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Bishop Responds to Allegations of Abuse by Priest


Bishop Responds to Allegations of Abuse by Priest

By Martha Bellisle
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 22, 2010

From the Link: Bishop Responds to Allegations of Abuse by Priest

Bishop Randolph Calvo

Bishop Randolph Calvo

Bishop Randolph Calvo sent a statement to Catholic parishes across the state Friday saying a review board in Kansas City has recommended that the Rev. Tom Cronin be placed on leave while it investigates a lawsuit claiming that he sexually abused a girl in 1979.

Calvo, the bishop of the Diocese of Reno, also defended his decision to delay placing Cronin on leave from his pastoral duties at St. Mary’s in the Mountains in Virginia City after he learned of the allegations on Oct. 1, saying he first wanted the claims investigated by a review board.

Cronin was accused in a civil lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Mo., of molesting and sexually assaulting a 17-year-old member of the Sacred Heart Parish in Hamilton, Mo. Cronin has denied the claims.

He first moved to the Reno diocese in 1998 to work as a chaplain at Washoe Medical Center, now Renown Regional Medical Center, and was pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine in Fernley in 2000-04.

Brother Matthew Cunningham, spokesman for the diocese, said Cronin met with the bishop on Tuesday to discuss the lawsuit and Cronin agreed to take a voluntary leave while the diocese awaited word from Kansas City on how to proceed.

“The bishop had decided to ask him to step aside even before we heard the final word from the board,” Cunningham said.

But David Clohessy, executive director of the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, criticized Calvo on Thursday for not immediately suspending Cronin and publicly disclosing the allegations when Calvo learned of the lawsuit thee weeks ago.

Clohessy accused Calvo and other bishops of participating in a “disturbing and deliberate cover-up” of sexual misconduct of priests.

In his statement sent to the parishes and several media organizations on Friday, Calvo said: “I believe it is important for you to hear directly from me what action I have taken in this matter.”

Calvo said when he first read the story about the lawsuit in a Kansas City newspaper on Oct. 1, he asked Cunningham to contact that diocese “for substantiation and direction in this matter.”

“We had no access to any facts about this case and we were never contacted by the victim or her lawyers,” Calvo said.

Calvo said they also contacted the Kansas City diocese to inform them of their policy concerning such allegations: An initial examination of the facts is made and brought before the Diocesan Review Board; the board makes a recommendation about whether the priest should be placed on leave while an investigation is conducted; and civil authorities are contacted if appropriate.

Cunningham said the Kansas City diocese was in charge of the review and investigation because Cronin was ordained there.

On Thursday, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph informed the Reno diocese that its board recommended that, “based on the allegations presented,” Cronin should be placed on leave both in Reno and Missouri “pending further investigation.”

“It was not until this same day that I received substantive information on the case other than what I read in the newspaper,” Calvo said in the statement.

He said it was important to remember that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and asked that people “please keep this in mind regarding Father Tom Cronin.”

Calvo said that he takes the allegations very seriously.

“There is no place in the ministry for those who would harm the young,” he said. “Let us pray for everyone in the case and for a just resolution to this matter.”

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Kansas City Lawsuit Accuses Reno-area Priest of Sexual Assault


Kansas City Lawsuit Accuses Reno-area Priest of Sexual Assault

By Martha Bellisle
The Register-Journal
October 21, 2010

From the Link: Kansas City Lawsuit Accuses Reno-area Priest of Sexual Assault

"Father" Thomas Cronin: Father Tom Cronin leads the Christmas morning mass at Saint Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church in Virginia City on Friday, Dec. 25. 2009. (David B. Parker/RGJ file)

“Father” Thomas Cronin: Father Tom Cronin leads the Christmas morning mass at Saint Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church in Virginia City on Friday, Dec. 25. 2009. (David B. Parker/RGJ file)

A Catholic priest working in the Reno area was accused in a civil lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Mo., of molesting and sexually assaulting a 17-year-old church member beginning in 1979 and continuing for several years.

The girl had allegedly told the Rev. Thomas Cronin during confession that she had been sexually abused by a relative, the suit said. Cronin allegedly responded by touching and kissing her, and then began regularly forcing her to have sex while telling her that she was special and “part of God’s plan,” the suit said.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, also names the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and another priest, John Tulipana, who resigned from the priesthood in 1994 after the diocese received complaints of sexual misconduct with minors, the diocese said.

Cronin, parish administrator for St. Mary’s in the Mountains in Virginia City, is on a leave of absence while the Diocese of Kansas City, where he was ordained, investigates the allegation, said Brother Matthew Cunningham, spokesman for the Diocese of Reno.

Cronin also worked as a chaplain at Washoe Medical Center, now Renown Health, in 1998-99 and was pastoral administrator at St. Robert Bellarmine in Fernley from 2000-04.

