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Brebeuf reports abuse allegation against former school president from 1978

(WISH Photo, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A former president of Brebeuf Jesuit has been accused of abusing a minor.

An “allegation was established” against Brother Patrick Sheehy who served as president from 1987 until his death in 1992, the school said.

“The Province determined that the allegation was established and, therefore, Brother Sheehy’s name has been added to the Province’s public list of Jesuits (living or dead) with established allegations of abuse,” said Father Bill Verbryke, S.J., in a statement sent to the community on Friday morning.

According to the Midwest Province, an established allegation is “based on the facts and circumstances of each case wherein there is a reasonable certainty that the sexual abuse of a minor occurred.”

The incident happened in 1978 and has been reported to law enforcement and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

“As is often the case, and for a variety of reasons, allegations of abuse can be made decades after the abuse occurred,” said Verbryke. “No matter when an allegation is made, it is taken very seriously by Brebeuf Jesuit, the Midwest Province, and the Church itself.

The school is urging any victims of abuse to report it by sending an email to president@brebeuf.org or calling 317-524-7128. Contact can also be made to Marjorie O’Dea, Director of the Office of Safe Environment, Midwest Jesuits at 773.975.6363.

“Brebeuf Jesuit, in partnership with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, utilizes Safe and Sacred training for its faculty and staff as part of its ongoing commitment to the care and protection of children,” said Verbryke.

The full statement sent to the Brebeuf Jesuit community on Friday morning can be found below:

Dear Brebeuf Jesuit Community,

With anguish and disappointment, I write to our entire Brebeuf Jesuit community with news about a former and deceased leader of our school. The Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus has reported to us that it received and investigated an allegation of abuse of a minor against former Brebeuf Jesuit President, Brother Patrick Sheehy. The Province determined that the allegation was established and, therefore, Brother Sheehy’s name has been added to the Province’s public list of Jesuits (living or dead) with established allegations of abuse. The incident occurred in 1978.

As is the case for all established allegations, the Midwest Province has reported the matter to relevant law enforcement agencies, as well as the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Brother Sheehy died in 1992 after serving more than 25 years at Brebeuf Jesuit.  He served as president from 1987 to his death in 1992. As is often the case, and for a variety of reasons, allegations of abuse can be made decades after the abuse occurred.  No matter when an allegation is made, it is taken very seriously by Brebeuf Jesuit, the Midwest Province, and the Church itself.

First and foremost, we acknowledge the bravery demonstrated by the victim of this abuse and continue to hold this person in our prayers. The Midwest Province keeps names and details of all allegations confidential in deference to victims, but victims are always able to share their own experience as they see fit.

It is most important to make sure that any additional victims of abuse feel comfortable reporting their experience if they choose to. Anyone who has a personal account of abuse by Brother Sheehy is encouraged to contact me at president@brebeuf.org or 317.524.7128.  You may also contact Marjorie O’Dea, Director of the Office of Safe Environment, Midwest Jesuits at 773.975.6363, or in writing to Marjorie O’Dea at the Midwest Jesuits, 1010 N. Hooker Street, Chicago, IL 60642. 

Brebeuf Jesuit, in partnership with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, utilizes Safe and Sacred training for its faculty and staff as part of its ongoing commitment to the care and protection of children. All employees who have contact with children are required to complete the training prior to their first day of employment, service or ministry, even if they have completed other child protection programs at another organization. As part of this training, we are required to report any signs of abuse or misconduct between an adult and a student. Our school social worker and counseling staff are equipped to assist in executing the reporting and necessary support for our students.

Brebeuf Jesuit is a wonderful community of students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni.  We are united in our mission to provide an excellent college preparatory education to prepare future leaders for a lifetime of service.  Leadership and service are founded on honesty and accountability.  As we absorb this troubling news, we remain focused on these values.

Prayerfully,

Father Bill Verbryke, S.J.

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