May 20, 2005

Adrian College stands by choir chief

Toledo Blade

Calling Thomas Hodgman "an exemplary faculty member," Adrian College officials yesterday stood by their choir director, a day after the unintended release of documents that indicate he admitted to having a sexual relationship with a California high school student 16 years ago.

Mr. Hodgman resigned his position at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana., Calif., in 1989 because of the relationship, according to documents obtained by The Blade.

In January, Adrian students learned about the allegations against Mr. Hodgman when the Diocese of Orange County, of which Mater Dei is part, agreed to settle lawsuits with dozens of alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Among those accused was Mr. Hodgman, whom former student Joelle Casteix said had carried on a relationship with her, gotten her pregnant, and passed on a sexually transmitted disease. Ms. Casteix is now an outspoken critic of the Orange County diocese's handling of sex abuse cases and wondered why the man she said was her abuser, Mr. Hodgman, was working as a choir director at the southeast Michigan school.

Mr. Hodgman, who has repeatedly declined to return Blade calls, had initially called the case "bogus." He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Posted by kshaw at May 20, 2005 06:23 AM