IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CRIMINAL TRIAL DIVISION
IN RE: : MISC. NO. 03-00-239
COUNTY INVESTIGATING GRAND :
REPORT OF THE GRAND JURY
This report contains the findings of the Grand Jury: how dozens of priests
sexually abused hundreds of children; how Philadelphia Archdiocese officials â€“ including
Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Krol â€“ excused and enabled the abuse; and how the
law must be changed so that it doesnâ€™t happen again. Some may be tempted to describe
these events as tragic. Tragedies such as tidal waves, however, are outside human
control. What we found were not acts of God, but of men who acted in His name and
But the biggest crime of all is this: it worked. The abuser priests, by choosing
children as targets and trafficking on their trust, were able to prevent or delay reports of
their sexual assaults, to the point where applicable statutes of limitations expired. And
Archdiocese officials, by burying those reports they did receive and covering up the
conduct, similarly managed to outlast any statutes of limitation. As a result, these priests
and officials will necessarily escape criminal prosecution. We surely would have
charged them if we could have done so.
But the consequences are even worse than the avoidance of criminal penalties.
Sexually abusive priests were either left quietly in place or â€œrecycledâ€ to unsuspecting
new parishes â€“ vastly expanding the number of children who were abused. It didnâ€™t have
to be this way. Prompt action and a climate of compassion for the child victims could
have significantly limited the damage done. But the Archdiocese chose a different path.
Those choices went all the way up to the top â€“ to Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Krol
Despite the dimensions and depth of the sex abuse scandal, this Grand Jury was
not conducting an investigation of the Catholic religion or the Catholic Church. Many of
us are Catholic. We have the greatest respect for the faith, and for the good works of the
Church. But the moral principles on which it is based, as well as the rules of civil law
under which we operate, demanded that the truth be told.
Here is a short description of each of the sections that follow this introduction.
Section II â€“ Overview of the Sexual Abuse by Archdiocese Priests
The Grand Jury was able to document child sexual abuse by at least 63 different
priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. We have no doubt that there were many
more. The evidence also revealed hundreds of child victims of these sexual offenders.
Again, we have no doubt that there were many more. Because much of the abuse goes
back several decades, however, and because many victims were unnamed, unavailable or
unable to come forward, we could not present a comprehensive history of all sexual
abuse that may have occurred in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. What we did learn was
enough to convey the nature of the abuse that took place and was tolerated here.
We should begin by making one thing clear. When we say abuse, we donâ€™t just
mean â€œinappropriate touchingâ€ (as the Archdiocese often chose to refer to it). We mean
rape. Boys who were raped orally, boys who were raped anally, girls who were raped
vaginally. But even those victims whose physical abuse did not include actual rape â€“
those who were subjected to fondling, to masturbation, to pornography â€“ suffered
psychological abuse that scarred their lives and sapped the faith in which they had been
These are the kinds of things that Archdiocese priests did to children:
. A girl, 11 years old, was raped by her priest and became pregnant. The Father
took her in for an abortion.
. A 5th-grader was molested by her priest inside the confessional booth.
. A teenage girl was groped by her priest while she lay immobilized in traction in
a hospital bed. The priest stopped only when the girl was able to ring for a
. A boy was repeatedly molested in his own school auditorium, where his
priest/teacher bent the boy over and rubbed his genitals against the boy until the
. A priest, no longer satisfied with mere pederasty, regularly began forcing sex on
two boys at once in his bed.
. A boy woke up intoxicated in a priestâ€™s bed to find the Father sucking on his penis
while three other priests watched and masturbated themselves.
. A priest offered money to boys in exchange for sadomasochism â€“ directing them
to place him in bondage, to â€œbreakâ€ him, to make him their â€œslave,â€ and to
defecate so that he could lick excrement from them.
. A 12-year-old, who was raped and sodomized by his priest, tried to commit
suicide, and remains institutionalized in a mental hospital as an adult.
. A priest told a 12-year-old boy that his mother knew of and had agreed to the
priestâ€™s repeated rape of her son.
. A boy who told his father about the abuse his younger brother was suffering was
beaten to the point of unconsciousness. â€œPriests donâ€™t do that,â€ said the father
as he punished his son for what he thought was a vicious lie against the clergy.
Section III â€“ Overview of the Cover-up by Archdiocese Officials
The behavior of Archdiocese officials was perhaps not so lurid as that of the
individual priest sex abusers. But in its callous, calculating manner, the Archdioceseâ€™s
â€œhandlingâ€ of the abuse scandal was at least as immoral as the abuse itself. The evidence
before us established that Archdiocese officials at the highest levels received reports of
abuse; that they chose not to conduct any meaningful investigation of those reports; that
they left dangerous priests in place or transferred them to different parishes as a means of
concealment; that they never alerted parents of the dangers posed by these offenders
(who typically went out of their way to be friendly and helpful, especially with children);
that they intimidated and retaliated against victims and witnesses who came forward
about abuse; that they manipulated â€œtreatmentâ€ efforts in order to create a false
impression of action; and that they did many of these things in a conscious effort simply
to avoid civil liability.
In short, as abuse reports grew, the Archdiocese chose to call in the lawyers rather
than confront the abusers. Indeed Cardinal Bevilacqua himself was a lawyer, with
degrees from both a canon law school and an American law school. Documents and
testimony left us with no doubt that he and Cardinal Krol were personally informed of
almost all of the allegations of sexual abuse by priests, and personally decided or
approved of how to handle those allegations.
Here are some incidents that exemplify the manner in which the Archdiocese
responded to the sexual abuse of its most vulnerable parishioners:
. The Archdiocese official in charge of abuse investigations described one abusive
priest as â€œone of the sickest people I ever knew.â€ Yet Cardinal Bevilacqua
allowed him to continue in ministry, with full access to children â€“ until the priest
scandal broke in 2002.
. One abusive priest was transferred so many times that, according to the
Archdioceseâ€™s own records, they were running out of places to send him where
he would not already be known.
. On at least one occasion Cardinal Bevilacqua agreed to harbor a known abuser
from another diocese, giving him a cover story and a neighborhood parish here
because the priestâ€™s arrest for child abuse had aroused too much controversy
there. Officials referred to this sort of practice as â€œbishops helping bishops.â€
. A nun who complained about a priest who was still ministering to children â€“
even after he was convicted of receiving child pornography â€“ was fired from her
position as director of religious education.
. A seminarian studying for the priesthood who revealed that he himself had
been abused as an altar boy was accused of homosexuality â€“ and was dismissed
from the diocese. He was able to become a priest only by relocating to another
. When the Archdiocese did purport to seek psychological evaluation of a priest,
the primary tool for diagnosis was â€œself reportingâ€ â€“ in other words, whether
the abuser was willing to admit that he was a pedophile. Absent such a
â€œdiagnosis,â€ the Archdiocese declined to treat any priest as a pedophile, no matter
how compelling the evidence.
. Even when admitted, the abuse was excused: an Archdiocese official comforted
one sexually abusive priest by suggesting that the priest had been â€œseducedâ€
by his 11-year-old victim.
. An Archdiocese official explained that the church could not discipline one
especially egregious abuser because, as the official put it, he was not a â€œpure
pedophileâ€ â€“ that is, he not only abused little boys; he also slept with women.
. When one priest showed signs of seeking penance from his victims, the church run
â€œtreatmentâ€ facility urged Archdiocese officials to move him to another
assignment away from the victims â€“ in other words, transfer him before he
Such cynicism toward priest sexual abuse may not have started in Philadelphia;
indeed media reports have revealed strikingly similar tactics throughout the country.
Bishops in other dioceses also shuttled abusive priests from parish to parish, until there
was no place left to go, ignored repeated reports of abuse, absent a direct confession or
â€œdiagnosisâ€ of pedophilia, and looked to legalisms, at the expense of decency. But these
parallels, far from excusing Philadelphia church officials, serve only to underscore that
their actions were no accident. They knew what they were doing.
Section IV â€“ Legal Analysis and Recommendations
The notion of prosecuting a priest â€“ let alone a high Church official or even the
Archdiocese itself â€“ may seem shocking to some. But our oath required us to explore any
criminal statute whose terms might fit the conduct we discovered. By the same token, we
were obligated not to recommend criminal charges against priests or church leaders
merely because of our moral outrage at what they did, over and over again. What we
found was that many offenses applied to the evidence before us, but were barred by
statutes of limitation, while many others narrowly failed to apply because of what we
believe are unintended or unwise limitations in the law.
With regard to the priest offenders, any number of sexual offenses were readily
made out by the evidence: rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual
assault, indecent assault, endangering welfare of children, corruption of minors. In every
case, however, our information was simply too old. As we learned from experts in the
field, it takes many years â€“ often decades â€“ before most victims of child sexual abuse are
able to come forward. By then it is simply too late to prosecute, at least under current
Pennsylvania law. We are convinced that more recent victims exist, and perhaps in the
future they will be able to give testimony. For now we were able to document many
assaults, but none still prosecutable.
With regard to the leaders of the Archdiocese, we explored a variety of possible
charges. These included endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors,
victim/witness intimidation, hindering apprehension, and obstruction of justice. All,
however, are currently defined in ways that would allow church supervisors to escape
criminal sanction, or have relatively short statutes of limitation that would bar
prosecution in any event.
