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  Home :: 2006 December :: After second complaint, bishop removed priest 

After second complaint, bishop removed priest


These articles contain sexually explicit language that may be offensive to some readers.


Incardinated: Jan. 30, 1995

Assignments: St. Mary, Henrietta; St. John the Apostle, North Richland Hills

Over the Rev. Philip Magaldi's flamboyant career, he weatheredperjury charges in New England and served time in a halfway house forembezzling $123,400 from his Rhode Island parish.

The diocese kept quiet about the first sexual abuse complaintagainst him in 1997. But a second, startlingly similar allegation --and the threat of publicity -- about two years later forced BishopDelaney to remove the priest from ministry.

Details of one allegation were not revealed until the documents were released Tuesday.

Even as Delaney came to believe that Magaldi was a possible dangerto children, he considered returning him to limited duties or helpinghim find work in another diocese.

Magaldi's last assignment was as associate pastor at St. John theApostle Catholic Church in North Richland Hills. Church officials therewould later learn of additional claims of inappropriate behavior,including his visiting Web chat rooms "looking for minors" andpossessing "pedophilic material."

There is no record in the files released by the court that thebishop contacted police about the abuse allegations or the materialreportedly found on Magaldi's computer.

Jerry Koller, a friend of Magaldi's who said he is the priest'scaregiver, said Tuesday that Magaldi was too ill to give interviews.Koller said he believes that Magaldi was falsely accused.

The priest has maintained his innocence.

The first complaint

The first sexual misconduct complaint against Magaldi surfaced inJanuary 1997 when a college student contacted Delaney and later theRev. Robert Wilson, the former chancellor of the diocese.

Magaldi befriended the man in summer 1995 after he had given his confession at a church, according to the files.

During the summer, Magaldi, then in his 60s, spent time with theman. Magaldi took him to dinner at expensive restaurants. The man saidhe was concerned that Magaldi never wore his clerical garb.

Magaldi introduced the man as his nephew and encouraged the minor to have beer or wine, according to the files.

The two went swimming at Magaldi's apartment complex, and the manfelt that the priest was "getting too friendly," according to Delaney'snotes.

At other times, Magaldi would grab the man's buttocks, which thepriest explained by saying "we always did that in high school,"according to the files.

Magaldi then asked the student for a strange favor: The priestwanted the man to help administer four enemas that Magaldi said hisdoctor had prescribed.

Magaldi said he wanted to avoid embarrassment by having the manadminister them instead of going to his mother. He offered him $25 eachtime he did it. The man told Magaldi that he didn't want to take part.But Magaldi insisted, and the man eventually agreed, the man tolddiocese officials.

The man "realized that what happened was unwholesome and is worriedthat PM [Magaldi] may be doing the same -- or worse -- to other youngmen," Delaney wrote in his notes.

Magaldi sent him $100 checks every six weeks, the files say.

In fall 1995, Magaldi encountered the man again and kissed him onthe lips, the man told diocese officials. Magaldi later wrote him,"explaining away what he did and sending more money," according toDelaney's notes in the files. In a 1999 interview with a churchofficial, Magaldi did not deny the incident but said "this was not asexual thing." He also said the kiss was misinterpreted and was on thecheek, not the lips, "as Italians do." Church officials met withMagaldi, who appeared anxious and animated during his interview, therecords show. "He had assumed that there would be a major lawsuitinvolving large sums of settlement money and was told by Father Wilsonthat this did not appear to be the case."

Magaldi denied all wrongdoing.

Magaldi said he befriended the man because he saw him as a potential"vocation." If he ordered wine at dinner, he didn't encourage thestudent to drink, he told the officials.

Magaldi admitted paying the man to administer enemas.

An unidentified person wrote that Magaldi was "completely withoutinsight regarding his actions and certainly lacking in sound judgment.He assumes no responsibility and sees nothing questionable in hisactions."

Wilson noted in a January 1997 report that a committee "believes that PM [Magaldi] is guilty of sexual exploitation."

Records show that Magaldi remained at St. John the Apostle under the supervision of another priest for at least eight months.

The records show that Wilson told Magaldi's accuser that the priest"would not be in contact with youth in the parish, and had been takenoff the altar server duty."

