But my discomfort grew increasingly stronger as I started to undress and I decided there was no way I was going to go without a swimsuit that night, even though such was the custom back then during certain all-male hours. When I entered the pool area he was there wearing a jock-strap. I had never seen someone swimming like this before. I immediately jumped in the water and began laps while he watched me from the side. My inner conflict increased with each lap. (I think—I am a little fuzzy with this detail—that he walked up and down the edge of the pool, moving parallel to me.)
      What is not fuzzy at all: at one point he is seated in the bleachers when I paused my swimming. He says come and sit down. I do. He asks me “Have you ever swam with your hands tied behind your back?” I say no as I try to make sense of this, wondering if this is some exercise technique to strengthen your leg muscles. He says, “Put your hands together behind your back.” I do. Suddenly I feel a rope touch my wrists.
      My trance is shattered and I am snapped awake. I immediately evade the rope, bound out of the bleachers, get dressed, and leave without saying a word. This one tactile sensation of rope touching skin was what I needed to take my sense of alarm seriously.
      I never told my parents, committed Catholics, for fear of shattering their faith. I looked for this man on campus but never saw him. I never considered going to “authorities” because basically I was 17 and knew nothing, including what damage I could do to my psyche by trivializing this event.
      This recent Thanksgiving, oddly enough, marks the passage of 50 years since this event happened. Last week I am suddenly struck by the notion that this predator may have not even been a priest. I have started researching on the web just today and read your sentence mentioned above.
      As a 67 year old I know now I had to have been stalked back then. I don’t know what the stranger intended to do or if my life was ever in peril. I do know I have been hit with a gripping fury. I am probably going to seek professional therapy for what appears to be a ” recovered memory”, or what I would have to label more precisely, a old memory, never forgotten, but now revisited without repression.
      I would be grateful if anyone—yourselves included—could shed any light on my event. Particularly I am curious if any student ever drowned in the pool. In no cases that I have read of after the 2002 surfacing of the rampant pedophilia in the Catholic Church, did I find mention of violence used against the boys with weapons or ropes. This is what drives me to entertain the notion that this man was not a seducer, but something much worse. I would appreciate whatever you can tell me about any similar events on campus, information about Fr. O’Brien (I believe he is deceased), or anything you think might clarify the identity of the man I described.
      Steven Dolan
      buckmontan@aol.com

  10. Then vice-president Nelson Rockefeller gave the middle finger to a group of student protestors in 1975 and the country has gone down hill ever since. Rampant inflation, drug use, lesbian rights, Saigon falling in 1975, John Lennon being shot, Ruth Buzzi not finding a job after “Laugh-In” went off the air, and clergy sexual abuse.

    We must expose the Catholic Church as being the secret owners of McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. It is a Ponzi scheme. They make it look like these chains are run independently. The Catholic Church and their “super-size” culture are making kids and adults fat while they got all the profits from things like Shamrock shakes. One day the truth will come out.

  11. The Church only answers questions that could expose it to legal damages when compelled to do so by plaintiff attorneys.

    It will do nothing to raise the consciousness of victims of Fr. O’Brien to his being held liable at law already by one victim. To do so would lead those victims to hire attorneys and form alliances to develop the proofs needed to prosecute more damage cases against Fr. O’Brien for sexual predation during his long tenure as headmaster of Fordham Prep.

    It will say nothing and do nothing. It will be, “unavailable for comment”, up until the moment that its predators are summoned at law to answer the damaging questions. Then it will answer, but its answers will be couched in apologies and reqret and solicitude for the victims who have forced it to answer. A solicitude that never appeared before the threat of monetary damages darkened its horizon.

    Mealy-mouthed, fulsome mea culpas as a tactic for reducing monetary awards for damages caused by predatory priests whose behavior it has been forced by law to address after doing everything possible for years to ignore and obscure their crimes.

    It is Church s.o.p. That confrontation and revelation has not yet occurred with Father O’Brien and his victims so the Church stands mute. The mealy-mouthedness will begin if his victims ever get their legal act together enough to prize him from his hidey-hole and compel him to testify.

  12. I just now noticed that the earliest allegation of sexual impropriety by O’Brien dates from 1964. Perhaps that explains the absence of rumors when I was at he Prep ending in ’63. The salient characteristic of O’Brien’s character then was intense meanness. I wonder if he became a gentler person when he started getting his rocks off.

