Arizona professor quits in wake of clergy sex abuse scandal
PHOENIX (AP) — A research professor at Arizona State University has resigned after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn made public this week details about his removal from the priesthood years ago over cases of clergy sex abuse involving minors.
University officials requested that Jaime Lara resign after they learned of his history as a priest. His resignation was tendered Thursday, The Arizona Republic reported .
Lara could not be reached for comment Friday.
He was ordained in 1973 and was in active ministry until 1992 when he was removed from the priesthood by the Vatican. The information was posted Wednesday on the diocese website along with the names of other former clerics who had been defrocked.
It was between 1979 and 1981 that Lara is accused of sexually abusing three children ranging in age from 9 to 11 years old at St. Francis Xavier Church in Brooklyn, New York, according to the victims’ attorney, Mitchell Garabedian.
“My clients are trying to gain a degree of closure and move on with their lives,” he said, adding that the university failed to fully vet Lara’s history. “Unfortunately, his stature in the community, however false, was not a surprise to me.”
Garabedian said the alleged victims in the case against Lara are involved in settlement discussions.
After being barred from the church, Lara started teaching in Colombia. In 1995, he began working as an adjunct professor at Yale, where he gained recognition and was published extensively before his departure in 2009.
Administrators at Arizona State University apparently did not know about his cleric past. An extensive listing of his experience and qualifications posted on a university webpage does not mention his time in active ministry.
The Republic reported that it was unclear Friday whether the university would conduct any follow-up investigations into Lara or the process through which he was hired.
There are no reports of abuse during his time at ASU, the university said.
It was not immediately clear to what extent he taught classes on campus or whether he was exclusively serving as a researcher.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com