The second complaint

Magaldi was still working as an associate pastor at the church inDecember 1998 when Fort Worth officials were contacted by the Dioceseof Providence, Rhode Island, about a sex abuse complaint.

The new allegation would sound all too familiar to Delaney.

A man told Providence officials that when he was 13 or 14 inWorcester, Mass., Magaldi stopped to help him with a flat bicycle tire.

Magaldi offered to give him a ride home but instead took him to a hotel. There, the man said, he was raped.

As with the 1997 complaint, the man alleged that Magaldi "made me give him an enema" and gave him money in exchange.

"He ah, had this thing with enemas. Use to call it holy water," the man said, according to the files.

He also accused Magaldi of raping him and paying him money after asmany as 18 incidents of abuse over the course of several years.

When a diocese sexual misconduct committee interviewed Magaldi onDec. 19, 1998, about the allegations, the priest said that the devilwas at work and that he had no way to defend himself.

Magaldi said he didn't know the man.

"I have never performed oral sex on anybody," he told the committee. "I have never raped anybody, God forbid."

Delaney's actions

Delaney was worried. The similarity between the 1997 and 1998allegations was striking. He had defended Magaldi when the priest'sembezzlement conviction had been brought to light in the media. And hehadn't removed Magaldi after the 1997 allegation, though it had been inthe back of his mind.

Now he was forced to act. If not, he told committee members, "Thereis no way that -- that I can defend myself before God or before thepeople of the diocese or before the world."

But Magaldi wasn't removed from active ministry for four more months.

In the meantime, Delaney met with Magaldi and later wrote that ifthe allegations were true, the priest "could be a danger to youngpeople in his ministry," according to a Feb. 19, 1999, note in theconfidential files.

Still, Delaney told Magaldi that "I could try to assist him to finda place in ministry in another diocese, or that he could retire."

In March, shortly before Magaldi was removed, Delaney witnessedfirsthand what he described as an inappropriate gesture: Magaldi heldhis cheek against an altar boy's and tied the boy's cincture. Then, inApril, Delaney learned of reports that Magaldi was allowing a 13- or14-year-old boy to stay with him during the day.

In mid-April, Delaney removed Magaldi from ministry.

The files show that Magaldi passed one polygraph test but failed another.

By the end of 2000, Delaney was willing to discuss returning Magaldi to limited duties. But because of an article in the Star-Telegram and another in The Dallas Morning News,Delaney wrote that "a great deal of publicity was being generated aboutwhether he was to be allowed to function again or not."

"... I explained to PM (I regret, with some heat) that under thecircumstances, my granting him even limited faculties would imply thatall the innuendos and allegations meant nothing to me and that Iendorsed him as a competent minister, and that I could not do that."

Other allegations of inappropriate conduct by Magaldi continued tosurface, including that he kissed a 17-year-old boy on both cheeks inpublic and gave him a lengthy embrace. The boy's grandfather hadrecently died.

Magaldi also asked staff members at one church for the phone numbersof four teenage boys whom he said he wanted to take to a Texas Rangersgame in thanks for serving at a funeral Mass.

Lobbying the Vatican

By 2001, Magaldi was lobbying the Vatican to allow him to return toministry. Delaney put his foot down. He wrote to the Vatican, outliningwhat he knew about the abuse allegations and recommending that Magaldinever be allowed to minister again.

"I cannot in conscience entrust to him public ministry in thechurch," Delaney wrote. "Over and over again, he has proved that hecannot be trusted in his dealings with young boys, and what causes meeven more concern, he seems totally oblivious to the reality that hisconduct is in any way improper."

A short time later, Delaney learned of a new incident involving"material on Phil's computer and on his desk that showed he was in chatrooms looking for minors," according to an e-mail.

The e-mail, sent by another priest, said a friend of Magaldi's madethe discovery. "She didn't say that he had any photos, but that he hadpedophilic material," the e-mail stated.

This year, Magaldi's attorney filed court documents showing thatMagaldi resides in an assisted-living center, is legally blind andcannot walk without assistance.

In August, Bishop Kevin W. Vann announced that Magaldi had beenpublicly performing priestly duties at the nursing center. On Aug. 10,Vann forbade Magaldi from presenting himself as a priest or conductingany services.


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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia