The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Friday, July 17, 2009
For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790
Accused predator bishop belonged to controversial order
He's a former Legionnaire, an extreme group under investigation
Its founder is accused of molesting dozens of boys & fathering a child
Based in CT, a secretive Vatican probe of the organization starts this week
A Long Island priest who is jailed on child sex abuse charges was once a member of a controversial and conservative Catholic religious order that is under investigation by the Vatican.
Dennis Michael McCormack calls himself a bishop. He performs Catholic mass in Latin at a rented hall. According to his website, he attended a Connecticut seminary run by the Legion of Christ, a Catholic group whose founder is accused of molesting dozens of boys.
Earlier this year, the order admitted that the founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, had also secretly fathered a child.
McCormack's website says "In 1986, he entered the Legionaries of Christ, in Cheshire, CT. Due to his love for the True Faith and the Traditional Roman Rite of Mass, he left the Legionaries and continued his studies in other seminaries more faithful to that aim."
Yesterday, the Vatican's formal investigation into the secretive Legion began.
"Several bishops have forbidden the Legion to work in their dioceses," said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis. She's the national outreach director of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "It's a very extreme group with a troubling track record, from the top on down."
Dorris said the current Legion leadership should disclose whether there were allegations against McCormack when he was a Legionnaire.
Cops: Man claiming to be priest faces sex abuse charges
A man who calls himself a priest but is not affiliated with any major denomination has been jailed on accusations of performing a sex act on a male teenage parishioner, Nassau police said Thursday.
Dennis Michael McCormack, 41, who says he conducts services in Latin out of a rented American Legion Hall in Plainview, committed the act on Tuesday, police said. Sources said there is a videotape being used in the investigation.
Det. Lt. Kevin Smith, Nassau's chief police spokesman, declined to discuss whether there was a video.
McCormack, of Massapequa, was arrested Wednesday and charged with a felony, criminal sexual act in the third degree, and a misdemeanor, child endangerment, records show. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment at First District Court in Hempstead Thursday. As of Thursday night, he was being held on $150,000 bond or $100,000 cash bail.
McCormack and the teen recently began "becoming very friendly," Smith said. And in February, McCormack "may have brought it to the next step and ... the relationship may have become more sexual."
A relative became suspicious of the relationship and told the boy's father, leading to the arrest. Smith said the two may have had intimate contact before Tuesday's act, but said there is only enough evidence to arrest him for Tuesday. The teen and his family are parishioners at McCormack's church, police said.
McCormack's church, Mary Immaculate Traditional Roman Catholic Chapel, rejects the reforms of the Roman Catholic Church's 1962 Second Vatican Council, such as that Mass can be celebrated in English, police and the church Web site said. A spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre said McCormack has no affiliation with the diocese.
McCormack rented the American Legion facility for Sunday and holy day services at a rate of $100 per week, for the past two years, the American Legion's Jerome McCloskey said Thursday. Forty to 50 people normally attended services, he said.
No one answered the door at McCormack's home Thursday, where a statue of the Virgin Mary sits in the front yard. Neighbors were shocked by the allegations against McCormack, who they said frequently wore vestments.
Theresa and Vincent Coiro, who live across the street, said McCormack grew up there and now lives with his mother. "I don't believe it," Theresa Coiro, 73, said of the charges. "He's just too good a person."
The couple said McCormack attended Catholic and pre-seminary schools. About three years ago, they said, McCormack performed last rites for Theresa Coiro's ailing mother. "As far as we know, he's a Catholic priest," she said.
With Bart Jones
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests