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Letter from Helen G. Drinan, senior vice president for human resources at Caritas Christi, to Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, OFM
Archdiocese of Boston
Boston, Massachusetts
May 8, 2006
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

Dear Cardinal Sean:

I am writing this letter to you and copying it to the other Members because I am deeply troubled that the sexual harassment investigation of Dr. Haddad has not yet been resolved. I am given to understand that the four Members are the decision makers in this matter, and I urge you all to conclude the process as quickly as possible. I have given the situation, and its consequences, careful and studied thought. I have prayed for guidance and direction. I want to do the right thing. This is not a situation in which I believe there is ambiguity or uncertainty about what is the right decision. We have been advised that Dr. Haddad's touching of his female victims is clearly illegal; his victims now have most certain legal claims. We have been advised that the organization has always terminated employees where the sexual harassment has included touching. I assume that what may be delaying judgment is not the question of what we must do, but the consequences of what may follow.

As you know, I was the first person put on notice that one, and possibly as many as four, female employees of Caritas Christi Health Care had made allegations of sexual harassment against Dr. Haddad, the CEO of our organization. That was over 10 weeks ago. Not only was this situation difficult for the women involved, but we all understood the need for heightened sensitivity given Dr. Haddad's senior position in the organization, and the fact that he had been warned before about his unwelcome conduct in the workplace. The process that was put into place to investigate the allegations could not have been more thorough, more independent, or more fair. This matter has been handled by your very experienced and trusted senior people; people who have demonstrated excellent judgment and who care deeply about all of the people who are affected by this difficult situation. At every step of the process of handling this case, I have abided by both the law and Caritas Christi policy, and I have been vigilant to insure that others did as well. Following our own internal assessment, we carefully selected Attorney Jean Musiker as outside counsel to review our process and to conduct her own independent investigation. Attorney Musiker is above reproach in her reputation for integrity, experience in handling sexual harassment cases, and professionalism. She began her investigation 2 weeks ago on April 25 and has now concluded it.

Attorney Musiker reported to us that the women victims, and others she interviewed, reported conduct by Dr. Haddad that is most certainly illegal. She reported to us that the victims were consistent and credible in reporting facts. She reported to us that Dr. Haddad was not credible, most importantly when he denied ever having been cautioned in the past about his inappropriate conduct in the workplace. Attorney Musiker was measured in her investigation, and measured in her assessment. On May 2, 2006, you had Attorney Musiker re-present her findings and assessment. Of all the concerns that were raised, one continues to ring dangerously for me. We discussed the standards against which an individual charged with sexual harassment is held with regard to whether or not he/she understood that the conduct exhibited is in fact unacceptable, both legally and according to Caritas Christi policy. Cardinal Sean, we would be holding Dr. Haddad to the same standard as every other employee if he were immediately terminated. The fact that he is in a position of greater power and authority heightens his responsibility, not ours. Further, and perhaps most troubling about the way this matter has unfolded, is the near absence of concern for the victims, an outcome I never would have expected given the recent challenges the Church in Boston has faced.

Mysteriously, the Board meeting which I had been told to expect late last week was never held because I was told that Dr. Haddad was going on a mission trip to Ecuador. Dr. Haddad did not go to Ecuador. Even if he were planning to go to Ecuador, what message does that send to Dr. Haddad's victims? A mission trip-the second for him to the same place this year-- is more important than addressing his inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace? Moreover, we are now in a process to review the work of Attorney Musiker. With these delays and actions, we are providing Dr. Haddad a more advantageous standard of investigation than we would provide to any other employee or to the victims; there is more process for his protection while nothing has been done to prevent his continued day-to-day contact with his victims, and nothing has been done to respond to the victim's needs. All of this takes time we do not have given the untenable situation in which the female victims find themselves. I also believe the only conclusion that these victims can draw from yet further delay and investigation is that they are not credible, not to be believed. We know from research that women do not come forward with charges of sexual harassment readily. When faced with a power differential of the degree we have in our situation, most women suffer in silence, or leave their jobs. It takes a monument of courage to challenge the CEO of any organization, and to expose such private and painful feelings. At a minimum, Dr. Haddad's victims deserve both our respect and our prompt response.

I have great confidence that each of our lawyers has been careful, thoughtful, and even conservative in his or her analyses. Our CEO has violated the law. He, and only he, is responsible for the situation we find ourselves in now, creating difficult consequences for himself, his family, all of us, and most importantly Caritas Christi. While that is settled, it provides only one of the very important considerations in such a serious situation. We present ourselves to the world as a faith based, Catholic health system operating according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Dr. Haddad has not only violated the law, his actions undermine universal expectations of Christian conduct. We learn from an early age that no one--lawyer, loved one, priest-can relieve any one of us from the obligation to do what our conscience tells us is right. I must speak up in faith to call for an end to what can only be seen as the continued abuse of these women, and an affront to the people within our organization who so carefully follow their legal and professional obligations in handling situations such as this. This is no longer for me a matter of what the law requires of me in my job, because I have satisfied that obligation; it is now a matter of my conscience and responsibility as a person who does indeed believe in Christ's teachings. I cannot stand aside or participate in an effort to protect the institution and its powerful leader as priority over compassion for those injured by shameful and inexcusable conduct.

Cardinal Sean, I talk to Dr. Haddad's victims regularly, and I see their hope for a just outcome fading as their anxiety and fears rise. Their vulnerability grows at our peril and the peril of the Archdiocese. These victims are experiencing a dangerous skepticism that the Archdiocese of Boston will not stand up for the powerless against the powerful. I can no longer reassure them.

Cardinal Sean, I implore you to accept the recommendation to terminate Dr. Haddad immediately, and remove him from the workplace. I further ask that you take whatever actions necessary to offer support and assistance to his victims. These women have placed their trust in me, and I in turn have placed my trust in you. Cardinal Sean, my conscience impels me to raise my concerns to you now in the hope that this process will stop and Dr. Haddad's tenure will be put to an end. I have asked Wil Rogers to convey this letter to you and the other Members as expeditiously as possible.

I look forward to your response with great hope.

Helen G. Drinan
Senior Vice President, Human Resources
Caritas Christi Health Care
Boston, Massachusetts

Copies to:
Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon
Most Reverend John P. Boles
David W. Smith

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