The latest addition to a string of lawsuits filed against Chaminade College Preparatory School accuses a now-deceased Marianist Brother, John Woulfe, of repeatedly molesting a high school student between 1968 and 1971.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in St. Louis County Circuit Court, alleges that Wolfe used his position as a guidance counselor at the exclusive all-boys' school to schedule closed-door "college counselling" meetings with the victim, identified in the suit only as John Doe. Over the course of several sessions, Woulfe allegedly masturbated and performed oral sex on the student.
Woulfe died in 2005, three years after a different Chaminade alumnus accused him of similar abuses
during private meetings in Woulfe's office. Father Martin Solma, head of the St. Louis-based Marianist Catholic Order, revealed in 2012
that more than a dozen former students have come forward alleging sexual abuse involving Woulfe and other members of the order, including Brother Louis Meinhardt. Last month, Chaminade agreed to pay a $300,000 settlement
to a former student who said Meinhardt sexually abused him during a typing tutoring session.
According to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, at least eight Marianist clergy members
have been accused of sexual abuse going back to the 1960s. The Marianists run three St. Louis-area high schools: Chaminade, St. John Vianney and St. Mary’s.
As with past lawsuits against Chaminade and the Marianists, this latest suit accuses the school and its religious leaders of ignoring Woulfe's behavior and thus enabling the abuses to continue.
"There’s no doubt in my mind that other members of the Chaminade faculty were aware of [what was happening] to me and others," Doe said a statement issued by his attorney. "Had one of them done the right thing and called the abuse to the attention of authorities, much pain could have been avoided and many young men could have gone on to live much more fulfilling lives."
Update, 9:10 a.m.:
In a statement released this morning, SNAP called on Marianist officials to "come clean" about past abuses at Chaminade and other schools. The group says it will stage a protest outside Marianist headquarters in the Central West End today at 2:15 p.m.
SNAP director David Clohessy suggests that Marianist officials to follow the advice of Pope Francis, who has urged church officials to provide better oversight and protection for youth.
"The Marianists are thumbing their noses at Francis," Clohessy writes in an email. "We urge everyone who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes or cover ups by Marianists to call police, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing."
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