South Sound News

Bellarmine releases names of 23 priests and brothers accused of sexual abuse

Bellarmine Preparatory School logo via wikimedia commons

TACOMA, Wash. — Bellarmine Preparatory School released on Friday the names of 23 Catholic priests and brothers suspected of sexually abusing a minor or vulnerable adult.

The names come from a master list of 111 suspected offenders released by Jesuits West Province, which includes the Jesuit high school at 2300 S. Washington St. in Tacoma.

Names on the list date back to 1950, according to Jesuits West. The master list includes two Jesuits who served at St. Leo Catholic Church in Tacoma but not at Bellarmine.

All the men listed are dead or presumed dead, according to a statement by Bellarmine. The most recent person on the list is James Poole, whose assignment to Bellarmine is listed as 1988-2003.

In a statement, Bellarmine president Robert Modarelli said the school has no specific information on the allegations and Jesuits West said the men included on the list were not necessarily found guilty of a charge.

Names ended up on the list only if there was a credible claim of sexual abuse agains them, Jesuits West said.

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It’s unclear why the Jesuits West released the list Friday. The organization said, in part, “We do so because the People of God demand and deserve transparency.”

The Bellarmine statement listing the 23 suspected offenders was sent to some members of the school community. An alumnae shared the statement with The News Tribune.

“I realize for many of us the publication of this list may bring forth renewed feelings of shock, sadness, and anger at the decades of abuse, concealment, silence and neglect,” Modarelli said in the statement.

He could not be reached Saturday and a phone message left with the school was not returned.

In the statement, Modarelli said the list was made public “to demonstrate the Jesuits’ commitment to provide transparency, and through this accountability help victims and families to find healing.”

He assured parents that measures are in place to protect Bellamine students and prevent a recurrence of similar crimes.

“While the gravity of these sins and crimes is most severe, it is important to recognize that the great majority of allegations included in the report are over two decades old,” Modarelli said. “This in no way excuses them or diminishes their seriousness, but it does help to highlight the fact that since 2002 many procedures have been put in place by the Church and by Catholic institutions to guard against their recurrence and do away with the conditions that allowed them to fester unchecked.”

The full list of accused priests and brothers in the Jesuits West Province numbers 111. During the 70-year period reviewed, 3,567 Jesuits served in the Jesuits West Province, which covers Washington, Oregon and California.

Bellarmine wasn’t the only local location where abuses allegedly occurred. Some men on the list served at more than a dozen of locations, according to Jesuits West.

For example, Rene Gallant served at Bellarmine from 1933-1935 and at St. Leo’s from 1935-1940. He also served in Port Townsend, California and Montana. Two Jesuits, Peter O’Grady and Patrick J. O’Reilly, served at St. Leo’s in the 1930s-1950s.

Also on the Bellamine release and the years they were at the school are:

James McDonough, 1971-1972, 1986-1989; Francis Nawn, 1988-1989; John McDonald, 1946-1948, 1959-1985; David King, 1963-1965; John A. Coughlin, 1963-1965; John Morse, 1955-1958; Harold Ernsdorff, 1957-1958;

Francis Duffy, 1948-1954; Sylvester Penna, 1950-1952; Charles Saalfeld, 1947-1948; Harold Greif, 1946-1948; Bernard Harris, 1946-1947; Patrick Conway, 1938-1945; Paul Corkery, 1940-1943;

Michael Toulouse, 1939-1940; Cornelius Murphy, 1938-1940; Augustine Ferretti, 1935-1938; Norman Donohue, 1933-1936; George Endal, 1933-1935; Francis Burns, 1932-1934; and Egon Mallman 1930-1932.

Jesuits West’s statement made no mention of investigations or charges beyond the church.

Some offenders were apparently were returned to ministry after their crimes became known and an attempt at rehabilitation was tried, according to Jesuits West.

"This was a failure on our part for which we have deep regret and are gravely sorry," Jesuits West said in a FAQ section of its release.

Other Washington locations where offending Jesuits served include Spokane, Seattle, Yakima, Omak, Coville and Port Townsend.

Jesuits West has hired an independent firm, Kinsale Management Consulting, to review its files.

“If additional names are identified, the Province will add them to the list and we will share that information with the community,” Modarelli said.

“On behalf of the Society of Jesus, I apologize to the victims and families who put their trust in a Jesuit, only to have that trust so profoundly betrayed,” said Father Scott Santarosa.

Santarosa urged victims to contact Mary Pat Panighetti, advocacy coordinator for Jesuits West, at 408-893-8398 or, and appropriate law enforcement and child-protective agencies.

Click here to read the fully story from Craig Sailor on the News Tribune.