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BREAKING: Former LMU Jesuit accused of sexual harassment

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Update 3/13/19 10:24 p.m.: This article has been updated. It originally stated that a March 11 press release detailed sexual assault by Bishop Bennett. In fact, the press release detailed sexual harassment. 

Former LMU Jesuit and retired Bishop Gordon Bennett has been accused of sexual harassment, according to an article by the Catholic News Agency.

Bennett will no longer be able to perform any priestly or episcopal ministry. This status only applies to work in the Archdiocese of Baltimore or the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, the archdiocese said in a press release on March 11.

Archbishop Lori of Baltimore and five lay experts revealed the allegation was filed against Bennett in May 2006. Three months later, Bennett resigned from his Jamaican diocese, which he held for only two years. He retired in August 2006 at 60 years old, reportedly due to health issues. The ordinary retirement age for bishops is 75.

Bennett is currently listed as a member of Alpha Sigma Nu at LMU on the LMU website, but the University said he left in August 2018. When asked for comment, Father Deck, the rector of LMU Jesuits program said they were "very sad" to hear about the incident.

Bennett worked at LMU for ten years and became a prominent figure at the University. He narrated a marketing video for LMU titled “Fall in Love at LMU,” which was deleted on March 11, when the press release detailing the sexual harassment came out. He has also spoken out at many lectures and Jesuit events, such as “The Wit and Wisdom of LMU’s Jesuits” and a “Jubilee Year of Mercy” lecture series. His speech at Mission Day in 2010 called on crowd to “maintain Ignatian principles.”

Bishop Bennett received a position at LMU in August 2008, only two years after moving to California for “medical assessment and treatment for fatigue and depression,” according to the Catholic News Agency.

A policy for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, went into affect in January 2019, allowed them to investigate allegations of their bishops. The Loyolan previously reported on sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Church in September 2018 and about Jesuit West’s release of names of accused priests in January 2019. Bennett was not included on that list. 

When asked why Bennett was not included on that list, Jesuits West' director of communications Tracey Primrose said that sexual abuse of minors and the sexual harassment of an adult is "very different." And that the list was only to include the former.

Since the allegations were made public, the University has sent a press release to the LMU community acknowledging the information released and claiming that Bennett has no record of allegations of misconduct at LMU. The University said further questions should be directed to Jesuits West Province.

The Loyolan is following this story as it develops. Follow the Loyolan on social media for updates.

Isabella is a junior political science major from Seattle, Washington and Costa Rica. You can find her playing tennis or eating Asian food.

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