With regard to the Archdiocese itself, Pennsylvania law does establish the
possibility of corporate criminal liability for the kind of ongoing, institutional misconduct
that we discovered here. The Archdiocese, however, has chosen not to organize itself as
a legal corporation, thus immunizing itself from such liability. Current Pennsylvania law
concerning criminal conduct by unincorporated associations like the Archdiocese is much
more limited, and cannot form the basis of a prosecution against the Archdiocese as an
We are left, then, with what we consider a travesty of justice: a multitude of
crimes for which no one can be held criminally accountable. We cannot issue the
presentments we would otherwise have returned. If nothing else, however, it is our hope
that this report can help ensure that nothing like this happens in the future. We therefore
make the following recommendations concerning Pennsylvania law:
. abolish the statute of limitations for sexual offenses against children, as
several other states have already done.
. expand the offense of endangering welfare of children, to ensure that it covers
reckless conduct and the conduct of those who directly employ or supervise
caretakers of children.
. increase the penalty for indecent assault where there is a pattern of abuse
against a child.
. tighten the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, to make clear that the
obligation to report child abuse to authorities applies to those who learn of
abuse even if not directly from the child, and even if the child is no longer in the
abuserâ€™s control. Other children may be.
. amend the Child Protective Services Law to require background checks not just
on school employees, but for employees of any organization that supervises
. hold unincorpor
ated associations to the same standards as corporations for
crimes concerning the sexual assault of children.
. enlarge or eliminate statutes of limitation on civil suits involving child sexual
assault, in order to ensure not just a criminal penalty but a continuing financial
disincentive to engage in abuse.
Section V â€“ Selected Case Studies
Although we have attempted to give a general overview of the nature of the abuse
and cover-up in Sections II and III of this report, we were not satisfied that these
summaries convey the full sense of what happened in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Accordingly Section V examines the histories of 28 priests in complete detail, presenting
the conduct of the sexually abusive priests together with the response of the Archdiocese
as it occurred at each step. We understand that these case studies are lengthy, and that
ultimately none of our words are adequate to communicate the true gravity of these
offenses. But this is our best effort to express the relentless refusal of the Archdiocese to
admit what its priests, and its leaders, were doing to children.
Section VI â€“ Appendix
The appendix includes the following materials:
A) a chart listing the names of the 63 priests whose acts of sexual abuse we
were able to document, with a list of the complaints against them;
B) a chart listing each of the parishes and schools in which those 63 priests
were assigned during their careers (whether or not complaints were
recorded from a particular parish);
C) biographical profiles of most of the 63 sexually abusive priests, as
prepared and published by the Archdiocese;
D) selected documents concerning the abuse â€“ from the victims, from priests,
from Archdiocese officials â€“ reproduced in their original form;
E) a glossary of terms;
F) newspaper articles documenting identical treatment of abused and abusers
in dioceses around the United States.
Overview of the Sexual Abuse by Archdiocese
It is hard to think of a crime more heinous, or more deserving of strict penalties
and an unlimited statute of limitations, than the sexual abuse of children. This is
especially so when the perpetrators are priests â€“ men who exploit the clergyâ€™s authority
and access to minors, as well as the trust of faithful families, to prey on children in order
to gratify perverted urges. After reviewing thousands of documents from Archdiocese
files and hearing statements and testimony from over a hundred witnesses â€“ including
Archdiocese managers, priests, abuse victims, and experts on the Church and child abuse
â€“ we, the Grand Jurors, were taken aback by the extent of sexual exploitation within the
Philadelphia Archdiocese. We were saddened to discover the magnitude of the calamity
in terms of the abuse itself, the suffering it has caused, and the numbers of victims and
The Jurors heard testimony that will stay with us for a very long time, probably
forever. We heard of Philadelphia-area priests committing countless acts of sexual
depravity against children entrusted to their care through the Archdioceseâ€™s parishes and
schools. The abuses ranged from glancing touches of genitals under the guise of innocent
wrestling to sadomasochistic rituals and relentless anal, oral, and vaginal rapes. We found
that no matter what physical form the abuse took, or how often it was repeated, the
damage to these childrenâ€™s psyches was devastating. Not only were the victims betrayed
by a loved and revered father figure, but they also faced lifelong guilt and shame,
isolation from family and peers, and torments that typically included alcoholism,
addictions, marital difficulties, and sometimes thoughts of suicide. In many cases, we
discovered, the victims believed God had abandoned them.
