NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -New information has come to light in the Jesuit High School sex abuse case.
Jesuit's president, Father Christopher Fronk, sent a letter to parents Wednesday saying quote "in light of recent media reports, it's important to clarify Jesuit's past policies for responding to allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct by school employees. "
Fronk goes on to address confidential settlements saying "only a victim can request confidentiality in a settlement." And "when a request for confidentiality is made, Jesuit supports it because that is what the victim wants." Fronk adds "while Jesuit is legally obligated not to disclose details of any confidential settlement, I can say that any assistance provided to victims by Jesuit is done in a spirit of compassion and in the hope of providing healing and peace."
In a TV exclusive last month, we told you about a confidential agreement between Richard Windmann and Jesuit High School. Windmann said Jesuit janitor Peter Modica repeatedly raped him at the school in the 1970s. He claims priest and theology teacher Cornelius Carr also knew about the sexual abuse and participated. Windmann said he was eventually paid $450,000 in that settlement.
Fox 8 typically does not identify sexual assault victims but Windmann agreed to allow us to report his name and show his face.
Read the letter from Fronk below:
Dear members of the Jesuit High School community,
I am grateful for the response I have received to my message in recent weeks regarding sexual abuse. That response, which aligns with my own response in showing a genuine concern for victims, has been consoling and inspiring.
In light of recent media reports, it is important to clarify Jesuit's past policies for responding to allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct by school employees.
First, Jesuit's policies are completely consistent with ones in place for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Both have as a primary source the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was first adopted in 2002 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and has since been adopted by U.S. dioceses and by U.S. religious institutions of men and women, including the Jesuit Province of which Jesuit High School is a part.
Regarding confidentiality, the Charter says the following:
"Dioceses are not to enter into settlements which bind the parties to confidentiality, unless the victim or survivor requests confidentiality and this request is noted in the text of the agreement" (Article 3).
Therefore, only a victim can request confidentiality in a settlement. When a request for confidentiality is made, Jesuit supports it because that is what the victim wants. If a victim chooses to make the matter public or report it to law enforcement, Jesuit respects the victim's right to do so. The Charter also addresses assistance given to victims:
"Dioceses are to reach out to victims/survivors and their families and demonstrate a sincere commitment to their spiritual and emotional well-being. The first obligation of the Church with regard to the victims is for healing and reconciliation" (Article 1).
While Jesuit is legally obligated not to disclose details of any confidential settlement, I can say that any assistance provided to victims by Jesuit is done in a spirit of compassion and in the hope of providing healing and peace.
Our current procedures for receiving abuse claims are posted on our school website, which can be accessed through the Quick Links menu on the home page. Anyone who witnesses or suspects that a minor is, has been, or is in danger of being abused, whether sexually, physically, or mentally, can use this resource to report information to the proper authorities. State law mandates that Jesuit employees report abuse when the victim is currently a minor.
Vigilance remains my number one priority in moving the Jesuit community forward. That is my job right now, moving us forward by ensuring the safety of current students and the entire Jesuit High School community.
Fr. Christopher Fronk, S.J.