Board of Trustees breaks silence over Chang, Harrington and Wile

The Board of Trustees, in an email to the University community on Tuesday, broke its silence about its ongoing in­vestigation in the wake of published re­ports detailing the roles of Rev. Donald J. Harrington and his chief of staff Rob­ert Wile in the Cecilia Chang embezzle­ment scandal.

Without explicitly naming Har­rington or Wile with regards to the scandal, Board of Trustees chair Peter D’Angelo said the investigation by out­side counsel Frank Wohl is “ongoing” and that the Board “directed that it be thorough and comprehensive.”

D’Angelo did not set a timeline for its report to be completed, saying only that the Board “is committed to resolv­ing this matter as quickly as possible.”

The email comes after the Torch reported on its website that five mem­bers of the history department started a petition directed to the Board of Trust­ees urging for more transparency in the investigation process. At the time the Torch went to print, the petition had 56 faculty signatures. D’Angelo said in the emailed statement that the Board wished to “provide the University community with some information concerning the genesis of this situation and the process that the Board is following in dealing with these serious matters.”

The email chronicled the history of the scandal, stemming from the $1 mil­lion embezzlement allegedly committed by deceased dean Cecilia Chang revealed in 2010, detailing the University’s coop­eration with authorities in providing “all documents and witnesses requested by the prosecutors, and two University of­ficials, Father Harrington and General Counsel Joseph Oliva, testified as pros­ecution witnesses at Dr. Chang’s trial.”

Chang committed suicide on Nov. 6 and U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson declared a mistrial.

A report by New York Magazine al­leged that Wile used a Taishin credit card, given to him at the suggestion of Chang, for personal expenses, including a trip to the Caribbean Island Turks and Caicos (accompanied by his then-girlfriend and Father Harrington), designer clothing in Hong Kong and other personal items at restaurants and liquor stores.

D’Angelo pleaded for patience from the University community, saying the investigation would take some time and urged for “the University community to reject any premature judgments about this process and its conclusions.”

In the wake of the published reports detailing Wile’s expenses as well as his business relationship with Harrington that was not reported to the Board, many students and faculty expressed outrage to The Torch last month.

D’Angelo also described Har­rington’s 23 years at St. John’s as “dis­tinguished” in Tuesday’s email and said the Board is “proud of St. John’s and its accomplishments under Father Har­rington’s leadership.