Rev. James Poole had at least 20 victims during his career with the Catholic Church. Court documents show one victim was only six years old. Another, who was impregnated by him at the age of 16, was forced to get an abortion before Poole blamed her father (who later went to prison).
Yet from 2003 until 2015, Poole lived in comfort, with little to no oversight, on the campus of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Reporters from Reveal from the Center For Investigative Reporting published a story days ago about how Gonzaga was home to nearly two dozen predatory priests until as recently as 2016.
The general public didn’t know about any of their abuses.
For more than three decades, Cardinal Bea House near Gonzaga’s campus served as a retirement repository for at least 20 Jesuit priests accused of sexual misconduct that predominantly took place in small, isolated Alaska Native villages and on Indian reservations across the Northwest, an investigation by the Northwest News Network and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.
Internal Jesuit correspondence shows a longstanding pattern of Jesuit officials in what was then the Oregon Province — an administrative area that included Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska — privately acknowledging issues of inappropriate sexual behavior, but not releasing that information to the public, which avoided scandal and protected the perpetrators from prosecution.
The story itself is damning. And then another shoe dropped yesterday, when two priests who served as vice presidents of Gonzaga resigned after people questioned their handling of abusive priests in general pointed in the direction of justice.
That priest? James Poole. Case said he was unaware of Poole’s litany of abuses, but after working at that hospital for over a decade, he “retired” on Gonzaga’s campus in 2003. (Poole died this past March.)
The other resigning administrator is Rev. Pat Lee, whose reason for leaving isn’t clear just yet. However he was well aware that predatory priests were living on campus since he informed then-Bishop Blase Cupich (now the head of the Archdiocese of Chicago) about the situation in 2011.
The bigger story here is how a Catholic institution sheltered predatory priests so they could live a comfortable life, all while their victims suffered for decades after the abuse. They didn’t inform students or the general public that these priests were part of their community. They didn’t turn them in to authorities. They just participated in the cover-up. (Cupich, by the way, has been seen as one of the reformers of the Church in the wake of the abuse scandals.)
If you are Catholic and still giving money to the Church in any capacity, this is what you’re supporting. Even if the abuse, in large part, took place decades ago, the cover-up has been going on ever since. Catholic leaders have shown they can’t be trusted.
(Screenshot via YouTube)