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  Home :: 2006 December :: Capuchins name priest accused of sex abuse

Capuchins name priest accused of sex abuse

Man says Rev. Daleo molested him as youth

Friday, December 15, 2006
The Rev. Paul Daleo was "very charismatic with the kids" as a part-time teacher, a brother who knew him recalls.

Sean Dougherty went to a parish school in the Catholic Diocese ofWilmington. His family attended church at Holy Child Catholic Churchand his mother, Barbara, worked in the diocesan chancery office for awhile.

But the priest Dougherty says abused him when he was aneighth-grader at St. Mary Magdalen School was not a diocesan priest.The Rev. Paul Daleo was a member of a religious order, the CapuchinFranciscans, so his name didn't appear last month when the diocesereleased the names of 20 priests with substantiated allegations ofsexual abuse against them. Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli left therelease of the names of seven religious-order priests up to theirorders.

When Dougherty saw the list, he called the Capuchins and thediocese. Release Daleo's name, he urged them. Then he called The NewsJournal.

"I'm not going to be silent anymore," he said.

The Capuchins then became the first religious order in Delaware toacknowledge substantiated allegations against one of their priests.

After Dougherty's calls, they confirmed two confidential settlementswith men who say they were sexually abused by Daleo -- Dougherty, now40, and another man, now 38, who spoke with The News Journal but askednot to be identified.

Daleo, now 56 and living in Jersey City, N.J., declined to comment.

But the Rev. John LoSasso, provincial for the Province of theStigmata Capuchin Franciscans from 1990-96, said Daleo was "remorseful"when officials first confronted him with allegations in 1993. He wasremoved from ministry that year, sent to a treatment facility and thenassigned an office job in Union City, N.J., LoSasso said.

In 2003, Daleo left the order's friary in Union City, unwilling tolive by new restrictions adopted by U.S. bishops after the scandal ofclergy sexual abuse emerged nationally, said the Rev. Brian Tomlinson,the order's new provincial. Because of Daleo's departure, the order hastaken steps toward separating the priest from the order, Tomlinson said.

Ministering to poor

The Capuchin Franciscans are beloved for their ministry to the poor and the disenfranchised.

The Rev. Ronald Giannone, "Brother Ronald" as he is called, isprobably the best-known Capuchin in this area. Giannone is executivedirector of the Ministry of Caring and founder of the Emmanuel DiningRoom kitchens that feed the homeless and hungry in Wilmington.

Giannone knew Barbara Dougherty, who died in 2000. She had helped alot in the early years of the dining room and attended Mass at theFranciscans' monastery off Silverside Road.

Daleo also lived at the friary at that time. He worked part-time asa chaplain and teacher at St. Edmond's Academy and served as directorof religious education at St. John the Beloved parish near Pike Creek.

But Giannone was not aware of allegations that Daleo was molestingboys, he said, and he does not believe anyone else suspected anything,either.

"He had a reputation as a pied piper at St. Edmond's -- verycharismatic with the kids," Giannone said. "If we knew, we should havebeen hung."

Giannone said he did not know until LoSasso disclosed the reason fora confidential financial settlement in the mid-90s. Daleo, who had beenremoved from parish ministry by then, was in the room with the otherfriars when the announcement was made.

"He was extremely articulate with his pen and his voice. He was agood preacher. And he was outspoken. Either you loved him or you didn'tlove him. But after this, he was sheepish, different, broken."

The order was broken, too, LoSasso said.

"What gave me the greatest sadness is that both [victims'] familieswere close to our community," LoSasso said. "They were such beautifulfamilies. We cannot even imagine what a parent goes through when theyrealize what happened. These young men's lives were terribly disrupted.It hurts the order when we think that a member would do theunthinkable."

Giannone said he was stunned by the recent disclosures that Daleo was one of more than 20 priests accused in the diocese.

"This has been an awful epiphany," he said. "I thought these wereisolated incidents, like Paul Daleo. But pedophiles are clever. They gointo the whole family."

Daleo definitely did that, Sean Dougherty's family said.

Cursed at priest

Tina Dougherty Mattera still remembers what her brother did Friday, May 9, 1980, the day he was confirmed at St. Mary Magdalen.

Confirmation is a once-in-a-lifetime event for Catholics, asacrament that marks the soul as Christian. But it wasn't theconfirmation that was so memorable. It was what Sean Dougherty didduring the party later at the family's Brandywine Hundred home.

Daleo, who stood beside Dougherty at the ceremony, confirming hisfaith, reached out to tickle him at the party, Mattera recalled. Thatwasn't surprising, either. "Father Paul" was often tickling, kissing,giving out bear hugs.

But this time, Dougherty pulled away, cursed the priest and ran upstairs.

These guys had been as close as brothers for more than a year, shesaid. They called each other "Big Brother" and "Little Brother." Whatwas up with Sean?

Dougherty enjoyed a lot of time with the priest. He felt comfortablewith him and believed he was one of Daleo's best friends. He thought itwas a little odd, though, when Daleo took him and several other boys tosee "American Gigolo," an R-rated movie.

