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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Ex Wisconsin Catholic cleric resigns due to sex allegations
(On Saturday, Hawaii news outlets reported that a suspended school teacher there is resigning. He was accused of child sex crimes in Wisconsin and removed from his post by Catholic church officials. )
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home)
We’re grateful that Thomas Gardipee, a former Catholic cleric, won’t be around kids at this Hawaii school. We worry, however, that church officials still aren’t telling the full truth about his crimes, and that the secrecy of church authorities will enable Gardipee to land another job around children.
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Posted on: Saturday, November 14, 2009
Teacher in Wisconsin sex case resigns
A Kamehameha Schools teacher who had been accused of sexual misconduct with a student while working on the Mainland more than 20 years ago has resigned his position, the school announced yesterday.
Thomas Gardipee began teaching at Kamehameha's Kapalama campus in 2002. Yesterday, Michael Chun, Kamehameha Kapalama president and headmaster, said the school has accepted Gardipee's resignation.
In 1992, Gardipee was suspended as athletic director at St. Lawrence Seminary, a Roman Catholic prep school in Wisconsin after allegations of sexual misconduct. A former student had accused Gardipee of exposing himself and intimidation.
Gardipee was never convicted of any crime related to this case.
Officials at the Wisconsin school said in September that no one from Kamehameha Schools contacted them prior to hiring Gardipee.
Chun said in a statement yesterday that the school did conduct a criminal history check on Gardipee.
"The criminal background checks conducted by an outside firm prior to Tom Gardipee's hire in 2002 did not uncover any criminal convictions, and we confirmed that all charges in the criminal suit brought against him in Wisconsin were dismissed," Chun said in the statement. "There have been no subsequent allegations leveled against Tom during his tenure at Kamehameha Schools. To the contrary, published reports of the 22-year-old Wisconsin accusations have drawn hundreds of statements of support from our students, faculty and parents. Nonetheless, to eliminate any possible lingering distractions, I have accepted Tom Gardipee's resignation."
According to a public database of the Wisconsin court system, Gardipee was charged in January 1993 with enticement of a child and intimidation of a witness.
A 1993 Associated Press story said the case stems from a 1987 incident at the whirlpool room in St. Lawrence Seminary's gym in which the student complained of back pains and Gardipee suggested that he use the whirlpool. According to the AP report, the student accused Gardipee of taking off his clothes and performing a sex act.
The boy also accused Gardipee of throwing him against a gym office wall several weeks later after he complained about Gardipee's earlier behavior, according to the AP report.
The Chicago Tribune later reported that the criminal case was dismissed in March 1993 due to lack of probable cause. A civil lawsuit associated with the alleged harassment was settled in 1996, and its terms were sealed.
Clergy sex abuse victims want accused molester suspended
For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790
He's accused of sexual misdeeds in Wisconsin but now teaches in Hawaii
Cleric's former supervisors admit he was suspended and fired in 1988 because of allegations
A former Catholic cleric who has been accused of child sexual abuse and misconduct in Wisconsin now works at a private school in Hawaii and a national support group wants him to be suspended.
Thomas J. Gardipee teaches social studies at Kamehameha School's Kapalama campus. (http://www.ksbe.edu).
But in 1992, he was one of five faculty members at a Wisconsin school accused by former students of sexual assault or sexual misconduct in the late 1970s and 1980s. For a while, he was suspended by his employer and faced criminal charges and at least one civil lawsuit. But legal proceedings against him were eventually dropped.
"At least twice, this suspended and accused child molester escaped legal action even though his own employer admitted to having previously fired him for similar sexual misconduct with kids," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago. She's the founder and president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). "Gardipee's Wisconsin church supervisors ousted him. He should be suspended immediately while Hawaiian criminal, church and school officials investigate."
The allegations against Gardipee first came to light in a 1992 Milwaukee Journal investigative series about the school, a Catholic high school seminary called St. Lawrence. It was run by the Detroit-based Capuchin order and was in Mt. Calvary, near Fond du Lac. At the time, Gardipee was a Capuchin friar and the school's athletic director.
