Christendom College issues official apology

Timothy O’Donnell, president of Christendom College, has just posted this official response to our recent  two posts. Tom McFadden, VP for enrollment, has verified that it was written and posted by the college, and that the same statement will be posted on the Christendom homepage on Thursday, January 17.

We are glad the school took the trouble to respond. We are nowhere near done with this story. 



A recent blog, which contains misleading information and serious inaccuracies, was posted about Christendom College. Despite those inaccuracies, the hearts and prayers of our entire Christendom College community go out to all involved in the incidents described and to anyone who may be a victim of sexual harassment or assault.

We would like to apologize to any of those in our community who feel they were not properly responded to concerning an alleged sexual harassment and assault.  Christendom College will continue to do everything it can to understand how to best respond to these very difficult and tragic situations. In retrospect, the College may not have served these victims as well as we could have, and for this hurt we are truly sorry for any additional pain that this may have caused.

Please be assured that Christendom College is committed to maintaining an academic environment free of discrimination and all forms of coercion that impede the academic freedom, security, or well-being of any member of the community.

As a campus dedicated to following the teachings of the Catholic Church, we strive to foster an environment where every student feels safe and respected and where the dignity of the human person is upheld and honored. Sexual harassment and assault is inimical to such an environment. As part of this commitment, the College undertakes to educate the student body about sexual harassment and assault.
•       We have a new sexual harassment and assault policy published in the Student Handbook with instructions on how to report sexual harassment and assault and how to receive resources for recovery (page 29 of the student handbook).
•       New student orientation includes a session that covers sexual harassment and assault, reporting, and on-campus resources for support.
•       RAs are now trained in responding to and reporting sexual harassment or assault.
•       Our on-campus nurse and counselor are available at no cost and can help with trauma and recovery.
•       We now have a formal grievance policy students can use to make a complaint against any campus community member who is not covered by the student policy (e.g. faculty, staff, etc.). We can use this process to address inappropriate comments or unreasonable behavior that makes students feel uncomfortable.
•       A female Residence Life staff member now lives in the women’s residence halls. This gives women more of an opportunity to share a concern or incident with a staff member they trust. A male Residence Life staff member also lives on campus to assist the men.
•       We now offer both a men and women’s monthly formation series that addresses mental health, healthy relationships, and other gender-specific topics.

If some believe that our efforts and policies have failed to bring justice to their particular situations, please understand that despite being fallen human beings, the faculty and staff do their very best every day to provide a just and safe environment.

Respect and honor for women was at the heart Christ’s mission and therefore it is at the heart of the mission of Christendom College. We are committed in our policies, our procedures, and in our on-campus culture to uphold and promote the dignity of women and men.

We will continue to do so in fidelity to our mission: to restore all things in Christ.

Dr. Timothy T. O’Donnell
Christendom College

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22 thoughts on “Christendom College issues official apology”

  1. ” [T]he faculty and staff do their very best every day to provide a just and safe environment.”

    This is the biggest pile of rubbish I have ever read. How can anyone believe this nonsense? The faculty is focused on one thing: protecting the “city on a hill” image. Why? Because that’s where they get their paychecks from. Leave all the religious nonsense out of the issue.

  2. I am still waiting for Simcha to release the name of the the alleged perp. If your investigating reporting is factual and you have verified that it is to your satisfaction, then give us his name. You have nothing to fear if the facts are as you say they are. If you are certain that this man committed the crime of rape in the National Park, then others should be made wary of him and you have a duty to help other women steer clear of him to present other rapes from occurring. I am waiting.

    1. I cannot speak for Simcha, but a failure to release the name of the accused would seem to favor his presumption of innocence (a fact which her detractors have been quick to point out). And given the sheer volume of the narrative as already prevented, it is disquieting that so much is made of the messenger, and so little of the message.

      A young woman was reported to have been raped, and an educational institution dedicated to Catholic orthodoxy, may or may not be responsible for cultivating a hostile atmosphere, in the aftermath of the incident. That is the issue. Try sticking to that. For once.

  3. This is not an apology.
    The school has not posted anything on their website and deleted visitor posts from Facebook.
    Again — they are trying to keep this whole thing a secret in favor of reputation. They are sweeping it under the rug and moving on. A truly sad situation.

    1. I wouldn’t say Christendom is hiding anything with deleting Visitor posts… Lots of pages do that when scandals break or someone/something has somehow gotten it into the limelight. I’ve seen it when Teen Vogue has published inappropriate stories, a GAP in NJ supposedly discriminated and so forth… It may not even be CC doing it but a Facebook algorithm stopping them…

  4. This isn’t in direct comment to the response from Christendom, but more general to the broader situation of consenual vs. non-consensual sex in a conservative Christian college. I speak as the mother of four young sons, and would welcome the perhaps more road-tested thoughts of others. Much was made, it seemed to me, of the possible situation of a female student regretting consensual sex and claiming it was rape, and the ensuing importance of protecting the potentially innocent male. I’m sure it happens. A false accusation of rape is a horrific thing for a man endure. However, it seems to me that in EITHER case, whether the occasion was consensual or not, the male student has done something wrong and exploitive to the woman — and for him to run the risk of a later rape charge is no more than justice, akin in its own milder way to the woman’s risk of pregnancy. I’m emphatically not encouraging Christian women who regret their sin to bear false witness — but shouldn’t we at least uphold that it’s a fair risk which a man who puts himself in that situation must face? Wouldn’t predatory young men at a Christian school think twice about their plans if they knew the administration would automatically find them guilty of at least ONE grave offense if not immediately two? It’s about time we started actually holding our young men to the same standards as their sisters.

