Spokane, Wash., Dec 20, 2018 / 15:24 pm
The Diocese of Spokane said Thursday it was unacceptable that Jesuit priests credibly accused of sexual abuse were unsupervised on the campus of Gonzaga University. While Spokane’s current bishop had no knowledge the priests had been living at the university, the diocese said its prior bishop was informed of their presence in 2011.
“The Diocese of Spokane shares the concern of those who are angry and saddened to learn that the Oregon Province of Jesuits—now part of the Jesuits West Province—placed Jesuits credibly accused of sexual abuse at the Cardinal Bea House on Gonzaga University’s campus without informing the Gonzaga community,” a Dec. 20 statement from the diocese read.
In June 2011, “the Jesuit Provincial, Father Patrick Lee, informed then-Bishop Blase Cupich that seven priests with safety plans in place were living at Bea House,” the diocesan statement added.
“Bishop Thomas Daly—who was installed in 2015—was not informed by the Jesuits or Gonzaga University that these men were living at Cardinal Bea House.”
While the Jesuit province informed the diocese that the accused priests “were living on campus with safety plans requiring such things as chaperones for any trips out of Cardinal Bea House and restricting their public ministry,” recent media reporting “indicates that these credibly accused Jesuits were free to come and go on campus,” the statement read.
“This was an unacceptable situation.”
Since at least 2003, several Jesuit priests accused of sexual abuse were housed at the Cardinal Bea House on the campus of Spokane’s Gonzaga University, according to a series of investigative reports published this week by Northwest News Network, and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
The sexual abuse accusations against the priests living on Gonzaga’s campus were not made known publicly by the university, the Jesuit province, or the diocese. Most of the accused priests were reported to be living at the Gonzaga residence in retirement or due to their declining health.
The house is a residence owned by the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, and not overseen by the university. The credibly accused priests living there were reportedly subject to “safety plans” which forbade them from engaging with students.
According to the media reports, at least some credibly accused priests had regular unsupervised access to the university campus and unsupervised visits with students, and were permitted to lead prayer services in other settings, including Native American reservations.