Aninternational organization of clergy abuse victims expressed outrageThursday over the contents of unsealed Fort Worth Catholic Dioceserecords and urged Bishop Kevin Vann to discipline priests who "enabledor covered up for their abusive peers."
SNAP, the SurvivorsNetwork of those Abused by Priests, said one of its targets is the Rev.Tim Thompson, pastor of St. John the Apostle Church in North RichlandHills. He failed to tell police of a parishioner's tip that the Rev.Philip Magaldi was trolling chat rooms for minors and had "pedophilicmaterial" on his computer.
"It never crossed my mind that I should report it to police," Father Thompson said Thursday.
The unsealed records, which The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram obtained this week after a 19-month court battle, show that Father Thompson did tell Bishop Joseph Delaney about the 2001 tip.
Atthat time, Father Magaldi was trying to transfer from Fort Worth to aFlorida diocese, having been removed from ministry at least three times– once for stealing from a parish and twice because of sexual abusecomplaints. He had been returned to duty twice and, on anotheroccasion, stayed on the job despite church investigators' conclusionthat he was "guilty of sexual exploitation."
The records showthat Father Thompson urged Bishop Delaney, who has since died, to alerta bishop in Florida "if he is still thinking of letting Phil workthere." He added: "I doubt that there is anything we can or need to dohere."
Under Texas law, anyone who has "cause to believe" a childis being abused must notify civil authorities. The records, coveringseven abusers who were left in ministry over two decades, contain nosign that Fort Worth church leaders ever did that.
Father Thompson told The News that he and Bishop Delaney did not even discuss the possibility of calling police.
"Inhindsight, maybe there is more I could have done," the priest said. "Idon't know that there is anything I need to apologize for."
FatherThompson said Bishop Delaney never told him about key elements ofFather Magaldi's past and that he learned them only this week, from therecords obtained by the newspapers.
For example, he said hedidn't know that Father Magaldi had admitted paying a teenager forenemas after the youth came to him for confession. And he didn't knowthat, months before the 2001 tip about chat rooms, Bishop Delaney hadremoved Father Magaldi from a Keller parish because of numerousmisconduct reports there.
Father Thompson said he did know what The News hadalready reported on at the time – that Father Magaldi had spentlavishly on boys, had been accused of abusing one and had beenconvicted of stealing from a Rhode Island church.
A mother whocomplained that Father Magaldi hugged and kissed her soninappropriately in 2000 said Thursday that SNAP should focus on topdiocesan leaders.
"The individual priests – I'm not sure they'reguilty of covering it up," the woman said. "The priests didn't have allthe information."
Responsibility lies, she said, with the superiors to whom they reported problems.
Keller'spastor, the Rev. John Gremmels, wrote Bishop Delaney a memo detailingthe woman's complaint and three other incidents of inappropriatebehavior by Father Magaldi.
SNAP called for Bishop Vann todiscipline Father Gremmels, too, for not calling police. The priestcould not be reached for comment Thursday.
Bishop Vann, whosucceeded Bishop Delaney last year, declined to comment. A day earlier,he apologized for the seven abusers' actions and said he is asking theVatican to remove two of them from the priesthood: Father Magaldi andthe Rev. Rudolf "Rudy" Renteria.
Father Magaldi has denied wrongdoing, and Father Renteria has not responded to interview requests.
Bishop Vann declined Wednesday to criticize the cover-ups and said nothing about discipline for anyone who participated in them.
SNAP'snational director, David Clohessy, said Bishop Vann's approach amountedto this: "Let's beat up on more of the street-level dope dealers andignore the drug kingpins."