When the ten year vigil begins, I expect to have a lot to say about the lawyers for Jesuits. Using their lawyers to breach confidentiality commitments is what Jesuit college presidents and Jesuit provincials like to do.
Five times in less than a year I experienced that a lawyer at Holy Cross was breaching the confidentiality promised to me by the Office of the President. And that is only what I learned because they were unconcerned or unthinking about whether I found out. In other words, I believe it happens far more often than I know.
One thing lawyers for Jesuits like to do is talk to each other — even though their clients promised me full confidentiality and neither the Jesuit college president nor the Jesuit provincial nor their lawyers ever sought my permission to have these conversations.
There have been a few lawyers over the past decade and I will probably have time on the ten year protest to talk about all of them.
But here I will just tell about a lawyer with high ethical and moral standards who knows what confidentiality means. This lawyer is Dennis Yesalonia, SJ, who was the lawyer for Holy Cross when I first contacted the college and met with Fr. McFarland. Michael McFarland told me all my communications were completely private and would never be seen by anyone else, including the college lawyer. Dennis Yesalonia said the same thing to me. He said he would never see the communications I had with Fr. McFarland.
Fr. Yesalonia did not only live with high ethical standards, he was willing to communicate too. One day he contacted me because he ran into a problem. He knew about the strict confidentiality I was promised. The problem, he said, is he is the lawyer for the college and he needs to investigate. He reminded me he has no access to what I say to Fr. McFarland. We discussed how to address that. We had an intelligent, respectful, but not easy conversation. We concluded that he could talk to specific named individuals, for specific purposes for a limited time. I ran into a lot of problems with Holy Cross back then, but not about the college lawyer.
No one since Fr. Yesalonia has cared about doing it right. The college lawyers breach my privacy and confidentiality without ever making any effort to seek permission. Fr. Boroughs freely and always shares my communications, but never asked for permission. Even though I complained over and over and over, no one listened. Over the past decade, it went downhill. I was an outsider and I can be treated poorly.
There have been moments when I saw some sign of improvement. On the 26th day of the Hunger Strike for Justice last year, the college lawyer contacted me for settlement talks, but nothing came of it. Last September, Holy Cross had its third lawyer since 2003, and he invited me and my lawyer to a meeting to discuss the issues. He said he’d get back to us about mediation, but I never heard anything about mediation over the next five months.
That’s enough about the lawyers for now. I just needed to process it again because so much has happened.
P.S. Fr. Yesalonia also called me back after he had the limited contacts I permitted and he told me what he learned. I had not asked him to do that. It was very ….. ethical. And I remember.