Were you or a loved one abused by Brother Jerome Binder? Did you attend Pittsburgh’s North Catholic High School and suffer sexual abuse at the hands of a Marianist Brother? Speak with an experienced Pennsylvania clergy abuse lawyer can help. You may be able to step forward and pursue justice, by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Childhood sexual abuse raises a storm of powerful and difficult emotions. We understand. Many survivors struggle to deal with painful feelings of fear, shame, embarrassment, and anger. You are not to blame. This was not your fault. We believe you, and we believe your story deserves to be told. Our only goal is to support survivors as they step forward, helping you find the resources and compensation you deserve.
We can help you come forward with confidence. If you or a loved one were sexually abused by Jerome Binder or another Marianist Brother at North Catholic High School, contact our experienced sexual abuse attorneys today for a free consultation.
Though now deceased, Brother Jerome Binder stood at the center of one of the largest sexual abuse scandals in the history of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. It was a controversy that brought shame to the Marianists, a small religious order within the Catholic Church that has managed North Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for generations.
Like so many other Catholic high schools, North Catholic, which was renamed after Cardinal Wuerl, the former Bishop of Pittsburgh, has a deplorable history of sexual abuse. The allegations against Jerome Binder broke in 2014, when North Catholic and the Marianists who run it were thrown into a storm of sexual abuse complaints relating to conduct that occurred decades before.
All told, eight Marian brothers have now been accused of sexually abusing students at the school:
All of these men but one are known to be deceased. Marianists have run North Catholic High School since 1939, when they were asked to do so by then-Bishop of Pittsburgh, Hugh Boyle. Since 1939, the Marianists have managed and operated North Catholic at the pleasure of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Brother Jerome “Jerry” Binder worked at North Catholic High School from 1961 to 1966. He returned to the school between 1975 and 1976, and again between 1979 and 1989.
A Marianist, or member of the Society of Mary, Binder’s alleged misconduct was first brought to public attention after another school teacher, Brother Bernard Hartman, came to face charges of molesting young boys at a Catholic school in Australia, WTAE reports. After learning of the Australian charges against Hartman, North Catholic High School sent out a letter, informing alumni who had attended the school during Hartman’s tenure of the news.
Soon, a second group of alumni had come forward, accusing four other Marianist brothers of sexual misconduct. Their allegations inspired even more survivors to step forward. In May of 2014, a total of 22 North Catholic High School brought their own claims of sexual abuse to the school and the press.
In all, the 22 alumni made 23 allegations of sexual abuse against eight brothers. Among the accused was Jerome Binder. Binder is now dead; the brother and former North Catholic High School teacher died in 2000.
The Marianists who run North Catholic say they had no idea about the sexual abuse complaints until they were first reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2014. The Reverend Martin Solma, a leader for the religious order, said he felt “shame” at hearing the news. “We’re also a victim,” the Reverend told reporters. “We feel violated by what these individuals have done, so everybody is a victim.”
But a darker set of allegations have also arisen, which have been underscored by the recent release of a grand jury report finding widespread and systemic evidence of childhood sexual abuse throughout Pennsylvania’s eight Catholic dioceses.
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the Marianist Order, and perhaps the Diocese of Pittsburgh, were well aware of the abuse being committed at North Catholic High School, but failed to do anything about it.
Bernard Hartman, for example, was shipped back and forth between Australia and the United States. He was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct in both nations, Australia and America, but according to these new allegations, the Marianist Order concealed his abuse from the public and law enforcement authorities, choosing instead to hide him from secular authorities.
To this day, the Marianists have refused to say exactly why Bernard Hartman was removed from teaching at North Catholic High School. It is evident, however, from other statements that Hartman was treated like so many other priests who are known to have the shameful and damaging “addiction” of pedophilia. According to Marianist authorities, Hartman spent a stint in a “treatment” facility for “extensive therapy.” He was subsequently barred from teaching and put under a “safety plan” designed to keep him away from children.
This has been a common tactic employed by the Catholic Church for decades. In the grand jury report, for example, jurors describe how predator priests are protected from secular prosecution and sent to “church-run psychiatric treatment centers,” where they can be “diagnosed” and “treated” by church-employed therapists.
Whether or not Jerome Binder was handled in a similar way is currently unknown.