Cronin could not be reached for comment, but he denies the claims, Cunningham said. Cunningham also said the Reno diocese was not told of any allegations against Cronin when he came to Reno in 1998, and it has not received complaints of inappropriate sexual behavior since he has been here.

Bishop Randolph Calvo has not officially told the Virginia City parish about the allegations, nor has he told parishioners that Cronin is on leave, Cunningham said.

“He’s not in town right now,” Cunningham said of Calvo. “He may choose to do that in the future.”

When asked why they did not immediately notify the parish of the allegations made in the suit, which was filed on Oct. 1, or immediately place Cronin on leave, Cunningham said it took some time to reach the officials in Kansas City to find out what they planned to do.

Calvo only spoke with Cronin on Tuesday, and his leave began at that point, Cunningham said.

“Before he would say something, he wanted to have solid information before going before the congregation,” Cunningham said. “It was for no other reason but for lack of information.”

David Clohessy, executive director of the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, was critical of that decision.

“The minute Reno’s bishop knew of the lawsuit, he should have publicly disclosed it, suspended Cronin and begged anyone with information to step forward,” Clohessy said. “It’s proof yet again that bishops are concealing child sex-abuse allegations.

“From our view, this is a continued and disturbing and deliberate cover-up. If the media had not called, I seriously doubt that the Reno Catholics would know about it.”

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, released a statement saying that it could not comment on the complaint but it responds to all allegations of sexual misconduct by contacting law enforcement when appropriate and having a group of lay people respond and make recommendations to the bishop.Rebecca Summers, spokeswoman for the Kansas City diocese, declined to say whether it had received any allegations against Cronin while he was there.

The diocese statement did say that it was in the process of permanently removing Tulipana, the other priest named in the suit, from the priesthood.

The woman who filed the suit, now 52 and living in Iowa, did not “recover the memory” of the alleged abuse until 2009, said her Kansas City lawyer, Rebecca Randles. She was 17 and a member of the Sacred Heart Parish in Hamilton, Mo., when it began, the suit said.

During confession, Cronin kissed her and placed his hands under her shirt, the suit said. Next, the woman was told to kneel in front of him in the confessional and perform oral sex, the suit said.

One night, Cronin guided the girl into a room with Tulipana, telling her they were going to pray, the suit said. But after she bowed her head, the priests, who smelled of alcohol, began molesting her and forced her to have intercourse, the suit said.

The sexual acts continued until Cronin left the parish, the suit said.

The lawsuit said that the diocese “aided and abetted” Cronin and Tulipana “by moving the priests from church to church following reports of his sexual abuse of minors,” by forcing the victims to be silent by representing that the priests were in good standing.

According to Randles, Cronin’s movements in Missouri suggest that the diocese knew of his alleged inappropriate behavior and shuffled him around to keep it secret.

The Catholic directory shows that he was at the Sacred Heart parish, where the girl was allegedly abused, until 1986, but he was moved in 1987 to Our Lady of Sorrows in Kansas City, Mo., where he was listed as “in residence,” Randles said.

“Whenever we see that, it raises red flags,” she said. “There has been a pattern in the Catholic church of moving priests when abuse occurs, taking them from pastoral ministry to residency.

“Sometimes, it’s innocent, but it always tells us to investigate further.”

Cronin then began working as a chaplain for six different medical centers, she said, and was in residency again in Missouri between 1994 and 1997. The directory also says Cronin was “on special assignment” in Missouri in 1996 and “on duty outside the diocese” in 1997, but it does not say where.

In 1998 he moved to Reno, and from 2000 to 2004, he was pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine in Fernley, Randles said. Both the directory and Cunningham said Cronin retired in 2005 or 2006 and went on to work as a fill-in priest at various Reno diocese parishes when needed.

Cunningham laughed when asked if he thought Cronin’s movements were a “red flag,” adding that chaplains are certified counselors and serve a special purpose. Cronin was certified with the state of Missouri for that work, he said, and was brought to Reno to work at Washoe Medical Center.

More recently, Cronin took over as parish administrator in Virginia City, where he oversees the church, pays bills and celebrates Mass on weekends as well as conducts weddings and funerals, Cunningham said.

Another priest will fill in for Cronin this weekend, Cunningham said, but no priest has been named to cover for Cronin until the investigation is complete.

“We are sorry to hear an allegation has been made, and we pray for the victim and for Father Tom,” Cunningham said. “But an allegation has been made, and we have a responsibility to follow up on that. We will let what needs to be done be done.”

Woman Comes Forward Claiming Area Priests Molested Her


Woman Comes Forward Claiming Area Priests Molested Her

Fox 4
October 4, 2010

From the link:  Woman Comes Forward Claiming Area Priests Molested Her

"Father" Thomas Cronin

“Father” Thomas Cronin

New court papers reveal sex abuse allegations against two priests who served for many years in the Kansas City area. The victim says a priest abused her after he learned during confession that she was being abused by a relative.

The allegations date back to 1979. The victim, who no longer lives in the area, said she repressed the memories until recently. On Monday the executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, called attention to the case.

Court papers name Father John Tulipana, who has faced sex abuse allegations before, but it also names Father Thomas Cronin, who has not been named before in sex abuse cases.

The victim says she was 17 years old when she confessed to Father Cronin that she was sexually abused by a relative. He told her she was chosen by God and then began molesting her. She says Father Tulipana got involved in the sex abuse while at a retreat, called Teens Encounter Christ.

SNAP’s director said these cases don’t draw the same media attention they once did, but it’s important that people remain vigilant to protect children.

“We would beg anyone who saw or suspected or suffered crimes by either Father Tulipana or Cronin to come forward, get help, start recovering and hopefully protect others from them,” said David Clohessy, SNAP executive director.

Father John Tulipana

Father John Tulipana

In a statement, the Kansas City – St. Joseph Catholic Diocese said the victim in this case was in contact with the dioceses last year about the abuse and has received counseling. Read the full statement here.

The diocese says Tulipana has not worked in the ministry since 1994 when allegations of abuse first surfaced. Father Cronin served in four metro area parishes from the 1970’s until 1996 when he went to Nevada and he’s now retired. The diocese says it responds to all allegations of abuse and works with the victim for healing and reconciliation.

TKC BREAKING NEWS!!! THE LATEST LAWSUIT IN THE KANSAS CITY CATHOLIC SEX SCANDAL ALLEGES PRIEST VIOLATED FOUR BOYS IN ONE FAMILY!!!


TKC BREAKING NEWS!!! THE LATEST LAWSUIT IN THE KANSAS CITY CATHOLIC SEX SCANDAL ALLEGES PRIEST VIOLATED FOUR BOYS IN ONE FAMILY!!!

From the blog: Tony’s Kansas City
Wednesday February 22, 2012

From the Link: TKC BREAKING NEWS!!! THE LATEST LAWSUIT IN THE KANSAS CITY CATHOLIC SEX SCANDAL ALLEGES PRIEST VIOLATED FOUR BOYS IN ONE FAMILY!!!

Father John Tulipana

Father John Tulipana

Unusual new abuse & cover up lawsuit is filed

Accused predator priest violated four boys in one family

The alleged crimes happened in Independence over two decades

WHAT:

For the first time, a KC area Catholic priest is being accused sexually violating four boys in one family, according to a new civil lawsuit. The case will be disclosed and discussed at a news conference today at which clergy sex abuse victims will also hold signs and childhood photos.

WHEN:

TODAY, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 1:30 p.m.

WHERE:

Outside the KC chancery (diocesan headquarters) 20 West Ninth Street (at Baltimore) in KC MO

WHO:

Two child sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a St. Louis man who is the organization’s long-time director

WHY:

A new civil lawsuit charges that Fr. John Tulipana sexually assaulted four boys (ranging in age from 10 – 16) in one family in/around St. Catherine’s parish between roughly 1976 and 1992. Most of the alleged crimes happened between 1979-81, sometimes on camping and fishing trips and sometimes at the family’s home. Some of the boys repressed the memories of the abuse, according to the suit.

Tulipana left active ministry in the mid-1990s because of credibly abuse allegations.

In 1989, Richard Durocher told church officials Tulipana had abused him as a child. The diocese gave him $150,000 but demanded that he sign a “gag order” preventing him from discussing the abuse. Durocher was promised that Tulipana would receive therapy and children would be protected. But Tulipana was allowed to stay in active ministry with access to kids. In 1994, Durocher broke his silence, the KC Star wrote about the case, and Tulipana resigned. Since then, the diocese has admitted that others have come forward with sex abuse charges and they have settled with at least “several” of them.

Tulipana was ordained in 1972 and worked in at least eight parishes including Independence (

"Father" Thomas Cronin

“Father” Thomas Cronin

), Grandview (Coronation of Our Lady), Clinton (Holy Rosary), and Kansas City (St. Catherine’s at 4101 E. 105th Terrace; St. Augustine’s at 7801 the Paseo; Christ the King at 85th Street & Wornall Road; Holy Trinity at 934 Norton Ave., and, in the mid-1990s, at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception). He also taught at the University of Dallas.Tulipana is believed to be in his mid- 60s, working as an insurance agent, and living at 301 S. Shrank in Independence. A photo of Tulipana is available at http://bishop-accountability.org/member/psearch.jsp.

According to 2010 lawsuit “multiple priests and lay persons (knew) that Tulipana (and another priest, Fr. Thomas Cronin) were sexually abusing children, providing liquor to children and spending inordinate amounts of time with children.” http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2010/09_10/2010_10_05_Hart_TwoExpriests.htm

That suit also says that the KC diocese “aided and abetted” Cronin and Tulipana “by moving the priests from church to church following reports of his sexual abuse of minors,” by forcing the victims to be silent by representing that the priests were in good standing.

The new suit seeks unspecified damages and is filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.

SNAP worries that others who have been hurt by Fr. Tulipana may still be “suffering in shame, isolation and self blame” and want Catholic officials to “aggressively reach out to others in pain.”

KC attorney Rebecca Randles represents the victim. KC lawyer Jon Haden represents the diocese (which is also named as a defendant.) SNAP doesn’t know if Tulipana has a lawyer.

Earlier this month, similar suits were filed against two other KC priests – Fr. Thomas Ford (who hadn’t been publicly accused of abuse before) and Fr. James Urbanic (who was suspended from active ministry at Sacred Heart parish in Warrensburg last summer).

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/07_08/2011_07_05_Thomas_CatholicPriest.htm

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/07_08/2011_07_05_Thomas_CatholicPriest.htm

CONTACT:

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Executive Director, SNAPclohessy@aol.com,
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director, SNAPdorris@gmail.com,
###########

Bishop Says He Waited for Panel’s Review before Suspending Priest


Bishop Says He Waited for Panel’s Review before Suspending Priest

By Martha Bellisle
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 23, 2010

Bishop Says He Waited for Panel’s Review before Suspending Priest

"Father" Thomas Cronin

“Father” Thomas Cronin

Bishop Randolph Calvo sent a statement to Catholic parishes across the state Friday saying a review board in Kansas City has recommended that the Rev. Tom Cronin be placed on leave while it investigates a lawsuit claiming that he sexually abused a girl in 1979.

Calvo, the bishop of the Diocese of Reno, also defended his decision to delay placing Cronin on leave from his pastoral duties at St. Mary’s in the Mountains in Virginia City after he learned of the allegations on Oct. 1, saying he first wanted the claims investigated by a review board.

Cronin was accused in a civil lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Mo., of molesting and sexually assaulting a 17-year-old member of the Sacred Heart Parish in Hamilton, Mo. Cronin has denied the claims.

Cronin first moved to the Reno diocese in 1998 to work as a chaplain at Washoe Medical Center, now Renown Regional Medical Center, and was pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine in Fernley in 2000-04.

Brother Matthew Cunningham, spokesman for the diocese, said Cronin met with the bishop on Tuesday to discuss the lawsuit and Cronin agreed to take a voluntary leave while the diocese awaited word from Kansas City on how to proceed.

“The bishop had decided to ask him to step aside even before we heard the final word from the board,” Cunningham said.

Bishop Randolph Calvo

Bishop Randolph Calvo

But David Clohessy, executive director of the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, criticized Calvo on Thursday for not immediately suspending Cronin and publicly disclosing the allegations when Calvo learned of the lawsuit thee weeks ago.

Clohessy accused Calvo and other bishops of participating in a “disturbing and deliberate cover-up” of sexual misconduct of priests.

In his statement sent to the parishes and several media organizations on Friday, Calvo said, “I believe it is important for you to hear directly from me what action I have taken in this matter.”

Calvo said when he first read the story about the lawsuit in a Kansas City newspaper on Oct. 1, he asked Cunningham to contact that diocese “for substantiation and direction in this matter.”

“We had no access to any facts about this case and we were never contacted by the victim or her lawyers,” Calvo said.

Calvo said they also contacted the Kansas City diocese to inform them of their policy concerning such allegations: An initial examination of the facts is made and brought before the Diocesan Review Board, the board makes a recommendation about whether the priest should be placed on leave while an investigation is conducted, and civil authorities are contacted if appropriate.

Cunningham said the Kansas City diocese was in charge of the review and investigation because Cronin was ordained there.

On Thursday, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph informed the Reno diocese that its board recommended that, “based on the allegations presented,” Cronin should be placed on leave both in Reno and Missouri “pending further investigation.”

“It was not until this same day that I received substantive information on the case other than what I read in the newspaper,” Calvo said in the statement.

He said it was important to remember that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and asked that people “please keep this in mind regarding Father Tom Cronin.”

Calvo said that he takes the allegations very seriously.

“There is no place in the ministry for those who would harm the young,” he said. “Let us pray for everyone in the case and for a just resolution to this matter.”

South America has become a safe haven for the Catholic Church’s alleged child molesters. The Vatican has no comment.


South America has become a safe haven for the Catholic Church’s alleged child molesters. The Vatican has no comment.

Bishop Robert Finn found guilt of breaking agreement for failure to report abuse


Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to Pay for Failure to Report Abuse

Archbishop Robert Carlson “Legally, no one can even touch me, whether I did these awful things or not, because the law doesn’t apply to bishops like me.”


Archbishop Robert Carlson: “Legally, no one can even touch me, whether I did these awful things or not, because the law doesn’t apply to bishops like me.”

Archbishop Robert Carlson Seeks to Dismiss Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Argues Archdiocese Isn’t Liable

Newark archbishop shielded at least 4 priests accused of sexual abuse


Newark archbishop shielded at least 4 priests accused of sexual abuse

Published: Sunday, December 05, 2010, 8:30 AM     Updated: Sunday, December 05, 2010, 6:40 PM

From the link: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/12/newark_archbishop_shielded_at.html

The Most Reverend John J. Myers, fifth Archbishop of Newark talks about the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to become Pope Francis while at The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina is elect as the new Pope and will take the name Francis. Parishioners at St. Lucy's Church pray for him.  Wednesday March 13, 2013. Newark, NJ, USA.  Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger

The Most Reverend John J. Myers, fifth Archbishop of Newark talks about the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to become Pope Francis while at The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina is elect as the new Pope and will take the name Francis. Parishioners at St. Lucy’s Church pray for him. Wednesday March 13, 2013. Newark, NJ, USA. Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger

 

Eight years ago, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers stood among the nation’s bishops at a landmark gathering in Dallas and helped craft a policy intended to cleanse the priesthood of pedophiles and restore trust among shaken American Catholics.

 

In ratifying the Dallas Charter, Myers and his colleagues promised a new era of reform and transparency. Allegations of sexual abuse against priests would no longer be hidden from parishioners or police, and any priest believed to have molested a child would be permanently banned from ministry.

 

In the years since, Myers and his aides say the archdiocese has taken aggressive measures to identify abusive priests.

 

But a Star-Ledger review of the archbishop’s record since 2002 shows Myers on at least four occasions has shielded priests accused of sexual abuse against minors and one adult. In the four instances, the priests have either admitted improper sexual contact, pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct or been permanently barred from ministry by the archdiocese after allegations of sexual misconduct.

 

The archdiocese also wrote a letter of recommendation for one of the priests, a week after it learned he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home in Florida and possibly assaulting her.

 

From one perspective, the newspaper’s findings suggest Myers continues to take a cautious hand in publicly naming priests. The findings, coupled with testimony from a 2009 deposition, show the issue weighs heavily on Myers.

 

From another view, the archbishop has failed to live up to the guidelines and spirit of what was set forth in Dallas. The most controversial example is the Rev. Michael Fugee, who confessed to police eight years ago that he molested a 13-year-old boy. Fugee was never ousted from the priesthood, and the archdiocese assigned him last year as chaplain to St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark without telling hospital officials of his past.

In other cases:

– In 2004, the Newark Archdiocese wrote letters to six dioceses in Florida on behalf of the Rev. Wladyslaw Gorak, one week after learning Gorak’s ministry had been terminated in the Orlando Diocese — after he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home.

– Also in 2004, the archdiocese banned the Rev. Gerald Ruane from public ministry after investigating an allegation he molested a boy, but did not publicly notify lay people or other priests. Ruane continued to say Mass and wear his collar in public.

– In 2007, the archdiocese failed to inform lay people that it found a molestation claim credible against the Rev. Daniel Medina, who had worked in parishes in Elizabeth and Jersey City. The case wasn’t made public until a victims group uncovered an alert sent by the archdiocese in September 2008 to other bishops saying Medina was on administrative leave and could not be located.

 

PROCEDURES FOLLOWED

 

Neither Myers nor the priests identified above would agree to an interview for this story. But Myers’ spokesman, James Goodness, said the archbishop has lived up to his promises of 2002 and that the archdiocese has carefully followed procedures meant to bar abusive priests from ministry. He said it has trained thousands of church employees to spot molestation, published procedures for filing sex accusations against priests and passed annual audits examining whether it keeps its promises. He noted, too, that the archdiocese has an agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office to forward all allegations of sexual misconduct to county prosecutors.

 

“We do not have priests in ministry without proper supervision, and those who have had credible allegations have been removed from ministry,” Goodness said. “We do notify the communities where people (priests) have served of the existence of allegations and the results of all our inquiries.

“We believe we are living both within the letter and the spirit of the charter,” he said.

 

Asked to provide the number of priests accused of or disciplined for sexual misbehavior with a minor since 2002, Goodness declined. In 2004, Myers did announce the results of an internal review prompted by the scandal. From 1950 to 2002, Myers said there were 91 allegations made against the 3,310 clergy who served in the archdiocese, and that 51 were deemed credible.

 

In the past, Myers has defended his policy of not naming accused priests, citing the need to protect their reputations and noting that accusers themselves often request anonymity.

 

“This has been difficult for me because of the special role I have as Bishop,” he wrote in 2004. “I know full well my responsibilities to investigate any accusation, and to fulfill my promise that we will provide safe environments for all young people. Yet I also feel keenly the pain that my brother priests experience when anyone has been accused.”

 

Longtime critics of the church say Myers’ record shows a continued arrogance.

 

“Archbishop Myers is not indicating any serious intent to protect kids from the credibly accused sex offenders he knows about,” said Anne Doyle, co-director of bishopaccountability.org, a watchdog group that compiles a database of news articles on priests accused of molesting minors. “It’s clear by the pattern that this practice is still one of arrogant secrecy.”

 

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Myers “continues to act slowly, deceptively, callously and irresponsibly.”

 

Though Myers rarely speaks publicly about the sex abuse issue, he did share his thoughts in a wide-ranging deposition for a lawsuit brought by Gorak’s victim. In the Nov. 3, 2009, deposition, he defended his handling of several cases, including that of Fugee, while also expressing sympathy for victims.

 

“Having met with various victims, they often blame themselves,” he said. “They often suffer loss of self-image and can move onto other more serious problems, trying to compensate for the feelings that they don’t want to deal with.”

 

“And what do you mean when you say ‘move onto other serious problems’?” asked the plaintiff’s attorney.

 

“Drugs,” Myers said.

CHAPLAIN ASSIGNMENT

 

On March 19, 2001, detectives arrived at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Wyckoff and picked up the Rev. Michael Fugee, who was alleged to have molested a 13-year-old boy.

 

For the first 90 minutes of an interview at the police station, Fugee denied the allegations, Detective John Haviland of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office later testified. Eventually though, Haviland said Fugee admitted to the charges and “then made some unusual comments about his sexuality, being a compulsive masturbator. He also stated he was bisexual, and that he was a virgin. He also said that he was infatuated with crotches or penis size.”

 

Haviland testified that Fugee then admitted to two separate incidents with the boy, where the priest “intentionally touched his crotch over his clothes. He said both times they were during wrestling, and that there were other people present, but he did not believe that they would have actually seen what he did. He described it as an urge.”

At trial in 2003, Fugee recanted the confession, saying he lied to police so he could go home earlier. The judge ruled the confession was “totally voluntary,” and a jury convicted him of aggravated criminal sexual contact while acquitting him of child endangerment. An appeals court later overturned the conviction, ruling the judge improperly instructed jurors. The appellate ruling did not question the validity of the confession.

 

Prosecutors dismissed the case in 2009 after securing an agreement with Fugee and the archdiocese through pretrial intervention stating that Fugee never again will minister to minors.

 

“We brought the case against him … believing that he did it, and believing that we could prove it,” Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said. “And notwithstanding the reversal, we still believe that he did it.”

 

In October 2009, The Star-Ledger learned Fugee had been given a job as chaplain at St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark. Approached in the chaplain’s office, Fugee showed a reporter a card that identified him as a “Roman Catholic priest in good standing.”

 

The hospital, upon learning of his past, had him removed.

 

Goodness said Myers does not view Fugee’s confession as genuine and thus believes he can return to public ministry.

 

“That’s one of the issues that got challenged in the courtroom,” Goodness said. Myers, he said, “says that there may have been problems with it (the confession).”

 

Goodness also said “a lot of people” in the court system felt Fugee’s confession should not be taken at face value. When asked who those people were, he named only Fugee’s attorney.

 

During the November 2009 deposition, Myers expressed disappointment that Fugee let detectives interview him without counsel.

 

“Is it your recollection,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Jessica Arbour, asked Myers, “that he (Fugee) admitted that he touched the boy?”

 

“Unfortunately, without his lawyer present, he did,” Myers said.

 

For its part, the Survivors Network, or SNAP, called Fugee’s assignment to St. Michael’s “particularly egregious” and said it was the most reckless move by any American bishop in 2009.

 

Last spring, Fugee filed a motion to have his case expunged from public records. A judge ruled against the expungement in October. Fugee’s current job, for the archdiocese’s mission office, involves its overseas missionary efforts.

 

‘A SEAL OF APPROVAL’

 

In 2004, two days before Christmas, the Newark Archdiocese learned the Rev. Wladyslaw Gorak, who had been assigned to work in the Diocese of Orlando, Fla., had been accused of assaulting a female parishioner.

 

Orlando Bishop Thomas Wenski wrote to Myers and explained he had just terminated Gorak’s ministry, citing the priest’s erratic behavior in public and the complaint of a woman who said “that he broke into her house and may have had physical contact with her.”

