For several months beginning early in 2002, Saint John’s and the greater Catholic Church have been in the media spotlight because of allegations of sexual abuse. I want to take this opportunity to speak to the facts and how they affect Saint John’s Prep School. I also want to reassure all entering families and all camp participants that Saint John’s Prep School is a safe and healthy school.
Abbot John Klassen has been reviewing all allegations of abuse. The Abbot has said, “the abuse of anyone, especially a minor, by a monk is shocking and simply morally abhorrent.” He has taken a leadership role in this process and has been listening to victims, to counselors and to leaders in the therapeutic community. As Abbot John’s reviewed prior allegations, he found that some of them, for a variety of reasons, were never made public. He has been forthright in bringing these allegations to the to the attention of the monastic community and the public.
We have been saddened and shocked that some members of the Saint John’s monastic community have admitted to inappropriate sexual behavior in the 1970s and 1980s. These men have received psychological treatment, faced their issues, changed their way of living, and accepted the restrictions under which they now must live. They continue to be engaged in work assignments that exclude ministry and dealing with vulnerable people, and there have been no charges of subsequent allegations against them. None of these men are working with Prep students or campers, and they are restricted from the Prep School campus. Incidents and allegations of abuse have caused all of us much pain and anguish, and the experience has made all of us ever more vigilant as we place the highest emphasis on the safety of our students.
We believe that the children enrolled in our school and in our camp programs must be treated with dignity, respect and care. Our commitment is to continue to do everything in our power to make this a safe haven. As educators, we know that children must be equipped to deal with situations and to be aware of the dangers that may come their way. A part of our regular annual teacher training is to have Human Rights Officers review the mandatory reporting laws. We also meet regularly with our students as part of our colloquium sessions to discuss all manner of life issues, including “boundary” issues. We remind them that faculty, advisors, counselors and, of course parents, are their allies and will listen to any of their concerns.
All of us associated with Saint John’s Prep will continue to work toward assuring a safe, strong and highly valued program at our school. Please feel free to talk further with me or any of our counselors if you have any questions; give me a call at 320-363-3318 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you might prefer to call Josie Stang at 320-363-2351.
Fr Gordon Tavis, OSB
[Date Unknown in 2002]