Mater Dei Writes A Lot, Says Nothing

Today, officials at Mater Dei High School sent out a two-page memo to alumni regarding the recent settlement involving the Catholic Diocese of Orange and four young women who claim they were abused by diocesan lay employees during the 1990s. Two of the perpetrators-- Jeff Andrade and Larry Stukenholtz--worked as assistant boys' basketball coach and choir director at the school, respectively. Both of them admitted to their guilt--Andrade in a sworn deposition, Stukenholtz as part of Mater Dei's investigation.

You'd think Mater Dei would publish the names of Andrade and Stukenholtz in an effort to see if other victims would come forward--ah, who are we kidding? Instead, Mater Dei's letter--signed by school president Patrick Murphy and principal Frances Clare--only stated that they worked at the school during the 1990s and that "The evidence in these two cases...involving the former Mater Dei High School employees clearly indicates that the MDHS Administration at the time informed and cooperated with the legal authorities in an appropriate manner."

Only one problem with that last sentence--it's not true.

Court and school records show that Westminster police did investigate Andrade at the time of his abuse of Christina Ruiz in the mid-1990s. But in an exclusive interview with the Weekly (which will be up on Thursday), Ruiz claims the investigation took place only after her parents called the Westminster police. "Mater Dei officials never called the police," Ruiz claims.

Not only that, but when then-Orange County Register reporter Jim Hinch called the Children and Family Services Division of Orange County's Social Services Agency in 2003 to see if Mater Dei officials filed reports on Andrade and Stukenholtz as required by law and as claimed by Orange diocese officials, an official with the CFS said they couldn't find any records. A year later, they still hadn't received any reports from Mater Dei.

Murphy also failed to disclose to alumni his current tiff with the school's legendary basketball coach, Gary McKnight. Murphy claims he told McKnight not to allow Andrade back on campus after the school let him go in 1997; McKnight admitted to helping get Andrade a fundraising contract at Mater Dei but denies he was ever reprimanded by Murphy, who was Mater Dei's principal at the time. You'd think it's rather important to let past students know that a school employee helped a statutory rapist return to campus...but maybe we're being too hard on Mater Dei--sex-abuse disclosure and the school, after all, go together about as well as heaven and hell.


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