The newspaper jpegs above prove that the slightly built Donald Wuerl
Monthly Archives: January 2015
Priest interrogated shooting victim shortly after surgery, instead of letting him rest.
From Patrick Pontillo’s blog from the following link: http://www.donaldwuerl.com/2012/02/priest-interrogated-shooting-victim.html
by guest writer Mike Ference, in continuation of his narration of
Donald Wuerl’s disregard for the trauma that the Ference family endured, shortly after and long after the attempted murder of a young Adam Ference on Pittsburgh diocesan school grounds.
On December 5, 1989, my son was the victim of handgun bullet wound
in the back of his head. The gun was held inches from his skull before
the shooter pulled the trigger. The shooter then turned the gun on him-
self and successfully committed suicide.
The prime witness in this event was now dead. Believe or not, this was
not the worst of it. What would happen over the next few days, the next
few months, the next few years, and would continue for almost two de-
cades tells the story of just how corrupt and uncivilized the Common-
wealth of Pennsylvania has become.
Teenage suicides, sexual molestation, and attempted murders proved to
be nothing more than inconvenience for the Pennsylvania power mongers
who were present when the exploitation of the political/judicial system
was occurring – of a system they continue to maintain for the benefit of
a few well-placed and well-networked persons who don’t have the com-
mon good in mind.
After undergoing six or seven hours of emergency neurosurgery, my son
was admitted to the intensive care unit and his vital signs would be closely
monitored for the next several days. That night, my wife would begin her
14-day vigil, almost never being more than a few feet from our son’s bed-
side. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Diocese would begin its 20 year vigil of
covering up accusations leveled against people employed by the church;
not only Pittsburgh Diocesan personnel, but personnel from the Archdio-
cese of Boston, as well.
The Red Flag Incident
On the night of Adam’s shooting, Serra Catholic High School
Headmaster Sysol (now deceased) ventured into Presbyterian
Hospital (now the Univ of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Sysol
would ask my wife if he could visit with our son. It was close
to midnight and it had been the toughest day ever for my son
and our close-knit family. When Headmaster Sysol asked to
visit with my son, my wife thought that she would be going in
with him. No such luck.
The Questions as to the Headmaster’s Intentions
Was Sysol on a mission? Was Sysol on a clandestine operation, to find
out what, if anything, Adam knew about the shooter who befriended a
Fr. John Wellinger a few years earlier, at St. Clare of Assisi Parish in
Clairton? Sysol would conveniently be in a position to also check and
see if my son, Adam, knew anything about Brother Kenneth Ghastin, a
teacher at Serra High School who was accused of molesting two teen-
age brothers in 1974, during a time when he taught at the now-defunct
Christopher Columbus High School, in Boston’s North End. This is ac-
cording to an article published by the Framingham Metro West Daily
As far as goes any concern for my son, Sysol had none that I could de-
tect. He would question my son for almost three relentless hours, ask-
ing the same questions of a kid still dazed by a shotgun blast to the head
and still trying to recover from seven hours of intensive neurosurgery.
Let me repeat: At Serra Catholic High School, in the Diocese of Pitts-
burgh, at the time when my son was the target of an attempted murder,
there was a member of the Boston Archdiocese stationed there who
was accused of molestation and who had close access to the school’s
male youths. No one warned us of this. Instead, they covered up their
It wouldn’t be until the middle 1990s that the Archdiocese of Boston
would finally reach a financial settlement with the families, concerning
that teacher. The settlement would include a $30,000 payment to one
of the brothers. Sadly, according to the paper, one of the brothers who
had a history of drug misuse would die in 1994. Church files would re-
gard it as a suicide, as if he intended to die from that occasion of drug
misuse, and even though he apparently had no intention to die from drug
use at any time prior. That is to say, the archdiocese did not mark the
death as an accidental one resulting from long-term emotional trauma.
For now, that’s the rest of the story. But plenty of questions still need
to be answered. Did Donald Wuerl cooperate with the Archdiocese of
Boston and permit known pedophiles to remain in the Pittsburgh Diocese?
If so, were other pedophiles admitted to Serra Catholic High School and
other Catholic institutions without us knowing it? Was it the assignment
of Headmaster Sysol to keep an eye on Brother Kenneth Ghastin and
possibly other abusive clergy transferred from Boston? Knowing what
we know now about the Archdiocese of Boston abuse scandal, anything
Little wonder that Father Ron Lengwin allegedly badgered the police of
McKeesport to quash the case of the attempted murder of my son, with
little investigative effort on the part of McKeesport police … and with no
cooperation with Pennsylvania State Police. No wonder Serra Catholic
High School administrators would not permit McKeesport police to in-
vestigate the crime scene, according to the police report, and so done
against Lengwin’s judgment. Incidentally, McKeesport police were not
permitted on Serra Catholic High School property for over 24 hours af-
ter the shooting of my son and the suicide of his shooter.
It is becoming clear as to why the Pittsburgh Diocese went to such great
lengths to cover up the accusations leveled against not merely one alleged
predator, but at least two, namely John Wellinger and Kenneth Ghastin.
No wonder why current St. Vincent Archabbot Douglas Nowicki would
have motive to offer me what I construed was a de facto bribe, in his be-
ing willing to admitting my son Adam to St. Vincent College, while saying
it in such a way that I interpreted the offer as having strings attached to it.
No wonder why Cardinal Bernard Law would visit that same Latrobe in-
stitution before his final and most shameful departure for Rome.
A telephone call to Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport, PA re-
sulted in the principal refusing to give his last name and almost begging
for advice on how to handle this latest development. I advised the man
to do the right thing. He did not know how to respond or what I even
meant. So much for the training and all the zero-tolerance policies.
I had hoped to speak with Barbara Thorp of the Archdiocese of Boston
as soon as was possible. Likewise, New York Franciscan administrators
Father Patrick Boyle and Father Robert Campagna seemed prepared to
cooperate and provide the necessary information needed to finally get to
the truth. But, that hope was sparked in 2009. It’s now the Year 2012,
and I have gotten no results. Incidentally, Brother Ghastin asserted his
innocence, at last count.
A sunrise broken by gunfire on a school bus. An investigation as to the root cause of the gunfire suffocated. Wuerl let it be suffocated.
A sunrise broken by gunfire on a school bus. An investigation as to the root cause of the gunfire suffocated. Wuerl let it be suffocated.
By Patrick Pontillo
by guest writer Mike Ference, detailing the experience of having
a son get shot in the back of the head and then to be treated as
an impediment to Wuerl’s rise to power. Edited as to its syntax.
Diplomatically abridged as to its contents.
The sodomizing of youth by Catholic clergy members and then covered
up by church hierarchs was something seldom discussed. It was seldom
discussed until the media broke open the seals of secrecy that were once
glazed over Cardinal Bernard Law’s disgraced Boston Archdiocese.
It was twenty-three years ago when I was forced to begin investigating
similar things in the county where sits Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. This
was because a fifteen year old youth allegedly preoccupied with the
Occult, Satanism, and devil-worship attempted to murder my son,
Adam, on a school bus. The same youth then killed himself.
My investigation began in December of 1989. This means that I was
forced to start my work thirteen calendar years before veteran journal-
ists of the Boston Globe exposed Catholic Church red hatter Bernie
Law for having habitually covered the criminal actions of priests. Ten
years after having begun my investigations, the Philadelphia district at-
torney’s office put to bed the prosecution of every Philadelphia area
cleric accused of the same old crimes and the same old cover ups.
Being a molester in Pennsylvania was a lucrative pastime, at the time.
The attack on my son took place on the morning of December 5, 1989,
around 8:00 am. A bus carrying Serra Catholic High School students
began its approach toward the school’s entrance doors. A bus loaded
with dozens of teenagers was beginning to cross onto Serra Catholic
school grounds when the would-be assassin pulled out a loaded hand-
gun and blasted a shot into the back of my son’s head. He next placed
the gun to his temple and fired the second shot.
Two ambulances transferred my son and the shooter to the McKeesport
Hospital. Both young men were admitted to the same emergency room,
separated by the curtains surrounding their beds. A telephone call from
Brother Chuck, the guidance counselor of Serra Catholic, served notice
to our family to get to the McKeesport Hospital Emergency Room as
soon as possible.
Ironically, my wife, my eldest son, and I arrived at the hospital before
the ambulances did. While a paramedic was pushing a gurney through
a hallway, I shouted to the man, “If that’s Adam Ference, tell him his
parents are here.” The body was completely covered. Deep-down in-
side, and without saying a word, I hoped and I prayed it wasn’t Adam.
Seconds later came another gurney, being pushed through the hallway.
It was Adam, sitting up. He was conscious, but I wasn’t sure how
alert he was.
A nurse came to escort me back to where my son was. I still didn’t
know what happened. A disheveled detective from the McKeesport
Police Department approached my wife and I. He recklessly pulled a
gun from a brown paper bag and asked if we had ever seen the wea-
pon before. Confused and bewildered, we shook our heads sideways,
quietly saying no. A teacher would then pull the detective to the side
and tell him that we weren’t the parents he needed to talk to.
I watched an ER room’s bed sheets get saturated with blood as the
shooter lay dead, no doubt from the 32-caliber self-inflicted gunshot
wound. It was a shot taken seconds after the shooter blasted my
son’s skull with his first shot, done while my son sat directly in front
of him, half asleep.