 

A week later — on Dec. 30, 2004 — Myers’s number two, the Very Rev. Robert Emery, wrote six separate letters on Gorak’s behalf to church officials in other Florida dioceses. The letters — sent to officials in Miami, Palm Beach, St. Petersburg, St. Augustine, Venice and Pensacola-Tallahassee — noted that Gorak’s faculties had been removed in the Orlando Diocese and that the Newark Archdiocese subsequently placed him on six months of medical leave. But they made no mention of the fresh accusation against Gorak in Orlando.

“Father has expressed a desire to seek permanent ministry in Florida in the future and currently resides in Lakeland, Florida,” each one of the letters reads. “Father continues to enjoy the faculties of the Archdiocese of Newark. Should you be contacted by Father Gorak, I would be happy to provide you with additional information about his status.”

 

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Catholic priest who in the 1980s warned bishops about sex abuse among clergy, said the archdiocese should have mentioned the accusation “rather than try to pawn him off on someone else.”

 

The Rev. Thomas Reese, research fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, said the letter’s omission of the accusation was disturbing.

 

“Does he have to describe it in gruesome detail in the letter? No. The letter has to be clear enough that the bishop receiving it knows there’s a red flag here that needs to be investigated before he even considers taking this guy,” Reese said. “Saying that he continues to enjoy the faculties of the Newark diocese, he is giving a seal of approval for the guy.”

 

Goodness defended the letter and said “we put them on notice that they need to call us with anything if he does show an interest in working in another diocese.”

 

Asked why the letter did not mention the accusation, Goodness said he did not know.

 

The archdiocese placed Gorak on leave in May 2005, after Orlando police charged him with assault, false imprisonment, aggravated stalking and battery. A woman told police he broke into her home, pulled a telephone from its jack, removed his clothes and tore some of the woman’s clothes while trying to remove them, according to a police report.

 

Two months later, Myers wrote Gorak in jail, sending his prayers and best wishes, and promising that the church would follow the advice of the accused priest’s attorney.

 

In 2006, Gorak pleaded guilty to assault, and the archdiocese earlier this year settled a lawsuit brought by the accuser, the woman in Florida, for an undisclosed amount.

 

His history with women came into focus in the lawsuit. In 2004, when he asked to be transferred from Newark to Florida, the archdiocese informed the Diocese of Orlando that he was a priest in good standing even though a police report from 2001 and a confidential memo written by the Rev. Ron Marczewski, then of St. Adalbert’s in Elizabeth where Gorak worked in 1998, indicated serious misbehavior with women, court documents show.

 

The archdiocese contended in the lawsuit that the priest’s confidential memo never found its way to the chancery office. In depositions and court documents, church officials said they never talked to the priest about Gorak, even though on two occasions they formally reviewed Gorak’s record.

 

Only earlier this year did Myers begin proceedings to have Gorak laicized, that is, formally removed from the clergy, according to Goodness.

 

In the deposition last year, Myers was asked by the victim’s attorney what he would have done if told, before Gorak’s May 2005 arrest, that he had tried to rape a woman in Orlando. Myers said he would have recalled Gorak to Newark and advised him to return to his native Poland.

 

NO ALERTS ISSUED

 

On Holy Thursday in 2005, the Rev. Gerald Ruane concelebrated Mass at St. Joseph’s Shrine in Stirling. Weeks later, he appeared in vestments in a TV interview from Rome after Pope John Paul II’s death.

 

The problem was, Ruane wasn’t supposed to appear in public as a priest. And few people seemed to know of that restriction.

 

In 2004, the archdiocese permanently barred Ruane from ministry after investigating accusations by at least two minors. One, Michael Iatesta, said Ruane molested him throughout his adolescence. Ruane denied the allegations.

Upon learning of Ruane’s subsequent public appearances, Iatesta complained to church officials, who privately reprimanded the priest, according to the archdiocese. But Iatesta and SNAP officials said the archdiocese should have informed the public of the restrictions.

 

In March 2006, Myers changed his policy on alerting parishioners about investigations, saying he would alert parishioners when a pastor was permanently barred from ministry over sex allegations. At the time, a Star-Ledger review of policies in New Jersey’s four other dioceses showed Myers was the only one not already doing that.

 

SNAP praised the announcement of the change.

 

Four months later, the archbishop had to decide whether to alert a different parish about a different priest, the Rev. Daniel Medina.

 

Medina had pleaded guilty to child endangerment and was sentenced to three months’ probation. He admitted in court that he “inappropriately placed a young boy on (his) lap.”

 

The boy had alleged in 2004 that Medina had oral sex with him, when he was 8, in the sacristy of Blessed Sacrament Church in Elizabeth. The prosecutor, John Esmerado, said he told the archdiocese the plea bargain reflected his desire to avoid making the child testify, rather than from any weakness in the initial charge.

 

The archdiocese failed to alert parishioners in 2006 when Medina pleaded guilty, in 2007 when its review board deemed the accusation credible, or in 2008 when it alerted Catholic bishops nationwide that it had barred Medina from ministry and couldn’t locate him. SNAP eventually obtained that alert in September 2008 and publicized it.

