Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement


For immediate release:
Saturday, April 26, 2008

Boston Cardinal quietly returns criminal priest to parish work

Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP outreach director (314 503 0003)

O’Malley doing what bishops have done for decades and still do: quietly moving an almost certain sex offender to unsuspecting parishes without warning, supposedly relying on the advice of therapists, using alleged alcohol to excuse criminal acts toward a child, alerting neither the public nor the parishioners, and disclosing all this only after being confronted by the news media. 

Here's the bottom line: Why gamble with the safety of children, especially in the one community that may have suffered and be suffering the most because of dozens and dozens of similarly reckless, callous and secretive decisions for decades?

Less than a week ago, the pope admitted being 'ashamed' by the church's on-going sex abuse and cover up scandal and promised to rid the priesthood of pedophiles. Yet days later, O'Malley secretly puts back into parishes a priest who faced four criminal charges, and essentially admitted to one, just three years ago.

We don’t think that secretly moving a criminal priest to unsuspecting parishes without warning is what the pope meant last week when he called for “a determined collective response” to child sex abuse.

The pope urged Catholics to “do everything possible” to heal the wounds of clergy sex abuse victims. Nothing is more healing than when we see that our pain has brought reforms and prevented more abuse. On the other hand, nothing exacerbates our pain than seeing kids put in harm’s way and realizing that our pain means little or nothing to church officials who continue to act recklessly, callously  and secretively.

(Note that the likely criminal's lawyer doesn't even deny what happens. He merely claims that police 'overreached.' Note too that the bishops' own national policy acknowledges that child sex abuse need not involve physical touching.) 

When it comes to symbolic gestures, O'Malley is masterful. When it comes to actually protecting kids, he fails. Just last month, for the second year in a row, he was deemed in violation of the church's national child sex abuse policy for refusing to see that 20% of Boston's Catholic kids receive the sex abuse prevention training that's allegedly required. (That requirement has been in place for six years now, yet O'Malley refuses to honor it.) 

We've seen no evidence that O’Malley issued public notices that Gillespie would be working in several parishes or would have issued one when Gillespie was given a permanent assignment. We challenge O'Malley to disclose when he first let this priest work in parishes again and explain why he did so secretly.

Once again, citizens and Catholics learn that a sexually troubled priest returns to parish work only because concerned individuals contact the news media.

For more information: Ann Hagan Webb 781 239 1182, 617 513 8442, Bill Gately 508 524 4179, David Clohessy 314 566 9790


"Priest's return to parish work angers advocates"

Charges of alleged proposition dropped
The Rev. Jerome Gillespie was evaluated for alcohol and sexual problems.
By Michael Paulson - Globe Staff / April 26, 2008

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is allowing the Rev. Jerome F. Gillespie to return to parish work, after a court dismissed charges that he drunkenly propositioned a 12-year-old girl and her mother in a Chelsea restaurant three years ago.

Victim advocates are irate, saying the archdiocese should have announced the decision before allowing Gillespie to return to work in parishes, and saying that Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley should not allow someone accused of sexually propositioning a minor to serve in ministry.

But the archdiocese noted that not only were the charges dismissed, but that the priest submitted to court-ordered evaluations for alcohol, psychiatric, and sexual problems. Gillespie allegedly offered to pay the girl and her mother for oral sex; he was not accused of physical contact with either person.

"At this time, Father Gillespie has satisfied all obligations to the court and has been determined fit to return to ministry," the archdiocese said in a statement. "Father Gillespie is currently assisting parishes on an interim basis. It is expected that he soon will receive a formal assignment within the Archdiocese of Boston."

In its statement yesterday, the archdiocese cited alcohol in describing the incident as "inappropriate remarks he made while intoxicated."

The archdiocese issued the statement in response to an inquiry from the Globe, which asked about Gillespie's status after receiving a call from a victim advocate who reported receiving complaints from worshipers at a Lynnfield parish. They said that Gillespie had appeared, without announcement, to help at the church.

