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 CNS Story:

HUDSON Aug-20-2004 (820 words) With photo. xxxn

Bush campaign's Catholic outreach strategist resigns

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Deal W. Hudson, publisher and editor of the Catholic magazine Crisis, announced his resignation Aug. 18 as a Catholic outreach adviser to President George W. Bush's re-election campaign.

He is widely regarded as having had significant influence over the past four years on Catholic appointments by the Bush administration and on which Catholics are given access to the White House.

Hudson said he did not want impending publicity about a past sexual misconduct lawsuit against him to "distract from the critically important issues in this election."

The next day, the Web site of the National Catholic Reporter weekly newspaper posted a lengthy profile on Hudson's life that included details of his 1994 resignation as a philosophy professor at Fordham University after an 18-year-old student accused him of sexual misconduct.

The student later sued Hudson and he reached a $30,000 out-of-court settlement with her, the article said.

In a brief e-mail response to reporters' inquiries shortly after the National Catholic Reporter article appeared, Crisis spokeswoman Zoe A. Romanowsky said, "As Deal Hudson wrote ... yesterday, he deeply regrets the incident that happened while he was at Fordham University. However, he is still bound by his confidentiality agreement regarding the matter."

Hudson, an adult convert to Catholicism, was a leader earlier this year of a campaign to get the U.S. bishops to declare that Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry should be barred from receiving Communion because of his consistent opposition to any legal limitations on abortion. In May, the National Catholic Reporter noted, The Washington Post quoted Hudson saying Kerry should be denounced in Catholic churches "whenever and wherever he campaigns as a Catholic."

Last year after a group of prominent Catholics, mainly business leaders, met with several bishops about the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. church, Hudson publicly criticized the group as "stacked with left-wing dissidents. There wasn't a conservative to be seen." He organized a similar meeting of self-styled conservative Catholic voices with the same bishops two months later.

The National Catholic Reporter's online story reported that Hudson was first tapped for the Republican National Committee's Catholic outreach campaign in 2000 as a result of a Crisis-funded 1998 survey that found Catholics who attend Mass regularly are more likely to vote Republican than those who attend infrequently or never. It said Karl Rove, then a political strategist for the Bush campaign and now a senior advisor to the president, brought Hudson to Bush's attention.

"On Thursday mornings, Hudson participates in the White House's 'Catholic call' -- where a revolving door of Catholic conservatives provide telephonic feedback to Tim Goeglein, Rove's assistant, and help the White House strategize on such 'Catholic issues' as Bush's faith-based initiative, education vouchers, judicial nominations, abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research," the newspaper said. "The one constant of the weekly call, in addition to Goeglein, is Hudson."

It quoted Hudson's own words, in a letter late last year to Crisis supporters: "I continue to lead an informal Catholic advisory group to the White House, as well as communicate with various White House personnel almost every day regarding appointments, policy and events. These efforts have helped to place faithful, informed Catholics in positions of influence."

The story included details of allegations by former Fordham University student Cara Poppas that in 1994, when she was 18 and a freshman taking a philosophy course taught by Hudson, Hudson took her out drinking with several older students, escorted her alone back to his office late at night after she had too much to drink, and had sexual relations with her.

Anticipating the story, Hudson wrote a piece titled, "The Price of Politics: Getting Ahead of a Potential Distraction," that appeared Aug. 18 on National Review Online, Web site of National Review magazine.

Without naming the newspaper, Hudson said "a liberal Catholic publication" had been digging into his past life, "I believe, for political reasons -- in an attempt to undermine the causes I have fought for."

In an editor's note, National Catholic Reporter editor Tom Roberts said the paper's Washington correspondent, Joe Feuerherd, came upon "the ugly chapter at Fordham University" in the course of research he was conducting to do a profile on Hudson, "a public figure, seeking the spotlight and rubbing elbows regularly with the most powerful in the land."

Roberts described the Fordham incident as "a clear abuse of his (Hudson's) authority as a teacher" and said it "is certainly relevant to the story of someone whose political and public mission relies heavily on public moralizing, often about personal sexual ethics."

In response to inquiries about Hudson, Fordham University issued a statement Aug. 18 saying it does not tolerate sexual harassment and considers it "especially disturbing in the context of a teacher-student relationship."

Upon receiving a student complaint, it said, the university followed its policy and opened an investigation. "The professor later surrendered his tenure and left the university," it added.

END


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