BC Board Member Resigns Amid Allegations Of Failed Priest Abuse Oversight

BOSTON — A longtime Jesuit leader has stepped down from the Boston College Board of Trustees amid allegations he failed to act against clergy abuse.

Just as a demonstration against Rev. Bradley Schaeffer was about to begin, Boston College said Schaeffer was out. Boston College released a 37-word statement from Schaeffer saying that he does not want to be a distraction, so he is ending his service as a trustee.

BC spokesman Jack Dunn said the board of trustees had just started investigating information from civil lawsuits in Chicago indicating that Schaeffer failed to act while he supervised abusive priest Donald McGuire.

“When Brad joined the board, when Father Schaeffer joined the Board of Trustees at Boston College, we weren’t aware of what was going on in Chicago,” Dunn said. “All of us were completely focused on what was going on here in Boston. We weren’t aware he had issues supervising Don McGuire, who by all accounts is a monster.”

Some of the allegations against Schaeffer are decades old. Dunn said BC was not aware of any of them until now. But advocates for clergy abuse victims, like Terry McKiernan, with the group BishopAccountability.org, don’t buy it.

“It’s astonishing to us that he was ever admitted to the board, given his actions back in 1991 to 1997, when he was running the Chicago Province of the Jesuits,” McKiernan said. “Schaeffer was instrumental in allowing Father Donald McGuire, who is really the Paul Shanley and Father Geoghan of the Jesuits. Father Schaeffer unfortunately allowed Father McGuire to continue abusing children.”

In 2008, McGuire was sentenced to 25 years in prison for charges as horrific as those leveled against some of those high-profile, Boston-area pedophile priests.

The Chicago documents indicate that Schaeffer was repeatedly told about McGuire’s behavior with boys, but he neither investigated nor contacted authorities. He did send McGuire into treatment for a sexual disorder and at one point reportedly barred him from traveling with boys and young men. After The Boston Globe published the information from the Chicago lawsuits on Sunday, BC said it did not plan to take action against Schaeffer. But many faculty members protested.

“We made a request for his resignation and the president disagreed by arguing that BC should not respond to sensational press accounts,” said Susan Michalczyk, assistant director of the BC honors program. She says about 40 faculty members met Wednesday and asked BC President Father William Leahy for Schaeffer’s resignation.

“The concern is about our personal integrity and the integrity of Boston College, and strengthening our mission of social justice and mentoring our students,” Michalczyk said.

BC students are concerned. Chris Kaniff, a sophomore from Arlington, Massachusetts, said that even though he knows Schaeffer through his family’s church, he’s pleased that Schaeffer is no longer on the board.

“I don’t think that someone who makes these sorts of moral decisions should have any sort of leadership position in the Catholic Church,” Kaniff said.

BC said the public outrage and Schaeffer’s departure are not related. The school maintains that it was Schaeffer’s decision to leave his unpaid post on the board; it’s a post Schaeffer’s held for the past eight years and was set to retire from in June.

Officials at Georgetown University and Loyola University Chicago did not comment about whether Schaeffer will remain on their boards.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • Anonymous

    Well, that’s one way of getting rid of a problem in a hurry. BC’s reputation was on line, and they weren’t about to let this scandal drag on in the Media. Come to think of it, isn’t Schaeffer in the same boat with Finn from KC?

    • Maturlishmdsnd

      Fr. Brad Schaeffer probably falls into “the same boat” with Msgr. William Lynn, head of priest personnel in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004 under Cardinal Anthony Bevilaequa.

      Lynn is accused of quietly shuffling priests suspected of molesting children to unwilling parishes; reckless endangerment and conspiracy.  The fourth week of his trial concluded with today’s session and continues next week in Philly’s Criminal Justice Center.

      As far as  Father Brad Schaeffer is concerned it is entirely appropriate that he submit his resignation from Boston College’s Board of Trustees and that the board accepted it.  Schaeffer at least submitted his resignation enen though that’s little comfort to McGuire’s victims.

      The Jesuits knew about Donald McGuire and like Lynn and KC’s Bishop Finn, they did not act responsibly in reporting their knowledge to the proper civil authorities.  Fortunately, for the safety of others McGuire, as I understand it, was tried on federal charges as I would expect Finn is too as pornography has very strong federal statutes. 

      I was in court today and Msgr. Lynn’s communications and depositions  concerning known sexual predators were difficult to listen to.  Lynn knew, and it appears he always knew, as the majority of the hierarchy always knew and they like Lynn and Schaeffer made conscious, informed decisions not to protect children. 

      The bishops and the provincials of religious communities like the Jesuits failed thousands of children and their families.  They put them in harm’s way by not doing what they should have done the first time the possiblity of sexual abuse raised its ugly head.  They are responsible for the sexual, spiritual, physical and psychological damage that many of those now adults victims of childhood sexual abuse are subject to and suffer from.

      The bishops of the United States, including Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput and New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, continue to viciously oppose statute of limitation reform in every state where it has been proposed.

      That is the true scandal and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church have caused it.

      Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
      Advocate for Victims & Legislative Reform

      • Suzy Nauman

        Thank you, Sr. Maureen, for being there and for speaking the truth. 

  • Roberthoatson

    Father Leahy has to be the next to go.  In true clerical fashion, he attacked the “sensational” press that forced the resignation of Schaeffer from a university board to which he never should have been appointed.  This was the same press that exposed the backroom manuevers of Cardinal Bernard Law in 2002 and caused all to sit up and take notice.  In 2o12, the ever-vigilant reporter Michael Rezendes exposed the Boston College backroom maneuvers regarding Schaeffer.  Did Leahy know about Schaeffer?  Of course, he knew.

    In Worcester, there is another Jesuit university that continues to coddle a priest pedophile by maintaining his name on one of Holy Cross College’s buildings, the Millard Art Center, named after a Camden, NJ priest pedophile whose brother was the President of the Board of Holy Cross.  Maybe the faculty and student body of that institution will do the right thing and force the renaming of that building.  When I wrote to Fr. Daniel Berrigan, the so-called peace and justice advocate, and asked him not to appear at a poetry reading on the Holy Cross campus a few years ago because of the refusal of Holy Cross to rename the Millard Art Center, he turned on me and all advocates and survivors of clergy abuse such as Patricia Cahill, the niece of Fr. Millard, the abuser.

    In Fairfield, Connecticut, there is yet another Jesuit university that refuses to take responsibility for the serial sexual abuse of Haitian boys who attended a school in Cap-Hatien, Haiti, the idea for which was sparked on the Fairfield University campus.  The university continues to ignore the pleas of one of its finest alumni, Paul Kendrick ’72, for justice in the case and has banned Kendrick from its campus.  Kendrick’s Jesuit high school, Cheverus in Maine, has refused assistance to several victims of a high school teacher on that campus as well.

    When will the Jesuits get it right? 

    Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D.
    Road to Recovery, Inc. (Serving victims of sexual abuse)
    Livingston, NJ 07039

  • Anonymous

    “I don’t think that someone who makes these sorts of moral decisions should have any sort of leadership position in the Catholic Church,” Kaniff said.  — Does this include Ratzinger too?

Most Popular