    1. I was a student there in the mid 60’s. I didn’t notice any sexual predation but Fr. O’Brien punched me out on the staircase for lateness. It was a day of heavy snow and I was lucky to get to class at all.
      I should have stayed home. The other priests were wonderful and I never heard or witnessed any malfeasance. The education was excellent.

  13. Abuses will continue as long as these pious pervs keep women in deadly incubating slavery for pedophiles and serial wife-dumpers like Hudson. My childbirth-incontinent/Munchausen by Proxy mom. fearing death by another predictable failure of fraudulent UNnatural Family UNplanning was urged by the playboy Orioles chaplain and pastor of Immaculate Deception in Towson, MD to burn all my skin off as her permanent marital abstinence excuse. I wish she had aborted me instead. Promoting mother-killing, divorce-causing NFP while banning mother-saving real contraception, abortion and sterilization is criminal Munchausen by Proxy abuse. Was Hudson’s THIRD wife an NFP victim like my mother? My mom’s playboy pastor (who diddled Orioles’ wives!) urged my dad to take up alcohol and hookers. Looks like Hudson followed a similar pattern of male privilege. Did his victim student get a secret abortion to save his latest marriage? The next church scandal will be class action suits by scorned mistresses of priests for child support and FORCED ABORTIONS. Everyone should google whistle blower activist Kevin Annett, his Hidden from History web site, documentary Unrepentant and archived radio shows, the Tamaki Law Firm which is suing the Jesuit Province in Northwestern states for abuse of Native American kids at “boarding school” DEATH CAMPS, and Vatican Bank Claims by survivors of Cardinal Montini’s (anti-birth controller Paul VI who should have been hung at Nuremburg) Nazi Catholic Croatian Ustashi genocide of 1 MILLION Serb “heretic” Orthodox Christians in WWII. Perhaps Fordham also harbored several Croatian clergy war criminals, courtesy of Montini’s Vatican Nazi ratline run with the treasonous Nazi Dulles brothers’ help. What people don’t know about Catholic history will kill or maim them again in new abuse cycles.

  14. My homeroom teacher in 1950-51 was then Mr. O,Brien who showed zero active gay propensities albeit unlike Tim Healey was not a manly type.I never really bought the RCC guilt stuff or papism(my father was not catholic), recent papal protections of their huge number of deviant-priests, the Boston cardinal scandal,coverups by Cardinal Mahoney and his billion dollar payoffs to victims (he is very effeminate himself) and the current Prep adm. policy to explain the covert removal of O’Brien from the hall of honor make it difficult to comprehend why so many alumni fail to run from the corruption of this hypocritical church.But in my day, the education was excellent overall as were the students.But watch out for Irish bachelors,esp. those with roman collars.

  15. I was never sexually abused by anyone during my years of Catholic education from elementary school through college. But there is one odd incident I remember when the FP basketball coach recruited me from St. Raymond’s (1956) for basketball. He took me and another kid headed to Fordham Prep to the University swimming pool where we all swam in the nude.There were college students there (I was 12) but I can’t remember if they also swam nude.

    Anyway, there were plenty of other people there at the time, and nothing untoward happened (other than the inappropriate nudity). It was common for athletes to be naked in the showers, etc, but not with the coach. I thought it was freaky at the time, but, not having any basis to make a judgement, I figured it was the way things were done at swimming pools in male colleges. Maybe, maybe not.

    The coach was not effeminate – he later married and had four children. A long-time employee at the Prep – teacher and coach – he’s never been nominated for the Hall of Honor. Longevity seems to be the major qualification for nomination and his absence is glaring.

    With Eugene O’Brien, SJ – principal of Fordham Prep – being “outed” as a sexual abuser in 1997, and John Leary, SJ, president of the University I later attended, being told to “get out of town in 24 hours” by the police for child sexual abuse (1967 – before the problem was well-reported), and saddest of all, the pastor of the Church (St. Raymond’s in the Bronx), where I grew up and went through all the rites of passage from Baptism to funerals for my parents, recently (December 2010) being dismissed (defrocked) from the priesthood by the Vatican for sexually abusing a seminarian in his care, I no longer think of this once glorious institution as worthy of my attention.

