For decades now, the music of David Haas has been played in churches around the country, primarily Catholic but also other denominations with more traditional services. He was even nominated for a Grammy in 1991. Basically, his music was the soundtrack for a generation of worshipers with an average age of… older. Just older. His biography is several paragraphs long and there’s no shortage of awards he’s received, places he’s lectured, books he’s published, and groups he’s worked with.
That bio may need an important update.
On Friday, SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) reported on allegations accusing Haas of “sexually predatory and abusive behavior.” The accusations come from the group Into Account as well as people who work in the industry who contacted SNAP with stories.
Here’s the open letter posted by Into Account:
“The allegations we’ve received also contain a disturbing component of spiritual manipulation. Haas reportedly focuses attention on women with past histories of abuse, then uses the vulnerabilities created by trauma to create intimacy. Multiple women have reported to us that Haas is skilled at making his targets feel spiritually affirmed, seen, and loved, with a keen understanding of how that spiritual intimacy can then be exploited sexually.
Some women have described romantic relationships with Haas that felt consensual in the beginning, but were then marked by sudden, overwhelming sexual aggression from Haas, in which any resistance was met with extreme anger. Other women have described incidents that we would interpret as outright sexual battery, involving groping, forcible kissing, and aggressive, lewd propositions. The youngest victim reported to us was nineteen years old at the time of the alleged sexual battery, while Haas was over fifty.”
SNAP adds that this information isn’t coming out of nowhere. Haas had previously been the subject of a “disciplinary process” when he worked under the Archdiocese of Minneapolis – St. Paul. At this point, SNAP is posting this information in the hopes that more victims, if they exist, will come forth. They add: “We know that false allegations are rare and multiple false allegations are even rarer.”
GIA Publications, the company that has released most of Haas’ music, issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying that these allegations were brought to their attention “early this year” and that “we suspended our sponsorship and publishing relationship with Mr. Haas, and have not sponsored his work since late January.”
That doesn’t mean, however, they they’re going to stop selling his music or including it in hymnals that they sell to churches. Not yet, anyway. While the company “supports and stands with victims,” and while they urge other potential victims to share their stories with Into Account, they don’t seem to have a problem with churches playing his music… or victims hearing it, bringing back the trauma.
I suppose it would be simultaneously shocking and entirely predictable to find out even the music played in Catholic churches covered up cases of abuse. For now, it seems we just have to wait for more corroborating evidence.
(Screenshot via YouTube)