Updated: Sep 30
Bob Ludlow, one of the Saint David’s School rapists – and you know? I’m not calling them “child molesters” or “allegedly guilty of misconduct” (that’s Saint David’s wording, anyway) or “sexual abusers” – had been a writer for the Catholic Worker Movement newspaper before he taught at Saint David’s.
The Catholic Worker Movement was a progressive, socialist movement started by Dorothy Day in the 1930s that still exists:
“Today 204 Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms." (from the CWwebsite)
Many of Ludlow’s eccentric writings can be found online in Catholic Worker websites, and Marquette University has catalogued a large collection of publications related to the movement.
Among its interesting holdings are a few letters written by Ludlow to Dorothy Day, after he left the movement, proclaimed his pacifist and non-Christian orientation, and often detailed his new life as a teacher at the school.
He was fired from Saint David’s in 1973 or thereabouts, and afterwards, according to a letter to me from friends at the Catholic Worker, “He lived his life in poverty and loneliness...”
Bob, who has been accused by several Saint David’s alumni from the 1960s – 1970s of having done unspeakable acts to them, including threatening them (and their families) with murder if they ever told anyone that he, Bob Ludlow, was raping them in deserted classrooms at the end of the day at 12 East 89th Street.
I can picture those classrooms right now – the hardwood polished floors, the late afternoon sun glowing along the tops of buildings behind the school, and streaming in long angled rays through the tall glass south-facing windows.
Bob wrote to Dorothy Day, in 1967, about how his days were long at Saint David’s: “I’m usually here from 8 in the morning till 6 PM at night, as I’m involved in a lot of extracurricular activities.”
Bob was ahead of his time in the use of that word “extracurricular,” as anyone who has been to college will know.
“The abuse took place in late 1960s and early 1970s when P--- was only in the third and fourth grades, or between the ages of 9 and 11. This sexual abuse included, but was not limited to, fondling and stroking P---'s genitals and performing fellatio on P---. [Ludlow] would also force P- to perform similar sexual acts on him ... [He] also sexually abused other boys at Saint David’s” (from civil complaint filed in NYS Supreme Court by St David’s alumnus vs. St David’s 5/30/2020)
To date, Saint David’s denies that Ludlow’s extracurricular activities – excuse me, his RAPE of 4th grade boys – ever happened.
(Saint David's students on their way to sports, September, 2020)
Assuming the testimony of at least three men – publicly available in civil complaints – is true, one has to wonder:
How does one get away with such behavior?
How, in a building as small as Saint David’s was back then, can a man fondle, suck, and fuck a little boy, and force the boy to reciprocate, with it going unnoticed or unremarked or unreported?
(NYC traffic cops napping, September, 2020)
The answer is &^%$ing simple:
First, he – and the other three teacher-rapists – had the tacit or overt support of an administration who preferred to ignore it, who were asleep at the wheel.
Me, 1972 Ludlow, 1971 Hume, 2002 (?)
Second, his colleague teachers knew what was going on but passively looked away, and declined to intervene.
Think Kitty Genovese. (Yes, that’s a flawed story, but everyone should know what I mean).
Jesus’ lesson – taught in Catholic schools all over – to “Turn the other cheek,” was instead interpreted at Saint David’s as, “Turn and look away” (if you were a colleague of Ludlow’s), or “Let me see your other butt cheek” if you were Ludlow himself.
“While he keeps me here,” Ludlow wrote to Dorothy Day, “[Hume] wouldn’t want too many of like persuasion...”
David Hume was the Headmaster of Saint David’s during those years.
But Ludlow was wrong.
Hume allowed at least three other male teachers “of like persuasion” to wreak havoc on the lives of boys, for years on end, before they left, or went too far and were fired.
“Saint David’s faculty and administration knew of the sexual abuse being perpetrated against P -- and other Saint David’s children but refused to take measures to stop it.” (from same civil complaint cited above)
So, Saint David’s, what’s the problem now?
Why is it so hard to take ownership of your past?
Of OUR past? I own it. I, fellow alumnus, brother and friend to other Saint David’s students, am so sorry that our school let us down like this. Heartbroken.
You probably can’t imagine how deeply this institutional betrayal guts us.
If whoever is passing out flyers to people in the neighborhood reads this, please crib from it freely.
Add to it.
Ask Saint David’s to makes amends to its own community.
Ask Saint David’s to take care of its boys.
The boys who lost their childhood at Saint David’s because of people like Bob Ludlow.
Bob Ludlow, a “man” who freely admits in writing to committing crimes at Saint David’s, who openly notes that he was supported by an administration that looked the other way.
It’s right there in his own words. How can you argue about that?
Is this where a lawyer would say, "See you in court"?