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Adult Victims of Clergy Abuse -- They Suffer in Silence

California attorney, John Bisnar, recognizes adult clergy sexual abuse victims. More Women Are Sexually Abused By Priests Than Boys Are

Woman files suit against priest and church
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Community News (Fair Lawn Edition)
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Fair Lawn — A 73-year-old Fair Lawn woman has filed a lawsuit against St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Newark citing damages as a result of an alleged sexual assault that occurred at St. Anne’s on Nov. 15, 2007.

The woman asserts in her lawsuit that she has suffered spiritual, physical and emotional damages as well as embarrassment and humiliation as a result of coming forward and claiming that 39-year-old Rev. Edson Fernando Costa, the assistant pastor at St. Anne’s at the time, sexually assaulted her. Rev. John C. Doyle, the Pastor of St. Anne’s, and Archbishop John J. Myers were named in the complaint. Costa, who is also named in the complaint, forced the woman, who was 72 at the time of the incident, to touch him inappropriately in a secluded hallway in the upper level of the church according to the suit.

Four days after the assault, the woman informed Doyle of the misconduct, according to the lawsuit. Doyle did not notify the Archdiocese or any law enforcement personnel of the incident, according to the complaint. The plaintiff also claims that Doyle did not offer her any type of counseling, according to the suit. On Nov. 22, 2007, Costa, Doyle and the plaintiff met to discuss the incident.

"Rev. Edson F. Costa admitted the sexual assault of the plaintiff and requested forgiveness. At no time did Rev. Joseph. C. Doyle contact the Archdiocese of Newark, nor any law enforcement agencies, or any other person or entity, to provide therapeutic care for the plaintiff," according to the suit.

In the middle of December 2007, the plaintiff contacted the Archdiocese to notify them of the misconduct. The Archdiocese immediately contacted the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and informed them of the allegations, according to the suit.

On June 6, 2008, Costa was arrested for criminal sexual contact. On Sept. 17, 2008, Costa waived his right to have a trial and admitted to the crime in court before Judge Lois Lipton. After admitting to the crime, Costa, who was ordained in May 2005, asked to be entered into the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI). If he completes the program successfully, he will not have a criminal record.

PTI is a program that "provides defendants, generally first-time offenders, with opportunities for alternatives to the traditional criminal justice process of ordinary prosecution. PTI seeks to render early rehabilitative services, when such services can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior," according to the New Jersey Judiciary Web site.

In addition to entering the PTI program, Costa was placed on administrative leave from the church and is still not allowed to celebrate mass, present himself as a priest or dress in a Roman collar, according to Jim Goodness, the Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Newark.

The plaintiff is suing all of the named defendants for compensatory, consequential and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees and the costs of suit. She claims that all of the defendants had an inherent duty to protect and respect her spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing, according to the suit. The suit also claims that the Archdiocese, church and bishop failed to properly supervise and instruct Costa on proper behavior, therefore, they are also responsible for his misdeeds. The suit also states that as a result of the incident, the plaintiff has been ostracized from the church community, one in which she was once very involved with and was even named "Parishioner of the Year," according to the suit.

The suit also alleges that Doyle should have known "of the sexual depravity of the defendant, Father Edson F. Costa and should have taken precautions with respect to his duties to parishioners, in particularly, this plaintiff, from the sexual depravity of Father Edson F. Costa," according to the suit.

Goodness could not comment on the litigation, but said that allegations of misconduct are taken very seriously. When a supervisor is told of alleged misconduct they are required to report it to Goodness and/or local authorities immediately. He also stated that procedure was followed in the aforementioned case.

"When the matter was reported to the diocese we immediately notified the prosecutor’s office and cooperated with the prosecutor. He was placed on administrative leave during that period, while the investigation with the prosecutor’s office was underway. He remains on leave and is not permitted to be in the ministry," Goodness said. "The church has to make a decision about what if any ministry he would be eligible for (in the future). That’s down the road."

The church and the various prosecutor’s offices have excellent relationships and work hand-in-hand to ensure that all allegations are investigated thoroughly, according to Goodness. If the alleged incident is part of an ongoing legal investigation, the church defers to the prosecutor’s office so that it can conduct its investigation. If the incident involves a child then the Archdiocesan Review Board investigates the allegation. If it involves an adult, then the Archbishop and Vicar-General are charged with dealing with the issue, according to Goodness.

In addition to being suspended from practicing as a priest, any clergy member who is found guilty of misconduct may be subject to a canonical trial, according to Goodness. The Vicar-General and Archbishop of the diocese also decide what further action may be taken if any, according to Goodness.

"If we are dealing with a case that is a criminal manner, the prosecutor of course takes precedent. If it is an older matter (something beyond the legal statute of limitations) then church law comes into play. It’s decided if further steps under Canon law need to be taken," Goodness said.

Anyone who is going to be working for the church, be it a lay person or a clergy member, is subject to extensive screening and background checks, as mandated by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that was instituted in 2002, according to Goodness. Additionally, anyone who will be working with children must undergo a three-hour course in sexual abuse training.

"The course involves video and discussion and it’s facilitated by trained facilitators to make people aware of boundaries and acceptable code of conduct and how to recognize patterns that could be warning signs of someone who may not be appropriate to work with children," Goodness said. "I think the training class is not a general for children’s protection only class. Although it specifically does address minors, the rules are the same. There are appropriate ways of dealing with individuals when you are in a ministerial situation, and that’s what we stress. There are boundaries and those are the standards to which people need to work."

In addition to requiring training and an investigation of any alleged misconduct, the diocese also offers counseling to anyone who may have been a victim of abuse, according to Goodness. Some people choose to participate in the counseling and others do not, Goodness said.

Doyle declined comment on the litigation as he "has not seen the complaint. I have not received the complaint; therefore I’m not able to comment. This for me, is merely a report in the newspaper."

Gerald Tyne, the plaintiff’s attorney, did not return repeated requests for comment. The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office did not return calls for comment.


Fit story on 1 page Page



Father Henry, a secret father

By Gary Tuchman and Katherine Wojtecki
CNN's "AC360"
November 13, 2009 8:56 a.m. EST
Click to play
A priest's secret son?
  • Nathan Halbach's father is the priest who baptized him, Henry Willenborg
  • Nathan's mother made a confidential agreement with the church to keep Willenborg's identity secret
  • His mother went public about the secret agreement after he contracted cancer

O'Fallon, Missouri (CNN) -- Nathan Halbach is 22, with a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. He knows that "horrible stuff" lies ahead.

His mother, Pat Bond, has been taking care of him full time. But when she needed help, she reached out to the Roman Catholic Church.

After all, his father is a priest.

Nathan was born in 1986, during a five-year affair between his mother and Father Henry Willenborg, the Franciscan priest who celebrated Nathan's baptism. The Franciscan Order drew up an agreement acknowledging the boy's paternity and agreeing to pay child support in exchange for a pledge of confidentiality.

Now her son -- the youngest of four children -- may have just weeks to live. And when the Franciscans balked at paying for his care, she decided she was no longer bound by her pledge of confidentiality.

"I never asked for extraordinary amounts. I asked for the basic needs and care of my son," Bond told CNN's "AC 360." But she said the church told her, "No, we are not Nathan's biological father, we have no legal obligation to your son."

Willenborg, whose priestly vows require celibacy, has been suspended from his most recent assignment, in northern Wisconsin, as Catholic leaders investigate allegations that he was involved with another woman -- then in high school -- around the same time he was seeing Bond. Willenborg has acknowledged his relationship with Bond, but denies any inappropriate relationship with the other woman while she was a minor, according to his current bishop.

And his order acknowledges its agreement to support his son, telling CNN they have paid about $233,000 to support Nathan over his lifetime. Since the affair has become public, the Franciscan Order has agreed to pick up Nathan's medical bills and the costs for the funeral that now appears likely.

Willenborg refused to speak to CNN. But a statement to his parishioners in Ashland, Wisconsin, in September, said, "My failure to be faithful to my vows has caused me and many others pain and disappointment. I have regretted this for a long time."

And in October, he told The New York Times, "We've been very caring, very supportive, very generous over these 20-something years. It's very tragic what's going on with Nathan."

Bond, then Patricia Halbach, said she and Willenborg began their affair in 1983. At the time, Willenborg was a priest in her hometown of Quincy, Illinois, about 130 miles north of St. Louis, Missouri.

Bond, then a 27-year-old, married mother of three, went to a retreat for women with troubled relationships. Willenborg was the retreat's spiritual director, and she said he was a "terrific" priest -- "incredibly charismatic, very sought-after."

He began to counsel her on a regular basis. After about three months, at the end of one of their sessions, she said he kissed her. Bond said she went home and immediately asked her husband for a separation, and she said she began a romantic relationship with Willenborg.

Video: Priest's secret son

Bond said she knew he was forbidden to have sex with her. But she said when in love, "You don't think clearly."

"I make stupid decisions in my life," she said. "I am not perfect, far from sainthood, and I loved him."

During their relationship, Bond was a lay leader in the church, and "We were a very good team, a very dynamic team," she said.

But in 1985, she learned she was pregnant. The pregnancy ended with a miscarriage that October. She said in its aftermath, she ended her sexual relationship with Willenborg, only to resume it the following spring. It was during that period that Nathan was conceived, she said.

Nathan was born in December 1986. Willenborg had to disclose the affair and Bond's pregnancy to his superiors. A deal was negotiated by Father Robert Karris, who told CNN the Franciscans insisted on confidentiality "to protect Nathan, his mother, and the priest." But Karris, now on the research faculty of the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York, also acknowledged the goal in part was to protect the church.

The agreement was reached about a year after Nathan's birth. Afterward, Willenborg was removed from his job, and it was 17 years before he would lead a congregation again. He told his superiors that his relationship with Bond was over, but she said it continued.

"That was the statement, and they bought it," Bond said. "But the truth of the matter is during those eight month of negotiations, we were living together physically, sexually and every form of relationship there was under their nose."

The relationship went on until Nathan was nearly 2 years old, Bond said. She and Willenborg went on family outings, including a trip to Florida, with Nathan and her children from her previous marriage. Back in Quincy, where she grew up, Bond said she had a simple answer to questions about Nathan's parentage: "He's my baby."

But things ended in 1988, after Bond learned that Willenborg was seeing another woman. She eventually moved from Quincy to a St. Louis suburb.

"You had to go away, you had to take your story, you had to take your children, you had to get out of this town. We're a small community, everybody knew everybody," she said.

Nathan grew up as a popular, athletic boy, a big fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball club and the Blues hockey team. He has autographs of the entire hockey team and a Cardinals uniform signed by All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols.

For years, he said, he wanted a relationship with his father.

"He's popped in and out of my life, but I've never gotten the full respect and love out of him that I would always want," he said. But several years ago, after Willenborg took him out to dinner on their first night out in years, he said his father didn't seem to want to have anything to do with him.

"When it comes to this person who's my dad, who should be helping me out more than a person on the street, he hasn't done so throughout my 20-plus years of life," Nathan said.

Nathan was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. Over the summer, he and his mother went to New York's Sloan-Kettering cancer center in a last-ditch effort to halt the disease. It was unsuccessful, and doctors give him a prognosis of weeks.

"If I just live my life as happy as I can, I can have a lot of fun until this horrible stuff happens," he said.

The church had paid for some medical expenses and gave her $1,000 toward travel expenses for the trip, but not room and board or treatment costs, Bond said. And in the past week, she said, the church was questioning the cost of a looming funeral.

"They were concerned with getting us out of their lives, and I guarantee you, the day my son goes, the church will rejoice," she said.

Since she went public, the Franciscans wrote a letter to Bond telling her they will cover 100 percent of her son's funeral costs -- and added, "Please advise if there is any additional assistance that the Franciscans can provide to Nathan at this time in connection with his day-to-day expenses and comfort." The order also has since said it will not take Bond to court for breaching the confidentiality of the agreement.

For four years before September, Willenborg was a priest at Our Lady of the Lake church in Ashland, Wisconsin. Bishop Peter Christensen, whose diocese includes the church, said Willenborg was a good priest -- but added, "Because of his behavior 23 years ago, the community is now suffering."

Nathan will not be going back to the hospital and will die at home, Bond said. She can't afford a part-time nurse to help take care of him in his last days, but said she hopes the church lives up to its word.

Courtesy of Pat Bond

The Rev. Henry Willenborg, a Roman Catholic priest in Quincy, Ill., in 1987 performing the baptism of his son, Nathan.

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Published: October 15, 2009

O’FALLON, Mo. — With three small children and her marriage in trouble, Pat Bond attended a spirituality retreat for Roman Catholic women in Illinois 26 years ago in hopes of finding support and comfort.

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Dilip Vishwanat for The New York Times

Ms. Bond and Nathan read cards from volunteers for cancer support groups.

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What Ms. Bond found was a priest — a dynamic, handsome Franciscan friar in a brown robe — who was serving as the spiritual director for the retreat and agreed to begin counseling her on her marriage. One day, she said, as she was leaving the priest’s parlor, he pulled her aside for a passionate kiss.

Ms. Bond separated from her husband, and for the next five years she and the priest, the Rev. Henry Willenborg, carried on an intimate relationship, according to interviews and court documents. In public, they were both leaders in their Catholic community in Quincy, Ill. In private they functioned like a married couple, sharing a bed, meals, movie nights and vacations with the children.

Eventually they had a son, setting off a series of legal battles as Ms. Bond repeatedly petitioned the church for child support. The Franciscans acquiesced, with the stipulation that she sign a confidentiality agreement. It is now an agreement she is willing to break as both she and her child, Nathan Halbach, 22, are battling cancer.

With little to lose, they are eager to tell their stories: the mother, a once-faithful Catholic who says the church protected a philandering priest and treated her as a legal adversary, and the son, about what it was like to grow up knowing his absentee father was a priest.

“I’ve always called him Father Henry — never Father, never Dad,” said Nathan, at home between hospital visits. “I always felt he picked religion over me.”

The relationship between Ms. Bond and the priest is hardly unique. While the recent scandals involving the Roman Catholic Church have focused on the sexual abuse of children, experts say that incidences of priests who have violated sexual and emotional boundaries with adult women are far more common.

Clergy members of many faiths have crossed the line with women and had children out of wedlock. But the problem is particularly fraught for the Catholic Church, as Catholics in many countries are increasingly questioning the celibacy requirement for priests. Ms. Bond’s case offers a rare look at how the church goes to great lengths to silence these women, to avoid large settlements and to keep the priests in active ministry. She has 23 years of documents, depositions, correspondence, receipts and photographs relating to her case, which she has kept in meticulous files.

Those files reveal that the church was tightfisted with her as she tried to care for her son, particularly as his cancer treatments grew more costly. But they also show that Father Willenborg suffered virtually no punishment, continuing to serve in a variety of church posts.

The church entity Ms. Bond dealt with is the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscans, whose members were known as mendicants because they survived on handouts from the communities they served.

“I know better than Franciscans what it’s like to beg, because nothing has happened without my begging the Franciscans,” said Ms. Bond, who is 53.

Church officials, however, say they acted generously.

“The province went well beyond what the law would require, and was concerned for the boy and his well-being,” said the Rev. William Spencer, provincial minister of the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart, which is Father Willenborg’s province in St. Louis. “We were willing to do whatever we could to respond to him.”

The priest Ms. Bond fell in love with so many years ago, Father Willenborg, is currently the senior pastor of Our Lady of the Lake, a large, historic parish of 1,350 families on the shores of Lake Superior in Ashland, Wis. The church spire is visible from miles away, and the parish operates an adjoining school. On a recent Sunday, Father Willenborg affably led a morning Mass for about 300 people, adding a special blessing for the grandparents in the congregation. Afterward, in his office, he acknowledged that he does have a son, is aware his son is terminally ill, and said that he had tried to be attentive.

He said he did not want to talk about the situation, and pointed out that Ms. Bond had more to lose than he did because she had signed a confidentiality agreement that, if broken, requires her to pay a penalty. He asserted that Ms. Bond had shown no care for his needs and was only concerned about money, and that his son had shunned him. He said that he and the Franciscans had done nothing bad.

Wichita Priest Arrested For Sex CrimesSave Email Print
Reporter: Jared Cerullo
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A Wichita priest was arrested early Friday and jailed for sex crimes at a local park. Father Doug Campbell, 64, is the pastor at St. Jude Parish in North Wichita.

The news spread very quickly Friday afternoon among parishioners at the church in the 3000 block of North Amidon. Father Campbell was arrested during a sex crimes sting at Oak Park.

Campbell has been the priest at St. Jude for a little more than 10 years. Everybody we spoke to Friday afternoon had nothing but good things to say about him. In fact, they were shocked. Some had not heard the news that Campbell was booked into jail early Friday after police organized the sex crimes sting.

In a statement to KAKE News Friday afternoon, Bishop Michael Jackels said:

"The Diocese of Wichita is cooperating fully with authorities, and will continue to do so, regarding the misdemeanor charges brought against a diocesan priest. This priest has been granted a temporary leave from his ministerial duties to receive counseling and help for his spiritual renewal. I am saddened by this situation. In addition to the common good, I am concerned and will care for the well-being of the priest and his parish."

Meanwhile, police arrested six other people during the sting. One of those people was arrested with Father Campbell at the same time.

"I believe there was undercover and surveillance both used in this incident," said Wichita Police Captain Darrell Haynes.

Campbell was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail at 4:40 Friday morning and posted bail. He was held on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior, public nudity, and remaining in a park after hours. He posted bail shortly after and was released. He has a municipal court appearance scheduled for August 27th.

We did attempt to contact Father Campbell at the parish rectory. As we walked up the driveway, a car pulled out of the driveway. The driver, however, said he was not Father Campbell and refused to speak to us. Nobody answered the door of the residence.

This isn't the first time a Kansas priest has gotten in trouble for sex crimes. Father Dennis Schultz of Seneca, Kansas, was convicted of sexually abusing a 15 year-old boy. He served his time and was released in 2006. Father Robert Larson, of Newton, was also convicted of abusing several teenagers. He is currently on parole after being released from prison in 2006.

It is important to note that these charges against Father Campbell are only misdemeanors and do not involve children.

Wichita priest arrested during prostitution sting

Last Update: 6:32 pm
WICHITA, Kansas – A Catholic priest from a Wichita church has been arrested for sex crimes. Police made the arrest during an early morning prostitution sting. The priest of the west Wichita church was one of five men arrested in the operation.

The Bishop says the priest has been temporarily relieved of his duties at St. Jude Catholic Church in west Wichita while the charges are investigated.

It all happened in Oak Park in the Riverside area at around 3:30 a.m. Friday. Wichita police were conducting a prostitution sting during which police records show they arrested a Catholic priest in the Wichita Diocese.

KSN is not identifying him until official charges have been filed, but he was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior, public nudity and being in the park after hours. A 36-year-old man was arrested in connection with the priest’s case. In all, seven were arrested on various charges.

"This was to address recent neighborhood complaints,” said Capt. Darrell Haynes with the Wichita Police Department.

Arrest records show the priest’s address as the rectory at St. Jude’s Catholic Church on N. Amidon. The church’s Web site says the man has been the father there since September 1998.

In response to the arrest, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita issued this statement:

"The Diocese of Wichita is cooperating fully with authorities, and will continue to do so, regarding the misdemeanor charges brought against a diocesan priest. This priest has been granted a temporary leave from his ministerial duties to receive counseling and help for his spiritual renewal. I am saddened by this situation. In addition to the common good, I am concerned and will care for the well-being of the priest and his parish."

KSN did talk to some people who attend the church but did not wish to be identified. They said the news is very surprising and they say the father was a respectful and trusted leader of the church.

