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  Home :: 2006 November :: Stop abuse by priests, victims ask

Stop abuse by priests, victims ask

Identifying molesters key to preventing attacks, they say

Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli is attending the meeting in Baltimore.

Child sexual abuse by priests continues today because predatorypriests have been transferred quietly around the United States and theworld, into communities unaware of the dangers they pose to children.

That is the message of victims of clergy sexual abuse and advocateswho protested the suppression of those priests' names this week duringthe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual meeting in Baltimore.

Diocese of Wilmington Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli, who is attendingthe conference, is among the bishops who have guarded the names ofsuspected predatory priests. The Wilmington diocese has acknowledgedcredible allegations against at least 30 former priests. Pressed torelease the names last year by The News Journal, diocesan officialssaid they saw no compelling reason to do so.

The recent case of the Rev. Francis G. DeLuca, 77, may force them to reconsider.

On Tuesday, diocesan spokesman Robert G. Krebs said Saltarelli wouldcomment further in Thursday's edition of The Dialog, the diocese'sweekly newspaper.

In 1993, the Diocese of Wilmington allowed DeLuca to retire to hishometown, Syracuse, N.Y., when allegations of child sexual abusesurfaced. He was forbidden to participate in public ministry, but hisoffenses were never publicly acknowledged -- until his arrest lastmonth on similar charges. He was arrested after a Syracuse 18-year-oldtold his parents DeLuca had been abusing him for at least the past fiveyears.

During the Baltimore protests, Barbara Blaine, president of theSurvivors Network for those Abused by Priests, mentioned DeLuca's caseas evidence that predatory priests should be named.

"Regardless of why predators go elsewhere -- whether they're sent bysuperiors or go on their own -- the result is the same: Innocent kidsand vulnerable adults are put in harm's way."

Syracuse police say DeLuca confessed to them. The day after thearrest, Saltarelli sent a request to Pope Benedict XVI that DeLuca bestripped of his priesthood.

DeLuca's first pretrial conference, scheduled for Monday inSyracuse, was postponed until Dec. 11, Assistant District Attorney KariArmstrong said.

Mike Schulte, formerly of Newport, is among at least four peopleWilmington diocese officials say have made credible allegations againstDeLuca. Another, who has asked that his name not be released, believesthere may be hundreds of DeLuca abuse victims who, like him, are unablefor various reasons to come forward publicly.

Schulte, who recently moved to Virginia, said he is glad for DeLuca-- that he confessed to the crimes in Syracuse. He's glad for theSyracuse boy, whose abuse has been acknowledged and is being addressedin the New York criminal court system. He's glad for the boy's family,who can better understand the struggles of the young man.

Schulte has never heard such a confession. He never heard a prosecutor express indignation on his behalf.

"What I'm looking for on a personal level -- there was never anybodywith credibility who has said, 'Mike, we're sorry,' " Schulte said. "Ithink I could forgive him if he could tell me in honesty, 'I'm sosorry.' "

Priest as predator

Schulte said DeLuca first molested him in the 1960s during a trip to Philadelphia.

Schulte said DeLuca took him to see the movie "King of Kings," thentook him to dinner. They shared a hotel room, which had two beds, butSchulte said he awoke facedown on his bed with the priest on top of him.

He believes the priest put a sedative in his drink so that he wouldbe unconscious. Schulte said he had a similar blackout during asubsequent trip with the priest to Virginia, where the hotel room hadonly one bed.

Schulte didn't tell his parents what happened until about threeyears later, when he saw DeLuca with another boy and feared the priestwas doing the same thing to him. His parents called church officials.

His allegations were investigated by the Rev. Douglas Dempster, whoretired in 1994 and now lives in Marydel, Md. Dempster was a closefriend and colleague of DeLuca's at St. John the Beloved parish whenSchulte's abuses occurred. Schulte said Dempster met with himprivately, then told him and his family never to speak of the matter toanyone. The Schultes believed church officials would handle DeLuca in away that would prevent further abuse.

Instead, as was the pattern before stricter regulations were adoptedin 2002, DeLuca was transferred around the diocese until 1993, whenSchulte told his new wife, Gail, what had happened to him. She urgedhim to go back to church officials. This time the church offeredcounseling, Schulte said, and asked how much money he wanted. Schultesaid he didn't want money, he wanted only to be sure DeLuca was notstill molesting boys.

Later that year, DeLuca moved home to Syracuse, retiring from the priesthood.

DeLuca was a fine priest, said Lou Angeli, 55, of Wilmington, whowas an altar boy for him while at St. John the Beloved. Angeli saidDeLuca was a good preacher and popular with the altar boys.

Despite DeLuca's popularity, though, Angeli said altar boys warnedeach other that he would try to "grab you" during trips he took toManhattan with about 10 boys each year. The trips included Broadwayshows, good food and beer if they wanted it, Angeli said. He nowsuspects they also included horrors for some kids.

Though Angeli said he was never abused by DeLuca, he and others feltsorry for any boy who had to share DeLuca's hotel room during theweekend trips.

"It was creepy and weird -- or however 12-year-olds think," saidAngeli. "But we just thought it was a rite of passage. ... We wouldjust pass the information down to the next group."

Tracking pedophile priests

No information about DeLuca was passed along to subsequent congregations, though.

Unlike criminally prosecuted sex offenders, whose names appear onpublicly accessible registries, many priests have never faced charges-- either because their crimes have been hidden by church authoritiesor because the statute of limitations has expired.

Efforts to extend the civil statute of limitations in Delawarefailed in the General Assembly last spring, but may be revived inJanuary.

Members of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP)and the lay group known as Voice of the Faithful called on the nation'sbishops this week to disclose the names of all priests who havecredible allegations against them.

Blaine, SNAP's president, acknowledged the stronger reportingrequirements adopted by the bishops in 2002. Bishops then agreed tonotify other dioceses of any priests living in their community who hadcredible allegations against them. Saltarelli notified the Syracusediocese of DeLuca's residence there in 2003 -- 10 years after his move.

"When pedophile priests move, it's less likely they'll get therapy,less likely they'll be investigated and prosecuted, and more likelythey'll be among families who are unaware of the crimes they havecommitted," Blaine said. "They owe it to the public, the police, andthe parishioners to disclose the whereabouts of admitted, proven andcredibly accused child-molesting clerics."

Contact Beth Miller at 324-2784 or bmiller@delawareonline.com. 

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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia