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Jun 20, 2020

Unrepentant

Co-produced with PRX Logo

Despite revelations of clergy sex abuse and promises of transparency, a prominent Jesuit university is doing little to punish priests who cross the line. 

In this follow-up investigation about the Jesuit order in the Pacific Northwest, reporter Emily Schwing has two stories about Gonzaga University, which among Jesuit schools has the highest number of predatory priests who worked as staff and faculty. The first story takes us to a remote Alaska Native village where a prominent priest was accused of sex abuse by four young men. 

Then Schwing tells the story of a former Gonzaga student who’s been trying for almost three decades to convince the university to investigate the priest who she says behaved inappropriately when she spent a year abroad in Italy.  

We end with a story about a creative response to the pandemic that’s spreading throughout Native American communities. COVID-19 has prompted many of them to cancel powwows and other summer gatherings. So culture bearers are taking their songs and dances online, creating a virtual powwow movement that is keeping traditions alive while maintaining social distancing.

Credits

Reported by: Emily Schwing

Produced by: Katharine Mieszkowski

Edited by: Taki Telonidis

Production manager: Mwende Hinojosa

Production assistance: Amy Mostafa

Sound design and music by: Jim Briggs, Fernando Arruda

Mixing: Claire Mullen

Special thanks: Michael Corey and Quinn Lewis

Executive producer: Kevin Sullivan

Host: Al Letson

Episode art by Apay’uq Moore

Support for Reveal is provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, Democracy Fund, and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Transcript

Reveal transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. Please be aware that the official record for Reveal's radio stories is the audio.

Speaker 1:

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Al Letson:

From the center for investigative reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I'm Al Letson. Today, we're bringing you the latest chapter in a story we started telling you about a year and a half ago. It's about Jesuit Priests who for decades abused young people in the Alaska Native villages and on Indian Reservations in the Pacific Northwest.

Al Letson:

The Jesuits are an order of the Catholic church. In our original story, we told you about a survivor, Elsie Boudreau. She was one of the first Alaska native women to speak publicly about her abuse nearly 20 years ago.

Elsie Boudreau:

We were like the sheep and they're the shepherd and they're not responding to their flock in a responsible way. I became like a liability to them.

Al Letson:

And we learned about Elsie's abuser, a Jesuit Priest named James Pool, who was deposed as a part of a lawsuit in 2005.

James Pool:

I thought I was bringing love into the life of other persons.

Al Letson:

By engaging in sexual acts with them?

James Pool:

By being intimate.

Al Letson:

What's your definition of intimacy?

James Pool:

Everything short of intercourse.

Al Letson:

James Pool was one of about 100 abusive Jesuits we found, but none were ever prosecuted. Instead, Jesuit leadership moved them around to isolated native communities before sending some of them to retire on the campus of a Jesuit University, Gonzaga, in Spokane, Washington.

Al Letson:

Joining me now is reporter Emily Schwing and Emily, how did Gonzaga respond to the original story?

Emily Schwing:

Well, Gonzaga President, Thayne McCulloh sent in a statement that it was the Jesuit order and not the University that made decisions about who lived in the retirement home. It's unclear from that statement when he learned the priests were there.

Emily Schwing:

Then, in April 2019 President McCulloh announced the formation of a commission to identify, discuss and make recommendations for formal actions on behalf of Gonzaga in response to the clergy abuse crisis.

Al Letson:

What has the commission done?

Emily Schwing:

Well, it's really hard to say, Al. Over the past year I've called and emailed several times to find out more but I've never gotten a clear answer. I started digging through a long list of accused Jesuits we compiled with help from a website called Bishop Accountability. It keeps track of credibly accused priests.

Emily Schwing:

I wanted to find out if there were priests who were connected to Gonzaga who had not simply retired there. I noticed that among all 27 Jesuit Universities in the nation, Gonzaga has the highest number of predatory priests who worked as staff and faculty there.

Al Letson:

And today you have two stories for us about priests who work directly for the University. We should say that what you're reporting may not be suitable for young or sensitive listeners.

Emily Schwing:

That's right, and the first story is about a Jesuit who was accused by at least four young men of sexual abuse back in the 1990s. His name is Father Brad Reynolds. Bishop Accountability has him listed as a priest who's been credibly accused of sexual misconduct, but his name is missing from the Jesuit orders own list of accused priests.

Emily Schwing:

The University's Administration hasn't directly answered questions about what they know about predatory priests who have worked on campus, but Father Reynolds lived and worked there off and on from 2006 until the spring of 2019. Two years ago, he gave the commencement blessing at Gonzaga.

Father Reynolds:

There are some things you need to leave behind. Mistakes. Betrayals. Wounds.

Emily Schwing:

Father Reynolds first came to Gonzaga as an artist in residence about 13 years ago. Then, in 2012 he was assigned by the Jesuits to work there as a spiritual advisor to students.

Father Reynolds:

In front of you are some of those same things. Mistakes, more betrayals, more wounds, words said, words unsaid. But there's also amazing things in front of you. Miracles, conversions.