Shortly before Dougherty's confirmation, Daleo invited him to sleep over at the friary.

After that night, Dougherty told his parents that he wasn't going tohang out with the priest anymore -- that he kissed him too much. Hismother believed her son had misinterpreted Daleo's expressions ofaffection.

Daleo stopped visiting as often but he continued to send Sean cards for his birthday, Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day.

Dougherty's life took a sharp turn for the worse. The boy who oncehad whistled through his days, the fun-loving kid who was such a goodhitter on St. Mary Magdalen's baseball team, that kid started usingdrugs. He got into trouble at Salesianum and transferred to ConcordHigh School. For years to come, he would get drunk, struggle withrelationships and sometimes question his sexuality.

It was not until he was in his mid-20s that Dougherty mustered thestrength to tell his parents what happened at the friary that night. Hetold them how Daleo had taken his clothes while he was showering andgiven him a pair of too-large pajamas, how Daleo had come down to thefloor where he was lying next to the priest's bed, how he got on top ofthe boy, kissing him, telling him how much he loved him and grindinghis body into the boy's. Dougherty said he asked Daleo to stop, but thepriest continued. He said he doesn't remember what else happened thatnight.

LoSasso said friars are not permitted to have guests stay overnightin their rooms. Before guests can stay overnight, he said, the superiorof the house must grant permission and the priest must reserve a guestroom.

When he found out about that night, Bill Dougherty told his son hewould find someone to break the priest's kneecaps. He wanted to killDaleo for what he had done to his boy, he said.

Barbara Dougherty took the news especially hard. She had been one ofDaleo's biggest supporters. Now, she was seeing his friendship with thefamily in a different light. Now, she wondered if the priest really wastutoring her son all those nights, when she would return home fromchoir practice and find him in Sean's bedroom.

In a pair of 1994 letters to LoSasso and the order, she recountedhow she had defended Daleo when he was accused of "funny business withthe altar boys," when he was banned from several parishes, includingher own, when controversy swirled because of things he said during sexeducation classes at St. Edmond's. School officials say they have norecord of any problems with Daleo.

Barbara Dougherty had believed he was misunderstood, that peopledidn't like his liberal views or his outspoken style. She had helpedhim get teaching jobs, and had urged her pastor -- in vain -- to lethim serve at Holy Child. She had defended him to other parents whenthey refused to let their sons attend his classes.

Could not forgive

Now, she was crushed and consumed with guilt for opening so many doors -- including her own family's -- to the priest.

"Don't tell me God forgives him and so must we -- I will never forgive him," she wrote to LoSasso.

Unlike some victims of clergy abuse, Sean Dougherty said he neverlost his faith in Jesus. It was his faith in human authorities --church and civil -- that died. "There was not a man around to protectthe children," he said.

Several years after telling his parents, Dougherty confronted Daleoon the telephone. He said the priest apologized if he had ever doneanything to hurt him. He said the priest told him he had problemsgetting too close to people, violating their personal space. It was hisway of being affectionate, he said, and he was dealing with it.

By then, another young man had come to the Capuchins withallegations against Daleo. Capuchin officials confronted the priest,LoSasso said, and sent him to a residential facility for treatment.

"In any conversation I had with him -- when I had to remove him orsent him for treatment -- I sensed he was deeply remorseful about whathappened," LoSasso said. "After he went to treatment, he was a littlebit more in tune with the effects of what happened."

Dougherty said he met with LoSasso and other Capuchins in 1994 atEmmanuel Dining Room. He said he was met with compassion and an offerto help.

He had much more trouble finding a lawyer. He called at least adozen in Wilmington, he said. None would take the case. Finally, afriend of his mother's suggested a young lawyer in Illinois, Joseph G.Klest. Dougherty was one of Klest's first priest-abuse victims. Klesthas represented more than 100 since then.

Dougherty signed a confidentiality agreement and the Capuchins settled the matter in 1995 for $100,000.

The Capuchins settled with the other man in 1996.

The damage remains for both men and their families.

And Sean Dougherty believes the public should know the rest of the story.

"We're all supposed to be in this together," he said. "We're allbrothers and sisters. There are many people in the community that hehas touched personally -- in good and bad ways. It's going to be hardfor some of them to believe he was a monster.

"But I'm not going to be silent anymore."

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

Born: 1950.

Deacon internship: Immaculate Conception parish, The Bronx, N.Y., 1976-77.

Ordained: June 12, 1977.

June 1977: Chaplain, St. Mary's Hospital, Passaic, N.J.

July 1978: Assigned to St. Francis Renewal Center, Wilmington, Del.

Ministry in the Diocese of Wilmington included:

• 1978-82: Part-time chaplain, religion instructor, counselor, St. Edmond's Academy, Brandywine Hundred.

•Director of religious education, St. John the Beloved, Milltown.

July 1985: Associate pastor, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Passaic, N.J.

July 1992: Pastor, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Passaic, N.J.

Feb. 1993: Director of development, Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary, Union City, N.J.

May 2003: Leave of absence from Capuchin order.

Residence: Jersey City, N.J., within Resurrection parish.

Source: Capuchin Franciscan friars


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