Priest facing sex allegations

Globe Correspondent | Globe Staff / July 26, 2009 +

The Archdiocese of Boston has barred a Brazilian priest from performing public ministry following allegations against him of “adult sexual misconduct,’’ church officials said yesterday in a statement.

The Rev. Pedro J. Damázio had been serving as parochial vicar of St. Anthony of Padua in Cambridge and has also served the immigrant Brazilian community throughout the Archdiocese of Boston for more than 10 years, said Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese. Lynch said she could not give any details about the timing, nature, or source of the allegations against Damázio. Law enforcement officials are investigating the matter and the archdiocese has also begun an internal investigation, Lynch said.

The archdiocese said it has informed Damázio’s home diocese in Santa Catarina, Brazil, of the allegations. “The decision to suspend Father Damázio’s faculties represents the archdiocese’s commitment to the safety of all parties and does not represent a determination of Father Damázio’s guilt or innocence as it pertains to these allegations,’’ the statement said.

O Globo, a major newspaper in Brazil, reported that Damázio received a letter dated July 10 from the archdiocese informing him that he had been accused of improper behavior. The paper also reported that he returned to Brazil on July 12, because he wanted to be the first to give the news to his mother.

In an e-mail to a supporter dated July 16, Damázio defended his long record as a priest who worked to draw thousands of Brazilian immigrants into the archdiocese. (The e-mail, obtained by the Globe, was written in Portuguese and its contents have been translated.) “I ask for forgiveness from friends and people who have been or could be affected by this situation,’’ Damázio wrote. “At the same time, I am not going to dismiss the 13 years of work that I did with so much affection with all the immigrants, adults, youths, old people, and children in the Archdiocese of Boston.’’

He wrote that he arrived in Boston in March 1997 and struggled to adapt to life here, even as he helped other immigrants find work, housing, and information. He said he has been a priest for 25 years, served the Massachusetts area for nearly 13 years, and had never been censured in all that time. While he did not rebut the allegations in the e-mail, he wrote that he thought the accusations, which surfaced as he returned from a vacation to visit his sick 86-year old mother in Brazil, were strange, given his record.

Members of the Brazilian community interviewed yesterday said they were surprised and saddened to hear about the allegations.

“I know he was respected in the community,’’ said Heloisa M. Galvão, president of the Allston-based Brazilian Women’s Group, who remembered first meeting Damázio more than 10 years ago. Galvão, a Catholic who did not attend Damázio’s church, said she would call him for information about the Brazilian diaspora.

Francisco Carvalho of Tyngsborough, a community activist in Lowell who had not heard about the allegations until told about them by a reporter, said he had held Damázio in high regard. Carvalho, who conferred with the priest on fund-raisers and social events for the community, said: “It is shocking. It causes a lot of hurt within the community, and it takes time to heal, especially if it’s someone who is trusted,’’ he said. “Until proven differently, I still think he is a nice guy.’’

Ilma Paixao, a Brazilian fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who knew Damázio well, said the priest often made jokes but tended not to “watch his words very carefully.’’

“He would use his words freely. A lot of times those words can get misunderstood,’’ she said.

“I would like to know the facts before we make a lot of judgments,’’ she said.

The Father Cutie Scandal: Sex and the Single Priest

Cuban American Catholic Father Alberto Cutie, a popular latin TV show host, poses for photographers upon his arrival to the Latin Billboard Music Awards in Miami.
Cuban American Catholic Father Alberto Cutie, a popular latin TV show host, poses for photographers upon his arrival to the Latin Billboard Music Awards in Miami.
Roberto Schmidt / AFP / Getty

If only it were the worst thing that a Roman Catholic priest has been caught doing. The Mexican celebrity magazine TVnotas recently published 25 paparazzi photos of the Rev. Alberto Cutié, the popular Miami Beach priest famous for his Spanish-language television and radio talk shows, cavorting amorously on a Florida beach with an attractive woman. Over a three-day period, the pictures also captured him kissing her in a bar. In one of TVnotas's "in fragranti" shots [Note to TVnotas copy editors: it's "in flagrante"] the woman wraps her legs around Cutié; in another, Cutié has a hand down her swimsuit, fondling her rear end.

Because of the scandal, the Archdiocese of Miami says Cutié, 40, is no longer the administrator of his Miami Beach parish, and it has barred him from leading Sunday mass there. His media work seems up in the air now, and the popular website has only a blue screen with a message from Cutié asking forgiveness. (See the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.)

Most Catholics probably don't approve of Cutié's affair. Still, will they back the archdiocese? Cutié's punishment is understandable at first glance, at least for his hypocrisy if not for the betrayal of his oath of celibacy. To the Catholic Church, priestly ordination means a marriage vow to the church — the "bride of Christ." In a statement, Miami Archbishop John Favalora said Cutié's actions "cannot be condoned despite the good work he's done as a priest." (See pictures of a Catholic congregation fighting to save its church building.)

But Cutie's penalty might elicit more than a few snickers from Catholics who have spent the past few decades watching the priestly perdition parade of sexual abuse, parish embezzlement and doctrinal intolerance. The Miami archdiocese has had to pay out millions of dollars in sexual-abuse settlements in recent years — including a case involving a former priest at Cutié's South Beach church, St. Francis de Sales. (One of Cutié's tasks, in fact, has been to heal the wounds inside that parish.) To his credit, Favalora is trying to restore public trust in his archdiocese and the Church. But so long as Cutié wasn't frolicking with a minor (female or male) or using parish funds to buy margaritas for his paramour, many parishioners may actually be relieved that their popular priest has a libido focused on a woman who has reached the age of consent.(Check out a story about the heartthrob of the Vatican.)

What's more, one of the pillars of Cutié's popularity is his relationship counseling. To any Catholic who's had to suffer through a lecture on marriage from a celibate kid just out of seminary, Cutié's romantic romp might just make him a more appealing priest — more human, perhaps, than Catholic clergy who deny communion to divorcees, gays and anyone else who dares violate the Church's litany of "non-negotiable" rules. "He was doing this fairly out in the open," notes one Miami Catholic who knows Cutié well and has undergone marriage counseling with him. "Most priests who do this usually try to hide it, but this wasn't some dirty little tryst in the back of the parish residence. It doesn't appear to be just about sex; it's about intimacy, and he's always been able to help people understand which is more important."

The attraction of the unidentified woman in the photos to Cutié isn't surprising, either. Cutié's last name is pronounced koo-tee-AY, but that hasn't stopped people from calling the handsome, telegenic priest "Father Cutie" — the kind of hunk-in-a-collar whom smitten Catholic schoolgirls often nickname "Father What-a-Waste." In 1999, when he burst onto the scene just four years after his ordination with his first television talk show on the Spanish-language Telemundo network, Cambia Tu Vida Con Padre Alberto (Change Your Life With Father Alberto), he remarked to the Miami Herald that celibacy is "a struggle, but it's a good struggle."

It was a battle that Cutié was perhaps destined to lose, not just because of his good looks but his celebrity. In the chaste, pre-Vatican II culture of the 1950s, no one would have dared wonder if a priestly TV phenom like Bishop Fulton Sheen had a girlfriend. But today, the temptations for an attractive media star, ordained or not, are greater — especially in the narcissistic Gomorrah of South Beach. And Cutié was never a shy altar boy to begin with. Born in Puerto Rico to Cuban parents, he was a popular deejay as a teen, and he still likes disco music and getting buff in the gym.

That's not to say, however, that Cutié is a liberal priest. His current television talk show, Hablando Con Padre Alberto (Talking With Father Alberto), is aired on the conservative Catholic network EWTN (Eternal World Television Network) founded by the engaging but dogmatically stern nun, Mother Angelica. Last December he blasted Playboy's Mexican edition for what he called a "blasphemous" cover photo that depicted a model as the Virgin Mary. On his shows on the Radio Paz (Radio Peace) network, and in his columns and books, such as Ama de Verdad, Vive de Verdad (Real Love, Real Life), Cutié usually toes the Vatican's doctrinal line on issues like abortion.

Nonetheless, the Cutié scandal is sure to ratchet up debate over clerical celibacy in the Catholic Church, a spiritual ideal that seems to collide more often today with biological reality. (See the recent paternity-suit travails of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, who has admitted to fathering a child, and is alleged to have sired others, while he was still a priest.) A bigger problem for the Church, however, may be Cutié's Oprah-like standing in the Latino community — the only demographic where U.S. Catholicism is experiencing growth. America's Catholic bishops, many of whom are widely accused of allowing the sexual abuse crisis to happen, must realize that Cutié is more well regarded among Catholics than they are, especially among Latinos, meaning the hierarchy will probably need to handle the tele-priest's future with special care.

For his part, Cutié said in his statement that "the commitment I made to serve God will remain intact," a vague message that left many of his parishioners wondering if he plans to stay in the priesthood. Regardless, Cutié's Miami Catholic friend notes that the priest, and the Church, need to recognize "that there's another human being involved in this, the woman in the pictures, and if they're not sensitive to her as well they're looking at double the scandal."

In his statement, Favalora said, "Scandals such as this offer an occasion for the Church on all levels to examine our consciences regarding the integrity of our commitments." He's right; but scandals like this also prompt Catholics to more closely and critically examine the battered integrity of their Church. And while they may not applaud Cutié for tasting forbidden fruit, they may not condemn him as harshly as the Church thinks they should either.

Priest arrested for molesting woman
4 Feb 2009, 0330 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: A 35-year-old priest was arrested by the suburban police on Tuesday on charges of molesting a woman within a church at Madhavaram.

According to police officials, the woman, a recent convert to Christianity, came to the church at 8.45 am and locked herself in a room. When others asked for her to come out she refused. The priest, with whom she was said to be on good terms, then asked her to let him in. She agreed.

The two came out 45 minutes later. The woman was allegedly bleeding from her hand and lips. When others asked her about it, she alleged that the priest had molested her and beat her up.

The police, based on the woman's complaint, took the priest into custody. He was booked under IPC Sections 341, 324 and 506 (2).

A police official said, "We suspect the priest misbehaved with her inside the church. We have registered a case against him and are investigating."

Legionaries of Christ founder, already accused as a molester, now reported to have fathered a child


7:28 AM Wed, Feb 04, 2009 | Permalink |  Yahoo! Buzz
Bruce Tomaso   E-mail   News tips

maciel.jpgHard to imagine things getting much worse for the reputation of the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Catholic order, and a favorite of the late Pope John Paul II.

Maciel, who died a year ago, was removed from public ministry in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI because of accusations that the Mexican priest had sexually abused more than a dozen seminarians and young priests.

Now, according to this story from The New York Times, the Legion is quietly informing its priests that Maciel had an affair with a woman and fathered a daughter.

Despite the revelations, writes Laurie Goodstein, "most members of the Legion continued to defend Father Maciel, asserting that the accusations had not been proved."

John Paul, who refused as pope to act on accusations that Maciel was a molester, was hardly the only one enamored of the priest. Maciel's order, founded in 1941, grew to include 800 priests in 22 countries.

Jason Berry, an author and the director of a documentary about Maciel, writes in National Catholic Reporter that the Legion's founder "cultivated conservative celebrities and financial figures" for years.

As examples, Carlos Slim of Mexico, reportedly one of the world's richest men, became a major backer of Legion schools, and recently made headlines for purchasing a large block of New York Times stock.

Placido Domingo, the internationally renowned tenor, has sung at Legion fundraisers. William Bennett the CNN commentator is a regular speaker at Legion conferences. The late Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, was one of Maciel's staunchest defenders. George Wiegel, a biographer of Pope John Paul II, has been a longtime champion of the Legionaries. The outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon was a prominent defender of Maciel and taught at the Legion's university in Rome.


Photo: Pope John Paul II blesses the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degallado during a papal audience in November 2004. (AP)

Jan. 4th, 2009

LICENTIOUS PRIEST RETURNS TO MINISTRY - Still in Austria, under the jurisdiction of the same Card. Schonborn, the former vice-rector of Sankt Polten seminary who had been pictured kissing and fondling seminarians back in 2004 is now rehabilitated and has returned to ministry.

Photos of Fr. Wolfgang Rothe and Fr. Ulrich Kuchl in immoral poses with seminarians at a Christmas party were widely spread throughout the world. Rothe was the vice-rector and Kuchl the rector of that seminary.

To save Card. Schonborn in that embarrassing situation, Bishop Kurt Krenn of Sankt Polten was blamed, the two priests were suspended, and an apostolic visitor, Klaus Kung, was named by the Vatican to clean up the situation. After Kung arrived at the seminary, he declared he had found the seminary operating “as a veritable brothel” (The Tablet, November 22, 2008, p. 31). Later, Kung became the Bishop of the Diocese, replacing Krenn.

It was this Bishop Kung - the healing moralist sent by then-Card. Ratzinger - who authorized the scandalous Fr. Rothe to return to his priestly ministry. In late November the German magazine Der Spiegel discovered that Fr. Rothe had been transferred to Germany and is now working at St. Michael’s Parish in Altperlach, Munich. The scoop was picked up by the media, and soon Bishop Kung was forced to give a public explanation.

The Bishop said that he had decided to give Fr. Rothe a second chance and had lifted his suspension for a year. Justifying his decision, Kung noted that the priest had passed some months in a monastery “to reconsider his vocation and is now prepared to fulfill all the other conditions necessary to carry out pastoral work as a priest.” He further noted that Fr. Rothe was working in Munich with the permission of Archbishop Reinhard Marx on a trial basis, under supervision and with certain restrictions. According to Kung, all these measures had been taken with the Vatican’s knowledge and approval (ibid.).

In the United Sates we are all familiar with the story of homosexual and pedophile priests being reassigned from parish to parish. In this Austrian case, since the scandal was so public, Fr. Ruhe was sent to another country. Yes, another country, it is true, but just 233 miles away from Sankt Polten…

In any case, one can see that the same policy the American Bishops adopted here is being applied in Austria and Germany under the supervision of both Card. Schonborn Archbishop of Vienna, an enthusiastic disciple of Pope Ratzinger, and Archbishop Marx, his successor to the Munich see.

Fr. Rothe, left, at Sankt Polten seminary in 2004; now returned to ministry in Munich

Mamaroneck Priest Charged With Sexually Abusing A Woman

There May Be Other Allegations Against Father Richard Ordoñez

by Judy Silberstein

richardordonez(December 10, 2008) On Tuesday, December 8, Mamaroneck Village police arrested Father Richard Ordoñez, 37, a visiting priest at St. Vito’s church in Mamaroneck, and charged him with sexually abusing a female adult in January of 2004. The woman accused Father Ordoñez of fondling her breasts and other private parts in the rectory of St. Vito’s at 816 Underhill Road.

Since then, a case manager with a Westchester social service agency reported to the Gazette that four women referred for marriage counseling with Father Ordoñez from 2003 to 2004 later said they had been sexually abused when the priest asked to see them in a solo session. The allegations ranged from rape to inappropriate touching.

One woman told the case manager the priest forced her to have sex with him, and another said he tried to force her to have sex. A third said she left her husband after falling in love with the priest and entering a consensual sexual relationship with him, which she later deeply regretted. A fourth said the priest touched the top of her legs “in a very fresh way,” according to the case manager, who would speak only on condition of anonymity in order to protect the identity of her clients, some of whom are undocumented immigrants.

“I advised everyone to go to the police, but everyone was scared,” said the case manager.

Undocumented victims should not fear coming forward, said Lt. James Gaffney, spokesperson for the Mamaroneck police. "It is not our duty to address if a female is in this country illegally - it is our duty to assist a woman who has been sexually abused," he stressed.

Anyone who has information about this situation - or any other similar situation - can speak to the Mamaroneck Village police in confidence by calling 825-8541. There are Hispanic officers who will assist in communication.

Priest Arrested at Airport

The complainant who did come forward against Father Ordoñez contacted police on September 24, 2008, when she learned that the priest, who was out of the country at the time, would be returning to the parish. Father Ordoñez did come back to St. Vito’s in early December, and police began their investigation.

On December 8, police located the priest at JFK Airport at around 11 am, where he was awaiting a flight back to his home country, Ecuador. Father Ordoñez was taken into custody, returned to Mamaroneck and later arraigned before Judge Dan Gallagher.

The charge against Father Ordoñez is sexual abuse in the first degree, a D felony, with a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison. He is accused of “subjecting the victim to sexual contact by forcible touching.” According to New York’s penal law, this could include squeezing, grabbing or pinching.

The judge ordered Father Ordoñez to surrender his passports, from Ecuador and Canada, and remanded him to Westchester County jail without bail. On Thursday morning, December 11, Judge Gallagher set bail at $50,000 and scheduled the next hearing for December 18. As of late Thursday evening, the priest was still in custody.

Reaction: From the Church & Community

Father Ordoñez, a Salesian priest ordained in 1999 in Quito, Ecuador, underwent a standard background check before receiving permission from the Archdiocese of New York to serve as an extern priest at St. Vito’s, according to Joseph Zwilling, archdiocese spokesperson. “There were no problems,” said Mr. Zwilling.

Now, he added, Father Ordoñez’s “permission has been removed pending the outcome of the investigation.”

When Father Ordoñez first came to St. Vito's in March of 2003, he did not speak English, said Mary Marino, a life-long parishioner of the church who worked with the priest in her capacity as music director and organist. “Over time, he wanted his own Spanish-speaking people to be with him, to do everything with him, and I was not at the Spanish masses with him,“ said Ms. Marino, who described herself as Italian-American, like many long-time members of the church. “As far as I am concerned, he was a gentleman – he treated me and my family with respect.”

“They have a very big group of Spanish-speaking people who attend mass on Sunday at 12:30,” said Tony Marsella, another life-long parishioner. “That’s where [Father Richard] did his best work,” he added.

Harold Lasso, who was executive director of the Hispanic Resource Center (HRC) when the abuse is alleged to have occurred, recalled a number of complaints of "some sort of inappropriate touching" in a support group run by Father Ordoñez. "Nothing rose so there was a strong reason to press charges or file a complaint," he said, "but there were commentaries from clients that they felt uncomfortable around him and I recommended that they speak to the hierarchies at the church."

"I know that sometimes people are reluctant to come forward if they are undocumented - but people should know that if they have been victims of a crime, they may be protected under the U visa program," said Mr. Lasso. (See: U Visas - Immigration Relief for Victims of Certain Crimes.)

"I understand that parishioners are torn," said Mariana Boneo, the current HRC director. Many of the center's clients attend St. Vito's. "Father Richard was popular among the Hipanics, and it must have come as a shock to many of them to hear such a horrible situation. I hope that eventually the church can heal from this."


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Mamaroneck priest charged with sex abuse

By Christine Pizzuti and Candice Ferrette
The Journal News • December 9, 2008

    MAMARONECK - A village priest was arrested yesterday at John F. Kennedy International Airport and charged with fondling a woman.

    The Rev. Richard Ordonez, 37, a visiting priest at St. Vito's Church, a Catholic parish on Underhill Avenue, was charged with first-degree sex abuse, a felony, after he was taken into custody yesterday morning.


    He was arraigned last night in the judge's chambers at Village Hall while a Board of Trustees meeting was under way in the courtroom.

    Ordonez was accused of abusing a woman in 2004, fondling her breasts and other parts of her body, according to a statement read during the arraignment. He was being held in the Westchester County jail without bail. He is due in Village Court on Dec. 18.

    Ordonez signed an order of protection and surrendered his Canadian and Ecuadorean passports.

    At the arraignment, when asked whether he wanted an attorney, Ordonez said repeatedly that he wanted to speak to the Rev. James Healy, pastor at St. Vito's Church. Healy, who was not at the arraignment, declined to comment yesterday on the case.

    Village police detectives launched an investigation Sept. 24 after a woman came forward alleging that Ordonez had abused her, said Lt. James Gaffney, who would not comment further, citing a pending investigation.

