|NEWARK New Jersey|
|The Archdiocese of Newark September 2009 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STATUS OF CLERGY ABUSE Schulte/Gillen; Sita; & McCarrick|
There are several systemic ways of perpetuating minor abuse by clergy: one is transferring the offender to another diocese where they can continue abuse. Another is overlooking the influence of priests on a seminarian or minor who subsequently abuses another minor. The third and most insidious is the sexual example and tolerance of behavior of a Clerical Official. Newark is not alone in fostering these patterns, but it is one clear example of the pattern and practice of dealing with clergy abuse of minors.
In 2002 Archbishop Myers stated that 91 allegations were registered against 71 priests reported for abuse of minors (52 archdiocesan and 19 religious order priests). Twenty returned to ministry. That year Fr. Dominic Yousuf, a globe trotting abusive cleric, worked at St. Francis of Assisi Church in the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ. Fr. Robert Zasacki abused in the 1970s and then served in St. Paul, MN. He along with the following were removed from Newark ministry in 2002: Michael G. Campanalonga; Robert Coakley, OSF; William Dowd; Edward Eilert; Michael C. Fugee; William Giblin; Eugene Heyndricks; Joseph Rice; Bruno Ugliano, OSB.1 In 2004 Newark paid 1 million dollars to settle cases against 9 priests. In the same year Fr. Daniel Medina was arrested for abusing a minor in 1999. He was ordained only in 1998. In 2005 Fr. Gary Luiz was being sued for abusive acts while he served at St. Edward’s church. In 2006 Myers settled a case against Msgr. Peter Cheplic. In 2009 credible allegation of sexual abuse was registered against Fr. Fredrick Loyd. Etc. Etc.
On August 14 2009 The Jersey Journal published the following announcement: "The Rev. Carmine Sita is at the center of a $600,000 settlement in the molestation of a boy in 1983 in Missouri; this is after he pleaded guilty in 1982 to sexually assaulting [penetration] a 17-year-old boy at some point during the seven years (1976-1982) he was at the St. Aloysius Parish here. In January 1983, he was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to undergo treatment." He did receive treatment from the Paracletes at their Foundation House in New Mexico. He changed his name when he transferred to the MO diocese.
In August 2008 the Archdiocese of Newark settled a case of sexual abuse for 2 Million dollars. The case clearly implicates one pastor in the chain of events that sent another man to prison and scarred several youngsters by perpetuating a pattern of sexual abuse. This is basically the story of one implicated priest, Fr. George Gillen, who was nonetheless reassigned to another parish. There are other documented offending clerics who remain in active ministry: one priest convicted of criminal sodomy in Washington D.C. is reported to be active in Milwaukee; there are others.
On May 15 an announcement stated that on October 19, 2009 retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick former Archbishop of Newark will receive the St. Luke Institute Award at their Annual Benefit slated this year for the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C. According to the St. Luke Institute2: the Award "is presented to an individual who in their professional life or charitable works embodies the ideals of the Institute: the rebuilding of the spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual life of their brothers and sisters. In undertaking these tasks, the honoree is motivated by the Gospel ideals of compassion, charity, and a belief that all persons are brothers and sisters in Christ."
All of this may characterize McCarrick, but there is more. A 2004 document I call the List includes the name of Theodore McCarrick as one of the bishops who has a homosexual orientation.3 As a seminary professor in the 1970s and beyond several theology students from the Metuchen diocese complained to me about the behavior of their bishop, Theodore McCarrick. His physical approaches and invitations to sleep in his bed at overnight outings made them uncomfortable. Since he was their bishop they felt they had nowhere to go with their distress. Since then I have had the chance to review the first hand accounts of McCarrick’s behavior from legal documents and hospital records.4 One firsthand account [from a legal settlement] records an incident on a trip with McCarrick, then Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, with a seminarian and two young priests when they shared a room with two double beds, it reads: that McCarrick, wearing just underwear, got into bed with one of the priests:
►Bishop McCarrick was sitting on the crotch of Fr. R.C. As I was watching TV with Fr B.L. [full names appear in the documents], bishop McCarrick was smiling and laughing and moving his hands all over Fr. RC’s body. Bishop McCarrick was touching Fr. C’s body, rubbing his hands from head to toe and having a good time, occasionally placing his hands underneath Fr. C’s underwear. [I was] feeling very uncomfortable while trying to focus on television, and Fr. B.L., started smiling. As I looked at the bed next to me, Bishop McCarrick was excitedly caressing the full body of Fr. R.C. At that moment, I made eye contact [with] Bishop McCarrick. He smiled at me saying, "Don’t worry, you’re next." At that moment, I felt the hand of Fr. B.L. rubbing my back and shoulders. I felt sick to my stomach and went under the covers and pretended to sleep.