    I’m heartened by the leader of Ireland (Ireland !! of all places) telling the Vatican to cease interfering with the laws of a sovereign nation. (The Vatican’s refusal to comply with the new rules reporting abuse by the clergy).

    The Church may never recover from this since what has been exposed may well be just the tip of the iceberg.

  16. I attended Fordham Prep from 1965-1969. My twin brother and I – ironically with our last name being O’Brien – were invited by Father Eugene O’Brien on a winter weekend trip to our summer cottage in Rhode Island. During the trip, we stayed at a hotel with twin bed. Father O’Brien started off by getting into bed with my brother. Sometime during the night he got into my bed and put his arm around me. I don’t think anything else happened but it made me very uncomfortable. He eventually went back to my brother’s bed. My brother was coming out as a gay man at the time and did not seem to mind the attention as much as I did.

    Some years later, Father O’Brien visited me in Arlington VA and, over dinner, apologized to me for his actions and asked my forgiveness. While I forgave him, I now feel that I should have contacted the authorities and reported this activity in light of the other emerging reports of Father O’Brien’s pedophelia. Despite forgiving him, I am still angry over the incident and would like to have the opportunity to confront him again and resolve the issue on my terms and according to my satisfaction. I have never been contacted by the Prep or the University regarding this event. Based on this article and my observations at the Prep, I am sure that there are still other victims out there.

    I also played varsity basketball and remember Jack Sullivan visiting the showers on more than one occasion and talking to us (and looking at us) while we were showering. Finally, I remember being lined up with my freshman class around the pool in the nude (with the clothed PE coaches barking out orders).

    The recent Penn State development has reopened this painful memory for me. The similarities between the two cases are striking. My hope is that new laws and policies will be put into place to prevent other boys from being victimized by powerful, sick men.

  17. I went to Fordham Prep from 1979 to 1983. I did not see any first-hand examples of sexual abuse from the faculty toward students, but I did see and hear a few examples of what I felt was clearly improper behavior from the faculty. There was a religion teacher (who is still there), a particuarly contemptuous individual who regularly told jokes about gays and/or effeminate people. There was also a math teacher who once made a completely inappropriate remark, which basically stated that if you couldn’t do the math, you could always go out to the nearby railroad station and “put your hand under the third rail.” That these men had such poor judgment to make gay jokes and issue sarcastic invitations to commit suicide is something that stuns me to this day.

    There was also a gym teacher who once told a student, “Get your finger out of your ass.” This wasn’t as bad as the remarks above, but it was still completely inappropriate for a teacher to address a student in such a fashion.

    I hope that the teachers at Fordham Prep do not continue this sort of behavior today. If they do, then they need to be confronted. This kind of belligerence is not necessary in a high school atmosphere.

  18. Jack Sullivan was well known as a particularly strange and deviant man during my years at Fordham Prep in the late 80s. Besides constant inappropriate touching of students and continual mastabaturory behavior with the huge amount of change he kept in his pocket at all times, his favorite move was to lean his penis into student’s shoulders as he walked around the classroom. Thank God he had already stopped coaching by the time I got to the Prep. Unfortunately another coach at the time, Paul Austin, was there and I know him to be a pedophile. Coach Austin was a football and wrestling coach and went on the be a faculty member but all I remember of him was his constant leering at all the young men in the shower and his insistence on checking me for a hernia so that he could get his hands on my scrotum. I wondered what became of him. Fr. Sloun was another one I suspected of untoward acts towards students, as he was one of the most partial teachers/administrators I have ever encountered in my life. He was in a position of power at the time and no doubt would have covered any allegations up. Boy, how some of those Jesuits loved to play favorites! Once I grew older I began to understand why. Although many, most I would even say, we’re good men and fine priests/educators there were a few that preyed on the weak or disturbed. I suspect many Fordham Prep alumni feel the same way I do. The offenders need to be called out and a system needs to be put in place for students to anonymously report them.
    I always found it quite perculiar the obsession with forcing all the students to take showers together while teachers & coaches watched. Given the President of the school in the 60s was an admited pedophile, now I understand why.

    1. Agreed. There are many students in each graduating year that have some brushes or other with touchy feely Prep faculty. I always figured it should remain in the silent stacks of Hughes Hall. To be washed by the waves of time. I do not relish exposing Faculty members who I assume have stopped such behavior. I believe in forgiveness and redemption. Perhaps, however, that assumption is naive. Whether we use real names or not could be up for discussion.

