Priests Who Taught, Lived at Saint Michael's Quietly Identified as Accused

A recent report by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington was billed as an exhaustive accounting of sexual abuse allegations against Vermont priests. Yet the Edmundites, members of the Colchester-based Catholic order that founded Saint Michael's College, have created their own list of 10 accused priests — and released it only on an obscure website where it has gone virtually unnoticed.

The list identifies nine deceased Edmundite priests who did not appear in the diocesan report, even though several were accused of abusing children while serving in Vermont. Two of the men — the late John A. Stankiewicz and the late Nelson B. Ziter — were revered figures at St. Michael's.

College and Edmundite leaders say the allegations are unrelated to campus life.

Edmundite Superior General the Very Rev. David Cray, also a college trustee, nonetheless said he worried how St. Michael's alumni would react to news of the allegations. The Society of Saint Edmund, as the order is formally known, published its findings in early August.

The list is available to those who navigate the society's website to a page labeled "Safe Environments." It had been viewed about 100 times when a Seven Days reporter discovered it on September 16, according to a counter on the site.

St. Michael's did not publicize the list through its channels. Nor did the Burlington diocese mention it upon release of its highly anticipated report on August 22.

Cray said the Vermont Attorney General's Office, which is investigating abuse claims involving the Burlington diocese, asked Cray how to access the list Tuesday shortly after Seven Days requested comment from the state. The Attorney General's Office declined to comment.

Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said failing to actively disseminate names of the accused defeats a key purpose of such lists: helping victims heal. "To not do that is, I think, a cop-out," he said. "The point is not to have the public accounting on your own website so you can say that you've done it."

St. Michael's officials declined to make president Lorraine Sterritt or lay trustees available for an interview, but they provided a statement expressing full support for the "transparency and accountability expresse...

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Showing 1 comment

  • Kelli Smith
    commented 2020-11-11 13:53:22 -0600
    Because of Ziter’s abuse in Selma, Al., the only monster I have ever seen had his face.

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