AVE MARIA, FL (January 30, 2019) – Statement on Insidehighered.com Article and Michael Raiger Lawsuit
The recent insidehighered.com story “Foreclosing on Faculty Critic” is biased and misleading. The author, Doug Lederman, is a longstanding advocate for disgraced Catholic priest Mark Gruber and wrote extensively a decade ago in defense of him. President Towey suspended Gruber in 2009 when Towey was president of Saint Vincent College. The cruxnow.com story – https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-americas/2018/10/24/ave-maria-president-wants-church-to-come-clean-on-abuse-crisis/ – recounts the depravity of Mark Gruber’s conduct as a priest and explains why His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI himself signed the decrees removing Gruber from the priesthood and monastic life (excerpts of story are reprinted below).
Unfortunately, Gruber apparently has joined forces with former Ave Maria University faculty member Michael Raiger and his wife Caitlin in what appears to be a determined effort to undermine Ave Maria University and discredit its president. At a time when the Church reels from the scandal of clerical abuse, it is sad that Lederman and the Raigers would provide Gruber with a platform to manipulate the truth. Caitlin Raiger acknowledged in a 2018 email to one of her former dental patients that she and her husband were collaborating with Gruber. The deceptive insidehighered.com hit piece followed.
It is disappointing that the Raigers would choose to be in league with a defrocked priest who so gravely dishonored his vows. The Raigers’ lawsuit has striking similarities to the one which Gruber filed in 2010 when he, too, personally sued President Towey (Gruber abruptly abandoned his lawsuit after his past was revealed in the deposition). The University has in its possession the entire court file on Gruber, including the four DVD’s and transcript of his videotaped deposition; keystroke tracking logs definitively placing Gruber at his computer viewing youth-oriented pornography, thus refuting his claims that a student was responsible; and the photos and other exhibits that led to his laicization by the Holy Father.
On Friday Michael Raiger filed yet another (third) version of his lawsuit against the University. In an age of “fake news,” the University now faces a “fake lawsuit.” His efforts to malign the good names of AMU faculty will not go unchallenged. It is indeed unfortunate that money which could be spent on Ave Maria students must instead be diverted toward legal fees as the University defends itself and its faculty against the preposterous charges contained in the Raiger lawsuit.
With respect to the Raiger home, when Michael Raiger’s employment with the University ended in June 2017, he did not approach the University to make arrangements to repay the $150,000 interest-free loan which he and his wife received from AMU in 2007. Instead, he sued the University. Earlier this month the Collier County Circuit Court judge presiding over this lawsuit ruled in favor of Ave Maria University’s counter-claim. The judge’s final order requires the Raigers to pay back the amount they borrowed. At the direction of the Board of Trustees, the University is also pursuing repayment from other former employees who similarly borrowed funds and maintain delinquent loans.
The University will prevail in this litigation and continue to protect its reputation and that of those administrators, faculty and staff who labor to fulfill Ave Maria’s Catholic mission “to form joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service.”
Excerpts of October 24, 2018 article published on cruxnow.com by writer Christopher White:
“In June 2009, Towey informed the archabbot of Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania, where he was then serving as president, that a member of the faculty, Father Mark Gruber, had downloaded pornographic images onto a university computer. Towey subsequently informed the diocese of Greensburg and the local police and suspended Gruber immediately.
Gruber, who taught anthropology, purportedly enjoyed wide public support on campus and fought back, claiming a student had downloaded the images and reported it to him in the confessional.”
“As the investigation ensued, a campus IT official discovered that Gruber had made efforts to delete files remotely from his computer that had been confiscated by the police. The investigation yielded even more damning evidence against Gruber, including nude photos of himself he shared with students on campus, a log of visits to other pornographic youth-oriented sites, and personal writings detailing the priest’s sexual fantasies involving naked children, including acts between a 5-year-old and a 16-year-old. Along with the criminal investigation, Gruber’s case was sent to the Vatican for investigation and the diocese suspended his priestly faculties.”
“In June 2012, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sentenced Gruber to a life of payer and penance after finding him guilty of “possession of child pornography, the crime of production of materials which gravely injure good morals, abuse of the Sacrament of Confession with the aggravating factor of manipulation of conscience, and the defamation of a legitimate superior.” Less than a month later, after resisting the Vatican sentence, he was formally dismissed from the clerical state and monastery by signature of Pope Benedict XVI.”