Emily Schwing:

Father Reynolds is also a writer. In his series of mystery novels published in the late 1990s, the main character is a Catholic Priest. In one, the character's relationship to a young boy is questioned after the boy's body is found badly bruised and violated.

Emily Schwing:

Father Reynolds is also an amateur photographer. National Geographic published some of his photos in 1990. He spent years photographing daily life in Alaska's remote native villages even though he was never assigned by the Jesuits to work there.

Emily Schwing:

Last January I visited one of those villages way out West on the Bering Sea Coast nestled on a treeless hillside that overlooks an ice covered bay. All the houses are really colorful. Different shades of blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, bright green, different shades of green. Then they each have like little kind of grain sheds behind them. Some are little sweat lodges or like little saunas.

Emily Schwing:

"Oh wow, look at this stack of pictures you have." My first stop is with Maggie John, one of the elders. I'm at her kitchen table and she's brought out a stack of photos to show me. "Father Reynolds tool all of them? And how did you come to have them?"

Maggie John:

I found them when I was ...

Emily Schwing:

Look at that. This one is just little kids playing with airplanes.

Maggie John:

I left my glasses up there.

Emily Schwing:

Maggie does the bookkeeping at the Catholic Church, here. She's tiny, but sharp. Her face is serious, but she has a good sense of humor. There's a TV on in the background. Cartoons for her granddaughter.

Emily Schwing:

"And you just found these?"

Maggie John:

Yeah.

Emily Schwing:

"Man, that's a beautiful picture. Look at that little girl's hair just flying in the wind." All of these photos were taken by Father Reynolds. Young people in Yup'ik regalia doing Yuraq, the traditional Yup'ik dance. Little kids playing in the snow. A boat full of men out on the ocean hunting for seals. Maggie knew Father Reynolds but says she hasn't seen him in more than a decade.

Maggie John:

He can't come here.

Emily Schwing:

Oh, he can't come back here?

Maggie John:

He can't come back here.

Emily Schwing:

According to who?

Maggie John:

After those lawsuits or something.

Emily Schwing:

Oh, okay.

Maggie John:

He can't come back here anymore.

Emily Schwing:

In 2008, two Alaskan native boys from here filed a civil lawsuit against Father Reynolds, the Jesuit Order and Gonzaga University. They allege he sexually abused them back around 1999 when they were nine and 11 years old. The details in the complaint are graphic.

Emily Schwing:

Among other things, it alleges that Father Reynolds masturbated one of the boys. A year after the suit was filed, the Jesuit order in the Northwest declared bankruptcy and he case came to a halt.

Emily Schwing:

Four years before that lawsuit was filed, Maggie tried to sound the alarm about Father Reynolds troubling behavior. She did what she thought she was supposed to. She told a parish priest, Father Dave Anderson, what she'd heard. He wrote a letter to Jesuit leadership back in Portland, Oregon.

Emily Schwing:

The letter said Father Reynolds took two young men from the village to Anchorage. He gave them alcohol. I read the letter to Maggie.

Emily Schwing:

"He then asked one of them to take off their clothes and he photographed one, or both of them, when they were naked."

Emily Schwing:

This letter also says Father Reynolds photographed a Jesuit student while he was naked. And there's a third allegation about a group of little boys who would come running in and out of the parish office wearing only swimming trunks.

Emily Schwing:

"Last year, where Brad allowed three to four boys to take off their clothes and compete in doing pull-ups."

Maggie John:

He always had boys in there. Young boys always in there. Some wearing only trunks. Before that, I was told I think by Sister Kathy or somebody that young kids weren't supposed to be in here without their parents. I did tell him that, but he never listened.

Emily Schwing:

"He never listened," she says. There are no police in this village and she didn't know what else to do beyond talking to the parish priest. Other people here also tell me kids always visited Father Reynolds when he was in town. He had a game on his computer they liked to play. Deer Hunter. People say Father Reynolds would play the game with two kids at a time in a tiny room with the door locked. According to the court documents, Father Reynolds offered the kids homemade oatmeal cookies.

Emily Schwing:

One of the young men who alleges he was photographed naked is in his 50s now, but he still lives here and so I go to meet him one morning at his office. When I walk in, there is a heater next to the door. It's 20 degrees below zero outside and there are other people in the office.

Emily Schwing:

"When you get a minute can I speak to you privately?"

Speaker 8:

Okay, sure. Come on.

Emily Schwing:

Okay, cool. We aren't naming this man or even the village we're in to protect his privacy. I explain why I'm here and he says he'll think about an interview over the weekend. On Sunday, I go to church.

Emily Schwing:

(singing)

Emily Schwing:

The first Catholic mass was offered here in 1964. For the next 40 years, at least six credibly accused priests came and went. Even the building they lived in is named for an accused priest. And when those priests got too old, at least two of them retired to Gonzaga University.

Emily Schwing:

There is no priest in the village when I visit, so on this particular Sunday a local deacon says mass in the native language, Yugtun.

Emily Schwing:

Joe [Asulic] is also an elder here. And after church I catch up with him.

