As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. — Proverbs 26:11
Readers have been sending in entries for the Will These Idiots Ever Learn? File. This one just came in from Austin:
A newly hired assistant principal at Westlake High School had been under criminal investigation last year for sending inappropriate text messages to a male student in a Chicago-area school where he was dean.
District officials said today that some school leaders were aware of Paul Weil’s history during a recent interview and vetting process, but hired him because he was the best candidate. However, a selection committee made up of school teachers and administrators were not informed of Weil’s background until after they had interviewed him, officials said. Once the committee learned of the incident, however, the members unanimously supported his selection.
Unanimously. Supported. His. Selection. According to the Austin American-Statesman, here’s what they knew before they hired this pervert:
Police records show the text exchanges began in September 2011 and included: “Pizza delivery boy? Hot” and, referring to a trip the student was taking, “Don’t come home with a venereal disease.”
In one exchange last March, Weil texted the student, “Such a funny boy you are. When are we gonna hang out so I can put you to work? I have long list of things for you to do.”
Westlake Principal John Carter, who took the helm of the Eanes district’s high school in 2012-13, was principal of Stevenson High at the time of Weil’s investigation.
If only public schools would let teachers get married, they wouldn’t have this problem. Seriously though, what is it about the judgment of professionals in bureaucracies? A teacher who sexts students — that’s not a massive red flag? I’m sorry, one strike and you find another career. There’s no way to keep every malefactor out of the teacher corps, but when you have advance notice that a teacher is so compulsive that he sends sex jokes and double entendres to students, you know you are dealing with a potential disaster.
Meanwhile, back at the Church, the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul left in ministry a priest they knew was sexually reckless, but didn’t think would mess with kids. And now Father Curt Wehmeyer has pled guilty to child molestation and possessing child pornography. From the Minnesota Public Radio report:
In public statements, the archdiocese expressed regret for “the pain caused by clergy misconduct” and offered support to victims. And it emphasized that it immediately reported the allegations to police. “They did the right thing,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in September 2012.
The message from the archdiocese was clear – this wouldn’t be like the many horrific clergy sex abuse cases that rocked the Roman Catholic Church a decade ago. Times had changed. The safety of children mattered more than the career of a predator priest.
The reality was far different. This wasn’t the first time Wehmeyer had been in trouble. Top archdiocese leaders knew of Wehmeyer’s sexual compulsions for nearly a decade but kept him in ministry and failed to warn parishioners, according to canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger, who resigned in April, and dozens of other interviews and documents.
A memo written in 2011 obtained by MPR News from police shows the former vicar general – the top deputy of the archdiocese – did not want parish employees to know about Wehmeyer’s past.
“At every step of the way, this could have been prevented,” Haselberger said. “This is just failure after failure after failure after failure.”
Why didn’t the archdiocese want the parish to know what they were dealing with? Because they didn’t want people to know that Father Curt is gay:
In the 2011 memo to the head of the archdiocese’s program for monitoring priests who posed a risk, McDonough explained why he thought parish employees didn’t need to know about Wehmeyer’s actions.
“I think that you share with me the opinion that he really was not all that interested in an actual sexual encounter, but rather was obtaining some stimulation by ‘playing with fire,’” McDonough wrote. “This sort of behavior would not show up in the workplace.”
McDonough also asked Wehmeyer for his opinion on whether to tell parish employees. Wehmeyer, who by that time had already sexually abused the children of a parish employee, advised against it.
McDonough wrote, “I agree with Father Curtis that disclosure there would only serve to out his sexual identity questions (which, by the way, would be unlikely to surprise any observant person in the parish!)”
The full memo by Father Kevin McDonough, the archdiocese’s vicar general, is even more damning. You can read it embedded in the MPR report. In it, Fr. McDonough says that they know Father Wehmeyer cruised places where anonymous gay sex occurred, and that he hit on a man at Borders, but the archdiocese was satisfied that the priest didn’t really mean it.
Here’s what happened. Here is what Fr. McDonough, the archdiocese’s top administrator, downplayed:
Three years later – in 2004 – Wehmeyer approached two young men ages 19 and 20 for sex at a Barnes & Noble store in Roseville. “It was really strange, the way he came on to us,” one of the men, Andy Chapeau, said in an interview with MPR News.
Wehmeyer leaned close to one of the men and said, “Are you f—horny right now?”
A Catholic parishioner and family friend who learned of the encounter took statements from the two men and sent them to McDonough, along with his own letter expressing alarm. The parishioner told McDonough that he had a 15-year-old son who attended a youth group with Wehmeyer.
Read the whole report. You think this story is over, but it’s not over. Will it ever be over? Who can possibly trust these people? Hey Pope Francis, you want to set a new tone? Hold a bishop accountable. Just one. Just one. Stand for justice and righteousness, not for clericalism and a false charity that protects predators.