    Ordonez is not among the 700 priests in the Archdiocese of New York system, said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the diocese.

    "This is the first I am hearing of this incident," Zwilling said last night.

    It is likely that Ordonez was visiting from another diocese, Zwilling added.

    Mary Marino, 83, organist at St. Vito's, said she and other members of the community were shocked to hear about Ordonez's arrest yesterday.

    "He never appeared to be that kind of a person. He's a very nice and very respectful young man to both me and my husband," Marino said.

    The priest had been very well liked since he came to St. Vito's about three years ago, she said.

    Ordonez, a native of Ecuador, celebrated Mass in Spanish, English and Italian. He has been credited with reaching out to the parish's Hispanic immigrant population, Marino said.

    Reach Christine Pizzuti at or 914-696-8291.

    Fr. Paul Ines:

    The Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania has also advised the

    USCCB of its concerns regarding Fr. Paul Ines, S.D.B. Fr. Ines is a priest of the

    Salesian Society of St. John Bosco and he was ordered by his religious institute

    to return to his community in Bethlehem, Israel. Fr Ines had been serving in the

    Diocese of Scranton, but was removed from ministry in December, 2005 due to

    inappropriate relationships with adults. It is reported that Fr. Ines has not

    returned to his community and that he is currently residing in Northeastern

    Pennsylvania. The Diocese relates that he has previously requested faculties in

    another diocese.

    Diocesan Communicator

    Suit: Priest slept with man's wife

    Joliet diocese accused of negligence

    September 29, 2008

    JOLIET -- After his wife left him last year for the priest who acted as their marriage counselor, an Elmhurst man is suing him, the Diocese of Joliet and Bishop J. Peter Sartain.

    In the complaint filed last week in Will County court, Stephen B. Crane accused the priest of alienation of affection and the diocese of negligence.

    The diocese allegedly knew the priest was having a sexual relationship with his wife and should have removed him from the church, according to the complaint.

    Crane is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

    Marriage counseling

    In early 2006, Crane and his former wife, Maureen Crane, were parishioners at Elmhurst Visitation Parish, 779 S. York St., Elmhurst. They began marital counseling with Christopher Floss, who was then a Catholic priest who was serving at the church, according to the complaint.

    By October, Maureen Crane and Floss were meeting daily at the rectory or the family’s home. In December, a group of parishioners, including the Cranes, planned a trip to Italy. Floss offered to renew the Cranes’ wedding vows during the trip as part of their counseling, according to the complaint.

    While they were in Rome, Maureen Crane told her husband she wanted a divorce. He later learned that a family member and other church leaders allegedly knew about the relationship between his wife and Floss, according to the complaint.

    Not long afterward, Floss left the priesthood. The Cranes divorced.

    “Defendant Floss and the plaintiff’s ex-wife are currently living together in Woodridge, Ill.,” according to the complaint.

    ‘No comment’

    Crane is being represented by Roger Rickmon, a Plainfield lawyer, and Phillip Taxman of Chicago.

    “I have no comment, except to say the complaint is fairly clear and explanatory,” Taxman said Monday.

    The diocese also said little about the allegations.

    “The allegations in this lawsuit are most disturbing and unfortunate to all concerned,” said Doug Delaney, spokesman for the diocese, on Monday. “ Any further public comment at this time on pending litigation would not be appropriate or helpful, considering the difficulties that this family is undergoing.”


    Italian man catches wife in bed with priest

    Telegraph (United Kingdom)

    By Nick Pisa in Rome
    Last Updated: 5:33PM BST 14 Sep 2008

    Following the shock discovery, the man stormed into the local bishop's office in Chioggia, near Venice, and demanded an explanation. Later police were called to calm him down.

    Details of the incident in Chioggia near Venice emerged on Sunday in Italian newspapers and the local bishop Angelo Daniel has now confirmed that the adulterous priest has been sent to another parish for "reeducation".

    The 53-year-old priest was described as a specialist on the Bible and had been a good friend of the couple.


    Survivor aims to help clergy sex abuse victims

    The Voice

    MARGARET KENNEDY runs Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS), which helps men and women who have been sexually abused by church clergy. She talked to Soul Stirrings about the organisation’s work.

    Soul Stirrings (SS): What inspired you to set up Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors?

    Margaret Kennedy (MK): After setting up Christian Survivors of Sexual Abuse (CSSA) 15 years ago, women wrote to me about clergy abuse as adults. The numbers mounted to over 200 and I became alarmed that there was nowhere the women could gain help and support. They, however, didn’t feel comfortable with the ‘Christian’ bit of CSSA and therefore a more neutral name was chosen for this group.

    I am also a clergy sexual abuse survivor, as I was sexually assaulted by a Christian Union Anglican Chaplain when I was in my twenties. He sexually abused several students, so I knew from first hand that these situations were real and horrifying.


    Pastor charged with felonies (08/06/2008)
    By Sarah Elmquist

    Winona clergy member faces criminal sexual conduct charges

    A former Winona pastor facing ten felony charges alleging criminal sexual conduct appeared in court Tuesday, affirming a not guilty plea but agreeing to participate in a settlement conference.

    Rev. Donald Dean Budd, 64, has been accused of engaging in criminal sexual conduct with an adult woman between 2003 and 2005. Of the ten felony charges, five are third degree with a maximum penalty of fifteen years in prison and a $30,000 fine, and five are fourth degree with a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

    The female victim, according to the complaint, was seeking spiritual guidance and counseling from Budd when the alleged conduct took place. Two of the incidents allegedly took place at the victim's residence, six allegedly occurred in Budd's parsonage, and two were allegedly to have occurred in the church building.

    The charges allege that Budd engaged in "sexual contact [or sexual penetration] of another person, while purporting to be a member of the clergy, during a period of time in which the person was meeting [the defendant] on an ongoing basis to seek or receive religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort in private," according to a statement issued by County Attorney Chuck MacLean about the charges. Within these subdivisions, consent is not considered a defense to prosecutors.

    The settlement conference was set for September 24.



       Copyright © 2008, Winona Post, All Rights Reserved.






    July 19, 2008

    Paroled To Sin Again

    Don't you just love those stories about how some criminal found Jesus while in prison, and gave up his criminal ways?  No, me neither.  But the religious do.  Specifically, the Episcopal Church, who converted the convicted murderer James Tramel.  Tramel was convicted in the stabbing death of a homeless man in 1985, but apparently he found love for Jesus in prison, to the extent that the Episcopal Church ordained him as a priest.  The Church naturally lobbied for Tramel to be paroled, and only four months after his release in 2006, they made him rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco. 

    What a heartwarming story.  What could possibly go wrong?  Try sexual abuse of a parishioner:

    It's [at the Church] that the victim said Tramel, who is married and has a young child, took advantage of her during counseling sessions.

    "They didn't give an honest depiction of this man," said the victim, a 36-year-old San Francisco resident. The Chronicle does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

    The diocese acknowledges that Tramel abused his power and committed sexual misconduct...

    So, theists, remind me - where does morality come from, again? 

    Priest steps down amid sexual misconduct allegations


    SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP -- A local priest has stepped down amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.

    The Toledo Diocese made the announcement Friday about Father Frank Murd of St. Joseph's Parish in Maumee.

    Sylvania Township Police say Father Murd inappropriately touched another man in the hot tub at the Jewish Community Center in Sylvania Township in March.

    At the time of the incident there was nobody else in the hot tub.

    Police say the men did not know each other but had seen each other at the JCC on previous occasions.

    This is the first time a complaint has been filed against Father Murd.

    The Toledo Diocese released a statement Friday from Bishop Leonard Blair saying that Father Murd has been "reassigned to a residential facility for appropriate spiritual remedies and for professional evaluation and counseling."

    For now, Father Monte Hoyles will be taking over at St. Joseph.

    There have been no charges filed at this point as the investigation into this incident is on-going.

    The prosecutor in Sylvania says the case in under review. 

    This is not Mr. Murds first offense. Approx. 10 years ago he was charged criminally with solicitation of a man for sex in Sandusky Co. He tried to pay a man for oral sex. The State of Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources officers arrested him at a park near Fremont Ohio. The conviction was sealed by the court at the request of the church, and he was moved from the Tiffin area to Perrysburg / Maumee.

    — Frank Smith, Tiffin Ohio

    Lawsuit claims priest impregnated woman

    EDWARDSVILLE — An Edwardsville woman and her husband have sued a Roman Catholic priest and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, claiming the priest impregnated the woman during nonconsensual sex in 2006, and later encouraged her to have an abortion.

    The suit alleges that the priest, the Rev. Thomas R. Szydlik, began pursuing an inappropriate relationship with the woman after he heard her confession at a church in Peoria in November 2004.

    The suit alleges that Szydlik moved to Edwardsville and continued to pursue a relationship with the woman in 2006 after the couple had moved to Madison County.

    Szydlik and diocesan officials could not be reached for comment.

    Each count of the 23-count suit, which was filed last week in Madison County Circuit Court, seeks damages of at least $50,000.

    The couple belonged to St. Vincent de Paul Church in Peoria, where Szydlik was assistant pastor from June 2004 through June 2005. He has since served several other parishes in the diocese.


    'Ill' Priest And Secret Partner Run Pub In Spain

    Sunday Mail

    Feb 24 2008 By Charles Lavery

    A PRIEST who left his Scottish parish on health grounds is running an Irish bar in Spain with his secret partner.

    Father Eugene O'Sullivan, 61, hopes to wed Fiona Aitken, 41, who he met as a young bride when he conducted her wedding in 1985.

    O'Sullivan's former parishioners will be stunned by the truth about where their priest has gone. They thought he was terminally ill and planning to spend his remaining time in Ireland.

    Shamed Cleric Joseph Creegan In Battle To Keep Flat

    A MONSIGNOR sacked over an 18-year affair with a parishioner is battling to stay in his grace-and-favour home.

    We revealed that Joseph Creegan was sacked by Bishop Vincent Logan over "irrefutable proof" that he had an affair with a married woman.

    But last week Creegan sparked a row with the bishop that could go all the way to the Vatican.

    Creegan was sacked after the spurned woman at the centre of the affair confessed all to Bishop Logan.

    We also revealed he had stayed overnight at the home of divorcee Anne Ogden, who had gone to him for marriage counselling and even owned a share in her Fife home.

    Bishop Logan immediately suspended him and apologised to Catholics in Dunkeld diocese for the hurt Creegan had caused

    updated 12:30 p.m. EST, Fri February 22, 2008

    Priest spent church money on secret family

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    RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- A retired Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 63 months in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his parishioners, money he used in part to support his secret family.


    Rev. Rodney Rodis walks into court in a 2007 file photo. The former Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

    Rodney Rodis, 51, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in October in the theft of more than $600,000 in donations from St. Jude Church and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Louisa County between 2002 and 2006.

    U.S. District Judge Richard Williams on Thursday issued the maximum punishment under federal sentencing guidelines and gave Rodis credit for time already served.

    The judge also ordered Rodis to repay the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond more than $591,000 and required the Filipino native to meet with federal immigration officials for possible deportation after his prison term ends.

    Before Williams handed down the sentence, Rodis recited a litany of apologies to his victims, including the Catholic church, his family and society in general.

    "I hope that one day I'll be able to rectify my mistakes," he said.

    Authorities said Rodis set up bank accounts and a post office box where he directed parishioners to send contributions. Rodis then transferred the money to his personal account, using it to support his family -- a wife and three children, whom he concealed from parishioners. He also wired money overseas to relatives who used it to buy real estate.

    Robert J. Wagner, an attorney representing Rodis, asked for leniency because of his client's poor health, which includes prostate cancer and heart problems.

    After the hearing, the priest who succeeded Rodis after his 2006 retirement said he wasn't convinced of the sincerity of his predecessor's apologies.

    "He did this for five years, systematically, and in a very organized way," the Rev. Michael Duffy said. "Restitution is what we're after." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

    Pentecostal Preacher Sherman Allen Turns Out to Be Reverend Spanky

    The Fort Worth preacher is accused of beating, threatening and assaulting women for more than 20 years

    By Julie Lyons

    Published on February 21, 2008

    That stench—horribly foul, like excrement sprinkled with cheap, rosy perfume. It had been 24 years since she smelled it last, but the odor was unmistakable. Someone had spread powder all over Joy's front porch. That's where the odor was coming from.

    She refused to touch it. Rain would wash the powder away. But the memories it brought back to her wouldn't go—the fragmented images of a brutal attack.

    His black tasseled loafers. His thick glasses. The long wooden objects draped in a red towel he set on the floor.

    The way he crept up behind her in her bedroom and touched her on the side, startling her just before he shoved her facedown onto the bed. The excruciating pain as he jammed a 3-foot club into her rectum and asked repeatedly, "Does it feel good? Does it feel good?"

    And the stench—that sickening sweet smell that hung around him.

    The powder, she suspected, was tied to a voodoo rite.

    When Joy saw it on her porch last year she immediately tracked back to a surprise visitor who'd come just a few days earlier. The visit was odd: Joy hadn't seen or heard from this woman in a long time. All of a sudden, she popped up unannounced, not long after Unfair Park, the Dallas Observer blog, reported that Joy—not her real name—claimed she'd been raped by a Fort Worth preacher in 1983. Turns out this woman was dating the preacher's first cousin.

    The visitor came with nosy questions. Was Joy going to testify about the attack? No, the visitor reasoned aloud: If you'd wanted to testify, you would have done that a long time ago. Joy just nodded her head.

    The preacher was a nobody in May 1983, when Joy told Fort Worth police that he'd drugged or hypnotized her, beaten her with a paddle and raped her anally with a wooden club. Then, she claims, he sodomized her, slapping his hand over her mouth and cursing at her when she tried to cry out to God. When he was finished, Joy says, the preacher propped her up in front of a bathroom mirror, pried her eyes open so she was forced to look at herself and called her a bitch, a whore, a prostitute, a cokehead.

    "God told me to do this to you," she recalled him saying.

    And there was more. He knew people in high places, he allegedly told her, so no one would ever believe her. But if she was stupid enough to tell, he'd come back and do the same thing to her 4-year-old daughter.

    As she hunched naked on a love seat in her apartment after the attack, numb with pain, hating this God he invoked and hoping she would die, the preacher handed her two rolls of toilet tissue.

    He kissed her on the forehead and walked out the door.



    Now the preacher was somebody.

    The year was 2007, and Sherman Clifton Allen was a man of stature in the black Pentecostal church. Allen, senior pastor of Shiloh Institutional Church of God in Christ in Fort Worth, had become known across the country for his bold, eloquent preaching. He spoke in clipped sentences, with an abundance of big words, but he also knew how to stir a Pentecostal congregation, effortlessly weaving ghetto slang with theology. When the spirit was high, he could let loose from the pulpit with a sanctified scream: Ahhhhhhhh!

    He seemed to embody the ideal of the neo-Pentecostal preacher: sophisticated, smart and successful, but true to his roots in the humble but impassioned spirituality of black Pentecostalism.

    Observers in his denomination, the Church of God in Christ, assumed he was on the fast track to making bishop. He hung out with top-ranking church leaders, such as Charles E. Blake, now the presiding bishop of COGIC, the biggest Pentecostal denomination in the United States. He personally knew Pentecostal luminaries such as T.D. Jakes and Juanita Bynum. When Allen's first wife died, Jakes, perhaps the biggest name in Pentecostalism, delivered the eulogy.

    Allen and his followers saw no contradiction between worldly and spiritual success, and the preacher drove a late-model Mercedes and lived in a $1.6 million parsonage in Mansfield. A retinue of bodyguards and "armor-bearers" attended to his needs—often for little or no pay—and members of Shiloh literally raced each other to the altar to present offerings and demonstrate their devotion to this anointed man of God. They hung on his every utterance—especially when he dropped a word of personal prophecy, pronouncing blessings of homes, cars, financial abundance and fame. At his annual Prophetic Summit, he pulled in big-name speakers such as Bynum and Jakes and sent them away with five-figure checks. It was the event that got people in the local black Pentecostal scene buzzing about his ministry in the first place.

    But in early 2007, even as Allen, now 46, was increasing his profile in the Church of God in Christ, his past was about to burst into his present.

    A former church member, Davina Kelly, had mailed a letter to the 12 bishops of COGIC's ruling body alleging that Allen had beaten her repeatedly with a wooden paddle and ultimately raped her in a relationship that began as marriage counseling. When Kelly got no response from the bishops, she filed suit against Allen, Shiloh and the Church of God in Christ. The suit became public in early February 2007, and a strange thing began to happen. Women started contacting Howie, Broome & Bobo (now just Broome Bobo), the law firm handling Kelly's case, with similar allegations spanning more than 20 years. Kelly's lawyers, in fact, had landed on one of the worst-kept secrets of the local black Pentecostal scene: Allen had a predilection for paddling young women on the rear end as a bizarre form of discipline—a practice that had earned him the nickname "Spanky."

    Rogers priest guilty of one count in retrial of sex-abuse case

    He was accused of abusing his position by having sex with two parishioners, at one point telling one that her dead mother spoke to him and said they should be together.

    Last update: February 20, 2008 - 12:44 AM

    A Hennepin County District Court jury took barely two hours to reach a verdict after about a week of testimony.

    In 2005, Bussmann was found guilty of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct while he was a priest at St. Martin's Catholic Church in Rogers and St. Walburga Church in nearby Hassan Township. The state Supreme Court set aside those convictions in November and ordered a new trial. The court took issue with extensive evidence introduced at the first trial regarding the Roman Catholic Church's doctrine on the power of priests over parishioners.

    In a 90-minute closing argument Tuesday, Assistant County Attorney Marlene Senechal likened Bussmann to a pedophile who preys on victims. "In this unique relationship, the priest has enormous power," she said.

    Defense lawyer John Westrick countered that the women involved weren't completely under his sway because on occasion they said no to sex. He also said one of the women introduced sex into the relationship with talk of her own history of "sex, drugs and rock and roll." The jury acquitted Bussmann of abusing that woman.

    But Senechal noted that Bussmann gave the second victim's mother last rites as she lay dying and later told the woman that her deceased mother spoke to him and wanted them to be together. Even in his closing argument, Westrick acknowledged that comment was inappropriate.

    The Star Tribune doesn't identify victims of sex crimes. One woman and her husband have filed a lawsuit seeking damages, but she is identified in the case as "Jane Doe."

    The core of the criminal issue was whether sex occurred when the women were seeking religious or spiritual advice, aid or comfort.

    Senechal noted "extraordinary similarities" in how Bussmann approached the women and "broke down boundaries," talking about sex and masturbation, making them feel special and telling them their husbands weren't attentive enough or were probably cheating.

    Westrick responded that the first woman brought dinner to Bussmann along with candles and wine. "Hmmm, that doesn't seem like seeking religious aid and comfort to me," he said.

    Lawyers for both sides said they respected the decision of the jury. Sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 12 before District Judge Warren Sagstuen.

    The presumptive sentence is four years, and Bussmann already has served almost three. He will have to register as a sex offender upon his release. He is being held without bond.

    The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis removed Bussmann from the priesthood in March 2003.

    Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

    Former local man recounts life-altering events with parish priest that sent him into downward spiral

    By Pat Bywater


    Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part series.


    The Roman Catholic faith had always played a central role in Kevin McParland’s life.

    He served as an altar boy for several years and attended a Catholic school through sixth grade. For years his mother, a Eucharistic minister, gathered the family together each night to pray the Rosary for her husband, who, since a 1972 heart attack, experienced bouts of failing health. When McParland’s father, a medical doctor who often provided free care to priests and nuns, was too sick to attend church, she arranged for a priest to deliver the sacraments in their home.

    Even when McParland left home to study at Penn State University’s main campus, he remained dedicated to the church, regularly attending services.

    As he returned from college in the summer of 1980, the 20-year-old sophomore was worried about his father once again. McParland’s dad had just suffered another heart attack, and McParland did not know how he could cope if he ever lost his father and the close relationship they enjoyed.

    Little did McParland know that an important lesson he was taught at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Greenville would be turned on its head. The nuns there, he said, stressed obedience to the church and to its priests in particular. The lesson was clear, McParland recalls: “If you didn’t do what they said, you would go to hell.”

    In the space of just a few days, that summer McParland claims to have had sexual encounters that stripped him of his religion and dragged him into years of mental illness, drug addiction and homelessness that would nearly cost him his life.

    McParland claims to have become the victim of unwanted sexual relations at the hands of his parish priest at St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church. According to experts in the field, McParland’s dramatic, near-death struggle to recover is not unusual among victims of clergy sexual abuse. His story also shows that while the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie is not alone in refusing to disclose exactly what it has done to address priests accused of sexual impropriety, it did try to help McParland. In the end, however, his requests for help went beyond what the diocese was willing to support.


    A life-altering event

    McParland stuck to his usual schedule of attending church regularly when he came home the summer of 1980.

    What was unusual was his reaction to the parish priest who had just been appointed to his home church that summer, Father Stephen E. Jeselnick.

    Jeselnick had been at St. Margaret’s only a short time — maybe a week — when he approached McParland as he was leaving Mass one day. McParland cut the meeting short because he found Jeselnick “a bit creepy.”

    Embarrassed by his reaction, McParland later called Jeselnick to apologize. He said Jeselnick suggested a meeting at McParland’s home one evening so they could get to know each other better. McParland agreed.

    The night of the meeting McParland was alone at home and had dipped into his dad’s whiskey. Worries about his dad’s health were taking a toll on him. Three or four drinks later, he was admittedly drunk.

    The conversation with the Rev. Jeselnick was good — more like two friends getting together. “Talking to him wasn’t like talking to other priests I knew,” McParland said.

    At one point Jeselnick began to give McParland a massage that eventually worked its way down to between McParland’s legs. When that happened, “I froze,” McParland said.

    Jeselnick did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment on this story, but a letter from Jeselnick’s attorney, Brian Balenson, that accompanied a 2005 settlement between Jeselnick and McParland said Jeselnick thought the meetings “were free will and he now recognizes that, although (they) were both young adults, (McParland) did not view the meetings the say way as (Jeselnick) did.”

    McParland continued to explain what he claims happened next.

    Jeselnick led McParland to McParland’s bedroom, where the sexual encounter continued. McParland claims the priest ripped off his shorts. He said he told Jeselnick no, but the priest didn’t stop.

    Looking back, McParland claims several things kept him from stopping the incident.

    He was shocked and had been taught to obey.

    “I did not even know priests and nuns had sexual organs,” McParland said. “I was taught they are God’s representative and you do what they say.”

    He was almost paralyzed.

    As the sexual incident unfolded, McParland claims it was almost as if he disassociated with his body. “I thought this can’t be happening. It was like watching it happen to someone else.”

    And finally, in general, he was a passive person.

    “I did not know how to fight back, especially with a priest,” he said. McParland had never been athletic and did not deal well with confrontation. When it came to bullies and fights in school, for example, McParland said he would always just take what was dished out. He believed that “the best way to have the least pain inflicted was to submit.”

    Although some may find it hard to believe, it is not unusual for those who are victimized by priests to freeze up or offer little resistance as the sexual encounter unfolds, according to David Clohessy, director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. Through SNAP, which was founded in 1988 by a female social worker who was victimized by a priest, Clohessy comes in daily contact with victims across the United States. He has been involved with the organization since 1990.

    “Catholic children are trained from birth to trust, respect and revere priests and also that they are God’s representative on Earth,” he said. “These are men who can take away our sins and get us in

    This “power imbalance,” as Clohessy calls it, combined with Catholic priests’ vow of celibacy, often renders victims helpless when a sexual advance occurs, he said. In many cases victims do little or nothing to resist, according to Clohessy, even in situations like McParland’s when they are abused more than once by the same priest.


    In addition, Clohessy believes most abuser priests pick their victims carefully. “These men are unbelievably cunning, shrewd and manipulative,” he said. “They know how to pick people who have a hard time saying no and who won’t report it.”

    Often, according to Clohessy, that means finding a victim who is vulnerable, as McParland was over his father’s failing health.

    When the encounter was done, Jeselnick simply left.

    The incident left McParland confused and scared. “I figured I was going to hell,” he said.

    He did not want to tell anyone what happened, but he wanted to find help understanding why it happened and what it meant. He thought what had happened was sinful and had left him in jeopardy of eternal damnation, but how could a trusted priest do such a thing if it was a mortal sin? Had he done something to deserve this? Was God punishing him?

    McParland turned to the only person he thought he could trust for answers. “I called him a couple days afterwards because I did not know where to turn,” McParland said. “I thought somehow he could take away what happened.”

    McParland said Jeselnick suggested another meeting at McParland’s home. Again McParland agreed, and he says Jeselnick turned the meeting into another sexual encounter when he found McParland alone. Initially, McParland pressed the priest for answers to his questions. Was he doomed to eternity in hell? McParland said the priest responded that the only thing McParland needed to worry about was pleasuring him.

    “It was like this wasn’t real,” said McParland of the second incident. He recalls thinking “at a certain point the best way is to submit and get him out of here.”

    The encounter ended when McParland’s parents came home. Hearing them approach, Jeselnick stopped, made himself presentable and acted as if he was just visiting. “It was uncanny how he could switch from one character to another,” McParland recalls.

    The fact that McParland went back to someone he felt was an abuser for answers is another strand Clohessy finds running through many cases of sexual abuse by a priest. He likens it to a battered spouse who goes back to her or his abuser again and again.


    The downward spiral

    McParland’s life slowly began unraveling from there.

    His drinking was getting out of control, he was smoking marijuana and his studies suffered. He stopped going home for visits and became withdrawn.

    to heaven. They are imbued with almost superhuman powers.”

    “I cut off all relationships,” he said. “I did not tell anyone about it (the incidents with Jeselnick). I sank into a really deep depression.”

    He still wanted to know what would happen to him as a result of the encounters, so much so that he called Jeselnick again. When the priest suggested a meeting at Penn State, McParland hung up the phone. He went to confession at a church near State College. When the priest began asking for graphic details of the incidents with Jeselnick, he left.

    The downward spiral continued, but he managed to graduate. “I wanted to get as far away as possible,” McParland said, so he caught a ride to Los Angeles.

    The drug abuse escalated, and McParland was unable to hold a steady job and started to have panic attacks.

    He again sought help at a local Catholic church. A priest offered counseling, but did not want details about McParland’s abuser. The priest also offered no reassurance about the status of McParland’s soul.

    He continued to believe he was destined to go to hell and began to think that “maybe if I am punished enough, God will forgive me.”

    He ended up homeless, but lied to his family to keep it from them.

    He attempted suicide twice. Then his father died in 1985, bringing him to a new low. McParland nearly died of a drug overdose just months later.

    It was all predictable, and some of it may have been avoidable, had McParland known three things. He was not alone. It was not his fault. There was help available.

    In some ways he was further victimized by history. As he struggled through his worst days in the 1980s, the national priest abuse scandal had not yet come to light. Victims were isolated and the sources of help were not as obvious as they are today.

    In the end, Kevin McParland nearly had to lose his life in order to begin reclaiming it.




    Former local man finds healing in speaking out about priest

    By Pat Bywater


    After two sexual encounters with his parish priest in Jamestown that Kevin McParland, then a 20-year-old college sophomore, said were unwanted, he saw his life unravel. He had become a sometimes homeless drug and alcohol abuser with no hope or direction.

    McParland had attempted suicide twice and nearly killed himself with an accidental drug overdose after the death of his beloved father.

    That it took getting that low to shake McParland out of his downward spiral is no surprise to David Clohessy, director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

    Crippling and potentially deadly drug abuse, self-doubt and self-destructive behavior are common among those who have been abused by priests, he said.

    “A huge percentage of victims try to cope with the pain by self-medicating,” he said. “It usually takes victims years or decades to understand the hurt is severe and ongoing.”

    Clohessy should know. He, too, claims to have been victimized by his family’s parish priest. Through SNAP, which was founded in 1988 by a female social worker who was victimized by a priest, Clohessy comes in daily contact with victims across the United States. He has been involved with the organization since 1990.

    While every instance of sexual impropriety by a priest is a serious matter, Clohessy believes that such instances within the Catholic Church are even more disabling to victims due to the tenets of the faith.

    “Catholic children are trained from birth to trust, respect and revere priests and also that they are God’s representative on Earth,” he said. “These are men who can take away our sins and get us into heaven. They are imbued with almost superhuman powers.”

    This “power imbalance,” as Clohessy calls it, combined with Catholic priests’ vow of celibacy, often renders victims helpless when a sexual advance occurs, he said. In many cases, victims do little or nothing to resist, according to Clohessy, even in situations like McParland’s when they have more than one sexual encounter with the same priest.

    In addition, Clohessy believes most abuser priests pick their victims carefully. “These men are unbelievably cunning, shrewd and manipulative,” he said. “They know how to pick people who have a hard time saying no and who won’t report it.”

    Often, according to Clohessy, that means finding a victim who is vulnerable, as McParland was over his father’s failing health.

    The fact that McParland went back to the man he felt was his abuser for answers is another strand Clohessy finds running through many cases of sexual abuse by a priest. He likens it to a battered spouse who goes back to her or his abuser again and again.

    If the downward spiral victim’s experience does not lead to their death, the victim is likely to hit a pivotpoint in their life that causes them to seek help. For some, like McParland, it takes getting as low as you can — a near-death incident, for example. For others it can be a major change, like getting married or divorced or having a child.

    Since the Catholic Church’s priest abuse scandal broke into national consciousness around 2000, it has become easier for victims to find help and know that they are not alone.

    “Now, thankfully, many victims are now more skeptical of church hierarchy, more willing to find independent help,” Clohessy said. “It is better than it was pre-2000, but is still an issue.”

    Even after counseling, many victims find that the impact of the abuse “is never erased and the harm is never undone,” said Clohessy. “The unacknowledged wound never heals.”


    In addition, “almost every one says they want to make sure the priest is not doing it to anyone else.”

    In both respects, McPar-land’s case is representative of countless others.


    Road to recovery

    Thanks to therapy that McParland said led to diagnoses of post-traumatic stress syndrome and panic attacks, he was getting back on his feet by 1991. He was sober, had found new friends and a new job. He believed continuing therapy was the key to recovery, he was looking for some sense of justice, and he had an idea of where these issues would take him. First, however, he needed the backing of his family.

    McParland was relieved with his family’s supportive, sympathetic reaction when he finally revealed to them what had happened to him 11 years ago and how it had changed his life. For a long time they had a feeling that something was at issue with Father Stephen E. Jeselnick, who served their parish for only about a year. Jeselnick also served other parishes in the Erie Diocese, including some time in Meadville.

    With his family behind him, McParland was determined to approach the Erie Diocese. He knew there would never be a criminal case against Jeselnick — he learned that the statute of limitations had expired, so it was too late to seek prosecution. However, he did hope that the diocese would assist him in his recovery and he did expect church officials would act to ensure others were not at risk of abuse.

    During his 1991 meeting with Bishop Donald Trautman, McParland claims he was offered pastoral counseling, which meant he would be counseled by a priest. A letter provided by McParland, sent to him by e-mail from Trautman, refers to both psychological counseling and pastoral care. Although Trautman’s letter indicates McParland received diocese-provided counseling from 1991 to 2007, McParland claims that is not the case.

    McParland claims he declined the 1991 offer because he did not want counseling from a priest. He wanted the diocese to pay for counseling from an independent, secular source.

    According to McParland, the Erie Diocese’s stance changed in 1996 when he, in the wake of reports of abuser priests in the Los Angeles Diocese, contacted officials there who served as a liaison with Erie.

    They helped forge an agreement that led to the Erie Diocese paying for McParland’s counseling, he said.

    According to McParland, the diocese paid for his counseling from 1996 to 1999 and from 2002 to 2007. Throughout the process he had to wrangle with the diocese over how much treatment he should receive, he claims.

    In 2002, McParland claims to have heard from Erie Diocese sources that Jeselnick was interested in forging a settlement in the case.

    In 2005, that led to an agreement between McParland and Jeselnick. McParland received a payment of $25,000. In exchange, McParland released Jeselnick and the Erie and Los Angeles dioceses from all claims, agreed to never contact Jeselnick, Trautman and a number of church officials and agreed to never discuss the incidents with Jeselnick with anyone except mental health and medical officials.

    In a cover letter accompanying the agreement, Jeselnick’s attorney, Brian Balenson, wrote: “Let me pass on some direct thoughts from my client. He truly believes his meetings with you were free will and he now recognizes that, although you were both young adults, you did not view the meetings the same way as he did. He sincerely regrets any misconceptions and for the consequences you may have suffered as a result.”


    In addition, in an interview for this story, Erie Diocese officials revealed that the diocese outlined and provided a program of pastoral assistance and counseling for Jeselnick.

    It appears that Jeselnick has remained active in the ministry, currently in the Baltimore, Md., area. The Erie Diocese would not provide specific information about his assignment and the Baltimore Diocese did not have a record of his activities. Calls to phones and a message sent to an e-mail address listed in his name were not answered. A request for an interview made through his lawyer also did not get a response.

    The Erie Diocese official who responded to a request for comment for this article, Monsignor Tom McSweeney, declined to discuss how much the diocese had spent on counseling for Jeselnick and McParland.


    Going public

    Although McParland did sign the settlement agreement with Jeselnick and it did provide funding for additional counseling, McParland was never particularly comfortable with the arrangement. A part of him did not feel right having agreed to be silent and he said that made him feel victimized again. He felt that his ability to help ensure others weren’t victimized had been limited by the agreement. In addition, he was becoming increasingly frustrated with what he claims to be ongoing wrangling with the Erie Diocese about his treatment.

    It was in this context that McParland heard from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests that there was a reporter interested in doing a story on a person living in Los Angeles who had unwanted sexual encounters with a priest.

    He was advised by SNAP officials that agreements like the one he signed with Jeselnick are not enforceable. He decided to talk to the reporter and a series of stories was published.

    McParland found the experience therapeutic because it “lets the people know this happens — it happens more than you think” and will perhaps give other victims the strength and inspiration they need to seek help. In addition, he said the articles helped validate his experience. “I am not a freak,” he said. “I am getting my voice back. What happened was wrong, finally validated after 27 years.”

    Since those articles appeared in early August 2007, McParland has appeared on a television talk show and made contact with The Meadville Tribune.

    In fall 2007, McParland’s agreement with the Erie Diocese to pay for his treatment unraveled when he made a request that the diocese pay for inpatient treatment.

    In a letter McParland provided that was e-mailed to him from Trautman, the bishop cites the many years of assistance the diocese provided, dating back to the 1991 meeting when the bishop says the incident with Jeselnick came to his attention.

    In the letter the bishop writes: “It is our opinion and the opinion of experts that the Diocese of Erie has taken every reasonable and compassionate measure over the years to assist you regarding the very regrettable event of two adults some 27 years ago. In view of this it is not our intention to provide further assistance.”

    McParland’s life is far more stable now, and he believes he is doing an important public service by speaking out and sharing the details of his case. However, he said he still does battle depression, struggles with spiritual issues and rues the loss of so many years to drug addiction and mental illness.

    It is unlikely that he will ever feel whole. He said the only thing that would completely satisfy him is beyond anyone’s power — giving him his lost years back. Beyond that, he would at least like to see Jeselnick removed from the priesthood and have his mother paid back the $100,000 McParland said she contributed to his therapy expenses. He has also joined lobbying efforts that would define priests similar to doctors and professional therapists in the eyes of the law. Such a change would open allow victims a longer period of time to seek prosecution and would expose priests to greater penalties.


    While such legislation may some day come into being, the rest of the things McParland is looking for will probably never happen.

    A statement provided by McSweeney in response to a call for comment on this story reiterated the stance laid out by Trautman in fall 2007 and provided some additional details. It reads, in part: “In responding to this case, Bishop Trautman sought and obtained the advice of members of the Diocesan Review Board. He also has been assisted by several mental health professionals in outlining and providing a program of pastoral assistance and counseling for both Jeselnick and McParland. The Diocese of Erie has provided extensive pastoral care and counseling for McParland for many years. The diocese believes every reasonable and compassionate measure has been applied in its response to the regrettable events of 26 years ago. At the same time the diocese is confident that the parties involved have attained meaningful progress in moving forward with their lives.”

    McSweeney explained that the board reviews allegations of moral misconduct on the part of clergy. Its members advise the bishop. It includes trained professionals in the field of rendering pastoral counseling and legal advice and generally includes mix of secular and clergy members.

    McSweeney also stressed that because McParland was an adult at the time of the incident with Jeselnick, the case does not fall under the diocese’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Adopted in 2003, it established specific guidelines for those who work with children and young adults, guidelines designed to prevent child abuse and requirements for reporting and handling alleged incidents.



    Kevin McParland experiences a life-altering event at the hands of his parish priest.


    Learn more

    You can learn more about the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie at its Web site, To learn more about the diocese’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, type the title into the search engine on the diocese’s homepage.

    You can learn more about Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests at its Web site,


    Were you victimized by a priest?

    Kevin McParland is interested in hearing from and help people who were sexually victimized by priests. You may contact him through Janet Patterson of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests at (620) 456-2330 or through SNAP Director David Clohessy at (314) 566-9790.

    Stepson says Clinton hostage suspect 'needed help'

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    ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) -- The man who allegedly held hostages Friday at a New Hampshire campaign office of Sen. Hillary Clinton had seen one of her campaign ads about health care and was hoping she could help him, his stepson said.

    Leeland Eisenberg surrendered after police said he held hostages in a campaign office of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

    Benjamin Warren spoke briefly to CNN about stepfather Leeland Eisenberg, who was expected in court Monday afternoon.

    Police said Eisenberg entered Clinton's campaign office with what he said was a bomb strapped to his chest. It turned out to be road flares held with duct tape, police said.

    Before surrendering, Eisenberg, 46, complained about his inability to get mental health treatment.

    Warren said his stepfather "needed help -- he couldn't get it."

    Eisenberg had seen one of Clinton's campaign ads about how she helped an underinsured boy get a bone marrow transplant, Warren said.

    Eisenberg of Somersworth, New Hampshire, faces state charges of four counts of kidnapping, one count of criminal threatening and one count of false use of an explosive device, Rochester police Capt. Paul Callaghan said. Authorities have said he also could face federal charges. He was being held in a local jail.

    Eisenberg walked into the Democratic presidential contender's campaign office in Rochester on Friday afternoon and took hostages, police said. See the location of the office »

    Five people, including a small child, eventually were released unharmed by the time the ordeal ended more than five hours later. Video Watch why Eisenberg went to the campaign office »

    During the standoff, Eisenberg had three conversations with CNN employees in Washington and Atlanta, Georgia. He said he had mental health problems and could not get the help he needed. He also said he wanted to speak with Clinton.

    Eisenberg said he was a mental health patient who had been trying to get help. He'd been unsuccessful, he said, because he didn't have "thousands of dollars." Photo See photos of the hostage situation »

    "I need to speak to Hillary Clinton," he said. "Something's got to change. Ordinary people need help" with their insurance.

    Eisenberg also alleged in a 2002 lawsuit against the Boston Archdiocese that a priest raped him.

    The lawsuit says one week after the alleged rape, Eisenberg, then 21, tried to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. Afterward, he went to a psychiatric facility for observation and treatment.

    A legal source involved with the case told CNN that Eisenberg also was addicted to alcohol and drugs.

    Clinton, who was in Washington at the time of the hostage incident, traveled to New Hampshire on Friday night to meet with the former hostages and their families. At a news conference afterward, the senator from New York said her campaign had no previous contact with Eisenberg.


    "It appears that he is someone who was in need of help and sought attention in absolutely the wrong way," she said.

    Clinton resumed her campaign schedule in Iowa on Saturday. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

    CNN's Jim


    More Women Accuse Charismatic Archbishop Of Sexual Abuse

    November 20, 2007 11:26 a.m. EST

    Jessica Pupovac - AHN News Writer

    Decatur, GA (AHN) - The charismatic figurehead of a multi-million dollar mega-church in suburban Atlanta is embroiled in a collosal sex scandal that now involves at least ten women, including his sister-in-law.

    Beginning in 2002, women began coming forward, accusing 80-year-old Archbishop Earl Paulk, co-founder of Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church, of coercing them into having sex with him, telling them that it was "God's will." Another woman, now in her early 20s, claimed that as a young child, Paulk molested her.

    However, it was not until a paternity test, ordered in late-October, revealed that Paulk had fathered a child with his brother's wife, Clariece Paulk, that the scandal exploded.

    In the past month, according to Fox News Atlanta, at least seven more women have come forward, claiming that they, too, have had sex or have been sexually abused by the charismatic leader - including his own granddaughter. One of the women claim Paulk got her pregnant and drove her to an abortion clinic to terminate the pregnancy.

    Paulk is now facing additional charges for lying under oath about having sex outside of his marriage.

    Paulk, his brother Don, and his sister-in-law Clariece founded the Chapel Hill Harvester Church, which now sits on a 100-acre lot in the suburbs of Atlanta. In the early 1990s, the church claimed approximately 10,000 members, enabling it to expand to include a Bible college, two schools, a worldwide TV ministry.

    Since the sex-scandals began, the church membership has dwindled significantly.

    Garnerville parish reacts to priest's arrest on sex charge
    (Original publication: October 31, 2007)

    GARNERVILLE - One of the most important things Elizabeth Luisi learned from the Rev. Gary Mead was that it is OK to be Catholic.

    "It was so nice to talk about God and about spirituality with someone of a similar age," said Luisi, a 39-year-old Stony Point resident who knew Mead as a priest at St. Gregory Barbarigo parish.

    "It made me feel like being Catholic was still hip," she said.

    So when Luisi learned that Mead, 44, was among 20 men charged during a sex-sting operation this month at a rest stop on Interstate 684 in Bedford, she was shocked and saddened. Police said he fondled an undercover officer and has been charged with forcible touching.

    Ex-priest pleads guilty after threat
    e-mail print

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    JERSEY CITY -- James T. Hanley, a former Roman Catholic priest at the center of a highly publicized sexual abuse case, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a weapons offense stemming from an angry outburst at a hotel.

    Hanley, 71, pleaded guilty in state Superior Court as part of a plea agreement that will likely count a year already spent in jail as time served. Hanley went to jail after missing a court date last October.

    Hanley admitted that he used an aluminum baseball bat to threaten three employees at the Extended Stay America Secaucus-Meadowlands hotel in 2006.

    A 23-year-old desk clerk told authorities that Hanley was angered after the clerk rebuffed his sexual advances.

    Unshaven and walking with the help of a cane, Hanley made no statement as he was released and left court after the plea.

    Hanley was removed from the priesthood in 2002, 17 years after church officials learned of complaints against him.

    Cheating Priests May Be Named

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Anglican ministers accused of cheating on their spouses may be included on a proposed church database of child abusers and sex offenders, a church official said Tuesday.

    The proposed register would give top Anglican officials access to any complaints made against ministers or lay workers accused of child abuse. But it would also include complaints of sexual misconduct against adults, such as adultery, even if the claims are unproven.

    Philip Gerber, the professional standards director of the Sydney diocese, said potential ministers and church workers should be held to a higher moral code than other members of the community.

    He said the register would be used to determine internal church appointments, and would distinguish between the types of allegations made, including rumors, written complaints and legal action.

    "The church has always had a high expectation, a scriptural expectation, that members of the clergy and church workers lead moral lives," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

    "Often people that come in touch with clergy are vulnerable because they're in a pastoral situation and the minister is, in a sense, in a position of power," he added. "We just want to make sure that whenever people come in touch with the church they are safe."

    The proposal was being discussed at the Anglican church's triennial synod, or assembly, in the nation's capital, Canberra. If approved, officials said the database could be compiled and running by March.

    Critics say marital infidelity should not be included alongside child sexual abuse in the register.

    "The serious issues are very important (and we) must deal with them properly, but we're getting to the point where people for, almost for winking at somebody, could end up being on a register," said Muriel Porter, a lay member of the Anglican synod.


    Vatican priest caught in TV sex sting

    The Times

    Paul Bompard in Rome
    A high-ranking Vatican priest has been suspended after a TV programme, using a hidden camera, recorded him making advances to a young man and asserting that gay sex was not sinful.

    Monsignor Tommaso Stenico, 60, is the director of one of the three departments that make up the Congregation for the Clergy, the Vatican “ministry” for the clergy.

    Yesterday he claimed that he was pretending to be gay in an attempt to unmask a Satanic plot to seduce Catholic priests to homosexuality and thus discredit the Church. “I only pretended I was gay to study how priests are seduced,” said Mgr Stenico, a frequent guest on television programmes discussing religious issues. “There are people who go after them . . . I really believe there is a diabolical plan by groups of Satanists.”

    Mgr Stenico admits inviting a man whom he met on a gay website to his office, across the piazza from Saint Peter’s Basilica, after expressing an attraction to sado-masochism. What he did not know was that the young man was working for a TV investigation on homosexuality among Catholic priests and went to the tryst with a concealed video camera. The footage was shown this month by La 7, the national TV channel.

    Accused Las Vegas Priest Agrees to Plea Deal

    Sep 20, 2007 08:09 PM CDT

    A Las Vegas priest accused of beating a church employee may not spend much more time in prison. Father George Chaanine has agreed to a plea deal Thursday in the assault of singer Michaelina Bellamy.

    Chaanine vanished back in February after a church employee accused him of attacking her with a wine bottle and sexually assaulting her.

    He was eventually captured after more than a week on the run outside of Phoenix.

    Father George Chaanine admitted to battery with a deadly weapon, but by accepting guilt, prosecutors will drop sexual assault and kidnapping charges. Depending on how a judge rules, Chaanine may get time served.

    Chaanine could face a range of time, however. The judge could say the eight months he has already spent in prison are enough, or the judge could put Chaanine away for as much as 15 years.

    One of the priest's lawyers, Jeff Banks, says Chaanine understands the situation and has had a number of visitors over the last few months. Banks paints him as a man who wishes to change.

    "I mean he's done the better part of a year already. And that is a substantial and life altering amount of time," said Banks. He also said that Chaanine will face no punishment in Nevada for the fugitive run.

    You might remember Chaanine's drive from Las Vegas to the coast of California and then to the Arizona desert. It could factor into the judge's decision, however.

    Michaelina Bellamy's representative did not return calls for comment.

    Chaanine will be sentenced in early November.

    Below is statement released from the Diocese of Las Vegas:

    "The Diocese of Las Vegas was informed today that Father George Chaanine has accepted a plea agreement from the District Attorney's office.  The Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe, Bishop of the Diocese, said today that they respect the workings of the justice system and Father Chaanine's decision.

    "It goes without saying that we are saddened that this incident ever took place and our thoughts and prayers have and continue to be with everyone who has been affected by this.  It has been a trying time for the parish of Our Lady, but I am extremely proud and inspired by the way they have pulled together as a community and I pray that this unity and strength from adversity will continue as we move forward," said Bishop Pepe."

    Diocese bans priest accused of harassment

    Star-Telegram staff writer

    Do's supporters want him back.
    Do's supporters want him back.

    FORT WORTH -- An Arlington priest accused of sexual harassment was banned Thursday from working in the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese, despite the inconclusive results of an investigation.

    But diocese officials believed that the two women who accused the priest were intimidated into silence after coming forward. And the priest admitted buying them jewelry.

    Bishop Kevin Vann said in a statement that it was in the best interests of the diocese and the priest's divided parish, Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church, for him to permanently remove the Rev. Bartholomew Hoa Thai Do. He was removed in August for the duration of the investigation.

    "A pastor is needed who can bring all parishioners together and who has no cloud of past allegations about him, allegations which involve current residents of our diocese," Vann said in the statement.

    Vietnamese Martyrs is believed to be the largest Vietnamese parish in the diocese, with an average Sunday attendance of 3,500. Dozens of the priest's supporters gathered Thursday at the diocese headquarters, the Catholic Center in Fort Worth. A Vietnamese Martyrs church member, Le Hoang, said diocese leaders were presented with a petition of more than 2,000 signatures asking for the priest's return.

    Hoang said that because the investigation on Do did not produce clear results, the diocese should "not remove him forever."

    Do, a member of the religious order Congregation of the Mother Coredemptrix, may be allowed to celebrate a farewell Mass with the bishop's approval, diocese officials said.

    The priest was accused of what diocese officials have said was harassment of two women several years ago that involved some form of touching. The incidents occurred while the priest served a parish in another state, but at least one of the women had a connection to the Arlington church. The allegations surfaced in 2004, and a conduct review board recommended to then-Bishop Joseph Delaney that the priest be removed from the parish, diocese officials said.

    He was not. After Delaney died and Vann became bishop, the diocese was notified that the case was still open and it launched a new investigation.

    The Rev. Michael Olson, diocese vicar general, said he was told that in the midst of the accusations, pamphlets were placed on parishioners' cars attacking the women. "There was some intimidation placed on these women," he said, adding that the women refused to speak with an investigator.

    He also said the priest's decision to buy them jewelry -- he wasn't sure what kind -- "just seemed odd, from a pastoral relationship."

    Olson said priests should love their parishioners but, "I'm not calling the diamond guys. There's a boundary there."

    Darren Barbee, 817-390-7126


    Woman's suit against priest, archdiocese closer to trial

    Web Posted: 09/19/2007 11:35 PM CDT

    Elizabeth Allen
    Express-News Staff Writer

    A judge cleared the way Wednesday for a lawsuit against a local priest, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart religious order and the Archdiocese of San Antonio to head to trial in Bexar County.

    The lawsuit, filed in 2004 by Theresa Gomez, alleges that Father Michael O'Brien used his position as her counselor to manipulate her into a sexual relationship.


    Gomez alleges O'Brien began counseling her in 2000 on various issues, including her ongoing grief over the death of her husband eight years earlier.

    As her trust in O'Brien grew, she confided many personal issues. Late that year, the relationship began to change, according to court documents, and began to include "expressions of affection and the giving of gifts beyond those that would be expected of, or appropriate from, a counselor or priest toward a parishioner," the lawsuit claims.

    By midsummer 2001, the relationship had escalated to sexual intercourse, the lawsuit alleges.

    Gomez confided to an archdiocesan priest of the relationship, the lawsuit states, and later she reported it to other church officials in 2003; however, "no disciplinary action was taken against O'Brien."

    O'Brien has denied the allegations. Tom Jones, the lawyer for O'Brien and the Missionaries, said his comments on the case will be limited.

    "All the facts will come out," he said.

    On Wednesday, O'Brien and the Missionaries argued that the case should be dismissed because of varying interpretations of a new law that pertains to the suing of health care providers. They also argued that the case doesn't belong in civil district court.

    In that motion, lawyers argued that a violation of the separation of church and state occurs if a court of law allows a ruling on how a religious organization disciplines its members.

    Judge Janet Littlejohn of the 150th District Court denied both motions.

    Gomez said after the hearing that getting this far has been emotionally and physically exhausting.

    "If we have a trial date of April 7, it will be literally five years from the date I reported him," she said.

    "I was deposed for six hours, and I have to be deposed again."

    Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse

    Reported by: Leila Walsh
    Last Update: 9/17 11:50 pm
    The woman says a priest bought her jewelry and gifts.  But she says the courtship ended with abuse.
    The woman says a priest bought her jewelry and gifts. But she says the courtship ended with abuse.

    A woman says she was sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest in San Antonio. Now, her lawsuit is going to court.

    The woman says the priest bought her jewelry and gifts. But she says the courtship ended with abuse.

    Court papers show the woman was going through tough times and was looking for someone to talk to. She decided to confide in a priest, a man who had been to her house to perform the sacrament of the sick, when her husband was dying.

    "He appeared to be a good and trustworthy priest," said the woman who filed suit, Theresa Gomez.

    Theresa saw Father Michael O'Brien again, eight years after her husband's death. O'Brien was performing a wedding ceremony. At the time, she thought he might be able to help her through some difficult times.

    "Everything I told him just made me absolutely vulnerable and I believe he took advantage of that vulnerability," said Theresa.

    Theresa also talked about how she was abused as a child by her step-father and a priest.

    She tells News 4 WOAI they had several counseling sessions at a restaurant and eventually he told her to meet him outside an HEB. She says he had a Christmas present, which was a teddy bear.

    "He had black leather, black vinyl outfit similar to Elvis and the bear started singing and gyrating, singing, 'I want to be your teddy bear,'" Theresa said.

    Court papers say gifts were followed by sexual advances, such as groping, fondling, and passionate kissing. That escalated and eventually resulted in sex. When she reported the activity, she says nothing was done.

    "I hope to get on with the rest of my life and I don't know what that looks like," Theresa said.

    Theresa says she wants Father O'Brien and the Archdiocese of San Antonio held accountable.

    News 4 WOAI checked with a spokesman for the Archdiocese. He says he can not comment on pending litigation. News 4 WOAI also tried to contact the attorney for Father O'Brien. He did not return calls.

    It is believed that Father Michael O'Brien still lives in San Antonio, but we're told he does not have a current assignment with the Archdiocese.

    San Francisco Priest Admits his Infidelity

    Orthodox Reform

    By Theodore Kalmoukos
    The National Herald

    BOSTON, Mass. – Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in San Francisco is in turmoil after disclosures that its priest, Rev. Michael Pappas, who by all accounts was thought to be one of the most prominent and active clergymen in the Archdiocese of America, is at the center of a sex scandal.

    Father Pappas – in his forties, married and a father of three underage children, two of which are twins – admitted he had extramarital affairs. In a letter dated this past August 21, he informed members of his parish of his “unfaithfulness” to his wife.

    Father Pappas said zeal for his ministry made his marriage suffer and led him astray, telling his parishioners that, “over these last 15 years, in my zeal to excel in ministry, I have neglected the garden of my marriage, and as a result, it has withered on the vine. In those moments of hunger, I have sadly strayed from faithfulness and dishonored the sanctity of the gift of a precious wife and treasured children. Today, I am haunted by the Lord’s words, “physician heal thyself.’ Had I listened more carefully to the words I preached, perhaps the irreparable damage done to my marriage and the divorce, which will now sever an almost 20-year relationship, might have been avoided. For this painful reality, I take full responsibility.”

    The secret life of Michael Cleary (entertainer, radio show host, father of two... and priest)

    It was the story which shocked Ireland: the revelation that one of the country's most popular clerics had a live-in lover and two children. Now television footage has been discovered which sheds light on his unconventional private life

    By David McKittrick

    Published: 11 September 2007

    Father Michael Cleary was one of the greatest communicators the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has known, a man who could reach out to young people in a unique manner, the epitome of a young person's priest.

    He went round Ireland singing and playing guitar. He chain-smoked and told slightly racy jokes about nuns. He put across the message that religion need not be staid and stuffy and pious.

    "You can kiss a nun once, you can kiss a nun twice, but you mustn't get into the habit," he would quip during a clerical cabaret act, put on by himself and other priests for rapt, giggling audiences.

    He was a most irreverent reverend who specialised in piercing his own church's disposition towards pompous solemnity. He was a Father Trendy, a showbiz cleric who lived in the real world.

    He was on the same wavelength as the young: "He had charisma, he really connected with us," a former convent schoolgirl recalled yesterday.

    The Catholic Church in Ireland actively encouraged his approach, drafting him in as the warm-up man before Pope John Paul II's appearance on his 1979 visit to Ireland. He was favoured for one very specific reason: no matter how informal and even risque his delivery, his message was the same: that ultimately the Church's laws must be obeyed.

    This was most of all the case, he stressed, in relation to sexual matters. Kids could have a bit of fun, but pre-marital sex, contraception and abortion were all strictly prohibited. And priestly celibacy was of course an absolute given.

    He drove this message home in his sermons, at his concerts, on his late-night radio phone-in show and in his newspaper columns. His value to the Catholic Church was that he projected its orthodox message of self-denial in an unorthodox way.

    After years in the media limelight, Fr Cleary died in 1993. But all Ireland is once again talking about him following a fascinating RTE television documentary which pictured him at home with his live-in lover and one of their two children.

    The gap between what he preached and what he practised was incredible. Phyllis Hamilton was ostensibly his housekeeper but they were sexual partners, living in flagrant disregard of the solemn rules of the doctrines preached by his Church in general and by himself in particular.

    In his private life there was little in the way of self-restraint: it was a case of sex in the afternoon as a preliminary to an evening of preaching at teenagers to control their sexual stirrings.

    Zimbabwe archbishop Ncube resigns
    Scandal- hit prelate is fierce opponent of Mugabe
    (ANSA) - Vatican City, September 11 - Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube, an outspoken opponent of President Robert Mugabe and the central figure in a recent sex scandal in his country.

    Last July, state-owned media in Zimbabwe published poor quality pictures which it said showed the 61-year-old archbishop of Bulawayo in bed with a married woman.

    Ncube opposed the re-election of Mugabe in 2005 and after the polls he accused the president of rigging the vote in order to extend his 25-year stretch in power.

    He also encouraged Zimbabweans to overthrow Mugabe with a non-violent revolution.

    The archbishop presented his resignation citing an article of church law which envisages a priest relinquishing his duties either for reasons of health or of 'opportunity'. In the past the article has been used in the wake of scandals.

    In a one-sentence statement, the Vatican said on Tuesday the pope had accepted the resignation. Without making any comment, it also circulated a statement by Ncube himself.

    The prelate said he was the victim of a "deliberate attack by the State, not only against me but also against the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe".

    He said he was resigning so that if he is called to face trial he can go to court as "an ordinary person" and not as a leader of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe.

    "I remain a bishop of Zimbabwe and I will continue to speak out on issues I feel are important today," he added.

    Rabbi, synagogue sued over seduction scandal

    By Sandro Contenta

    Toronto Star - August 29, 2007

    Woman who claims cleric pressured her into a sexual relationship wants $1.3M in compensation

    A woman claiming she was coerced into a sexual relationship by a rabbi is suing the rabbi and a prominent Toronto synagogue for $1.3 million.

    Richmond Hill resident (NAME REMOVED), is suing Rabbi Tobias Gabriel and the Beth Tzedec Synagogue for breach of fiduciary duty and the pain and suffering she claims the relationship caused her and her marriage.

    The lawsuit highlights an issue that has pushed some religious institutions into writing codes of conduct that govern relationships between clergy and members of their congregations.

    (NAME REMOVED) position is the rabbi abused the trust of a deeply religious woman, according to her lawyer Simona Jellinek.

    Gabriel responded to a Toronto Star request for an interview by calling the allegations "groundless" and refusing further comment. His lawyer, Alf Kwinter, stressed none of the allegations have been proven in court. "He's going to vigorously defend this lawsuit," he added.

    Kwinter described Gabriel's 13 years of service at the synagogue as "outstanding" and "exemplary." Beth Tzedec's website describes Gabriel as happily married.

    The incident rocked the congregation Monday when a letter was sent to the synagogue's 6,000 members, three days after the Toronto Star made repeated requests to Beth Tzedec authorities for comment.

