ROCKVILLE – Religious brothers who worked at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School decades ago had allegations of child sexual abuse made against them, according to a recently posted report by the Xaverian Brothers.
Brother Edward Driscoll, general superior of the Baltimore-based religious order, released the names of dozens of Xaverian brothers who had been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors. He cited “the present crisis in our Church” and Jesus’s statement, “the truth will set you free.”
A credible allegation means a preponderance of the evidence shows that “the allegation (of child sexual abuse) is more likely true than not,” according to the frequently asked questions about the Xaverian Brothers’ posted list of accused Brothers, published from July 12.
“In releasing the names of the Brothers who (allegedly) sexually abused innocent youth, we hope to help the victims with the healing process—theirs and ours. Additionally, by providing honesty and transparency, we will ensure accountability,” wrote Driscoll.
The Xaverian Brothers founded Good Counsel High School, then an all-boys school, in its former location in Wheaton in 1958. The school remained in Wheaton until its relocation to a brand-new, Olney campus in 2007. Good Counsel President Paul Barker said that all allegations pertaining to brothers who had worked at the school date back to Good Counsel’s Wheaton days.
Barker wrote in a letter emailed to alumni and school families on July 12, informing them of the list the Xaverian Brothers had released. The list included three religious brothers who had worked at the school and who were credibly accused, or, there was a preponderance of evidence that “the allegation is more likely true than not.”
An independent review board reviews the cases and determines whether each case is credible, and then presents it to the general superior of the brothers.
“An independent board of predominantly lay professionals from the fields of psychology, law enforcement, canon law and human resources evaluates accusations and subsequent investigations and makes a judgment on the credibility of the accusation,” according to the Xaverian Brothers’ frequently asked questions on the list of accused brothers.
The review board may also deem the allegations are credible if either the brother was convicted in court or the brother admitted to the allegation(s).
None of the brothers named in the list remains in active service as religious brothers, according to Driscoll. Those who worked at Good Counsel and were subject to credible allegations taught at the school in the 1960s, 1970s and 1990s.
The list of the accused Xaverian Brothers and their years of service start in the 1930s and spans decades. Driscoll wrote that a third party reviewed the list to ensure transparency.
George Gardiner, then-Brother Barton, joined the brothers in 1948. From 1953 to 1957, he worked at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore, according to the report.
Barker wrote that Gardiner worked at Good Counsel from 1966 to 1968, where he taught religion and English.
The brothers wrote that someone in 2013 alleged that Gardiner had abused a minor at a summer camp in Leonardtown, Maryland. The approximate time of the alleged abuse was “mid-1960s.” Gardiner withdrew from the brothers after taking a leave of absence from 1969 to 1970. The brothers did not give a reason why Gardiner took a leave of absence before leaving the order or if it was connected to the allegation. He withdrew from the Xaverian Brothers in 1970.
James McCormack, then-Brother Pierre, worked at Good Counsel from 1968 to 1972 as a teacher of French and Latin, Barker wrote. Driscoll wrote that McCormack withdrew from the Xaverian Brothers in 1997.
McCormack joined in 1960. The allegation of abuse against McCormack was reported in 1984 in Louisville, Kentucky. The approximate time of the alleged abuse is the early-1980s. From 1965 to 1967 he worked at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Maryland. After working at Good Counsel, he worked at St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky, from 1973 to 1984.
Then, in 1984, McCormack was removed from ministry with adolescents, the brothers wrote. He withdrew from the brothers in 1987.
William Retino, then known as Brother Vincent De Paul, worked at Good Counsel from 1993 to 1995 as a teacher of art and social studies, Barker wrote.
He joined the brothers in 1958, according to the Xaverian Brothers. Retino had an allegation of abuse reported against him in 1992 in Brooklyn, New York.. The approximate time of alleged abuse is the late-1960s to the early-1970s. From 1995 to 2000, he worked at St. Joseph by the Sea. There was no assignment listing for Retino between 2000 and 2006, the year he withdrew from the brotherhood.
Other Good Counsel staff were named in the report as being accused, but the allegations could not be fully investigated because the accused person had either died or left the order before the allegation or allegations was made.
Barker said the Xaverian Brothers informed him ahead of time that the list would be posted. He said the brothers never contacted the school to request any information for its investigation.
“We’re a Xaverian Brother Sponsored School, so, I see the brothers, I see my colleagues who run other Xaverian Brother Sponsored Schools often,” Barker said.
When asked if child abuse allegations may be discussed in future meetings with brothers and schools sponsored by the brothers, Barker said, “I don’t know what, if anything, will be on any agenda.”
When asked if counseling and an apology offered by the Brothers were enough, Barker said he had no comment.
In August 2018, Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, said that no apology will be enough to make amends to abuse survivors. Francis wrote a letter to “the people of God” with guidance about responding to the then-recent abuse scandal following the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. The report detailed decades of apparent cover-up by church officials of allegations of clergy abusing powers and privileges to sexually abuse minors.
“Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient,” Francis wrote in August 2018. “Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
Prior to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, news outlets reported that the then-retired leader of the Archdiocese of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, was accused of abusing a male decades earlier. Church authorities would later remove his title as retired archbishop and then his cardinal title, meaning he could no longer join the college of cardinals in Rome to elect the next pope. Eventually, he was forbidden from performing any priestly responsibilities such as hearing confessions or saying Mass.
Barker said he was grateful the Xaverian Brothers posted the list.
“As (…) one of the entities in which they have served, for us to (be able to) more explicitly communicate with our community is a good thing,” Barker said about the list of the accused.
Barker said he has received a positive response to the letter he sent by email. People including members of the first four-year class of the school — the class of ’62 — thanked him for sending the information.