Jesuits: No priests suspected of abuse will go to Gonzaga

This Oct. 22, 2018 photo shows the Cardinal Bea House on the campus of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. Cardinal Bea House played host to at least 20 Jesuit priests accused of sexual abuse. (Emily Swing/make public, via AP)

SPOKANE, Wash. Jesuit leaders say no priest credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor will ever be sent to the Gonzaga University after a report this week that at least 20 priests facing sexual abuse allegations were allowed to live their life on the campus in the state of Washington.

The revelation comes amid a renewed national outrage over allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests in the Catholic church. The jesuits, a Catholic order that includes more than 16,000 people worldwide who serve in churches, high schools, universities and other institutions. Founded in the 1880s, the Jesuits serve the Catholic university in Spokane, Washington.

“Jesuits Western guarantees that no Jesuit priest with a credible accusation of sexual abuse of a minor at this time or ever will be deliberately assigned to the Gonzaga University or the Jesuit community on campus,” the Jesuits West Province said in a statement Tuesday.

Instead, the Jesuits confronted with credible accusations in the province of senior health care facility in Los Gatos, California, the province said.

The Center for Investigative Reporting reported on Monday that the Jesuits had sent at least 20 priests facing sexual abuse accusations against Cardinal Bea House. The last known abusive priest was moved from Cardinal Bea House on the Gonzaga campus in 2016, Jesuit records show.

Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh on Monday said he was disturbed by the story and demanded guarantees that there are no priests accused of abuse would be assigned to Gonzaga again.

A priest, the Rev. James Poole, admitted under oath that he sexually abused indigenous women and girls in Alaska. In a deposition taken while he lived in Bea House, Poole said that he regularly went to the Gonzaga’s library and play basketball.

According to the news report, Poole’s misconduct was first documented in 1960 and was in Alaska until 1988, when he was removed from his position. The following year he took a job as a chaplain in the St. Joseph Medical Center in Amsterdam.

Poole worked in the hospital until 2003, when he retired to Cardinal Bea House. He died in March.

McCulloh said he was disturbed by “the revelation that the society of Jesus had deliberately sent a man with Poole’s record of sexual abuse to live in their facility within the parameters of our campus, which serves not only as the home of the students but organizes regularly on the school children and visitors of all ages, with or without notice by the province to the university.”

“I had called on the Province to inform us of any Jesuit whose history can pose a threat to our students or the campus community,” McCulloh said.

Also Tuesday, the Jesuit province announced the imposition of a new restriction of the access to the document in the archives, because they contain “sensitive personnel records.” Requests for records will now be audited by a San Francisco lawyer who, as counsel for the Catholic institutions of sexual abuse claims for at least two decades, the province said.

On Monday, the Roman Catholic Jesuit province, where much of the eastern United States, released the names of the Jesuit priests facing “credible or established” allegations of sexual abuse of minors dating back to 1950. In a letter, the Maryland Province of the society of Jesus, identified five living-Jesuit faced with facts that took place in the province and the other eight who are dead.

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