Alleged abuse victim 'revictimized'


ADRIAN - A California woman who has accused the choir director of Adrian College of raping her when she was a student at a California Catholic high school met briefly yesterday with the college's president.

But Joelle Casteix, who said she wanted to share information with school officials about Thomas Hodgman, the choir director, said she walked out of the meeting in tears.

"I wasn't expecting the questioning of my story. I wasn't prepared for them to call it a consensual relationship even though I was a minor. I was berated, belittled, and revictimized," she said.

Claudia Vercellotti, head of the Toledo chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, accompanied Ms. Casteix to the meeting with President Stanley Caine and Phil Baither, a college attorney.

Calls to Mr. Caine were not returned yesterday. But Mr. Baither said Ms. Casteix shared information that the college will pursue. He confirmed Ms. Casteix left the meeting, but said he did not consider it a "confrontational" discussion.

"They gave us some additional things to look into and people to contact, and we are doing that. We'll follow up on that," he said, declining to elaborate.

The college has stood by Mr. Hodgman, praising his work with its music program and noting that there were never criminal charges in the matter.

Mr. Hodgman, who is fighting the release of court documents in the California case, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

He previously has called the controversy "bogus."

According to Ms. Casteix, Mr. Hodgman raped her beginning in 1986 when she was a student at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. She says he impregnated her and passed on a sexually transmitted disease. She said she had an abortion.

She filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Orange County in 2003, when California temporarily lifted its civil statute of limitations on such cases, clearing the way for hundreds of lawsuits to be filed against Catholic dioceses in the state.

Hers was part of a $100 million settlement in December. Orange County Bishop Tod Brown has said the settlement would make the church "holier, humbler, and healthier."

Ms. Casteix received a $1.6 million settlement, evidence that Ms. Casteix's allegations were truthful, her attorney, John Manley, said.

In addition to the meeting with Mr. Caine, Ms. Casteix flew to Ohio from California to lend her support for proposed legislation that would allow a brief opportunity for lawsuits to be filed in Ohio in decades-old child sexual abuse cases.

It is similar to the California law that allowed Ms. Casteix's lawsuit and propelled her to be one of the most public advocates for victims of sexual assault by Catholic clergy and leaders in that state.

Contact Robin Erb at:

or 419-724-6133.