Cathedral High School graduate finds validation after Springfield Diocese hears her sexual abuse complaint against the late Reverend Karl Huller
Sixteen years after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield reached agreements with two men who alleged they were sexually assaulted by the late Reverend Karl Huller while they were students at Cathedral High School in the 1960s, the diocese agreed as the claim of a third survivor that she had been sexually assaulted is credible. by Huller at school during the same period.
The diocese, which made financial deals with two men in 2004, accepted as credible in December a third survivor’s claim that she was assaulted by Huller at Cathedral High School in the 1960s.
The conclusion that “there are reasonable grounds to believe” his allegations against Huller, who was once superintendent of schools in the diocese, continues one current story that many defendants in the Diocese of Springfield held senior positions which helped cover up the abuses. Survivors who have come forward continue to say their allegations are not dealt with in a timely and transparent manner.
Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian is negotiating with diocesan attorney Kevin D. Withers of Egan, Flanagan & Cohen for financial compensation on behalf of the woman, but criticized the allegation being reported to the diocese in November 2019 and has yet to credibly publish all the names of the accused priests.
Failure to do so “continues the secrecy that prevents much needed validation for victims of clergy sexual abuse and puts children at risk,” Garabedian said.
Bishop William D. Byrne, who moved here in December, said he would update the published list to include all credible defendants. It provides for a number of other related reforms in a diocese sued by a survivor whose allegations that he was repeatedly raped in his youth by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon have been found credible.
Huller, who was ordained by Weldon in 1954, was an instructor, guidance counselor, and athletic director at Cathedral High School from 1959 to 1970, when he became director of the diocesan school. At the time of his death in 1997, at the age of 72, he was financial vicar of the diocese and rector of Saint-Michel cathedral. Its Bishop Marshall Center, which Huller helped design, once included a “Bro. Karl Huller Meeting Room.” It is still listed on the website of the center, although a photo of this honor has been removed from the online gallery Friday following an investigation by the Republican.
One of the men involved in the 2004 agreement with the diocese – which is part of a $ 7.5 million settlement involving claims against 18 priests by 46 claimants – said at the time that he s ‘expected such tributes to Huller to disappear. He claimed that Huller performed oral sex on him several times in a locked room at Cathedral High School, followed by a discharge that implied he had sinned. As a result of the abuse, he said he spent almost 20 years in and outside mental institutions.
The woman who reported allegations against Huller to the Springfield Diocese did so on November 21, 2019 through Garabedian, whose portrayal of cases of clergy sexual abuse dates back to the 1990s and was featured in the film “Spotlight”. She was questioned by diocesan investigators Brenda Burge and Norman Charest on August 18, 2020, in the presence of Garabedian, after the allegations were reviewed by the Hampden District Attorney’s Office.
She received a letter from the Diocese on December 11, 2020 stating that, based on the investigators’ report, the Diocesan Review Committee recommended “that there be reasonable grounds to believe the allegation that you were assaulted. sexually by Father Karl Huller twice ”and that“ Bishop McManus accepted the recommendation of the review committee. (The Bishop of Worcester, Robert McManus, served as apostolic administrator here for several months before Byrne’s installation.)
The woman, now a senior who no longer lives in Massachusetts, told the Republican she was motivated to bring her allegations forward through the MeToo movement, with more women speaking out against sexual assault and more survivors of sexual abuse in the clergy also speaking.
She said she asked the church for validation of what happened after five decades of silence.
Carolee McGrath, Diocese Media Relations Officer, said: “While we will not comment on the ongoing settlement negotiations, the Diocese remains committed to improving the way sexual abuse cases are handled taking into account the trauma. “
Huller’s defendant has requested that his identity be kept confidential when sharing his allegations. Here is his account:
“Father Huller was one of my religion teachers and I had some difficulty understanding some things, so I asked him if I could stay after school for a little help. He said sure and I did.
I was sitting and he came over to look at a question in the book and he put his hand on my chest and I stirred. I said what are you doing Go.’ He just laughed.
I was shocked and thought I should tell my mom about it when I got home, but also thought, hopefully, let it go and it won’t happen again. I tried to get him out of my mind.
Three or four weeks later I was having problems again and didn’t want to fail the course, so I asked if he could help me during the course. He told me he would help me, but not during class time, even though I had seen in other classes a student being helped by a teacher at the back of the class while someone – maybe from the office – would come and watch the class.
I went back there after class and I was the only one and he was sitting at his desk. I told him the problem with the chapter, and he gets up, comes to where I was sitting and says, ‘Show me.’ I started to get nervous and put the book away from me so that he didn’t stay near me while I showed him what I was having trouble understanding and he leaned behind me and he said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s too far, get up and take the book. So I did and he put his hand on my butt. I became crazy. I said, ‘What’s your problem. I inform you. He’s laughing.
I came home and told my mom about it and sure enough it was in the 1960s she said, ‘You must have misunderstood and he was just friendly. Priests don’t do that. I said that I hadn’t misunderstood and that this was the second time he had done it. I told her I was going to report it to the school and she said not to do it because I would cause a lot of problems for myself and the school. She didn’t validate what I said, but swept under the rug.
I was 17. I was always in his class, but I never came back to him if I had any problems. I would ask one of the students.
I never told anyone else about it. I felt like people didn’t believe me back then, so what’s the point now? But it was something that was always there and it made you very uncomfortable when you were in the company of men that you could go somewhere.
I become totally disillusioned with the Catholic Church. I have no confidence in the Catholic Church. Personally, I see no point in going to church.
I still had that in my head even though I didn’t dwell on it, then this MeToo movement started and people were reporting things that had happened to them even though a lot of years had passed.
A lot of years had passed for me too and I thought I should try to point it out and maybe it would help me heal. I thought if I would step forward and try to present my case, maybe other people would come out and tell what happened to them and help each other heal. People who didn’t want to report because no one had listened to them either.
I wasn’t sure if this would go anywhere, but I thought it might do something to get me to be at peace with it. It was important to me that maybe someone was listening this time. This happened to me over 55 years ago.
I contacted attorney Garabedian in October 2019.
The fact that they found it believable gave me some sort of validation. Now someone believes it.
He acted like it never happened and continued his teaching and I stayed away from him.
It was like he said it’s your word against mine. You are a student and I am a priest here and an authority. Do you think someone will believe you?
I graduated three or four months later and was glad I graduated.
Sometimes among friends we would talk about a few teachers here and there – typical kid stuff, but there was a boy who asked me what I thought of Father Huller and I just said I had followed. its going on and I was eager to graduate and leave. And he said, ‘He’s a little strange. He looks at me a lot and always looks in my direction in class, more than the others. I guess things have been going on for a while with boys and girls.