    "Unfortunately, there is little doubt that the impropriety occurred," wrote Shep Gangbar, president of the Beth Tzedec Congregation, who called the situation "distressing."

    While the synagogue "strongly affirms that such actions are improper and wrong," it is not legally liable for the actions of Gabriel, the letter states. "Beth Tzedec has never condoned or tolerated such behaviour and will never do so."

    Beth Tzedec is prepared to provide financial compensation to (NAME REMOVED), the synagogue's lawyer, Michael Royce, said yesterday.

    Gabriel, who was hired as a cantor by Beth Tzedec, has accepted an agreement with the synagogue that will see him resign at the end of the year, Kwinter said. He will be paid until then, he added.

    Gabriel, who is not the synagogue's chief rabbi, has been suspended and will no longer work at Beth Tzedec, Royce said.

    This week, representatives of the New York-based Rabbinical Association, of which Gabriel was a member when the incidents are said to have occurred, will come to the synagogue to investigate the claims. The group runs the cantor classes Gabriel taught in the synagogue.

    Beth Tzedec, in the affluent Forest Hill neighbourhood, practises the Conservative stream of Judaism. One of the country's largest synagogues, it was recently the site of Ed Mirvish's funeral.

    In July 2006, (NAME REMOVED) was the only female in Gabriel's class for student cantors at the Bathurst St. synagogue when Gabriel became "friendly and flirtatious," according to a statement of claim filed by (NAME REMOVED) and her husband (NAME REMOVED) at Ontario's Superior Court last month.

    Gabriel kissed (NAME REMOVED) in his office at the end of the course after she gave him "a small token of appreciation," the statement alleges. She "fled" the office "confused and shaken," the statement adds.

    Gabriel then called her repeatedly while she vacationed in Israel, the statement alleges. It claims he "pressured" her into seeing him when she returned.

    When they met, "Rabbi Gabriel began to kiss (NAME REMOVED) and told her that he will take responsibility and that it would not be wrong to be intimate with him," the statement claims. He told (NAME REMOVED) "it is acceptable that she love two men," it alleges. The claim also alleges the relationship progressed to sexual intercourse.

    "Did he use violence and rape her? No, he did not," Jellinek said. (NAME REMOVED)'s husband, who learned of the relationship last September, is claiming $100,000 for the damage it caused to his marriage.

    The claim alleges the synagogue knew that Gabriel "had previously engaged in sexual relations with another married woman who was attending the Beth Tzedec Synagogue while she was grieving the loss of one of her parents."

    The statement of claim says (NAME REMOVED) relied on Gabriel as "an authority figure to give advice to her, to guide her and to protect her from harm."

    "Gabriel knew or ought to have known that (NAME REMOVED) would follow his instructions without resistance," it says. "Gabriel knew or ought to have known that he had (NAME REMOVED)'s absolute trust in all regards and that she would obey Gabriel's instructions and follow his advice in all matters."

    (NAME REMOVED) refused to comment when contacted by the Star. Her husband, (NAME REMOVED) said: "There's been incredible grief and publicity would only cause more."

    The experience continues to cause (NAME REMOVED) "physical and mental stress," including "inability to trust others ... suicidal behaviour ... sexual dysfunction ... (and) marital discord and breakdown," the statement of claim says. It calls the alleged incident a "sexual assault."

    The synagogue does not have a written policy governing conduct between employees and members of the congregation. But the New York-based Rabbinical Association strictly forbids sexual relationships, Royce said.

    Kwinter accused Beth Tzedec of convicting Gabriel although none of the allegations have been proven.

    "We're not talking about young children. ... Nothing here is alleged to be illegal," Kwinter said. "The allegations are being made against adults."

    Rabbi Michal Shekel, executive director of the Toronto Board of Rabbis, would not comment on the case but noted that adultery contravenes one of the Ten Commandments.

    More modern concerns about the power a cleric may have over a member of the congregation, particularly one seeking counselling, has resulted in different branches of Judaism – Reform, Conservative and Orthodox – writing codes of conduct, Shekel said.

    In the United States, windows are being added to rabbis' offices when old synagogues are redesigned. It allows for privacy while ensuring that others can witness the meeting, Shekel added.

    In a teacher-student relationship, concerns are similar to those in universities, where a teacher has power over whether a student makes the grade, Shekel said.

    In the Anglican church, it used to be common for a young cleric to fall in love with, or marry, a parishioner, said Archdeacon Peter Fenty, executive assistant to the Anglican Bishop of Toronto.

    But recent reforms, including a "Sexual Misconduct Policy" for staff and volunteers adopted by the General Synod in 2005, resulted in the Toronto diocese banning romantic relationships between a cleric and a parishioner, Fenty said.

    When that happens, the parishioner is asked to seek another parish. It avoids embroiling the parish into conflict that may arise if the relationship breaks down, and preserves the integrity of the pastoral relationship, Fenty added.

    "When are you the person's priest and when are you the person's lover? It is in the interest of the cleric, the parishioner and the church community that there be clarity," Fenty said.

    Rabbi Reuven Tradburks, president of the Toronto-based Council of Orthodox Rabbis, said his Judaic movement prohibits any man or woman being alone together in a room unless they're married or closely related.

    Single rabbis are permitted to date and marry members of their congregations but sex is the reserve of married couples, Tradburks added.

    People who go to rabbis for wisdom and guidance have a right to expect high ethical and moral standards from representatives of the Torah, Tradburks said.

    "People will say, `Well, if a rabbi can behave that way, who needs the whole religion; it must not be worth much if he can act like that,'" he said.

    "I'm a person like anyone else and I have my failings, but that's an expectation people have a right to make: a rabbi should do things differently," he added.


    Priest accuses Colombian archdiocese of sexual, financial misconduct

    By Mike Ceaser

    Catholic News Service (

    BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) – The former head of the Archdiocese of Cali's ecclesiastical tribunal has made charges of widespread sexual and financial misconduct in the archdiocese.

    Father German Robledo, a 67-year-old priest and head of the tribunal until 2004, went public Aug. 21 with accusations against priests and other church officials in Cali. He said he was doing so because he had not been satisfied with reaction from archdiocesan officials.

    Father Robledo said that before first making the allegations last December he met with other Cali priests to discuss the problems. Father Robledo said he was acting as their spokesman when he went public.

    "We have criticized and have denounced all of these things without success," he said.

    In late August, Archbishop Juan Sarasti Jaramillo of Cali acknowledged that some priests had violated their oaths of celibacy but said that it was unfair to make general accusations. He said Father Robledo's accusations would be investigated.

    "Many things are said, but it is necessary to wait until they are proven legally," he said.

    Father Robledo said several priests have ongoing sexual relationships, including one with a woman who pretends to be his secretary and another with young boys. Father Robledo said several priests secretly have children and that two of them have been sued by the mothers for child support.

    He said parishioners' contributions are used to pay people who obtain children for sexual relationships, as well as being used to pay the youths themselves. Father Robledo said there has been financial and other corruption within the archdiocese. He said he has videos of people who allegedly had sexual relations with priests or knew about them, local news media reported Aug. 23.

    Father Robledo also said priests who had been accused of sexual abuse in the United States had been sent to Cali to work.

    The priest said that he had presented his accusations in a letter to Archbishop Sarasti in April. The daily newspaper El Pais quoted the April letter as warning about "chronic and shameful homosexual conducts of friends and close collaborators" of the archdiocese.

    Father Robledo also asked in the letter: "How is it possible that conducts such as requesting alms from the faithful for deceptively noble ends are tolerated when they are really for paying debts, even extortions for old and recent homosexual services by degenerates from the street and youths who come to request economic assistance?"

    The priest said that dozens of youths came to the cathedral in Cali to demand blackmail payments from priests with whom they had had sexual relationships.

    Father Robledo charged that on the same day that one priest was ordained a woman gave birth to the new priest's baby. In his letter, he asked the archbishop what he had done about that case.

    In a radio interview, Father Robledo said that Archbishop Sarasti responded to the charges by saying that such acts belong to the priests' private lives.

    Father Robledo served on the ecclesiastical tribunal for 23 years. He said he resigned from the tribunal in 2004 because the church did not take action in response to complaints against it. He added that in 2000 he was offered the title of bishop, but he declined the title.

    Father Robledo resigned from public priestly duties in February, because he said he was disappointed with the archbishop's response and wanted to speak more freely.

    Mario Fernando Prado, the El Pais reporter who first broke the story, said that when Father Robledo first came to him with the information it struck him as "absurd." But then he interviewed other priests and said he verified "that it was true."

    - - -

    Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

    Priest admits he's a father

    From correspondents in Rome

    August 25, 2007 09:23pm

    Article from: Agence France-Presse

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    AN Italian priest has admitted before his flock that he is the father of a nine-month-old boy.

    “I don't want to do like Adam and Eve did when they hid from the call of God after the original sin,” Father Sante Sguottithe, the 41-year-old parish priest of Monterosso told about 200 worshippers.

    “The fruit of one's fertility should be a cause for joy,” said Sguotti, who has been asked by Padua Archbishop Antonio Mattiazzo to leave the parish, home to some 800 people.

    “Maybe those who say priests are all false are right,” he said.

    “I feel false, because it is not easy to walk alone along the path to truth.

    "Sometimes you need to find someone to walk with.”

    Sguotti apparently has the support of many of his parishioners.

    Some young people were seen wearing T-shirts inscribed with “Don Sante Is My Priest” as he delivered his homily but stopped short of presiding over communion.

    “This could not be a normal celebration. I'll officiate the Liturgy of the Word, I'll pronounce the homily, but not the rite of the Eucharist,” he said, adding that he did not want to get into “a vulgar arm-wrestling match” over the issue.

    The Roman Catholic Church requires priests to be celibate, with few exceptions.

    Pastor indicted on sexual battery charges

    Last Updated:August 24. 2007 11:47PM
    Published: August 25. 2007 3:30AM
    John Olivares

    Authorities said a local pastor has been indicted after he was accused of inappropriately touching some of the female members of his congregation.

    John Olivares, 66, of 370 Tripp Road, Lawrenceburg, has been indicted on five counts of sexual battery, according to authorities.

    Olivares is the pastor at Cathedral of Faith Church in Lawrenceburg. The nondenominational church is at the intersection of First Avenue and Third Street.

    Courthouse officials said the charges are Class E felonies and are punishable by up to a year in jail on each count, if convicted.

    Olivares was indicted during the recently concluded August session of the Lawrence County grand jury.

    The case was investigated by the Lawrenceburg Police Department.

    Local authorities said Olivares is accused of fondling church members by inappropriately touching them when he would hug them. Investigators said the complaints also involved a juvenile girl.

    When contacted at his home, Olivares refused to comment on the case, referring all questions to his attorney, Daniel Freemon, of Lawrenceburg.

    Freemon said his client denies any inappropriate touching. He said Olivares' gestures of friendship were taken out of context.

    Freemon said Olivares was served with the indictment Wednesday and he turned himself in to authorities at the Lawrence County Jail on Thursday morning.

    He has been released on bail of $12,500.

    Reports indicate that Olivares has been a pastor for 20 years.

    When contacted at Olivares' home, a woman at the residence said the church had 60 to 100 members and that Olivares plans on being at church Sunday to conduct services.

    Freemon said Olivares is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Sept. 20 for an arraignment.

    Tom Smith can be reached at 740-5757 or

    Mass as Angelika church reopens
    Archbishop Mario Conti cleanses the church
    Archbishop Mario Conti sought to cleanse the church
    The Glasgow church where the Polish student Angelika Kluk was found murdered has been officially re-opened.

    Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti officiated at the first Sunday mass at St Patrick's in Anderson in 11.

    He said the brutal death of the 23-year-old, whose body was found under the floorboards, would not be forgotten but it was now time for a fresh start.

    Peter Tobin, 60, who had worked at the church as a handyman, was jailed for life for her rape and murder.

    The archbishop carried out a ceremony which sought to symbocially cleanse the congregation and the church with holy water at the beginning of mass.

    Renovation work

    He said: "The message today is that we can move from the past to the future, so the present is a turning point."

    Canon Robert Hill has replaced Father Gerry Nugent, who was found guilty of contempt of court, as parish priest.

    Nugent, 63, was repeatedly warned about "prevaricating" when being questioned during the high court trial of Tobin.

    The priest, who revealed he was an alcoholic, said he had a sexual relationship with Ms Kluk, 23, who had been working as a cleaner at the church and saving up money for her studies.

    The Archdiocese of Glasgow issued an apology for his actions.

    Major renovation work was carried out during the closure of the church.

    In the past St Patrick's has operated an open-door policy but church officials said this would now be reviewed.

    Prayers were said for Angelika at an informal service earlier in the week.

    Lawsuit claims rape by priest

    Woman sues diocese for incident in 2002

    A 33-year-old Memphis woman has filed suit against the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, claiming that a priest sexually molested and raped her.

    The Circuit Court suit filed by "Jane Doe 4" also contends that the diocese had previous complaints of inappropriate sexual conduct by Rev. Gregory Salata but did nothing to protect her or other church members.

    The woman was a high school senior in 1992 when she went to Salata for counseling and advice, but in 2002 the priest used her trust and vulnerability to sexually molest and then rape her, the suit said.

    The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

    Salata has been at St. Louis Church, St. Paul the Apostle Church, St. Ann Church in Bartlett and last year was assigned to Campus Ministry at the University of Memphis.

    Diocese spokesman Rev. John Geaney said Friday that Salata is no longer at the campus and has been removed from ministry, which means he can perform no priestly functions.

    "We always take whatever allegations that are made very seriously and the process for dealing with these situations goes on," Geaney said.

    Two months ago the diocese reached undisclosed financial settlements with three Vietnamese-American women who said Rev. Joseph Nguyen had sexually abused them from 1994 to 1999. Nguyen is no longer involved in any ministries and has no contact with children or parishioners.

    The diocese said the settlement is not an admission of liability.

    One pastor charges another
    HUDSON-A former Hudson clergyman has been charged with unlawfully fondling another member of the clergy.

          The case is the second incident of charges of a sexual nature being filed against an area clergyman in recent months and may have opened up a larger discussion within the church community about the need for safe spiritual care.
          Arvin W. Schoep, 60, of Earlton, was charged with "forcible touch-ing of another's sexual/intimate parts" by Livingston State Police, August 4.
          Mr. Schoep was the pastor of the First Reformed Church at 52 Green Street from 1999 to April 29, 2006, when he was suspended from his pastoral duties in connection with a separate sexual misconduct matter, handled through the internal church disciplinary structure.
          The current charge stems from an incident on December 2, 2006 at about 6:30 p.m. on Columbia Street in Hudson during Winter Walk, when the Reverend Joanna C. Tipple, pastor at the Livingston Memorial Church in Linlithgo, alleges that Mr. Schoep hugged her inappropriately.

    Cardinal Mahony Turns Down Request for an Apology From Priest Sex Abuse Victim
    Written by MARIANNE LOVE
    Thursday, 09 August 2007
    "I feel victimized once again. (The Church) has a history of doing the wrong thing. For once (it) could have done the right thing," McParland said on Friday. "At this point I'm just disgusted. It's been just as hard as what they did as the abuse itself. LA had a chance, in 1982, to make it right and they didn't."

    Kevin McParland

    Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony looks at those who were molested by priests as Judge Haley J. Fromholz asked the victims in the courtroom to stand in this July 16, 2007 file photo in Los Angeles. Mahony approved a record clergy abuse payout, opened the files of the Roman Catholic priests involved and stared into the TV cameras and apologized for the victims' treatment. Yet critics question whether the cardinal should have done more to rein in predatory priests in the nation's largest archdiocese. (AP Photo/Al Seib, Pool, File)

    A Sherman Oaks man sexually abused by a Pennsylvania priest, just wanted his chance to meet with Cardinal RogerMahony, hoping he would at last hear words of apology from his Church.

    But instead, Kevin McParland was turned down last week because he was abused in Erie and he was an adult at the time, according to Archdiocese of Los Angeles spokesman Tod Tamberg.

    In a statement released July 24 by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles following the announcement of a $660 million, record settlement of some 508 abuse cases involving Catholic priests, Mahony said he would privately meet with any victim of abuse who wishes to meet with him.

    "There are many victims of childhood sexual abuse in Los Angeles over the past 70 years, and Cardinal Mahony will continue to meet with those who wish to meet with him. As Archbishop of Los Angeles, he is responsible to these people [of Los Angeles] first and foremost," Tamberg wrote in an e-mail to The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol. "Adult victims of sexual assault in other dioceses should contact the bishop of that diocese. For all questions regarding Mr.

    McParland, I refer you to the Diocese of Erie, PA." McParland said he was told he would be put on a wait list. He didn't know how many were before or after him.

    "I feel victimized once again. (The Church) has a history of doing the wrong thing. For once (it) could have done the right thing," McParland said on Friday. "At this point I'm just disgusted. It's been just as hard as what they did as the abuse itself. LA had a chance, in 1982, to make it right and they didn't."

    Mary Grant, southwest director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Mahony's rejection to meet with McParland is another example of his never-ending excuses and continuous hair splitting.

    "It's what hurts survivors like Kevin over and over again. Mahony says one thing and does another," Grant said. "This proves how disingenuous Cardinal Mahony is. His apologies are hollow and misleading and hurtful to survivors."

    Grant said her organization cautions survivors about discussing their abuse without the presence of an attorney. She said they could unknowingly reveal evidence during a vulnerable moment and later used against them, or alert church officials about something they have no knowledge of.

    She said actions speak louder than words and Mahony should disclose a list of priest abusers and put their pictures on the Diocese's Web site, cooperate with police and take actions that prove he is sorry.

    "Even if Cardinal Mahony is truly sorry, we believe he should be criminally indicted. This man had the authority to care for thousands of children in LA where there were thousands of crimes he knew about. An apology is one thing, consequences are another. An apology is a tool of denial without real action," Grant said.

    The $660 million settlement, paid with insurance funds and other sources, may bring comfort to some of the church's surviving victims, but like McParland others still yearn for the full truth and accountability, which has yet to satisfy them despite the recent settlement.

    McParland, now 47, was 20 years old when he was abused twice by Stephen E. Jesselnick.

    He was paid $25,000 by Jesselnick over a three-yearperiod starting in May 2005, an amount that was to pay for mental counseling and of which McParland said he fought hard to get.

    But, McParland said the money hardly covered years of medical bills nor the loss of income he sustained because of his inability to maintain a job that eventually lead to homelessness.

    Attempting to start a new life, McParland moved to the Los Angeles area and sought forgiveness and absolution at St. James Catholic Church in Redondo Beach. He felt he had sinned, God was punishing him and he feared he was going to hell.

    McParland holds the Archdiocese of Los Angeles partly responsible, because he sought help in its district in 1982 and was counseled for one year by a parish priest at St. James'.

    McParland grew up as an extremely devout Irish Catholic - Mass and communion every Sunday, prayed the rosary every night and confessed sins on a monthly basis - in Greenville, Pennsylvania, a small town of about 800 people.

    Irish Catholics believe, he said, in a very punishing, vengeful God and questioning what a priest or nun said is blasphemy. The more a person suffers on Earth, the greater their rewards were in heaven.

    "There was a lot of "magical" thinking," McParland said. "For example, one time my sister got measles. My older sister and I teased her so God "punished" us by giving us worse cases of measles. God's wrath could be incurred without any logical explanation."

    He said he and his sisters believe their father's heart attack and long-term illness were "punishment," but they didn't know why. He was taught that if he wanted to do well in a class, the most important thing was to "pray about it," not to study.

    "The Irish, especially back then, never discussed sex -that was just for having children. We were taught if we did not follow what the Church taught us without question that we were sinners and had no faith," McParland said. "Faith seemed to mean believing in things that made no sense. A person never wanted to stand out or be too successful. That was pride. Suffering was the path to salvation. If bad things happened in your life it was because you didn't pray hard enough or have faith.

