The news this past week was about a Fenwick High School alum who alleges that a longtime teacher, John Quinn, brother of former Governor Pat Quinn and former Fenwick high school basketball coach, sexually abused her.
Helen Quinn Pasin accuses Quinn of “hugging her tightly and rubbing his cheek and lips against her face while asking about her ‘love life’ approximately 10 times between 2012 and 2014” (https://www.oakpark.com/2022/03/30/prominent-fenwick-teacher-accused-of-misconduct).
(Full disclosure: I long attended church with Ms. Quinn Pasin’s family at the St. Giles Family Mass.)
Fenwick has gone into defense mode, stating for the record that it takes the claim seriously. But Fenwick has apparently known about the allegations since last fall and only suspended the teacher when Ms. Quinn’s allegations became public this week.
And that’s where the story could have ended if not for the fact that Fenwick and the Dominican Friars have a decades-long history of shielding sexual abusers from scrutiny.
In fact, the string tying Ms. Quinn Pasin’s story to earlier Dominican denials starts at least in the 1960s.
According to a Sun Times article last year, eight Dominican clerics have been accused of sexual abuse, including at Fenwick and St. Vincent Ferrer Church in River Forest (https://chicago.suntimes.com/2021/2/26/22299424/dominicans-dominican-friars-child-sex-abuse-catholic-religious-orders-marchionda-james-blase-cupich).
A 2019 article in Wednesday Journal told the story of Rev. William Ferrell O.P. (https://www.oakpark.com/2019/01/08/victims-of-former-fenwick-priest-tell-their-stories).
Two former Fenwick students confirmed that in the 1970s Ferrell, a faculty member, sexually abused them. The head of the Dominicans in the Midwest, Prior Provincial James Marchionda O.P., who is on the Fenwick board of directors, acknowledged these assaults and stated that the Dominicans were “all on board” with releasing documents about credibly accused priests to “start setting everything right.” Marchionda called it a “moral obligation.”
Three years later, the Dominicans have made no such disclosures. This despite pleas from Cardinal Blase Cupich. The Archdiocese of Chicago has “been in discussions with religious orders about how their members, under their jurisdiction and control, who are credibly accused, are to be publicly listed,” an archdiocese spokesman said (https://chicago.suntimes.com/2021/5/10/22428988/catholic-church-abuse-religious-orders-marists-augustinians-dominicans-cardinal-cupich-editorial).
So the Dominicans have a history of stonewalling. But there is more.
As I wrote in these pages in 2018, in the 1960s, a Fenwick faculty member sexually assaulted a family member of mine (https://www.oakpark.com/2018/12/04/catholics-need-a-truth-reconciliation-commission).
In 1937, my father, Albert Crowe, was a Fenwick graduate, and two of my brothers later attended there. One was sexually assaulted by a Fenwick athletic director and teacher, who was my father’s first cousin, Robert Francis Crowe O.P. In 2002, I alerted the Dominicans, if they didn’t already know, about the sexual assaults by “Fr. Bob.” The Dominicans have never publicly acknowledged this fact.
I have met other Fenwick alums who were sexually assaulted by Dominican priests who will not come forward because they do not trust the Dominicans.
With good reason.
I bring this up to say that Fenwick sees sexual assault primarily as a public relations issue as opposed to a justice issue that, as Catholics, requires them to side with the victims.
My words for Ms. Quinn Pasin? I believe you. Your recounting is credible. There is a great chasm in the power dynamic between an older teacher doing inappropriate things and a high school student. I am so sorry.
But I wouldn’t look to Fenwick and the Dominicans for justice. It’s not in their DNA.