My name is A. W. Richard Sipe (Aquinas Walter Richard). My CV is
attached. Currently I am involved in full-time research and consultation
about celibacy and the sexual practices of Roman Catholic clergy. I have
authored four books on the subject. I have served as a consultant or
expert witness in 173 cases of sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic
clergy, usually on behalf of plaintiffs.
I have been a psychotherapist specializing in the counseling of
clergy and religious since 1964 and was a Psychiatrist Assistant
certified in the State of Maryland from 1982 to March 1, 1999, when I
I held an appointment as Instructor in Psychiatry (part-time),
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Baltimore,
Maryland, for 25 years until I submitted my resignation in 1997.
I have taught at three major Roman Catholic seminaries and a
Catholic college from 1967 to 1996. I held the position of Assistant
Professor of Pastoral Counseling, St. John’s Seminary, Collegeville,
Minnesota (1967-1970). I have continued to lecture periodically at this
seminary, the most recent series being in 1996. I was Lecturer in
Pastoral Counseling at the Jesuit Seminary Woodstock College, Woodstock,
Maryland (1968-1970). I have been Adjunct Associate Professor of
Psychology, Loyola College, Baltimore, Maryland (1971-1975) and Adjunct
Professor of Pastoral Counseling, St. Mary’s Seminary and University,
Baltimore, Maryland (1972-1984). The latter institution is a
I attended Roman Catholic parish grade school, Catholic high
school, college and seminary. I entered a Benedictine Monastery in
1952 and was ordained a priest in 1959. I remained a monk and priest
until 1970, when I requested and received permission from the Vatican to
be dispensed from my vows as a monk and a priest.
I was married in a Roman Catholic ceremony in 1970 and remain a
church member in good standing.
The Catholic Clerical System has a Unique Character.
Although Roman Catholics form the largest Christian denomination in
the United States (63 million), the clerics who rule it form a
relatively small group. [In 2004, fewer than 45,000 priests and
bishops—29,715 diocesan & 14,772 religious priests, i.e. those who
belong to Orders such as Jesuits, Benedictines, Dominicans, etc.]
The Catholic Church is a hierarchical system, with a monarchical
The Pope in Rome ultimately controls the structure and religious
discipline of the organization. The Pope also appoints every bishop. But
each bishop has autonomous control within his territory called a
diocese. This ecclesiastical authority extends over Catholic priests,
religious institutions, and lay people in his territory.
The clerical system of the Catholic Church is homosocial. Only
celibate males can qualify for any ecclesiastical position of authority
within the system.
All priests and bishops are required to be celibate: that is not
married and promised to "perfect and perpetual chastity." In practice
this means no sexual activity of any kind with self or others. (1)
The responsibility of the bishop is clear in regard to the celibacy
of his clergy. Because celibacy is essential for ordination and
priesthood a priest who is ordained or assigned to any parish or
ministry in a diocese is de facto by a bishop's sponsorship certified
sexually safe to the parishioners and the public.
Every priest is educated in a system that follows the same
standardized required curriculum.
Every priest is required to take the same doctrinal oath.
There is no comparable system, religious or secular, whose
hierarchical and homogeneous character is so closely bound with sex and
power. This is a long-standing structural reality traceable in Church
documents to 309 CE.
II. The Church's General Knowledge of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy
is Well Established and Documented.
Awareness of the problem of priests' and bishops' sexual activity
is not a recent phenomenon. Historical church documents are consistent
in their acknowledgement of the existence and extent of violations of
celibacy and clerics that have sex with minors. It is clear that abuse
has been a perennial problem and neither restricted to ancient history
nor of recent origin. (Cf. Documents and regulations written and
promulgated by the Vatican in 1662, 1714, 1890, 1962, & 2002)
Clearly, sexual abuse by clergy is neither simply a current
aberration nor a passing phenomenon, but has deep systemic roots.
Every bishop, without exception, has known that sexual activity of
a priest with a minor is a violation of the requirement of clerical
A great deal is known within the clerical system about the sexual
activity of other clerics. In 1976 I already had enough experience and
evidence to estimate that 6% of Catholic priests involved themselves
sexually with minors. On the completion of a 25-year ethnographic study
(1960-1985) I was confident of the validity of that estimate. [Current
figures for the Boston Archdiocese, one of the best-studied areas,
reveal that 7.6% of its priests had sexual contact with minors.] The
bishops' commissioned report released February 27, 2004 states that
4,400 (4%) American priests over a 50-year period had been credibly
reported as abusers of minors. The researchers believe that abuse is
under-reported. Seven hundred (700) US priests between 2002 and 2004
have been relieved of their ministerial duties because of alleged abuse.