    Mary Jane McGraw, founder of Coalition for Truth, calls the survivors "martyrs of the Church's reformation" and said they have courage to come forward and "make this horrible, immortal, criminal, anti-Christlike treatment and secrecy known."

    But, instead the Church throws money at them and others call them "money grabbers," McGraw said.

    McGraw also criticized the Church for not collecting money for those abused by priests and yet they pass the Sunday basket during Mass for donations for victims of earthquakes, the hungry and children in ThirdWorld countries.

    She feels the Church has failed to ask churchgoers for donations so the lay community can be reaching out in a healing manner as individuals toward survivors.

    "If someone calls, you respond. If the phone rings you answer it. If someone reaches out, you be there for them, that's Jesus' message," McGraw said.

    McGraw, who is closely connected with many of the victims in the Los Angeles area, believes there's no way to substantiate Mahony's claim that he has met with 70 victims.

    "Now we know he didn't meet with Kevin. I personally know of a victim who called and was seen within two weeks. I don't think there are that many who want an apology," McGraw said. "It's futile. Words without action. Empty rhetoric is all that it is."

    Staff Reporter Marianne Love can be reached at (818) 365- 3111, Ext. 152. Or, by e-mailing

    Priest Jogging Naked Charged By Police

    POSTED: 9:20 am MDT August 8, 2007

    FREDERICK, Colo. -- A Catholic priest faces an indecent exposure charge after
    police said he went jogging in the nude about an hour before sunrise.

    Rev. Robert Whipkey told officers he had been running naked at a high school
    track and didn't think anyone would be around at that time of day, a police
    report said.

    He told officers he sweats profusely if he wears clothing while jogging. "I know
    what I did was wrong," he said in the report.

    Whipkey did not return phone messages. His attorney, Doug Tisdale, told the
    Longmont Times-Call that Whipkey had no comment.

    Whipkey, 53, was arrested June 22 in this small town about 20 miles north of
    Denver. An officer said he saw a naked man walking down the street at 4:35 a.m.
    The U.S. Naval Observatory Web site said sunrise that day in Frederick was 5:31 a.m.

    The officer said when he shined his flashlight at the man, he covered himself
    with a piece of clothing he was carrying.

    The Archdiocese of Denver said it takes the incident seriously but is awaiting
    the outcome of the case. Whipkey, who also officiates at parishes in the nearby
    towns of Mead and Erie, remains an active priest.

    If convicted of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, he would have to register as a
    sex offender, prosecutors said.

    Published Wednesday, August 8, 2007

    Ex-Priest Pleads Guilty to Stalking

    Walter Fisher was sentenced to treatment and four years of probation.

    Enlarge Image
    Walter Fisher
    BARTOW | A former Lakeland Catholic priest pleaded guilty Tuesday to burglary, false imprisonment, battery and aggravated stalking charges.

    Walter Fisher, 51, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Neil Roddenbery to four years probation and ordered to undergo treatment and counseling.

    Fisher had been jailed since 2005 after he was accused of stalking and attacking a woman in 2004.

    As part of his sentence, Fisher, who is also known as Wladyslaw Gorak, was ordered to surrender his passport, remain in the United States and have no contact with the woman who was the victim in the case.

    The woman, Bozena Zelisko, told Lakeland police investigators she had known Fisher for several years, having met him in their homeland of Poland and becoming reacquainted when she moved to New Jersey and he was a priest at her church.

    When she moved to Florida in 2004, Fisher became a priest at the church she attended, Church of the Resurrection in Lakeland.

    She began to feel uncomfortable as Fisher made frequent uninvited visits to her home and she stopped answering the door, reports state.

    On Oct. 12, 2004, Zelisko said Fisher forced his way into her home by breaking the chain lock on her door and pulled the telephone from the jack, police reports stated.

    He started removing his clothes, held her tightly, ripped her skirt and blouse off, and forced her to the floor, the report said.

    She fought back and after managing to free herself, grabbed her skirt, ran outside and hid until Fisher left, the report stated.

    Zelisko has since returned to Poland.

    Fisher was the assistant pastor at Church of the Resurrection from February to December 2004.

    [Dana Willhoit can be reached at or 863-533-9079.]

    Blair should resign, priest be removed
    Regarding the July 27 story, “Bishop Blair knew of priest’s sexual sin,” Bishop Leonard Blair is off base here.

    He neglected to say, and his director of communication, Sally Oberski, didn’t mention, that Canon Law also forbids clerics from going to their bishop for confession. It’s definitely a no-no.

    The bishop should resign; his behavior is outrageous and des-picable.

    As for the Rev. David Nuss, he violated the boundaries of the cleric-congregant relationship. There can be no consensual relationship here. He should be excommunicated for violating those professional, pastoral boundaries, as well as being removed from the priesthood.

    I am not sure why, exactly, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is weighing in on this, but she should not be skirting the issues, either. She does know better.

    Restoration? He should be removed.

    Sister Mary Immaculata Dunn
    Valley Forge, Pa.

    Disregard for safety shown by bishop
    For a minister to initiate a sexual relationship with a recently bereaved widow to whom he is supposed to be ministering is no less reprehensible than a physician initiating such a relationship with a patient.

    Bishop Leonard Blair apparently had knowledge of such actions in the immediate past of the Rev. David Nuss. He nonetheless appointed him as pastor of St. Rose Parish in Perrysburg. In doing so, he knowingly planted an untrustworthy time-bomb in the midst of an unsuspecting community of believers.

    Only when Father Nuss’ transgressions became public was the appointment called into question, and ultimately quashed. This came about not through responsible actions of Bishop Blair, but through the concern of parishioners.

    In years of advocacy for the survivors of sexual exploitation, I have rarely seen a more callous disregard for the safety of vulnerable individuals.

    Father Nuss may well be struggling with personal issues.

    What is Bishop Blair’s excuse?

    Greg Bullough
    Doylestown, Pa.

    Business as usual for Toledo diocese
    Transparency, openness, concern for the victim. If you think you’re reading words to describe how Bishop Leonard Blair; the Rev. Michael Billian, episcopal vicar, and the Diocese of Toledo now deal with those who allege abuse at the hands of its priests, you’re mistaken. Bishop Blair had known of the Rev David Nuss’ transgressions since January and still appointed him to be the new pastor of St. Rose.

    It’s business as usual for the bishop and the rest of the diocesan hierarchy, who continue to blame the victim, deceive the faithful, and maintain the status quo. The only transparency here is how obviously their actions contradict their continued protestations to the contrary.

    Susan Comes

    No transparency in handling of Nuss
    When will the Diocese of Toledo learn from past mistakes?

    I just finished Blade religion editor David Yonke’s book, Sin, Shame & Secrets, on the murder of Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl. The diocese made a commitment to transparency in disclosure of “problems” pertaining to religious leaders in 2002. After reading Mr. Yonke’s book, I felt that the Toledo Diocese was less than forthcoming.

    In May, 2006, the Rev. Gerald Robinson was found guilty in the murder of my distant relative. It’s too bad that things appear to be “status quo” at the diocese with the recent events at St. Rose parish in Perrysburg.

    I guess that “honesty is the best policy” is not one of the Ten Commandments. Maybe it should have been.

    Mark Pahl
    Travis Drive

    Relations with priest never consensual
    While the nation is riveted by the recent clergy sexual abuse settlement in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, your community is faced with the most common scenario of clergy sexual abuse: sexual exploitation of an adult woman. Any expert on clergy sexual abuse will confirm that adult women constitute the vast majority of victims.

    These are never “consensual” relationships, no matter what the priest or his diocese says. In several states, sexual contact of any kind between clergy/congregant, therapist/client, doctor/patient, etc. is considered a felony. In these states, the Diocese of Toledo would not have been able to state that the priest’s actions were in no way “unlawful.”

    Ohioans can help put such laws on the books in their state. Organizations such as Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests should be on the front lines lobbying for legislative change in every state where sexual exploitation of adults by clergy is not yet on the books as a criminal offense.

    Nancy Quirk
    Harrisonburg, Va.

    California San Fernando Valley Sun

    Sexual Abuse by Priest Challenges the Ability to Live a Normal Life for Local Man
    Written by MARIANNE LOVE
    Thursday, 02 August 2007
    Recent Clergy Arrest Triggers Trauma in Victim

    Abuse victim Kevin McParland at the age of 20. McParland requested his current photo not be published.
    Kevin McParland faces an unwelcome anniversary next week. It's been over 20 years but the trauma of being sexually abused by a Catholic priest is still present. It's unsettling for the valley resident to hear about the recent arrest of former priest George Miller of Guardian Angel Parish in Pacoima, and the record-setting, $660-million civil settlement between the Los Angeles Archdiocese and 500 others last month.

    These recent incidents involving other sexual abuse victims and Catholic priests are all triggers that can set him off into the dark world of despair that took over his life in Greenville, Pennsylvania and continued when he was a college student at Penn State.

    Admittedly a naïve, 20-year-old devout Catholic, McParland, now 47, had just lost his father to a heart attack. He was upset and acted out by displaying rude behavior to the neighborhood priest. Disturbed by his own behavior, McParland called the priest and told him he wanted to apologize.

    "He said, 'You're a good looking kid, we should talk sometime,'" McParland said. “So, I invited him to our house."

    McParland had been drinking and his good judgment was off. The priest asked him if he wanted a massage and then began touching him. McParland bravely shared the details of the abuse, but they are too graphic to print.

    "I disassociated. It was like I was watching it happen to someone else,"McParland said. It's was a lot of trauma. I didn't know what it was. This priest touched me, and I was going to hell. I let him do what he did just to get him out of there the fastest way possible."

    McParland grew up in a town of 800 people where the maturity level of a 20-year-old mirrored a 14- or 15-year-old else-where in the county.

    Confused about what happened, McParland said he called the priest, who then asked him if he wanted to talk about it.

    "I said yes and he came over and I told him I needed to know if I was going to hell. He said, 'the only thing you need to know is that you need to have hands not afraid to explore and a great tongue. Then, he abused me a second time," McParland said.

    McParland said those two incidents sent him into a depression. He turned to alcohol and drugs to relief his pain. He blamed every unfortunate circumstance that happened to him on. "God's way of punishing him."

    Today, he still has that need to know whether he will go to Heaven or Hell and feels deprived of losing his deep spiritually. His mother and two sisters remain devout Catholics.

    Many victims of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest turn away from the church. And McParland is one of them. He says when he sees a Catholic Church he feels like vomiting.

    He said after the abuse he went to a priest near his college to cleanse his soul by confessing his sins. He hadn't been sleeping and he was failing his classes.

    As it turned out that priest - 200 miles from the other - began to ask McParland irrelevant questions in the confessional box.

    "I thought he was just trying to learn the facts, but then he began to breath heavy and asked inappropriate questions, such as did I reach an organism, how big was his penis." McParland said.

    After that, the alleged priest abuser, who was never charged with a crime because of the statues of limitation under Pennsylvania law, sent McParland a Christmas card, and he plunged into a deep fear that both priests would came after him.

    "It silenced me," said McParland, now a real estate appraiser.

    Once a levelheaded guy, he became compulsive and erratic in his behavior.

    He moved to Los Angeles to get as far away as he could from the tiny town where he grew up, but continued to indulge in alcohol and drugs. He sabotaged his career and didn't earn a MBA or attend law school like he had planned. McParland said he started to meet people who pretended to be a friend, but turned out to be perpetrators in various ways, including sexually and business wise.

    "But then I had a drug overdose, a near death experience in 1986 and stopped drinking and doing drugs and started to climb back out of it," he said.

    He's been in and out of counseling for years, but continues to feel ashamed and guilty over what happened.

    "I told my therapist (Monday) that the worst part is the spiritual devastation. I feel punished by God, that God doesn't love me. No matter what I do, I can't right myself with God, which is the core issue, but it is getting better," McParland said.

    McParland said he wants to marry and have a family one day and to heal and get back to following some of his dreams with the time he has left in life.

    "I don't want to just be in a state of survival, like I am now," he said.

    His justice will come, he says, when the alleged priest abuser is removed from the ministry and some sort of financial restitution made to his family.

    "My hope for the whole mess is that priests be removed and as many as possible put in jail and the victims receive restitution and get the psychological (counseling) they need to heal and move on with their lives," McParland said.

    Staff Reporter Marianne Love can be reached at (818) 365- 3111, Ext. 152. Or, by e-mailing

    July 28,2007

    Dear Editor,

    According to David Yonke's story "Bishop Blair knew of priest's sexual sin",  it is apparent that the clergy in the catholic church only use their canon law requirements when it benefits them. But, now the good bishop Blair has just broken his own canon law anyway. It appears that if it is necessary or if they is backed into a corner, the catholic clergy are allowed to break their own canon laws anyway..

    According to your article, Bishop Blair could not break canon law and reveal what Nuss had confessed to him about his sexual misconduct.

    But then oops, Bishop Blair decided to change his mind.

    On Sunday the diocese issued this statement?
    "we felt it was the best time to put the truth out there," Ms. Oberski
    said last night."

    I do believe this calls for Bishop Blair to be '

    I have a question?  Is it against canon law for a priest to break his vow of celibacy by having sex with adults or children?  If so, I believe that we should make the criminal and civil laws just the same as the catholic canon laws. Our jails would be full.

    It is becoming a common practice, priests are now getting smarter and more clever about their sins/crimes. There have been several complaints of sexual abuse at Franciscan University in Steubenville. They are complaints from young vulnerable adults just over the age of 18. Yes, not a crime of abusing a minor, but a crime of abusing their power.

    The catholic hierarchy has become experts on using the word SIN, instead of the word CRIME.  

    Bishop Blair, make up your mind.  Let's just call it what it is. SIN...   ABUSE..... CRIME....all the same.  Also, it is time you stop breaking laws,    yours and the American peoples.

    Judy Jones,     SNAP southeastern Ohio.... 

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    Article published Wednesday, July 25, 2007
    Bishop Blair knew of priest's sexual sin
    He would not violate confessional seal

    In a meeting earlier this month with members of St. Rose Parish, Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo did not acknowledge awareness of their new pastor's sexual sins because doing so would violate the confessional's holy seal, a diocesan spokesman said last night. "He knew about it, but he treated it as you would treat a sin in a confessional manner," said Sally Oberski, director of communications for the Toledo Catholic Diocese. "We don't publish people's sins." Catholic canon law forbids clerics from disclosing anything told to them during confession, with violations punishable by excommunication. The Rev. David Nuss, 41, told the bishop in January that he had been involved in a "consensual but inappropriate relationship the previous fall with a woman his age outside the diocese of Toledo," according to a statement released Sunday by the diocese. In April, Bishop Blair announced he was appointing Father Nuss pastor of St. Rose effective July 2, succeeding the Rev. Thomas Leyland, who was retiring July 1. Father Leyland in May appealed to the Vatican, saying he was being forced to retire against his will for criticizing the bishop. More than 1,500 people signed a petition asking Bishop Blair to change his mind and keep Father Leyland at the 8,100-member Perrysburg parish.


    Then on July 2, three parishioners and Father Leyland met with Bishop Blair and expressed "concern" about allegations circulating that Father Nuss had been involved in a sexual affair with a woman. The bishop acted as though he had never heard such charges against Father Nuss, according to Joan Foster and James Schaller II, two of the parishioners at the meeting. Mrs. Foster said the bishop "played dumb" about the allegations, and Mr. Schaller said Bishop Blair responded with "a funny choice of words" that seemed to sidestep the real issues. Three days later, Bishop Blair issued a statement saying Father Nuss "has decided not to accept that pastorate … for personal reasons." The diocese issued its statement on Sunday about the priest's "inappropriate relationship" because "we felt it was the best time to put the truth out there," Ms. Oberski said last night. She said Father Nuss' relationship with the anonymous woman, reported to be 37 years old, "didn't violate the charter," referring to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted by U.S. bishops in Dallas in 2002. "It cannot be equated with any form of clergy sexual abuse of a minor," Ms. Oberski said. Sexual relationships, however, violate the priest's vow of celibacy as well as diocesan guidelines, titled "Diocese of Toledo: Code of Pastoral Conduct," which state in Chapter 4, Paragraph 1, that "clergy, religious, staff, and volunteers who are vowed or committed to a celibate lifestyle are called to be examples of celibate chastity in all relationships at all times." Ms. Oberski acknowledged that Father Nuss' "actions were not along the lines of 4.1." A native of Adrian, who served as the diocese's director of vocations from 2002 until earlier this year, Father Nuss is currently on sabbatical and was unavailable for comment yesterday. Unlike the Dallas Charter's "zero tolerance" rules for sexual abuse of minors, bishops are given discretion in dealing with priests who violate their vow of celibacy when it involves a consenting adult. Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the first step toward restoration for a priest in such a situation is to seek forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation. The bishop will then decide if counseling or other steps are necessary, and where and when the cleric can serve again, she said. "It's a serious failing. The bishop has to look at it and decide what the appropriate thing to do is," Sister Mary Ann said. Although sexual relations between a priest and an adult is not a crime in Michigan or Ohio, it is illegal in nine states, according to Peggy Warren, founder of an advocacy group called Educating To End Abuse. Mrs. Warren, of Wichita, Kan., said priests hold positions of trust and authority in society, and she wants more states to enact laws making it a crime for a Catholic priest or other clerics to have sex with a church member. "As Catholics, we hold these men of God on pedestals and we lay people can never be on the same playing field as a celibate, called by God, Roman Catholic priest," she said. Mrs. Warren said the same laws that criminalize sex between counselor and patient, or teacher and student, should apply to priests and lay Catholics. "There is automatic trust; the trust doesn't have to be earned," Mrs. Warren said. "The minute you walk into a church, walk into a doctor's office, or walk into a schoolroom, you trust that minister, doctor, teacher." An attorney who is a friend of the woman involved with Father Nuss wrote an e-mail to the bishop stating that the relationship began shortly after Father Nuss had presided at the funeral of the woman's husband in April, 2006. "Her emotional state, to say the least, was extremely weak and fragile," the friend stated in the e-mail. "From approximately the date of the funeral through mid-February, Father David Nuss decided that it would be in his best interest to sexually exploit my girlfriend, over and over again with her." "It's an unequal relationship. It's an abuse of power," said John Moynihan, spokesman for the Boston-based Voice of the Faithful. "Obviously, it's a violation of the vow of celibacy. If the relationship started after he presided at her husband's funeral, this is just the pattern you've seen in the church abuse crisis. Who does these things? Those who have power,"Mr. Moynihan said. Contact David Yonke at: or 419-724-6154.

    Article published Monday, July 23, 2007
    Diocese: Local priest had ‘inappropriate’ contact with woman

    A Toledo priest who was to take over St. Rose Parish in Perrysburg — but then abruptly stepped away from the new post — has been placed on a sabbatical after a “consensual but inappropriate” relationship with a woman, the Toledo diocese said.

    The Rev. David Nuss alerted the diocese in January about the relationship and has “expressed his sincere sorrow” for his actions, according to a release yesterday by the diocesan office.

    But just why the diocese revealed the information yesterday is baffling and frustrating, said Joan Foster, a longtime St. Rose parishioner.

    Bishop Leonard Blair “knew this in January and now he pretends this is brand new news? Aren’t we Christians? Isn’t truth one of our most important things?” she asked.

    According to an e-mail sent by an advocate of the woman in the relationship, the woman’s husband died and Father Nuss had celebrated the man’s funeral Mass, said Ms. Foster, who with several other parishioners confronted the bishop July 2 about the e-mail, she said.

    “This is not a relationship between people on equal footing,” she said.

    Claudia Vercellotti, local coordinator of SNAP — the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — earlier had been contacted by the advocate for the woman and said she also “tried to get answers” from the bishop about his plans for the priest.

