The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, August 24, 2010
2 Catholic teachers resign; diocese kept allegations secret
Statement by Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director 314 862 7688
In acts of stunning recklessness, Toledo Catholic officials secretly investigated a Catholic school staffer and the state sanctioned him for "failing to maintain appropriate student-teacher boundaries." Still, a Catholic principal deceitfully urged a public school to rehire him, putting innocent kids at risk of child sex crimes.
Kevin Yeckley is a coach and counselor who admits “periodically” hugging a girl, hiring her, working “alone for several consecutive Saturdays” with her and telling her “he was . . .having uncomfortable feelings for her.” The main issue, however, here is not Yeckley’s behavior.
The most troubling issue is that Frank DiLallo, Rick Facciolo, Mike Gabel, Jack Altenburger, Deb Streacker and other church employees who endangered kids by keeping quiet for months about these allegations. It’s the same dangerous pattern, over and over again – Catholic officials putting their reputations and careers above the well-being of children.
We hope that every person – parent, student or staff – who saw or suspected misdeeds by Yeckley will find the courage to call secular authorities, not church authorities. Only by stepping forward and speaking up will kids be safer in Catholic settings.
(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 22 years and have more than 9,000 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)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
Former Fremont school counselor violated agreement with district
FREMONT -- A school counselor who recently resigned at S. Joseph Central Catholic High School had been disciplined by the Ohio Board of Education in March and recently violated the terms of a consent agreement with the board.
Kevin Yeckley, who served as high school baseball coach for the past three years and counselor for 14 years, entered into the agreement for "conduct unbecoming a licensed educator by failing to maintain appropriate student-teacher boundaries."
One of the conditions of the consent agreement was that Yeckley could only teach in the Diocese of Toledo -- which the Ohio Board of Education said he violated by working for Fremont City Schools. The state Board of Education sent Yeckley a letter June 30 to notify him of the violation.
Despite the fact that he worked at the Catholic high school, Yeckley was officially employed by Fremont City Schools, which paid his salary with funds allocated to public schools to spend exclusively on school programs and specified staff for non-public schools, said Fremont City Schools Superintendent Traci McCaudy. She declined further comment Tuesday.
Yeckley's resignation from SJCC was announced by Bishop Hoffman Schools Superintendent Rick Facciolo on Friday, along with the resignation of SJCC Principal Mike Gabel and the elimination of the position of business manager and treasurer in the district. Neither Yeckley nor Gabel could be reached for comment.
Facciolo said he was not aware of the consent agreement, and said Yeckley's decision to leave SJCC was purely a personal one.
"Kevin had decided that he wanted to take a step back and explore his future; at Fremont, or St. Joe's, or both," he said. "He was an asset to St. Joe's for quite some time and worked well with staff and parents. It was certainly part of our planning that he would be around in the future."
Yeckley's resignation was accepted by Fremont City Schools at the board meeting Monday night.
In the agreement, Yeckley agreed to complete three hours of training on establishing and maintaining appropriate teacher-student boundaries and complete an evaluation with a psychologist or psychiatrist, both before July 1. Yeckley also was required to submit detailed reports, verified by school administration, every three months, indicating if he had engaged in any conduct unbecoming an educator.
Yeckley signed the consent agreement March 2, and it went into effect when it was signed March 5 by Deborah Delisle, superintendent of public instruction. Julie Daubenmire, spokeswoman for the state's Board of Education, said any specific information about the behavior that triggered the consent agreement is confidential.
Actions laid out in Ohio Revised Code that could trigger such disciplinary action include engaging in an immoral act, incompetence, negligence or conduct that is unbecoming to the applicant's or person's position.
The Ohio Administrative Code lists several possible categories for disciplinary procedures to be initiated for conduct unbecoming, ranging from conviction of a crime to any misconduct that negatively reflects on the teaching profession.
Daubenmire said the Board of Education will move forward with the disciplinary process because of the violation of the consent agreement. Yeckley has the right to request a hearing, typically within 30 days of receiving the letter, but has not done so yet, she said.
Facciolo was appointed superintendent this spring of Bishop Hoffman Catholic School -- the name given to the consolidated system that now is made up of SJCC, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph schools.
The school is exploring its options to fill the position, Facciolo said, and hopes to have a new counselor and baseball coach in place by the start of the school year. If not, he said, they may be able to work with Fremont City Schools to have a counselor available on a temporary basis.
"We want to make sure our students have everything they need when school starts," Facciolo said. "That is our priority right now."
The same news release from Facciolo that announced the resignations of Gabel and Yeckley said Terri Haven, the business manager and school treasurer, has been let go. Her duties have been absorbed by the financial coordinator.
Fremont schools last to know about Kevin Yeckley sanctions
FREMONT -- The Diocese of Toledo investigated St. Joseph Central Catholic High School counselor Kevin Yeckley for an improper relationship with a female student.
