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Ex-Principal Faces Charge Of Sex Abuse St. Patrick’s Educator Accused Of Molestation

Kara Briggs Staff writer

FOR THE RECORD: (April 5, 1995): Father Joe Weitensteiner is executive director of Morning Star Boy’s Ranch as well as pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish. A Monday story incorrectly reported his relationship to the boy’s ranch. (Unpublished note: The story actually ran on Tuesday.)

Spokane police asked prosecutors Monday to charge the former principal of St. Patrick’s Catholic School with second-degree child molestation.

Don Andrews, who was fired last week after a family complained that he had sexually touched an eighth-grade boy, had been principal at the school for three years.

No other students have reported incidents involving Andrews, according to police and the Spokane Catholic Diocese.

Andrews, 37, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish, received a complaint from the boy’s parents on the weekend of March 25-26.

According to diocese protocol, Andrews was suspended immediately from his job. Then - after officials uncovered “accompanying reasons” - he was fired, Bishop William Skylstad said.

“Every case has to be judged on its own merits,” Skylstad said. “When you get into a case where an allegation is disputed strongly, it’s difficult to act.”

Andrews previously worked as a teacher at The American School in Scotland and at The International School in Tokyo.

He studied from 1984 to 1987 at Gonzaga University and earned two master’s degrees. He returned to Gonzaga in 1990 to work on a doctorate in education, which he completed last spring. During that time he was hired by St. Patrick’s.

Diocese officials conducted the standard Washington State Patrol background check on Andrews before hiring him.

Last week Weitensteiner, who formerly ran the Morning Star Boy’s Ranch, helped St. Patrick’s students cope with the allegation and the dismissal. On Thursday he called a meeting of parents in which he explained the allegation. The mother of the boy also spoke.

On Sunday, Weitensteiner told parishioners at all three of St. Patrick’s Masses about the events of the week.

Skylstad said the parish and the diocese talked openly to control the rumors, and to acknowledge the hurt that comes when there are reports of abuse.

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