MI- Victims file complaint vs. professor
He admitted molesting two teenaged girls
His former employer was forced to pay $1.6 million
But he works now at a MI college & no one was warned
Group wants Methodists, who meet there this week, to act
SNAP: “Church officials should at least alert others about him”
He is also accused of impregnating one girl & giving her an STD
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, child sex abuse victims and advocates will disclose that they are;
–writing a federal official saying that a Michigan college may have broken federal law by quietly hiring a credibly accused child molesting professor but telling no one about him, and
–writing Michigan Methodist officials, who meet this week at the college, and urging them to warn their flocks about him.
They will also beg;
– college officials to at least alert staff and students about the professor's past, and
– anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered any crimes or misdeeds by the professor to “speak up, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing.”
Wednesday, May 14 at 4:00 p.m.
On the sidewalk leading to the Bell Tower at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan
Two-three members of a self help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
Leaders of SNAP are writing Michigan Methodist church officials and a federal bureaucrat about Dr. Thomas Hodgman, a music professor at Adrian College. The college hired Hodgman in 1999, despite the fact that Hodgman admitted molesting two girls and is accused of molesting at least one more.
Hodgman's former employer, a Catholic high school, had to pay $1.6 million to a California woman who was repeatedly sexually violated by Hodgman when she was a youngster.
A federal law called the Clery Act requires colleges “to give timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees.” In a new letter to a U.S. Education Department official, SNAP alleges that Adrian's “continuing secrecy” surrounding Hodgman's past “violates the spirit of the Clery Act and may well violate its letter too.”
SNAP is also urging Bishop Deborah Kiesey (517 347 4030, 800 334 0544) who heads the Michigan United Methodist Church, to warn church members and staff across the state about Hodgman. The statewide conference meets at Adrian for three days this week starting on Thursday. (Adrian is a Methodist institution.)
From 1986-1990, Hodgman taught at Mater Dei High School in Orange County California, where he met the three girls. The names of two of them are confidential.
But the third, Joelle Casteix, is now an award-winning advocate for abuse victims and SNAP's long time volunteer western regional director.
In 2004, Casteix traveled from her California home to Adrian and met with then-President Stanley Caine. She expressed her fear that Hodgman might still be molesting children. But Caine took no action, telling Casteix that her motivation was "sour grapes."
In court documents, Casteix also says that Hodgman impregnated her and gave her a sexually transmitted disease.
Through her civil lawsuit against Hodgman and his former school, Casteix has obtained roughly 200 pages of personnel documents, which she has posted on her website: TheWorthyAdversary.com. They include:
– A signed confession in which Hodgman admits molesting at least two teens,
–A signed document from a school administrator who admits she knew about the abuse for at least a year,
– A glowing recommendation from the school principal, despite his knowledge of Hodgman's crimes,
– A letter from the principal to a school superintendent, detailing the abuse, but blaming the actions on Casteix's alleged "emotional problems.”
“It’s bad enough that Adrian officials won't take the simple, cheap, and morally prudent step of warning their students and staff about Hodgman," said SNAP, who wrote several years ago to then – President Jeffrey Docking and Music Department Chair Peter Ford. "But it’s worse that you are compounding his victims’ pain and adding to a predator’s reputation."
The group also praised Casteix.
“Having been molested by a trusted adult, then betrayed by a church hierarchy, some become debilitated, depressed and powerless,” said the SNAP letter. “Others, however, become compassionate, cautious and determined. That’s Joelle. And we applaud her for her courage and concern."
Hodgman is also the Artistic Director and Conductor at Lenawee Community Chorus and “works with other educators and students to offer a music class to community preschoolers,” according to an Adrian official.
He attended Westminster Choir College and then taught at Jersey City State College before moving to Adrian.
In 2007, another former Mater Dei teacher who admitted molesting a girl, Larry Stukenholtz, was suspended, and later fired, by a community college in St. Louis Missouri after one of his victims, Sarah Gray, spoke to the college's board.
Copies of SNAP's letters will be available at the news conference.
Claudia Vercellotti 419 345 9291, SNAPtoledo@aol.com, David Clohessy 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, Joelle Casteix 949 322 7434, firstname.lastname@example.org, Marcia Holtz 419 283 7075,email@example.com