University to change some procedures after report on composer David Haas

University to change some procedures after report on composer David Haas

Catholic composer David Haas is shown in a concert at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Philippines, in this 2016 photo. (Credit: CNS photo/Titopao, CC BY-SA 4.0.)

An independent investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Catholic music composer David Haas in the years he held summer music programs at St. Catherine University in St. Paul shows that some members of Haas' Music Ministry Alive team found his conduct uncomfortable, or were aware of "general comments" about his behavior.

ST. PAUL. Minn. — An independent investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Catholic music composer David Haas in the years he held summer music programs at St. Catherine University in St. Paul shows that some members of Haas’ Music Ministry Alive team found his conduct uncomfortable, or were aware of “general comments” about his behavior.

Some of Haas’s actions appeared to be him engaging in grooming or predatory behavior, witnesses told investigators with trainED, a division of the Lathrop GPM law firm selected by the university to conduct the investigation.

But there was no evidence that complaints of any specific incident were made to St. Catherine University or any of its employees during the time Haas conducted Music Ministry Alive camps or was present at events on campus, from 1999 to 2017, the report said.

Becky Roloff, who is president of St. Catherine, said in a March 24 news release the university is updating some of its policies based on the report’s findings.

Goals include having individuals or organizations renting space or conducting events on campus for youth fully respect the school’s community values, have safety measures in place for participants and others, and provide clear avenues for reporting any misconduct, Roloff said.

The investigation, its findings and recommendations also “have given us an understanding of the degree to which Haas appears to have exploited his prominent position in the world of liturgical music and his position with MMA (Music Ministry Alive),” Roloff said.

Haas, who was not a university employee, has faced numerous accusations of sexual abuse and assault stemming from his national music ministry efforts that first became public in June 2020. Subsequently, Haas apologized for his behavior and said he was receiving professional help to understand how his actions violated people’s trust.

A member of St. Cecilia Parish in St. Paul, Haas has served as an artist-in-residence or volunteer musician at several Twin Cities parishes and schools. He has composed well-known hymns including “You Are Mine,” “We Are Called” and “Blessed Are They.” He also directs the Emmaus Center for Music, Prayer and Ministry in Eagan, Minnesota.

In addition to the university’s actions taken around safety, Roloff said, music composed by Haas will no longer be used at St. Catherine University events. Haas also is banned from the campus.

Ruff is news editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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