Knowledge of sexual activity once secret, and still hidden, within the
clerical system, has become progressively more public. The fact can not
be denied that sexual abuse of minors by priests is a long-standing,
pervasive, and nation-wide problem. (Cf. Sex, Priests & Secret Codes,
Bishops, priests, and lay Catholics are all subject to civil laws
and authority in regard to sexual behavior. The bishop has the ultimate
control over the appointment or discharge of priests and religious
serving in his diocese and the staffs of Catholic schools. He is the
primary employer and guarantor of the competency of the men and women in
No bishop can claim ignorance of the fact that sexual activity of
an adult with a minor is and always has been illegal.
Bishops and religious superiors in the United States most commonly
concealed the facts when they knew a priest abused a child or minor.
This concealment (pattern and practice) extended to parishioners, other
priests, and most certainly, law enforcement. This practice is
demonstrable at least from 1946 onward, the range of my experience and
observation of the clerical system. The practice of neglecting
violations has also been firmly in place. In my opinion this practice is
not isolated or even created by American bishops, but has its origin and
sponsorship from the Vatican that insists that "scandal" should be
avoided at all costs. Documents from1959 demonstrate that dioceses were
employing secret procedures to deal with cases of sexual abuse.
As recently as May 20, 2002 a judge on the Roman Rota (highest
Vatican court) wrote in a Vatican approved periodical that bishops
should not report sexual violations to civil authorities lest the image
and authority of the Church be compromised and victims harmed instead of
being protected. (P. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J.)
Equally demonstrable is the practice of transferring an offending
priest from one parish to another, to another diocese or to a foreign
country. I have been a consultant in dioceses where each of these
activities is recorded. I have reviewed correspondence between bishops
who exchanged offending priests, and I have seen other documents that
make clear the acceptability and frequency of this practice among
The awareness of transferring offending priests was so well
accepted that it could be a matter for open communication between all
bishops. I have reviewed 1963 open letter from one bishop to all the
American bishops asking if anyone was interested in giving ministerial
employment to an offending priest who could not be reassigned in his own
I have also reviewed correspondence from this same period
(1952-1957-1963) between the founder of the Servants of the Paraclete
and a bishop, reminding the bishop of the serious civil consequences of
a priest's sexual behavior with minors, beyond any spiritual damages.
This facility (Jemez Springs), founded in 1947 had, by the late 50's and
early 60's a clearly defined "code" [#3] to identify priest sexual
I can trace the use of psychiatric hospitals to deal with sexually
offending priests to 1936. The alliance between religion and psychiatry
was firmly established by the 1950s. Specialized religious facilities to
treat deviant priests, especially for alcoholism and sexual problems,
also have their origins during this period of time.
I know from personal experience that many bishops and religious
superiors were aware of sexual activity, including sexual activity with
minors, by some of their priests in the 1950s and 1960s.
I am aware from my training and the personal experience of my
mentors that knowledge of substantial amounts of clergy sexual activity
was well established in the 1930s.
III. Communication about Sexual Activity
within the Clerical System is Prevalent.
A clear pattern of self-revelation even about sexual ideas,
temptations, and behavior is advised and practiced within the clerical
system. Primary modes of self-disclosure are sacramental confession,
manifestation of conscience, spiritual direction, counseling, and
communication between a cleric and his bishop/superior and with other
priests. Bishops and Superiors are forbidden to be confessors to their
subjects because of a conflict of interest. Their knowledge of sexual
abuse may be confidential, but it is not privileged.
Only material shared by a penitent in sacramental confession
strictly binds a confessor to absolute secrecy. The penitent is not
bound to keep secret what he shared during the exchange. In fact, the
penitent can even be instructed as part of his penance to "make
restitution," that is to take certain actions to remedy or mend his
All of these avenues can and do provide pathways to the specific
knowledge of a priest's sexual actions and proclivities in addition to a
general awareness of sex within the clerical system.
Secrecy is an unwritten but clear code within the clerical system.
The clerical system often extends its prerogative of sacramental
confessional confidentiality beyond law or reason to include any
material it wishes to keep secret to preserve its image and at times for
its convenience. A bishop responded, "I only lie when I have to" when
chided by a priest for denying abuse that the bishop knew about. That
modus operendi and justification for deception is common. This
rationalization is often justified by the traditional moral doctrine of
Mental Reservation. Literally this means that one does not have
responsibility to tell the truth to one who does not have a right to it.
The motivation to save the reputation of the church and the priesthood
from scandal has been paramount since the Protestant Reformation.
Caution about scandal is frequent in canon law (29 times). The dictum
"not to give scandal" is impressed upon students in Catholic education
as early as the first grade
Cardinals make a vow to the Pope to keep secret anything confided
to them that if revealed would cause harm or dishonor to the church. ["I
vow…not to reveal to anyone what is confided to me in secret, nor to
divulge what may bring harm or dishonor to Holy Church"] That promise of
secrecy forms a template within the clerical system to keep internal
scandalous behavior under wraps, "for the good of the Church." Another
moral teaching of Catholic theology is “Mental Reservation.” Father B.
