Keeping pedophiles away

A report datelined Chicago and making national headlines would be upsetting by itself. But the fact it is merely a new twist on an old story needs to be kept in mind.

Roman Catholic Church officials are frequent targets of criticism for a substantial number of cases in which little or no action was taken to protect children against pedophile priests. But when they became aware of Bruce Wellems’ past after he had been a priest during the 1990s and 2000s, they acted decisively.

Wellems, who at age 15 had sexually abused a 6-year-old boy, was forced out of the priesthood.

Apparently that was not a problem for Chicago Public Schools. Knowing of his record, they allowed him access to schools, and thus children, through an alternative education program. Wellems was executive director of the Peace and Education Coalition, which runs alternative education programs at some Chicago schools.

Only after the press asked Chicago school officials about Wellems was he banned from entering schools.

Similar outrages are not unusual. Time after time, parents learn that pedophiles in their children’s schools were employed as educators elsewhere, then fired — but allowed to go on their merry ways and take school jobs elsewhere.

Efforts to correct that have been made. Let us hope schools in West Virginia and Ohio cooperate with them to ensure that pedophiles kicked out of our schools are not permitted to find victims elsewhere. And let us hope that education officials in other states reciprocate.

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