Minutes later, a nurse called me into the emergency room, to see my
son. I tried to reassure him that everything would be alright, as he
seemed to daze in and out of consciousness. I caught myself glanc-
ing back and forth from the wound in the back of my son’s head to
the blood-stained sheets of the shooter in the bed next to my son.
It were as if I was watching a tennis match or a ping pong game.
I prayed and promised God that I would do whatever I could to make
things right, not knowing what that meant, and still not knowing what
exactly happened. Now, I knew that Adam could never intentionally
harm anyone with a gun. But, I figured that he might have accidental-
ly tripped someone, resulting in multiple gun shots being unleashed from
a loaded weapon. So, I kept promising God that I would do whatever
it took to make things right. Sadly, I heard a father crying; weeping
over his son’s dead body. All but for the grace of God, the father in
anguish could have been me.
Twenty-three years later, I’m still trying to keep the promise I made
in the McKeesport ER. Needless to say, Donald Wuerl has been a
ruthless antagonist, preventing the truth from being uncovered. This
Wuerl keeps us in the dark, in so many diabolical ways.
Several weeks after the shooting, my son was well on his way to re-
covery. Several weeks after the shooting, a seasoned law enforce-
ment officer who actively participated in the investigation, ended up
sitting in my living room, alleging to my wife and I that the investiga-
tion of my son’s attempted murder was deliberately quashed by the
McKeesport Police Chief (Thomas Brletic) and his investigating of-
ficers. The man who alleged this to me was and is William Scully.
At the time, Scully was the Public Safety Officer of Clairton. At the
time, Clairton no longer had a police force, due to the economic woes
which followed the demolition of the Pittsburgh steel industry. Prior
to being Clairton’s public safety director, Scully was assistant chief
of police for the same town of Clairton and served several years as
a police officer there.
To compensate for the case being allegedly quashed, Scully provid-
ed me with specific notes and details about the shooter. He alleged
that the shooter was sexually abused by Fr. John Wellinger, a parish
priest at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, PA. Prior to Wellinger’s
assignment at Holy Spirit, he was an assistant pastor of Saint Clare
of Assisi Church, in Clairton. The shooter served as an altar boy for
Fr. Wellinger at St. Clare’s.
According to several sources, the shooter was often an after-school
guest of Wellinger, at the parish rectory house, along with other boys.
It was a parish house equipped with a pool table, pinball machines
and other facilities which keeps young boys amused for hours.
Scully also provided specific information about Wellinger allegedly
harming a teenager from Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin. This
harming allegedly occurred circa 1987 or 1988. I even received an
email from the alleged victim in 2011 that suffices as evidence that
easily confirms my allegations on the topic.
As time progressed, I would eventually speak with several sources.
The sources included a retired police chief of West Mifflin, as well
as a police officer of the same West Mifflin whose son was alleged-
ly molested by the same John Wellinger. My sources also included
several ladies who worked along side Wellinger at Holy Spirit Parish.
There was even the matter of a woman who may have known John
Wellinger intimately. Added to the list is the former Pittsburgh Post
Gazette investigative reporter who alleged that Wellinger once made
a homosexual pass at him. An additional source included a Florida
man who once visited Wellinger at Holy Spirit Parish, and alleged
that Wellinger wanted to perform an unnatural act on his person.
Plus, there was the teenager to whom Wellinger allegedly supplied
a spiked alcoholic beverage which knocked the youth out for hours.
Concerning the youth, he eventually returned to consciousness and
dialed 911. He then allegedly staggered down apartments stairs, to
meet an awaiting ambulance which allegedly took the youth to then
Presbyterian University Hospital (now part of the University of Pitts-
burgh Medical Center).
According to the allegations, he and his family were victimized yet
again, in the alleged cover-up that followed. It’s sad that it has taken
over 23 years for me to release my information with just a scant hope
of justice finally being served. Tragically speaking, as I have tried to
draw attention to the various crimes and cover ups, I can only imagine
how many more victimscould have been saved from being victimized,
if only Wuerl and government officials would have applied an element
of human decency and did what needed to have been done.
Michael Unglo is one person who immediately comes to mind. Mike
committed suicide shortly after the Diocese of Pittsburgh, under Bish-
op David Zubik, stopped financing his psychiatric treatment. Now, the
Pittsburgh diocese had already payed $300,000 in psychiatric bills for
Michael. But, Mike suffered from flashbacks, due to the alleged mo-
lestations of the defrocked Richard Dorsch who receives a thousand
dollar a month stipend (pension) from the diocese.
Meanwhile, homosexual con artist Fr James Torquato immediately
canceled all business contracts with his accuser’s uncle, and Wuerl
ratified Fr. Torquato’s act of economic terrorism, as if Wuerl were
performing the terrorism himself. Basically, James Torquato black-
mailed his accuser’s uncle. The uncle was to get Torquato’s accus-
er to retract his accusations against Torquato or else lose significant
I would like to point out something about my son’s attempted murder.
The shooter was not sitting is his regular seat that day, nor did he get
on at his regular stop. My son did sit in his regular seat, close to the
window. The shooter was allegedly in the aisle seat behind him. This
means that he was originally catty-corner to Adam. Well, he alleged-
ly switched seated and was now exactly behind Adam.
The exact conjecture as to what was transpiring during the attempted
murder of my son was thwarted by parents not allowing their children
to be interviewed by law enforcement investigators. Depositions exist
which can be supplied as proof of a community-wide cover up.
Concerning Adam’s case, I had sought help from many people in gov-
ernment. I was referred to an Allegheny County detective by form-
er a PA State Trooper, named Robert Griffin. Griffin was brought
into the case in 1989 and investigated the Satanic and Occult inter-
ests of my son’s shooter and the shooter’s friends. The detective to
whom I was referred simply stated that the Diocese of Pittsburgh
was covering up crimes for years. The offending priests would be
shuffled from one parish to another, the detective alleged. He made
it sound as if there was nothing he could do about it.
There is a long list of state troopers who did absolutely nothing. Like-
wise, the same nothing came from former Pennsylvania Senator and
Catholic Church lobbyist, Rick Santorum. Senator Arlen Spector al-
so chose to ignore my case, as did Congressman Mike Doyle. Plus,
Carol Burke, Chief of Staff for State Rep David Levdansky, simply
advised me to get over it.
An FBI agent did exist who was well-aware of Wellinger’s alleged
sexual shenanigans, but the agent was preoccupied with the investi-
gation into a drug raid gone bad which resulted in a fellow agent be-
ing killed. So, the Pittsburgh diocese has been getting a free pass,
ever since the tenure of Anthony Bevilacqua. Include Wuerl’s ten-
ure also, especially in light of the fact that Wuelr paid no price for
his alleged absence of cooperativeness during an investigation that
resulted in the arrests of Wolk, Zula, and Pucci. Wuerl also paid
no price thus far, for ratifying the Torquato retaliations.
Allegheny County’s Courthouse is located on Grant Street, in down-
town Pittsburgh. Supposedly, justice is served there. Sadly enough,
some of the PA judges were bought and sold like stolen merchandise
at outdoor flea markets. I cite the infamous Luzerne County “Cash
for Kids” scandal that sent two greed-infested Pennsylvania judges to
federal prisons, after years of locking up children in private juvenile de-
tention centers for things as petty as summary offenses.
The detention centers are owned by Gregory Zappala, son of former
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Zappala, Sr and
brother of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Jr.
Sadly enough, one of the victims of this barbaric practice would end
up committing suicide after two incarcerations. His death would take
place on the 10th of June, 2010, the same day when Allegheny County
District Attorney Stephen Zappala was sworn in as a member of the
board that oversees clergy sex abuse allegation, under the auspices
of the United States Bishop’s Conference.
It’s pertinent to point out that the attempted murder of my son took
place in McKeesport, PA. It’s a section of the Mon Valley jokingly
referred to as Mob Valley. It’s the last place one expects to find any
semblance of justice. McKeesport is filled with case after case of
systematic and deliberate cover ups of criminal behavior, most often
alleging McKeesport police and democratic officials as being at the
center of the alleged cover ups.
Some allegations involved: 1] a dead teenage girl whose body was
found in a McKeesport cemetery, 2] a woman held captive for al-
most a decade by a McKeesport School district security guard, and
3] the Cornell Elementary School scandal which allegedly involved
two McKeesport teachers doing their best to imitate dogs in heat,
while two other teachers allegedly did their best to act like watch-
dogs. All actions were either well concealed or never happened.
None the less, the allegation that Fr. John Wellinger molested the
shooter of my son, as well as had drugged-up the drink of another
youth, were things stated in Scully’s notes. Thus, these allegations
came from someone who had official status.
I’ve also met and talked with yet, another accuser of former Pitts-
burgh clergy member, John Wellinger. This accuser was one of the
plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
His parents were parishioners of Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin.
For now, I want to caution people from outside of Pennsylvania that,
if you’re contemplating moving here, you would do better to just stay
put. Jim Potts, founder of Democracy Rising and advocate for hon-
est government in Pennsylvania, opined on a Pittsburgh radio station
that “Pennsylvania may be the most corrupt state in America.”
I agree with Potts. However, I would extend his opinion to include
most third world countries.
