The Capuchin Province of St. Joseph announced Sunday, July 15, that Capuchin Fr. Dennis Druggan, rector and president of St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary, was placed on administrative leave two days earlier pending an investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct involving a minor at St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, Mont.
Fr. Druggan served as pastor at St. Labre from 1984 to 1988, and then as co-executive director from 1988 to 1991.
The province said it reported the allegations to officials in Rosebud County, Mont., in June, and were originally told by email that because of the expiration of the state’s statutes of limitation, there wouldn’t be a criminal investigation or charges stemming from the allegations.
Following its policies and procedures, the province began its process of informing Fr. Druggan and of retaining an independent investigator to further investigate the allegations, according to Amy Peterson, director of the Office of Pastoral Care & Conciliation for the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph.
But Peterson said the province ceased its process of further investigation Monday, July 16, upon news that the Rosebud County attorney would look more closely at the statute and investigate to see if there is, in fact, a case.
“It’s open with the DA and we’re in a holding pattern,” she told your Catholic Herald.
While County Attorney Michael Hayworth told your Catholic Herald in an email Wednesday, July 18, that he could not confirm nor deny an ongoing investigation, he clarified that his office initially believed the statute of limitations had lapsed related to the alleged sexual assault.
“However, I subsequently learned Mr. (sic) Druggan had left the state of Montana after the alleged assault, and that Mr. (sic) Druggan has remained outside the state,” he wrote. “This fact extends the statute of limitations calculation. Based on a better understanding of the facts it seems Montana continues to have criminal jurisdiction to investigate this matter.”
In its statement, the province said that Fr. Druggan “has denied any misconduct,” and that no allegations have been made involving his ministry at St. Lawrence,
|Read the misconduct policies and procedures of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph at www.thecapuchins.org, under the “Safe Environment” tab.|
from where he graduated in 1974, and has served since 1992, first as dean of students, before he was appointed rector in 1994 and named president in 1997, serving since then as president/rector.
The school notified current and incoming St. Lawrence students, and their families, of Fr. Druggan’s administrative leave by phone, email and mailed letters on Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14, according to Colleen Crane of the province’s public relations office.
“In those calls, their response to the situation was overwhelmingly supportive with many of them saying that they will unquestionably be back in the fall, and asked how can they be helpful and supportive during this stressful time for all on the Hill,” Colleen Crane, who works in the public relations office for the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph, wrote of what she learned from Mary Patricia Voell, director of Admissions, Marketing, Public Relations and Alumni Relations at St. Lawrence.
The typed letter explained that the policy of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph, St. Lawrence Seminary High School’s owner and board of directors, dictates that the school follows the steps outlined in its commitment to providing a safe environment for all students.
“We acknowledge the pain involved with this process for all of us. At the same time, it is important that we say that no allegations have been made concerning Fr. Dennis’ many years of ministry here at St. Lawrence. Nevertheless, the pain remains and it is only with prayer and the support of each other that we can move ahead to ‘the business of the business…’ as Fr. D would say.
“This business is our mutual commitment to the high school education and Christian formation of your son,” read the letter signed by Fr. John Holly, local minister of St. Lawrence Friary who has been appointed acting rector; David Bartel, academic dean who has been appointed acting principal; and Capuchin Fr. John Celichowski, provincial minister of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph.
The statement from the province said that both the province and St. Lawrence are dedicated to creating a safe environment for everyone in their ministries.
“We are also committed to our ministry of Catholic education at St. Lawrence Seminary,” it said. “We ask that people keep everyone involved in this matter in their prayers.”