Franciscan University & the Husch Blackwell Report
On Friday, April 12, Franciscan University of Steubenville released a review of the Husch Blackwell report of their sexual violence policies and procedures. To say this review is disheartening only scrapes the surface of the response this review has produced.
First and foremost, it is discouraging that the administration is not accepting responsibility for their grave errors in judgement and for the abuse they enabled. Furthermore, the review only addresses instances of clerical abuse and ignores survivors from after 2014, which is a severe oversight.
This document does not cover the gross mishandling from the administration when dealing with survivors who reported, most notably with Catherine Heck, the assistant vice president of student life. As covered in Jenn Morson’s interviews with survivors, Heck allegedly told survivors the school must be sure the individuals weren’t bipolar in order to be taken seriously, that they partied too much, and that if they orgasmed, it was a sign of pleasure and therefore wasn’t rape. Heck remains unreprimanded and within her position at FUS.
It is also deeply offensive to call clerical abuse of a student counselee a romantic relationship or to categorize certain violations as “unwanted” versus “romantic.” When a power imbalance exists between an individual and a representative of Christ, there cannot be any true consent. FUS also fails to address their role in covering up for these predators and allowing them to remain in a position to further perpetuate abuse.
The review also lists only a small group of violators and is not a whole list of credibly accused clergy. Nor does the review mention those members of the clergy who covered up the crimes of their brethren. Transparency is crucial when it comes to making reparations and an incomplete list does not speak well for FUS’s intentions.
If FUS is unable to admit the entirety of what they did and didn’t do, then no one can believe they have truly changed and are committed to student safety moving forward. Had they taken action when reports were first made, many vulnerable individuals would have been protected from the beginning. Dinah’s Voice joins in with the rest of the Franciscan community in calling for the administration to release the full Husch Blackwell report and acknowledge their shortcomings in addressing the needs of survivors.