COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Catholic Diocese of Columbus is reviewing several policies after a former Bishop Watterson High School employee was charged with production of child pornography last week.
In June, Brian Sze was fired from his job at Watterson for violating the state code of conduct after he allegedly sent an inappropriate text message to a student.
However, no criminal charges were filed at that time and Sze ended up getting a new teaching job in Seattle at Lakeside School.
In July, a tip was called into ICAC which indicated Sze had illicit sexual contact with a minor and subsequently recorded the encounter. Production of child pornography is a crime punishable by a range of 15 to 30 years in prison.
On September 29th, he was arrested. Seattle’s Lakeside School said in a statement that it conducted a “full and thorough” background and criminal history check and received “multiple positive references from his (Sze’s) previous place of employment.”
The Diocese said that it deeply regrets that the school in Seattle was “made a part of Sze’s deception when applying for employment” and it “will improve procedures when improper conduct becomes known.”
The Diocesan school officials have reviewed the details, actions and timelines pertaining to recent events regarding Brian Sze’s attempt to gain employment at Seattle’s Lakeside School. The Diocese of Columbus and the Office of Catholic Schools deeply regret that Lakeside School unknowingly was made a part of Mr. Sze’s deception when applying for employment. The Diocese also firmly believes that no employee of the Diocese acted with malicious or deceptive intent.
The text messages which led to Mr. Sze’s termination were reviewed by the Office of Catholic Schools and diocesan legal counsel. While it was determined that the texts in question were in violation of the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators, they did not fall under the Ohio mandatory reporting statute. Immediate action was therefore taken to terminate Mr. Sze and provide required information as to his actions to the Ohio Department of Education. The current procedures of the Diocese were followed.
After this review, however, procedures will be improved for situations when improper conduct becomes known. The Office of Catholic Schools will continue to closely review future occurrence of this type, and determine methods to effectively communicate concerns to all persons within our school system charged with the protection and safety of our children. Other procedures, including a structured process of reviewing and providing references to potential employers for job applicants, especially those who have or will serve with children, will also be implemented. All policies will respect the rights of the persons involved.
We again emphasize that the Office of Catholic Schools and Diocese of Columbus remain committed to providing a safe and secure environment to all persons within our schools. We will continue to provide our full cooperation in any investigation regarding the actions of Mr. Sze, and all within our schools pray for those children and families that may have been harmed by Mr. Sze’s actions.