At least seven Marianists, men from the order of priests and brothers that sponsor the University of Dayton and Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School, were assigned to ministry in Dayton before or after facing accusations of inappropriate behavior or sexual abuse, including cases involving children under age 10, a Dayton Daily News investigation found.
The allegations involve former high-ranking officials at both schools, including a former University of Dayton admissions director and a principal at the former Chaminade High School. One of the allegations, against a former University of Dayton faculty member, has never been made known until now, after the Dayton Daily News began asking questions.
Two of the accused men were convicted. Others never faced charges or died before victims came forward. One accused man, a former Chaminade teacher, left the Marianists and — if alive — reportedly cannot be found. All of the known allegations found by this newspaper are from outside Ohio. There is no record of the accused Marianists in this report abusing students at either local school.
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Many allegations are from graduates of North Catholic High School in Pittsburgh and are described in a 900-page Pennsylvania grand jury report accusing more than 300 vowed religious of collectively abusing more than 1,000 children across Pennsylvania, though the report said, “the real number — of children whose records were lost, or were afraid to ever come forward — is in the thousands.”
The Society of Mary has ministered in Dayton since 1849, when the first Marianists arrived to tend to cholera victims. In a statement, the Marianist Province of the United States said the order “is deeply saddened and ashamed of the recent revelations of abuse allegations in our church including some Marianists.”
“The Marianists are committed to cooperating with law enforcement for any reports of sexual abuse and protecting minors from this grave evil,” the statement said, noting a “robust program” was established in 2002 for protecting minors and the vulnerable.
Both UD and Chaminade Julienne, the co-ed successor to the former all-male Chaminade, said the organizations have policies and procedures in place to address sexual abuse allegations.
UD “has long had policies and procedures in place for handling any allegations of sexual abuse or harassment and any member of our community who feels they have been violated or made uncomfortable through unwelcome sexual behavior — no matter how long ago — is strongly urged to make a report, either through the university’s equity compliance office or to civil authorities or both,” the university said.
Daniel Meixner, president of Chaminade Julienne, earlier this week released a statement.
“Along with other Catholic men and women in our nation and around the world, we are horrified by the news coming out of the grand jury report in Pennsylvania,” Meixner said. “We grieve for those who suffered any harm at the hands of priests and vowed religious who were entrusted to be their shepherds of faith. In our distress and anger, we join the call for accountability for them and for those bishops, priests, and religious leaders who protected or shielded them.”
CJ “has joined the efforts of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to create a safe environment for our students through rigorous employee background checks and continued child protection training required of all employees and volunteers,” Meixner said.
A look at those the newspaper found:
Brother John Keegan
A 1952-53 yearbook picture shows 14 boys standing around the upright piano as Brother John Keegan played songs from the Chaminade High School variety show. Keegan, the “well liked and capable” Glee Club moderator, and “his elite group of choristers” were rehearsing for the Dayton school’s debut show, the yearbook said.
Three years later at a high school outside Pittsburgh — and for the next four years until 1960 — Keegan sexually abused a male student, fondling him and offering to “examine” the boy’s penis because of his masturbation habits, the grand jury report alleges. Keegan’s victim was the fourth of six adults in 2014 to accuse him of sexual abuse decades earlier.
One man told the Diocese of Pittsburgh that Keegan made him read from an “obscene, vile sexual script” in a failed attempt to give the boy an erection. Another man said Keegan, years earlier the assistant band director at Chaminade, asked to examine the teen’s genitals while they were together in North Catholic High School’s band pit.
Keegan, a 1948 University of Dayton graduate, left the order in 1962, according to news reports. His whereabouts are unknown.
Brother Francis Meder
Abuse allegations against Brother Meder started in 2011 when an adult female in Pennsylvania reported he inappropriately touched her in the late 1950s when she was age eight or nine.
Four adult males then came forward in 2014 accusing Meder of abuse in the 1950s and 1960s, when they were under age 11. The allegations include spanking and fondling after offering children candy and leftovers from the cafeteria. Meder died in 1976.
One victim said Meder “often gave the children pop and candy. He would then line the children up, and have them take turns sitting on his lap in a rocking chair in his office,” the report said. “He recalled that as a child, he ‘always wondered what was in Brother Franks’ pants.’ When he got older, he realized that Brother Frank had an erection.”
Meder, who died in 1976, worked in maintenance at UD from 1942 to 1947 and at Chaminade from 1947 to 1948.
Brother William Hildebrand
Records reviewed by the newspaper provide few details about Brother William Hildebrand, who appears in the 1947 Chaminade yearbook. No job is listed alongside his name. In Pittsburgh, he was a Latin teacher and managed the bookstore, where some of the abuse occurred behind the counter, the grand jury report said.
In 2014, five adult males reported they were abused by Hildebrand, the grand jury report said. The allegations included inappropriate touching and genital groping during the 1950s and 1960s.
Hildebrand died in 1979 and had no known connection to UD, school officials said.
Brother Julius May
Brother Julius May, of Miamisburg, worked at Chaminade in 1928 and again from 1940 to 1946, when he served as principal and director of the religious community, according to a 1970 press release from the University of Dayton, where he died after alleged misconduct in Pennsylvania.
May graduated from UD in 1928 and taught at North Catholic High School outside Pittsburgh from 1960 until early 1970. He taught at nine schools, including the former Hamilton Catholic High School in Hamilton from 1929 to 1931, and Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Kentucky from 1957 to 1960.
According to the Pennsylvania grand jury, in 2011 an adult male reported when he was a student at North Catholic during the 1963-1964 school year, he had developed a medical condition known as orchitis, a form of mumps that settles in the testicles. He said May, who was a counselor at the high school, demanded to conduct a medical examination of his genitals. He refused and left May’s office.
In May 2014, a 66-year-old male reported he was inappropriately touched by May when he was a student at North Catholic during the 1962-1963 school year. He accused May of running his hand up his pant leg. The young man left before May touched his genital area, the report said. When he informed the principal of May’s actions, the principal passed off the experience as May just being friendly, the grand jury wrote.
In 1970, May died in the University of Dayton’s health center after an extended illness, according to the press release announcing his death. He never worked at the university.
An unnamed Marianist
In answering questions from the Dayton Daily News, the Marianists and the University of Dayton voluntarily revealed existence of a 1977 case previously unknown to the public.
The allegations, made in 2009 while the Marianist worked at the university, accused him of “inappropriate behavior that was not abusive in nature” in another state decades ago.
The Marianist, who was not named by either organization, was suspended from public ministry, no longer lived on campus, and did not teach as an investigation was underway. Authorities in the unidentified state were contacted, the province said, noting prosecutors declined to press charges and no lawsuits were filed.
UD said it never received complaints of misconduct. The individual did not return to UD, the university said.
Brother Ralph Mravintz
Students at the University of Dayton from 1965 to 1974 were admitted to the university by Brother Ralph Mravintz, the former admissions director who once touted the university to prospective students as “a good place to be — people can make mistakes here and learn from them.”
A 1986 Pittsburgh Press report said Mravintz, then age 60 and a North Catholic staff member, “pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct after the original charge that he molested a student was reduced. … Mravintz was accused of making sexual overtures to a 15-year-old boy between October 1984 and February 1985. He was also accused of fondling the teenager.”
Mravintz, who died in 2006 at Miami Valley Hospital, graduated from UD in 1950. The Marianists said he has no known connection to Chaminade High School. A Dayton Daily News obituary shows he worked at Moeller High School in Cincinnati and the former Hamilton Catholic.
Brother Bernard Hartman
A newspaper picture shows a beaming Brother Bernard Hartman showing off his stained glass-style artwork, made with markers and inspired by the Dayton Flyers. On his shirt across his chest is a geometric design he made celebrating 50 years as a Marianist brother. The 2009 interview he gave to the Dayton Daily News Neighbors section about his love of art yielded no sign of the victims he left behind, half the globe away in Melbourne, Australia.
For more than a decade, Hartman lived in Dayton under a “safety plan” enacted by the religious order after the Marianists received a letter from the Archdiocese of Melbourne alleging Hartman abused young women there in the 1970s, this newspaper reported in 2015. The plan prevented him from being involved in ministry “with children, adolescents or vulnerable women, nor could (he) be alone with, or visit families with children or adolescents.”
Hartman, a science teacher, taught at Chaminade from 1961 to 1963, then at North Catholic from 1986 to 1997, when he was removed from teaching duties.
He lived under the safety plan in Dayton until 2012, before being sent to Australia in 2013 at the request of authorities there. The Marianists sent letters to Chaminade and North Catholic graduates, seeking information about Hartman and other brothers.
The Australian court found he sexually assaulted two young girls, age nine or 10, from 1973 to 1979, and fondled a teenage boy in 1981 and 1982, hitting him in the ribs and head when he tried to resist. He was sentenced in 2015 to three years in prison, with one year suspended.
One female victim, according to the court records, spoke of “being unable to have told her adoptive parents of the ‘unspeakable truth’ that their dear friend and member of the church had betrayed their charity and generosity and sexually abused their only daughter in their own house.”
Now released from prison, the 78-year-old Hartman now lives in a nursing and rehabilitation facility on the outskirts of St. Louis, according to a Missouri sexual offender database. An attempt to reach Hartman this week by phone was unsuccessful.
His male victim told the newspaper in 2015, “I was scared and angry and didn’t know how to stop him as nobody would have believed me over a brother.”
“I was so messed up I even thought about bringing a gun to school to finally stop him,” he said. “He only stopped the assaults after I threatened to kill him if he touched me again.”
Contact this reporter at Will.Garbe@coxinc.com
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