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Former Gonzaga President Disgracefully Left Office

September 13, 2006

On Friday, September 8, Gonzaga revealed that a former university president’s 1969 resignation due to “health problems” was not actually all that it appeared. Apparently Father John Leary had been given twenty-four hours notice by Spokane, WA, police to leave town or face arrest after being caught “abusing boys and young men.” I first saw an excerpted version of the story at History News Network (HNN), but their excerpt came from a September 11 piece in Inside Higher Ed.

Gonzaga officials report that they only recently became aware of the cover-up. Father Leary served as Gonzaga’s president from 1961-1969. In 1966 he was accused of abuse, but his denial of the allegations prevented any further investigation. Father Leary went on to found an alternative, higher education institution in California, the New College of California. He died in 1993 at the age of 75.

I wonder how many more of these stories are going to slowly surface in the next ten years or so? Most priest abuse stories have centered on parish priests. I believe this could be the biggest associated with a Catholic college or university. – TL

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