Emily Schwing:

[inaudible]

Emily Schwing:

Joe prefers to speak to me in Yugtun, so his cousin, the Village Tribal Court Administrator, Charlie Moses, translates.

Charlie Moses:

We were raised to be people [inaudible 00:12:09], so where those priests, where they were concerned we saw them as good people. They served us the way they were supposed to serve us.

Emily Schwing:

The legacy of the Catholic Church in many Alaskan native villages is complicated. In our original reporting, victims advocates describe villages like this as dumping grounds for predatory priests. But people here also credit the church with providing opportunities like education, which they may never have received otherwise.

Charlie Moses:

What we didn't know was what they did behind closed doors when nobody else would watch. Sometimes people turn out to be not what you saw them to be or what you thought them to be.

Emily Schwing:

Despite decades of new stories about the clergy sex abuse scandals and hundreds of lawsuits by Alaskan native and American Indian survivors, it doesn't seem to be common knowledge in this village. I ask Charlie what he thinks.

Emily Schwing:

"Do you think the community, this is something the community should know more about?"

Charlie Moses:

Yeah, in today's world they should know. The more you know about stuff like this the more that it's going to be harder. It's still going to happen, I bet you it's still going to happen but it's not going to be as easy for them to do it.

Emily Schwing:

The man I'd gone to visit before church agreed to talk to me over the phone. We spoke for over an hour and he confirms the events in that 2004 letter. He told me, "I never should have gone on that trip." He says Father Reynolds did photograph him naked and that the experience ruined his life. He became an alcoholic and over the years it been hard for him to talk about this, even with his wife. At one point he puts her on the phone with me so I can explain what I know. I made sure he knew I wasn't recording the interview because he wants to keep his identity anonymous.

Emily Schwing:

He keeps saying my name, Emily, but he tells me no one can know his. This man is one of hundreds of Alaskan natives who filed lawsuits against the Jesuit order in the Northwest in the early 2000s. There were so many lawsuits that by 2009 the order filed for bankruptcy. Two years later, the order paid out $166 million dollars. It was the fourth largest bankruptcy settlement in Catholic Church history.

Emily Schwing:

And Father Reynolds? In 2012, he took a job as Gonzaga's Assistant Director of Mission and Ministry where he offered spiritual guidance to students and took them on retreats. Some of the settlement money the Jesuit's paid out is going to the men who allege abuse by Father Reynolds. That includes someone who spent most of the last year in prison in Anchorage.

Emily Schwing:

This man, now 31 years old, had a difficult childhood. He bounced from home to home and spent time in juvenile detention. I wrote him a letter and asked if I could visit, and he said yes. We're protecting his identity because he's an alleged victim of sexual abuse.

Speaker 10:

My experiences go way back and you know sometimes I'm uncomfortable to talk about it. Sometimes I don't want to talk about it because it's been when I was a little kid.

Emily Schwing:

Yeah, yeah. Well, do you mind if I ask you questions and if you're like hey, I'm not comfortable with that then you can just tell me.

Speaker 10:

For the record are you talking about Brad Reynolds on this?

Emily Schwing:

I am.

Speaker 10:

I don't like to hear that name because he took away my childhood [crosstalk]

Emily Schwing:

He tells me Brad Reynolds took away my childhood.

Speaker 10:

He made me a person that I didn't want to be.

Emily Schwing:

He made me a person I didn't want to be. A violent person, he says.

Speaker 10:

I don't know if I want to talk about him and get the [inaudible 00:16:20].

Emily Schwing:

He doesn't want to elaborate. The guard in the room and the surveillance cameras on the ceiling make him uneasy. Days later, this man is released on bail, but his criminal history involves a lot of domestic violence, and so tribal leadership back in the village won't let him go home.

Al Letson:

Emily, how did the Jesuits respond to these allegations against Father Reynolds?

Emily Schwing:

Okay, so after Maggie John first reported Father Reynolds to her parish priest in 2004, the Jesuits sent him for psychological evaluation. A report concludes that Father Reynolds did use some bad judgment, but none of the mistakes constitute abuse. The psychologist recommended short term counseling.

Emily Schwing:

Then, when that lawsuit was filed against him in 2008, the Jesuit spokeswoman tells me he was removed from public ministry and investigated. She says he was placed on a safety plan during that time, but the Jesuits have never provided any details about those plans.

Al Letson:

Did you ask them about those settlement payments for all the men who say Father Reynolds abused them?

Emily Schwing:

Yeah, I did ask about that. And the Jesuit spokeswoman said that just because the payments were made that doesn't mean that any abuse occurred. In an email she said, "No matter whether a valid defense existed, every claimant received something."

Al Letson:

What they're saying is that the four men are getting money even though they didn't prove their case.

Emily Schwing:

Yes, but plaintiffs attorneys who worked on these civil lawsuits strongly disagree. They say each and every claim was carefully reviewed. They also say that it's a Federal crime to make a false claim in a bankruptcy case.

Emily Schwing:

I've asked the Jesuits to tell me what the review board concluded when they looked into the allegations against Father Reynolds, but they also haven't responded to that.

