Gonzaga University President Responds To Investigation Into Abusive Jesuit Priests
BY EMILY SCHWING & MICHAEL COREY / REVEAL
Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh said Monday night in a written statement to faculty, staff and students that he knew Jesuit priests accused of sexual abuse were living in a Jesuit residence on campus, but he had not been aware that any of them might be a threat to students.
McCulloh was responding to a story by Northwest News Network and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting about sexually abusive Jesuits whose victims were predominantly Native girls, boys and women in Alaska and the Northwest. A Jesuit home on Gonzaga’s campus, Cardinal Bea House, became a retirement repository for at least 20 Jesuit priests accused of such sexual misconduct.
It’s unclear exactly when McCulloh learned about the accused priests living on campus. His statement provides what appears to be contradictory information.
“It is important for me to share with you, that in the years following the 2011 Oregon Province bankruptcy, I learned that there had been priests under supervised ‘safety plans’ living at the Jesuit retirement community (Bea House),” he wrote.
But in the next sentence, he says, “It was not until 2016, when the Province chose to begin relocating a number of retired men to the Sacred Heart Community in Los Gatos, that I learned that among them were Jesuits who had been on safety plans (and were moved).”
McCulloh would not make himself available to clarify his statement. He also had declined to be interviewed for the original investigation.
The abusive priests were given safety plans to restrict their interactions with students. The investigation found they were not rigorously enforced.
McCulloh said he relied on Jesuit leadership “to inform us of any Jesuit whose history might pose a threat to our students or campus community. I deeply regret that I was not informed of the presence of (Father James) Poole, nor any other Jesuits who might pose such a danger.”
Poole was a Bea House resident whose prior abuse of at least 20 women and girls, many of them Alaska Natives, was detailed in the investigation.
McCulloh said he had been deeply wounded by the revelations of Jesuit abuse nearly a decade ago.
“Those wounds for me were re-opened this weekend, at the revelation that the Society of Jesus had knowingly 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 college students, but regularly hosts grade-school children and visitors of all ages,” he said.
McCulloh wrote that he has asked Jesuit leadership for a future guarantee “that no Jesuit against whom credible allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse have been made ever be assigned to Gonzaga.” There is no record that accused Jesuits currently live at the home.
Meanwhile, Jesuit officials moved Tuesday to freeze public access to the Oregon Province’s archive housed in Gonzaga’s library, which contains past assignment records, historical letters, photographs and other documents. Jesuit spokeswoman Tracey Primrose said in an email that access to the archive was restricted because “we realized that private personnel information was housed in the Archives and was accessible to the public. It should not have been.”
According to a new policy that went into effect immediately, “any non-Jesuit entities or persons seeking access to the archives of the for