Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Priest not removed

http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_press_releases/2011_press_releases/030711_wheeling_trustee_is_back_in_the_spotlight.htm
Wheeling trustee is back in the spotlight

Jesuit priest also works for a Philadelphia university

But he was sued for sexually harassing a seminarian

That case settled but he and his supervisors say little

SNAP challenges cleric to "come clean" and answer questions

Self help organization renews plea to local college: "Oust him from his position"

A priest who is a trustee of Wheeling Jesuit University is back in the spotlight again because a support group for clergy sex abuse victims has disclosed that he now works for a Philadelphia Catholic college. The organization wants him suspended him from both posts.

Ten years ago, a California man, John Bollard, settled his civil sexual harassment suit against three Jesuit priests who sexually harassed him as a young seminarian in the late 1990s. One of those priests, Fr. Thomas F. Gleeson, is now a chaplain at St. Joseph University in Philadelphia (610 660 1443, tgleeson@sju.edu. Gleeson also works in the school’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, recently learned of Gleeson’s presence in Philadelphia. In a news conference on Friday, the group called on university and archdiocesan officials there to oust him.

“Gleeson abuses his power and harasses a vulnerable young adult at a college but Catholic officialsl quietly transfer him to Pennsylvania college and let him sit on the board of a West Virginia college,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s executive director. “That’s a recipe for disaster.”

“It’s been more than a decade since the charges were made and settled against Gleeson, but the Catholic hierarchy stays silent,” said Judy Jones, SNAP’s associate Midwest director. “They’ve promised to be ‘open’ about clergy sexual misdeeds, but make Gleeson’s victim sign a ‘gag order’ and refuse to address questions about Gleeson’s alleged misconduct,.”

In 1993, Bollard began to study at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. There, Bollard says, Gleeson (then president of the school) sexually propositioned him: "He said to me that if I wanted to be friends with him, I shouldn't be surprised if it became sexual and that he himself was most interested in mutual masturbation."

Bollard's was the first sexual harassment suit by a former seminarian against the Jesuits, according to the National Catholic Reporter. It also charged two other Jesuits - Father Andrew Sotelo and Father Anton – with sexually harassing Bollard. The case was featured on the investigative TV show “Sixty Minutes.” The suit sought $1 million but was resolved for an undisclosed amount.

In October 2009, SNAP members unsuccessfully sought to have Gleeson removed as a board member at Wheeling Jesuit University http://www.wju.edu/about/bod.asp .Interim school president J. Davitt McAteer refused.

SNAP wants Cardinal Justin Rigali and St. Joseph officials to suspend Gleeson and investigate the allegations. And SNAP is again calling on Wheeling Bishop Michael J. Bransfield and Wheeling Jesuit officials to suspend Gleeson from the board of trustees and investigate the allegations.

The group also wants to explicitly encourage those who were victimized by clergy as vulnerable adults to step forward, get help, expose wrongdoing and protect others.

Bollard’s suit was filed in San Francisco federal court in 1997. His attorneys were James Wagstaffe (415 371 8500, attorneys@kerrwagstaffe.com) and Mary Patricia Hough (415.399.1110).

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