    2. Jack Sullivan was a creep. I was depressed for other reasons and doing poorly in 2nd year Greek in 1985 so I was encouraged to go for after school help. I had heard rumors / jokes about “Happy Jack”, but being raised a respectful, innocent Catholic kid had zero awareness about pedophiles or predators. So he has me stand by the window where there is a little corner and uses the excuse of pointing at something in the book to edge in closer. The change in the pocket starts jingling like crazy. Now despite not knowing what was going on, I got a very bad vibe. I stiffened up and put my hands in my pocket so as to have zero contact with the creep. I can still recall the sound of his whiny little voice, “Take your hands out of your pocket. Take your hands out of your pocket,” while he actually grabbed my arm to remove my hand. I put it right back, though, and managed to leave the session without anything worse than him pinning me in that corner while he tried to rub up against me. (If there is any need or call to, I will give a deposition or affidavit about this experience.)

      As is apparently typical, I internalized the guilt and felt ashamed instead of appropriately directing it at the source. I was trained to be a little too respectful of authority. But smartly I never went back for any ‘extra help’ and still managed to pass that class. Unfortunately, that experience has had negative impacts in my life. I have great admiration for students who were more severely taken advantage of by priests or lay faculty and had the guts to go public. Reading their experiences in the context of what was becoming more widespread knowledge about predatory behavior allowed me to talk about it and re-frame the experience. I don’t have any more guilt about it. It was 100% his fault and failure as a person, father, educator, and alleged Catholic.

      I don’t condemn the entire school. I received a top-notch education – in many ways equivalent to college. There were some excellent faculty both lay and clerical who you could tell genuinely cared about the students. What I do decry and ask the Fordham Prep administration (and any school administration) to do is empower their students with the knowledge that figures of clerical or civil authority do not have the right to force them to do anything that makes them uncomfortable; that they can say no to priests and teachers that try to touch them; and that they are safe to call out wrong behavior. Empower them with the understanding of ‘consent’. It would also be wise to educate students about the existence of sexual predators as part of mandated sex ed class. In my situation I was blinded with naivete by the sexual ignorance and ingrained respect for authority of my household. My instincts (verified by the rumors I had heard) probably saved me from worse.

      I would further encourage the administration to look to see if ‘rings’ of pedophiles provided mutual support in their positions at the school at various times and consider ways to ensure this does not happen in future. As we can see at Penn State and other instances, it is a common tactic for predators to provide each other with social and ‘official’ cover.

      Finally, given what we now know about the patterns of abuse, many of the perpetrators were probably victims themselves. The Church, if it wishes to expurgate itself of this corruption, should address it square on and offer counseling and support for former victims so they can heal enough to break the chain of abuse. This is a wider social issue than just the Catholic Church, but many young Catholics are raised ignorant of sexuality in general and these issues in particular so they make better targets. That should not be.

    3. May I ask how you knew Paul Austin was a pedophile? I worked with him at St. Anselm’s elementary in the Bronx in the mid 90’s. He taught 6, 7, and 8 grade religion and coached wrestling. As recently as 2013, he was teaching at St. Luke’s on the Bronx. He retired before Christmas.

      He died recently, June 12, 2015.

      I’ve had suspicions about him and am finding it difficult to read our former students hail him as a wonderful teacher.

      Does anyone have more information?

  19. Does anyone know of any action ever taken against Regis High School (NYC) for abuse by its staff during the late 60’s- 70’s?

  20. O’Brien would be 87 years old by now…does anyone know if he’s still alive? I looked and could find no reference to an obit anywhere. But I would imagine his death would be kept quiet.

  21. I’m glad I found this discussion, although it leaves me with mixed feelings. I attended Fordham Prep from 1964-68. In Catholic elementary school I already knew I was sexually attracted to boys but my awkward advances soon got me labeled as a queer. Arriving at high school was a fresh start so I resolved to suppress that part of me, but keep my eyes roving.

