Skip to comments.Ex-classmates contradict Cardinal Law's deposition
Posted on 08/21/2002 9:53:22 AM PDT by maryz
In a sworn deposition released a week ago, Bernard Cardinal Law said he was unaware of sexual misconduct by priests until 1973, when he first heard of charges against his former seminary schoolmate and fellow Mississippi priest George Broussard.
"It wasn't on my radar screen," he said to questions by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who is suing the Archdiocese of Boston on behalf of several families claiming abuse by the Rev. Paul Shanley.
But two other men who attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, with Law and Broussard in the late 1950s and early '60s say the school was rocked by a major sex scandal that Law could not possibly have been unaware of - or forgotten.
"He certainly would have known. This was a rather huge incident," said Tom Reed of Madison, Wisc., a 1964 Josephinum graduate who served as a clergyman with Law in Mississippi until 1969, when he left the priesthood.
"It was revealed one of the faculty members, (the Rev.) David Heimann, was discovered to have been running a sex ring with high school boys. Afterward, he just immediately disappeared," Reed said.
Jack Fritscher, another Josephinum student, also recalled the incident, which he included in a 2001 novel he wrote based on the seminary. "All this came out that he'd been seducing boys in his apartment at the Josephinum," said Fritscher, though he said he believed no sex actually took place.
"It was a sensitizing situation," he said. "He had people take off their clothes and look at their bodies in mirrors, to tell them how good their bodies were and that 'Jesus loves you and your body.'"
Nonetheless, he said, a scandal broke out at the prestigious seminary, which reports only to the Vatican's ambassador to the United States. "The bishops were pulled in to find out what was going on. Rome wanted to know. There's no way on Earth Bernie Law couldn't have known."
After the scandal, Reed said Heimann was forced out of the priesthood and had difficulty making a living, often working as a translator of scholarly books. Heimann has since died, Reed said.
Fritscher said the scandal occurred in 1961, Law's ordination year. Reed was ordained in 1964, an event Law attended. Fritscher left the seminary that year without being ordained.
Josephinum spokeswoman Patty Donahey confirmed Heimann was a student and faculty member. "He attended high school here from 1946 to 1950, college from 1950 to 1954 and the School of Theology from 1954 to 1958,'' Donahey said.
After his 1958 ordination, he taught at the school until May 1961, when he was dismissed. Donahey said she did not know the reason for his termination, but said Heimann was laicized two years later.
Fritscher said the incident was the second sex scandal at the school during Law's tenure. "Some years before, someone in my class asked what was the average size of a penis," he said. "He took a dozen freshmen and sophomores into a shower and measured them. Nothing much happened but one kid confessed it in confession, which ended up getting the classmate expelled."
A noted gay writer, Fritscher said he was celibate at the seminary. "I probably became gay because of the Josephinum, although nothing happened (to me) there."
Fritscher and Reed say neither they nor Law were involved in the incidents, though Reed suspected Broussard turned in Heimann. In his June 7 deposition, Law described Broussard as a friend during their seminary days and in Mississippi until Law left in 1973 to become bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Mo.
Around the same time, Law said he first learned of sexual misconduct allegations against Broussard, who was transferred from Jackson, Miss., to a Gulf Coast parish and subsequently left the priesthood.
The vicar general of the Diocese of Jackson at the time, Law said it would not have been his duty to handle Broussard's case and he could not recall a case of priest sex abuse before then.
Yet in the days following the deposition, a Hattiesburg, Miss., man told the Herald his mother alerted Law personally in the mid-60s that the Rev. Bernard Haddican was molesting her son. Haddican, who died in 1996, attended St. Joseph's Seminary in St. Benedict, La., in the 1950s with Law.
And Reed said another scandal erupted in Mississippi about the same time involving another priest. "(The priest) was a monsignor in charge of a minor seminary (high school) in Jackson," Reed said. "He had a long pattern of sexually abusing them as he was tucking them into bed."
The monsignor was removed to a hospital for "alcoholism" treatment, Reed said, but later retired as a priest in good standing.
And, as with the Josephinum scandal, Reed said Law knew. "Oh, absolutely. He was close to Bernie," he said.
Citing pending litigation, church officials in Boston and Jackson declined comment.
Both Reed and Fritscher describe themselves as having struggled with authority, culminating in the abandonment of their vocation. Conversely, they recall Law as a big man on campus, easily pegged as bishop material.
"Law floated on a cloud above all of us. How could he not have known about it?" Fritscher said. "If he didn't know about it, he should be removed. Anybody that disconnected should be fired."
Robin Washington may be reached at email@example.com.
If you want to know if he remembers this incident you have to ask that question. You can't ask the general question of when he first heard charges, as he probably doesnt immediately recall when he first heard charges until you refresh his memory on it.
I have to do this in all my depositions. You first ask the general question, when did you first meet XYZ? They answer, well, I think that was at college in 1984. You then ask, didnt you also go to the same High School? Answer: Oh yes, thats right, we did. So I guess it would have been sometime around then, between 1978-82. If you dont ask the specfic question your claim his testimony is deficient is extraordinarily weak.
I caught part of the deposition on TV. I believe this answer was to the question of whether, when he was in Mississipi he would have considered child sex abuse a crime. He answered, with much hemming and hawing, that at that time sexual abuse wasn't "even on his radar screen."
Kind of hard to track statements of the nature of "I don't recall," "That wouldn't have been my resposibllity," I don't know."