For any who might want to believe that the abuse problem in the Philadelphia area
was limited in scope, this Report will disabuse them of that impression. The Jurors heard
from some victims who were sexually abused once or twice, and from many more who
were abused week after week for years. Many of the priests whose cases we examined
had more than 10 victims; some abused multiple victims simultaneously. Indeed, the
evidence arising from the Philadelphia Archdiocese reveals criminality against minors on
a widespread scale â€“ sparing no geographic sector, no income level, no ethnic group. We
heard testimony about priests molesting and raping children in rectory bedrooms, in
church sacristies, in parked cars, in swimming pools, at Saint Charles Borromeo
Seminary, at the priestsâ€™ vacation houses in the Poconos and the Jersey Shore, in the
childrenâ€™s schools and even in their own homes.
From all the documents and testimony put before us, we have received a tragic
education â€“ about the nature of child abuse, for example: how predators manipulate their
prey, why the abuse so often goes unreported, how its impact on victims and their
families remains lifelong. Even so, we find it hard to comprehend or absorb the full
extent of the malevolence and suffering visited on this community, under cover of the
clerical collar, by powerful, respected, and rapacious priests.
A. The evidence reveals that child sexual abuse follows regular patterns.
When we gathered, many of the Jurors did not understand the dynamics of clergy
membersâ€™ sexual abuse of minors. We could not understand how children who were so
awfully abused could fail to tell anyone or, worse, would return to their abuser again and
again. We learned from one of the leading American experts in the field, Kenneth
Lanning, formerly of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that the answer lies in the
twisted relationship that acquaintance molesters initiate with their victims.
Those who prey on children first are careful in selecting their victims. They seek
out vulnerable children who are needy for attention, often because of difficulties at home,
because vulnerable children are easiest to mold to the abuserâ€™s desires. They then achieve
power over their victims in a process that the experts call â€œgrooming.â€ Child molesters
have enormous patience, identifying and pursuing victims sometimes for months before
initiating the abuse. One might take a child to the beach, the cinema, or the local ice
cream parlor, showering his prey with toys and treats. He will give his victim what the
child believes is benign attention and â€œlove.â€ Abusers also often befriend the families of
their victims, visiting their homes, becoming dinner guests, exploiting parishionersâ€™
reverence for the priesthood. The parents are pleased and flattered by a priestâ€™s attentions
to their children.
What surprised the Jurors most in Lanningâ€™s lengthy testimony was that so many
of these men come across as â€œnice guys,â€ that they can be so outwardly likeable. Mothers
and fathers like them. The children who are their targets often love them. These are not
â€œStranger Dangerâ€ predators who look shady or menacing; they are the pillars of the
Catholic community, respected and admired by all. Meanwhile, many of the targeted
children do not understand sex in the first instance, so that when the priest reaches the
point where he begins to act out sexually, the victims are utterly defenseless. As the
abuse continues, their initial confusion turns to guilt and shame over what they believe
they have allowed to happen. Many victims continue to think that priests can do no
wrong or feel responsible for making a â€œgoodâ€ priest go bad.
For the vulnerable child who craves love and security, and the devout child raised
never to question the clergyâ€™s authority, it becomes nearly impossible to break free from
the abusive priest, even after the sexual abuse begins. Experts refer to this phenomenon
as the â€œtrauma bond.â€ Even though the abusive relationship is terribly damaging to the
victim, he finds it difficult to remove himself from it because of the priestâ€™s power over
him and the psychological and emotional bond that has resulted.
1. Sexually abused children rarely report their abuse.
Related to the question of why victims seem unable to break free of their abusers
is the question of why it takes some victims decades to report priest sexual abuse. We
learned there are many reasons for delayed reporting. Most of the victims are devout
and/or come from devout families. Therefore, many of them regard priests as Godâ€™s
representatives on Earth. The well-educated priests, for their part, know very well the
esteem in which trusting children and their parents hold them, and they manipulate that
trust to ensure the victimsâ€™ silence. Some of the priests whose cases we examined told
their victims that God had sanctioned the sexual relationship and would punish them if
they revealed it. Others told children that they loved them, and that the sexual abuse
should be their little secret. Still others told their prey that they, the victims, were
responsible for the abuse, and that no one would believe them if they told.
Psychological denial is not an unusual response to trauma, confusion, shame, and
despair. And there are other, powerful disincentives to report a priestâ€™s abuse. Some
victims fear damaging the Churchâ€™s reputation. Others fear their parentsâ€™ disbelief or
anger â€“ not toward the priest, but toward them. Some worry that such a horrific revelation
could destroy their parentsâ€™ sustaining faith in the Church. Many adolescent boys fear
that revealing sexual contact with a man would call into question whether they are
2. The lifelong impact extends from isolation to â€œsoul murder.â€
The priestsâ€™ manipulation of their victims, we found, can be as cunning as it is
cruel. Often the offenders isolate their victims from others, dominating their time,
criticizing their parents and friends, and discouraging activities outside of the church and
the priestsâ€™ presence. The victims come to believe that the abusive relationship is the only
one they have. This strategy of isolating victims not only deprives them of someone in
whom they might confide; it also serves the priestâ€™s purpose â€“ to continue the abusive
relationship. Subsequently, the isolation often becomes one of the cruelest consequences
of abuse, destroying families and lasting decades.