McCarrick continued to pursue the young man, sent him notes and telephoned him. Notes reveal that it was the custom the Archbishop McCarrick to call his protégés "nephew" and encouraged his entourage to call each other "cousin" and for them to call him "uncle Ted."
On another occasion McCarrick summoned the young man to drive him from the Newark Cathedral to New York City. He took him to dinner; and after, rather than returning to Newark as anticipated McCarrick went to a one-room apartment that housed one bed and a recliner chair. McCarrick said that he would take the chair, but after showering he turned off the lights and clad in his underwear he climbed into bed with his guest. Here is the account from the documents:
►He put his arms around me and wrapped his legs around mine. Then He started to tell me what a nice young man I was and what a good priest I would make someday. He also told me about the hard work and stress he was facing in his new role as Archbishop of Newark. He told me how everyone knows him and how powerful he was. The Archbishop kept saying, "Pray for your poor uncle." All of a sudden, I felt paralyzed. I didn’t have my own car and there was nowhere to go. The Archbishop started to kiss me and move his hands and legs around me. I remained frozen, curled up like a ball. I felt his penis inside his underwear leaning against my buttocks as he was rubbing my legs up and down. His hands were moving up and down my chest and back, while tightening his legs around mine. I tried to scream but could not… was paralyzed with fear. As he continued touching me, I felt more afraid. He even tried several times to force his hands under my shorts. He tried to roll me over so that he could get on top of me, but I resisted, I felt sick and disgusted and finally was able to jump out of bed. I went into the bathroom where I vomited several times and started to cry. After twenty minutes in the bathroom, the Archbishop told me to come back to bed. Instead I went to the recliner and pretended to fall asleep.
In a letter dated four days after this incident McCarrick wrote a note signed "Uncle Ted" that said in part: I just wanted to say thanks for coming on Friday evening. I really enjoyed our visit. You’re a great kid and I know the Lord will continue to bless you…our uncle has great spots to take you to!!!
There are additional documents that substantiate the relationship. One can safely say that now-retired Cardinal McCarrick was same-sex active and can be presumed to have a homosexual orientation. Neither fact has interfered with his career as a cleric in the Roman Catholic Church. The power position of a cardinal places him above suspicion and makes him immune from criticism; this in defiance of the solid historical record of periodic moral violations of some clerics (and politicians) in high places.5
The facts are clear, simple, and typical of the heritage of tolerance of abuse and cover-up inculcated by Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Newark (1986-2000). There is documentation that records McCarrick’s sexual activity and sleeping arrangements with seminarians and young priests even when he served as the first bishop of Metuchen after serving as an auxiliary bishop in New York.6
Below is the case history of a parish employee who is in prison for abuse of a minor. But the sexual activity of clergy links abuse to the systemic pattern that fosters and tolerates abuse from the highest echelons of clerical power.
During McCarrick’s tenure as archbishop of Newark Father George Gillen began counseling a 12-year-old boy, John Schulte III in a high school office. There is credibility to the allegation that Gillen
began a sexual friendship soon after the counseling began and continued even after Schulte reached majority.
Gillen hired Schulte to head up the youth activities in St. Joseph the Carpenter, the parish where he was pastor at the time. Did he supply adequate supervision for Schulte and his activities?
Schulte repeated the pattern of behavior he claimed he experienced at the hands of Gillen and others when he was young. He started to sexually assault young boys who were approximately the same age as he was when Gillen’s alleged assaults began. When the police became aware of the abuse at the parish Schulte was arrested and prosecuted.
One factor makes the circumstances of this case notable (but by no means unique): It demonstrates the pattern of the genealogy of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic priesthood: behavior and/or tolerance of abuse is indulged from the Top Down.
Most sexual activity of Catholic clergy has not been taken seriously within clergy circles. Bishops and superiors relegate sexual activity by priests and themselves to a wastebasket of a "slip," a "sin" (like everybody else), "human weakness," or a "passing phase" and "forgivable" blunder.
Sex of an adult with a minor is criminal activity in the United States and it has dramatically called attention of clergy and hierarchy to the problem among its ranks in the past decades. (Church files contain credible complaints against 5,500 clergy.) But sexual activity of a priest or a bishop with a consenting adult (seminarian-priest) is not usually criminally prosecutable, but it is always harmful to the core fiber of ordained ministry and is one factor that predisposes clergy to abuse minors—it gives tacit or explicit permission for sexual activity despite promised of celibacy . In light of the mandated celibate requirement and expectation sexual activity by a bishop or priest is, at the very least is seriously and destructively hypocritical.
January 29, 2009 History of Case Settled by Newark Archdiocese
I - Identification
1. My name is A. W. Richard (Aquinas Walter Richard) Sipe. I have been asked to render an opinion on the alleged sexual behavior of Fr. George Gillen, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey.
2. I was trained as a counselor/psychotherapist to deal with the mental health problems of Roman Catholic clergy and Religious.
3. My area of expertise is the sexual/celibate behaviors of men who profess "perfect and perpetual (chastity) celibacy" and are presented to the public by their sponsoring organization as sexually safe. I have authored seven books on the subject. A complete and correct copy of my CV is available on my Web page.
II - Background and Experience
4. I was educated in Roman Catholic institutions from grade school through seminary training in the U.S. and Rome, Italy. I was ordained a RC priest in 1959 and served until dispensed from my vows by the Vatican in 1970. I was married in the Roman Catholic Church and continue as a member in good standing.
5. My formal training as a counselor occurred between 1964 and 1970 and was supported with grants from the NIMH, the Danforth Foundation, and The Seton Psychiatric Institute where I was also employed for 3 years.
6. I have been on the staff and taught at various Roman Catholic seminaries, universities, and colleges from 1967 until 1996. One was a Pontifical Seminary and University.
7. I have been on the staff of a psychiatric hospital that treated numerous priests, some of them for the sexual abuse of minors; and held a part-time appointment in the division of child and adolescent psychiatry in a medical school for 25 years.
8. I have consulted or counseled several hundred priests and also counseled several hundred victims of clergy sexual abuse and reviewed the case histories of several hundred sexually offending clergy and clergy victims over a period of 40 years.
9. I have been qualified in both State and Federal courts as an expert witness and testified before numerous juries and Grand Juries on the issue of sexual abuse of minors and by Roman Catholic clergy.
10. I conducted a 25-year ethnographic study (1960-85) of the celibate/sexual behaviors of RC clergy and in 1986 rendered the opinion that 6 percent of Catholic clergy get involved sexually with minors.7
III - Information Reviewed to Understand This Situation
11. I have reviewed some documents in order to understand the specifics of this case:
12. In addition to these documents of public record I have reviewed the unsealed settlement documents of complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault upon a seminarian and priest by Theodore Edger McCarrick, Archbishop of Newark (1986—2000). The file includes letters to the priest and tape recordings of telephone messages from McCarrick and eyewitness testimony of McCarrick involved sexually with another priest.8
IV - Facts Upon Which My Conclusions Are Based
13. Father George D. Gillen counseled John Schulte III for some period of time beginning when Schulte was 12-years-old in offices of Union Catholic High School.
14. Gillen had received training in pastoral counseling at Fordham University and Seton Hall University.
15. The explicit presenting problem for counseling John Schulte was the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his uncle who was convicted and imprisoned for the behavior.
16. Gillen maintained a friendly relationship with Schulte from that time until November 2002, when Schulte was arrested for abusing minors. (Cf. records of ski club and peer ministry at Union Catholic High School: Gillen was moderator/Schulte participated)
17. Schulte was charged, convicted, and sentenced to Avenel, a NJ facility for the rehabilitation of sexual offenders, for the abuse of 3 minor students at St. Joseph the Carpenter School where Gillen was pastor.
18. Schulte claims that the relationship with Gillen involved sexual exchanges while he was a minor and after he reached his majority.
19. Gillen hired Schulte in 1995 and subsequently in 1997 until the time of his arrest as the part-time and eventually Full-time Parish Coordinator of Youth Ministry without informing other members of the staff of St. Joseph the Carpenter Roman Catholic Church, where Gillen served as pastor, that Schulte had a history of being abused.
20. Gillen placed Schulte in a supervisory position over minors even before he completed training programs at Seton Hall.
21. Gillen provided Schulte with offices where Schulte could meet with students even after school hours.
22. There is a question whether Gillen provided any supervision of Schulte’s hours, activities or contact with minor students in St. Joseph the Carpenter School.
23. Gillen had to be aware of priests of the Newark archdiocese who had problems of a sexual nature. (Frs. Dugue and Mieliwocki)
24. Theodore E. McCarrick was Archbishop of Newark at the time that Gillen counseled and hired Schulte as the youth minister of St. Joseph the Carpenter School.
V - Conclusions About This Situation
25. I maintain the following conclusions based on my knowledge, my training, research, and experience:
October 16, 2009.
