Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful helps win justice for fired Fordham assistant dean

BOSTON, Mass., July 27, 2016 – A recipient of a grant from the Voice of the Faithful Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women in the Church has settled her discrimination suit against Fordham University after six years of litigation in what, she says, may be the first settlement without a confidentiality agreement in Fordham’s history.

In 2010, VOTF awarded Carolyn Johnson, Ed.D, of Chestnut Ridge, New York, a $10,000 Emily & Rosemary Fund grant to help pay her legal fees and living expenses after Fordham fired her from her position as Graduate School of Religion assistant dean. In her lengthy grant application, Johnson said that, after four months of sex discrimination and mistreatment, she filed a complaint with Fordham’s equal employment opportunity office and was fired a week later.

Lynette Petruska, formerly a Catholic nun and now a St. Louis attorney, established the Emily & Rosemary Fund at VOTF to support women who lose employment in the Roman Catholic Church as a result of injustice or discrimination and to help women who are working to bring about justice and equality in the Church. When she established the fund, she said she had experienced injustice and discrimination after opposing sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct by priests at Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania, where she was the first female chaplain.

At the time Johnson received her grant, she expressed her gratitude to VOTF, saying, “I am most grateful for the generous financial and moral support that Lynette Petruska and VOTF have extended to me and other women faced with the dilemma of risking their livelihoods by speaking the truth.”

In a statement July 25, Johnson again thanked VOTF’s Emily & Rosemary Fund, among many who stood by her during the litigation.

“The mistreatment I experienced as an assistant dean at Fordham.” she said, “has been compounded by the mistreatment I have experienced by Fordham and its internal and outside legal team: over five years, hundreds of hours of grueling depositions, responses to requests for discovery, research and production of thousands of pages of documents, emails, numerous court appearances, hearing, mediations, etc., since I filed the suit.”

However, Johnson said, “The wheels of justice turn slowly, and sometimes crookedly, but they do turn. After six years of litigation, my beloved alma mater, Fordham University, finally offered me a settlement that my family could live with, one that allows us to move on in putting some of the pieces back together that were shattered in the wake of my mistreatment as assistant dean in 2010.”

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, (781) 559-3360