Consider the following before you plan a visit to Pennsylvania, or
worse yet, to move to this commonwealth: 1] the Cash for Kids
Scandal; 2] the Jerry Sandusky and Penn State scandal; 3] the
grand jury investigations into the rape and sodomizing of innocent
children in the Philadelphia Archdiocese; 4] the Tanya Kash case
involving a McKeesport School District security guard allegedly
holding a teenager captive for almost ten years; 5] Cardinal Don-
ald Wuerl’s proven triple cover-up of Wolk, Zula, and Pucci, by
which he ignored the Child Protective Services Act and was ac-
cused of having been uncooperative during the criminal investiga-
tion of the three priests he tried to conceal … followed by Wuerl
facing zero accountability for his evil commissions and equally
All of these cases allege police and government officials being all
too willing to delay or hamper investigations involving children in
harm’s way. In a Philadelphia archdiocesan case, a ten-year-old
boy was alleged to have been sodomized by his teacher in a park.
When the teacher had satisfied his barbaric cravings, the alleged-
ly victimized youth was forced to make his way home on his own,
bleeding from his rectum.
Pennsylvania is a pro-pedophile state, in my opinion. My opinion,
of course, comes from personal experience and a lot of investigat-
ing, done free of charge. So, you can either take my word for it or
risk your own children’s lives to prove me wrong. In Pennsylvania,
even adults were the victims of power abuse. Concerning this, you
can either take my word for it or else risk your own future to prove
Wuerl’s violation of the Child Protective Services Act and his claim that his cover-up of Wolk was not the act of covering-up
Wuerl’s violation of the Child Protective Services Act and his claim that his cover-up of Wolk was not the act of covering-up
“To say he will not be reassigned is a devastating thing,” said Wuerl to the
press shortly after he was caught performing his triple cover-up which was
headlined with Father Robert Wolk’s indictment. The same Donald Wuerl
also said to the media, “It is NOT covering up to embrace a man who is
suffering. Add to this the fact that Wuerl already reassigned the notorious
John Hoehl months prior, and had no intention of getting rid of him until the
indictment of Wolk. You now see how far away from zero tolerance Wuerl
was. After all, he made a criminal sound like a victim.
Now, in the Year 2002, when Wuerl was being made out to be the holiest saint
on Earth … next to the molester Maciel … you would have been lauding the guy
if you had known about this triple cover-up and Wuerl’s public excuse for hav-
ing covered-up the crimes of three priests, followed by Wuerl publicly denying
that it was the act of covering-up that he was doing? Or would you have cate-
gorized him with Bernard Law and Roger Mahoney?
Wuerl was headlined as the bishop who fought the Vatican to remove “a
molester priest,” when the fact is that he only attempted to have the priest
removed from ministry for what was later called a misdiagnosis of Depress-
ion and Suicidal Tendencies. The priest was never arrested, yet Wuerl let
the papers claim that the priest was. In fact, that priest, Anthony Cipolla,
received a favorable Pennsylvania State Police background check security
clearance in the Summer of 2014, where within it was stated that Cipolla
has NO ARREST RECORD in the State of Pennsylvania.
This also shows Wuerl’s motive in letting Anthony Cipolla be the public
scapegoat whose reputation was completely annihilated, despite the over-
whelming evidence of Cipolla being the opposite of the media smear
campaign launched against him.
Wuerl was in a law enforcement spotlight, This meant that Wuerl needed
a smokescreen, to deceive the public into thinking that he was a holy and
all so caring saint. Wuerl did nothing more than masquerade himself as
an angel of light, at the expense of others such as an Anthony Cipolla who,
unlike the effeminate Donald Wuerl, was found to have zero nexus with the
homosexual subculture. Wuerl, on the other hand, had a definitive nexus
with the neo-Sodomite world.
and direct falsehoods.
In addition, don’t forget that he rode the coattails of John Cardinal Wright,
and without the help of the allegedly homosexual John Wright, the Donald
Wuerl who accommodated banned Dignity Masses for eight consecutive
years would have been nothing more than a faceless attendant of the Dig-
nity Mass, sitting in the middle row, if and only if the allegations of Wuerl’s
personal life conveyed to me between 1999 and 2002, as well as between
2009 and 2012 are true. If those allegations are not true, then Wuerl would
have been nothing more than commoner frequenting other venues. With-
out Wright, Wuerl would have risen to power.
It was the court system that prompted Wuerl to strike the pose of a strict
disciplinarian. It was all a fraud to have claimed that Wuerl would come
to the rescue of the victims of predatory priests such as the Edward Huff
whom he kept hiding out in mental institutions and the Father James Tor-
quato whom he sent to Rome while federal court papers had Torquato’s
name mentioned throughout them. Wuerl’s artificial pose did not occur
until three simultaneous indictments of three Pittsburgh priests occured
under Wuerl’s watch, coupled with a DA John Pettit’s public accusation
that Wuerl’s diocese performed uncooperative conduct with police inves-
Keep in mind that there was no criminal investigation of Wolk, Zula,
and Pucci until an attorney friend-of-the-family of the two young play
toys reported the matter to the police. The attorney did not do so until
after Wuerl visited the family and still refused to report Wolk, Zula, and
Pucci to the police, as was required in the Child Protective Services Act..
In addition, Wuerl only went to the home of the traumatized family af-
ter their parish pastor was told by them that they were going to report
the three molester priests to law enforcement authorities. The pastor
then informed Wuerl, as the same Donald Wuerl let the criminal priests
go about their ways. Even though Fr. Zula was sure to never return to
ministry, on account of his sadistic actions, Wolk and Pucci were in a
position to eventually ease back into ministry, in the spirit of John
Hoehl and Edward Huff. Thus, Wuerl was doing everything possible
to have Wolk and Pucci fly under the radar and return to ministry.
Do not be deceived. Ann Rodgers made it sound as if Wuerl were a
strict disciplinarian who ousted Hoehl, as soon as he learned of him.
No, Wuerl placed Hoehl into chaplaincy ministry, as he did with Huff.
Wuerl did NOT read Hoehl the riot act until Wolk, Zula, and Pucci
were criminally indicted. Then, Hoehl became a hot potato. Wuerl
got rid of Hoehl, so that Wuerl would not get into trouble. There was
no loving and caring bishop involved. I tell you solemnly, Wuerl was
absolutely vicious and heartless while in Pittsburgh. He was the per-
sonification of lies and retaliation.
As a three-sentence review, so that it will be clearly understood:
Now, Pgh Post Gazette reporter Ann Rodgers claimed that Wuerl had
an epiphany while visiting the traumatized family and then became the
“model of zero tolerance” thereafter. This claim is easily proven false
by the fact that District Attorney John Pettit publicly announced that
Wuerl’s then Diocese of Pittsburgh did NOT provide the cooperation
that the district attorney sought during the criminal investigation. It
was a criminal investigation which didn’t commence until someone
other than Wuerl notified the police.
If Donald Wuerl were the model of zero tolerance, he would have been
the one who reported Wolk, Zula, and Pucci. Plus, Wuerl would NOT
have allowed the ‘foot dragging’ that a Western Pennsylvanian DA said
was being committed by Wuerl’s diocese. That which was told to you
by Ann Rodgers and FoxNews are proven falsehoods.
Trick or Treat Bishop David Zubik
I sent this press release out in 2013 around Halloween. It’s time to repost. I met a woman who was friends with the victim who I have described in the press release. I’m hoping to interview her soon. She talked to the victim the night that Father John Wellinger drugged him. That’s right a witness is stepping forward to tell us what the victim went through the night that Father John Wellinger drugged him.
It’s a shame that Donald Wuerl, David Zubik and all the other Roman Coward clerics who covered up crimes in the Pittsburgh Diocese don’t simply come forward and tell the truth and really help survivors heal.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mike Ference
Pittsburgh, PA – October 29, 2013 — If ever there was cleric gone wild who should be dredged up on devil’s night, Father John Wellinger is that evil spirit. As an advocate for clergy sex abuse victims for almost a quarter of a century I’m convinced that the Pittsburgh Diocese concealed Wellinger’s criminal activities with the help of law enforcement authorities, the university and medical community, elected officials at all levels of government, legal community and of course plenty of hierarchy from the Roman Catholic Church.
How could this to happen? We now know that protecting predator priests, clerics and the institutional church trumps God’s most precious commodity – innocent children. It’s the standard method of operation in every diocese and in every country.
On Thursday, October 31, 2013, in downtown Pittsburgh on the Boulevard of the Allies in front of the Pittsburgh Diocesan headquarters I’ll pass out literature outlining who knew what, where, when and why about the devastation caused by one predator priest Father John Wellinger and how everything was covered up.
Here are some of the details.
Sometime in 1987, possibly March, while Anthony Bevilacqua was serving as bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese; Wellinger allegedly drugged and possibly raped and sodomized a University of Pittsburgh student. The alleged crime took place in the student’s apartment that was shared with his brother, also enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh. According to the victim, who I interviewed, he was knocked out for hours. Awakening, he intuitively called 911. Sadly, that’s when his real nightmare began.
Running down the stairs and into the street to meet the Pittsburgh paramedics, the teenager would be whisked away to Presbyterian Hospital emergency room (now University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). According to the victim, he was admitted, but never examined by a doctor. Keep in mind this young man was given a drug that knocked him out, administered by a lay person with very bad intentions. Wellinger also provided alcohol, yet no doctor wanted to be bothered by this case.
Could it be that the call to 911, answered by Pittsburgh paramedics, was the first step in alerting Pittsburgh Diocesan officials that one of their own had harmed another, again? Would diocesan officials then alert hospital officials to avoid contact with the patient?
Or, is it more reasonable to assume that medical personnel, sworn to care for and help others in need, would just say no to a young man drugged and possibly raped and sodomized by a Catholic priest? I don’t think so. An emergency room doctor, spending so much money on medical school and with so much to lose, would never make that call.
Was this normal protocol during the Bevilacqua years as bishop when priest after priest was charged with molesting minors? Bevilacqua even welcomed known predator priests into the Pittsburgh Diocese, Father John P. Connor being one of them. It’s called passing the trash from one diocese to the next. This year I spoke to a victim of Connor from the north hills section of Pittsburgh. How many other victims of Connor, just like Wellinger, are still suffering.
We now know how badly the Bevilacqua regime treated children in the Philadelphia Archdiocese since two separate and distinguished district attorneys from Philadelphia had the courage to protect children over dysfunctional, super sex freaks. Is it more reasonable to think Bevilacqua would protect sexual perverts only on the eastern side of Pennsylvania or that his criminal behavior would be congruent and consistent across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?
Sadly, Allegheny County district attorneys have done more to protect video poker parlors than children abused by grown men in priestly garb. If I’m wrong, please let the current or a past district attorney of Allegheny County or, any elected official for that matter, stand and sing your praise.
According to the victim, Wellinger trailed him to the emergency room, the victim alerted the attending nurse on duty that he, Wellinger was the priest who drugged him. Still nothing was done. Security was not alerted, police were not called. The teenager would simply leave with his parents for a long ride home.
My interview with the victim was not the first time I was made aware of this event. As early as January of 1990, former Clairton Public Safety Director William Scully, a seasoned law enforcement officer, would sit down with my wife and me, in our own living room and tell us firsthand his knowledge of this alleged crime. Scully even provided me with details, notes and instructions to contact the victim’s parents to get all the facts.
There’s much more to this story, sadly, the victim’s mother was also traumatized by Wellinger. Just one more reason the crime and the priest were able to blackmail all parties concerned, so charges would never be made and Wellinger would never be held accountable.
Looks like this Trick or Treat season, Bishop David Zubik has two choices; fess up or continue to flip the bird to victims of ruthless, sexual predators.
How the church concealed Father Terry Pidoto’s life of crime
By a Broken Rites reseacher
From the link: http://brokenrites.org.au/drupal/node/74
This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church protected Father Terry Pidoto for 25 years while he committed crimes against boys in his parishes.
Terrence Melville Pidoto was jailed in Melbourne in 2007 for seven years after being found guilty of 11 charges including rape.
Pidoto’s priestly career revolved around boys. His superiors and colleagues in the Melbourne archdiocese knew this but they tolerated him, thereby giving him access to victims.
According to court evidence, Pidoto was noted for giving boys a “massage”, sometimes behind closed (or locked) doors. The “massages” enabled Pidoto to commit sexual assaults, sometimes by anal penetration.
According to court evidence, Pidoto even took a boy to visit one of Australia’s leading priesthood-training colleges (Corpus Christi College, Melbourne) and sexually assaulted him in a room there. Other priests or student priests saw Pidoto with the boy at the seminary but they did not see anything unusual about this.
When Broken Rites established its Australia-wide telephone hotline in late 1993, some of our first callers told us about Father Terry Pidoto. Several of these contacted the Victoria Police sexual offences and child-abuse investigation team (SOCIT). Detectives eventually charged Pidoto with child-sex crimes, and a long series of court proceedings began.
Finally, in June 2007, Pidoto appeared in the Melbourne County Court, charged with 22 offences against seven boys. On 18 July 2007, after weeks of evidence and legal argument, the jury returned a GUILTY verdict on eleven charges, involving four of the boys.
On 17 September 2007, the court sentenced Pidoto to seven years and three months’ jail. He was ordered to serve a minimum of five years before becoming eligible for parole.
Crimes at the seminary
According to evidence given in the Melbourne County Court in June 2007, Pidoto committed some of his crimes on the premises of Melbourne’s Corpus Christi College, where the church trains its priests for all the Catholic dioceses in Victoria and Tasmania.
One victim, “Roger“, stated that in 1972, when he was aged 13, he became a parishioner at St Bede’s Catholic parish, Balwyn North (a Melbourne eastern suburb), which was one of Pidoto’s earliest parishes. Roger said that Pidoto took him to the seminary, on the pretext of showing him “where priests are made”. Pidoto, then aged about 27, was a recent graduate of this seminary.
Roger said that Pidoto took him to a bedroom, where there was a single bed, with three of Pidoto’s friends, sitting around, dressed in underwear.
The three men were evidently seminarians, or recently-ordained priests, from Pidoto’s peer group. Pidoto introduced Roger to these men in a sexual manner, saying ‘Isn’t he cute?’
Pidoto’s friends agreed that Roger was cute. Roger immediately knew that he was in danger and asked Pidoto to take him home. Outside this room, in the corridor, Roger and Pidoto passed two other men, apparently seminarians, both wearing shorts. These men exchanged greetings with Pidoto.
Pidoto showed Roger the chapel, saying “this is where we have Mass”, and then took the boy to the dining room, which was deserted. There, he grabbed Roger’s penis, performed oral sex on the boy and inserted his penis into the boy’s anus.
[Pidoto is not the only priest who has taken boys to the Corpus Christi seminary for sexual purposes. Broken Rites has received complaints about two other Melbourne priests who have done this.]
The priest’s background
Broken Rites has compiled the following account of Pidoto’s career.
Terrence Melville Pidoto was born in Melbourne on 12 December 1944, the oldest of eight children. He was educated to age 15 (Year 11) at St Bernard’s College (Christian Brothers), Essendon (in Melbourne’s north-west). Pidoto has said that he then worked with the Victorian Forest Commission for three years and did Year 12 studies while working. In 1964, aged 19, he entered Melbourne’s Corpus Christi College seminary to train for the priesthood.He spent the first four years at the seminary’s Werribee campus (west of Melbourne), where his room-mate for the first six months was Michael Charles Glennon (Glennon, too, later ended up in jail for child-sex crimes). For the later years of his course, Pidoto transferred (along with other senior students) to the seminary’s new campus at Glen Waverley (in Melbourne’s east).
He was ordained on 22 May 1971, aged 26. By then, Pidoto was already “working” with boys. The 1972 annual report of St Augustine’s boys’ orphanage, Geelong, said that students from Corpus Christi seminary, including Father Michael Glennon and Father Terry Pidoto, “have frequently travelled down to St Augustine’s and have given many hours in counselling, holding discussions and helping the boys generally.”
In late 1971, according to archdiocesan records, Father Pidoto spent four months on loan to the Ballarat diocese (ministering at Donald in western Victoria) and two months as a chaplain at Melbourne’s Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital.
In March 1972 Pidoto became an assistant priest at Balwyn North (St Bede’s parish). He also acted as a part-time chaplain and school “counsellor” at the nearby Marist Brothers’ Marcellin College. The school’s pupils were sent, one by one, to a room to have a private “counselling” session with Pidoto.
Pidoto himself has said in court that, by the early 1970s, he was becoming very experienced at “massage”. He said he had lost count of the number of boys he had “massaged” during his career. He “massaged” boys in their homes, at school and in his presbytery, he said.
Father Terry Pidoto became a chaplain for the Scouts movement in Victoria and was involved in their camps. He had a pilot’s licence and went flying in light aircraft, from Coldstream airport, east of Melbourne, taking boys with him.
A Balwyn North woman, “Ruth“, told Broken Rites in 1997: “I had brothers, aged 13 to 16. Terry Pidoto was always after them. He took them on outings, including a flight in a light aircraft. I never liked Pidoto. He was a creep. But he was a priest of the church, so we gave him the benefit of the doubt. [In 1997] we learned that Pidoto behaved intrusively towards these boys. One of my brothers, at the age of 21, came out as gay and said he had been conscious of his own gay orientation since the age of 13 [when he was associating with Pidoto].”
A former Marcellin College student told Broken Rites in 1996: “Terry Pidoto hovered around the Marcellin sports teams and gave them massages. Every kid knew that Pidoto was touching kids and therefore the Marist Brothers knew. Pidoto once put his hands on my shoulders from behind, but I knew his reputation, so I escaped his clutches fast.”
Marcellin is one of Melbourne’s most prominent Catholic schools. The sons of many well-known Catholics, including sons of Peter O’Callaghan QC, have been students there. (Peter O’Callaghan QC deals with sex-abuse complaints on behalf of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese.)
In January 1975, Fr Terence Pidoto was posted to Kilmore (St Patrick’s parish), 57km north of Melbourne, where he also acted as a part-time “chaplain” at the Marist Brothers’ Assumption College, Kilmore. This was the second time that Pidoto had been given the run of a Marist Brothers school. Assumption College is big on sport and there were many opportunities there for Pidoto to give “massages”.
At Kilmore, the court was told, Pidoto developed a relationship with the police force. He became chaplain for a youth group (the Police Scouts) run by the police. Pidoto was a probation officer for Kilmore and he would “look after” boys who got into trouble with the police. Such boys thus became indebted to Pidoto.
This arrangement was particularly advantageous to any offenders who were students or ex-students of Assumption College. At one of Pidoto’s court appearances (in 2001), a retired senior police officer named Tom gave character evidence in favour of Pidoto. The court was told that Tom had been stationed at Kilmore during Pidoto’s time. Tom said he and Pidoto would help each other regarding offenders. For example (Tom said), if offenders were from Assumption College, Father Pidoto would offer to take them under his supervision, and the police would not charge them. That is, offenders from Assumption College would be let off with a warning and would not have to face court.
[Although Tom did not say so, this arrangement also protected and enhanced the reputation of Assumption College. The arrangement would also be beneficial for any police officer who might want to get his children admitted to Assumption College — a school which enjoyed an unblemished public image.]
While at Kilmore, Pidoto’s reach extended even to State schools, where he acted as a part-time chaplain. A defence witness (a former State teacher) told the court that her State school sent its Catholic students to a room to have an individual “counselling” session with Pidoto.
Pidoto left Kilmore in January 1978. About the same time, Marist Brother John Desmond Dyson (later convicted of sex crimes against boys) was arriving at Assumption College.
Pidoto’s later parishes were in Melbourne suburbs, including St Clare’s parish in Box Hill North (in the late 1970s), St John the Baptist parish in Clifton Hill (about 1979 or 1980), St Pius X parish in Heidelberg West (early 1980s) and St Edmund’s parish in Croydon (during the 1980s). His time at Croydon co-incided with that of another assistant priest, Father Jack Gubbels, who was indecently assaulting boys in that parish.
About 1984, according to court evidence, Pidoto was the victim of a bashing. [This is believed to have been an anti-gay bashing in a public park.]
A Croydon parent told Broken Rites in 1997: “Pidoto used to associate with my son, then aged 11, who was in a Catholic scouts group. Pidoto was a district Scouting official. My son, who is now an adult, is oriented towards males. I asked him if anything happened with Pidoto but my son is loyal to Pidoto and won’t say anything against him.”
In 1988 the diocese promoted Pidoto to be in charge of one of the diocese’s most remote parishes — at Yea (Sacred Heart parish), 80km north-east of Melbourne, where he was the only priest. Some of Pidoto’s victims are wondering if the church hierarchy posted him to such a remote parish in order to get him out of the way. Pidoto remained at Yea, out of sight and unsupervised, until the police contacted him in 1997.
An ex-parishioner from an earlier parish told Broken Rites in 1997: “I visited Pidoto at Yea and he had a boy in his presbytery. Pidoto said it was a homeless youth who he was looking after.”
At one of Pidoto’s court appearances (in 2001), one of his character witnesses (from the Croydon parish) told the court: “I visited Terry at Yea and his presbytery was often full of young people — for example, drug addicts and Scouts.”
After 25 years
While at the Yea parish, Pidoto appeared to be a pillar of the community. In 1993, he was proclaimed as “Citizen of the Year” in Yea. In May 1996, he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination and glowing articles about him appeared in the Yea and Kilmore newspapers on 29 May 1996. The papers had photos of Pidoto, looking holy in his vestments, celebrating Mass with eight other priests.
These articles were seen by “John“, a former altar boy for Pidoto at Kilmore. John (born in 1967) was still upset in 1996 about sexual “massages” he received from Pidoto at the age of ten. In November 1996, John contacted the police sexual offences unit, which already had other complainants about Pidoto — from two males in the Yea parish.
In late 1996, following the widely-publicised jailing of various Catholic Church personnel for child-sex crimes, Melbourne Catholic Archbishop George Pell established an “in-house” system (under Peter O’Callaghan QC) to receive complaints about clergy sexual misconduct. The diocese advertised publicly, inviting complainants to contact Mr O’Callaghan. So John contacted Mr O’Callaghan, demanding that Pidoto should not have access to children. Mr O’Callaghan also received reports about Pidoto from other males.
In June 1997, because of the police investigation, the Melbourne diocese issued a media statement saying that Father Pidoto had been placed on administrative leave until the police investigation was resolved (Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun, 15 June 1997). Subsequently, police received several more complaints about Pidoto, including one from the Croydon parish and one concerning a Catholic school in Ringwood — making a total of half a dozen complaints. And, simultaneously, the Scouting movement removed Pidoto as a chaplain.
In April 1999, the Office of Public Prosecutions gave authority for Pidoto to be charged on summons concerning eight incidents involving three of the complainants — John of Kilmore, plus one of the Yea complainants and one from Marcellin College. Pidoto indicated that he would contest the charges, by pleading not guilty.
Before the committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in October 1999, the Yea complainant dropped out. A magistrate ordered Pidoto to stand trial regarding the remaining two alleged victims. The magistrate granted Pidoto a name-suppression order in case Pidoto won the right to have two separate juries. This order meant that Pidoto’s name and charges could not be reported in the media until the time of sentencing.
In the Melbourne County Court in February 2000, Judge Campbell granted separation of trials — that is, a different jury for each complainant. This means that each jury thinks there is only one complainant, making a conviction less likely.
While awaiting his trial, Terence Pidoto (according to later court evidence) was living with the Columban Fathers (a Catholic order of priests, officially called St Columba’s Mission Society) at their headquarters, 69 Woodland Street, Strathmore (north Essendon), in Melbourne’s north-west. The 69 Woodland Street address was given for Pidoto also in the 2001 federal electoral roll. According to court evidence, the Melbourne archdiocese was paying Pidoto’s living costs while he awaited trial. The archdiocese was also providing him with a priest’s stipend, plus a diocesan car, the court was told.
First jury, 2000: The story of John
In the first jury trial n the Melbourne County Court in the year 2000, Terence Melville Pidoto was charged concerning four incidents involving “John” when he was a 10-year-old altar boy at the Kilmore parish — including one indecent assault (meaning indecent touching) and three incidents of buggery or, alternatively, indecent assault. The incidents occurred during “massage” sessions over a period of 18 months in 1977-8.
The prosecution alleged that, in one incident, Pidoto massaged John’s penis and that, in three other incidents, he somehow penetrated John’s anus, thereby necessitating medical treatment.
The court was told that Father Terry Pidoto was a friend of John’s parents. During his frequent visits to their house, Pidoto would take John into the boy’s bedroom, lock the door and then massage him on a table.
In court, Pidoto admitted massaging John, using a lubricant, but he denied committing any sexual assault.
John said he was too frightened to tell his devout parents about the alleged indecent assaults because of Pidoto’s priestly status. Eventually, while John was having marriage problems in his late 20s, he told his wife about Pidoto. At his wife’s insistence, John spoke to a counsellor and finally to the police.
Pidoto’s barrister in the year 2000 (presumably financed by church sources) was energetic and skilful. This barrister persuaded the jury (incorrectly) that John might be “making up” his complaint against Pidoto in order to gain compensation from the Catholic Church.
In fact, however, John had not claimed compensation from the church. His only aim was to get Pidoto removed from access to children.
Some members of this 2000 jury were confused by the defence’s misinformation about “compensation” (and by the assumption that there was “only one” complainant). Thus, the jury was split between those who said Pidoto was “Guilty” and those who said “Not Guilty”. Judge Campbell, requiring a unanimous verdict, discharged the jury and ordered a retrial.
After the jury members left the court, they were stunned to learn that that John was not Pidoto’s only alleged victim.
Second jury, 2001: ‘Guilty’ verdict
In January 2001, a second jury was empanelled for a new trial on the same “John of Kilmore” charges. This time, the prosecutor was careful not to let the jury be mis-led about the church’s system of compensation payments.
One issue in both trials in 2000-2001 was the question of buggery. Medical evidence could not prove how John’s anus was penetrated; furthermore, if the penetration was done by a finger, this would not count as buggery as the law stood in 1977-8.
The second jury found Pidoto guilty on four counts of indecent assault, instead of the more serious charge of buggery.
In sentencing, Judge Neesham told Pidoto (then aged 57): “Your breach of trust is truly wicked…As a priest you were above suspicion.”
Judge Neesham said Pidoto had shown no remorse. He said the priest’s not-guilty plea, together with his attitude in the witness, “militates against any such emotion”.
The judge said a child molester gambles on the age difference and power difference to silence his victim — that is, the offender takes the chance that the victim might speak out later (as John finally did).
Jail sentence, February 2001
Pidoto’s offences against John are serious crimes, with a maximum penalty of five years’ jail per incident. On 21 February 2001, Judge Neesham declared Pidoto a Serious Sexual Offender (under the crimes statutes) and sentenced him to three years’ jail (eligible for parole after 18 months).
The Office of Public Prosecutions was satisfied with winning the case of John and decided not to proceed with a trial involving the Marcellin College student. The Marcellin victim agreed, as he shared the satisfaction of seeing Pidoto removed from access to children after John’s case.
Pidoto had a very expensive and well-resourced legal defence team for his two trials.
Media coverage in 2001
Pidoto’s sentencing on 21 February 2001 was widely reported on Melbourne radio and also in the newspapers — the Melbourne Age, 22 February 2001, the Sunday Herald Sun on 4 March 2001 and the Whitehorse Gazette in Box Hill (circulating in one of Pidoto’s former parishes) on 26 March 2001. This media coverage prompted more Pidoto victims to contact the Victoria Police sexual crimes squad.
After the jailing of Pidoto on February 2001, the case was discussed on Melbourne Radio 3AW by presenter Neil Mitchell who expressed sympathy for the victim, “John“. This irritated Father Michael Shadbolt, of the Doveton parish (in Melbourne’s south-east), who had set himself up as “the Catholic Priests Anti-Defamation League”. Fr Shadbolt published a letter-to-the-editor in the Herald Sun (5 March 2001), attacking Mitchell for having not presented “the church’s side” of the story.
Mitchell then phoned Fr Shadbolt and allowed him to present “the church’s side” on air. The following day, Mitchell interviewed “John”, who gave a first-hand account of the incidents for which Pidoto was convicted. Thus, “both sides” got a hearing. However, Father Shadbolt might have served “the church’s side” better if he had stayed out of the Pidoto affair. In subsequent “talkback” segments, listeners phoned in, supporting John and denouncing “the church’s side”.
Pidoto wins appeal, 2002
Pidoto’s legal team lodged an appeal against his February 2001 conviction. Meanwhile, Pidoto remained in jail during 2001. However, he was still listed as a priest (“on leave”) in the mid-2001 edition of the Directory of the National Council of Priests of Australia. In fact, Father Pidoto was spending his “leave” in the Ararat prison and later the Port Phillip prison. And he was still a priest.
In May 2002, the Victorian Court of Appeal ruled that some inadmissible evidence had been given at Pidoto’s trial. The appeal judges quashed Pidoto’s conviction and ordered a retrial. Pidoto was released from jail, pending the retrial. He had been behind bars for 15 months.
Pidoto’s release was reported in the media, and this prompted more Pidoto victims to contact the Victoria Police sexual crimes squad. Therefore the new trial would involve a bigger number of victims.
By 2005, detectives had prepared a file for a new prosecution. The investigator was Detective Senior Constable Fiona Bock, who was then at the Sexual Crimes Squad in St Kilda Road (she has since transferred to a higher position elsewhere).
The Office of Prosecutions chose seven complainants for the new trial. “John” of Kilmore opted not to participate in the new trial, because he considered (understandably) that he had already done his civic duty by putting the Pidoto matter on the public agenda in 2000 and 2001. Also, he said, he had achieved his objective, which was getting Pidoto removed from children.
In 2005 and 2006, Pidoto made several attempts to delay or stop his new trial, claiming health problems such as “sleep apnea”. The County Court eventually rejected this procrastination and scheduled the trial for June 2007. Pidoto again pleaded not guilty.
Pidoto also tried to get a separate jury for each alleged victim, meaning that each jury would think that the offence was an isolated one. But the County Court insisted on having a single jury.
New trial, June 2007
Pidoto’s new trial (with the seven alleged victims) began in the County Court in June 2007 before Judge Ross Howie. After weeks of evidence and legal argument, the jury spent one whole day (18 July 2007) considering the various charges and at the end of the day the jury returned its verdict of “guilty” on eleven charges. These included one count of rape, one count of buggery, seven counts of indecent assault, one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and one count of gross indecency. (The words “buggery” and “rape” were used because these were the terms used in Victoria’s criminal statutes in whichever years the offences were committed.)
The guilty verdict related to offences against four of the seven boys.
- One one these four was “Roger“, the above-mentioned 14-year-old boy from St Bede’s parish in Balwyn North, who was penetrated anally by Pidoto at the Melbourne seminary in 1972 (at that time, this crime against a male was defined as buggery).
- More assaults on two 15-year-old boys took place at St Clare’s Catholic parish in Box Hill in the late 1970s. One of these boys says his mother complained about Pidoto’s offence to Father James Brazier, who was the head of the Melbourne archdiocese’s Catholic Family Welfare Bureau at the time. The boy says that Brazier’s attitude was: “Well, what do you expect me to do about it?”
- The fourth victim, a 13-year-old boy (“Sam“), was targeted by Pidoto in 1982-83 after the priest officiated at the wedding of Sam’s sister. In one of several incidents, Pidoto drove the boy to a park, where he masturbated himself (gross indecency) in the boy’s presence and then masturbated the boy (indecent assault). In another incident, he inserted his penis into the boy’s anus (at that time, this crime was defined as rape).
Two of the victims — Roger and Sam — submitted written impact statements to the court, describing how the abuse (especially as it was committed by a priest) had adversely affected their lives. The judge studied these impact statements when calculating the sentence that Pidoto should receive.
The judge also took into account the fact that Pidoto had expressed no remorse about his crimes.
Sentencing in 2007
Judge Howie said Pidoto’s actions were a betrayal of his vocation and had permanently scarred some of his victims.
“These were the premeditated, intentional acts of an ordained priest of the church, a person trusted by the boys concerned and by their families as a representative of what they regarded as the highest good,” he said.
The judge said that Pidoto’s position of power and authority (as a priest) discouraged his victims from reporting the offences at the time.
The judge then listed each of the crimes for which Pidoto had been convicted, giving a term of imprisonment for each charge. The total came to seven years and three months’ jail, extending to 2007.
The judge ordered that Pidoto’s name be added to the Register of Serious Sexual Offenders. He also ordered the prison authorities to take a DNA sample from Pidoto’s mouth, for adding to the national criminal database.
A victim has the final say
Several of Pidoto’s victims, including “John” of Kilmore (from the court proceedings of 2000 and 2001), were present in court at the 2007 sentencing, accompanied by a representative from Broken Rites.
Outside court, one victim (“Sam“) told the media that his experiences at Pidoto’s hands had affected his personal and professional relationships.
“It’s quite hard to trust people. I didn’t really like myself growing up. I always put myself in abusive situations, including drugs and alcohol.
“There will never be closure, because I’m a different person to what I might have been had I not been abused.’
Pidoto out of jail
On 9 December 2014, Terrence Pidoto completed his jail sentence (which he had served in a prison at Ararat in western Victoria), He was therefore released.
How the church authorities tried to protect a child-abuser, Brother Rodger Moloney
By a Broken Rites researcher
From the link: http://brokenrites.org.au/drupal/node/58
This Broken Rites article shows how a Catholic religious order, the St John of God Brothers, has paid big money to lawyers, trying to defend an Australian child-abuser, Brother Rodger William Moloney. And the order says that it will continue protecting him permanently.
Moloney, who has worked in Australia and New Zealand, was jailed in New Zealand on 1 August 2008 for sexually abusing intellectually-handicapped boys.
He was released on parole in September 2009, barely a year into his 33-month sentence but it was not until 7 April 2010 that the media became aware of his release.
The St John of God order, which has its Australian and New Zealand headquarters in Sydney, told the media on 8 April 2010 that Moloney is still a member of the order, and Brother Moloney would be accommodated within the order in Australia when he finishes his parole requirements in New Zealand in 2011.
Big money spent
Moloney’s jailing in 2008 ended a long battle between the St John of God order and the police.
When allegations surfaced against Moloney, he was living in Australia. New Zealand and Australian authorities tried for years to have Moloney extradited to New Zealand to face a trial for offences committed in Christchurch. Church lawyers resisted the extradition application.
In 2006, the then head of the SJOG order for Australia and New Zealand (Brother Peter Burke) admitted to the media that the SJOG order was paying the legal fees for Moloney and two other SJOG Brothers. He would not say how much had been spent. But because the extradition case had been running for a long time it was substantial, he said, and he had sought guidance from Rome on the cost.
Legal observers estimated that, by the end of 2006, the SJOG order had spent as much as $1,000,000 Australian on this case.
Moloney, born in Australia in 1935, has told a court that he qualified as a pharmacist in Sydney in the 1950s and became interested in joining the St John of God order when he saw a brochure offering mission training.
On joining the order and working as a hospital pharmacist, he also had the chance to train as a psychiatric nurse. In 1971, the St John of God order appointed him as prior at the Marylands institution for educationally-disadvantaged boys in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Moloney told the court that once his term as prior expired in 1977 he was seconded to Rome to work in the Vatican pharmacy.
Moloney has been to the SJOG’s operations in Papua New Guinea. He has been a member of the SJOG provincial council (administering the order’s operations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific). In the late 1990s, he was associated with SJOG’s “Kendall Grange” institution at Morisset, New South Wales.
Jailed in New Zealand
On 25 June 2008, a jury in the New Zealand High Court found Rodger William Moloney, 73, guilty on seven counts of sexually abusing boys. The charges dated to when he was head of the Marylands school for educationally-disadvantaged boys in Christchurch in the 1970s.
The guilty verdicts relate to indecent assaults and inducing indecent acts, while Moloney was found not guilty on other charges of indecent assault, inducing indecent acts and sodomy.
On 1 August 2008 the court sentenced Moloney to jail for a maximim of two years nine months, with earier parole possible. The court was told that, after completing his sentence requirements, he was to be deported to Australia.
How police nabbed Moloney in Australia
In 2003 a New Zealand court issued a warrant to have three SJOG members extradited from Australia to New Zealand. The three, who were living in Sydney in 2003, were:
- Brother Rodger William Moloney, then 69;
- Father Raymond John Garchow, then 57; and
- Brother William John Lebler, then 83.
Acting on the New Zealand warrant, Australian police picked up the three men in Sydney and began extradition proceedings in a Local Magistrates Court in Sydney on 29 December 2003.
Eventually, in February 2005, the Local Court ordered that Moloney and Garchow be extradited to New Zealand on child-sex charges, involving boys as young as eight. The incidents allegedly occurred between 1966 and 1979 at Marylands, a former residential institution in Christchurch, New Zealand. This institution closed in 1985.