    1. Having consensual sex is an expellable offense at Christendom. Since the young man admitted to doing it, and the young woman did not, it seems it would have been simple to simply expel him for that offense.

      1. Yes! That’s just the kind of thing I mean. Anybody know if any explanation has been given of why he wasn’t?

        1. Yeah, that seems the salient question, if not one comprehensible to the unbubbly world Mr. Fisher seems disposed to favor.

        2. The incident did not happen on campus, and the young man and woman were adults. The college President mentioned this.

          1. In my understanding, the school will punish you for having premarital sex even if you do it off campus. (It would be virtually impossible to do it on campus anyway.) I remember when I was a student, it was rumored that girls were expelled simply for being pregnant, as that was proof they’d had sex. The college has apparently quit taking it this far, mainly due to alumni protest and a desire to be prolife, but I never heard that students are free to have sex off campus without punishment now.

    2. I don’t think that the wrong a man commits against a woman when they engage in consensual sex outside of marriage is the same wrong as rape or assault, and I think it’s dangerous to conflate the two. It implies criminal penalties might be in order for consensual sex; it also diminishes the meaning of a woman’s consent, so that it is less clear that rape can be committed within marriage as well as without.

      1. Leah, if my comment appeared to conflate the two I must have worded it very poorly! Consensual sex certainly shouldn’t be a criminal offence, nor did I wish to muddy the waters on the other issues you mentioned. We are in agreement. What I did mean to say is that within a school claiming vehemently to uphold Christian sexual morals, consensual sex IS an offence – though certainly not as grave as rape, of course. If a case of accused assault comes before the administration, and the man claims she had given consent, well, he is obviously GUILTY of at least one serious offence against the school’s code of conduct, and ought to be made to face the consequences. The woman, on the other hand, is either equally guilty (with the addition of perjury) OR entirely-completely-totally innocent. That is what seems to me not to have been recognized. Instead, she is treated as guilty until proven innocent, and he as innocent until proven guilty, and no one at the school appears to have been interested in sorting out which was which.

        1. Yes, this is one thing that continually puzzles me about accusations and investigations into rape.

          We all know that in the history of this fallen world not only have some people committed crimes, but also that someone people have deliberately made it appear that a crime was committed, which was not in fact committed. People have staged murders that did not happen, so that the supposedly murdered person could disappear from their former life, people have pretended to be robbed in order to collect insurance on the supposedly stolen property, people have pretended to be the victims of hate mail for various reasons. Yet, when an ordinary person says that they have been robbed, or sent hate mail, or that someone is murdered, the initial reaction generally is to investigate the crime. Only rape, as far as I can tell, is normally first treated as if it did not happen. Just as Cordelia says above, the accused rapist is generally considered innocent until proven guilty and the alleged victim is generally considered guilty until proven innocent. What if we treated other crime like that? What if you reported your car stolen and the reaction of investigating officers was to ask what you were wearing at the time, and if you every loaned your car to anyone? If you were wearing the wrong sort of clothing, or if you ever loan your car to anyone, then of course your car could not be stolen.

    3. “it seems to me that in EITHER case, whether the occasion was consensual or not, the male student has done something wrong and exploitive to the woman”
      . . . If the occasion was consensual, why doesn’t that mean that the woman has done something wrong and exploitative to the male student, too? To punish him in such a case, but not her sounds like clear gender discrimination that wouldn’t even be allowed at a private school.

  5. Call it what it is, please, and what it calls itself: a response, not an apology. It does not purport to be an apology, despite containing certain careful, conditional, apologetic phrases.

    Headlining it as an apology carries an implicit understanding that, in issuing an apology, the school accepts responsibility for the wrongdoing / mishandling of cases of which you have accused it.

    It patently does not, and this characterization of the College’s statement predisposes the reader to approach the statement with certain expectations that are obviously not going to ve met, laying it unfarily open to charges of insincerity and callous indifference.

    That this is the case is evidenced powerfully by your reader Claire’s unhappy comment.

    1. But such manifestly deliberate distortions – rigid hayseeds and all that – has unfortunately characterized the series pretty much throughout. A shame, since both telling the womens’ stories & a genuine look at where the college may have failed (& where it didn’t) – such as why the male wasn’t expelled for fornication for one – would have been both worthy and legitimate.
      Instead, the series but exploits the abused women again, eagerly employing them as pawns to advance what reads very much like the standard secular agenda – to wit, not that Christendom failed its obligations to the Faith, but should be despised and mocked for even having such aspirations.
      For comparison, were a reporter to investigate the Fisher family & perhaps suggestively interview the kids, it would be easy enough to imply a shameful commonality with those California folk & their chained offspring – for surely, if said reporter employed the Fisher reportorial method, isn’t having that many kids of itself cause for suspicion?
      No, it isn’t. And wouldn’t be even if an honest Fisher family investigation did in fact suggest some room for improvement or even a more serious intervention of some kind.
      Again, a shame the Fishers chose that approach, & especially if as Mrs. Fisher perhaps a tad too portentously tells us, there is more yet to reveal. Because the whole approach – leaving aside the many detailed distortions & inaccuracies already exposed – vindicating the abused is only the means of the series, not the point.
      The point alas, to continue the above analogy, is not the rescue of abused children, but that having ten children is itself an abuse

  6. This reads like self justification. This is confirming the original posts, and not correcting the “inaccuracies”. If anything, after reading this so-called apology I understand more the barriers for victims to get Justice or even to be heard to begin with. This college has a long way to go in understanding the nature and form of sexual violence against women.

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