Gardipee reportedly gave students condoms, liquor, and erotic magazines. In December 1992, his Capuchin supervisors suspended Gardipee, and revealed that Gardipee had been fired four years earlier for similar allegations.
The following year, the Fond du Lac County prosecutor filed felony criminal charges against Gardipee, alleging that he “enticed a child for immoral purposes and intimidated a victim.”
Those charges were later dropped. ''The judge did seem to find there was lewd and lascivious conduct," said then-prosecutor Thomas Storm, but that is a misdemeanor and outside the statute of limitations. A July 1993 Milwaukee Sentinel article says that the judge ended the case even though he found that “Gardipee had masturbated in front of a boy.”
In April 1993, a 21-year-old alumnus of the Wisconsin school filed a civil lawsuit (believed to be against Gardipee and the Capuchins), charging that Gardipee was “sexually abused, harassed and stalked” him when he was as a 16- or 17-year-old high school student. The next year, that suit was expanded to include claims that the Capuchins were guilty of 'racketeering.'
That legal action was also thwarted in 1995, when, in an unusual ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said that the church was constitutionally protected from liability for acts such as negligent supervision of priests and other employees. (The court has since somewhat reversed that finding.)
"It's reckless for a school to knowingly hire a credibly accused child molester," said Blaine of SNAP. "And if Kamehameha didn't know about allegations against Gardipee, they're irresponsible for not checking his past more thoroughly. They need to take steps right now to safeguard the kids in their care."
The Kapalama's campus president and headmaster is Dr. Michael Chun.
The Wisconsin attorney who represented one of Gardippe's alleged victims in a civil suit is Robert L. Elliott, 414-225-9000. Attorney Frank Steeves, 414-276-1122, represented St. Lawrence and Gerald Boyle, 414-343-3300, represented Gardipee. (Boyle also represented serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.) Both lawyers are from Milwaukee.
Other defendants included Fr. Joseph Diermeier (the then-rector of Wisconsin school during some of the allegations), Fr. Kenneth Reinhart (the then-head of the order) and Catholic Mutual Group (an Omaha, Neb., insurance company). Other accused St. Lawrence clerics include Father Gale Leifeld and Brother John Raniszewski. None is believed to be in ministry today.
Gardipee is believed to be in his early 50s now. More information about him and the allegations against him can be found at BishopAccountability.org
Posted: Oct. 27, 2009
Archdiocese blasted over 2 predator cases
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO - FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
An advocacy group slammed Catholic officials in Detroit on Monday for what they said was a failure to properly publicize the alleged abusive pasts of a former lay brother and a Catholic seminarian who is now a priest in the Philippines.
Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said a 2003 letter that a Catholic official in Detroit sent to a bishop in the Philippines was not enough to warn families of Joseph Skelton Jr.'s past.
"They can and should do much more to protect the children," Blaine said Monday outside the Archdiocese of Detroit offices. "Kids are safer and the church is healthier when the truth is exposed."
But the archdiocese said SNAP "apparently hopes its confusing, unfounded claims will be grist for a street-side media event."
In a statement, officials said like "any other institution of higher learning, the archdiocesan seminary does not track or hold responsibility for every student who ever attended classes."
Blaine said people should have been warned that Skelton, a Detroit native who once studied at a Catholic seminary in Plymouth, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy in his seminary room and resigned from the seminary in 1988.
And this month, a settlement was reached involving allegations that Skelton was involved in the abuse of a 14-year-old boy in Washington, D.C., in 1984, according to attorneys Jessica Arbour and Adam Horowitz.
SNAP says it wants Catholic leaders to post such allegations on Catholic Web sites and have priests announce publicly names of clergy with accusations of past abuse who are transferred to their dioceses.
Blaine also cited the case of Thomas Gardipee, who was once part of a Catholic religious order based in Detroit, the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order. But the archdiocese said he never served in metro Detroit.
Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO: 313-223-4792
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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