We saw victims who had been told by their abuser that their parents had
sanctioned the priestâ€™s actions. In two cases, the victims discovered only recently, as they
prepared to testify before the Grand Jury, that what the priest had told them was not true.
For 20 years they had been estranged from their parents, sometimes hating them, because
they believed that their parents had knowingly allowed their abuse. If a priest and God
could betray them, how could they know that their parents had not as well? Parents, for
their part, cannot understand their abused children, who for no apparent reason have
turned their backs on school, church, friends, and family. Who suddenly are not funloving
and happy, but sullen and withdrawn. Who are abusing alcohol and drugs and
acting out in other ways. The parents blame their children.
Meanwhile, if other children suspect a boy is being abused, they often ridicule the
victim, suggesting he is homosexual. And not just children do this. We heard testimony
about a nun, the teacher of one victim, who â€“ after the boy reported his abuse to police â€“
began calling him by a girlâ€™s name in class, eliciting giggles from his fellow students.
Most devastating of all, we saw firsthand what Father Thomas Doyle calls â€œsoul
murder.â€ As Father Doyle, a conscientious Dominican priest who has assisted clergyabuse
victims around the world, points out, these children suffer from the abuse not just
physically and psychologically, but spiritually. The faith they need to cope with the
tragedies of life is for them forever defiled. In order for a priest to satisfy his sexual
impulses, these children lose their innocence, their virginity, their security, and their
faith. It is hard to think of a crime more heinous.
3. Priests who abuse minors usually have many victims.
Another thing we learned about sexual abuse of minors is that the offenders
typically have numerous victims. We heard from experts that the compulsion that drives
some priests to molest or rape children is not curable, that treatment and supervision need
to be intense and lifelong, and that the recidivism rate is extremely high. In the files of
Philadelphia Archdiocese priests that we obtained by subpoena, we saw what must have
been crystal-clear as well to Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua and their aides: that many,
many priests each have had many, many victims, often spanning decades.
The experts told us that, given the nature of the crime, victims who report their
abuse represent merely the tip of the iceberg, and that abusive priests likely have preyed
on many more victims who have not come forward. We heard reports, most of which the
Archdiocese had also received, about 16 victims of Fr. Nicholas Cudemo, 14 victims of
Fr. Raymond Leneweaver, 17 victims of Fr. James Brzyski, and 18 victims of Fr. Albert
Kostelnick. We believe there were many more.
B. The evidence provides many examples that help illustrate the patterns
There are many more Philadelphia-area priests who have molested and sodomized
parishionersâ€™ children than are named here. We cannot in this Report describe the cases
of every priest against whom allegations have been raised. But we have tried to include
histories that reflect the depraved patterns, if not the full magnitude, of sexual abuse
perpetrated by Philadelphia Archdiocese priests. Consider, for example, the cases of Frs.
Brzyski, Cudemo, Chambers, Gana, Kostelnick, Leneweaver, Martins, and Sicoli.
Father James Brzyski
It was Fr. Brzyski who told his victims that their parents knew and approved of
his sexual abuse of their sons. The 6â€™5â€, 220-pound priest told this to a devout 12-yearold
boy, â€œSean,â€ (the names of victims have been changed in this Report) whom he began
anally raping in 1984. Sean, now a grown man, told the Jurors:
Iâ€™ve harbored this feeling towards my mom for
going on twenty years and to come to find out the other
night that itâ€™s not â€“ you know, it was â€“ it wasnâ€™t true. She
had no idea. She had absolutely no idea.
So you know, Iâ€™ve been dealing with this. Iâ€™ve been
hating her for twenty years for no reason whatsoever, and
thatâ€™s not right. Thatâ€™s my mom.
Father Bryzski had started the abuse when Sean was 10 or 11 years old â€“ fondling
the boyâ€™s genitals and rubbing his own against the child in the corner of the sacristy
where the altar boys dressed. Sean estimated that Fr. Brzyski molested him â€œa couple of
hundred times.â€ The abuse progressed from fondling to oral sex to anal rape.
Sean testified that he was scared, but he was devout. He believed that to say
anything bad about a priest was a mortal sin, and that he would go to Hell if he told. So
he said nothing, and continued to suffer the abuse even as its severity increased. His
parents expressed pleasure that he was spending time with the priest. The abuse
continued for seven or eight years.