The Star-Ledger printed the following: "The Newark Archdiocese removed a priest as chaplain at Saint Michael's Medical Center in Newark this week after hospital officials learned of his history in a criminal molestation case involving a minor and requested his removal. The Rev. Michael Fugee, who began working at the hospital Sept. 8, admitted to Bergen County investigators in 2001 that he had molested a boy in Wyckoff. He later recanted the statement, saying he felt pressured by investigators at the time to make an admission. A jury convicted him in 2003 of criminal sexual contact, but that conviction was eventually overturned by an Appellate Court in 2006, for reasons unrelated to his admission."
On October 22, 2009 the following letter was posted on the National Survivor Advocates Coalition News:
Parishioners of the Archdiocese of Newark are getting a clear picture of how Archbishop John Myers operates. His latest dangerous attempt to put a sexual molester back into ministry -the Rev. Michael Fugee at St. Michael's Hospital, Newark - is indicative of Myer's callous, ruthless and arrogant disregard for the safety of children, the vulnerable, civil and canon law, and socially accepted moral principles. Myers should have petitioned the Vatican to defrock Fugee many years ago when it was determined by a jury in Bergen County he had sexually abused a minor. There are still many Newark Archdiocesan priests who have abused minors, young adults, and the vulnerable and still function as priests, but I, a survivor of abuse and advocate for the abused, cannot exercise my priestly ministry because I have reported Myers and others for their outrageous behavior. It is time for Catholics to call for Myers' resignation, as I have done repeatedly, before more tragic events occur. The Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, Founder and President, Road to Recovery
1 These were among the 234 Catholic priests mentioned in the November 11, 2002 USA Today.
2 St. Luke Institute in Hyattsville, MD was founded in 1980 (78) to treat the mental health problems of priests. Currently 600 patients a year are treated there.
4 These documents are in the files of the Archdiocese of Newark and the diocese of Metuchen.
6 Archbishop Cardinal Spellman of New York (1946-67) left of trail of questions about his homosexual activity. I interviewed a male religious from New York who reported a personal experience with Spellman when as teenage server-friend. The current archbishop of Newark must be aware of McCarrick’s sexual habits with seminarians and priests just as bishops of Metuchen Paul Bootkoski and Edward Hughes must be. They had clinical reports that recorded McCarrick’s behavior with several priests.
7 This correlates with the John Jay survey (published 2/27/04) commissioned by the U.S. bishops and based on their records that concluded that 6.5 percent of priests ordained during the same period were reported for sexually abusing minors.
8 McCarrick is well known in clerical circles for sleeping with priests and seminarians. According to mediation and settlement documents made by Newark on behalf of McCarrick for having made several sexual approaches to a seminarian/priest who claims he witnessed him having sex with Fr. Rob Cieluk (sic). According to the same testimony Fr. Bob Lynan (sic) also witnessed McCarrick’s sexual activity.
NEWARK --The Newark Archdiocese has settled a lawsuit brought by a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by a priest who was transferred to Lakeland, Fla., after he had been accused of stalking and harassing parishioners in New Jersey. The amount of the settlement, which also involved the Diocese of Orlando, was not disclosed. The archdiocese admitted no wrongdoing in the case, which was settled six weeks ago but not announced until yesterday. The 55-year-old woman, identified only as "Jane Doe," contended the Newark Archdiocese in 2004 negligently informed the Orlando Diocese that the Rev. Wladyslaw Gorak was a priest in good standing even though a police report from 2001 and a confidential memo from 1998 indicated serious misbehavior. Photo Courtesy of Florida Department of Corrections > Her attorney, Adam Horowitz, said yesterday the archdiocese should have known about his misbehavior and warned others. "The Archdiocese of Newark was fully aware that Father Gorak had alleged dangerous sexual propensities before transferring him to the Diocese of Orlando," Horowitz said at a press conference across the street from the archdiocese headquarters in Newark. "Nevertheless, they took no action against him." Top church officials have said they knew nothing about Gorak’s alleged misbehavior when Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli, who at the time was the vicar general for the Newark Archdiocese, swore in a 2004 affadavit as part of Gorak’s transfer to Florida that the priest was "a cleric in good standing." "There was nothing in the archdiocese files, nothing negative about Gorak at the time Bishop Serratelli wrote that memo," Charles Carella, attorney for the archdiocese, said yesterday. "Nothing. There was one memo in a parish file and it was never sent, for whatever reason, to the archdiocese." That memo was written in 1998 by the Rev. Ronald Marczewski, then of St. Adalbert Church in Elizabeth, where Gorak worked. In the memo, made public by Horowitz yesterday, Marczewski wrote a deacon had recently found Gorak "embracing and kissing" a woman in the sacristy, and that she was pushing him away. Marczewski also wrote Gorak allegedly made other women