Former Students at Nashotah House Face Charges of Sexual Abuse

Episcopal News Service. April 21, 1994 [94084]

After a two-month investigation, police in a Milwaukee suburb have arrested a former student at Nashotah House, a seminary of the Episcopal Church, and implicated four others in allegations of sexual abuse of minors on the campus in the late 1980s.

According to news reports in the Milwaukee Journal, the Rev. Eugene Maxey, who is canonically resident in the Diocese of Albany, was arrested and charged in Waukesha County Circuit Court with seven counts of second-degree sexual assault of three teenaged boys. The allegations were first made by the son of a graduate of the seminary and involve four other men, three of them former students at Nashotah House.

The allegations were reported to seminary officials in February, according to a statement released April 12 by the office of Dean Gary Kriss. "Four men who were students at Nashotah House at that time [1987-90] and one occasional visitor to the campus, an ordained priest of the Episcopal Church, were identified as having had sexual contact with at least two minor children on numerous occasions over a period of three years. In some cases, drugs, alcohol and pornography were also alleged to have been involved," the statement said.

Seminary officials met with Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher and supported the launch of an investigation. The seminary did not reveal the allegations "in order to allow the investigation by appropriate authorities to go forward unimpeded," according to the April 12 statement. "The primary aim of Nashotah House in responding to these allegations is to assist victims of sexual abuse and the members of their families in the process of healing. The dean and trustees also wish to ensure that perpetrators of sexual abuse are identified so that their abusive behavior can be stopped and in the hope that they can receive appropriate help," the statement added.

Similar allegations in Texas

According to newspaper accounts, investigators have confirmed that Maxey faced similar allegations of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Ft. Worth (Texas) but diocesan officials did not share those allegations with either the seminary or the Diocese of Albany where Maxey later sought ordination.

Bishop David Ball of Albany released a statement that he "had no knowledge of any sexual conduct on the part of Eugene Maxey while canonically resident in the Diocese of Ft. Worth."

Former Nashotah House dean, the Rev. Jack Knight, confirmed that "some people came to talk to me about suspicions they had of him" and that he spoke to Maxey to tell him of the suspicions. "I told him that he needed to behave differently or get help, if he needed help," Knight told the Milwaukee Journal. But he did not notify other church officials or the police because he regarded the allegations as "innuendo and hearsay."

The district attorney's office has said that its investigation should be completed by mid-May and they will make appropriate charges against the other men involved in the case.

In the meantime, Kriss said that the seminary has held open meetings to discuss the issues and in attempts to move ahead as a community.