Another of Fr. Brzyskiâ€™s victims, â€œBilly,â€ told the Grand Jury that his deepest
wish was to return to who he had been before the priest first thrust his hands down the
11-year-oldâ€™s pants. He wanted God back, and his parents, and the joy of celebrating
Easter and Christmas. He wanted to believe in Heaven and morality. He described how
Fr. Brzyskiâ€™s abuse had â€œturned this good kid into this monster.â€ He began to think of
himself as two different people. He told the Jurors:
I had no God to turn to, no family, and it just went
from having one person in me to having two people inside
This nice Billy . . . that used to live, and then this
evil, this darkness Billy . . . that had to have no morals and
no conscience in order to get by day by day and, you know,
not to care about anything or have no feelings and to bury
them feelings so that you could live every day and not be
laying on the couch with a depression problem so bad that,
you know, four days later youâ€™d be in the same spot.
The Archdiocese files had the names of 11 boys who had been reported as victims
of Fr. Brzyski. Three of his victims who testified before the Grand Jury provided names
of still others they knew of. Sean told Jurors that he saw as many as a hundred
photographs of boys, ages 13 to 16, many of them nude, which Fr. Brzyski kept in a box
in his bedroom. One of the pictures was of Sean.
Father Nicholas Cudemo
A top aide to Cardinal Bevilacqua described Father Nicholas Cudemo to the
Grand Jury as â€œone of sickest people I ever knew.â€ This priest raped an 11-year-old girl.
He molested a 5th grader in the confessional. He invoked God to seduce and shame his
victims. He maintained sexually abusive relationships simultaneously with several girls
from the Catholic school where he was a teacher. His own family accused him of
molesting his younger cousins.
Complaints of Fr. Cudemoâ€™s sexual abuse of adolescent girls began in 1966, with
a letter to Cardinal Krol describing a three-year â€œaffairâ€ between the priest, then in his
first assignment, and a junior at Lansdale Catholic High School. More allegations
followed in 1968 and 1977, the latter alerting the Archdiocese to another long-term
sexual relationship with a schoolgirl, and her possible pregnancy.
Father Cudemo began abusing another girl, â€œRuth,â€ in the late 1960s when she
was 9 or 10 years old. When she was 11, he began to rape her. He would then hear her
confession. He convinced the child that she could not survive without him, and that only
through her confession was she worthy of Godâ€™s love. When Ruth became pregnant at
age 11 or 12, he took her for an abortion. He abused her until she was 17. She has
suffered severely ever since.
Father Cudemo taught at three high schools â€“ Bishop Neumann, Archbishop
Kennedy, and Cardinal Dougherty â€“ being transferred each time because of what were
recorded in Archdiocese files as â€œparticular friendshipsâ€ with girls. He was then recycled
through five parishes, and twice promoted by Cardinal Bevilacqua to serve as a parish
pastor. The Grand Jury heard of at least 16 victims.
Father Gerard Chambers
Father Gerard Chambers was accused of molesting numerous altar boys, and of
anally and orally raping at least one, during 40 years as a priest in the Archdiocese.
Beginning in 1994, four of his victims came forward to the Archdiocese to talk about
their abuse. (The victims were from his 14th and 15th assignments â€“ Saint Gregory, in
West Philadelphia; and Seven Dolors, in Wyndmoor.) One victim, â€œBenjamin,â€ told the
Archdiocese that Fr. Chambers plied him with alcohol and cigarettes and then abused
him, â€œhugging, kissing, masturbatingâ€ him and engaging in â€œmutual fondling of the
genitals.â€ This happened in the church sacristy, at Fr. Chambersâ€™ sisterâ€™s house, and in
the priestâ€™s car.
Another victim, â€œOwen,â€ has tried to commit suicide and has been
institutionalized at a state mental hospital. Father Chambers anally and orally raped him
when he was 12 years old. Owen was, and continues to be, especially devout. He suffers
delusions because he cannot reconcile his faith in the Church with what happened to him.
Two of his brothers, â€œGeorgeâ€ and â€œFrancis,â€ were also victims of Fr. Chambers and are
still haunted by their abuse more than 40 years later. They described to the Grand Jury
how the abuse ruined their family â€“ each boy withdrawing and suffering in silence, even
though they knew, they said, on some level, that Fr. Chambers was abusing them all.
They could not tell their parents, who taught them to be in â€œaweâ€ of priests. Rather than
confide in anyone, George said they just â€œstuffed it down.â€ But he began drinking at age
13, and still suffers from serious depression.
