Chaminade College Preparatory School has been named as a defendant in a suit filed Thursday in St. Louis County Court, alleging the school knew a former coach and teacher, now deceased, was a sexual abuse risk to students before the unidentified plaintiff was allegedly victimized as a student during the late 1960s.
The suit also names the Marianist Province of the United States, and Provincial Rev. Martin Solma.
The petition claims Brother Louis Meinhardt sought out the plaintiff for "private tutoring sessions" during which time Meinhardt "grabbed Plaintiff's penis and fondled his genitals," and that it was "common knowledge" in the student body that Meinhardt watched children shower and grabbed their genitals.
Meinhardt died in 1990.
that allegations brought against Meinhardt and another deceased former Chaminade faculty member, Brother John Woulfe, were "deemed credible."
Marianist officials have not specifically cited how the determination of credibility was made, other than to say that they recently met with a former Chaminade student who made an allegation of sexual impropriety, which led the Province to send letters to approximately 1600 Chaminade alumni. That letter, in turn, brought forward other former students who said they either witnessed or experienced sexual and other abusive behaviors at the hands of Meinhardt or Woulfe.
Attorney Ken Chackes represents both the plaintiff in the suit filed Thursday and the man who met with Fr. Solma. Chackes said the meeting with Fr. Solma in September, came only after attorneys intervened because the alleged victim felt "put off" by Provincial leaders.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
While other sex abuse cases from the era have fallen outside the statute of limitations, Thursday's suit is different because the legal clock doesn't start ticking until a victim remembers the abuse. Chackes says in this case the victim didn't recall it until sometime in the last year. The law allows for a five year period.
Chackes said he still hoped to work with the Marianists to get treatment for other clients who have come forward with concerns about abuse but have not filed suit.
A statement released Thursday night by Fr. Solma said in part:
"I am saddened by what is set out in the suit. I would have preferred to keep our outreach in the pastoral realm and to work towards healing in whatever way that could have been done. Unfortunately, once a lawsuit has been initiated, we are more limited in what can be done pastorally. I am saddened by that as well."