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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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