uncomfortable with his words or, in one case, by standing too close. The memo apparently sat in parish files and was not forwarded to the archdiocese where it would have been examined before Gorak’s transfer to Florida, Carella said. Archdiocese officials also have said they did not know about a 2001 police investigation into whether Gorak harassed a Hillside woman for whom he had provided marriage counseling. Two police officers came to his church looking for him, but word of the visit never made it to the archdiocese, they said. No charges were filed. According to "Jane Doe’s" lawsuit, which sought more than $5 million, she met Gorak in January 2000. He became a "trusted spiritual adviser" to her and her husband, and a frequent dinner guest. Shortly after Gorak was transferred to Florida, the couple moved to Lakeland, and Gorak helped them find a house, the suit says. But he then became an unwelcomed presence in her life, the suit says, with frequent and long "unannounced pastoral visits." She complained to the Lakeland pastor who told her he would take action, the suit said. On Oct. 12, 2004, Gorak kicked in the door of her house and sexually assaulted her, the lawsuit said. Gorak, 54, who has legally changed his name to Walter Fisher, was sentenced in Florida in 2007 to four years of probation for assaulting and stalking the woman, as well for burglary and false imprisonment. He is out of ministry but technically remains a priest of the Newark Archdiocese. A native of Poland, he was ordained in 1982. He came to the Newark Archdiocese in 1998, serving at St. Adalbert and St. Hedwig churches in Elizabeth, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Irvington and St. Stanislaus in Garfield. He requested the transfer to Florida for the warmer weather, officials said. The plaintiff now lives in Ireland.
Newark archbishop shielded at least 4 priests accused of sexual abuse
Published: Sunday, December 05, 2010, 8:30 AM Updated: Sunday, December 05, 2010, 6:40 PM
Eight years ago, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers stood among the nation’s bishops at a landmark gathering in Dallas and helped craft a policy intended to cleanse the priesthood of pedophiles and restore trust among shaken American Catholics.
In ratifying the Dallas Charter, Myers and his colleagues promised a new era of reform and transparency. Allegations of sexual abuse against priests would no longer be hidden from parishioners or police, and any priest believed to have molested a child would be permanently banned from ministry.
In the years since, Myers and his aides say the archdiocese has taken aggressive measures to identify abusive priests.
But a Star-Ledger review of the archbishop’s record since 2002 shows Myers on at least four occasions has shielded priests accused of sexual abuse against minors and one adult. In the four instances, the priests have either admitted improper sexual contact, pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct or been permanently barred from ministry by the archdiocese after allegations of sexual misconduct.
The archdiocese also wrote a letter of recommendation for one of the priests, a week after it learned he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home in Florida and possibly assaulting her.
From one perspective, the newspaper’s findings suggest Myers continues to take a cautious hand in publicly naming priests. The findings, coupled with testimony from a 2009 deposition, show the issue weighs heavily on Myers.
From another view, the archbishop has failed to live up to the guidelines and spirit of what was set forth in Dallas. The most controversial example is the Rev. Michael Fugee, who confessed to police eight years ago that he molested a 13-year-old boy. Fugee was never ousted from the priesthood, and the archdiocese assigned him last year as chaplain to St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark without telling hospital officials of his past.
In other cases:
Neither Myers nor the priests identified above would agree to an interview for this story. But Myers’ spokesman, James Goodness, said the archbishop has lived up to his promises of 2002 and that the archdiocese has carefully followed procedures meant to bar abusive priests from ministry. He said it has trained thousands of church employees to spot molestation, published procedures for filing sex accusations against priests and passed annual audits examining whether it keeps its promises. He noted, too, that the archdiocese has an agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office to forward all allegations of sexual misconduct to county prosecutors.
"We do not have priests in ministry without proper supervision, and those who have had credible allegations have been removed from ministry," Goodness said. "We do notify the communities where people (priests) have served of the existence of allegations and the results of all our inquiries.
"We believe we are living both within the letter and the spirit of the charter," he said.
Asked to provide the number of priests accused of or disciplined for sexual misbehavior with a minor since 2002, Goodness declined. In 2004, Myers did announce the results of an internal review prompted by the scandal. From 1950 to 2002, Myers said there were 91 allegations made against the 3,310 clergy who served in the archdiocese, and that 51 were deemed credible.
In the past, Myers has defended his policy of not naming accused priests, citing the need to protect their reputations and noting that accusers themselves often request anonymity.
"This has been difficult for me because of the special role I have as Bishop," he wrote in 2004. "I know full well my responsibilities to investigate any accusation, and to fulfill my promise that we will provide safe environments for all young people. Yet I also feel keenly the pain that my brother priests experience when anyone has been accused."
Longtime critics of the church say Myers’ record shows a continued arrogance.
"Archbishop Myers is not indicating any serious intent to protect kids from the credibly accused sex offenders he knows about," said Anne Doyle, co-director of bishopaccountability.org, a watchdog group that compiles a database of news articles on priests accused of molesting minors. "It’s clear by the pattern that this practice is still one of arrogant secrecy."
David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Myers "continues to act slowly, deceptively, callously and irresponsibly."
Though Myers rarely speaks publicly about the sex abuse issue, he did share his thoughts in a wide-ranging deposition for a lawsuit brought by Gorak’s victim. In the Nov. 3, 2009, deposition, he defended his handling of several cases, including that of Fugee, while also expressing sympathy for victims.
"Having met with various victims, they often blame themselves," he said. "They often suffer loss of self-image and can move onto other more serious problems, trying to compensate for the feelings that they don’t want to deal with."
"And what do you mean when you say ‘move onto other serious problems'?" asked the plaintiff’s attorney.
"Drugs," Myers said.
On March 19, 2001, detectives arrived at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Wyckoff and picked up the Rev. Michael Fugee, who was alleged to have molested a 13-year-old boy.
For the first 90 minutes of an interview at the police station, Fugee denied the allegations, Detective John Haviland of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office later testified. Eventually though, Haviland said Fugee admitted to the charges and "then made some unusual comments about his sexuality, being a compulsive masturbator. He also stated he was bisexual, and that he was a virgin. He also said that he was infatuated with crotches or penis size."
Haviland testified that Fugee then admitted to two separate incidents with the boy, where the priest "intentionally touched his crotch over his clothes. He said both times they were during wrestling, and that there were other people present, but he did not believe that they would have actually seen what he did. He described it as an urge."
At trial in 2003, Fugee recanted the confession, saying he lied to police so he could go home earlier. The judge ruled the confession was "totally voluntary," and a jury convicted him of aggravated criminal sexual contact while acquitting him of child endangerment. An appeals court later overturned the conviction, ruling the judge improperly instructed jurors. The appellate ruling did not question the validity of the confession.
Prosecutors dismissed the case in 2009 after securing an agreement with Fugee and the archdiocese through pretrial intervention stating that Fugee never again will minister to minors.
"We brought the case against him ... believing that he did it, and believing that we could prove it," Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said. "And notwithstanding the reversal, we still believe that he did it."
In October 2009, The Star-Ledger learned Fugee had been given a job as chaplain at St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark. Approached in the chaplain’s office, Fugee showed a reporter a card that identified him as a "Roman Catholic priest in good standing."
The hospital, upon learning of his past, had him removed.
Goodness said Myers does not view Fugee’s confession as genuine and thus believes he can return to public ministry.
"That’s one of the issues that got challenged in the courtroom," Goodness said. Myers, he said, "says that there may have been problems with it (the confession)."
Goodness also said "a lot of people" in the court system felt Fugee’s confession should not be taken at face value. When asked who those people were, he named only Fugee’s attorney.
During the November 2009 deposition, Myers expressed disappointment that Fugee let detectives interview him without counsel.
"Is it your recollection," the plaintiff’s attorney, Jessica Arbour, asked Myers, "that he (Fugee) admitted that he touched the boy?"
"Unfortunately, without his lawyer present, he did," Myers said.
For its part, the Survivors Network, or SNAP, called Fugee’s assignment to St. Michael’s "particularly egregious" and said it was the most reckless move by any American bishop in 2009.
Last spring, Fugee filed a motion to have his case expunged from public records. A judge ruled against the expungement in October. Fugee’s current job, for the archdiocese’s mission office, involves its overseas missionary efforts.
'A SEAL OF APPROVAL'
In 2004, two days before Christmas, the Newark Archdiocese learned the Rev. Wladyslaw Gorak, who had been assigned to work in the Diocese of Orlando, Fla., had been accused of assaulting a female parishioner.
Orlando Bishop Thomas Wenski wrote to Myers and explained he had just terminated Gorak’s ministry, citing the priest’s erratic behavior in public and the complaint of a woman who said "that he broke into her house and may have had physical contact with her."
A week later — on Dec. 30, 2004 — Myers’s number two, the Very Rev. Robert Emery, wrote six separate letters on Gorak’s behalf to church officials in other Florida dioceses. The letters — sent to officials in Miami, Palm Beach, St. Petersburg, St. Augustine, Venice and Pensacola-Tallahassee — noted that Gorak’s faculties had been removed in the Orlando Diocese and that the Newark Archdiocese subsequently placed him on six months of medical leave. But they made no mention of the fresh accusation against Gorak in Orlando.
"Father has expressed a desire to seek permanent ministry in Florida in the future and currently resides in Lakeland, Florida," each one of the letters reads. "Father continues to enjoy the faculties of the Archdiocese of Newark. Should you be contacted by Father Gorak, I would be happy to provide you with additional information about his status."
The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Catholic priest who in the 1980s warned bishops about sex abuse among clergy, said the archdiocese should have mentioned the accusation "rather than try to pawn him off on someone else."
The Rev. Thomas Reese, research fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, said the letter’s omission of the accusation was disturbing.
"Does he have to describe it in gruesome detail in the letter? No. The letter has to be clear enough that the bishop receiving it knows there’s a red flag here that needs to be investigated before he even considers taking this guy," Reese said. "Saying that he continues to enjoy the faculties of the Newark diocese, he is giving a seal of approval for the guy."
Goodness defended the letter and said "we put them on notice that they need to call us with anything if he does show an interest in working in another diocese."
Asked why the letter did not mention the accusation, Goodness said he did not know.
The archdiocese placed Gorak on leave in May 2005, after Orlando police charged him with assault, false imprisonment, aggravated stalking and battery. A woman told police he broke into her home, pulled a telephone from its jack, removed his clothes and tore some of the woman’s clothes while trying to remove them, according to a police report.
Two months later, Myers wrote Gorak in jail, sending his prayers and best wishes, and promising that the church would follow the advice of the accused priest’s attorney.
In 2006, Gorak pleaded guilty to assault, and the archdiocese earlier this year settled a lawsuit brought by the accuser, the woman in Florida, for an undisclosed amount.
His history with women came into focus in the lawsuit. In 2004, when he asked to be transferred from Newark to Florida, the archdiocese informed the Diocese of Orlando that he was a priest in good standing even though a police report from 2001 and a confidential memo written by the Rev. Ron Marczewski, then of St. Adalbert’s in Elizabeth where Gorak worked in 1998, indicated serious misbehavior with women, court documents show.
The archdiocese contended in the lawsuit that the priest’s confidential memo never found its way to the chancery office. In depositions and court documents, church officials said they never talked to the priest about Gorak, even though on two occasions they formally reviewed Gorak’s record.
Only earlier this year did Myers begin proceedings to have Gorak laicized, that is, formally removed from the clergy, according to Goodness.
In the deposition last year, Myers was asked by the victim’s attorney what he would have done if told, before Gorak’s May 2005 arrest, that he had tried to rape a woman in Orlando. Myers said he would have recalled Gorak to Newark and advised him to return to his native Poland.
NO ALERTS ISSUED
On Holy Thursday in 2005, the Rev. Gerald Ruane concelebrated Mass at St. Joseph’s Shrine in Stirling. Weeks later, he appeared in vestments in a TV interview from Rome after Pope John Paul II’s death.
The problem was, Ruane wasn’t supposed to appear in public as a priest. And few people seemed to know of that restriction.
In 2004, the archdiocese permanently barred Ruane from ministry after investigating accusations by at least two minors. One, Michael Iatesta, said Ruane molested him throughout his adolescence. Ruane denied the allegations.
Upon learning of Ruane’s subsequent public appearances, Iatesta complained to church officials, who privately reprimanded the priest, according to the archdiocese. But Iatesta and SNAP officials said the archdiocese should have informed the public of the restrictions.
In March 2006, Myers changed his policy on alerting parishioners about investigations, saying he would alert parishioners when a pastor was permanently barred from ministry over sex allegations. At the time, a Star-Ledger review of policies in New Jersey’s four other dioceses showed Myers was the only one not already doing that.
SNAP praised the announcement of the change.
Four months later, the archbishop had to decide whether to alert a different parish about a different priest, the Rev. Daniel Medina.
Medina had pleaded guilty to child endangerment and was sentenced to three months’ probation. He admitted in court that he "inappropriately placed a young boy on (his) lap."
The boy had alleged in 2004 that Medina had oral sex with him, when he was 8, in the sacristy of Blessed Sacrament Church in Elizabeth. The prosecutor, John Esmerado, said he told the archdiocese the plea bargain reflected his desire to avoid making the child testify, rather than from any weakness in the initial charge.