The advocate, David Clohessy, called the decision to restore Gillespie to ministry "outrageous." Clohessy is the national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"I'm saddened but not surprised that there was no announcement of this until prodded," Clohessy said. "And the bottom line is, why take the risk? Many of the priests, nuns, bishops, and seminarians who molested us also blamed liquor. The words of John Paul II are ringing in my ear - there's no place in ministry for somebody who would harm the young - and there were no caveats about meeting the requirements of the criminal justice system."

Another advocate, Anne Barrett Doyle of Waltham-based, called the decision to allow Gillespie to go back to work as a priest "shocking."

"Cardinal O'Malley is being dishonest to not inform parishioners, and he's potentially putting other children in harm's way," she said. "He is also mocking the pope's message of healing and reconciliation."

The archdiocese responded by defending the cardinal's commitment to protecting children.

"As he reiterated as recently as last week, Cardinal Sean remains committed to doing everything possible to maintain safe environments in our parishes and our schools," said a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

Gillespie, 58, was initially charged with offering to pay for sex, enticing a child under 16, assault, and accosting or annoying a person of the opposite sex after an incident on Jan. 25, 2005, at Floramo's Fifth Avenue Restaurant & Lounge in Chelsea. At the time, Gillespie was the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Swampscott; he resigned that post after the incident.

In 2005, most of the charges were dismissed, but Gillespie admitted sufficient facts, which is not the same as pleading guilty, to a charge of annoying or accosting a person of the opposite sex. A judge continued the case, without a finding, for two years, and said the case would be dismissed if Gillespie completed a substance abuse evaluation, underwent a comprehensive mental health evaluation and a sex offender evaluation, and completed any treatment recommended as a result of those evaluations, according to Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. Gillespie was also prohibited during this period from having contact with anyone under 18 without disclosing his case to a parent or guardian, Wark said.

The charge was dismissed in 2007, Wark said.

Gillespie's attorney, Timothy P. O'Neill of Hanify & King, said yesterday that Gillespie had "admitted to having been under the influence at the time" and that "the police overcharged him in the first instance - the facts didn't warrant it." He said Gillespie was then cleared of any alcohol, mental health, or sexual abuse problems, and that, "he deserves to be reestablished in ministry."

Michael Paulson can be reached at © Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.


Priest Accused of Proposition
By David Abel, Boston Globe, January 28, 2005

A 55-year-old Swampscott priest was being sought yesterday for allegedly asking a 12-year-old girl and her mother to perform a sex act, authorities said.

The Rev. Jerome Gillespie, a Roman Catholic priest assigned to St. John the Evangelist Church, is wanted on charges of child enticement, annoying and accosting a person of the opposite sex, and offering money for sex, said David Procopio, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office.

Gillespie, a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston since 1982, did not return messages left last night at his church's rectory. An archdiocesan spokeswoman said church officials learned about the allegations last night.

"We're aware the police in Chelsea are investigating an incident involving Father Gillespie," said Ann Carter. "The archdiocese is in the process of obtaining additional information about the investigation, and until that takes place, we cannot comment any further."

Gillespie allegedly propositioned the girl and her mother Tuesday night at Floramos Fifth Ave. Restaurant Lounge, an Italian eatery in Chelsea, said Procopio. He would not reveal what the priest is accused of saying.

Gillespie, who dined at a separate table, apparently was not wearing vestments or anything that identified him as a priest, Procopio said. The girl and her mother did not know he was a priest until Chelsea police identified him, he said.


Priest Quits Post; to Face Charges of Sex Solicitation
Incident Alleged at Chelsea Eatery

By Kathy McCabe, Boston Globe [Swampscott MA] January 30, 2005
SWAMPSCOTT -- Parishioners at St. John the Evangelist Church expressed a mixture of sadness and sympathy yesterday for their former pastor who resigned Friday after accusations that he propositioned a 12-year-old girl and her mother for sex while dining at a Chelsea restaurant.

"It's a sad day," said Flo DiPietro, a 53-year-old parishioner. "He is such a good man, he lifted this parish up."

