More Chaminade grads allege sexual abuse

2012-02-07T00:00:00Z 2012-02-23T18:42:25Z More Chaminade grads allege sexual abuseBY MARLON A. WALKER • mwalker@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8104 stltoday.com

Several Chaminade College Preparatory graduates have come forward alleging that they were subjected to verbal and sexual abuse by two Marianists more than three decades ago, a leader of the Marianists said Monday.

The Rev. Martin Solma, provincial for the U.S. Marianists, said a male graduate came forward several months ago saying he had been sexually abused by the Revs. Louis Meinhardt and John Woulfe while at the school in the 1970s.

Meinhardt, who worked at the school from 1958 to 1982, died in 1990. Woulfe left the order in 1977 after nine years at the school. He died in 2005.

At the victim's request, letters were mailed to 1,600 former students who had graduated while the men worked at the school.

Solma said of the 75 responses received so far, 15 responded with "a range of remarks," including allegations of verbal and sexual abuse they had experienced at the hands of either man.

"It made me sad and it made me sick," Solma said. "Nobody should have to deal with this sort of thing and carry these sorts of memories into adulthood."

Solma said he wasn't sure why the former student chose to come forward with his allegations so many years later.

"People deal with it differently," he said. "It's certainly come to a head for him, and he felt he could tell his story."

Solma said some of the respondents acknowledged abuse and said it was something they had dealt with. Others were still reeling from the emotional toll the decades-old events had on them.

The abuse allegations will be forwarded to an independent review board, which will advise the group on the next step in dealing with what has been brought forth, Solma said.

"It's just a real sadness that this has happened," he said. "Our concern in all of this is we want to do everything we can, in a pastoral way, to help people heal from this."

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