David Haas Abuse Allegations
Title: Alleged David Haas sexual assault victim speaks out
Author: Jonah McKeown
Publisher: Catholic News Agency
In late May, allegations surfaced against contemporary Catholic musician and composer David Haas, which claimed that Haas had subjected multiple adult women to serial spiritual manipulation and sexual misconduct.
A former music and youth minister, who alleges that Haas aggressively kissed and groped her when she was 19, spoke to CNA this week about her experience. And one expert told CNA that the allegations against Haas point to the difficulties of ensuring that laity working in Church contexts are trustworthy, and beyond reproach.
Sidney*, a California native, told CNA that she has worked in close proximity to the Church for more than 15 years, primarily in religious education, as a youth minister, and as a music minister.
It was through her interest in music ministry that she met David Haas, when she was 14 years old.
Haas was then, and remains to this day, one of the best-known contemporary Catholic composers, having written such contemporary standards as “Glory to God,” “You are Mine,” “We are Called,” and “Blest are They,” among others.
In 2002, Sidney was selected to attend a well-known music ministry camp in St. Paul, Minnesota called Music Ministry Alive (MMA). The weeklong camp brought in around 150 participants from around the country and featured workshops, peer groups, and a concert at the end of week, which Haas headlined.
“It was very clear that this was [Haas’] program,” Sidney said.
“He was not absent in any way— he was present for as many rehearsals as was possible, he would drop in when we were in workshops or peer groups, at the end of the evenings when we would do our evening check-ins he was around, he was seated with people during mealtimes,” she recalled.
At the same time, Sidney observed that Haas was a physical person. She emphasized that physical touching she observed throughout the camp did not appear to be criminal, but in hindsight certainly was problematic.
“There was a lot of touching, putting his hands on your shoulders, hugs— things that weren’t exactly criminal but were, looking back, notable, and what we [now] know to be grooming patterns,” she said.
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