New allegations against David Haas prompt top music publisher to sever ties with hymn composer

New allegations against David Haas prompt top music publisher to sever ties with hymn composer

David Haas in a concert at the Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines. / Titopao/wikimedia. CC BY SA 4.0

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 4, 2021 / 21:12 pm (CNA).

A top publisher of hymns will stop publishing works by David Haas after receiving additional allegations of sexual misconduct against the embattled Catholic composer.

“We have suspended our publishing and sponsorship relationship with Mr. Haas and have also removed his music, books, and recordings from our catalog and website,” said a letter from Alec Harris, president of GIA Publications. 

The letter was sent to each diocese in late July. Portions of the letter were made public on August 2. 

Harris said he was “deeply heartbroken” when scores of women accused Haas of varying degrees of sexual misconduct last year.  

“I assume that by now you are aware of the non-profit organization that supports survivors of sexual abuse, Into Account, which recently released a comprehensive investigation and report about these allegations at www.intoaccount.org/reports/,” Harris wrote in the letter. 

“Unfortunately, new information has just surfaced reporting continued grooming behaviors by Mr. Haas towards a young woman, which is why we are reaching out to you now with this email to share the actions and position we have taken with regard to Mr. Haas’ music,” he said.

A 21-year-old woman who had attended Haas’ summer camp, Music Ministry Alive!, when she was a teen, reached out to Into Account in June 2021. Haas, who is in his mid-60s, had sent the woman a letter that amounted to grooming behavior. 

“While we understand that Mr. Haas maintains his innocence, we took these actions out of compassion and respect for the dozens of survivors who have come forward,” Harris said in the letter. “We believe Mr. Haas’ music no longer has a place in communities committed to maintaining a safe environment.” 

Haas, a member of the laity, was a mainstay in the “contemporary liturgical music” movement that began in the 1970s, along with composers Marty Haugen, Fr. Michael Joncas, Dan Schutte, and the “St. Louis Jesuits” group.

Among Haas’ more popular songs are, “Glory to God,” “You are Mine,” “We are Called,” and “Blest are They,” among many others.

At least two dioceses–the Diocese of Oakland and the Diocese of Jefferson City–announced that they would be permanently suspending the use of Haas’ music at their parishes as a result of the new letter. 

On June 13, 2020, GIA Publications announced that they had dropped Haas in January after receiving accusations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault. 

“Early this year we became aware of allegations of sexual misconduct by David Haas, and we learned the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis was considering a decision not to provide him a letter of suitability,” GIA Publications said in a June 13, 2020 post on Facebook. 

Haas resides in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

“In response, we suspended our sponsorship and publishing relationship with Mr. Haas, and have not sponsored his work since late January,” they said at the time. 

Following the publication of a report by Into Account, the suspension has now been made permanent. 

Following the initial accusations, nearly half of the dioceses in the United States urged parishes to stop playing his music during Mass and at other events, at least until an investigation into his conduct had concluded.