Scandal at Smith College Shows that More Needs to be Done to Protect Students from Abusers
According to reports, a credibly-accused clergyman who worked for more than ten years as a lecturer at Smith College was reported to the college's senior leadership as an abuser in 2001, yet no action was taken. This story demonstrates to us how far Big Education still needs to go to make universities and colleges safe.
Robert Ellis Hosmer Jr. should never have held this job. By 2002, when the "Dallas Charter" was established and the Catholic church was purportedly on a more transparent path, this priest was able to avoid accountability and his victims were denied justice. Who knows what he could have done with 20 years of unfettered access?
Jaime Lara, a priest from Brooklyn, was accused and removed from the priesthood in 1992, yet later took teaching jobs at both Yale University and Arizona State University. Fr. Jacob Vellian, a fugitive uncovered by Michigan Attorney general Dana Nessel, is in India but taught at St. Patrick's seminary after he allegedly raped a woman in Michigan. He left the United States where he was working at an East Indian mission church in the San Jose diocese when he was told about the report in 2010.
Beyond these examples, there are hundreds of priests who have wound up living or working at Catholic institutions. If Georgetown, Gonzaga, Loyola-Chicago, Boston College, Fordham, Santa Clara University, Notre Dame or any other Catholic institution were to do an even cursory review of its files, each could identify dozens of allegedly abusive priests, brothers and other clergy who found sanctuary in universities and colleges despite their status as abusers.
We call on Smith College to look carefully at its full roster of professors and lecturers, and to make a full accounting of any other Title IX violations. We call on all Catholic colleges and universities to do the same.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)