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AP Surveys Church Abuse State-by-State

April 27, 2002 - By The Associated Press

What follows is a state-by-state summary of the major developments since January in the clergy sex abuse scandal that has battered the Roman Catholic Church in America. The information is based on AP reporters' interviews with Catholic officials across the country and daily reporting on the crisis.

ALABAMA

Attorney General Bill Pryor wants legislators to review a state law exempting members of the clergy from a requirement to report suspected child abuse or neglect. While information gathered during confession should remain confidential, Pryor said, officials should be required to report any allegations involving church employees. The Legislature is not expected to take up Pryor's request before next year. Neither of Alabama's two Catholic dioceses report receiving any allegations of clergy sex abuse this year. Church officials in Mobile are making sure all employees have signed a sex abuse policy, which includes a statement that they have never been charged with, or accused of, sexual misconduct.

ALASKA

Catholic leaders say no priests have been accused of sexual abuse this year, but in light of the scandals elsewhere the Anchorage Archdiocese is reviewing its sex abuse policy. The Fairbanks Diocese plans to review its policy within a year.

ARIZONA

The Diocese of Tucson on Jan. 29 settled 11 civil lawsuits alleging that four diocese priests, two still living, sexually molested children. The diocese agreed to pay an undisclosed sum — estimated in the millions — to 16 plaintiffs. Bishop Manuel D. Moreno and Coadjutor Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas apologized to the victims and their families. Most of the incidents were between 1967 and 1976, with one in 1989. The two priests who are still living have been suspended, with canonical defrocking procedures under way.

Moreno named a review committee in February to recommend revisions of the diocese's sex abuse policies. Its mission now includes all diocesan policies and procedures concerning sexual misconduct.

The Diocese of Phoenix announced a review of its sexual abuse policies and procedures after the arrest of two lay volunteers in youth ministry programs.

ARKANSAS

The Diocese of Little Rock's anti-abuse policy was adopted in 1992 and includes a provision that it be reviewed every five years — which puts it up for examination this year. Monsignor Francis I. Malone, the diocese's chancellor for canonical affairs since 1990, said he has never had to use the policy, which will come up at a meeting of a priests' council in the next two months. The statewide diocese has about 100 priests, plus another 60 or so assigned to the state through various religious orders.

CALIFORNIA

The church has been rocked by myriad allegations of child abuse by priests. Most go back decades but have been made public by dioceses only since Jan. 1. At least 30 priests around the state have been fired, forced to resign or temporarily suspended amid allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct. At least another four retired or former priests have been charged or are under criminal investigation. The dioceses of Orange, San Bernardino, Oakland, San Francisco and Monterey have acknowledged either reviewing or revising their sex abuse policies.

Among those hardest hit has been the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the nation's largest. The Police Department has taken more than 50 reports of abuse, but Cardinal Roger Mahony will not say how many priests have been removed as a result of investigations. The LAPD (news - web sites) said it has been told between six and 12 priests were removed, although archdiocese e-mails leaked to the media have put the number at eight. Mahony himself was cleared of molestation charges after the Fresno police determined a woman's abuse allegations were without merit.

COLORADO

State law does not require clergy to report abuse, but the Denver Archdiocese, which has 380,000 parishioners, requires any of its employees, including priests, to report to authorities any case of child abuse or neglect. The policy has been in place since 1991.

The Diocese of Colorado Springs changed its misconduct policy this year to clarify how abuse claims should be reported. However, officials said the revisions have been in the works for years and were not a response to recent scandals.

CONNECTICUT

The Bridgeport Diocese has removed three priests from their posts in 2002 as a result of sexual misconduct allegations from years ago. A fourth accused priest requested a leave of absence, and as a result has lost his authorization to perform priestly duties. The diocese is also processing accusations that were recently brought against one priest involving incidents that allegedly occurred in the 1960s. Bridgeport Bishop William E. Lori appointed a sexual misconduct review board April 19, and the diocese has examined the records of all clergy for signs of abuse.

Since Jan. 1, the Archdiocese of Hartford has received seven allegations of sexual abuse that occurred decades ago. Most of the accused priests are deceased, said the Rev. John Gatzak. The claims are being reviewed by the archdiocese.

DELAWARE

In the Diocese of Wilmington, which covers Delaware and a portion of eastern Maryland, Bishop Michael Saltarelli met with Attorney General Jane Brady this month to discuss abuse allegations against priests. Saltarelli gave Brady the names of five accused priests and the attorney general's office has received complaints against six others.

Rev. William E. Irwin, 63, was relieved of his duties after telling diocesan officials he had received an anonymous phone call in which the caller accused him of abuse.

Diocesan officials this year have identified 15 documented allegations of abuse by priests since 1952, the last being in 1992. A spokesman said none of the priests is active, and that most have died.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

One priest in the Archdiocese of Washington is on administrative leave because of sexual misconduct claims. Monsignor Russell Dillard was removed from his parish last month after allegations were made about inappropriate relationships with two teen-age girls over a five-year period ending in 1984. Dillard admitted he might have "stepped over the line" with at least one girl, but denied anything sexual happened and likened it to a "father-daughter" relationship. Police say there is nothing they can do because the statute of limitations is long past. At the time he was placed on leave, Dillard was pastor of St. Augustine Church, a parish attended by some of Washington's most affluent and influential residents, including Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

FLORIDA

Anthony O'Connell became the highest-ranking church leader brought down by this year's scandals when he resigned as bishop of the Palm Beach Diocese after admitting he abused a teen-age boy in the late 1970s at a Hannibal, Mo., seminary.

O'Connell is the second bishop of Palm Beach to resign over a sex scandal in the last four years. Additionally, one priest resigned and two others were relieved of their duties in Palm Beach because of sexual misconduct allegations dating back years.

In the Tampa area, Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg disclosed sexual harassment allegations brought by his former spokesman. Lynch has denied the allegations. There have been misconduct allegations against three other priests in the Tampa area as well.

On Saturday, another priest in the St. Petersburg Diocese resigned after an accusation surfaced that he fondled a youth 30 years ago. The Rev. Richard Allen, pastor at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Largo, left his ministry Friday.

GEORGIA

The Archdiocese of Atlanta said this month that it had responded to six claims in the past 13 years of priests sexually abusing boys. Most of the incidents dated back to the 1960s and '70s.

The archdiocese has paid more than $500,000 to settle claims, including $31,250 from its own coffers and the balance from insurers, according to court records and an attorney for the archdiocese. Some of the claims were not pursued in the courts because the statute of limitations had expired.

Most of the money went to settle cases involving Anton Mowat and Stanley Idziak, priests who served the Corpus Christi parish in Stone Mountain during the 1980s. Both were removed. Mowat, a visiting priest at the parish, served prison time for molesting four boys.

The Atlanta archdiocese said it has no claims against priests currently serving. The Diocese of Savannah, which represents 80 south Georgia parishes, said it has had no claims against any of its priests.

HAWAII

Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu called a standing committee on sexual abuse to meet and review old cases. The committee made up of priests, psychologists, social workers and lawyers has met twice since March and plans to meet again in May.

IDAHO

Bishop Michael Driscoll of Boise has decried the sexual abuse scandal rocking other dioceses and urged anyone in Idaho who may have been sexually abused by a cleric as a child to contact him or other diocesan officials. Driscoll has promised to help victims obtain spiritual and professional counseling. No one has come forward.

ILLINOIS

New allegations that the Joliet Diocese sheltered priests accused in decades-old cases led to the removal of two suburban Chicago hospital chaplains, Gary Berthiaume and Phillip Dedera, from their posts. Another priest from the diocese who was serving in Kentucky also was placed on administrative leave. Priests who were accused in Joliet and transferred to other dioceses — Anthony Ross in Santa Rosa, Calif., and Fred Lenczycki in St. Louis — also were removed when old allegations surfaced. St. Louis Bishop Timothy Dolan said there is no record Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch warned St. Louis church officials when Lenczycki was placed there in 1992, but Imesch said he told the former archbishop, who died in 1994.

The Archdiocese of Chicago's sex abuse review board has found two credible allegations against priests this year. Rev. Robert Kealy of Winnetka was removed from his parish and Rev. Richard Fassbinder, who retired from Lake Villa in 1997, is being monitored by church officials. The review board continues to receive and consider other allegations but will not reveal the number, archdiocese spokeswoman Mary McDonough said.

All of the Illinois cases made public so far stem from allegations from the 1980s or earlier, and no criminal charges have been filed.

INDIANA

Officials with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have reviewed their procedures regarding suspected sex abuse by priests, but have not made any revisions. Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel Buechlein on March 12 issued a public apology to anyone who had been harmed by a priest. Other bishops also have condemned abuse, most notably Bishop John M. D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, who said there was no room in the church for priests who abuse children.

IOWA

Sioux City Bishop Daniel DiNardo said in March that a priest was "summarily retired" in 1991 after he was accused of molesting an altar boy 10 years earlier. Because the allegation was so old, DiNardo said, charges were never filed. The victim was provided with assistance and therapy. The accused priest, the Rev. George McFadden, never returned to ministry.

KANSAS

The Diocese of Kansas City reported Wednesday that it is investigating allegations against a Benedictine monk who may have abused children in the 1960s at a parish in northeast Kansas. The priest was removed March 1 from the parish and placed in an abbey. The diocese also said it has received complaints against other priests, but it is too early in the investigation to reveal other details. The Diocese of Wichita, which dealt with its own sex abuse scandal more than a year ago, has received one allegation involving a priest this year. Church officials did not report it to civil authorities after determining the allegations were false.

KENTUCKY

According to the state's four Roman Catholic dioceses, four priests have either retired or been suspended amid allegations of sexual misconduct, though no criminal charges have been filed.

The Rev. Carroll Howlin, a priest of the Diocese of Joliet, Ill., had been a pastor in Whitley City, Ky., since 1980, but was suspended by the Joliet diocese and the Lexington, Ky., diocese this month pending an investigation into sexual misconduct. In March, the Rev. Louis Miller of Louisville retired following allegations he sexually abused minors in the 1960s and 1970s. The priest had been barred from working with children since January 1990, a month after the Archdiocese of Louisville received a complaint about him. Since Miller's retirement, three alleged victims have filed suit against the Archdiocese of Louisville.

All four dioceses have said their sexual misconduct policies have been updated and comply with state laws.

LOUISIANA

In this state where the case of serial molester Gilbert Gauthe first brought national attention to sex abuse by Catholic clergy, there has been action in at least four cases this year.

Among the high-profile cases, prosecutor Michael Harson has said his office is looking into an allegation against the Rev. John Andries, who was removed as pastor of St. Margaret Church in Boyce after a family complained about misconduct with their teen-age son.

The Rev. Norman J. Rogge, a Jesuit, is no longer serving after records showed he continued working in the priesthood despite being sentenced in 1985 to a year in prison in Florida for sexual abuse of a boy.

In addition, the Rev. Joseph F. Pellettieri was suspended while the Diocese of New Orleans investigates allegations of past abuse in another diocese, a church official said Saturday.

New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes, a former top aide to embattled Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston, sent a letter to be read last week in 142 churches saying he apologized in his own name and in the name of the church for harm that has been done by the scandals.

MAINE

The Portland Diocese has removed two priests from northern parishes after each admitted sexually abusing a minor. On the diocese's order, the Revs. Michael Doucette and John Audibert told parishioners about the abuse in February. Some members of Audibert's congregation already knew about his case, while others apparently only had a vague idea. Doucette's case had not been previously disclosed publicly.

On March 9, the diocese removed both Doucette and Audibert and announced a "zero-tolerance" policy, which states that any priest facing a credible allegation of abusing a minor will be removed.

On Saturday, the diocese announced it removed the Rev. Leo James Michaud from his parish assignment in Ellsworth. The accusation was made by a man who said Michaud abused him 25 years ago, when Michaud was a seminarian and the alleged victim was a teen-ager. Michaud's response was not disclosed.

In cases of both Doucette and Audibert, the abuse occurred more than 20 years ago and cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired. Still, the diocese has agreed to turn over to prosecutors all victims' allegations against living priests in Maine.

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