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Dallas Jesuit Prep School Settles Lawsuit Over Young Boys’ Sexual Abuse

City, Featured

Judges gavel on money | Image by RomanR / Shutterstock

Five of the six educators and priests who were named in a lawsuit alleging they sexually abused boys at a prep school are listed in an international database tracking clergy who have been accused of child sexual abuse.

The six men were accused of sexually abusing boys in the 1970s and 1980s at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.

The nine Dallas men who lodged the allegations of sexual abuse settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum this week, according to The Dallas Morning News.

“The money is valuable to the survivors of this kind of terrible experience because they’ve really suffered, so they should be compensated for that suffering,” said Terence McKiernan, a board member of the nonprofit Bishop Accountability. “Very often, they have lots of therapy bills to pay, and their lives have been affected so that their earning potential has not been met.”

The accused men that appear in Bishop Accountability’s international repository include Diocese of Dallas priest Robert Crisp, administrator Donald Dickerson, former principal Patrick Koch, teacher Benjamin Smylie, and counselor Vincent Malatesta.

“What we do is simply consolidate all the allegations that are known because we feel people need to know, and it’s not that we’re judge and jury or saying that they are all guilty,” McKiernan told The Dallas Express. “We’re just simply saying the claims are out there. They’re in public court documents or in mainstream newspaper reports. We provide a place where you find them all.”

Only wrestling coach Peter Callery is not listed in Bishop Accountability’s national database for Dallas. Malatesta and Callery remain alive today.

“One hopes that, at the very least, they will be prevented from having access to children because there are all kinds of examples of monitoring being done badly or not at all, and that’s a whole other issue,” McKiernan said in an interview. “With those two guys who are still alive, where are they? Do they have people who are keeping track of their whereabouts? Do they have access to a car? Even if they are old because these days, it doesn’t matter. If you’re old, you can still abuse.”

In addition to the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, and the Society of Jesuits’ Provincial of the U.S. Central and Southern Province were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

“This Jesuit prep school in Dallas is not unusual,” McKiernan added. “There are many incidents of serious abuses, for example, at the Jesuit high school in New Orleans and at the Jesuit high school in the Bronx and so forth. The Jesuits really have a problem here.”

Father Thomas P. Greene of the Society of Jesuits’ Provincial of the U.S. Central and Southern Province apologized to any person who has been impacted by abuse relating to any of their members or former members.

“Abuse of a minor under any circumstance is a crime and a sin for which perpetrators need to be held accountable,” Greene told The Dallas Express in an email. “We have recently resolved several lawsuits because it is our hope to try to bring healing to persons who report they have suffered. We pray for all persons involved.”

Jesuit College Preparatory School Dallas did not respond to requests for comment. However, in a letter obtained by The Dallas Morning News, school president Mike Earsing said that he believes the plaintiffs’ allegations.

“While none of us wanted to believe that any of the priests at our school could inflict such heinous injury, the fact is, a few did,” Earsing stated.

Adriana Alcalde, an attorney who worked as a sex crimes prosecutor for 16 years, said she finds it refreshing that Jesuit College Preparatory School Dallas made a public statement that it believes the boys, who are now grown men.

“I’m surprised the school didn’t keep it quiet,” she said in an interview. “A lot of times, an institution will settle, sign confidentiality agreements, and you won’t hear any kind of affirmation. When a school or religious institution actually acknowledges publicly that something bad happened to these people, it can be very healing for the victims.”

Education and reporting are part of the solution to rooting out the problem of pedophilia in schools and other institutions, according to Alcalde.

“Pedophilia is not necessarily a religious problem because you can find predators everywhere in all different religions and schools,” she said. “It’s really a crime that has no particular home and the majority of abuse happens in families with stepfathers and other family members. The problem with religious institutions is the coverup that happens where predators are moved from one church or school to another instead of protecting the victim.”

Alcalde recommends equipping children to protect themselves against pedophiles with the book My Privates Are Private, written by Attorney Stacey Beth Honowitz.

“I make no money off of this book,” Alcalde added. “I just think it is important to educate kids about this uncomfortable topic. Reporting is one of the most important tools. Whenever there is behavior that’s inappropriate, it needs to be reported. Pastors, priests, educators, parishioners, parents, and children all need to be educated with information, lectures, and seminars.”

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas’ Bishop Edward J. Burns told The Dallas Express that he is pleased with the resolution that was brought forth.

“I look forward to working with all parties involved to address the restorative steps, continue safe-environment measures throughout the Diocese, and seek the healing necessary for all victims of abuse,” Burns said.

He continued, “Our focus on healing and accountability will be conducted by keeping justice, understanding, and compassion at the forefront of our efforts. The Diocese of Dallas remains vigilant in our efforts to provide the safest environment possible to all we serve. I pray for continued healing for these men and all victims of abuse.”

Restorative steps include enhanced victim-centered reporting of sexual abuse, monitoring of online abuse claims, and uniform policies for school reporting of abuse; the Diocese also plans to expand the Diocesan Review Board, which is in charge of investigating sexual abuse allegations, to include a member who has been directly impacted by sexual abuse.

“The Diocese of Dallas owns and operates thirty-eight Catholic schools throughout the area, including three high schools: Bishop Dunne Catholic School, Bishop Lynch High School, and John Paul II High School,” said Annette Gonzales Taylor, director of media relations with the Diocese of Dallas.

The Diocese of Dallas hopes to implement these measures at both diocesan and non-diocesan schools.

A non-diocesan school is not owned or operated by the Diocese of Dallas but by a Catholic religious order such as the Jesuits. Other non-diocesan schools include Ursuline Academy, Cistercian, the Highlands School, and Cristo Rey College Preparatory.

Note: This article was updated on April 1 at 10:03 a.m. to include additional comments.

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