Report: Chang wrote about sexual relationship with former St. John’s president
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Even after her death, Cecilia Chang continues to haunt St. John’s.
Handwritten notes from the disgraced former dean, who committed suicide on Nov. 6, detail an intimate sexual relationship with the late former University president Rev. Joseph Cahill, C.M., according to a report in The New York Times.
The story, which ran on the front page of the print edition, includes 43 pages of documents including a bribe letter to Taiwan trying to secure funding in 2003, correspondence with former governor of Alaska Frank Murkowski looking for help to lobby the Turkish and Taiwanese governments to continue funding the University, her lawyer’s letters to Hon. Sterling Johnson about her excessive drinking before her trial and a letter dating Nov. 3 2012, from her lawyers advising her to testify at her own risk.
The documents can be viewed on The Times’ website here.
The Times is usually available in multiple locations on campus through the NY Times Readership Initiative, however according to several University administrators the subscription is halted during the final exam period.
Chang was on federal trial for embezzling funds from the University, as well as for allegedly using international students for household tasks, including hand-washing her underwear and cooking for her and her son.
Hon. Judge Sterling Johnson declared a mistrial after Chang’s death.
The story mentions that Chang “in her handwritten notes, she wrote that she once had an intimate relationship with Father Cahill that included another woman employed by St. John’s.” She also detailed the extent of their relationship saying in her handwritten notes that Rev. Cahill would take her on trips to the racetrack and Atlantic City. Chang said Cahill would remove his cassock “when we go out to play.”
University general counsel Joe Oliva said in a statement that the University, in its own investigation of Chang, found no indication of the supposed affair.
“I met with Cecilia Chang on four occasions during the investigation and engaged in detailed discussions with her concerning her tenure at the University, and at no time did she make reference to this type of an incident,” Oliva said.
The report also included details of Chang’s fundraising for the University, which according to Rev. Donald J. Harrington in an exclusive interview with the Torch, was her main responsibility. In her own memoir-style notes, Chang said she felt she was being perceived as a “money tree,” according to The Times.
“In Chinese, ‘money tree’ mean that a tree can grow money, and whoever shake it, the money will fall down,” she wrote.
Chang apparently sent several letters to government officials, including multiple correspondences with former governor of Alaska Frank Murkowski, looking for donations to the University.
In 2003, Chang asked Murkowski to lobby former Taiwanese president, Chen Shui-bian to support St. John’s. Chang also offered honorary degrees to Murkowski and his daughter, current Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski., The Times said. Chang said in the letter “Only the world’s most prominent personalities are eligible to receive an honorary degree from St. John’s.”