    Jack Sullivan, obnoxious as a Latin teacher and PT drill sergeant, was a target for boys’ smirks behind his back. Constant stage whispers of “queer” and “homo” followed in his wake although he never reacted to them. Not exactly the compassionate role model a new gay boy could come out to or associate with. He would often invite another student or two (I believe while we were in first or second year) to go swimming with him after the school day. There was another much older teacher who was nominally a swimming instructor (sorry but his name is a blank right now; Lyons?) who was there when we were sent to the pool. For some reason at the time it seemed perfectly normal to have a class of 14-15 year-old boys swim at a university pool in the nude. When I mention this later in life, people can’t imagine why we would do that. But Lyons would have us all line up and he would walk up and down the front and back of the line with a quivering smirk on his face. The announced reason was he was inspecting us for “sores.”

    I never had a secluded encounter with EO’B, although he knew me at least as well as anyone else (he had an amazing memory for names). And I never heard any predator rumors about him while I was there. I’m not sure his acrid personality would have made him a welcome sexual mentor, predator or not. So aside from a few whispers about faculty I had zero sexual encounters at the Prep, which I really regret. Maybe there were opportunities in other parts of the school but I missed them.

  22. Couple of memories from 68-69 @ fp. the incoming class was brought to the pool & told to strip down naked. we were told to swim the length of the pool, and since i’d already learned to swim, it was no problem for me. however, looking back on it many years later, the incident takes on a much darker feel. as anyone who has ever learned to swim probably remembers, there are moments of fear or even terror associated with being in water deeper than you can touch the bottom and keep your face dry. that day there were some kids who couldn’t swim. they experienced that terror, naked and vulnerable, until ‘saved’ by the authority figure. i wonder if the point of that whole drill wasnt simply to identify potential future victims for their sick play. given the stories that have come out, i wouldn’t doubt it at all. incidently, while i wasn’t sexually abused i was physically. a priest, king, sucker punched me right in the face one day. i was further assaulted by having my hair forcibly shaved off completely, against my will. the place was a horror show by any measure, and the worst part was most kids’ parents found it impossible to believe any such things could be happening at such a ‘great’ school. i left after 9th grade & i’m still very glad that i did!

  23. I attended Fordham Prep in the late 60’s. Although I was never sexually abused, the emotional and verbal abuse I endured at the hands of Eugene O’Brien and John King left a lasting impression. Without a doubt, these were two of the most mean-spirited, evil individuals I have ever come across. As a not particularly masculine teenager, coming to terms with my gay sexuality, I now realize that O’Brien and King hated me for what they most despised and feared about themselves, their repressed homosexual tendencies.
    I was raised as a Catholic and was always taught to have absolute respect for priests; they were infallible and could do no wrong. Not knowing any better, I thought that the abuse heaped on me by these two monsters was well-deserved. Thankfully, in the ensuing years I was able to understand that they were the problem, not me. I was glad to come across this website and to read that O’Brien was finally publicly shamed for his vile behavior. I wasn’t surprised to read that he was a child molester, not that he blames his behavior on alcohol rather than accepting responsibility for his actions. I realize that there are statutes of limitations which protect child molesters after a long period of time has elapsed, but I do hope that those who were sexually abused by O’Brien can come together and bring him, if not to justice, at least to complete public humiliation (to the extent that such a prideful and evil person can be shamed). I applaud those who have come forward with their stories. I believe that “Father’ John King is dead; if he isn’t, I wish the same fate to him. While I am now an agnostic and have absolutely no faith in an afterlife, if there were such a place as hell, I have no doubt that O’Brien and King would be spending eternity there. The fact that there are so many Catholic priests that have abused their positions of trust is the great disgrace of the Catholic Church. the fact that they sexually and emotionally abused vulnerable children is, in my mind, unforgivable.
    Everyone was aware of the other two sadistic closeted homosexual perverts, Jack Sullivan and Mr. Lyttle, but since I had no personal contact with either of them I will not comment on their behavior.
    As to the rest of the faculty at Fordham Prep, most of them were fine men. There were several gay teachers there (who were not openly gay and shall remain nameless) who were always helpful, kind and supportive of me. Likewise, most of my fellow students were wonderful and supportive, and for that I will always be grateful. It is a shame that the evil individuals like O’Brien and King cast such a long shadow over the good.

  24. After reading all these horror stories , I don’t understand why anyone would allow themselves to be treated this way without resisting either verbally or physically. I certainly would have. I graduated the Prep in 1955 and was exposed to many of the individuals named above and never experienced any problems , except I never did understand why we had to strip naked before entering the pool.The college kids , to my recollection did not.