Al Letson:

Where's Father Reynolds now?

Emily Schwing:

Well, we actually don't know for sure. Until last May, he was still living and working at Gonzaga. He's not there anymore and the Jesuits told me he's been caring for a sick relative and that he's talking to leadership about his next assignment.

Emily Schwing:

They've also told me he's in good standing and free to travel anywhere. That includes the village where the abuse is alleged to happen. We've requested interviews, but both representatives from the Jesuit Order and Father Reynolds refuse to sit down and talk with us.

Al Letson:

What about Gonzaga?

Emily Schwing:

Well, I learned that the lawsuit filed against Father Reynolds isn't the only one that names Gonzaga. The University has been named in at least four other lawsuits since 2004. They all allege sexual abuse or misconduct by Jesuit Priests. In an email I got from University President, Thayne McCulloh, he said they're painfully aware that some accused priests have had connections to Gonzaga. He said Father Reynolds no longer works at the University.

Al Letson:

Thanks, Emily.

Al Letson:

When we come back, we take a look at another allegation of sexual misconduct and how it could have cost Gonzaga a fortune. That's next on Reveal.

Al Letson:

From the Center of Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I'm Al Letson. We've been talking about predatory priests who've worked at a prestigious Jesuit University in the Northwest. Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington.

Al Letson:

We just heard about one priest who was accused of abusing four Alaskan native men in an extremely remote village. That priest later moved on to a prestigious job at Gonzaga. Now, we're headed straight to campus to hear from a woman with complaints about an art professor who has connections to deep pockets and a wide audience. Reporter Emily Schwing picks up the story.

Emily Schwing:

Not long after we aired our original investigation back in December 2018, I got a tip from a woman named Lisa Houser.

Lisa Houser:

Somebody has to be willing to say something. You know, Gonzaga, I view it as Gonzaga has benefited tremendously from my silence.

Emily Schwing:

Lisa graduated from Gonzaga in 1992 and she's not your typical Zag. She doesn't follow the schools famed men's basketball team. When I visited her in the Midwest I expected to see at least one trademarked bulldog mascot, or something emblazoned with Gonzaga's red and blue colors, but there's nothing like that here in her living room. There is one notable painting above her mantel piece. I recognize the dome church and it's red tiled roof.

Emily Schwing:

That looks like Florence.

Lisa Houser:

That is Florence. It was painted in 1966 by Georgia Orr and she was actually a classmate of my mothers at the Gonzaga in Florence program in 1966.

Emily Schwing:

Oh wow, so your mom went to Florence, too.

Lisa Houser:

She did go to Florence, yeah.

Emily Schwing:

Gonzaga's study abroad program in Florence, Italy is well known. And in 1990, Lisa, like her mother 25 years before, attended.

Emily Schwing:

After Lisa shows me her family photos and art work, we head to a little park near her home. She likes to sit above the waterfall here to clear her head.

Emily Schwing:

"So, give me a sense of what the Gonzaga in Florence program was like."

Lisa Houser:

They really promoted travel. The first semester my parents encouraged me to stay in Italy and Bruno, one of his jobs was to lead the tours for students who wanted to tour in Italy.

Emily Schwing:

Lisa's talking about Father Bruno Segatta. He's not a Jesuit. He's a Diocese and Catholic Priest. Between 1982 and 2009, he was on the faculty for the Gonzaga in Florence study abroad program. Lisa says she was overwhelmed in Italy so she sought guidance from him.

Lisa Houser:

I did. I went to go counsel with him. You get to like the guy. [crosstalk]

Emily Schwing:

What did you talk with him about?

Lisa Houser:

Just about what I was going through, how hard things were. He asked about my family, I told him, so he got a lot of personal information.

Emily Schwing:

Lisa grew up in a very Catholic family and they often shared meals with a local Jesuit Priest. This kind of relationship seemed normal.

Lisa Houser:

You're used to, you're trained and brought up to confess to Priests, to be open and honest because that's where you go for reconciliation. That's what you're taught to do. You are literally programmed to do that.

Emily Schwing:

One weekend, Lisa signed up with one other student for a trip to Carrara. A small Italian city about 60 miles Northwest of Florence. It's famous for its white and bluish-gray marble and Lisa couldn't wait to hike through the quarries.

Lisa Houser:

Which are in the Apennine Mountains. And, it was a fairly long hike up to the, I guess it was a hostile or something that we stayed at. I was really tired and I got a terrible cramp in my leg, which Bruno offered to massage. He'd already been ordering wine. He'd already offered me a glass, I already had some. Bruno just kept pouring wine and pouring wine and pouring wine. We had dinner and it went on and on and we kept drinking.

Lisa Houser:

At one point, I moved from sitting next to the student to sitting next to Bruno. The next thing I know at some point he had pulled me down into his lap. Now, I know I didn't just lie down and I remember a couple of times sitting back up, but eventually I'd end up back with my head in his lap.

Emily Schwing:

And you felt like he was forcing you to lay down with your head in his lap?