Gormless, S.J., defines mental reservation as “an unspoken intention
to limit one’s compliance with a contract one is overtly entering into.”
This moral doctrine has also been employed to “deny the whole truth” tp
those who have no right to it or to avoid “greater harm.”
Despite that, highly placed Vatican and church officials have
confirmed knowledge of sexual activity by priests. Cardinal Franjo Seper
said in 1971, "I am not at all optimistic that celibacy is in fact being
observed." Cardinal Jose Sanchez, head of the Vatican Congregation for
the Clergy said, in 1993, when he was confronted with documents stating
that between 45% and 50% of priests do not in fact practice celibacy, "I
have no reason to doubt the validity of those figures." The former
Provincial of the Dominican Order said in 2003 that the practice of
celibacy had "collapsed" in the United States among other places.
There is a wide spread and profound knowledge of sexual activity by
Catholic priests within the clerical system. This includes knowledge of
sexual abuse of minors.
IV. There is Widespread Knowledge of Clergy
Sexual Activity through Suspicion/ Rumor/ Complaint/ Report.
Sexual violations by their nature are difficult to substantiate
because the actions are most commonly executed without a third party
observer. The means of determining the facts of an allegation or the
truth of denial are usually derivative rather than direct. Priests who
abuse frequently instruct or threaten their victims to keep silent.
Those threats include warnings that the young person will go to hell, or
that he, she or parents will be harmed if the abuse is not kept secret.
Other means of insuring secrecy are by connecting the abuse directly
with a religious ritual. For instance the abuse takes place in church,
or before or after Mass while the priest is still in his vestments, or
forcing the youngster to make a sacramental confession. Records exist of
a priest anointing his victims with a sign of the cross, using his own
semen. Another horrendous example is of a priest touching a girl's
vagina with what he said was a consecrated host to prove to her that God
blessed his sexual activity.
It is incumbent upon a bishop or religious superior. Each has the
responsibility of the oversight of the celibate observance of his
priests, to be alert and investigate all suspicions, rumors, complaints
and reports of celibate violations. If personal investigation by the
superior is not feasible, he must have a reliable system of discerning
and monitoring the celibate practice of his priests.
For instance, a suspicion of sexual abuse is the guideline
established for physicians and health workers to protect minors.
Suspicion is sufficient to trigger a report of sexual abuse to social
agencies or civil authorities.
Denial and rationalization of sexual activity by priests and
bishops is deeply engrained and institutionalized within the secret
clerical system. These defenses result largely because sexual activities
of various sorts are so common within the community of bishops and
priests, not because they are rare phenomena.
Most of the sexual activity of priests and bishops is not contrary
to the civil laws, namely, masturbation, cross gender dressing, viewing
some pornographic materials, etc. and non-harassing consensual sexual
activity with adult women and men who are free of any power differential
or psychic vulnerability,
Bishops and priests are motivated to keep their own sexual activity
secret, or try at least to restrict knowledge to as few confidants as
possible. (I have found, however, that in some clerical circles common
knowledge of their sex life is openly acknowledged and joked about.) The
protective shroud of secrecy that shields them is threatened if they are
too active in examining and exposing the behaviors of others.
Additionally, a significant proportion of priests introduces
candidates for the priesthood to sex. In my experience and studies 10%
of priests report that they had some sexual contact with a priest or
fellow seminarian in the course of their studies. This is a prominent
fact in the histories of priests who abuse minors. This activity also
forms a basis for a network of priests sexually aware of each other's
personal sexual proclivities, behaviors and past activity. This network
forms a formal and informal tangle of control and blackmail. I have seen
that very word used in correspondence between a bishop and the Vatican.
Broad based sexual activity within the celibate system surrounds
and protects priests who do abuse minors. It motivates other priests who
clearly suspect abusers of their activity from responding to obvious
signs, symptoms, red flags, and not taking reasonable action and
reporting the behavior. They fear their own sexual lives, albeit not
illegal, will be exposed.
Suspicion by some responsible person can be traced in nearly every
case of minor sexual abuse by a priest. Rumors are common in most cases.
Rumors, hearsay, about abusing priests are common and a valid
source of information and an important means of child protection if
respected and adequately investigated. Rumors form a valid alert to
danger and are frequently the most powerful indication to church
officials of abuse. The source of these rumors often are grounded in the
fact of abuse that can be shared by the victim only with one of his or
her equally powerless friends or family members. At times it is as
subtle as the abused telling friends or classmates to "watch out for
him." Sometimes a minor who resists a sexual proposition by a priest,
and tells others, "Father is a fag" starts the chain of exposure.
