Friday, January 21, 2022

Column: “Why does Mater Dei protect bullies?” Orange County School and Diocese have a lot to answer for

The high school student was attacked. Their innocence is shattered; their lives were forever changed.

School leaders learn of the incident. They do worse than nothing; they hide it and even laugh at it. Their superiors are looking the other way. Supporters and violators are protected; the survivor is ostracized. And when critics shout insults, the institution plays the victim card.

Another day at Mater Dei High School, the jewel of Catholic education in the Oran Diocese.

His powerful soccer team is making headlines in the country right now, and not just because the Monarchs are about to win their fourth national championship in five seasons. A lawsuit filed last month against Mater Dei and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said the former footballer suffered a broken nose, head injury and permanent scars during a February hazing ritual called “Bodies,” which amounted to a school-sanctioned beating. …

The lawsuit states that the adult staff on the team did nothing to stop a much larger player from attacking the victim, initially ignored his injuries and lied to Santa Ana police as they investigated the incident. It also claims that when the boy’s father told head football coach Bruce Rollinson about what happened to his son, the prep sports legend shattered: “If I had a hundred dollars for every time these kids played Bodies … I would be a millionaire. “

The victim moved to another school, but soon found that he could not play sports right away, because Mater Dei officials put a disciplinary mark on his translation documents. Meanwhile, Rollinson, who was indicted in 1989 for choking a female athletic trainer in front of college students and eventually gave up the trouble of trouble for his actions after a jury trial ended, is preparing his team to play next week. California State Football Championship.

The accusations have sparked revolt in the sports world, especially as it seems likely that there will be no disciplinary action against the monarchs. Mater Dei President Walter E. Jenkins just released a letter saying the school continues to operate but promises to improve in the future; Bishop of the Diocese of Orange, Kevin Vann, did not say a word. Through an official spokesperson – no less a graduate of Mater Dei – both declined to comment further due to “pending civil action and minors’ involvement.”

The Orange County attorney’s office declined to prosecute the alleged assailant, although a Santa Ana police investigator recommended that an unnamed student be charged with a felony. Even the California Interschool Federation, which runs the state’s high school sports, has said it won’t sanction Mater Dei for what happened, claiming it has no jurisdiction over the school – not to mention Mater Dei playing in the December CIF title match. … eleven.

To those who didn’t like all this, I say: forget it, Jake. This is Mater Dei.

I covered the school for many years in my previous job, focusing on the numerous civil sexual assault cases that have emanated from the school. We’re talking about over a dozen well-known multi-million dollar sexual assault deals since 2002 involving at least 10 accused former Mater Dei employees – consultants, teachers, staff, administrators, and others – with little or no disciplinary action for any of the participants.

The latter incident is not a sexual assault case, but it does carry one distinguishing feature of how the Orange Diocese handled controversy surrounding minors in Mater Dei: institutional silence and entanglement.

Take former director Michael Harris, for example. Several male students claimed that he attacked them repeatedly in his office during the 1970s and 1980s before he left to open Santa Margarita School, where Harris later resigned due to new charges. which the Orange Diocese has kept secret for many years. Harris has never been found guilty of any crimes, but he alone has cost the Diocese of Orange more than $ 7 million in sexual abuse disputes, and another former student of Mater Dei is pending trial in which Harris named their abuser.

The Orange Diocese also remained quiet in 1989, when Mater Dei officials allowed then-choir director Thomas Hodgman to quietly resign after he confessed to sexually assaulting a student. The then director, John Welling, said nothing to his parents at the time, but joked with diocesan officials in a memo that “there are never boring moments in life.” [Mater Dei]! ”

A similar silence echoed in the mid-1990s with Jeff Andrade, the boy’s assistant basketball coach whom Mater Dei administration suspected of improper relations with female students. When they questioned Andrade about such rumors, legendary head coach Gary McKnight rushed into the meeting and told Andrade to say nothing more until he arrived.

Mater Dei ultimately fired Andrade, who was never found guilty of the crime, although in his testimony he confessed to having sex with a minor student. Years later, both he and then-president of Mater Dei School Patrick Murphy said during interrogations that Andrade returned to campus to help organize fundraising for sports teams with the blessing of McKnight, who continues to train at Mater Dei.

Neither Mater Dei nor the Diocese of Orange have ever offered any of the above volunteers; they only became known through lawsuits and the media.

In 2007, the school’s current principal, Frances Clare, told parents in a letter after another series of sexual assault lawsuits that the school had “informed and cooperated with law enforcement as appropriate” about the two alleged rapists back in the 1990s. But when I then called the Child and Family Services Department of the Orange County Social Services Agency – which must-have reporters should contact when they learn of child abuse – they said they had no records of any conversations with Mater. Dei.

Mater Dei’s student abuse isn’t just a few rascals over the decades; it’s institutional. And no one knows this better than John Manley, who has repeatedly sued his alma mater on behalf of clients over alleged adult sexual abuse and currently has “several” pending claims against Mater Dei. He has always emphasized that any agreements on sexual assault he enters into with the Catholic Diocese involve the publication of testimonies and documents that show what actually happened, not what the prelates claim happened.

“The funny thing is, everyone expects them to do something about it,” he said of the scandal currently troubling Mater De Football. “But they didn’t do anything about the rape of the children. Do they really think they are going to do something about the bullying? “

For a minute I thought that it would be so.

I did think that Bishop Vannes had changed the Diocese of Orange, which has supreme jurisdiction over Mater Dei, for the better. His predecessor, Bishop Tod D. Brown, led a diocese that was as bad as the archdioceses of Los Angeles and Boston when it came to protecting pedophile priests and ignoring their victims.

Fortunately, Orange County Catholics didn’t see this with Wann. But it is a disclaimer if he allows Mater Dei Football to go out with impunity in this case.

For his part, Manly doesn’t think anything will happen to Rollinson, his former sophomore history teacher.

“If you’re a winner, that’s all that matters,” he said. “We think, ‘We’re going to protect the organization, we’re going to protect the money machine.’ If one child is violently attacked, they just don’t care. “

But what really angers Manly about the current bullying case is how Mater Dei allowed the Monarchs football team to keep playing – and let Rollinson coach – as if nothing was happening.

“Why does Mater Dei protect bullies?” Manly asked. “What did the young man who hurt the student learn? “Power makes right.” That you can get away with it. “

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