April 1, 1995 in City

Diocese Fires St. Patrick’s Principal Bishop Says Student Alleged He Was Touched Improperly

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane’s Catholic Diocese this week fired the principal of St. Patrick’s Elementary School after getting reports the man improperly touched an eighth-grade male student.

The action was announced late Thursday at a meeting between 150 parents and school and diocese officials.

Donald Andrews, 37, was in his third year as principal at the North Side school.

Bishop William S. Skylstad said the decision to fire Andrews resulted from “accompanying circumstances” he and other diocese officials learned recently.

“We discovered some accompanying behavior that was very unprofessional and led us to see that termination was a must,” Skylstad said Friday.

He would not reveal details.

The unnamed student told his parents of one alleged instance of Andrews touching him in a sexual manner, Skylstad said.

The Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish, learned of the alleged contact last week and then met with students and teachers at the school

Weitensteiner fired Andrews on Tuesday.

The diocese arranged Thursday’s meeting at the school to explain what was being done and to help provide counseling help for those affected.

Said Sklystad: “Word was starting to get around and rumors were spreading. It was important for us to be upfront about this.”

In a prepared statement read Friday, Sklystad added: “We apologize to the alleged victim, the family and to the entire community for any hurt which may be the result.”

Police investigators are preparing a report on the incident. A decision on whether criminal charges might be filed would be made later.

No other students have reported incidents involving Andrews, Skylstad said.

Efforts to contact Andrews were unsuccessful.

A diocesan spokesman said Andrews was hired as principal at St. Patrick’s in 1992 from outside the area.

The diocese requested the standard Washington State Patrol background check at the time he was hired. That screening found nothing, Sklystad said.

Several incidents involving teachers or school staff have taken place in Spokane’s Catholic schools over the past 20 years. But in all those previous instances, the diocese has dealt with the issue quietly.

Skylstad said the change in approach comes from recognizing the diocese’s responsibility to make information public quickly to insure that proper steps are taken “to address this situation.”


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