Knowledge by rumor can be widespread and has been available for
investigation within the clerical community for decades.
Bishops and superiors most frequently irresponsibly and negligently
dismiss rumors without reasonable investigation. Bishops, many who also
fear exposure of their own sexual activities have continued to exclude
themselves from oversight in the directives they instituted in 2002 to
deal with the problem of abuse by priests and other church employees.
The minor victim or his or her parents most commonly make
complaints of sexual abuse by a priest to another priest, pastor, nun,
or teacher. These complaints are delivered almost invariably and
immediately to the chancery office, many times to the bishop via the
chancellor, but often directly to the bishop. The most commonly quoted
response from bishops to such a report is, "I'll take care of it."
Responses to reports were clearly directed at damage control and
avoiding scandal. Protecting the Church from scandal is seen as a
primary and overriding responsibility of a bishop. Abusing priests were
treated as outlined above. Victims were neglected, ignored, intimidated,
cajoled into silence, "for the good of the church," denigrated and even
blamed for the activity.
Only in very recent times have victims of abuse been treated with
respect and credence. These shifts in church response have been in
reaction to public knowledge and outrage largely lead by activist
victims, the press, and the pressure of courts and the law.
There is no evidence that moral leadership within the clerical
community has spearheaded any of the current reviews of clerical
behaviors. In fact, overwhelming evidence exists about past and present
church resistance and obstruction of legitimate investigation of illegal
and destructive activity by clergy. The major reason for interference
and this lack of leadership is the fear of exposing the extent of sexual
activity within the clerical system. This prevails over and above the
scandal of sexual abuse of minors. The Grand juries empanelled so far in
12 jurisdictions and the reports from four of them, clearly expose a
pattern of neglecting investigation, supervision, discipline, and
reporting abusing priests to legitimate civil authority. Collusion to
intimidate victims and conspiracy to conceal abuse is also prominent in
the judgement of all four reports so far made public. Reports conclude
that Church authorities themselves are not capable of dealing with the
problem of sexual abuse of minors by their clergy.
V. There Are Profound and Lasting Effects
of Sexual Abuse by Clergy.
There is undeniable evidence that the sexual abuse of a minor by a
priest or bishop has dire, long lasting, consequences physically,
emotionally, economically and spiritually on many victims. The Catholic
Catechism says so directly. My own experience working with victims of
clergy abuse for over 40 years accords with the catechism observation
and the studies of David Finkelhor (1979; 1990) and those conducted at
Johns Hopkins Medical School (1997). Pope Leo XIII spoke in 1890 about
the harm, deforming and permanent damage that child labor has on an
individual's life, because minors were exposed to the burdens of labor
before they were mature enough to handle them. Confession also is a rich
source of sexual knowledge and information for a priest. The bulk and
substance of a priest's knowledge and common sense is demonstrated by
the large number of people who consulted their priest as an expert in
sexual matters. And priests held themselves as experts in this area of
life. The secret Vatican documents from that time, (1890) previously and
subsequently, demonstrate just how dire sex with a minor was and its
need to be kept secret.
Abuse victims manifest a greater propensity than comparable
patients with physical illness or complications from psychic and
physical trauma. Alcohol, drug use, sexual promiscuity, and their
addictions are common modes of self-medication for victims of abuse.
Depression, anxiety, diminished self-confidence and esteem, interference
with relationships, deprivation of educational opportunities, even
incarceration and suicide can be traced to the profound and long-lasting
impairment inflicted on victims by abuse.
When a priest inflicts abuse the consequences are exacerbated
because of the individual, familial, and social esteem in which a
"representative of God" and the church is held. A number of researchers
hold that abuse by a trusted religious figure is the most damaging type
of abuse even exceeding the effects of incest.
Church authority and priests have been dedicated to preserve the
image of the priesthood before the public and in the minds of the
faithful since it is a fundamental source of power. That image is
defined in the Catechism of the Council of Trent. "Bishops and priests
being, as they are, God's interpreters and ambassadors, empowered in His
name to teach mankind the divine law and the rules of conduct, and
holding, as they do, His place on earth, it is evident that no nobler
function than theirs can be imagined. Justly, therefore, are they called
not only angels, but even gods, because of the fact that they exercise
in our midst the power and prerogatives of the immortal God."
Betrayal by an authority that is believed to hold divine power is
hardly able to be absorbed by the believer and is psychically
overpowering to a developing youngster. The resultant loss of faith and
attendant trauma can be and often is devastating in terms of inhibition
and damage to all future relationships. (3)
When personal sexual betrayal is coupled with institutional
neglect, denial, attack, conspiracy to hide abuse, protection of the
abuser, and self justification, immeasurable harm is inflicted on the
victims, their families, the church community and society at large. That
damage is almost irreparable.
The Catholic Church is noted for maintaining documents and keeping
meticulous records and files. The truth that can support the victims'
allegations and reveal guilt, negligence, and conspiracy to conceal
evidence can frequently be found in Church files. This is my experience
from many dioceses in the United States and my participation in and
review of Grand jury investigations.
The Church has been extremely resistant to divulge files even when
subpoenas are served in criminal or civil law cases.
In spite of the church's regard for the preservation of documents,
I have interviewed a person who was hired as a personal assistant to an
archbishop (Atlanta, 1988). One of his primary duties was specifically
to "cleanse" the personnel files of priests. That meant to destroy some,
secrete others in separate files or the Secret Archives of the
archdiocese. I also interviewed a priest, abused as a young seminarian,
who was investigating the trail of his own priest abuser. When he went
to the chancery office of another large archdiocese (NY) secretaries
there told him that some files had been cleaned out. The Milwaukee
Archdiocese (1999) insisted that documents related to settlements they
had made be destroyed by the insurance company. A bishop recently
appointed (KY 2003) reassured the priests of his diocese that they were
all starting with a clean slate; the old files had been removed
(destroyed). It is well known that Bishop James Quinn addressed all the
American bishops (c 1990) with instructions on procedures to secrete
documents in the office of the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington DC,
where they would be protected by diplomatic immunity.
External oversight, the self-reports, and mechanisms established by
the bishops in their 2002 Dallas meeting to regulate abusing priests has
impacted but not overturned institutional secrecy. Church authority
generally maintains its reluctance to cooperate with legitimate civil
authority in its investigation of abuse and those ultimately responsible
for abuse. Attorneys General and District Attorneys from several
jurisdictions have given me examples of this behavior. The clerical
culture is still largely resistant to the degree of accountability and
transparency needed to assure victims and society at large that they are
safe from sexual abuse by priests.
Father Stephen Rossetti, a priest-psychologist prominent in the
treatment of sexually offending priests at St. Luke Institute, told some
victims of Fr. James Porter, "the church will not change until it is
threatened with bankruptcy." He made that statement in response to their
question, "what will it take for the church to change?"
Courts are not able to impose that kind of penalty for sexual
crimes. They do, however, have the power to exert sufficient financial
pressure to compensate victims sufficiently to impact the offending
institution and to spur a more responsive program for reform.
VI. The Pattern and Practice of the
Diocese of Tucson, Arizona
in Regard to the Abuse of Minors by Clergy Conforms Closely to that
Exhibited Throughout the USA.
Every one of the elements outlined above—the knowledge of sexual
abuse of minors, failure to investigate legitimate reports, complaints,
suspicions and rumors, denial of fact, concealment of facts and
offending priests, transfer of abusers from one parish to another
without informing parishioners, being a conduit for abusers from other
dioceses (from LA and to Mexico)—are preeminently demonstrable in the
diocese of Tucson and in the actions of its bishops Green, Moreno and
the officials of the diocese.
By its own account the diocese employed 26 priests who were alleged
abusers of minors. (The Sensitive Claims Committee reviewed allegations
against 31+ priests between 1988 and 1998)
In preparation for this declaration I have reviewed the following
documents, depositions and interviews: Depositions of Gerald Kicanas,
Ronald Lehner, Robert Lehner, Luisa Lehner, Cherie Lehner, Dr Paul
Duckro, Dr. Augusta Roth, Dr. Jose Santiago, Sonia Guiterrez, June
Kellen, Karen Camacho, Kim Bischof, A.W.R. Sipe (Frei); Trupia's
personal file, Sensitive Claims file, Trupia Canonical file (12, 97),
updated Canonical file Groom case (6th Disclosure), updated Canonical
file Lehner 13th Disclosure. Interview and declaration of RM, Interviews
with BFOC and GFK (3, 02 and 8, 24, 02); and two face to face interviews
with Bishop Kicanas and the victim of Bishop Rausch; News releases from
the diocese and news reports from Arizona, Boston & national press.
There is now reason to believe that Bishop Francis J. Green abused
at least one minor at one time (c. 1940). [R. M., DA statement]
Bishop Green's supervision of Robert Trupia was one of neglect from
the beginning of the latter's association with the diocese. Trupia was
"clipped" from receiving Major Orders, but was later ordained with his
class. There is no record that Green made any special effort to
determine the nature of Trupia's difficulties relying solely on the
seminary system to determine the candidate's suitability for ordination.
(results of psychological evaluations are non existent)
Trupia who was ordained a priest in June 1973 began abusing boys
during the first months of his ministry at St Francis Church in Yuma.