The victims named several other boys from Saint Gregory whom the priest had
abused. One of the brothers testified that he believed Chambers â€œsexually abused every
altar boy and quite frequently those who werenâ€™t altar boys.â€
Father Stanley Gana
Father Stanley Gana also sexually abused countless boys in a succession of
parishes. One victim, â€œJohn,â€ who testified before the Grand Jury, had gone to Fr. Gana
in 1977 because the then-14-year-old had been sexually abused by a family friend. Father
Gana used his position as a counselor and the ruse of therapy to persuade the boy to have
physical contact with him. This â€œtherapyâ€ slowly progressed to full-fledged sexual abuse,
involving genital touching, masturbation, and oral and anal sodomy. It continued for
more than five years. Father Gana abused John in the rectory, at a house at the New
Jersey Shore, on trips, and at the priestâ€™s weekend house in the Poconos. Often there were
several boys involved in a weekend or on a trip, and Fr. Gana would have them take turns
coming into his bed. Sometimes he would have sex with John and another boy, â€œTimmy,â€
at the same time.
Father Gana abused Timmy for nearly six years, beginning in 1980, when the boy
was 13. The priest ingratiated himself with Timmyâ€™s parents. He was a frequent dinner
guest and he often brought gifts to the family. He hired Timmy to work in the rectory,
took him on trips with John and other boys to Niagara Falls and Disney World, and for
weekends to the Poconos. Timmyâ€™s parents pressured their son to spend time with Fr.
Gana and constantly told Timmy that he should be grateful for all the priest did for him.
Timmy found it impossible to avoid or report his abuse. He knew that his parentsâ€™ view
of priests could not be reconciled with his reality â€“ the obese priest pushing the boyâ€™s
scrawny, undeveloped body across a rectory bed so that his face was pressed against the
carpet, ignoring the boyâ€™s cries of pain, and forcibly penetrating him anally. Timmy was
sure his parents would not believe him.
In 1992, training to become a priest himself and in his final year of seminary,
Timmy told Cardinal Bevilacquaâ€™s Secretary for Clergy, William Lynn, and another aide
about his years of abuse by Fr. Gana. But, after hearing from the seminary dean that he
thought Timmy â€œmight sue the diocese for pedophilia,â€ Cardinal Bevilacqua ordered an
investigation â€“ of the seminarian. The probe failed to prove any wrongdoing on Timmyâ€™s
part, but the Cardinal refused to allow the victim to complete his studies and forced him
to seek ordination outside the diocese. Father Gana remained an active priest in the
Archdiocese until 2002.
Father Albert Kostelnick
The Secret Archives file (where the Archdiocese, in accordance with Canon law,
recorded complaints of sexual abuse by priests) for Father Kostelnick contained
numerous reports that he sexually fondled young girls. The reported incidents spanned 32
years, beginning in 1968, when he fondled the genitals and breasts of three sisters, ages 6
to 13 years old, as he showed slides to their parents in the familyâ€™s darkened living room.
The three sisters also reported, in 2002, that Fr. Kostelnick had fondled their other sister
as she lay in traction in a hospital following an automobile accident in 1971. They said
the injured girl had to ring for the nurse to stop her molestation.
In 1987, Fr. Kostelnick was reported to the police for fondling an 8-year-old girl
in an offensive manner. Cardinal Bevilacqua learned of additional complaints in 1988
and 1992, yet he allowed the priest to continue as pastor of Saint Mark parish in Bristol.
The priest admitted in 2004 to the Archdiocese Review Board that his â€œlongstanding
habitâ€ of â€œfondling the breasts of young girlsâ€ continued after these victimsâ€™ complaints
were ignored in 1992. In 1997, Cardinal Bevilacqua honored the serial molester at a
luncheon at the Cardinalâ€™s house and set him loose as a senior priest in a new parish,
Assumption B.V.M. in Feasterville. By the time Fr. Kostelnick was finally removed from
ministry in 2004 (after Cardinal Bevilacquaâ€™s tenure had ended), the Archdiocese had
heard reports about at least 18 victims.
Father Raymond Leneweaver
At Saint Monica parish in South Philadelphia, Fr. Leneweaver named a group of
altar boys whom he abused the â€œPhiladelphia Roversâ€ and had T-shirts made up for them.
He took the 11- and 12-year-olds on outings and, when he was alone with them, he
molested them. He anally raped at least one boy. He repeatedly pulled another out of
class at the parish grade school, took him to the school auditorium, forced the boy to bend
over a table, and rubbed against him until the priest ejaculated. Another time in his
rectory bedroom, Fr. Leneweaver pulled the boyâ€™s pants down, smeared lubricant on his
buttocks, and thrust his penis against the boyâ€™s backside. Each time the priestâ€™s crimes
were reported to the Archdiocese, he admitted his offenses. By 1975, he had confessed to
homosexual activity with at least seven named children with whom he was â€œseriously
involved.â€ He told Archdiocese officials of others he was involved with â€œin an incidental
Cardinal Krol transferred this chronic abuser four times after learning of his
admitted abuses. Predictably, Fr. Leneweaver continued to abuse boys in his new
parishes. When he finally requested a leave from ministry in 1980, Cardinal Krol wrote a
notation on a memo to his Chancellor:
His problem is not occupational or geographical & will
follow him wherever he goes. He should be convinced that
his orientation is an acquired preference for a particular
method of satisfying a normal human appetite. â€“ An
appetite which is totally incompatible with vow of chastity
+ commitment to celibacy.
