University discloses results of sexual misconduct review

ELISHA VALLADARES-CORMIER
CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST

A total of six priests, whose service at Franciscan University spanned from 1967-2012, were found to have substantiated reports of unwelcome sexual contact, according to a report released by the university April 12.

The report was the result of a months-long process dating back to last summer, when the Rev. Sean Sheridan, TOR, president of the university, announced that Husch Blackwell LLP, a firm specializing in Title IX compliance, would review the university’s records pertaining to past allegations of sexual misconduct by clergy and non-clergy employees at Franciscan.

The report released by the university, which was approved by the Board of Trustees, reviewed 65 potential incidents dating back to the 1960s. Of the 65 reviewed potential incidents, 14 were of unwanted sexual contact, and nine of those were found to be substantiated.

The rest of the potential incidents involved reports of various other forms of sexual harassment, misconduct by clergy and non-clergy that did not occur during their time at Franciscan, complaints regarding policies and procedures and reports misclassified as involving a sexual element, the report said.

Three TOR friars had allegations of unwelcome sexual contact made against them during their time at Franciscan.

The Rev. Sam Tiesi, TOR, received multiple allegations during his time at Franciscan. The timeframe of the reported conduct was 1978-1992, Tiesi’s first stint at the university. He returned in 1997 and remained until his death in 2001.

The former Rev. Conrad McGuire, TOR, was reported to have a romantic and sexual relationship with a student counselee taking place between 1978 and 1980. McGuire was laicized in 1988; the alleged misconduct was McGuire’s only reported offense during his time at the school.

The Rev. Simeon Mulkern, TOR, was reported to have sexual contact with a student counselee in 1969. Mulkern was a member of the faculty from 1967 to 1972 and died in 2016. This was the only allegation reported against him.

Three other priests who had been affiliated with the university were listed on the report for allegations against them that had not occurred during their time in Steubenville.

The Rev. John Bertolucci, a priest of the Diocese of Albany, was a faculty member from 1977-1987 and 1991-1993 and an intermittent speaker at the university from 1993-1999. He died in 2015.

The Rev. Vincent Inghilterra, from the Diocese of Trenton, was removed from ministry in 2013 after serving as associate director of the Priestly Discernment Program from 2010-2012.

Joseph Moore, formerly a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, served in various capacities at Franciscan from 1986-1989, including as a dorm director. He was laicized in 2004.

The report also outlined seven action steps the university plans to take in addition to the 13 already in place. These include the creation of a lay committee to oversee the university’s processes regarding sexual misconduct, new protocol for dealing with clergy and non-clergy that have had credible allegations of unwelcome sexual contact placed against them, and new mandatory training for those involved in spiritual advising.

While the university released the results of Husch Blackwell’s report, it said in its disclosure that it will not release the full report because it is a confidential report that includes “discussion of factual details that would be inappropriate for public disclosure” due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

In the introduction to the disclosure, Sheridan and the Rev. Malachi Van Tassell, TOR, chair of the Board of Trustees, apologized for the harm caused to the faith and trust of many in the university and reaffirmed their commitment to taking sexual misconduct seriously.

“If new information comes to light as a result of additional reports, the list disclosed today will be updated, and any priest or employee with a substantiated allegation of unwelcome sexual contact, and who is still in service, will be removed from ministry at our University,” the introduction says.

The university’s disclosure of the results can be found on its Integrity and Truth website, which also includes a link for people to make a report of abuse.

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