Lisa Houser:

I was so drunk. There wasn't any forcing, I just tipped right over, okay? There wasn't anything I could do. I remember thinking, "Oh my God! Something's not right!" I could feel Bruno's hand coming up under my shirt. And I thought, wait a minute, that's not right, that's not right. It was like being tickled. Or like ants crawling on you and his hands are going up and up. They went where they shouldn't go and he's laughing and giggling and he thinks it's funny. I'm panicking. I just couldn't get away.

Lisa Houser:

I tried sitting up several times. He had his hand by then on my forehead and was stroking my hair and I couldn't get up. I couldn't get away. I was too drunk to get away.

Emily Schwing:

Have you ever come in physical contact with a priest other than Bruno Segatta?

Lisa Houser:

Never.

Emily Schwing:

In the weeks after Lisa says Father Bruno groped her, Lisa also says he relentlessly harassed her.

Lisa Houser:

Oh you're so beautiful. Then he started into stuff like, "You know, I could teach you everything you needed to know so you could make your husband happy. Then you could really be a wonderful wife. Any time you need to know I can teach what you need to know. There are certain things, you know, blah, blah, blah."

Emily Schwing:

At the end of the school year, Lisa returned home to Spokane for the summer. Then in the fall of 1991, she started her Senior year at Gonzaga.

Emily Schwing:

You say that students even sort of, there were rumors about your relationship with Bruno, right?

Lisa Houser:

Yes, I learned about those when we got back and I was just devastated.

Emily Schwing:

What were the rumors?

Lisa Houser:

That I was sleeping with him and having sex with him. Those were the rumors.

Emily Schwing:

Were you?

Lisa Houser:

No! Absolutely not. Dude assaulted me, no.

Emily Schwing:

We haven't been able to independently confirm exactly what happened in Florence, but we do know how the University responded to Lisa's allegations. After a roommate encouraged her to report Father Bruno, Lisa says she wrote a letter to the University's President, a Jesuit named Bernard Coughlin. He had his secretary set up a meeting.

Lisa Houser:

He goes, "Come on in, Lisa." I come in and he's tapping my letter with his finger. He said, "You're just emoting. Emoting." I looked at him and I said, "What? What does that word mean? What is that word?" "It means that you are taking a past experience and imposing it upon current circumstances, current situations." I looked at him and I said, "I am not emoting. Him telling me that he wanted to have sex with me is not emoting. He sexually harassed me."

Emily Schwing:

Poor Bruno, Lisa says Father Coughlin told her and he accused her of drinking too much. Then she says he threatened to expose a volatile family secret that she confided in him. Lisa was worried that if it came out it could tear her family apart. She says Father Coughlin told her that if she said anything about her allegations, he'd make that secret public.

Lisa Houser:

Yes, about what happened with one of my relatives in my childhood. I just looked at him, I couldn't believe it. He said, "No one will believe you." If I had said a word he was going to tell everybody about what happened.

Emily Schwing:

Lisa wasn't just any student. The President of the University had a special interest in her great aunt. A very wealthy Spokane business woman named Myrtle Wilson. She's also Lisa's Godmother.

Lisa Houser:

My aunt, she was wonderful and she was horrible. Lots of people have people like that in their family that there are these two extremes in them and my aunt certainly was one of those people.

Emily Schwing:

Aunt Myrtle was eccentric. She was often at odds with her neighbors. She even once dragged the city of Spokane into a neighborhood disagreement over some trees she wanted to cut down. Her elaborate flowerbeds were well known and Aunt Myrtle would dress up to get down in the dirt.

Emily Schwing:

She'd wear a fine dress and coordinated jewels. Rubies and a sapphire and diamond ring. On occasion, she'd also impart a life lesson.

Lisa Houser:

And she told me, "Lisa," she would always say it like that. "Lisa, you have to remember money is your friend." I think I'm like 10, maybe 11 years old and I'm thinking money is my friend? Then the next time I saw her I go running over and I said, "Aunt Myrtle!" She goes, "Yes." I said, "Wha!" And I gave her a huge hug and I said, "I bet money can't do that." She gave me a big smile and she gave me the only hug she'd ever given me in my life.

Emily Schwing:

According to Lisa and other members in her family, Father Coughlin spent years courting Aunt Myrtle for her money. During those same years, Lisa tried over and over to report Father Bruno.

Lisa Houser:

Literally, I feel forced that I have had to come out and tell everybody this. And, it's brutal to have to say publicly knowing that people are going to call me a liar or that it didn't happen, that Bruno assaulted me. Because it does not appear as thought Gonzaga ever will.

Emily Schwing:

As Lisa continued to complain, Bruno continued to pour wine. Alumni described the legendary parties he threw in Florence. One student wrote her Senior thesis about it in 2005.

Emily Schwing:

It says, "Bruno wore a t-shirt with the word Guru emblazoned across the front. And that cheating, binge drinking and promiscuity were expected and encouraged behaviors." She said, "Father Bruno's presence created a very dangerous dynamic giving religious sanction to morally questionable activities."

