Priest Accused of Abuse in New Orleans Housed at Fordham


The university said it was not aware of the allegations against Fr. Carr until the Fordham Ram raised them. (Kevin Stoltenborg/The Fordham Ram)

By Erica Scalise

Editor’s note: This article contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

The late Rev. Cornelius Carr, S.J., who spent the end of his life living in Murray-Weigel Hall, the Jesuit nursing home on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, was accused this year of being involved in a sexual abuse incident at Jesuit High School in New Orleans in the late 1970’s.

According to Bob Howe, assistant vice president for communications, the university was not aware of the allegations against Carr until The Ram raised them.

“That was a lapse on our part, and one that will not be repeated,” said Howe. “It is the university’s duty to ensure the safety of its students, faculty and staff, and while we don’t believe any members of the Fordham community have been placed at risk by Father Carr’s presence, it is inappropriate to house him in proximity to a college campus and high school.”

According to the New Orleans Advocate, before spending the end of his life at Fordham, Carr served as Provincial of Jesuits’ New York Province in 1966, principal of McQuaid High School in Rochester, New York from 1960-64, a teacher at Jesuit High School (1976-1980), principal of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey and a member of the Archdiocese of Florida, 1981-2005.

Accusations were brought against Carr by Richard Windmann, 53, a resident in the Dallas, Texas area. Windmann said he was abused by a school janitor, Pete Modica, at Jesuit High School in New Orleans on multiple occasions, one of which Carr took part in. Though Windmann was not a student at the high school, he regularly played basketball on the school’s court.

Windmann said he did not know who to turn to after being sexually abused by a scoutmaster, Modica and Carr.

“When Pete was sodomizing me, my field of vision was his desk, and on his desk was a clock. It seems counterintuitive, but I focused on that clock because to me, it made the time pass faster,” said Windmann. “And then a priest walked in, and it was Cornelius Carr and I thought, ‘a priest is here’ and ‘wow it’s over,’ and then he put his hand on my back and began masturbating.”

Windmann said his only prior interaction with Carr before that day was seeing him on the street and exchanging a hello-like nod.

He said it took years for anyone around him to take his accusations against Modica and Carr seriously.

“I’ve been trying to get this out for like 10 years and nobody believed me,” said Windmann. “I went to law enforcement, and no one believed me, and they sat on it and did nothing.”

Six years ago, Jesuit High School’s leadership paid Windmann $450,000 to settle his abuse claim. According to Windmann, the settlement was covered up by the Jesuit order and to the Jesuit High School community.

“The only party that stands to gain confidentiality are the bastards who raped me,” said Windmann. “I knew when I signed the agreement, the Catholic Church was trying to cover it up.”

According to The Advocate, by the time of the Windmann settlement, there were at least two other cases reported at Jesuit High School from the same era that both Modica and Carr were present at the school, each resulting in settlements.

This priest is not the first accused of sexual assault that the university has housed, though Carr has not been accused of any abuse since living at the university.

The Fordham Ram previously reported that one of the priests, the Rev. Eugene O’Brien, was principal and president of Fordham Prep in the early ’70s when he allegedly molested a student. The accuser filed a lawsuit which was settled in 1997 for $25,000 by Fordham.

Another case was brought by a friend of a Fordham Prep student, who said he was raped by Rev. Roy Drake, S.J., a former science teacher at Fordham Prep in the late 1960s and resident of Murray-Weigel Hall.

Windmann said he is sure the university knew about the accusations brought against Carr when he was housed in Murray-Weigel Hall.

“He was moved from place to place after this happened,” said Windmann. “They knew in Jacksonville, just like they knew in New York. It’s all part of a cover-up by the Church. I’m sure the university knew about it.”

According to Howe, the university believes Windmann is telling the truth about what happened to him but stands by its statement that it was unaware of Carr’s background.

“A good number of priests have lived in Murray-Weigel over the years. The Province may have the exact numbers, and we don’t generally know the histories of those who were not previously at Fordham,” said Howe. “It is heartbreaking. We hope he finds justice and healing.”

The Jesuits of the Northeast Province did not comment in time for publication.

Windmann said since coming forward with the accusations, he has felt supported by many people but attacked and discredited by the church.

“The last time I went, they made me feel so uncomfortable,” said Windmann. “They wouldn’t let me sit where I normally sit. They put me and my wife in a different section. . . The evil that I experienced was incredible. And it got so goddamn bad, we left before communion.”

After a detailed report earlier this year of widespread abuses in Pennsylvania, victims across the world are coming forward in detail about their abuse.
According to America Magazine, a national weekly magazine published by the Jesuits of the United States, Scott Santarosa, S.J., U.S. West Province of the Society of Jesus region, announced in a letter last week that Jesuits in the western part of the United States will release the names of all members of the religious order in that region with credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors dating back to 1950.

“While the Church in the U.S. has experienced significant reform in this area, we are now called to deepen that reform by becoming more transparent,” said Santarosa. “In issuing this list and calling for an independent review, we hope to offer victims and their families a step forward in the healing process.”

Rev. Dr. Lito Salazar, S.J., executive director of campus ministry, said he is saddened and angry to hear about the accusations brought against Carr.

“I expect the Provincial of the U.S. Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus to address the issue of clergy sex abuse by members of this Province, including a course of action and amends,” said Lito.

Windmann said despite the level of evil he has been met with, the Catholic Church is still his church. He said the parishioners are what make the Church what it is today.

“If nobody shows up to the pews on Sunday, there is no church,” said Windmann. “How dare they not protect our children? We trust them with our children, and they fail.”