Former brother, professor accused of sexual assault in 1986 incident

Diocese of Austin releases list of 22 clergy members credibly accused of abusing children


Juan Diaz

Brother Gerald Muller was banned from campus and all campus related activities in 2017

President George E. Martin sent out a mass email on Jan. 31 stating that a former Religious Brother had been credibly accused of sexually assaulting a minor on campus in 1986. Brother Gerald Muller, CSC, is one of 300 Catholic clergy members accused of sexually abusing children in Texas.

Since the release of a Pennsylvania report last August, detailing seven decades of alleged abuse by priests and resulting in more than 1,000 identifiable victims, dioceses and religious provinces across the country have started to publish the names of alleged abusers.

In response to the report, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin released the names of 22 clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children over the last 70 years.

“I apologize and express my deepest sorrows to the victims and their families for the abuse that occured and for any failures of the Diocese of Austin,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez  in a recent video published by the Diocese of Austin.

On the list was Muller, a former Religious Brother and professor at St. Edward’s. According to Martin’s email, the list referred to an incident involving a 17-year-old student which occurred in 1986 and was brought to the university’s attention in Fall 2017.  

The case was referred to the university’s Title IX Coordinator and Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Lisa Kirkpatrick. Her investigation concluded that the accusation was credible, and in November 2017, Brother Muller was banned from campus and university-sponsored events.

“I recognize that these egregious breaches of trust are difficult and sad news for our university community,” said Martin in his email addressing the student body. “All of us at the university grieve for the victims of sexual abuse. Maintaining the physical and emotional safety of our students is central to the mission of St. Edward’s.”

Students have expressed surprise and outrage at the news about Muller, a former faculty member who taught at the university for over 30 years.

“I just didn’t understand how someone affiliated with St. Edward’s could get caught up with something like that,” senior Dimitri Kestenbaum said.

However, other students were less shocked by the announcement coming from a Catholic institution.

“It was a moment of, unfortunately, ‘Of course that would happen,’” senior J.R. Torres said. “The prevalence of these issues in the Catholic church is no longer a behind-the-doors issue, it’s very up front and a part of daily discussion.”

The university’s investigation of the allegations against Muller and his subsequent ban from campus all took place in October and November 2017, according to Director of Communication Mischelle Diaz.

Kirkpatrick and Kim Van Savage, associate Vice President for Human Resources and the university’s deputy Title IX coordinator, both met with Muller as part of the investigation that led to his ban from campus. After their investigation, President Martin was advised of the decision and UPD was also advised of the ban from campus.

“At the time the report was made, Brother Muller was retired and no longer employed at the university,” Diaz said. “The incident at issue occurred in 1986 and the university had no reason to believe he posed an immediate threat that warranted a university-wide timely warning.”

Of the six formal and dozens of informal interviews with students conducted by Hilltop Views, no one was aware that Muller was banned from campus and university-sponsored events prior to Martin’s mass email.

However, students such as senior Naïs Ohayon-Louisor felt that the student body should’ve been informed ahead of time for precautionary measures.

“I just wonder why it took them so long to email us all about it,” said Ohayon-Louisor.

The university encourages students who fall victim to sexual harassment, sexual violence, relationship violence, gender-based hate crimes and stalking to report to Kirkpatrick at 512-448-8425, or deputy coordinators Sharon Burke, Chief Human Resources Officer at 512-448-8540, and Steven Pinkenburg, Dean of Students at 512-448-8408.