The archdiocese failed to alert parishioners in 2006 when Medina pleaded guilty, in 2007 when its review board deemed the accusation credible, or in 2008 when it alerted Catholic bishops nationwide that it had barred Medina from ministry and couldn’t locate him. SNAP eventually obtained that alert in September 2008 and publicized it.
Asked at the time why Myers hadn’t notified parishioners, Goodness said, "This is being done on our schedule."
In April 2005, Gorak changed his name to Walter Fisher, six months after he assaulted the Florida woman and one month before his arrest. At the deposition in November 2009, Myers said the archdiocese did not know about Gorak’s name change until after the fact.
"It was inappropriate for him to do so without my permission," Myers said. "His bishop in Poland or whichever diocese he had been ordained (in) should have been notified so that the ordination register could be changed to reflect this legal change."
The attorney taking Myers’ deposition then asked if Gorak, by changing his name, had violated his oath of obedience to Myers.
"I don’t know if I would go that far," Myers said, "but it was inappropriate because it introduced a confusion into sacramental record-keeping."
Gorak isn’t the only former priest from the Newark Archdiocese to have a run-in with the law and then change his name. In 1982, the Rev. Carmine Sita of St. Aloysius Church in Jersey City admitted sexually assaulting a teenage boy. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five months’ probation.
He then legally changed his name.
Within a year of his guilty plea, he was the Rev. Gerald Howard. At that time — still on the rolls as a Newark Archdiocese priest — he went to work at a parish in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., and then as a counselor at a Missouri hospital.
The Newark Archbishop at the time, Peter Gerety, never informed the public about the name change. Neither did his successor, Theodore McCarrick. And neither did Myers — even after the archdiocese conducted a comprehensive review of its case files of abusive priests in 2002, in the wake of the scandal.
Mark McAllister, who says he was molested by Howard in Missouri in the 1980s, said the lack of notification allowed Howard "to continue in his deviant behaviors. ... If you looked him up, you’d have found nothing. But if you looked up Carmine Sita — same person — you’d find a conviction for sexual molestation of a minor."
Goodness said there was no need in 2002 to notify the public about Sita’s name change.
"There was a legal filing of his name change in the paper," he said. "It was a matter of public record."
Last autumn, McAllister settled claims against the Newark Archdiocese, Jefferson City Diocese and the Servants of the Paraclete, a religious order, for $600,000. The Newark Archdiocese gave $225,000 toward the settlement.
In April, officials in Cooper County, Mo., charged Howard, who is now retired, with the forcible sodomy of McAllister. The prosecutor, Doug Abele, said Howard is also facing charges in two other cases.
Overall, it is difficult to assess Myers’ performance or compare him with other bishops because much of the information on these cases is confidential. Clohessy, of SNAP, said he ranks Myers’ handling of the crisis in the bottom third of the 195 diocesan bishops’ in the country, "in large part because of his ongoing secrecy."
The Rev. Thomas Doyle, who frequently testifies as an expert witness in lawsuits involving abusive priests, criticized Myers’ actions and said they are too common among bishops. He said American bishops, as a group, have behaved abysmally since 2002, and still seem to care more about protecting themselves from litigation than about helping victims heal.
"This brings great shame on the church," said Doyle, who co-wrote a report in the 1980s warning bishops about the impending crisis. "I look back on all this and say: Something is drastically, fundamentally wrong with the Catholic hierarchy, if this is their consistent response across the board."
According to the watchdog group bishopaccountability.com, 25 dioceses — including Philadelphia’s, but not Newark’s — have posted a list on their websites naming every priest removed after an accusation deemed credible by the diocese. Victims groups praise these lists, saying they deny abusive priests the cover of confidentiality that could help them abuse again.
Myers also has failed to regularly alert parishioners to investigations. Those alerts are now more common nationwide, Reese said. Among the bishops who notify parishioners is Bishop Paul Bootkoski of Metuchen. In 2003, SNAP singled out Bootkoski for praise, calling him the best American bishop at handling abuse allegations and noting that he alone among bishops had named a SNAP member to the diocesan panel that investigates allegations.
Victims’ advocates view those alerts as a basic tool to promote transparency and say it bolsters investigations by encouraging other victims to come forward. The bishops’ promises of 2002 explicitly included restoring reputations of priests who, after being removed for an investigation, were exonerated. But Myers has short-circuited that process by not being open about investigations early on, Clohessy said.
Indeed, Myers has opposed publicizing allegations since the early days of the scandal — with no apologies to his critics. Writing to lay people in April 2002, he acknowledged that sometimes, while the archdiocese tried to keep investigations quiet, "there have been a few recent instances where privacy has been lost."
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