The Ohio Department of Education -- which sanctioned Yeckley in March for "failing to maintain appropriate student-teacher boundaries" -- was informed as well.
But that didn't stop SJCC principal Mike Gabel from calling Yeckley an excellent employee and advising the Fremont City Schools to rehire him in January.
Yeckley was an employee of Fremont City Schools, and the majority of his salary was paid with state auxiliary funds allocated for non-public schools. But even after signing a consent agreement with ODE in March, it was another two months before Fremont City Schools Superintendent Traci McCaudy found out about Yeckley's sanctions, including limiting his current teaching license to within the Diocese of Toledo. Yeckley and Gabel's resignations were announced last week.
Yeckley's failure to report the limitation of his license to Fremont City Schools violated the consent agreement.
"The district did not know about the consent agreement, the ODE's investigation prior to the consent agreement or any concerns about Kevin Yeckley until May 13," McCaudy said. "I was the one who called the ODE on May 13 to look into the matter."
The ODE sent a letter to Yeckley on June 30, telling him he violated that agreement by being employed outside the diocese by Fremont City Schools and for not informing his employer of the limitations imposed in the agreement. Teachers typically have 30 days to request a hearing for such a violation, ODE spokesperson Julie Daubenmire said, which Yeckley did not do. The ODE could pursue further disciplinary issues in the matter, Daubenmire said.
Toledo Diocese case manager Frank DiLallo, who conducted an investigation into Yeckley's alleged misconduct, contacted the ODE Office of Professional Conduct on Oct. 12, and sent his completed investigation findings to the ODE's Office of Professional Conduct Nov. 18.
Daubenmire declined to comment on anything that happened prior to the consent agreement signed in March, saying the Office of Professional Conduct considers only the consent agreement to be a public record.
DiLallo sat down for an initial meeting with Yeckley on Oct. 29, which was also attended by Gabel and Greg Reed, human resource director for the Toledo Diocese.
McCaudy said the district would continue to work with Bishop Hoffman Schools -- the name given to the consolidated system that now is made up of SJCC, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph schools.
"There has to be that communication and collaboration between us and the non-public school districts," she said. "We rely on the non-public schools to communicate all personnel issues to us, both the positive and the negative ones, because we are responsible as the employer."
Neither Yeckley nor Gabel could be reached for comment.
Yeckley, who had never had a complaint against him on the local or diocesan level, told DiLallo that he counseled a female student at SJCC starting in 2006, which eventually led to an incident in November 2008, when he told her he had feelings for her.
At one point during that time, Yeckley said, the student was visiting his office two or three times each week for counseling.
In the summer of 2008, the student started working for a house refurbishing business owned by Yeckley.
Yeckley said although he had hired many SJCC students to work for him in the previous seven to eight years, she was the first female student he hired.
He told DiLallo that, in hindsight, hiring her was a mistake because she was "fragile emotionally and I didn't clearly step away" from his counseling relationship with her. She continued to work for him during the fall of 2008, and he said he would periodically give her an affirming hug, the same type of hug he would give to both male and female students at school who needed positive affirmation.
In November, he said the two of them worked alone on a house for several consecutive Saturdays and he admitted he was having uncomfortable feelings being around her.
"I was controlling myself well ... the feelings I was having toward her ... I was controlling them, but they weren't going away," he told DiLallo.
He said at one point when the student asked for a hug he got scared.
"If I didn't stop hugging her in that moment, I didn't know where it was going to lead ... so I moved back and told her I was having feelings for her," he told DiLallo.
He admitted to DiLallo that there were better ways he would have liked to handle the situation. Yeckley said his wife told him he needed to be leery of his relationship with the student, but he didn't listen.
"I'm mad at myself and disgusted with myself ... this will never happen again," he told DiLallo.
The student confided in a teacher at SJCC in March 2009, telling her she was confused about what Yeckley said to her in November.
She told the teacher that there was "no kissing ... no intercourse ... nothing sexual" between her and Yeckley.
The teacher told assistant principal Deb Streacker, who told Gabel, who reported the situation to Jack Altenburger, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the diocese. DiLallo's investigation began after Altenburger brought it to the diocese's attention on Oct. 12.
Yeckley told DiLallo that he agreed in December 2008 to only deal with the student on college-related appointments and discussions and that she was no longer allowed to work for his side business. He denied any contact with her after she graduated.
Yeckley submitted his resignation to McCaudy on Aug. 3, for personal reasons, which was accepted by Fremont City School's school board Monday.
Yeckley's resignation from SJCC was announced by new Bishop Hoffman Schools Superintendent Rick Facciolo last Friday, along with the resignation of Gabel, both effective on Aug. 26.
Facciolo said the district is exploring its options to fill the soon-to-be vacant positions and hopes to do so before the school year resumes on Aug. 31.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests