United States District Court, S. Doe alleges that while he was a student at Strake Jesuit in the early s, he was sexually assaulted by Glen Beeler, a lay faculty member who taught music and directed the school's jazz band. Beeler is named as a defendant but has not been served. Doe has also sued the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province, a regional organization of Jesuit priests, and the chief priest of the New Orleans Province, known as the Provincial together, the "Provincial Defendants".
Doe asserts a variety of tort claims against Strake Jesuit and the Provincial Defendants, advancing theories of both direct and vicarious liability. The claims include civil conspiracy, fraud, concealment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty, and gross and simple negligence. The allegedly negligent acts include negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and negligent retention of Beeler.
The following motions are pending: The Provincial Defendants argue that because they were unaware of Beeler, they had no reason to know of any risk that Beeler might be unfit to be a teacher.
Doe has responded to this motion. Doe has recently filed a supplemental response, Docket Entry No. It argues that Doe's claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Strake Jesuit also contends that any vicarious liability claim fails because Beeler's alleged actions were outside the scope of his employment.
As to direct liability, Strake Jesuit asserts that it had no knowledge or reason to know of any improper acts by Beeler or any risk that he would molest students. Strake Jesuit and the Provincial Defendants have both responded. Doe has responded, Docket Entry No.
Strake Jesuit and the Provincial Defendants have responded. Based on the motions and responses, the summary judgment record, and the applicable law, this court grants both motions for summary judgment and denies the remaining motions as moot.
Final judgment is entered by separate order. The reasons for these rulings are explained in detail below. Each is governed by a Provincial Superior known as the Provincial. Since July 31, , the Very Rev. Lewis—one of the defendants in this case—has been the Provincial for the New Orleans Province. Providing education is central to the Jesuit mission. A number of Jesuit colleges, universities, and secondary schools are located within the New Orleans Province.
Strake Jesuit is a private school governed by a board of directors. The Provincial Defendants do not own Strake Jesuit or the land on which it is located.
Strake Jesuit's faculty consists of both Jesuit and lay teachers. The Province has some involvement in assigning Jesuits to teach at schools such as Strake Jesuit. The Province's Assistant for Secondary Education periodically contacts Strake Jesuit's principal to discuss the school's needs and Jesuits who might be available to meet those needs.
When the Province suggests a Jesuit, the principal determines whether that individual would be of value to the school. Raymond Fitzgerald, the Province's second-highest ranking official, "[t]he ultimate decision of whether to hire [any] Jesuit belongs to and is made by Strake Jesuit.
If the school accepts a Jesuit recommended by the Province, he is assigned to the school as his Jesuit mission but is hired as a Strake Jesuit employee. Fitzgerald stated in his declaration that "[n]either the Provincial, the Province, nor CSRLE legally assigns any person to work at Strake Jesuit, directs Strake Jesuit on any employment matter, or has any right to force Strake Jesuit to accept a particular Jesuit.
Fitzgerald explained that although the Province is involved in this limited fashion with Jesuits hired by Strake Jesuit, the Province has no involvement in the school's hiring of non-Jesuit personnel. The plaintiff, John Doe, was a freshman at Strake Jesuit in He alleges that during his freshman year, he was sexually assaulted by Glen Beeler. The sexual assaults were allegedly repeated on a number of occasions until , after Doe's junior year. Beeler was not a Jesuit.
Strake Jesuit hired him as a lay teacher in January Father Lawrence met Beeler at the home of one of his piano students who attended Strake Jesuit.
Beeler applied for the position at Strake Jesuit by completing an employment application and questionnaire and submitting his college transcript and the Texas Teacher Certificate that provisionally certified him to teach music at all levels through high school.
Beeler and the school principal, Vincent Orlando, signed an employment contract setting out Beeler's rights and responsibilities as a Strake Jesuit teacher.
Beginning in the spring semester of , Doe was enrolled in Beeler's jazz band class and played drums in the jazz band Beeler directed. In her affidavit, Doe's mother stated that she and her husband also spent time with Beeler at Strake Jesuit. Doe's parents "found that social interaction was encouraged between faculty and the parents. There was an active social life at the school which included the Jesuit priests, the Jesuit brothers, and the lay teachers, especially those who were not married with families.
Doe's parents "attended most of the jazz programs and would meet up with Glen Beeler after the programs when the parents and students and the faculty would socialize over refreshments. Over the course of these interactions, Doe's parents "developed a level of comfort" with Beeler. During the school year, Doe's parents arranged for Beeler to stay at their house as a "sitter" while they were away on "week-long or even shorter business trips" and to drive Doe back and forth to school.
Doe's parents "thought it would be an ideal arrangement for Glen Beeler to stay at our home—first, to drive [Doe] back and forth to school and second, for our younger boy to be under the wing of a jazz director where [Doe's] talents were being fostered and encouraged in an environment where [Doe] was excelling.
