Update 3/20/19 1:30 p.m.: The graphic for this article has been updated. It previously stated that the University was planning on launching an investigation into Bennett's time at LMU, and that is inaccurate. LMU is not planning on launching an investigation into Bennett as it did with Farrington.
As revealed in a March 11 article by the Catholic News Agency, retired Bishop Gordon Bennett, a former LMU Jesuit, has been accused of sexually harassing a young adult. As a result, he is now restricted from engaging in any priestly or episcopal ministry.
These restrictions were announced after months of investigations into the allegations led by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. It was revealed that the allegations were initially filed in May 2006.
Shortly after, Bennett retired from his position as bishop of Mandeville, Jamaica, before moving to California for the purpose of receiving medical treatment and assessment for depression and fatigue, according to the aforementioned article.
Bennett started at LMU in August 2008, and continued to work for LMU for 10 years. During his time at the University, he was featured voicing over promotional videos, headlining lectures and more.
It is important to note that Bennett has not faced any allegations of sexual harassment from anybody in the LMU community since he began his position.
Similar allegations were made against a former LMU Jesuit, Brother William Farrington, in September 2012, as mentioned previously in the Loyolan. Farrington worked at LMU from 1987 to 2003.
The accusations of sexual abuse at the hands of Farrington came to light via a letter sent out to graduates of Bellarmine College Preparatory, a high school in San Jose, California, where Farrington worked prior to working at LMU. No accusations against Farrington pertaining to his time at LMU have been made.
In 1987, Farrington was barred from working with minors, prompting his transfer to LMU. According to the aforementioned article by the Loyolan, this was a common practice in the Catholic Church in the face of allegations against members, which entails moving the accused to a different location where he is unknown.
An investigation into Farrington’s time at LMU was launched by the University shortly after the accusations came to light, as detailed in another article by the Loyolan.
The investigation was conducted by two lawyers hired by the University and involved numerous interviews with various people in the community. There was no evidence found of sexual misconduct on Farrington’s part during his time at LMU.
According to Thomas Poon, executive vice president and provost, the University does not plan on launching an investigation into Bennett’s time at LMU as they did for Farrington.
“LMU is not currently conducting such an investigation, as the University has no record of allegations of misconduct against Bishop Bennett during his time at LMU,” Poon said. “Students, faculty and staff are always encouraged to report any incident of sexual misconduct to the University and to law enforcement.”
In December 2018, Jesuits West Province published a press release containing the names of various priests and brothers who have been accused of sexual abuse. Eleven of these priests and brothers had worked at LMU within the last 50 years.
Jesuits West Province released the statement because “the People of God demand and deserve transparency,” according to the press release. “We do so because we hope that this act of accountability will help victims and their families in the healing process,” it reads.
Out of the 11 names, Farrington had most recently worked for the University and is one of the only ones still alive. The other is Eugene Maio, who worked for the University from 1962 to 1967. The list only includes the names of people who have been accused of sexually abusing minors, which is why Bennett was not included.
Following this press release, LMU sent out an email to students encouraging those affected by the news to seek support through university resources such as LMU CARES.
Poon said that the University learned of the allegations only once they were publicly disclosed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Prior to the allegations being made public, the University was informed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore that they planned on releasing information about Bennett’s status, but they did not reveal anything specific.
A statement was sent to students upon the recent accusations against Bennett.
“LMU stands with those who may be affected by this new disclosure,” the statement said. “LMU CARES, Community of Care and the Employee Assistance Program provide resources and support for survivors of sexual misconduct. Students, faculty, and staff are always encouraged to report any incident of sexual misconduct to the university and to law enforcement.”