Emily Schwing:

A church official in the Northwest says the way Father Bruno ran the Florence program was inappropriate and imprudent for a Catholic Priest. He said Father Bruno's behavior goes against the Dallas Charter. As a document Catholic Bishop's created in 2002 to protect children and young people. The official declined to go on tape, but he described an effort to remove Bruno from Florence. Members of Gonzaga's Administration went to Italy in 2003. They fired Father Bruno, but they were met with fierce backlash from students and alumni, and days later they agreed to keep him on. He stayed for at least another five years.

Emily Schwing:

When Lisa heard there was still trouble in the Florence program, she filed another complaint at Gonzaga University and at about the same time, she went to Father Bruno's homebase. The Catholic Diocese in Boise, Idaho. She and her mother traveled there together. Lisa was interviewed. The two say a woman from the Diocese took pages of notes. But it would be another 15 years before Lisa heard from them again and she says she didn't hear much from Gonzaga, either.

Emily Schwing:

Nearly three decades after Lisa says she first tried to launch her complaint, she tried one more time. Finally, in September 2018 she got an email from the Chancellor of the Boise Diocese who is also the Director of Child Youth and Adult protection. Mark Raper's emails says the Bishop in Boise had received Lisa's complaint about Father Bruno. Bruno would be listed on the website as retired. He told Lisa an announcement would be made from the pulpit and Bruno was not to participate in ministry at any of the parishes in the Boise Diocese or anywhere else.

Emily Schwing:

Lisa says she felt relief. It had taken 27 years, but someone had finally taken her complaint seriously. Then, two and a half months after Lisa received that email I discovered Father Bruno presided over a Catholic Funeral Service in Boise.

Lisa Houser:

I just can't believe that. I just can't. I guess part of me still wants to believe that when people give their word they're good for it. Maybe something happened? I don't know. I just can't believe that.

Emily Schwing:

And in April, Father Bruno offered a virtual Easter Sunday mass in place of a public gathering due to COVID-19.

Emily Schwing:

And before the pandemic shut down travel, Father Bruno was back in Europe partying. For years, Father Bruno has been leading art and wine infused tours across Europe. There's video of him online often holding a full glass of wine at a table full of joyful people.

Emily Schwing:

There's also a photo of Father Bruno in a town square from 2010 standing next to a bronze female statue cupping the statue's breast. Father Bruno's behavior might have raised the eyebrows of Catholic leadership in the past, but there's no question that he's both revered and somewhat famous. For years, there's been a scholarship funded in his name. It was worth nearly $120,000 in 2019.

Emily Schwing:

A Gonzaga in Florence Alum named a series of wines from his vineyard after the priest, and Father Bruno has also presided over several prestigious Catholic ceremonies, including the wedding of Nancy Corinne Pelosi, the daughter of US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Emily Schwing:

"Can you hear me?"

Father Bruno:

Hi, there.

Emily Schwing:

Hi, there.

Father Bruno:

Yes, I do.

Emily Schwing:

Last summer the Boise Diocese moved Father Bruno more than 100 miles North to McCall, a small lake resort town in Central Idaho where he now oversees three small churches. That's where he was when I called him this year.

Emily Schwing:

"Oh, okay, so I'm calling because I'm a reporter. I work for a public radio show and podcast called Reveal."

Emily Schwing:

I asked him about Lisa's allegations. It was dealt with by the Diocese a long time ago, Father Bruno tells me. Then, he hangs up the phone.

Emily Schwing:

A month after Lisa got that email from Boise that said Father Bruno would not be saying mass anywhere anymore, she also got one from a member of Gonzaga's Administration. "What you've shared is very concerning and we want to assure you we are working to garner a full understanding." It came days after a phone conversation that also included Gonzaga's General Council and the school's Title 9 Director.

Emily Schwing:

By now, Lisa and members of her family have tried half a dozen times to lodge formal complaints with Gonzaga and the Catholic Church.

Speaker 13:

Well, GU has received its largest gift in school history in that 55 million dollar donation from a Spokane resident and lifelong philanthropist will go towards scholarships and a new performing arts center.

Emily Schwing:

That 55 million dollars? That's Aunt Myrtle's money. She left it to Gonzaga when she died in 2014. 30 million dollars of Myrtle Woldson's donation funded the construction of a new Performing Arts Center. They were building it two years ago when I first visited Gonzaga to report on the dozens of accused Jesuit priests we found in a retirement home on campus.

Emily Schwing:

The Performing Arts Center stands just behind that home. And there's a theater inside named for Father Bernard Coughlin, the University President who Lisa first brought her allegations to and the same man who Lisa's family believes courted Aunt Myrtle for her fortune.

Lisa Houser:

I don't think she would have done things the way she did it if she'd known she was going to impact me this way.

Al Letson:

Emily, what have you heard from Gonzaga and the Boise Diocese about all of this?

Emily Schwing:

I've made dozens of requests for interviews to both the Diocese and Gonzaga, but they only want to communicate via email. In one, a spokesman of the Boise Diocese told me that there was a brief period when they were discussing retirement for Father Bruno, but that Bruno made a very compelling case as to why he should not be retired.

