Campus News

An Important Message from Rev. James R. Van Dyke, S.J.

To the whole Georgetown Prep Community:

It is my sad but necessary duty to inform the Community of the results of a thorough inventory of personnel files conducted by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). In this survey, the results of which were released this morning and which are available on the Maryland Province's website we have learned the names of twenty-five (25) Jesuits who have had allegations of sexual abuse made against them, and that five (5) Jesuits who have been associated with Georgetown Prep have been named.

One case was already known to us: a former Jesuit who pled guilty to offenses committed during his assignment at Prep. This is a matter of public record.

  • Garrett D. (Gary) Orr (removed from ministry 2004, left the Society 2008) formerly a priest and Jesuit of the Maryland Province, assigned to Prep 1977-1980, 1989-2004. An allegation stemming from a Fall 2002 incident was made against Orr in Fall 2003, while he was on leave from Prep. Following that allegation, the Maryland Province determined that he should not return to Prep and removed Orr from active ministry. A subsequent police investigation was suspended in 2005, but an investigation by the Maryland Province, completed in 2006, determined that the allegation was "substantially true." This news was reported to the Prep Community by then-president Rev. William George, S.J. A separate allegation of an incident dating from 1989 surfaced in 2009 (after Orr had left the Society), which led to the reopening of the police investigation and Orr's arrest. Orr pled guilty to two counts of sexual offense in the 4th degree in September, 2011. As then-president Rev. Michael Marco, S.J., informed the Prep Community at that time, Orr was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and is a registered sex offender.
Four Jesuits are alleged to have committed offenses against minors after their assignments at Prep:
  • Francis C. Bourbon (d.2007), assigned to Prep from 1968-1969, was accused of a single instance of an unwanted kiss, alleged to have taken place in 1985 in Buckingham, Virginia.
  • John F.X. Bellwoar (d.1993), assigned to Prep from 1927-1928, is alleged to have committed multiple acts of abuse in Washington, D.C., and Prince Georges County in the 1950s-1960s.
  • Arthur J. Long, (left the Society 1992, d.2004), assigned to Prep 1950-1952, is alleged to have committed multiple counts of sexual abuse in the Danville, PA, area in the 1970s-1980s. Long's name was included in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report of September, 2018.
  • William Wehrle (d.1995), assigned to Prep 1944-1945, is alleged to have committed multiple acts of sexual abuse in Washington, D.C., and Denver, CO, areas in the 1960s and in 1982.
While the allegations against the four Jesuits named above do not involve any Georgetown Prep students, I ask that any member of the Prep community with information or concern about them or about Garrett Orr, or about any other situation about which we are not aware, contact the School, the Maryland Province, and/or the Montgomery County authorities.
  • Montgomery County Police: (240) 773-5000
  • Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus Victim Assistance Coordinator: 443-370-6357, or MARadvocacy@jesuits.org, or in writing to the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, 8600 LaSalle Rd, Suite 620, Towson, MD 21286.
  • Georgetown Preparatory School, Office of the President: (301) 214-1201
Please know that we are committed to treating such situations both with sensitivity and with appropriate and required legal engagement.

Per the Maryland Province, there are no Jesuits credibly accused of sexual abuse in active ministry; the Province has a zero-tolerance policy for abuse. That some of the Jesuits named above continued in ministry after the alleged offenses is due to: 1.) the fact that allegations did not emerge until many years after the offense which, given what we understand about the effects of sexual abuse on victims, is not surprising; or 2.) according to the practice of the time (prior to 2002) accused Jesuits were sent for treatment and, if it were so recommended by mental health professionals, could sometimes be returned to ministry— this is now understood to be a flawed and dangerous practice.

The Province pledges as well that in the interest of transparency and accountability an independent auditor will examine the personnel files to ensure that the information gleaned is both accurate and complete.

On a personal note, as an educator and priest since 1985 and having rejoiced at my students' growth and maturation through high school and beyond, there is nothing that saddens and disturbs me so much as this news and the thought of the lives of young people and their families disrupted and, in some cases, destroyed by the callous actions of abusers, particularly those who have used positions of trust such as ministry and education as a cloak for misdeeds. Furthermore, I share the confusion and anger that so many have expressed that such situations seemingly went unaddressed or were ignored.

However, sadness and anger are nothing if they do not result in policies, procedures, and a commitment to use them. Since the recognition of systematic cases of abuse in the period of the 1990s into the early 2000s and the inauguration of the "Dallas Charter" in 2002, Prep and all Jesuit apostolates have rigorously sought to create safe environments and effective protocols to protect from sexual abuse and from unwanted advances not only young people and vulnerable adults but indeed all whom we serve. At Prep this means concretely that all our faculty, staff, and coaches undergo training with the Virtus Program; additionally all Jesuits in the United States are required to undergo annual training with Praesidium. And, as I reminded our faculty and staff the other day, we are all mandated reporters, not only in compliance with the laws of the State of Maryland and the Catholic Church, but in accord with simple human decency. Please know that this is Prep's and my absolute commitment.

I cannot express strongly enough on behalf of this institution and of the Society of Jesus my deepest apology and contrition to those whom we failed. I am grateful to those who came forward; that is an extraordinarily difficult task, I know, on so many levels—moral, spiritual, and psychological. I can only say to you that your painful honesty about what you experienced has made the rest of us aware of a problem—a deeply-rooted problem that afflicts all human institutions—that we all must acknowledge and face. I pray daily for the healing of the pain that you and your loved ones have experienced.

I ask all the members of our Georgetown Prep family to join me in praying not only for the victims of these men, but for all victims of sexual abuse.

Sincerely in Christ,

Rev. James R. Van Dyke, S.J.
President