According to Beeler's affidavit, on two occasions he stayed overnight with Doe at his house while his parents were out of town. Doe alleges that he also spent time at Beeler's residence beginning in the fall of through the spring of Doe alleges that Beeler began abusing him in the fall of The abuse began in Beeler's office at Strake Jesuit. The other alleged instances of sexual abuse occurred either at Doe's home or at Beeler's residence. Doe alleges that Beeler would first give him alcohol to drink and then have him strip to his underwear and lie down.
According to Doe, Beeler would massage him and then pull down his pants and "tickle" his genitals. Doe alleges that the abuse continued until the spring of It does not appear from the record that Beeler has admitted to these acts or been convicted of any criminal charges relating to them. In his affidavit, Beeler confirmed that he had stayed with Doe twice when the boy's parents were away, but Beeler neither admitted nor denied Doe's allegations of sexual abuse.
Strake Jesuit and the Provincial Defendants do not specifically dispute that these acts occurred. Rather, the defendants assert that they have no knowledge of any inappropriate behavior by Beeler before, during, or after his employment at Strake Jesuit. There is no evidence in the record of any complaint, arrest, indictment, or conviction against Beeler before he was hired by Strake Jesuit or during his employment with Strake Jesuit.
Beeler left Strake Jesuit voluntarily in June On June 21 of that year, he sent a letter to Vincent Orlando, then the school principal. The letter stated in part as follows: This is to inform you that I will not be returning to Strake Jesuit in the Fall of this year. During the past two and one half years, there have been many occasions for me that have made me enjoy my involvement with the Strake Jesuit community. However, more and more increasingly of late, there have been many things that I have not enjoyed.
My involvement with my church is becoming greater, and I am really leaning towards a full-time church position. To do that, I would need to have time to return to school, which I am looking forward to in September. Edgar Maresma, a former Jesuit priest who was the president of Strake Jesuit during Beeler's tenure there, provided a declaration.
To the best of my memory, before, during, and after the employment of Mr. Beeler in any way suggesting that he had engaged in any sexually inappropriate conduct or attempted any sexually inappropriate conduct or made any sexually inappropriate comments or that he had engaged in any activities with students involving alcohol or drugs.
To the best of my memory, before during and after the employment of Mr. Beeler in any way suggesting that he had engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct or attempted any sexually inappropriate conduct or made any sexually inappropriate comments or that he had engaged in any activities with students involving alcohol or drugs, and 2 Strake Jesuit had no knowledge of any fact suggesting that Mr.
Beeler had engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct or attempted any sexually inappropriate conduct or made any sexually inappropriate comments or that he had engaged in any activities with students involving alcohol or drugs.
As President, I would have ben aware of any such complaints and I would have been aware of any such facts. After leaving Strake Jesuit, Beeler moved to the Austin area, where he taught for one year in the Lake Travis Independent School District then left to work for churches.
Years later, Beeler was convicted of multiple counts of indecency with a child. The conviction was for acts that occurred in and after. These incidents apparently involved second-graders who were in classes Beeler taught. The media covered the story of the first student to accuse Beeler of sexual misconduct, leading other students to come forward. In his affidavit, Beeler stated that these incidents "involved boys younger than 10 years of age" and "consisted of my touching them in their genitals" usually but not always through their clothing.
Beeler is currently an inmate in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Doe alleges that as result of the sexual abuse, his life "continuously spiraled out of control. At that point, his parents "painfully recalled and deliberately questioned the cycles of dysfunction" in his life, and Doe "began to talk to his parents about the numerous instances of sexual abuse by Beeler. On March 29, , Doe amended his complaint to add Strake Jesuit as a defendant. The following month, on a motion by the Provincial Defendants, the case was transferred to the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.
Doe alleges a civil conspiracy involving Beeler, Roman Catholic Church officials, the Provincial Defendants, and Strake Jesuit to conceal sexual abuse of children by Beeler and others. Doe alleges that Strake Jesuit and the Provincial Defendants are vicariously liable for Beeler's alleged sexual assault under a theory of respondeat superior.
Doe also asserts direct liability causes of action against Strake Jesuit and the Provincial Defendants arising out of their own negligence in assigning or employing Beeler for a position of trust, confidence, and authority, id. Finally, Doe asserts claims for fraud and concealment, id.
After some discovery, on June 11, , Strake Jesuit moved for summary judgment. Strake Jesuit argues that Doe's claim is barred by limitations, that the school cannot be held vicariously liable for Beeler's alleged acts because they were not within the scope of his employment, and that the school cannot be held directly liable because it neither knew nor had reason to know of any risk that Beeler would sexually abuse a student. Both summary judgment motions are addressed below.
The Summary Judgment Standard Summary judgment is appropriate if no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
While the party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, it does not need to negate the elements of the nonmovant's case.