As is always the case when I write anything, more people have contacted me about predators who worked at the school, and corruption at Prep, since my book came out.
One gentleman who is a graduate of the Class of 1981 contacted me about the sex abuse cover up for the former principal, Brother Michael Moran. He was present in a meeting with Brother Leonard in 1985. This is his statement:
" I read the recent post by John Gerrard on SFP’s Facebook page, and was heartbroken, but glad that he had the courage to come forward in such a public forum. I wish him the best as he continues on his journey for justice. In light of that post, I thought I would share a story with you.
I am a 1981 graduate of SFP. In 1980, my junior year, Brother Richard McCann came on the loudspeaker and announced that Brother Michael Moran was ill, and would no longer continue as principal; Brother Richard told us that he himself would take over the reins. Later, we were told that Brother Michael had had a nervous breakdown, and could no longer function in his job.
The rumors began almost instantaneously – Brother Michael had molested a freshman boy and had been arrested, but the charges were “made to go away” by the Franciscan powers-that-be. A number of classmates had relatives in the NYPD, and they reported that the rumors about the arrest were true. The rumors also were that Brother Michael was sent to Ireland for “treatment.”
I remember thinking at the time that the rumors were likely true, because it was such an unusual tale, and I thought it would be odd for someone to make something like that up. The rumors persisted in the weeks that followed, but no further information was forthcoming.
I remember one day, outside the west side of the library, I had a conversation about the incident with Father Cooney, the SFP chaplain at the time and a very close friend of Brother Michael. I asked Father Cooney about whether the rumors were true. I liked Father Cooney because he was always smiling and had a very nice disposition. That day, however, he got angry, red-faced, and loudly berated me for spreading such rumors (even though all I did was ask him if the rumors were true).
The matter more or less died down and I continued my education at SFP, graduating in June 1981.
I really never thought much about the incident until it resurfaced sometime in 1985 or 1986.
Anyhow, I had a friend at the time (let’s call him Billy), who also had attended SFP, but transferred to another high school before the Brother Michael incident. One day, Billy said to me, “Remember the story you once told me about Brother Michael Moran? - well I have a friend (let’s call him Sam) that knows Brother Michael and is having similar problems with him.”
Billy proceeds to tell me that Sam is a freshman at Hofstra University in Long Island, and that Brother Michael is the campus minister. Apparently, Sam was in a sexual “relationship” with Brother Michael and was extremely bothered by it and wanted to talk to someone. So, Billy set up a meeting where I could talk to Sam.
I met Sam shortly thereafter, and he told me the following story. Sam recently admitted to himself that he was gay, was having problems with it, and was not comfortable with who he was. He went to see Brother Michael, the campus minister, to talk about the issues he was having with his sexuality. After a number of meetings, the relationship turned sexual, and Brother Michael would take Sam along on religious retreats, where the two of them would have sex. Brother Michael told Sam that the sex was “therapy” to help him deal with his sexuality. Sam felt bad about it, and felt he was being taken advantage of, but did not know how to stop it. I asked Sam if he ever had heard about the 1980 incident where Brother Michael molested the SFP student. Sam told me that yes, he knew about it, and that Brother Michael told him the story and admitted his misconduct.
Although the two incidents were not exactly similar (because Sam was an adult [barely] whereas the SFP student was a minor), but they were sufficiently similar to cause me concern. We have a campus minister having sex with a student and telling him that the sex was therapy. It was outrageous misconduct, and Brother Michael had to be removed.
The next day, I called SFP and asked to speak to Brother Leonard Conway, the principal at the time. I told Brother Leonard what Sam had told me – that Brother Michael was sexually involved with (and took advantage of) a Hofstra student that sought only spiritual guidance. I also told him that Brother Michael had told Sam about his culpability in the 1980 incident. Brother Leonard asked me to come into SFP to meet with him in person.
A few days later, I showed up at SFP for my meeting with Brother Leonard. My friend Billy was with me, but Sam did not want to go (he was too scared.) When I went into the room, there were about 5 or 6 people with Brother Leonard. Several of them were higher-ups in the Franciscan organization, and there were two lawyers as well.
So, I proceeded to repeat the whole story. When I finished, Brother Leonard said, “Thank you for coming in.” I said, “Is that it? What are you going to do? You have to get this man removed from Hofstra.” Someone, I don’t recall who, told me these were just allegations. Tellingly, not one of them ever even asked to meet with Sam, or otherwise asked for his contact information.
I persisted, and told them that they had to take immediate steps to have Brother Michael removed, and that I would not back down. The discussion became heated at that point, and I again was told that these were just allegations.
And then, they threatened me. One of the lawyers told me that if I continued to make these allegations, I would be sued for slander. Knowing a little bit about the law of defamation, I said, “Well, truth is an absolute defense to slander, so go for it. I have truth on my side, and I have morality on my side, so if you want to sue me, I’m ready.” The meeting abruptly ended.
I left the meeting feeling somewhat triumphant, but mostly scared. I was only 22 or 23 at the time, and was terrified that they might actually sue me. Although I was confident that I could win any such lawsuit, I didn’t have any money to pay for lawyers. I was also scared about the prospect of going up against a mammoth organization like the Catholic Church. I decided to wait and see what would happen, hoping that my persistence would cause them to take action.
Several weeks later, I learned that in fact, Brother Michael left Hofstra. I also learned that at the time this all happened, he was on the verge of being elected to a high position in the NYC Franciscan order, but that he never got that promotion."
Do you feel sick after reading this? I feel sick. But I am not shocked. Brother Leonard is a HUGE HYPOCRITE. He's just about the most disgusting person I've ever met. (Principal Pat McLaughlin and Assistant Principal Christopher Mendolia tie for second.)
So continuing along these lines, I received an email from a Prep insider today (who identified him/herself, and is extremely credible) to let me know the following:
One of the maintenance men, let's call him "F", broke into Brother Robert Kent's office and stole alumni association caps and tshirts. He was caught. To that, Brother Leonard had this proposition: He remembered that "F" is cousins with Julio of Julio Travel Tour in East Elmhurst. Brother Leonard told "F" that he can continue to work at Prep if Julio registered him (Brother Leonard) as a travel agent with his company, so that he can book discount trips for himself and his "traveling companion," Alan. (By the way, Brother Leonard always brings Alan along on vacation. Every vacation, every time.) Julio could not be reached for comment.
What happened to the Franciscan vow of poverty? It reads as follows:
All the sisters and brothers zealously follow the poverty and humility of Our Lord Jesus Christ. "Though rich" beyond measure (2 Co 8:9). He emptied Himself for our sake (Phil 2:7) and with the holy virgin, His mother, Mary, He chose poverty in this world. Let them be mindful that they should have only those goods of this world which, as the apostle says, "having something to eat and something to wear, with these we are content (1 Tim 6:8). Let them particularly beware of money. And let them be happy to live among the outcast and despised, among the poor, the weak, the sick, the unwanted, the oppressed, and the destitute.
I don't recall ever reading that it was OK for a Franciscan Brother to be moonlighting as a travel agent, or as anything else but a poor Franciscan Brother, for that matter. I guess the vow of poverty is a joke, you know, like the idea that a school administration should not allow known child predators to work in the building for decades - Robert Stenger, Brother DeSales Pergola, etc.
I am already working on book two in a series about St. Francis Prep. I am not stopping until people who let child rapists go free are removed from St. Francis Prep forever. I am also proud to say my documentary about the school has big backers, including Academy Award winners. Most people don't like people who allow children to be hurt for decades, and who pretend they are doing God's work.
The truth always comes out. Sometimes it takes a while, but it gets there. Dear reader, we are now on a speeding train.