The Local Court released the third man, Brother Lebler, on grounds of his age and health and because the delay in reporting his alleged offences to police had been even longer than for the other two men. The allegations against Lebler dated back as far as 1955 – nearly fifty years – and the Local Court considered that such a big time-lag (plus Lebler’s age and health) would make it difficult to achieve a fair trial.
Church lawyers, who were being paid by the St John of God order, appealed to the Australian Federal Court against the extradition order. The church lawyers argued it would be unjust and oppressive to extradite because of the delay in bringing the charges and the possibility of collusion occurring between complainants.
On 15 April 2005, Federal Court judge Rodney Madgwick reserved his decision on the appeal. Justice Madgwick said it would take some time for him to prepare a judgment. And His Honour was correct – twelve months later, on 15 April 2006, the judgment had not yet appeared. Nobody had expected that His Honour would take a year.
After 12 months, New Zealand journalists began asking questions about Judge Madgwick’s slowness. At last, on 21 April 2006, Justice Madgwick ruled against the extradition. The judge said that the differences in the two countries’ legal systems and the length of time since the alleged crimes would make it difficult for the men to have a fair trial. Justice Madgwick ruled that Garchow and Maloney be released under Australia’s Extradition Act 1988.
[Ironically, by the time of Justice Madgwick’s ruling, “the length of time since the alleged crimes” had increased by a whole year.]
The Commonwealth of Australia, on behalf of New Zealand authorities, appealed to a full bench of the Federal Court against Judge Madgwick’s ruling. On 5 October 2006, the full bench then re-instated the extradition order.
Moloney and Garchow immediately applied to the High Court of Australia for special leave to appeal against the Federal Court full bench decision.
The High Court’s decision was swift. On 16 October 2006, after a one-hour hearing, the High Court refused to hear an appeal.
And so Moloney and Garchow were flown to New Zealand, where they were released on bail pending a trial.
Background of Garchow and Lebler
Lebler, Moloney and Garchow were living in the Sydney area when the extradition proceedings began. Their solicitor told the Local Court magistrate in December 2003 that Brother Lebler and Father Garchow had retired and were currently living in premises owned by the church at Leumeah in Sydney’s south-west, while Brother Moloney was currently living with other St John of God members at Strathfield in Sydney’s inner-west.
William Lebler was born in inner-city Brisbane in 1922. He took his religious vows in the SJOG order at the order’s “Kendall Grange” institution at Morisset in New South Wales, in 1951, aged 29. It is not known what work he was doing before joining SJOG or how he came to be recruited. This was only four years after the order was established in Australia from Ireland. This means that Lebler was among the order’s first Australian recruits. In the mid-1950s, Lebler was sent to New Zealand to work at the Marylands school near Christchurch.
The Catholic Weekly, Sydney, on 6 January 2002, published an article about Lebler and three other SJOG brothers celebrating the 50th anniversary of their entry into religious life. The article indicates that, as well as working in Australia and New Zealand, Lebler also spent time working at an institution for drug addiction in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. He returned to Australia about 1999. The article in 2002 describes Lebler as a very active man. It says that Lebler in 2002 “is still working and also finds time to play with computers and on the piano. At 80, Br William has no intention of taking it easy.”
However, a year or so after the Catholic Weekly article, when the extradition proceedings got underway in 2003-5, the SJOG legal team informed the court that Lebler had become senile, “borderline mental retarded” and in bad health and that therefore he should not be extradited to New Zealand. [This was a sudden decline from the virile, active man who had been celebrated in the Catholic Weekly only a year or two earlier.]
Raymond Garchow, who was born in New Zealand in 1947, began work at the Marylands institution in New Zealand in 1964, aged 17. In the early 1980s, Garchow was working at the SJOG’s “Kendall Grange” institution at Morriset, NSW. He was originally a Brother but was eventually upgraded to a priest, becoming ordained in August 1987, aged 40.
Garchow’s name appears in the annual directory of the Australian National Council of Priests from 1999 to 2006. At first (in 1999) he was listed as a “chaplain” at the St John of God Hospital in Richmond, west of Sydney. In the 2003 edition, he was listed as working in parish ministry – as the second priest in the parish of St John the Evangelist at Campbelltown, south-west of Sydney (Campbelltown is a parish of the Wollongong diocese). His residential address was listed as unit 1, 52 Leumeah Road, Leumeah, which is near Campbelltown. In 2004 and 2005, while the extradition case was proceeding, he was still listed under the category of working priests, still living in the Leumeah unit. In the March 2006 edition of the directory, while he was awaiting Justice Madgwick’s decision on the extradition, he was listed as “a priest on leave”, care of the SJOG headquarters in Burwood, Sydney.
On 23 July 2008, the New Zealand prosecutors decided not to proceed with the trial of Raymond Garchow for several reasons: Garchow, aged 61, was too ill; furthermore, one of the two complainants was also unwell; and the second complainant had trouble with a disability, which made the prospect of a trial difficult. The prosecutors entered a permanent stay of proceedings.
In some press reports, Rodger Moloney’s name has been spelt as Roger Moloney or Rodger Maloney or Roger Maloney.
Disabled boys were abused in a St John of God institution
By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 20 December 2014)
From the link: http://brokenrites.org.au/drupal/node/57
One of Australia’s Catholic religious orders – the St John of God Brothers (SJOG) – has specialised in accommodating boys who have an educational (or intellectual) disability. This Broken Rites article is about court cases in the 1990s (and also in 2006) involving Brother Bernard Kevin McGrath, who was jailed for committing sexual crimes against disabled victims.
Bernard Kevin McGrath (born 22 May 1947) grew up in New Zealand. In the 1960s, aged 18, he joined the St John of God Brothers (SJOG), a Catholic religious order which was conducting residential institutions in Australia and New Zealand for disabled boys. For his training, he went to Sydney where the SJOG order has its headquartes for Australia and New Zealand. Most of McGrath’s working life has been spent at SJOG institutions in Australia and New Zealand.
McGrath gave details of his SJOG career in a six-hours videotaped interview with New Zealand detectives in 2003. In the videotape, which was shown in a New Zealand courtroom in 2006, McGrath tells how he was bullied by his authoritarian father who pressured him into joining a religious order at age 18. (McGrath’s father had trained for the Catholic priesthood but ended up as a manual worker.)
The court was told that, when McGrath began training with SJOG in Sydney, a senior brother there had a habit of making sexual overtures towards the trainees. (For legal reasons, we will call this man Brother X.) The sexual abuse McGrath claimed he suffered resembled the kinds of indecencies that he later inflicted on the boys in his custody.
After training in New South Wales, McGrath spent a year at a SJOG institution in Melbourne. In January 1974, he was transferred to New Zealand to be teacher and dormitory master at “Marylands“, a SJOG boarding school near Christchurch for boys with learning and behavioural difficulties. At Marylands, the court was told, McGrath again encountered Brother X. Brother X allegedly set the tone for the culture at Marylands and ensured that complaints about sexual abuse by Brothers like McGrath were covered up.
The court was told that some boys would complain to senior Brothers about sexual abuse. Not only was nothing done but they would be punished for making their complaints.
The court was told that a boy from another dorm came to McGrath to complain about being sexually abused. McGrath says on the videotape: “I didn’t do anything because I’d played up myself, you know, so what do you do? How do you go and challenge someone when you’ve committed these sins.”
About 1978, after spending nearly four years at Marylands, McGrath was sent to St John of God’s “Kendall Grange” boarding institution at Morriset, New South Wales, for boys with educational difficulties. There, McGrath admitted on the videotape, he continued to sexually abuse boys.
In 1986, McGrath transferred from Morriset back to New Zealand to establish a residential program in Christchurch, the Hebron Trust, teaching life skills to street kids.
McGrath’s first conviction
In New Zealand, two social workers raised the alarm about McGrath’s indecent advances towards four of the Christchurch street kids on his course in 1991. The social workers raised the issue with the SJOG order but the order failed to act, so the social workers contacted the police.
Four of the Hebron Trust boys, aged then between 14 and 16, told detectives that McGrath had touched them indecently. Then two of the former Marylands boys, now grown men, also complained McGrath had sexually molested them while at the school.
In 1993, McGrath was sentenced to three years jail in New Zealand for his offences at Marylands and the Hebron Trust
The story of Alex
Meanwhile, in 1992 (before Brother McGrath’s jailing), an ex-pupil of the SJOG “Kendall Grange” boarding school in Morriset, NSW — “Alex” (not his real name) — complained to SJOG headquarters in Sydney that he had encountered Brother McGrath while he was a boarder for four years from 1980 to 1984. Alex (born 1969) told Broken Rites in 1994 that his SJOG experience disillusioned him about schools. He ran away from Kendall Grange and stopped his education, with no qualifications, ending up on the dole and finally on a disability pension. Alex says that St John of God “screwed up” his life. He says the SJOG experience left him with lasting feelings of shame and anxiety, emotional turmoil, depression and an explosive temper.
Alex says that, when he told the Australian leader of SJOG about McGrath, the leader expressed no surprise about Alex’s statement.
Alex had expected that SJOG would report McGrath to the police for prosecution but (he said) this did not happen.
The story of Jimmy — and McGrath’s second conviction
In Sydney in 1989, another McGrath victim (“Jimmy“, born in 1970) was having adolescent behavioural difficulties. He disclosed to his mother what McGrath had done to him in 1982-3 while at Kendall Grange. At the time of the offences, Jimmy was aged 11 to 13. In 1992, Jimmy’s mother (“Jill”) told the Australian head of SJOG who admitted that this was not the first complaint against McGrath.
