New Christ The King President-Rector showed assault victim “lack of support”, lawsuit says

Local News

The priest who Bishop Richard Malone appointed to President-Rector of Christ the King Seminary on Tuesday is accused of leaving a woman “surprised and disillusioned” by his lack of support over a sexual assault complaint in June 2016.

Malone spoke highly of The Rev. Kevin G. Creagh in a press release to announce the appointment.

“I have come to know Father Creagh as a faithful, gifted and committed priest and educator,” Malone said when he appointed Creagh to the post.

“He will provide inspiring leadership as president-rector of Christ the King Seminary. Most importantly, he understands the heart and mind of Christ. We’re excited to have him guide us in forming missionary disciples with that same heart and mind, ready to proclaim the Good News.”

But News 4 Investigates has learned that Creagh is described much differently in a lawsuit filed May 8 by Niagara University professor Edna Leticia Hernandez De Hahn.

Hahn is suing the university and its former Vice President for International Affairs Hung P. Le, for the way in which they handled her sexual assault complaint. She accused Le of sexually assaulting her at a hotel while on a work trip in Salzburg, Austria, in 2016.

Creagh is not a defendant in the lawsuit, but he will likely have to be a witness at any civil trial.

Hahn briefly describes Creagh as someone who failed to provide spiritual support one month after she filed a complaint with the university. She accused Le of numerous acts, including that he obtained a key to her hotel room, where he put his hand on her mouth and sexually assaulted her.

Hahn specifically asked to meet with Creagh when the university allegedly failed to provide her with spiritual counseling two weeks after human resources had promised her the services.

“…Father Creagh’s statements were very equivocal and neither expressed concern for the effect of the incident on Hahn’s wellbeing nor offered any spiritual perspective on the events and aftermath,” the lawsuit alleges.

Hahn’s lawsuit states she was “surprised and disillusioned by Creagh’s absolute lack of support.”

“During the meeting, Creagh focused on observing his nails and left very quickly without any word of support,” it also alleges.

Neither Hahn nor her attorney, Frank Housh, responded to requests for comment.

Some say the allegations against Creagh raise questions about whether Malone picked the right man to lead the seminary at a time when the Diocese of Buffalo seeks to restore trust in clergy amid a sexual abuse crisis.

Attorney Mike Taheri, who has represented priests accused of sexual assault, said if what Hahn describes in the lawsuit is accurate, Creagh shows a “total lack of sensitivity to her situation.”

“That person is responsible for priest formation, he’s a public figure, so he is going to be shaping seminarians for the next years to come and they are going to have engagements with him.

“And if the allegations are true … you have to question whether he has the sensitivity and capacity to hold this position,” Taheri said.

Taheri questioned whether Malone exercised due diligencein vetting Creagh to be the President-Rector of Christ the King.

The Diocese of Buffalo, Niagara University and Creagh declined to comment on the allegations regarding Creagh’s conduct.

However, part of a university statement regarding the lawsuit as a whole said, “(O)ur first priority is always the safety of every member of the university community. When that safety is potentially compromised, we utilize every resource to investigate each matter, and take appropriate action as necessary.”

It is unclear if Creagh had discussed the lawsuit with Malone or anyone else within the diocesan hierarchy.

“That’s got to be addressed, so I think Bishop Malone has got to go back and do some more homework,” Taheri said

James G. Faluszczak, who was sexually abused by a priest as a minor, found the allegations against Creagh troubling, considering that the former rector, Father Joseph Gatto, remains on administrative leave for an allegation that he sexually assaulted an adult.

“It’s very concerning that here’s a person who appears, if we understand this correctly, to have acted callously toward a whistleblower, toward a person in need of counseling in response to sexual advances,” he said.

“Obviously, when we are in this current climate at Christ the King and the Diocese of Buffalo, you would hope that the next rector of Christ the King would be compassionate and present and quite the opposite of callous.”

Faluszczak graduated from Christ the King in 1995, an education he described as “excellent” but also tainted by what he deemed as “morally questionable behavior.”

“You would think that on the heels of everything that they would exercise a real thorough due diligence in vetting whoever would be leading this institution,” he said.

Creagh is expected to take over as president-rector this summer. He was ordained by the Vincentian Order in 1996 and has served as vice president for Mission and Ministry and as a local superior of the Vincentian community at Niagara University for six years.

Previously, Creagh served as the associate vice president for international sites and assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement at St. John’s University, where he serves on the board of trustees.

On Tuesday, the diocese provided a statement from Creagh in which he expressed gratitude to Malone and the board of trustees of Christ the King Seminary for giving him the opportunity “to be of service in providing leadership at this important time in the seminary’s rich history.”

“Finally, I thank God for my vocation to the priesthood which has given me immense joy and fulfillment for 23 years. Please pray for me and, most especially, the students of our seminary,” Creagh said in the statement.

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