Emily Schwing:

This still doesn't explain why they told Lisa he would be listed as retired and couldn't take part in ministry anywhere. And Gonzaga's current President, Thayne McCulloh has also been in touch. He said that Father Bruno hasn't worked there for many years. But of course, he also worked there for more than 25 years.

Al Letson:

It sounds like Father Bruno worked for the University for just as long as Lisa's been trying to get someone to listen to her concerns.

Emily Schwing:

Yeah, Al, it's been nearly three decades and Lisa says she's filed complaints with the Catholic Diocese in Biose and Gonzaga University six times. She's been interviewed and exchanged many emails and phone calls with both organizations over the years, but she's never seen them take any action to respond directly to her alleged complaints.

Al Letson:

After all these years, what is it that Lisa wants?

Emily Schwing:

Honestly, Al, all she's ever asked is that Gonzaga send a letter to Florence Alumni that says they received an allegation of sexual assault and harassment against Father Bruno.

Al Letson:

Thanks, Emily.

Emily Schwing:

Thanks, Al.

Al Letson:

We've been investigating this story for two years and we'd like your help on another investigation we have in the works. We want to hear from small business owners on whether the government helped you get a loan to make it through the pandemic. And if you work for a small business, have you been furloughed or laid off? Or are you still being paid?

Al Letson:

You can get in touch by texting the word loans to 474747. That's l-o-a-n-s at 474747. You can text STOP at any time and standard rates apply.

Al Letson:

In a moment, we go back to Indian country and meet a man who came up with a clever solution to save the social event of the year despite the COVID crisis.

Speaker 14:

Many people during this time are having a hard time and this has helped so many people get by during this hard time.

Al Letson:

You're listening to Reveal.

Al Letson:

From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I'm Al Letson. It's been more than four months since the first known death from COVID-19 in the United States. As of June 16th, the virus has claimed more than 115,000 lives here. Native Americans have been especially hard hit and the healthcare system is struggling to keep up.

Speaker 15:

Many Native American hospitals are not equipped for multiple severe ventilator cases. For now, patients are airlifted to facilities in Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Al Letson:

In May, the Navajo Nation had the highest infection rate in the country surpassing New York and New Jersey.

Speaker 16:

We tell people to wash their hands, but a study showed that 30% of the homes on Navajo Nation don't have running water so how are they going to do that?

Al Letson:

That community responded with some of the strictest lockdown measures in the country. Social distancing is forcing tribes across the nation to cancel the thing that everybody looks forward to all year. Pow Wows.

Dan Simons:

Hi, I'm Dan Simons. I'm from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. I was born in Connecticut where my tribe still exists and I live in Bozeman, Montana with my wife who's Crow and my two children.

Al Letson:

I think a lot of people know the term Pow Wow, but probably a lot of our listeners have never actually been to one, including myself. I've seen some in video but I've never actually been to one. Can you describe what happens at a Pow Wow and why it is so important to the Native American Community?

Dan Simons:

Pow Wows are kind of a contemporary gathering. It's where tribes come together sharing their dances, music and art. We welcome everyone to Pow Wows all around the country. There's probably a Pow Wow somewhere near you wherever you live because again, there's natives all over this country because we are all on Indian land.

Al Letson:

How'd you feel when you realized it wasn't going to happen this year?

Dan Simons:

I was sitting on my couch one night realizing there's not much for indigenous people on the scale of what Pow Wows usually are and happen. I thought that we needed a place to showcase kind of a Pow Wow online. In addition to most minorities in this country, indigenous people, we are marginalized and erased. We created a platform which is social distance Pow Wow where we can be heard.

Dan Simons:

Grab your virtual snacks, grab your virtual lemonades, tacos, your buffalo meat ...

Dan Simons:

We're kind of taking our own media and creating our own media.

Al Letson:

Social distance Pow Wow lives on Facebook. Dan created it with a couple of friends. Basically, moving Pow Wows online.

Dan Simons:

Just pretend you're at a Pow Wow because right now we're all in [inaudible]

Al Letson:

Just like at an in person Pow Wow, there's singing and dancing, contests with prize money, jewelry and art for sale, even an MC who introduces various acts.

Dan Simons:

Here we go. Brandon [inaudible] coming up here. [inaudible]

Dan Simons:

We want dancers, drummers, artists to hit that live button from the group and just share. Share what they have, the gifts they have to share.

Al Letson:

There are new videos from all over the US and Canada going up all the time.

Ailene:

Hey, what's up? My name is Ailene. I'm from North Dakota. I'm just showcasing my traditional medicines infused into my handmade soaps.

Dan Simons:

This has shown that there's a need for a platform like this in the sense of just showcasing indigenous talent. There's folks that can't get to Pow Wows whether it be just distance, whether it be someone's health. This page has reached a lot of elderly folks that can't really travel as well.

Al Letson:

Right now, you guys are pushing close to 200,000 members.

Dan Simons:

Yeah, and that's amazing. We didn't expect this.

Al Letson:

There are hundreds of videos now posted on the group. It's incredible. Why don't we check some of them out?

Dan Simons:

Sure.

