Weve been surprised by how many people do not know about the revelation of Deal Hudsons sexual debauchery. The story hit The New York Times on August 19, as well as many other papers around the country. We immediately got a phone call from one of our writers asking us to say nothing about it, because Hudsons career was now totally ruined. We heard from another that, while the NOR punched him out when he was standing tall, we really wouldnt want to kick him when hes down and out. So we followed that advice.
But, lo and behold, Hudsons career wasnt ruined, and, while he wasnt exactly standing tall, he wasnt down either. He continued on as Publisher of Crisis magazine. Moreover, certain of Hudsons allies jumped to his defense. For example, the Publisher of Our Sunday Visitor (Sept. 12) wrote a piece titled King of the Dung Heap: Voracious Appetite for Scandal Demolishes Reputations and Eliminates Genuine Debate. Said the Publisher: We live in an age of scandal . It titillates and destroys . Scandal does not mind who it brings down, so long as the appetite for exposé is fed. The weapon of scandal has been used effectively in Catholic circles . A few weeks ago, Deal Hudson became another casualty of the scandal wars (italics added). You see, it wasnt Hudsons fault hes the victim. Rather, it was the voracious appetite for scandal in Catholic circles which is at fault. Did the Publisher of the Visitor scold Hudson for his debauchery? Not in the least. He only scolded the public, in this case the Catholic public.
So we knew we had to say something about Hudson and we hoped this would be the last time we ever have to say anything about him.
Because Hudson knew in advance that a story was coming out about aspects of his sexual and marital life, he decided to pre-empt the story at National Review Online on August 18. It was a wise move. However, he didnt come clean, so it didnt work.
According to Hudsons pre-emptive strike: A reporter asked for an interview and the questioning was all political, all about my support for President Bush. But no story appeared. Then the reporter called me asking for another interview saying his story had taken a surprising turn. In reply, my office e-mailed him asking for the questions he wanted me to answer. The questions included those about past annulments for my marriages before my conversion to the Catholic Church and allegations from over a decade ago involving a female student at the college where I then taught.
As for his two divorces, Hudson doesnt mention that he was a Southern Baptist minister at the time. As for those allegations, he doesnt tell us what those allegations were about. (It turns out that those allegations were sexual, and they were far more than mere allegations.) Hudson implies that his divorces can be overlooked because of his conversion to the Catholic Church (a questionable assumption), but what about those allegations? Were they before or after his conversion? He doesnt say. (Actually, they were after his conversion, and while he was on his third and current wife.)
Nowhere does Hudson admit to any moral failings or sins; instead he speaks three times of his mistakes. This is Inside the Beltway lingo, which is where Crisis is located.
In justification for his pre-empting the story, he says: In matters of this nature, exaggeration, half-truths, and rumor often tend to overtake the truth and I wanted the truth to get a head start. (After the full story on him came out, however, he made no claims that the story contained exaggerations, half-truths, or rumors.)
Hudson goes on to say that because I need to protect the people I love and the causes I believe in . I think it best that I no longer play a role as an advisor [to President Bush] in this years campaign. (But he did not resign his position as Publisher of Crisis. Given his own words, this would seem to mean that the Catholic cause is not something he really believes in.)
So, what does the story about Hudson say? What The New York Times and other papers reported on August 19 was largely based on Hudsons account and was only the tip of the iceberg. The full story, a lengthy one, appeared in the National Catholic Reporter (Aug. 27; it was posted online on Aug. 19 [after The New York Times story] at nationalcatholicreporter.org/update/bn081904.htm and with a supplementary story at national catholicreporter.org/washington/wnb081904.htm).
The interview by the reporter, as Hudson says, was about Hudsons political beliefs. But Joe Feuerherd, the reporter and the author of the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) piece, fills in the rest: Interview completed, I planned to make a few phone calls the perfunctory due diligence a reporter undertakes when working on such a story and write the piece. I promised it to my editor for the next issue of the paper. But as I started to make those phone calls, red flags flew. Few of Hudsons ideological soul mates people whod known him at least since he came to Crisis would speak for attribution. Cautiously, however, they said unflattering things. Hmm. These were conservative Catholics . Hints, and sometimes more, were dropped about his past and his present. Check out why he gave up a tenured position in Fordhams philosophy department, several sources suggested. More calls. More of the same. I called my editor and told him Id need more time perhaps a lot more time to complete the story . Over four-and-a-half months I conducted more than two dozen full-fledged interviews and had at least that many more casual conversations . I went where the story led me.
According to Hudson, it was only a matter of allegations from a female student. We have already indicated that those allegations were sexual. So were in the omnibus realm of sexual harassment. But could this merely be some hyperfeminist girl alleging sexual harassment, which might be something so innocent as a touch on the shoulder?
Its important, therefore, to know what kind of sexual harassment this was. Feuerherd interviewed the girl on June 30 to find out what exactly happened. Feuerherd also recounts a graphic four-page description of what happened, that the girl had provided to the college Hudson speaks of (actually, it was Fordham University). Feuerherd also wanted to hear Hudsons side of the story, so on five separate occasions between August 9 and 16, Feuerherd requested an interview with Hudson, but Hudson declined to be interviewed, saying that he would not respond to what he called rumors.
What Feuerherd learned about Hudson is vile and repulsive, but it must be told to understand the gravity of the matter (if you dont want to read about it, skip over the next four paragraphs).
The girl, Cara Poppas, had been in-and-out of foster homes from age seven. At Fordham she signed up for one of Hudsons classes. In early February 1994, she approached Hudson with a question after class. Hudson suggested they go to his office to discuss it. She told Hudson about herself, that, in her words, she was a ward of the court, without parents, severely depressed, and even suicidal.
Poppas then visited Hudson at his office on February 15, 1994, Fat Tuesday. Hudson was in high spirits, and he said hed be meeting a group of NYU students at a West Village bar, and asked Poppas to join him. Feuerherd reports: I was very reluctant, wrote Poppas, who, at age 18, was still three years shy of the legal drinking age. I knew I would be the youngest, as well as the newcomer to their frequent gatherings, she wrote. He [Hudson] promised not to tell the others my age. I decided to go.
You have two options:
- Online subscription: Subscribe now to New Oxford Review for access to all web content at newoxfordreview.org AND the monthly print edition for as low as $29 per year.
- Single article purchase: Purchase this article for $1.50, for viewing and printing for 48 hours.
If you're already a subscriber log-in here.