The National Catholic Register’s Joan Frawley Desmond has fascinating new information on the Corapi story.
The main take-aways are that the investigation by SOLT into the allegations against Corapi was complicated by a civil lawsuit filed by Father Corapi for violation of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Further, many of the witnesses are bound by NDAs as well.
However, Father Gerard Sheehan, regional priest-servant of SOLT and Father Corapi’s religious superior in the U.S., confirmed June 19 that the order’s investigation faced complications created by a civil suit filed by Father Corapi against the former employee who had accused him of sexual misconduct.
“When she left the company, she signed a contract that she would not reveal anything that happened to her while she was at Santa Cruz Media. Father Corapi paid her for this. Father was suing her for a breach of contract,” said Father Sheehan, though he did not specify why Father Corapi had initiated the non-disclosure agreement.
The civil suit against the former employee created a problem for SOLT investigators.
“In canon law, there can’t be any pressure on witnesses; they have to be completely free to speak. The investigation was compromised because of the pressure on the witnesses. There were other witnesses that also had signed non-disclosure agreements,” said Father Sheehan.
“The canon lawyers were in a difficult situation, and Father does have his civil rights and he decided to follow his legal counsel, which he had a right to do,” he said. “We tried to continue the investigation without speaking to the principal witnesses.”
The investigation was halted after Father Corapi “sent us a letter resigning from active ministry and religious life. I have written him a letter asking him to confirm that decision. If so, we will help him with this process of leaving religious life,” said Father Sheehan.
Kudos to the Register for getting real information is a situation dominated by accusations and innuendo.
While Corapi certainly has civil rights, it seems illogical or even disingenuous on his part after just three months to claim that he cannot get a fair investigation when his own actions, even if legal and reasonable, are preventing such a fair investigation.
In the search for answers for why Corapi chose this course of action, the Register article may provide a clue. It seems that SOLT, the order to which Corapi belonged, wanted him to leave his Montana home and come and live in community with the other members of SOLT. It seems as if SOLT wanted to regularize Corapi’s situation with the society, perhaps even bringing him into line regarding their constitution which all money earned is turned over to the Society.
“The founder’s arrangement with Father Corapi was established before that time, when Father Flanagan believed that every mission should take care of its own needs,” noted Father Sheehan at that time. “Now, according to our constitution, a different way of life has been established for members. All the money we make is turned over to the society, which gives us an allowance.”
During that interview, Father Sheehan confirmed that SOLT had “begun to address the issues of members who joined the society before the new constitution. The society is moving to a more organized structural phase of its existence, with all the Church discipline that entails.” The implication of his remarks was that Father Corapi had not accommodated the discipline imposed by the new constitution.
He resigned soon after the request to join the community. You do the math, it seems Corapi probably did.