Al Letson:

We're watching a young woman dance in a mostly blue dress. She's got pink ribbon around certain parts of the dress. What is that, that's hanging from the ribbon there?

Dan Simons:

Cones. This is a jingle dress dancer that we're watching. Jingle dress originates from the kind of the Great Lakes area, Ojibwe and it's known as a healing dance. Those sounds we hear when the jingle dancer is dancing they're known for healing. Healing our people.

Dan Simons:

What's amazing with this video that we're watching is there's Bison that's behind the dancer. These Bison are watching this dancer dance. Just the power that's behind this dress itself is pretty amazing. This video was shot by a friend of mine, Adam [Singzatimber] and he's an artist. His work kind of focuses on indigenizing colonized spaces. Because all this land that we're on was once indigenous space. His work kind of takes these colonized spaces and indigenizes them once again.

Dan Simons:

The Bison have barbwire in front of them. Just that idea of space and barbwire and land and separation is just beautiful with this video.

Al Letson:

The caption above the video says, "I'm dancing for all those worried and affected by the Corona Virus pandemic.

Dan Simons:

Yep, so again that's the healing, the healing dress, the healing dance.

Al Letson:

Even got young kids making videos now. Let's talk about the one from Zac who's just six years old. This one has been shared more than 30,000 times. He is so cute, oh my goodness. That totally made my day.

Dan Simons:

That feeling you just felt, it's been felt so much across the country. That's what I'm happy with so much with this page is that it's uplifted people during this time.

Al Letson:

I should just describe this for our listeners. There's a little boy, he's six years old and he's in traditional dress and he's doing a traditional dance. I mean, he is good. He's hitting the beat right on time. He looks great.

Dan Simons:

Yeah, and this style is known as the grass dance. On the plains, they have the tall grasses, so these dancers would be out there clearing the grass, you got to clear the way so that ceremony can happen. That's kind of the movements he's doing is clearing the grass.

Al Letson:

I think different than the Pow Wows that are actually in person where people go somewhere and gather, the people apart of your group, they're filming this wherever they are. In their houses, outside in their front yard, just wherever, right?

Dan Simons:

Right. Yeah, and it's pretty cool because you get inside of their spaces and you see how indigenous people live and where they live. And again, all too often that's not shown in the world. This has been great just to educate people worldwide.

Al Letson:

Do you feel like it's bringing Native American people together who normally wouldn't be able to come out?

Dan Simons:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, it's connected people. It's done nothing, again, but positivity for people and uplifted people during this time. I mean, early on there was a gentleman that reached out saying that he was thinking about killing himself and our page kept him wanting to live. To have that effect on someone, it just makes me want to cry, you know? It's just that power to ... Like, I'm thankful that our page kept him here.

Dan Simons:

Many people during this time are having a hard time and this has helped so many people get by during this hard time.

Al Letson:

Dan Simons, a business owner and jewelry maker in Bozeman, Montana. Thank you so much for talking to me.

Dan Simons:

Yep, thank you. Thanks for listening.

Al Letson:

You might have heard me mention that we are about to launch our first serial, American Rehab. It's a deep dive into a type of drug rehab that sends people in need of treatment to work without pay.

Shoshana Walter...:

One of my biggest questions; where does this work based rehab come from?

Al Letson:

Reveal's Shoshana Walters has spent years investigating.

Shoshana Walter...:

And as I've learned from talking to hundreds and hundreds of people who've gone through these types of programs, I kept hearing it wasn't just about work.

Al Letson:

Shoshana learned that many of these rehab facilities also rely on strange rules, therapies and punishments.

Speaker 20:

There's 17 different types of punishments you can get. I got all 17 of them.

Shoshana Walter...:

Some of the punishments seemed like they were designed to be humiliating.

Speaker 21:

The first thing they did was they shaved my head. They strip you down kind of like take away everything that you think defines you.

Speaker 20:

They're like, "What do you think you are coming in here and trying to tempt us!" Like, in my face. Guys yelling at me like this.

Al Letson:

We launch American Rehab on July 4th. You can hear it on your local public radio station, or right here on the podcast. Just make sure you subscribe to Reveals podcast feed so you don't miss a thing.

Al Letson:

Our lead producer for this week's show is Katharine Mieszkowski. [inaudible] edited the show. Thanks to Michael [Quary] and Quinn Lewis for their help on the stories about Gonzaga University. And a special thank you to Mawinda [inaudible 00:49:44]. Victoria [inaudible] is our general council.

Al Letson:

Our sound design team is our dynamic duo, Jay Breezy. Mr. Jim Briggs and Fernando my man, [inaudible 00:49:53]. The help this week from Claire [inaudible] Mullen, Amy [Mustaffa] and the [inaudible 00:49:58]. Our CEO is Crystal [inaudible 00:49:59]. Matt Thompson is our Editor and Chief. Our Executive Producer is Kevin Sullivan. Our theme music is by Commorado Lightning.

Al Letson:

Support for Reveal is provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, Democracy Fund, and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Reveal is the co-production of the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX.

Al Letson:

I'm Al Letson, and remember, the only way through this is together.