A noted gay writer, [Jack] Fritscher said he was celibate at the seminary. "I probably became gay because of the [Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio], although nothing happened (to me) there."Jack Fritscher's C.V., as posted on his website (WARNING!!):
(b. 20 June 1939, christened John Joseph Fritscher, and published as both John J. Fritscher and Jack Fritscher) lives in the Sonoma wine country north of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. The first of his more than 500 published photographsmostly in the periodical metier of magazine covers, photography features, and centerfoldsappeared in 1961 as illustration accompanying his early poetry and magazine fiction. He is the author of more than 400 published feature articles and short-fiction stories as well as of two produced plays, three novels, five fiction anthologies, and three non-fiction books, the most recent of which is his popular culture memoir of his one-time bi-coastal lover, Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera. His 1990 novel is about the Golden Age of Liberation in the 1970's, Some Dance to Remember. Both Mapplethorpe and Some Dance are under consideration as motion pictures. As founding San Francisco editor of Drummer, Jack Fritscher re-invented and conceptualized this very first post-Stonewall leather-Levi magazine as a gay pop-culture journal created for masculine-identified gay men; he is the official First Editor Emeritus of DRUMMER Magazine and in his long-running "Rear-View Mirror" column he details homomasculine leather literature, art, photography, personalities, places, and events. See DRUMMER History. He received his doctorate in American literature from Loyola University of Chicago in 1968, and frequently reads and speaks on the aesthetics and politics of writing, photography, and the arts in American popular culture. With his spouse of over two decades, Mark Thomas Hemry, he has directed more than 100 videos for their California production company.Any way of knowing if this guy was ever laicized, sinkspur?
BA, Philosophy and English, Post-Graduate Work in Aquinian Theology, Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus Ohio, 1961-1963, 1953-1963 Scholarship to this Roman Catholic Seminary directly subject to the Pontiff, the Pope, at The Vatican in Rome:
ordained with minor orders of Porter, Lector, Acolyte, and Exorcist.
Loyola University of Chicago, 1966,
Thesis: When Malory Met Arthur
Ideal Love in Malory's Morte d'Arthur
Ph.D., English: British and American Literature/Creative Writing and Journalism
Loyola University of Chicago, 1968,
Dissertation: Love and Death in Tennessee Williams
Oxford University, Christ Church College, Oxford, England, 1997
Hollywood Film Institute, 1996
University of California, Berkeley, 1975, 1978
San Francisco State University, 1974
It's impossible to keep this stuff secret or for anyone with half a brain to be so oblivious.That's an interesting point. So how long do you think Rome has been aware of the sorry state of affairs?
Your post seems to suggest you feel the whole sex abuse scandal is monolithic, almost centralized, perhaps with its own unbroken tradition -- rather than just disparate and more or less spontaneous eruptions.
He was never in major orders. The four orders listed are MINOR orders; porter and exorcist aren't conferred any longer.
Laicization is only required in the cases of deacons and priests; bishops are NEVER laicized, as far as I know.
Did you see the deposition videos? I had glanced over the first day's transcript, and it was the second and third day's that were on TV last week. I don't think the fourth day's has been released yet. And, to tell the truth, I kept falling asleep while the depositions were on (it was during last week's heat wave, and the heat affects me badly).
You can get the impression from the article that the question was when Law first knew of Broussard's sexual abuse. If that was asked, I wasn't awake for it. But I did hear the question I noted above: When you were in Mississipi, would you have considered sexual abuse a crime? That's the question he never actually answered -- or the last of a series of questions about whether Law considered sexual abuse a crime prior to 1993. Not whether he knew of any, not whether he covered up any, just whether in his opinion it was a crime.
The comment by eastsider above, however (Jack Fritscher is a shameless self-promoter) makes me wonder whether the Herald went digging or Jack Fritscher and company contacted them.
Did you see the deposition videos?No, I havent seen them.
You can get the impression from the article that the question was when Law first knew of Broussard's sexual abuse.In my last reply I was relying more on what you said than what the article said. You seemed to be putting it in a very different light than the article did, and I trust you more.
If that was asked, I wasn't awake for it. But I did hear the question I noted above: When you were in Mississipi, would you have considered sexual abuse a crime?A very vague question. What is sexual abuse, and how did the Cardinal understand that term. What was the law on the books in Miss. at the time, and does this law support a conclusion that it was a crime. Etc. Personally, I would have prepped any witness of mine well enough that he wouldn't answer that question either. AT least make the attorney define the terms.
Im sure there is more than I am aware of in the transcripts, and things that do a better job of pinning him down. If not, these attorneys have not done their job.
In the average civil suit (or criminal case, for that matter) the two parties facing off are in an unqualified adversarial position; that's fine -- that's our system and it probably works as well as anything could.
I think a lot of the bad taste left by the church scandal cases stems from the fact that archdiocese attorneys (presumably with at least the acquiescense of the archdiocese) let these cases fester into fully adversarial proceedings between the bishop and his erstwhile flock. The archdiocese's lead attorney (a Catholic, a father and grandfather) has been handling the case with his son. Many people think they should have been sensitive enough to realize that representing the church against some of its members in a case like this is different in important ways from representing, say, GM or Ford against an unhappy customer.
I've worked long enough as a paralegal to read and summarize deposition transcripts that were worse than Law's -- one went on for 94 days because the deponent insisted on an explanation of every word in every question, demanding that every conceivable ambiguity be resolved to his satisfaction before he finally answered, "I don't recall." But he wasn't a church leader: he was a shady character trying to get the better of a shadier character in an enormous oil deal based on a real refinery and many, many fictitious oil tankers.
In Law's favor I can say that at least it seems apparent that lying and evading do not come easy to him -- he was clearly in great discomfort and even mental pain. I think his attorneys should have the sense to tell him long ago that the church can't win this way and that even if it did, it wouldn't be a win worth having.
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