Former Vatican ambassador faced sexual harassment claim

Vatican City, May 8, 2014 / 02:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A University of Dayton investigation in 2013 found “reasonable cause” to believe that former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel Diaz sexually harassed a married couple while a professor there.

The academic news website Inside Higher Ed first reported the allegations against Diaz. It published two confidential letters from the University of Dayton's provost and its general counsel to the two alleged victims, who are professors at the Ohio university.

A July 22, 2013 letter from university provost Joseph Saliba acknowledged the claims of the married couple as “concerns that Dr. Diaz was sexually harassing you through various requests and references to explicitly sexual feelings.” The letter said there was reasonable cause to believe that he engaged in “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, particularly after being told to stop.”

Another letter from the university’s general counsel told the alleged victims about an investigation conducted by outside counsel on behalf of the university. That investigation concluded there was reasonable cause to believe that some of Diaz’s conduct “constituted sexual harassment that created an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.”

Diaz served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the Vatican from 2009-2012. Since then, he has served as a professor of faith and culture at the university.

The outside counsel recommended immediate steps to advise the accused professor not to initiate contact with his accusers and to refrain from “retaliating.” Among other actions, the outside counsel recommended that the university advise him that his continued employment depended on abiding by these requirements. A second established sexual harassment complaint against Diaz would also be cause for termination.

The investigation included interviews with the alleged victims, with Diaz and with his wife, who is a lecturer at the university. The outside counsel also consulted an independent medical expert experienced in sexual abuse and harassment issues.

Diaz declined to comment to Inside Higher Ed through his attorney Gabriel Fuentes.

The documents were revealed during a dispute at the University of Dayton between faculty and the provost.

Diaz is about to take a new position at Loyola University-Chicago as a professor of theology. He will hold the John Courtney Murray University Chair in Public Service at the Jesuit Catholic institution. His wife will become an assistant professor of pastoral studies at Loyola University’s Institute of Pastoral Studies.

Steven Christiansen, communications manager at Loyola University of Chicago, said the university does not comment on personnel decisions. He confirmed to CNA that Prof. Diaz has accepted appointment at the university and has signed a contract set to begin July 1.

The University of Dayton is a Catholic institution affiliated with the Society of Mary religious order. Saliba’s July 2013 letter to the alleged victims said the university is mindful of its legal obligations and is “very concerned about any behavior that appears to be inconsistent with our Marianist values.”

Diaz was born in Cuba. He served on the Obama campaign’s Catholic advisory board and also advised the Democrat-leaning group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. He was among 26 Catholic leaders and academics who signed a statement in support of the 2009 nomination of staunch pro-abortion rights activist Kathleen Sebelius as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Before Diaz became Ambassador to the Holy See, he was a theology professor at St. John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.


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