Bro. Thomas J. Gardipee, O.F.M.Cap.

Summary of Case: Gardipee was the subject of multiple accusations of sexual abuse of adolescent boys. The abuse was said to have occurred in the 1980s and early 1990s at St. Lawrence Preparatory High School Seminary in Milwaukee. Officials at the school were told by a staff member and of students of incidences in 1985. The officials did nothing, and Gardipee received a promotion. After an allegation of abuse in 1987, Gardipee was put on leave for three months in 1988, then reinstated. In 1992, after news story was published about sexual abuse of students by friars at St. Lawrence Prep., Gardipee was placed on leave, then criminally charged. Charges were dropped due to the statute of limitations. Gardipee was then barred from ministry with minors and spent nine years at a Capuchin retreat in Wisconsin making and selling pottery. He left the order in 2001 and moved to Hawaii, where he found a job teaching at a private high school. In 2009 the school was alerted to Gardipee's history in Wisconsin, and he was placed on leave. He resigned in November 2009.

Born: 1957

 

 

   


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes

1980?

Capuchin Province of St. Joseph Provincial was Rev. Kenneth Reinhart, O.F.M.Cap.
(1987- )

1992 St. Lawrence Preparatory Seminary High School

Mt. Calgary

A boy reportedly claimed that Gardipee sexually abused him from 1980-1983, beginning when the boy was in eighth grade.

In 1985 a dormitory supervisor was concerned about four St. Lawrence Prep. seniors, who would regularly call him to say they weren't going to make curfew and that they were in Gardipee's office. The boys would later show up smelling of liquor. After they graduated, the boys signed statements that Gardipee gave them alcoholic drinks and erotic magazines, and asked two of them to masturbate with him.

In 1987 another student told the former dorm supervisor, who was visiting the school, that in Aug. 1987 Gardipee suggested the student get in a whirlpool to relieve the student's sore back. While in the whirlpool, the student said Gardipee suggested he take off his swim trunks. The student refused. Gardipee then took off his own and masturbated. Further, he said Gardippe wrote him love letters and harrassed him. After the student reported Gardipee's behavior, Gardipee threw the student against a wall and accused the student of betraying him.

WI teacher, athletic director

This was a boarding school with about 200 students, all male.

The then former dorm supervisor gave the statements to the school's dean of discipline and the acting rector. After the incidents of abuse were reported, Gardipee was promoted to athletic director.

In 1988 the parents of the student who alleged the Aug. 1987 abuse went to the rector, showed him copies of Gardipee's "love letters" to their son and said, "We want this stopped". Gardipee was removed from St. Lawrence Prep. by the provincial, Rev. Kenneth Reinhart, but was reinstated three months later when the provincial council overturned Reinhart's decision.The allegations were not reported to civil authorities, which was required by law.

Gardipee was placed on leave in Dec.1992 after the 1987 incidents of abuse surfaced in a news story. In the story, seven other former St. Lawrence Prep. students accused five friars of having sexually abused them while they were students in the early 1970s.

The Fond du Lac County District Attorney launched an investigation. Gardipee was charged in Jan. 1993 with enticement of a child for immoral purposes and intimidation of a victim. Charges were dropped in March 1993, due to the statute of limitations. The D.A. stated "the judge did seem to find there was lewd and lascivious conduct".

After charges were dropped, the former student sued. A state racketeering lawsuit was also filed against the Province and the seminary "for creating a decades-long environment that encouraged the sexual abuse of children.” Court action ended when the Capuchins offered plaintiffs $5,000.00 each in exchange for their silence and an agreement that released the order from liability.

1992 2001 St. Anthony Retreat Marathon WI Gardipee made and sold pottery. St. Anthony's Retreat was a Capuchin residence.
2001 2002         Gardipee left the Capuchins and was granted a dispensation from his vows in May 2001.
2002 Sept. 2009 Kamehemeha Schools, Kapalama Campus Honolulu HI high school World History teacher

This is a private day and boarding school primarily for native Hawaiins, with more than 3,000 students, K-12.

In Sept. 2009 SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) alerted the school and local media to Gardipee's past. As a result, Gardipee was placed on leave by the school. In Nov. 2009 he resigned from Kamehameha Schools.

 

Sources:

A Try: Complaint Went Nowhere, Milwaukee Journal, December 20, 1992
Friar Is Suspended Amid Sex Allegations, By Mary Beth Murphy, Milwaukee Sentinel, December 21, 1992
DA May Charge Friar, Other, By Marie Rohde, Milwaukee Journal, December 21, 1992
Capuchins Dragging Feet on Sex Abuse Inquiry, Ex-Student Says, Milwaukee Journal, December 27, 1992
Athletic Director, Former Worker Charged in Student-Abuse Case, Associated Press, January 6, 1993
Catholicism and Sexual Abuse, Christian Century, January 27, 1993
Catholic Teacher Faces Molestation Trial, Capital Times (Madison, WI.), March 20, 1993
Capuchin Cleared of Sex Assault, By Mary Beth Murphy, Milwaukee Sentinel, March 20, 1993
Prep Alumnus Claims Sexual Abuse, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), April 8, 1993
Investigation Finds Sexual Abuse at Seminary, By Lori McGinnis, United Press International, May 27, 1993
Kamehameha Schools' Hiring of Teacher Challenged, By Susan Essoyan, Star-Bulletin, September 25, 2009
School Puts Teacher on Leave, By Rick Daysog, Honolulu Advertiser, September 26, 2009
Kamehameha Teacher Put on Leave, By Susan Essoyan, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 27, 2009
Teacher in Wisconsin Sex Case Resigns, Honolulu Advertiser, November 14, 2009
Teacher Resigns Because of Allegation 'Distractions', Star-Bulletin, November 14, 2009


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This assignment record was last updated on June 6, 2011