    1. Frank I was living in the Bronx in the 60s I was 15 when a priest by the name of father Drake moved in to an apartment in the building next door . He quickly befriended me and my friend Danny and asked if we wanted make some extra money. The job was to convert negative slides to positives we agreed and started doing the work when at one point naked pictures started showing up. Danny said father what is this ! Drake just laughed it off and then produced a projector with real porn on it and started to show it .
      He said that he had a regular group of students from Fordham who played games . He managed to get two 15 year olds aroused ( not to hard) and perform oral sex on us . We never went back after that and Danny and I never talked about , but I never went to church again . The Father Drake was a real predator And a cool manipulator when I look back . I don’t feel damaged by it , but Danny sure went to hell in a Hurry

  25. I and a friend of mine were sexually abused by Father Roy Drake as 15 year olds in the Bronx where Drake had an apartment , we were not students at Fordham prep , he was an opportunistic pedophile and self proclaimed oceanographer scientist , with an extensive pornography collection . He destroyed more spiritual lives than a serial killer . A man with no conscience or soul , I can still see the mustache and goatee , I should have guessed then . Frank

  26. I went to the prep 63-67.. O’Brien took me “out” to dinner in NYC a few times.. He said I was “special”.. Being in a car alone with him was akin to being with the Pope. I still remember his smell. Nothing ever happened (That I remember)… I got off easy…But wow, it was close, obviously. I was not gay, but I was small. Maybe he felt pity for me.. Who know’s.. But I DO remember the nude swimming.. Fucked up..IMHO.

  27. The pain and hurt these victims experienced is beyond fathomable. Every single day….and there lives are completely changed for the worst because these so called priests have NO MORALS or conscience to rape repeatedly these CHILDREN. These priests are monsters and every single thing these victims say are real. More than most of these Jesuits, who are supposedly highly educated with top notch professions have girlfriends and are involved intimately with them and do not hide the fact. The others are gay practicing, seek out places where there are men I.e prisons, and many are pedophiles. It is no wonder why many people have left the church.

  28. Why would any one defend these pedophiles when such damage is done to these unsuspecting young men? Because evil is as evil does! The Catholic Church should be sued by an international court for perpetuating such evil over centuries!

  29. The answer is simple , their reputation , which equates to power, $ law suites ( loss of money). Loss of power. So once again money , power and sex are dressed up in a humble looking black robe and collar .

    Unfortunately pedophiles are masters at finding ways to acquire power and
    get close to children , they use fear as a weapon and rely on the cowards of the world to cloak their evil deeds . What we need is courage , the kind that only comes
    From true faith , not the fear based carnage
    Peddled by these evil hypocrites

  30. “Many abused children cling to the hope that growing up will bring escape and freedom.

    But the personality formed in the environment of coercive control is not well adapted to adult life. The survivor is left with fundamental problems in basic trust, autonomy, and initiative. She approaches the task of early adulthood――establishing independence and intimacy――burdened by major impairments in self-care, in cognition and in memory, in identity, and in the capacity to form stable relationships.

    She is still a prisoner of her childhood; attempting to create a new life, she reencounters the trauma.”
    ― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

  31. Attended FP 87-91, Paul Austin was the religion teacher, freshman football, wrestling Coach. He was always checkinget freshman for “hernia”??? He once grabbed me after track practice, put his hands on my testiclesite and squeezed them? He then smelt his fingers. I was 13 years old. I didn’t realize what had happened, I knew it was weird but I didn t realize it criminal.
    He would insist that you took a shower and then watch you in the shower. I’m certain everyone knew about this behavior. Nothing was ever done. One year he didn’t come back. No reason why.

  32. Richard Cerick
    I was so glad to find this old post and comments and glad to see that not only did you ‘own’ these sick bastards but you also helped others AT THAT TIME. It also helped you to out Roy Drake. I know you have been observing my battle with the NY Fordham Jesuits for the last three years. I am Neal Gumpel. I was Roy Drakes next victim after you (maybe or maybe not) I am concerned that you have not come forward to help me or to speak on my behalf. PLEASE contact me because while you’re gotten your pound of flesh I’ve been stomped on and gotten little or nothing. You standing by me for a press conference would go a long way and I beg you to help me.
    Neal Gumpel
    Neal2tire@yahoo.com

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