National

‘We were an ATM.’ Parents angry after nuns accused of stealing ‘substantial’ money

Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper and Lana Chang, both nuns, are accused of embezzling a “substantial” amount of money from the St. James Catholic School in Torrance, California. The school doesn’t want charges.
Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper and Lana Chang, both nuns, are accused of embezzling a “substantial” amount of money from the St. James Catholic School in Torrance, California. The school doesn’t want charges. Screenshot from WGN

This story was updated on Wednesday.

A pair of retired nuns are accused of embezzling a “substantial” amount of money from a Catholic School in Torrance, California for years.

And on Monday, alumni and parents of students at St. James Catholic School, where the nuns worked for at least two decades, expressed anger during a two-hour meeting with officials from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, per the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

The church has identified the nuns as Sisters Mary Margaret Kreuper, principal for 29 years, and Lana Chang, a teacher for about two decades, according to NBC News. Both nuns retired in the prior school year, with a church newsletter in February asking congregants to “take time to thank (Kreuper) for her generous service,” NBC reported.

At first, the school and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said they didn’t want to press charges against the nuns, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Marge Graf, a lawyer for the archdiocese, said it was because the nuns’ order will repay any stolen money.

But this week, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles says it will now ask for charges against the nuns, according to The Daily Breeze.

A woman is suing St. Clare Catholic School and the Diocese of Belleville. She says she was sexually abused for years by a coach at St. Clare and although four officials knew about the abuse, they did not report it.

For parent Jack Alexander, that’s not enough.

“We were an ATM, and people know it and they won’t ask for justice,” he told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “They are trying to recapture money, not get justice.”

When Kreuper announced her retirement, the school conducted a financial review before new leadership took over, according to The Los Angeles Times. Officials found evidence that the nuns embezzled a large amount of money over the years, pastor Michael Meyers wrote in a letter to the church community, but that no other staff member at the school was involved.

In the letter, he described the amount of money stolen as “substantial,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

“Sister Mary Margaret and Sister Lana have expressed to me and asked me to convey to them the deep remorse that each one feels for their actions and ask for their forgiveness and prayers,” Meyers wrote, according to NBC Los Angeles.

“I want to assure you that the investigation has disclosed that, notwithstanding this misappropriation, no student or program at St. James has suffered any loss of educational resources, opportunities, or innovations,” he continued, according to The Los Angeles Times. “In sum, the education of your children has not and will not be affected by these events.”

Father Richard Kirkham also violated the Diocese safe environment policy on reporting allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct, according to Bishop Michael Olson.

  Comments