20 June 2006
Matt C. Abbott
From Dr. Jeffrey Bond of the College of St. Justin Martyr:
“Since I am regularly contacted by Catholic parents who want to know if it is now safe to send their sons to St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania, I would like to update the warnings to parents that I previously posted about St. Gregory’s. The original warning can be found here.
“Catholic parents who are concerned about the spiritual, moral, and intellectual welfare of their sons should stay as far away from St. Gregory’s Academy as possible. Although the priests of the suppressed Society of St. John are no longer living there, nevertheless there has been no essential change in the environment at St. Gregory’s Academy, an environment that allowed the sexual perverts of the SSJ to abuse the students there.
“While Alan Hicks is no longer the headmaster, Hicks’ assistant headmaster, Howard Clark, is now the headmaster. I dealt extensively with both Hicks and Clark from the very beginning of the Society of St. John scandal, and it become apparent — after an initial period of thinking they would help expose the SSJ — that neither of these men were interested in the welfare of the souls of the boys for whom they were responsible.
“Neither Hicks nor Clark wanted the truth revealed because they knew that their negligence made it possible for the SSJ priests to molest the boys at St. Gregory’s Academy. Hence, neither Hicks nor Clark told the truth when they were deposed in the federal lawsuit filed by a former student of St. Gregory’s Academy who was homosexually molested by SSJ priests, Carlos Urrutigoity and Eric Ensey. Clark, whose own son slept with Urrutigoity, denied any knowledge of this in his deposition. In sum, Clark supported Hicks in his effort to protect the institution of St. Gregory’s Academy at the expense of the boys who had been abused on their watch.
“Worse yet, Clark now employs as dorm fathers and teachers many of the devoted cult followers of Carlos Urrutigoity and the SSJ: Brendan Landell, Sean Fitzpatrick, Garret van Beek, and Mark Schwerdt. These young men were intimate acquaintances of Urrutigoity, yet they are now the ‘adults’ responsible for the boys who are currently students at St. Gregory’s Academy. Neither Landell, Fitzpatrick, van Beek, nor Schwerdt had the courage to tell the truth about Urrutigoity’s habit of giving ‘spiritual direction’ to boys while sharing a bed with them, yet Howard Clark has put these cult followers in positions of authority where they are free to spread the poison of the SSJ into the next generation.
“Anyone who doubts that there remains a connection between Urrutigoity and the current employees and friends of St. Gregory’s Academy need only go to the ‘Bonny Prince’ Web site (http://thebonnyprince.blogspot.com/) and read the names of the contributors, as well as some of the posts.
“Finally, the Fraternity of St. Peter, which runs St. Gregory’s Academy, has shown no desire to clean house. Father Arnaud Devillers and Father Paul Carr, both of whom suffered severe memory loss while being deposed, agreed to pay the largest portion of the nearly half-million dollars required to settle the federal sex abuse lawsuit. The FSSP leadership was willing to pay this price because they knew a multi-million dollar victory in court — where the full truth would have been revealed for all to see — would have ruined them.
“In light of the above, I cannot repeat strongly enough that no parent should have anything to do with St. Gregory’s Academy.”
And from James Bendell, the (Catholic) attorney who represented the plaintiff in the sex abuse lawsuit against the SSJ and St. Gregory’s Academy:
“When I conducted depositions in this case the inquiry was obviously focused on the past, and I have not independently investigated matters at the school since then. However, I would say that the degraded atmosphere at the school revealed in the depositions would require nothing less than a total house-cleaning to get the school on the right track. If this has not taken place then I would also advise parents to stay away. One might compare this to a school playground contaminated with Dioxin. You would not want your kids to play there until the folks go in with hazmat suits and clean the place up.
“With regard to the FSSP, I think there are many good priests in this order trying to lead the Catholic sacerdotal life. However, the leadership was perhaps irrevocably compromised when the Vatican imposed Father Devillers as Superior General without an election (and removing Father Joseph Bisig). I think this heavy-handed, almost unprecedented action presaged an atmosphere of liturgical and moral compromise on the part of the FSSP.”