anne_mikolay_120Scandalous news travels fast!

I heard it from my son (who does not live in the area), who heard it from a friend (who also does not live in the area), who heard it from a former student at Mater Dei Prep in New Monmouth. On Tuesday, April 12th, the former dean of students at Mater Dei Prep was arrested and charged with second degree sexual assault and fourth degree criminal sexual conduct with a Mater Dei student. Allegedly, in 2009, the 28 year old William Miltner engaged in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 16 year old student outside school; the victim has since graduated.

The major lesson to be learned from this shocking incident (aside from how fast gossip spreads) is obvious, though staunch defenders of Catholic schools may not agree with me. Those who enroll their children in Catholic or private schools to shield them from the perceived dangers of contemporary society are naive; Catholic schools, like Mater Dei Prep, are not immune from drugs, ignorance, bullying, or sexual predators. Such threats exist everywhere. A private or Catholic school will not guarantee your child a Christian education or keep the wolves away from the door. Period.

That being said, Mater Dei's administration is to be commended for their swift action in this particular case. Of course, the accused is innocent until proven guilty, but children must be protected; Mater Dei acted responsibly and in the best interest of its students.

However, the vultures are circling.

Though the comments posted on the Asbury Park Press website in response to writer Charles Webster's initial report of William Miltner's arrest stir heated debate regarding this issue, I fail to see what there is to discuss. This is not an episode of reality television. This is real life, a real criminal transgression perpetrated against a minor. If the allegations are true, William Miltner crossed a very definite line between teacher and student, adult and child, and will now have to face justice. If the gossip-mongers have anything concrete to add to the investigation of Mr. Miltner's alleged misconduct, they should do the right thing and step forward. If not, discussion is unproductive, pointless, and hurtful. Again, real people with real feelings are involved in this tragic situation. They and their families deserve respect and privacy.

End of discussion.