Thu November 1, 2012
O'Dea HS Principal Resigns Amid Sex Abuse Claims
This story has been updated since it was first published.
A member of the Christian Brothers religious order who served as principal at Seattle’s O'Dea High School has resigned. Brother Karl Walczak is being accused of sexually abusing a minor in Chicago about 40 years ago.
The school is operated by the Christian Brothers but owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.
Seattle attorney Michael Phau has handled claims against Christian brothers and the archdiocese of Seattle. Phau says the allegation came to light as part of the more than 400 claims that have been filed across the country against Christian Brothers as part of a bankruptcy proceeding.
"I think what's interesting is that you have a sitting brother who had been accused of abuse, but apparently no one knew about this -- at least parents and families,” said Phau.
In a statement the Archdiocese said Walczak denies the allegations. Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni said he understood there was one person alleging multiple instances of abuse.
In a statement on the O'Dea website, the School Board chairman said the board learned of the accusation Wednesday.
O'Dea administrators reported last August that Walczak had been called back by the Christian Brothers to assist in resolving a claim filed in the Christian Brothers Institute bankruptcy proceeding.
Update: Nov. 1, 4:30 p.m. by Patricia Murphy
The claims came to light during bankruptcy proceedings for the Christian Brothers earlier this year.
Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) were outside the school Thursday speaking with reporters. They accused the archdiocese of trying to cover up the allegations.
Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni said the archdiocese couldn’t say anything sooner. Magnoni said the archdiocese was under a court order of confidentiality because the information was part of a federal bankruptcy proceeding. “We’ve been working on this since August and have just recently, at the judge's direction, received permission from all the parties involved," Magnoni said. He added that the parties are the Christian Brothers, the claimant, the claimant’s attorney, Walczak and Walczak's attorney.
SNAP member Scott Abraham says keeping the accusations confidential status keeps other potential victims from speaking up. “What kind of world do we live in when we give the perpetrator the ability to control the release of information? He should have been removed and they should have gone public the minute the accuser made his allegations.” Abraham says as a child he was repeatedly molested by a priest at a Chicago orphanage in the 1960s.