    “Shame on the bishop,” she said. “He owes the community answers.”

    Sally Oberski, diocesan spokesman, did not return calls for comment last night. Father Nuss could not be reached for comment.

    It’s the latest chapter in a painful recent history for St. Rose. Earlier this year, the Rev. Thomas Leyland, who had been pastor of the 8,100-member parish since 1999, said he was forced to retire after publicly criticizing the way the diocese had been sliced up.

    In April, the diocese announced that Father Nuss would replace Father Leyland on July 2.

    The diocese statement yesterday confirmed that three members from St. Rose parish confronted Bishop Blair July 2 with a private e-mail and a letter from SNAP. The statement said the diocese had never seen the e-mail or the letter until that date.

    On July 3, Father Nuss told the diocese he had decided not to take the post at the church, according to the diocese.

    “In light of all that happened at St. Rose Parish regarding the appointment of a new pastor, it would have not been right to subject the parishioners to further controversy at this time,” according to yesterday’s news release.

    Contact Robin Erb at:robinerb@theblade.comor 419-724-6133

    Man petitions Vatican about adultery claim

        July 22 2007 at 02:51PM

    A Zimbabwean man who has sued the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo Diocese Pius Ncube for adultery, has notified the local papal representative of the case, state media reported on Sunday.

    Ncube, one of President Robert Mugabe's arch-critics, sued last Monday for adultery, has denied any wrong doing.

    "Our client is a devout Catholic and indeed his entire family is within your church," the lawyers of Onesimus Sibanda, said in a letter to the Vatican representative in Harare, Archbishop Adams, the Sunday Mail reported.

    "In fact, his wife, Rosemary Sibanda, is the secretary of St Annes's Association at St Pius in Njube. It was therefore his desire that we notify you and His Grace, Pope Benedict the XVI, of his intended action against Archbishop Pius Ncube before it becomes public record."
    Although Ncube was served with the court summons last week, the newspaper said the letter was written last July 13.

    There was no independent confirmation of The Mail report.

    Last Wednesday, Mugabe rebuked Ncube for breaking his vow of celibacy after state media ran pictures of the archbishop naked in bed with a married woman.

    Ncube has been a constant thorn in the side of the Mugabe regime, calling for the people of Zimbabwe to rise up against his rule and declaring his readiness to "go in front of blazing guns".

    In May, Mugabe warned that church leaders who had become increasingly critical of him were treading a "dangerous path."

    About three weeks ago, the octogenarian ruler castigated some bishops for "sleeping around" when they had sworn to celibacy.

    "Some of them claim they swore to celibacy yet they sleep around with countless women," he said.

    "One cannot tell between a bishop and a layman anymore," Mugabe told a meeting of the ruling party elite in Harare.

    Ncube's lawyer has said the cleric would fight the adultery suit. - Sapa-AFP

    Bodies of Missing Priest, Friend Found
    Posted: 2007-07-02 15:03:37
    Filed Under: Crime News, Nation
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A search for a Jesuit priest and a woman friend
    missing since June 8 ended with the discovery of their bodies in their car
    in a ditch off a highway in northwest Oregon.

    The Civil Air Patrol spotted the car Sunday afternoon, about 25 miles east
    of Seaside, said Sheriff Todd Anderson of Tillamook County.

    A Clatsop County deputy then found the bodies of David Schwartz, 52, and
    Cheryl Gibbs, 61, a longtime friend and traveling companion. Anderson said
    it appeared that Schwartz and Gibbs had been traveling east toward Portland
    when they veered off the road and rolled once or twice.

    The car, a 2005 Toyota Corolla, came to a stop 20 yards from Highway 26 in
    an area not visible to other motorists, Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin
    said. Highway 26 is well-traveled this time of year, with people driving to
    and from the coast.

    Tom Mulligan, Schwartz's brother-in-law who was at the scene, told KATU-TV
    that the family felt relief. "We wanted some kind of resolution to this," he
    said. "And our prayers were answered."

    The search focused on the coast after it was learned that Schwartz and Gibbs
    had signed a guest book at the Tillamook Cheese Factory on June 8, the last
    day the two were seen. Rescue teams had been scouring back county roads by
    foot and from the air since Friday afternoon.

    Police believe Schwartz, a Jesuit priest from Garden Grove in Southern
    California and Gibbs, who supervised death investigations for the Alameda
    County coroner's office, left their hotel room at the Best Value Inn &
    Suites-Fortniter in Portland on the morning of June 8.

    The two were expected to travel to several other locations on their way back
    to California but never appeared to return to the hotel.

    Officials initially had little clue where the two had gone. The pair left
    most of their possessions in the hotel, leading officials to believe the
    pair had gone on a day trip.

    Schwartz's brother Glen said the couple had been traveling together for many
    years. He described the relationship as "purely platonic."

    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP
    news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise
    distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All
    active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

    Published: Jun 08, 2007 

    Durham priest receives counseling

    Sexual activity 25 years ago admitted

    A Jesuit priest who was removed as pastor of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Durham will continue to receive counseling at an East Coast residential treatment facility for priests.

    The priest, the Rev. Stephen M. Garrity, was "recalled" by officials of the Jesuit order, a religious community within the Catholic church.

    According to the order, Garrity confessed to sexual relations with five adults 25 years ago while serving in Baltimore and Philadelphia. One of those sexual partners recently contacted the Maryland province of the Society of Jesuits about the relationship, which constituted a violation of Garrity's vow of celibacy.

    The order acted quickly and removed Garrity from the Durham church in April. He is not suspected of pedophilia or other criminal activity.

    Kate Pipkin, spokeswoman for the order, said Garrity completed an evaluation upon his arrival at the treatment center. That evaluation called for further treatment, and Garrity agreed to stay on at the center for another four to six months.

    At the end of that period, Garrity's future will be determined. But Pipkin said it was unlikely the 67-year-old priest would return to Durham, where he had led a mostly African-American congregation on the campus of N.C. Central University.

    "His chances of returning to Holy Cross are very slim," said Pipkin.

    A retired priest, the Rev. Frank O'Connor, has been leading the 250-member church in Garrity's absence. The church is in the midst of building a $2.8 million sanctuary two miles from its current location. A dedication of the new building is planned Dec. 2. By then, the order hopes to name a full-time priest.

    Pipkin said Garrity has been receiving mail from parishioners who have been overwhelmingly supportive of him.

    Garrity became pastor of Holy Cross in 2001. Prior to that, he was the director of Loyola Retreat House, a meditation sanctuary in Faulkner, Md. Garrity was trained as a retreat leader and was schooled in the meditation exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.


    Staff writer Yonat Shimron can be reached at 829-4891 or


    Blaming Women for the Sexually Abusive Male Pastor

    by Ann-Janine Morey

    Ann-Janine Morey is associate professor of religious studies at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. This article appeared in the Christian Century, October 5, 1988, p. 867. Copyright by the Christian Century Foundation and used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

    With the exception of a few recent articles, most of them cited here, studies on clergy sexuality published in sociological, psychological or religious periodicals -- as well as fictional treatments -- have focused on male clergy adultery without mentioning the consequences suffered by women involved. Not only does the literature say almost nothing about the other woman," but it fails to pay any serious attention to the fate of the minister’s wife when she discovers her husband’s sexual betrayal.

    The term "adultery" does not adequately define male ministers’ sexual involvement with female parishioners. Marie Fortune, executive director of the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence in Seattle, suggests that a male pastor’s sexual advances toward a woman that occur while he performs his professional duties are better understood as "sexual abuse." Whereas the term "adultery" implies that both participants are consenting equals, the term "sexual abuse" assumes that a person has used personal, social or physical power to coerce sexual intimacy.

    Sexual abuse by pastors exhibits the same dynamic as incestuous abuse, which takes place within the context of an intimate relationship (family, church, counseling) between an authoritative and powerful person (a relative or minister) and a person who is vulnerable to and trusting of that power (a child or counselee) Victims often feel responsible for the abuser’s activity and so are bound in secrecy by a double burden of guilt and shame. Even if the victim does speak up, she or he may not be believed.

    Pastoral counseling is one of the pastor’s professional tasks that is likely to offer opportunities for sexual abuse. We know that about 10 percent of professional therapists admit to sexual contact with clients, and we can guess that the same figure applies to clergy (see Marie Fortune, "Betrayal of the Pastoral Relationship," unpublished article available from the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, 1914 N. 34th St., Suite 105, Seattle, Wash., 98103). We guess, because our knowledge of the circumstances and frequency of inappropriate sexual behavior is largely anecdotal.

    Many women don’t speak out about sexual abuse by pastors because, along with enduring terrible damage to their own self-esteem and relentless public shredding of their reputations, they will suffer the loss of personal and community relationships -- what may amount to a devastating social and spiritual exile. The time-honored response to such situations is to blame women -- the "other woman" or the pastor’s wife -- for the sexual transgressions of a male minister.

    Typical of recent treatments of the topic is "The Sexual Hazards of Pastoral Care" (Christianity Today, November 8, 1985) , by Dean Merrill, which describes the minister as an attractive target for "the Enemy," or a "sitting duck for the romantically starved." The pastor’s work "allows for a flexible schedule with little accountability"; he is "attuned to the aesthetic, emotional and interpersonal side of life" -- all reasons why "moral failure in the ministry is more often the result of inattention than intent." These excuses portray him as a misguided but innocent victim of circumstances -- he was manipulated by a predatory female; he suffered from flextime confusion.

    Ministers’ wives, on the other hand, are often indicted for being discontent with their role, uninterested in sex and less spiritually committed than their husbands, forcing the pastors to seek support and adoration elsewhere. Robert J. Stout’s article "Clergy-Divorce Spills into the Aisle" (Christianity Today, February 5, 1982) blames women who encumber the pastor’s career. "Women of today" are not content sharing their husband’s vocation; perhaps her paycheck is larger than his; the wife does not understand the personal sacrifice necessary "for the work of the Lord to be effective," and so hampers the work of the church’s leader. Finally, "there is a percentage of women who consider the sexual conquest of a pastor a goal worth pursuing." The author makes no mention of the pastor’s possible interest in sexual conquest.

    In short, most discussions of the sexually abusive pastor perpetuate the misogyny of our theological heritage. The excuses offered -- female turpitude, wifely incompetence and diabolic intervention -- relieve the male pastor and the institution he serves of responsibility for his actions.

    If anything, 20th-century writers are more hostile toward women than were 19th-century novelists. A number of parsonage romances produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries use theological/social drama as a vehicle for the romances. Writers such as Jane Ludlow Drake Abbot (1888-1962) , Elsie Marion Oakes Barber (1914-?) , Ruth Lininger Dobson (dates unknown) , Louis Platt Hauck (1883-1943) , Agnes Sligh Turnbull (1888-1982) and Nelia Gardner White (1894-1957) give the reader the impression that falling in love with one’s minister has something to do with restoring a purer gospel and a better world.

    In such novels the minister is always boyish and innocent of the darker designs of natural life, yet possessed of an irresistible virility. While fending off pathetic spinsters, he courts/converts a rebellious but ultimately tractable young woman, while on a third front he just barely evades the clutches of the attractive but unscrupulous divorcée. Because of the divorcée’s malice he is accused of sexual improprieties, but is always proven innocent in the end. At the same time that he wins the girl he defeats the local captain of industry.

    When marriage rather than courtship receives fictional scrutiny, the heroic and boyish young minister patiently trains an unsuitable wife for her role or he becomes a martyr to her unworthiness. He bravely renounces his attraction to another woman, whom he may kiss once but will never marry. Wives in such novels are overbearing and selfish; in one temperance tract novel the minister’s wife is a morphine addict and drunkard who inadvertently kills her children (Annette L. Noble, The Parsonage Secret, 1898).

    The stylized romance plot, then, expresses a good deal of hostility toward both the wife and the "other woman." If a woman is previously married she is unworthy of the minister’s affections (all the seducing women in these novels are widows or divorcées, reflecting vintage attitudes about divorced and single women) , yet once married to him she again turns out to be unworthy. Women are "good" only when poised on the brink of matrimony -- a fragile moment indeed.

    Corra May White Harris (1869-1935) , herself a minister’s wife, offered this description of the sexual hazards of the ministry in a popular fictionalized autobiography, A Circuit Rider’s Wife (1910) :

    When we hear of a minister who has disgraced himself with some female member of his flock, my sympathies are all with the preacher. I know exactly what has happened. Some sad lady who has been "awakened" . . . by his sermons goes to see him in his church study. First she tells him she is "unhappy at home," . . . finally [she] confesses she is troubled with "temptations." . . . He sees her reduced to tears over her would be transgressions, and before he considers what he is about he has kissed the "dear child." That is the way it happens nine times out of ten, a good man damned and lost by some frail angel of his church.

    Harris goes on to say that the minister’s wife has a duty to cultivate the wisdom of the serpent, and she advocates a "new set of civil law that would apply to the worst class of criminals in society. . . , the women who make a religion of sneaking up on the blind male side of good men" (pp. 162-170)

    Harris’s vehemence is replicated in a much later novel by Agnes Sligh Turnbull. In The Bishop’s Mantle (1948), the young minister contemplates his precarious position:

    In spite of himself he thought of the ministers, from Beecher down, who had had trouble with women. Every city clergyman had to recognize this menace. A few to his own knowledge through the years, in spite of their utter innocence, had yet escaped scandal by a hair’s breadth. A few here and there had not even escaped. There were always the neurotic women who flocked not only to the psychiatrists but also in almost equal numbers to ministers, pouring out their heart confessions and their fancied ills. There were those pitiable ones in whose minds religion and sex had become confused and intermingled; there were those who quite starkly fell in love with a clergyman and wanted love from him in return. Yes, a man of God had to be constantly on his guard in connection with this problem of women [p. 267, italics mine].

    Beecher (1813-1887) , known for preaching of God’s comforting love, was the pastor of the powerful and wealthy Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Elizabeth Tilton was a parishioner married to Beecher’ s friend Theodore. Beecher became intimate with Elizabeth sometime in 1868, opportunity having been afforded by pastoral visits to console her for the death of her infant child. Henry advised Elizabeth that the world would not understand their love, and so they must practice "nest-hiding." But despite such pastoral counsel the emotionally vulnerable Elizabeth confessed to her husband that Henry had justified their union by an appeal to "pure affection and a high religious love."

    Rumors of the affair went beyond the Tilton household in 1872. The pressure of the scandal was varied but ultimately unrelenting, and in 1875 Theodore Tilton sued Beecher in the first of several ecclesiastical and legal actions. Despite "almost irrefutable evidence," the congregational investigating committee "issued a report completely exonerating Beecher." In fact, Beecher’s suffering provoked it to express "sympathy more tender and a trust more unbounded" than ever before. Because its confidence in Beecher’s integrity was incompatible with the evidence, it considered the evidence false.

    This congregational charity was not extended to Elizabeth, who along with all the others who testified against Beecher was finally, excommunicated in 1878. Unlike Beecher, Elizabeth had no office to protect her, and even less cultural or religious power. "Ostracized by Plymouth Church, Elizabeth Tilton died in 1897, lonely and blind, at the home of her daughter in Brooklyn," Altina Wailer reports in Reverend Beecher and Mrs. Tilton (University of Massachusetts Press, 1982). Beecher’s wife’s fate and feelings are also missing from the historical record.

    One of the few contemporary accounts I have found that speaks for the woman involved is a pseudonymous, first-person narrative by a former church secretary ("My Minister Kept Making Passes at Me," Ladies Home Journal, July 1985) Joan Clayton, working as an essential wage earner for her family, says her minister made repeated sexual advances to her, and her efforts to repel or avoid him were unsuccessful. She finally confided in another church member and learned that several other women in the congregation had endured such harassment. When these charges were brought before the personnel committee, however, the minister, called Smithson in the article, denied the allegations, and the committee immediately dropped the matter.

    Clayton filed a letter of intent with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Evidence surfaced showing that members at Smithson’s previous church had leveled similar charges, which were dropped for insufficient evidence. Smithson finally admitted to "hugging and embracing," but said the women had misinterpreted him. It was recommended that he be transferred and that he seek counseling.

    But Clayton, who suffered debilitating stress-related illnesses during this ordeal, reports that this was not the end of the matter. "Overwhelmingly, the congregation supported the minister," she complains. People told her that she was at fault for not being able to handle the situation. An anonymous letter accused her of being a liar; she was snubbed at church and labeled a troublemaker. She resigned her job, although that caused great financial hardship for her family. "What hurt me the most was the automatic assumption that because the charges were made against a minister, they must be lies," she says.

    Although clergymen protest that they are vulnerable, they in fact enjoy some powerful social protection. Traditional respect for the office, along with the congregation’s unwillingness to believe it could have misjudged its pastor, constitute two parts of his protection. Often congregations are remarkably ready to believe the woman involved to be the greater of the two sinners. Like a rape victim, a woman who becomes sexually involved with her pastor is frequently considered to be the most guilty party -- and it is she, not he, who is ultimately put on trial.

    Churches must also stop making excuses for ministers. They should not deny the often unreasonable theological and institutional pressures that pastors endure. But they must acknowledge that a pastor possesses a unique amount of power. Like a doctor or a therapist, he sees people at their most vulnerable, but unlike the other two, his interest is freighted with a divine imprimatur. A sexual encounter between pastor and counselee is a profound violation not only of the body but of the spirit as well. Only death exposes more clearly the mutual vulnerability of body and spirit.

    Andre Bustanoby has suggested in his article "‘The Pastor and the Other Woman" (Christianity Today, August 30, 1974, pp. 7-10) that sometimes the ministry attracts a competitive and narcissistic kind of male whose goal is ego gratification and for whom sexual conquest is a key source of gratification. "Those who are concerned about the problem of the other woman in the minister’s life should not look first for a seductress in the congregation. They ought first to concern themselves with the ‘top dog’ minister who grasps at every opportunity to fortify his faltering ego."

    Clearly, a man who engages in sexual abuse of female parishioners is sick, and in need of treatment and support. But legitimate concern for a pastor’s well-being ought not to draw support away from the women who are victimized by him. Fortune asserts that "pastorally, the response to the victim is the first priority." Mary Pellauer believes pastors should assent to the guidelines and ethics of accountability applied to therapists. "Professional counselors view any sexual contact between the counselor and the client as the deepest breach of professional ethics. The professional is always responsible; sex with a client is never okay " ("Sex, Power, and the Family of God," Christianity and Crisis, February 16, 1987, p. 47)

    We must also be sensitive to the vulnerability of the minister’s wife. Although ministers’ wives may now experience more freedom of personal identity than when Corra May Harris was writing, many marriages still operate on the assumption that the male minister’s vocational identity will determine his wife’s identity as well. If she fails to defend him even when he has clearly betrayed her, she risks doubting the value of her own life dedication, and she calls into question the efficacy of her husband’s entire ministry as it is exemplified in his loving, forgiving wife. Can she expect concern for her welfare from the congregation that may be trying to protect him? Who will minister to her needs, whether she stays with him or chooses to leave? Many ministers’ wives will not risk joining the "other Woman" in exile, and unfortunately traditional responses to male-female dynamics encourage women to blame each other, which only further ensures their own victimization.

    No one -- minister, congregation or woman -- escapes unharmed from the church’s failure to confront sexual abuse. But we apologize for the male minister as we do not for women, and our knowledge is seriously skewed. We have only some anonymous stories told by frightened, humiliated women who are trying to speak to an institution that has blamed them in advance because of their female sexuality and bids them be silent. Because of his professional power in an androcentric institution, the male minister is responsible for sexual violations that he commits while tending to his professional duties. Until there is cultural and institutional parity between male clergy and their female parishioners, the church must listen to victims of sexual abuse, speak for those who are afraid or cannot speak for themselves and respond with justice and compassion.