OH- Board takes deacon's license, SNAP seeks answers
Deacon loses teaching license
SNAP to bishop: "Tell parents why"
Four others were disciplined at same time
Each has been credibly accused of molesting kids
Victims say “Catholic officials must now finally 'come clean'”
Education officials have permanently revoked the teaching license of a Catholic deacon and a victim’s support group is calling on Youngstown's bishop and parochial school staff to explain why.
The group says that Deacon Ernest Formichelli, who also taught in several Catholic schools, has molested at least one child.
According to minutes of the September 2013 meeting of the Ohio State Board of Education, the board revoked Formichelli's teaching license and “orders Formichelli be permanently ineligible to apply for any license issued by the State Board of Education.”
Formichelli “waived his right to a hearing,” the minutes say, and has forfeited both his five-year professional high school teaching license, issued in 2012, and permanent non-tax teaching certificate issued in 1978.
"We strongly suspect a victim or concerned parent reported to the state that Formichelli was accused of molesting at least one child," said Judy Jones, the Midwest associate director of the Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests (SNAP). "For the safety of kids and the healing of victims, Bishop George Murry must make public why this deacon's license was revoked."
Four other teachers lost their licenses at that same board meeting. All of them have been publicly accused of molesting kids. (They are Kelsey L. Hartmann, Mercades R. Blue, Thomas J. Mouat Jr. and Jeffery S. Rohrer Jr.) The wording in the state board's minutes about all five cases is identical.
“Few adults voluntarily give up the chance to teach school, anywhere in Ohio, unless they fear what an investigation into their actions will reveal,” said David Clohessy, SNAP's director. “I worked for a school district for five years. When state education officials take action and yank a teacher's license, it's not over something trivial.”
“Youngstown's bishop has pledged to be 'open' about clergy sexual abuse, and America's bishops have formally promised to do so in a nationwide policy that they often brag about but rarely enforce,” said Jones. “Let's see if the commitments Catholic officials make are real or just public relations.”
For years, Msgr. John Zuraw has been in charge of Permanent Deaconate program in the Youngstown diocese. Earlier this summer, he was promoted to be chancellor (replacing Nancy Yuhasz) and working closely with Murry.
SNAP criticized the move.
“We believe that Msgr. Zuraw knows about credibly child sex abuse allegations against Formichelli and has been part of this irresponsible conspiracy of silence that has enabled Formichelli to be around kids,” said Clohessy. “We believe Zuraw should be harshly punished for his complicity which has endangered children for years.”
Formichelli recently taught at Cardinal Mooney High School. He also taught at St. Christine's and worked at Holy Family parish in Poland.
The minutes reflect that “the State Board has ‘made no findings of fact in this matter nor completed an investigation.’”
“As best we can tell, there's been no publicity in the media nor any disclosure by Catholic officials about this action against Formichelli,” Jones said. “We just found these minutes on the Board of Education's website yesterday. It's a shame that it takes a random discovery on our part to be able to expose a predator who has been on the Youngstown diocesan payroll for years.”
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)