The Rev. Jerome Gillespie, 55, who had served the Catholic parish for only seven months, is scheduled to appear in Chelsea District Court on Feb. 17 to face charges of enticement of a child under age 16, solicitation of sex for a fee, and accosting a person of the opposite sex, police said.

Chelsea police issued the summons on Friday, the same day the Archdiocese of Boston said Gillespie had resigned as pastor of the North Shore parish. Gillespie is alleged to have propositioned the girl and her mother at about 9 p.m. Tuesday while dining at Floramo's, a popular Chelsea restaurant.

At 4 p.m. Mass yesterday, Auxiliary Bishop Francis X. Irwin was in attendance in an effort to reassure parishioners.

"A terrible tragedy has hit this parish," Irwin told the silent congregation. "One so full of promise and vitality is gone from our midst. There is nothing I can say."

But Irwin offered his personal support for Gillespie, whom he said he had known for years and spoke with twice on Friday. "I did admire and do like Father Gillespie," he said. "I tried to give him encouragement."

Irwin made reference to recent pressure in Gillespie's life.

"Here is a man whose brother just had heart problems. He took no days off, he worked under tremendous pressure to be a good and available pastor. I know he is the same good man after as he was before this terrible incident," Irwin said.

Police did not issue a warrant for Gillespie's arrest because he has no prior criminal history to suggest that he would not show up in court, a police spokesman said.

"He has no history of defaults," Captain Brian Kyes said yesterday. "And no [criminal] history at all as far as we know. There is not a strong likelihood that he would not appear in court."

Kyes said Gillespie, who could not be reached yesterday, is being represented by legal counsel.

Gillespie was not wearing priestly garments at the time of the alleged incident. He has cooperated with police since they first made contact with him by telephone at about midnight on Tuesday, Kyes said.

"He was very cooperative when we spoke to him, and has been since," Kyes said.

Chelsea police and the Suffolk district attorney's office are investigating. Gillespie is alleged to have asked the girl and her mother, who were seated at a nearby table, to perform a sex act. Kyes declined to say what Gillespie is alleged to have said, but said the victims are being counseled by the sex abuse unit of the district attorney's office.

While the allegations and resignation have shaken parishioners in Swampscott, Tony LaMorte, 80, said he was grateful the archdiocese sent Irwin to address the congregation.

"What he said was very comforting. We are all going through a very terrible time, Father Gillespie, too."


Clergyman Ordered to Undergo Evaluation
By Glenn Yode - Boston Globe [Chelsea MA] - April 6, 2005

A North Shore Catholic priest accused of propositioning a 12-year-old girl and her mother at a Chelsea restaurant in January must be evaluated for substance abuse and mental health problems and undergo sexual offender assessment to determine whether he needs treatment, a judge has ruled.

The Rev. Jerome Gillespie, 55, also must not contact anyone under 18, unless he explains the case and disposition to both the child and their guardian, Judge Sarah B. Singer ruled Monday in Chelsea District Court, where the case was continued without a finding.

If Gillespie violates the conditions, he can be tried again, said David Procopio, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney.

Gillespie allegedly approached the girl and her mother at Floramo's in Chelsea on Jan. 25 and offered to pay them for oral sex. He agreed to a two-year continuance, after which the charges will be dropped, Procopio said.

"We're satisfied with this disposition because it serves three purposes," Procopio said. "One, it holds him accountable for his actions. Two, it satisfies the victims who are in accordance with this disposition, and three, it will determine whether the defendant has any issues that require medical help or counseling."

At his Feb. 17 arraignment, Gillespie pleaded not guilty to enticement of a child under age 16, soliciting sex for a fee, annoying or accosting a person of the opposite sex, and assault. Most of the charges were dismissed Monday. On the annoying or accosting charge, Gillespie agreed to sufficient facts, which is not an admittance of guilt, Procopio said.

Gillespie resigned from his position at St. John the Evangelist in Swampscott on Jan. 28. His defense counsel, Timothy O'Neill, told the Globe after charges were filed that Gillespie had been drinking at the time of the incident.

A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston could not be reached for comment.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests