Bismarck Catholic diocese is sued

  • Bismarck Catholic diocese is sued
  • Suit says ex-ND priest molested a boy
  • Alleged child sex crimes happened in Hawaii
  • But there’s apparently been no media coverage of case
  • Group blasts bishop: “Stop the secrecy & reach out to victims

A priest who worked in North Dakota and the Bismarck Catholic diocese is being sued for alleged child sex crimes.

Six months ago, with little or no fanfare, Fr. Maurice G. McNeely and the diocese were named in a civil lawsuit charging that Fr. Maurice G. McNeely sexually abuse a young boy in Hawaii in the mid-1970s. According to the suit, Fr. McNeely befriended the victim while his father was stationed in Hawaii. The abuse was at the Chapel at Fort Shafter parish across the street from the boy’s home on the military base.

The Diocese of Bismarck is being sued for negligence and Fr. McNeely is being sued for sexual battery. McNeely was ordained in Bismarck and worked in the diocese before becoming a military chaplain.

As best as SNAP can tell, there has been no public announcement about the allegations against Fr. McNeely by any diocese, according to the attorney who represents his alleged victim.

"This case reminds us how little church officials have changed in dealing with predator priests,” said Joelle Casteix, SNAP Western Regional Director. "The fact that no bishop involved – in Hawaii, North Dakota or Michigan - is warning the public about the dangers posed by Fr. McNeely shows a reckless and callous disregard for the safety of innocent children."

McNeely now lives in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills with his sister, Margaret Wirth, according to the alleged victim’s attorney.

SNAP is concerned that he is now among unsuspecting families and may still pose a danger to others. Ten years ago this month in Dallas, America’s bishops promised to be open and transparent about clergy sex crimes. 

SNAP is urging Bismarck Bishop to use every resource at his disposal---diocesan websites, newspapers, church bulletins and pulpit announcements—to alert his flock to the whereabouts of these men and an honest recounting of why they have been removed from ministry

“We want to prevent even one more child from being abused, or a vulnerable parishioner from being scammed,” said Casteix. “A little bit of outreach from the Archdiocese will go a long way towards keeping parishioners and the public safer.”

The victim's attorney is Adam Horowitz of Miami (305-931-2200, [email protected]) and Peter T. Cahill of Hawaii. Fr. McNeely’s lawyer is Michael H. Tsuchida of Honolulu (808)524-2466, [email protected]

The suit was filed in October in US District Court of Hawaii.

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