Friday Round-up: Aldana, Adrian, Arizona, and the AG

It’s been an interesting week:

Ricardo “Richard” Aldana is goin’ to the pokey

Former JSerra High School teacher Richard Aldana was convicted on three felony counts of lewd acts upon a child. The victim was a 14-year-old student. Aldana faces up to eight years in jail.

JSerra is an independent (not owned by the Diocese of Orange) Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

Aldana: Convicted of lewd acts with 14-year-old, faces up to 8 years
Aldana: Convicted of lewd acts with 14-year-old, faces up to 8 years

When allegations against Aldana became public in 2011, students rallied around the former Spanish teacher, wearing “Free Aldana” t-shirts, setting up a Facebook page demanding school officials reinstate him, and harassing the victim.

They disguised themselves as supporters, but were instead uninformed, attack mobs trying to silence victims. Fortunately, the police aren’t intimidated by a bunch of affluent high school punks.

Which leads us to our next story:

Adrian, Michigan: Taking victim harassment to a whole new level

My May 15 post about admitted child sex offender Thomas Hodgman went viral. The post was viewed more than 10,000 times, shared on almost 1700 Facebook pages, and generated 82 comments.

And the comments were nasty. Fortunately, with a huge public court win, tons of public documents and the truth on my side, the commenters did little more than show the sad, reckless and dangerous state of higher education in Michigan.

But here’s what’s telling: Aldana was convicted of lewd acts with a 14-year-old. I fought for 15 years to expose the truth about a teacher who abused me starting when I was 15—just one year older than Aldana’s victim. When I got the truth I needed, Hodgman was out of the state with little hope of extradition. There is also a big question about whether the criminal statute of limitations in my case is still valid. But according to commenters defending Hodgman, I should have known better and need to let a “good educator” get on with his life.

Sorry folks, but “good educators” don’t commit lewd acts with students. They should go to jail, especially when they admit to the crimes.

Arizona: Where parishioners have (rightfully!) had enough

Parishioners at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish and School in Phoenix have had enough. Their founding pastor was credibly accused of abuse. Another former pastor is in the process of being defrocked by the Vatican. A third priest assigned there was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 1992 for abusing minors.

Now, we learn that a group of parents has presented a list of demands to the Diocese of Phoenix. Their number-one request: the immediate removal of current pastor, Fr. John Ehrich. They say that he has sexually harassed parishioners and acted inappropriately with children. Ehrich has since quit and the diocese refuses to make a comment, saying it’s “an internal matter.

Internal, indeed. Good for the parishioners. They deserve far better.

The AG: Silence can kill, and not just in the auto industry

My friend and colleague Mark Crawford has an op-ed in the May 24 New Jersey Star Ledger. In it, he calls on AG Eric Holder to to vigorously investigate the actions of religious and charitable institutions for their criminal attempts to conceal and minimize dangerous predators — actions that included the sexual abuse of children in this country.”

Because, he says, if the Department of Justice can investigate the possible criminal activity by automaker GM when it comes to faulty ignition switches, they can certainly investigate religious and charitable institutions (including colleges and universities) for the cover-up of child sexual abuse.

I agree. Investigate them, punish them, revoke federal funding, and tax the lot of them. Need a sample case so that the Catholic Church won’t say they are being “unfairly targeted?” I got one for you: Adrian College.



1 thought on “Friday Round-up: Aldana, Adrian, Arizona, and the AG

  1. Thanks for the update! I am haunted by the fact that phone records involving Aldana and a 14 year old CHILD can be wiped clean before a criminal trial. This is so wrong and smells big time! Shame on the supporters of Aldana for refusing to understand the true meaning of compassion, human dignity and truth. It is very unfortunate for Catholic schools in Orange County, California, to continue leading impressionable children with life examples that involve nothing but deceit, lies and fraud. As leaders, one would think you would jump at any to opportunity to lead BY EXAMPLE. Instead, you allow children to be exposed to another Columbine HS shooting tragedy and years of sex abuse crimes by individuals that hide behind freedom of religion and pastoral privilege.

    After years of believing in and supporting Catholic education in Orange County, California, I am ashamed to admit the truths about what my family and I have witnessed during the past 12 plus years. At what point will Diocese of Orange Catholic school officials step up and lead by real life examples, with intent to protect ALL CHILDREN, free of their own political and career objectives. Most important, when will the Diocese of Orange current Bishop Kevin Vann, former Diocese of Orange Tod Brown and Diocese of Orange General Counsel Maria Schinderle, who practices law using the name of Maria M. Rullo, Esq., issue a public apology to the 14 year old girl and her family? Do you have to be legally forced to do the right thing?

    My children and ALL CHILDREN deserve to witness religious and government officials lead by example. And so far, those affiliated with the Diocese of Orange have failed young Catholics who will someday be leading the world. Please step up and speak out before your hypocrisy becomes a way of life for the children who continue to struggle with Catholic social justice teachings. Just because parents of school age children continue to pay Catholic school tuition does not mean that you can ignore your moral responsibilities. When will these people be held accountable for destroying so many lives?

    Debby Bodkin
    Los Angeles, CA

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