Georgetown University announced Friday that a former undergraduate accused the late priest and Provost J. Donald Freeze of non-consensual contact.
In a letter to alumni, the office of Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said a group was investigating the allegation of the behavior more than three decades ago and that the university “expressed its deepest apologies “.
The institution described the allegations in factual terms but did not expressly state that it found them to be true.
“While this behavior – which involved non-consensual kissing and touching – occurred over 30 years ago, it is particularly egregious because of Father Freeze’s role both as a member of the clergy and as a than a former provost, “he added. by three members of the working group, said.
The accuser was not named, but the letter read: “We wish to recognize the courage of a former student to come forward and express our distress at the experiences he shared and the abuses of power that occurred. . “
J. Donald Freeze was dean from 1979 to 1991 and received an honorary degree from Georgetown in 1991. The letter stated that the degree and all other “recognitions” of the school had been revoked.
The university said it was working with USA East Province, the Jesuit administration of the Catholic Church for much of the east coast, to strengthen policies and procedures governing sexual misconduct.
“In the years since Father Freeze served as Provost, we have put in place strong policies and procedures to provide support to survivors of sexual abuse, including clergy survivors of sexual abuse, and programs to protect our community from sexual misconduct of any kind from any member of our university, “reads the letter from the school.
Freeze, who died in 2006 at St. Joseph’s University from Alzheimer’s disease, taught Latin and French at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia before working at several colleges before arriving in Georgetown, according to the college student newspaper The Hoya.
In 1981 he awarded British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher an honorary doctorate in law. The following year, he presented Mother Teresa with an honorary doctorate in human letters after speaking on campus and urging students to “know the poor”.
Freeze was named in a 1980s court challenge by the student Gay Rights Coalition as part of an administration that refused to recognize the group as a campus organization. A District of Columbia Court of Appeals judge ruled in 1987 that LGBTQ + groups should essentially be treated by the institution like any other.
Years earlier, Freeze had persuaded Margaret Rockefeller Strong, granddaughter of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, to donate her family’s Tuscan estate, Villa Le Balze, in Georgetown. He retired as a provost in 1991 to lead the student program there, The Hoya said.
In a description of his eulogy for Freeze, the publication said Reverend Aloysius Kelley recalled that “students who came to visit Freeze in his room at Copley Hall often stayed there chatting until the middle of the night.” .
Megan Carpentier contributed.