 

Asked at the time why Myers hadn’t notified parishioners, Goodness said, “This is being done on our schedule.”

 

NEW IDENTITIES

 

In April 2005, Gorak changed his name to Walter Fisher, six months after he assaulted the Florida woman and one month before his arrest. At the deposition in November 2009, Myers said the archdiocese did not know about Gorak’s name change until after the fact.

 

“It was inappropriate for him to do so without my permission,” Myers said. “His bishop in Poland or whichever diocese he had been ordained (in) should have been notified so that the ordination register could be changed to reflect this legal change.”

 

The attorney taking Myers’ deposition then asked if Gorak, by changing his name, had violated his oath of obedience to Myers.

 

“I don’t know if I would go that far,” Myers said, “but it was inappropriate because it introduced a confusion into sacramental record-keeping.”

Gorak isn’t the only former priest from the Newark Archdiocese to have a run-in with the law and then change his name. In 1982, the Rev. Carmine Sita of St. Aloysius Church in Jersey City admitted sexually assaulting a teenage boy. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five months’ probation.

 

He then legally changed his name.

 

Within a year of his guilty plea, he was the Rev. Gerald Howard. At that time — still on the rolls as a Newark Archdiocese priest — he went to work at a parish in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., and then as a counselor at a Missouri hospital.

 

The Newark Archbishop at the time, Peter Gerety, never informed the public about the name change. Neither did his successor, Theodore McCarrick. And neither did Myers — even after the archdiocese conducted a comprehensive review of its case files of abusive priests in 2002, in the wake of the scandal.

 

Mark McAllister, who says he was molested by Howard in Missouri in the 1980s, said the lack of notification allowed Howard “to continue in his deviant behaviors. … If you looked him up, you’d have found nothing. But if you looked up Carmine Sita — same person — you’d find a conviction for sexual molestation of a minor.”

 

Goodness said there was no need in 2002 to notify the public about Sita’s name change.

 

“There was a legal filing of his name change in the paper,” he said. “It was a matter of public record.”

 

Last autumn, McAllister settled claims against the Newark Archdiocese, Jefferson City Diocese and the Servants of the Paraclete, a religious order, for $600,000. The Newark Archdiocese gave $225,000 toward the settlement.

 

In April, officials in Cooper County, Mo., charged Howard, who is now retired, with the forcible sodomy of McAllister. The prosecutor, Doug Abele, said Howard is also facing charges in two other cases.

 

‘ONGOING SECRECY’

 

Overall, it is difficult to assess Myers’ performance or compare him with other bishops because much of the information on these cases is confidential. Clohessy, of SNAP, said he ranks Myers’ handling of the crisis in the bottom third of the 195 diocesan bishops’ in the country, “in large part because of his ongoing secrecy.”

 

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, who frequently testifies as an expert witness in lawsuits involving abusive priests, criticized Myers’ actions and said they are too common among bishops. He said American bishops, as a group, have behaved abysmally since 2002, and still seem to care more about protecting themselves from litigation than about helping victims heal.

“This brings great shame on the church,” said Doyle, who co-wrote a report in the 1980s warning bishops about the impending crisis. “I look back on all this and say: Something is drastically, fundamentally wrong with the Catholic hierarchy, if this is their consistent response across the board.”

 

According to the watchdog group bishopaccountability.com, 25 dioceses — including Philadelphia’s, but not Newark’s — have posted a list on their websites naming every priest removed after an accusation deemed credible by the diocese. Victims groups praise these lists, saying they deny abusive priests the cover of confidentiality that could help them abuse again.

 

Myers also has failed to regularly alert parishioners to investigations. Those alerts are now more common nationwide, Reese said. Among the bishops who notify parishioners is Bishop Paul Bootkoski of Metuchen. In 2003, SNAP singled out Bootkoski for praise, calling him the best American bishop at handling abuse allegations and noting that he alone among bishops had named a SNAP member to the diocesan panel that investigates allegations.

 

Victims’ advocates view those alerts as a basic tool to promote transparency and say it bolsters investigations by encouraging other victims to come forward. The bishops’ promises of 2002 explicitly included restoring reputations of priests who, after being removed for an investigation, were exonerated. But Myers has short-circuited that process by not being open about investigations early on, Clohessy said.

Indeed, Myers has opposed publicizing allegations since the early days of the scandal — with no apologies to his critics. Writing to lay people in April 2002, he acknowledged that sometimes, while the archdiocese tried to keep investigations quiet, “there have been a few recent instances where privacy has been lost.”

St. Louis Priest Father William Vatterott Indicted on Child Pornography Charge


St. Louis Priest Father William Vatterott Indicted on Child Pornography Charge