Last spring, St. Catherine University received a letter from Into Account, a nonprofit organization that supports survivors of sexual abuse in Christian contexts. The letter contained deeply troubling sexual harassment and sexual misconduct allegations involving composer David Haas. The letter was sent to us because Haas conducted an annual summer liturgical music camp, Music Ministry Alive! (MMA) at the University, as well as participated in other campus events. The University also heard directly from several survivors regarding their experiences with Mr. Haas at this time.
Our first concern is for the survivors of these behaviors. We hear you. We believe you. We thank you for the courage you have demonstrated in coming forward with your stories and fighting for your voices to be heard.
Upon learning of these allegations, the University launched an independent investigation of its history and relationship with Haas and MMA to learn as much as we could about what happened and understand how we might work to prevent something similar from happening again. trainED, a division of the Lathrop GPM law firm which specializes in higher education matters with a focus on sexual misconduct investigations, was selected to conduct the investigation.
The investigation is now complete, and trainED’s findings and recommendations have given us an understanding of the degree to which Haas appears to have exploited his prominent position in the world of liturgical music and his position with MMA. The investigation found there was evidence that MMA leadership (including a St. Catherine University employee), team members, and interns were aware of general comments that Haas’ conduct made some individuals uncomfortable. The investigation did not find, however, any evidence that formal complaints were made to St. Catherine University or any of our employees during the time of MMA camps or events in which Haas was present (1999-2017).
The University's policies and procedures around this issue are in line with standard practice both currently and during the timeframe covered by this investigation. trainED reviewed these policies and procedures, and has provided recommendations to strengthen them. The investigation findings and recommendations include specific recommendations to help prevent such misconduct from happening in the future, all of which we are committed to implementing. This includes recommendations specific to minors as some witnesses said they believed some of Haas’ alleged behaviors at MMA camps seemed consistent with grooming of minors. We are updating our policies as needed based on these recommendations. Our goal is to require those renting space or organizations conducting events on campus for youth to respect our community values, have safety measures for participants and the St. Catherine community, and provide clear avenues to report any misconduct.
In addition, music composed by David Haas will no longer be used at St. Catherine University events. The University also prohibits Haas from being on campus.
We are an institution dedicated to women and social justice. We advocate for women’s voices; for them to be heard and taken seriously. We strongly encourage anyone who has experienced sexual harassment or assault, or has received reports or has knowledge of someone who has experienced sexual harassment, misconduct, or assault within the St. Catherine community to submit a report to Sarah Schnell, our Title IX Coordinator, or their local law enforcement agency. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to those survivors who have shared their stories and helped bring these allegations to light. I would also like to thank Into Account for their commitment to providing a space for victims and survivors to be heard and receive support. Lastly, I offer my sincere appreciation to our St. Catherine alumnae who generously and courageously contributed their time to the investigation; you are the living embodiment of our mission to lead and influence.
A Note of Caution
The report of findings contains some information that may be disturbing or potentially trigger a traumatic response for any readers who have suffered similar abuse. We want to remind those readers of the resources available to members of the St. Catherine community to support them as they process this:
- Counseling is available to students through the St. Kate’s Counseling Center. After-hours support is also offered through the St. Kate's Crisis Counseling line (in partnership with ProtoCall) which can be reached by dialing 651-690-6805 and pressing 1 at the prompt.
- Our Employee Assistance Program offers access to licensed clinicians to help you with emotional, behavioral, and other issues you may be experiencing.
- Additional crisis resources include the National Crisis Text Line, available 24/7/365 by texting HOME to 741741.