Fox 8 Cleveland
By Bill Sheil Fox 8 News Anchor
6:01 p.m. EDT, August 26, 2011
St. Ignatius High School said several students from the 1950’s have come forward to accuse four priests of sexual abuse.
In a letter to alumni, Father Bill Murphy, president of St. Ignatius, wrote in part: “We do not tolerate any form of abuse, and we absolutely do not support any efforts to protect abusers.”
Yet, through a spokesperson, the school refused to name the priests.
It said the allegations are under review internally and that all the priests have died.
The spokesperson said the school has no doubt about the credibility of the victims’ stories, and acknowledged that none of the victims asked that the priests’ names be kept secret.
In his letter, Father Murphy said a student from the 1950’s wrote to classmates revealing abuse. That led to other stories of abuse.
Father Murphy said the school only recently became aware of the allegations.
“We’re interested in finding out the whole truth of what went on here,” Father Murphy said.
Father Murphy wrote in his letter that he offered his “most sincere apology” when speaking to the victims.
He told FOX 8 that sexual abuse is “something that absolutely stands against what we’re about at St. Ignatius.”
The school said the names of the priests are not being revealed “at this time.”
A spokesperson said it’s unclear if the names will ever be revealed.
President of St. Ignatius High School tells of sexual abuses by priests at the school decades ago
Published: Saturday, August 27, 2011, 6:00 AM Updated: Saturday, August 27, 2011, 10:12 AM
The Rev. William Murphy, president of St. Ignatius High School, says he’s deeply saddened by what he recently heard from a dozen men who say they were abused by priests at the school back in the 1950s.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The president of St. Ignatius High School has sent out 18,000 letters to alumni and current students alerting them to allegations that priests sexually abused students there in the 1950s.
“I became aware of these allegations several weeks ago when an alumnus wrote letters to his classmates about an incident that he remembered from 1956,” the Rev. William Murphy wrote in his letter mailed this week. “Sadly, those letters uncovered several more stories of sexual abuse from the 1950s.”
Murphy said in an interview Friday that about a dozen men — in their 60s and 70s — have recently come forward with stories of abuse at the Jesuit-run school, mainly by one priest. Three other priests are also accused.
“Sex abuse is a horrible thing,” Murphy said in an interview. “Shame is one of the feelings it evokes. A lot of people keep it bottled up inside for self-protection.”
In his letter, Murphy wrote: “I reached out to all those who shared their memories of sexual abuse and offered my most sincere apology for whatever pain they endured.”
Murphy said all four priests are dead. He would not release their names.
Because the priests were members of the Jesuit order, the allegations are not being handled by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, which deals only with cases involving diocesan priests.
Murphy said he sent a report of the abuses to the director of the Office of Victim Advocacy at the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Jesuits.
Province spokesman Jeremy Langford said Friday that the advocacy office has been in contact with each of the men who say they were abused at St. Ignatius and is offering them therapy at the province’s expense.
Langford said it is the policy of the religious order not to publicly name any Jesuit, dead or living, accused of sexual misconduct.
Murphy, who is in his third year as president of St. Ignatius, said he is not aware of any other allegations of sexual misconduct at the 125-year-old Catholic boys’ school.
He said he sensed a feeling of closure on the part of the victims as he listened to them tell their stories.
In his letter he wrote, “The fact that it took more than 50 years for victims to come forward speaks volumes about just how painful their experiences must have been. I am deeply and profoundly saddened by what I have heard.
“At the same time I am inspired and impressed by the courage these men have shown in sharing these painful memories.”
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