In 1995, Jimmy made a police statement at Sydney’s Chatswood Crime Squad. After McGrath completed his New Zealand jail term, the police took him back to Sydney, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 1997 to nine months jail for the offences against Jimmy.
With the help of lawyers, and after 10 years of protracted proceedings constantly delayed by the stalling of lawyers for the SJOG order, Jimmy was forced to accept an out-of-court settlement amount for compensation. The amount seemed reasonable compared to other victims but his legal costs took a big bite out of his payout. Jimmy wasn’t happy with an out-of-court settlement — he would have preferred to have his day in court.
Jill has been in frequent contact with Broken Rites.
In March 2006, “Jill”, explained how she sent Jimmy to the Morriset school because his dyslexia was making him too disruptive to remain in the school he was attending.
“I didn’t want him to go, but a teacher told me that my son needed more help than his school could give him. I went to all the other schools in the local area and they refused to take him,” Jill said.
“I knew nothing about (the abuse) until my son told me years later. I knew he wasn’t happy at Morriset, but they covered it up so well and scared the kids so much.
“I used to ring Brother McGrath who was the Prior at Kendall Grange school, Morriset. I would tell McGrath that my son isn’t happy and he’s crying. McGrath just said all the boys do that; he just doesn’t want the discipline and they need discipline.
“I didn’t learn about the abuse until 1989. My son had a girlfriend and their relationship was pretty volatile and he was on drugs pretty heavily in his teenage years.
“She’d charged him with assault and when we were going to court he said `I’ve got something terrible to tell you’ and that’s when it all came out. I didn’t believe him at first. Talk about naive — I couldn’t believe it could happen.”
Jill says there were hints that McGrath’s proclivities were known to the St John of God order, but nothing was done.
“Their conspiracy of silence is terrible. A psychiatrist at the school said (at the time) there were problems at this school and to try to get my son out as soon as I could. I said there was nowhere else to go. In those days there was no onus on schools to accept pupils as there is today.
“When I told the psychiatrist later about McGrath, she said `I wouldn’t have picked him’. There were others there she must have known about.
“I now know of five boys who were molested at Morriset. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface. The tragedy is that my son must have felt so alone.
“My life hasn’t been the same since. I’ve tried to get on with my life but it hits me sometimes. I feel very remorseful about my son – it’s like a knife going in.
“In the early years, he blamed me for putting him in that school. He went violent one night and I had to run next door to a neighbour and bolt the door. I know if I’d stayed in the house, he’d have done something to me.”
Third conviction — in 2006
In 2002, more complainants contacted the New Zealand police concerning sexual assaults by Bernard McGrath and other SJOG Brothers at the Marylands institution, dating back several decades.
In the New Zealand High Court in Christchurch in March 2006, Brother McGrath, then 58, was found guilty of 21 charges, including eight charges of inducing an indecent act and 13 charges of indecent assault, relating to his time at Marylands between 1974 and 1977. He was acquitted of some other charges, including charges of sodomy.
The court sentenced McGrath to five years jail. The court took into account McGrath’s two earlier prison terms — the three years in New Zealand in 1993 and the nine months in Australia in 1997.
According to the New Zealand Herald newspaper on 7 April 2010, McGrath was released from his New Zealand jail on parole in February 2008, just less than two years into his five-year term.
Broken Rites is continuing to do research about Brother Bernard McGrath and other SJOG Brothers.
Meanwhile, any Australian victims of Bernard Kevin McGrath should have a chat with the Lake Macquarie detectives office in New South Wales, telephone 02-49429968.
Priest John Sidney Denham sentenced to another 13 years jail for sexual abuse of boys
By Paul Bibby
January 23, 2015 – 4:44PM
A “sadistic” paedophile priest who repeatedly abused more than 50 young boys in the Newcastle region while being protected by two fellow priests has been sentenced to a further 13 years jail.
John Sidney Denham used his position as a parish priest and a teacher at St Pius X Catholic School at Adamstown to repeatedly assault, rape or molest at least 57 young boys without interruption for 18 years.
In the Downing Centre District Court on Friday the 73-year-old was sentenced for 48 of these offences, having already been sentenced to at least 13 years’ jail for the other nine offences.
With a partial accumulation of the sentences he now will spend 19 years and five months behind bars.
“Some of the offences represent the most abhorrent and sadistic combination of circumstances that courts are likely to see,” Judge Helen Syme said of the abuse as Denham sat in the dock with his head bowed.
As a number of the former priest’s victims sat crying in court, Judge Syme described how, between 1968 and 1986, Denham would target young students from St Pius who came from difficult or disadvantaged backgrounds.
“The complainants were from devout Catholic families who…were required to attend school or church chosen by their parents and required to honour their priests and teachers,” Judge Syme said.
“As a result they became easy prey for the offender who had to do little to gain their trust,” she said.
He would then use his position to “groom” the boys and their parents, before preying on the children over and over again.
The attacks took place in Denham’s office, in classrooms, outside confessional boxes, and sometimes in public places such as the playground, and ranged from touching the boy’s genitals over their clothes to brutal, sadistic rapes.
Denham appeared to enjoy the pain he was inflicting, often caning the boys after sexually abusing them and then threatening further punishment if they dared to complain.
“On many occasions the offender threatened the children with further physical harm or exposure to the school community as a homosexual if they complained,” Judge Syme said.
“…the offender knew any complaints would be fruitless and he occasionally taunted the children with this knowledge…saying, on one occasion, ‘if you want to tell someone, tell God’.”
Judge Syme also found that Denham had been protected and even encouraged in his sexual offending by the headmaster of St Pius at the time, Father Tom Brenan, and by Father Ron Picken, a priest at the neighbouring Wingham parish.
She found that Father Brennan, now deceased, had been told numerous times about Denham’s “depraved behaviour” by some of the boys and their parents, but continued to send students to the paedophile’s room where they were subsequently abused.
Judge Syme referred to a number of incidents in which Denham and Father Picken gave the boys alcohol during trips to the latter’s parish at Wingham, and that the latter was “generally present” when the abuse was occurring during these trips.
“There is no other plausible explanation other than that the other priest knew what was occurring,” she said.
Judge Syme said that while the impact of Denham’s abuse on his victims had been “catastrophic”, he showed no remorse, but rather saw himself as a “martyr”, complaining about the absence of intelligent people in jail with whom to converse about history and moral philosophy.
She did not find that the time which had elapsed since the offending gave Denham any entitlement to a more lenient sentence, declaring “old sins cast long shadows”.
Denham was given a maximum 19-year sentence, with a minimum of 13 years.
With a partial six-year accumulation of this sentence with the sentence he is already serving, Denham will be eligible for release no earlier than January 2028, when he will be 85 years of age.
Defrocked Arctic priest says he’s sorry for sex abuse of children
Published Thursday, January 22, 2015 6:28AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 22, 2015 1:09PM EST
IQALUIT, Nunavut — A courtroom swelled with weeping, cries and 35 years of bottled-up grief Thursday as a defrocked priest who abused dozens of Inuit children told a judge about to sentence him that he’s sorry for his crimes and won’t commit any more.
“I can only take responsibility for what I have done,” said Eric Dejaeger, 67, convicted on 32 counts of child sex abuse from his days as an Oblate missionary in Igloolik, Nunavut, between 1978 and 1982.
Speaking quietly, in a voice heavily accented by his native Flemish, Dejaeger faced Justice Robert Kilpatrick in an Iqaluit courtroom and spoke for less than a minute.
“I would like to ask for forgiveness,” he said. “I promise not to reoffend — and that’s not just words.”
That cued a crescendo of sorrow and tears from about 30 victims and supporters who had gathered to see their one-time tormentor for what they hoped was the last time. After court adjourned, one victim and his wife embraced in the middle of the room, motionless, she holding him up as everyone filed out around them.
It was the end of a story that began for some victims when they were as young as four and which played out across three decades and two continents. It raised questions about the role of the Catholic church and Canadian officials in delaying justice for those still suffering mental scars from horrific attacks.
The victims include 12 boys and 10 girls, most between the ages of eight and 12. Dejaeger also abused a dog in front of two children.
Many testified that Dejaeger used his position to trap them into sex, threatening them with hellfire or separation from their families if they told. Sometimes he dangled food in front of hungry children as a lure.
Dejaeger has already served one five-year sentence on 11 counts of assaulting children in Baker Lake, Nunavut, where he was posted after Igloolik.
It was in 1995, after he had served that sentence, that he learned RCMP were about to charge him for his activities in Igloolik. He fled to his native Belgium, testifying in court that Canadian justice officials suggested it would be easiest if he simply left Canada, where he had become a citizen.
Oblate officials have acknowledged that they knew Dejaeger was about to flee. For 16 years, he lived quietly in homes maintained by the order despite an international warrant for his arrest.
Eventually, journalists revealed that Dejaeger was living illegally in Belgium. He was returned in 2011.
The Crown has asked for a 25-year sentence, which would be reduced to 17 years once credit for time already served is subtracted.
Dejaeger’s lawyer says 12 years, of which no more than four would be spent behind bars, would be more in keeping with previous judgments. The defence says Dejaeger is being treated for cancer, has heart problems and fears dying in prison.
Kilpatrick is expected to release a written decision by mid-February.
Dejaeger is also expected to appear in court in Edmonton on Friday on another four sex-related counts.