[Yuma police reports by Reedhead, Menchaca, etc.] Father William Byrne,
against whom credible allegations of abuse have also been registered,
was Trupia's pastor and according to victims witnessed boys coming and
going from Trupia's room. Bishop Green who later was living in Regina
Cleri with Trupia noted that young men were going in and out of his
Two victims (Frei and another) reported Trupia's abuse to Byrne in
1974. Byrne said, "I'll take care of it" and told the boy to forget it
and keep quiet. During the same summer a former altar boy (Diaz) visited
Trupia and Byrne for a week vacation. After being abused in Trupia's bed
where he was directed to sleep he ran away. Trupia returned him to the
rectory and continued to abuse him for the remainder of his stay. Byrne
was living at the rectory and the three ate meals together. Trupia
invited Ron Lehner to this parish when Lehner was in disciplinary
trouble at the seminary. Trupia posed the invitation under the pretext
of helping the boy stay in school. Trupia raped him here as he did
several other minors.
Byrne was appointed pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows in Tucson in
1975 where he continued to abuse several minors. Byrne also sponsored a
notorious abusing priest (Lucien Munier de la Pierre) to whom Bishop
Green granted faculties without any investigation.
Father Fahey replaced Byrne as Trupia's pastor and soon requested a
change of assignment for Trupia. The personnel board (Fr. Bast) refused
the request in November 1975.
In January 1976 Ted Oswald (then a Brother, now a priest) moved
into the rectory to work with the staff. His bedroom was located across
the hall from Trupia's. Oswald heard the voices of young boys in
Trupia's bedroom who were voicing suspicious remarks.
Around February 15, 1976 while Trupia was at a convention in
California, several altar boys told Oswald that Trupia was molesting
them and others.
Immediately Oswald consulted with his immediate superior district
Vicar, Msgr. John Oliver. Oswald on his advice gathered written
statements from the 9 or 10 boys registering the complaints and hand
delivered these reports to Oliver. Oswald also reported the abuse
directly to Father John Burns the chancellor of the Diocese. Oliver sent
information of the abuse to Bishop. There is evidence that no
investigation was ever conducted. The Chancery office asked Oswald to
"handle" the problem and calm (silence) the parents.
Msgr. John Oliver has a criminal record of abusing and kidnapping a
14 year-old boy in Yuma in 1967. The police report suggested some
alternative to prosecution should be considered and, "to present the
information to Bishop GREEN and let him handle the matter, as has been
done in the past." Msgr. Was sent to a general hospital for “rest from
overwork” and placed on probation. He was promoted in the diocese.
Trupia was transferred immediately (February 19, 1976) to be with
Byrne at Our Mother of Sorrows in Tucson. Both priests continued to
molest some of the same boys here that they had molested in Yuma. Bishop
Green did recommend at the time of the transfer that Trupia "get
professional help," a suggestion that was not acted on. There were many
rumors among priests and laity that Trupia was moved because of abusing
minor boys. Funds from two accounts that Trupia was responsible for were
found short. Trupia admitted that he had used some for personal
expenses. (Contrast the response to this violation with the reaction to
financial malfeasance of Msgr. Rosensweig.)
Bishop Green appointed Trupia Vice Chancellor in July 1976.
Bishop Green asked for a Papal honor for Trupia in June 1977.
Bishop Green made Trupia a Monsignor in 1979.
In August 1979 Bishop James Rausch of Phoenix solicited sex from a
17-year-old boy in Tucson (BFOC). He established a sexual relationship
under an assumed identity. This was the victim's first homosexual
Rausch and the victim were both concerned with the latter's drug
use and the bishop referred him to Byrne and Trupia for help. In 1980
under the pretext of counseling, Byrne sexually and physically abused
the victim. (Urinating in his mouth and throwing him on the lawn of the
rectory, stealing from him.)
In the spring of 1981 Trupia pursued and contacted the same victim
and began a long-standing homosexual relationship with this victim of
Rausch and Byrne. Trupia was genuinely helpful to the victim by
assisting him to get free from drugs. This victim knew nothing about
Trupia's abuse of other minors. Trupia took his victim to Europe and
gave him part time employment in the chancery office.
BFOC who was involved in a homosexual relationship with Trupia told
Bishop Green of the incidents with Fr. Byrne his involvement with Rausch
and Trupia. After delivering the report, Bishop Green embraced the young
man clutching his head to his chest and promised to "take care" of it.
Green took the man to a chapel and made him swear an oath of secrecy—for
the good of the church. He also arranged a full time job at the chancery
office for him (Curia Apparitor). The victim worked in the Chancery
until c. 1989 when he resigned. During his tenure there he resisted
numerous sexual approaches and touches from priests.
In 1981, however, Byrne, and later Trupia, was appointed vocation
director for the diocese in spite of the fact that there were wide
spread rumors among the priests about Byrne and that Trupia was a boy
lover and a "chicken hawk.
Also during 1981 Trupia and Bishop Green were both living at Regina
Cleri Center. It was well known that Trupia had boys in and out of his
room; some stayed over night. [Frs. Joseph White, Larry Baker, Troutman
& Bishop Green] A housekeeper caught him naked in bed with a boy. Bishop
Green on his death willed some items of considerable value to Trupia
(Trupia's estimate was $160,000).
Bishop Manual Moreno was appointed bishop of Tucson in March of
1982. Before he came to Tucson he had already heard stories that Trupia
had molested boys in Yuma. He failed investigate when he assumed
jurisdiction. Moreno re-appointed Trupia as Vice Chancellor. In 1984
Moreno also appointed Trupia Judicial Vicar and an ex-officio Member of
the Priests' Council of the Diocese. In 1985 Moreno began to articulate
policies that restricted areas where only priests could reside.
Nonetheless priests (Baker) see young men or boys entering and leaving
Trupia's room at Regina Cleri late at night and early in the morning. In
1986 a rape victim of Trupia was being counseled by a priest of the
In 1988 Moreno received a hand written note from Msgr. George
Niederhauer, the rector of St. John's seminary in Camarillo, California.
It declared that Msgr. Trupia was a persona non grata because he had
been coming to the seminary unannounced with a series of young boys that
gave rise "to some question of what is going on." Rumors about Trupia
had been rife within the diocese for several years. There was a report
that he had been kissing a young man on the grounds of Regina Cleri.
In August of 1989 the Tucson Police Department on complaints from
Child Protective Services began to investigate suspicions, rumors, and
reports about Trupia. Father Joseph Baker reported to Moreno, who
brushed him off. An earlier police investigation generated out of Yuma
was instituted around 1985. At that time Moreno asked BFOC to take a
three-month paid leave while that police investigation was going on.
During the 1989 investigation chancellor Allt told other priests (Fahey)
to stay out of the investigation and "mind your own business." Previous
direct reporters of abuse to the Chancery were turned away with reproofs
that the reporter was trying to "destroy" priests in the diocese
Sometime between 1987 and 1989 the diocese began to consider
special means to address sexual abuse of minors. Insurance carriers
insisted on being informed when complaints against priests were
registered in order to insure coverage. And later a Sensitive Claims
Committee was established to review allegations of abuse. That committee
reviewed complaints against 31 priests between its inception and 1998.
Trupia was the first priest on their list and is still in 2004 a subject
of review by the Sexual Conduct Review Board that has superseded the
In 1989 .it was "common knowledge," according to Moreno's
chancellor, that Trupia had a young man living with him at Regina Cleri.
That fall Moreno sent Trupia to Catholic University to pursue a Canon
Law degree. He received financial support at this time
From July 1, 1991 until the present Trupia has received a diocesan
stipend from the Priests' Assurance Association which amounts to salary,
health and car insurance. (The latter was withdrawn recently.) Payment
was about $1,500 a month.
In January of 1992 the mother of a victim abused by Trupia in
1977-78 at Our Mother of Sorrows wrote to the Metropolitan of the Tucson
diocese, Archbishop Robert Sanchez of Santa Fe, NM. Members of the staff
at OMOS assured the mother that Trupia had a reputation when he was
stationed there and there were reasons to believe that other victims
existed (CCD leader). Sanchez contacted Moreno. This pressure from
outside of the system was the first and only thing that moved the
diocese to any kind of investigation or some action. Two priests of the
diocese interviewed the mother and son and agreed to pay for counseling.
On April 1, 1992 Moreno interviewed Trupia in the presence of
Father Allt. When Trupia was confronted with the allegation of Chris
Fuller he expressed relief that others who would have more serious acts
to complain about had not surfaced. Trupia made a clear threat that if
pressured he would reveal something about a bishop that would cause
scandal in Arizona.
Bishop Moreno ordered Trupia to get an "evaluation" at St. Luke
Institute or Jemez Springs. Trupia defied the order. He was suspended
for "disobedience." Nothing was done to find the other victims that
Trupia acknowledged. And when victims came forward later (Frei et al.)
they were disparaged, lied to, and denied a reasonable hearing.
Bishop Moreno did not report the allegation to any civil authority.
He had disregarded other reports and complaints; rejected all reasonable
suspicions and denied numerous rumors. He did not investigate to
ascertain the whereabouts of other victims Trupia indicated. Moreno did
not warn anyone at CU that Trupia was an admitted abuser. Four letters
from Chris Fuller's mother were unanswered. Finally the archdiocese of
Santa Fe responded with news of the restrictions on Trupia. When Moreno
did answer the letter he lied and said that Trupia denied the
In 1993 & 1994 Trupia and Moreno began a series of Canon Law
maneuvers directed to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington DC, the
Congregation of the Clergy, and the Signatura Apostolica (=Vatican
Supreme Court) in Rome. These pleadings were all procedural In spite of
the clear description of Trupia's admitted abuse and his attempt to
blackmail the Bishop of Tucson, the Vatican ruled in favor of Trupia and
leveled a financial penalty against the diocese. An appeal by the bishop
was not settled by 2000.
All this time Moreno did nothing for the victims and did not admit
that Trupia was a serial sexual predator. When a civil case was filed
against the diocese Moreno's publicist put out a press release that
demeaned the victims and slurred them for concealing their identity. At
that time the victims did name themselves.
Eleven civil lawsuits were settled against Trupia, Byrne, Teta, and
Munier for several million dollars in early 2002.
In 2002 Moreno suspended 19 priests accused of abuse. (The diocese
had 83 active priests.)
Bishop Gerald Kicanas was appointed coadjutor to bishop Moreno in
October 2001.Kicanas succeeded Moreno in March 2003. Kicanas told me the
same month that he never would have agreed to that amount (estimated M)
if he had been in charge at the time.
Even in 2004 Kicanas refuses to be honest about Trupia's
violations, willing only to say he is aware of "credible," allegations
but he is unwilling to render a judgement of guilt (for canon law
reasons). Despite his verbal and mental reservations about Trupia's
guilt Kicanas has listed several of Trupia's victims including Ron
Lehner as "delicts" in his petition to have Trupia defrocked.
In 2003-04 documents, even from the Secret Archives, have been
reshuffled and shredded by members of the Chancery staff under the
justification that some are 5 to 7 years old and the offices were being
moved. One member of the staff even testified that there no longer
exists a Secret Archive, an entity that is required by Canon Law.
Sexual activity, including sex with minors, by priests and bishops
of the diocese has been woven into the clerical system of the diocese of
Tucson where it is justified, denied, and defended.
Sexual abuse of minors by priests of the Tucson diocese was
certainly known by Bishop Green before 1967 (police report). But no
general action was taken until 1987 under pressure from insurance
carriers and national press notice of the problem sex abuse by priests
in the US. No specific action was taken against Trupia until the
Archbishop of Santa Fe interceded in 1992. In fact, known abusers were
rewarded rather than punished (Oliver, Byrne, Trupia).
Bishops Green and Moreno repeatedly ignored credible reports and
complaints of sexual abuse by a number of priests including Robert
Trupia. Their failure to investigate abuse, supervise abusers, warn
parishioners, and respect victims put innumerable minors in harms way.
They consistently defied their civic responsibility by harboring and
covering up for abusive priests. The machinations to thwart the police
investigation of Trupia (1988) are inexcusable and reprehensible.
However, that behavior is paradigmatic of the pattern and process
employed by the diocese in regard to sexual activity of its priests.
Remnants of this mindset that are still in place exonerate clerics who
conspire to keep reasonable rumors, suspicions, complaints and reports
from being investigated.
The diocese responded to threats of blackmail when revelation of
the sexual activity of bishop Rausch was posed. Rather than identifying
Trupia as a serial sexual abuser of minors—as he admitted—it only
declared him "disobedient." This subterfuge continues with Bishop
Kicanas (2004 deposition).
The diocese has consistently lied to victims directly (CF, BO) and
indirectly through its press releases, publicity campaigns and legal
threats, even posturing bankruptcy, and warning victims that
compensation to them takes charitable services from the needy. (Of
course the bulk of financial support for Catholic Charities comes from
federal and other secular sources.)
The diocese still minimizes the horrific long-term consequences of
betrayal by the trusted. The responsibility for the sexual abuse of
minors and it consequences, by priests of the diocese rests squarely on
the shoulders of the diocesan administration. The tragedy of abuse in
the Tucson diocese clearly has been the result of neglect, denial,
deception, and disregard for the welfare of children under their care,
and priests subject to their supervision.
Proof of a substantial change in the clerical system of the Diocese
of Tucson that has fostered and covered up sexual abuse by clergy has
not yet been produced without shadows of many doubts. Although the
Bishop has identified priest abusers, he does not have in place any
means of supervising or monitoring these known perpetrators even after
two years. Also priests of the diocese who did have reason to suspect
abuse by another priest have failed to take reasonable steps to see that
the behavior of those priests is investigated. No direction from the
Bishop has been instituted to educate diocesan personnel of their
responsibility in this regard. Priests who have neglected this kind of
supervision have not been held accountable (E.g. OK)
La Jolla, California
April 12, 2004
There are exceptions. Priests of the Uniate rites affiliated with Rome may
be married. Married Anglican or Lutheran Ministers who convert to
Catholicism may remain married and yet ordained.
C.f. Declaration on Pastoral Privilege March 2003
C.f. Declaration on Abuse by Clergy & Loss of Faith December 2002
Pius V, Const. Cum Primum, 1561. Fontes, Vol. I
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