“Current school administration only recently learned from the Marianist Province that the Mr. Botty pictured in the school’s 1978 yearbook was the same person convicted and imprisoned as a Marianist brother for crimes committed more than 35 years ago and not connected to his service at CJ,” said Daniel Meixner, Chaminade Julienne president, in a statement.
“Consistent with past practice, the school will support the Marianist Province’s plan to communicate with those who attended CJ during that school year. At this time, we are not aware of any claims of abuse made against Mr. Botty during his short time on the staff,” Meixner said.
The letter is signed by the Rev. Oscar Vasquez, the provincial — or chief executive — of the Marianists.
“The Marianists are committed to the safety of those we serve in our schools and ministries and we are working to prevent abuse from happening again in any school or other ministry we sponsor,” Vasquez says in the letter. “Please join me in prayer for all those who have been hurt by the sin of any form of abuse in our church. In the name of the Marianist Province of the United States I apologize to you for the sins of our brothers.”
Meixner and Vasquez have declined multiple interview requests.
‘It was quite a shock’
Botty was a member of the Marianist Province of Cincinnati, which was formerly headquartered in Dayton. In 2002, four Marianist provinces merged.
He pleaded guilty in 1986 to three counts of sexual battery and a single count of attempted sexual battery, according to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court records. The incidents occurred between 1983 and 1985, the records say.
Botty was accused of sexually abusing four students at the former Marianist-run St. Joseph High School in Cleveland, according to news reports published in the Dayton Daily News in 1986. The Marianists’ letter states the accusation was made in 1985.
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He unsuccessfully attempted to vacate his sentence while imprisoned, arguing that he was pressured into the plea deal to avoid “adverse publicity for the Marianist order,” according to court records. The Rev. Bertrand Buby, the former provincial of the Marianist Province of Cincinnati at the time of the case, said during a recent interview he was unaware of Botty’s appeal and claims of pressure.
Botty left the Marianists in 1992 and died in 2007.
Since 1973, the Marianists, who formerly ran the all-boys Chaminade High School, have shared membership — effectively, ownership — of Chaminade Julienne with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who formerly ran the all-girls Julienne High School.
The Marianists sponsor five high schools in Ohio, including Cincinnati’s Archbishop Moeller and Purcell Marian. The order additionally sponsors the University of Dayton. Both UD and CJ trace their founding back to St. Mary’s School for Boys, which the Marianists started in 1850.
For the Dayton Marianists, the Botty case was an eye-opener, Buby said.
“It was quite a shock,” Buby said. “That was the first time I ever encountered that in the Marianists.”
In retrospect, Buby said, the brothers in Cleveland missed clues. Buby said one Marianist brother “was totally unaware until he started reflecting on, ‘What were the students coming over at that time of night?’”
‘We have to protect our students’
Many Marianist priests and brothers credibly accused of abuse do not appear on lists already released by Catholic dioceses. That’s because the Marianists, like other Catholic religious orders, operate largely outside of the church’s geographical hierarchy of dioceses and archdioceses.
“The only potential path for healing they have is that the religious order would release the records and admit it did happen,” said Patrick Wall, a former priest and national expert on clergy sexual abuse. “They are sitting on the records.”
Vasquez said the order is waiting for guidance from the church. Other religious orders operating in the region have released lists, including the Jesuits who run Xavier University.
Buby believes it’s time to release the list.
“We have to protect our students and those who are teenagers and those who are younger. We have a responsibility for protecting them as if they were our own children,” Buby told the Dayton Daily News in a recent interview. “Because that’s what’s really required. That’s required.”
Contact this reporter at 937-259-2086 or email Will.Garbe@coxinc.com.