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Marianists to pay $300,000 over allegations of sexual abuse at Chaminade prep school

Marianists to pay $300,000 over allegations of sexual abuse at Chaminade prep school

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CLAYTON • The Marianists have agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed he was sexually abused decades ago by a teacher at Chaminade College Preparatory School, the man’s attorneys said Friday.

The lawsuit alleged that Brother Louis Meinhardt sexually abused the plaintiff, then a boy, during a typing tutoring session. It also said the Marianists at Chaminade knew of Meinhardt’s reputation.

In a prepared statement, the man, identified only as John Doe 116, called officials’ failure to stop Meinhardt “both appalling and unacceptable.” Doe said that the first time Meinhardt was suspected of sexual abuse, it should have been reported to police.

“Had the law been followed, I am convinced Meinhardt may not have even been there to abuse me, because he had likely already been sexually abusing kids at Chaminade for 13 years. I now pray for all the kids Meinhardt sexually abused before and after he sexually abused me,” he said.

Meinhardt, who died in 1990 at age 88, was not named as a defendant.

The Marianist leader, the Rev. Martin Solma, said in a statement Friday that the province agreed to the settlement to “bring some resolution, and hopefully, healing to the person involved.”

“Until these allegations were brought to light, the Marianist Province had no records or reports to indicate that anyone at the school was aware of abusive behavior by Meinhardt,” Solma said. “With the accused and his supervisors long deceased, it is impossible to obtain accurate information about the administration of the school from that period of time.

“We remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of everyone at our sponsored ministries. Abusive behavior is deeply harmful to the young and a betrayal of a religious vocation. We express regret and apology to anyone harmed ...” he said.

Doe’s lawsuit was filed in 2012, and said he had repressed memories of the abuse until a visit to the school in Creve Coeur in 2011 or 2012.

Meinhardt worked at Chaminade from 1958 to 1982. The suit said one of his nicknames was “the kissing coach.” It claimed he watched the boys shower, grabbed their genitals and had some common catch phrases that included, “Come here and give me loving.”

In March, a St. Louis County Circuit Court judge rejected attempts by the Chaminade and the Marianist Province of the United States to dismiss the case on the grounds that the statute of limitations had passed.

At the time, Doe’s lawyers said that a letter to 1,600 former students sparked 30 letters in response claiming knowledge of sexual abuse by Meinhardt.

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