While this note shows that the Cardinal understood the compulsive nature of
pedophilia and knew the likelihood that Fr. Leneweaver would abuse boys wherever he
was assigned, the parents of his victims could not imagine such abhorrent behavior from
a priest. They could not have conceived of the truth â€“ that Fr. Leneweaver had been
transferred to Saint Monica after admitting to the abuse of another boy at a previous
assignment. The father of one victim beat his son until he was unconscious when the boy
tried to report Fr. Leneweaverâ€™s actions. The devout father, trusting priests and the
Church more than his son, repeated as he beat the boy, â€œpriests donâ€™t do that.â€
Father Nilo Martins
Father Martins was a Brazilian pediatrician and religious-order priest who came
to the Archdiocese in 1978. In May 1984, he was assigned as an assistant pastor at
Incarnation of Our Lord in North Philadelphia. On a Saturday afternoon in early February
1985, he invited a 12-year-old altar boy, â€œDaniel,â€ up to his rectory bedroom to watch
television, ordered the boy to undress, and anally raped him.
Daniel, now a Philadelphia police officer, testified that as he cried out in pain, the
priest kept insisting: â€œTell me that you like it.â€ Daniel told the Grand Jury that he saw
blood and was terrified. When the priest was done, he gave Daniel a puzzle as a present
and told the boy to get dressed and leave.
Daniel, who had an unhappy home life and an abusive stepfather, went down to
the church and cried. A young priest he considered a friend, Fr. Peter Welsh, saw him and
asked what happened. After Daniel finished telling him, Fr. Martins entered and
approached the two. Father Welsh then left the boy, took Fr. Martinsâ€™ confession, and
never returned to talk to the boy.
A few days later, Daniel confided in his lay math teacher at the parish grade
school. The teacher was horrified and immediately informed the pastor, Fr. John Shelley.
The teacher also encouraged Daniel to tell his parents. Frightened that he might be beaten
if he told his mother and stepfather, Daniel asked Fr. Welsh to go with him to tell them.
Father Welsh said he was busy. The pastor, who should have reported the boyâ€™s rape to
police, or at least to his parents, also refused to accompany the boy to his house. Daniel
finally got up the nerve to tell his mother. At her urging, he called the police.
The next day, when Daniel went to the church â€“ as he did everyday to be with his
friends â€“ Fr. Shelley told him that he was not welcome anymore. The 12-year-old victim
of a brutal anal rape by a priest was no longer allowed to be an altar boy. As word
circulated, children at school called him a â€œfaggotâ€ and laughed as they said, â€œAh, you
got fucked in the ass.â€ Even a teacher, Sister Maria Loyola, he said, started referring to
him in class as â€œDaniella,â€ prompting the class to laugh. When he asked her to stop
calling him that, she gave him a demerit.
Daniel said he just wanted to disappear. Unable to change schools, he dropped out
emotionally â€“ withdrawing socially and failing academically. Father Martins pleaded
guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and corruption of the morals of a minor.
Deported back to Brazil, he did not serve his prison sentence.
Father David Sicoli
Father Sicoli paid for tuition, computers, and trips to Africa and Disney World for
parish boys he took a particular liking to. He invited several to live in his rectories with
him, and he gave them high-paying jobs and leadership positions in the Churchâ€™s youth
group, the CYO. Some of them in interviews insisted that nothing sexual took place with
the priest. But others, now grown, told the Grand Jury that Fr. Sicoli sexually abused
them and treated them as if they were his girlfriends. From the start of his priesthood, and
continuing through 2001, priests who lived with Fr. Sicoli warned the Archdiocese about
his unhealthy relationships with boys.
Four victims from Immaculate Conception in Levittown, where Fr. Sicoli was
assigned from 1978 to 1983, testified that he had sexually abused them when they were
12 to 16 years old. All of them said that Fr. Sicoli had plied them with alcohol and then
abused them. Three told of being taken to a bar, the Red Garter, in North Wildwood, New
Jersey. After Fr. Sicoli got the boys drunk, he asked them to drive him home â€“ even
though they were only 14 years old. On separate occasions, with all three, the priest
feigned sickness in the car and asked them to rub his stomach. He then requested that
they go â€œlowerâ€ and rub his crotch. The abuse these victims reported included mutual
masturbation and oral sex. They said that Fr. Sicoli acted jealous and immature and
threatened to fire them from their rectory jobs if they did not do what he wanted.
Despite reports in Fr. Sicoliâ€™s Secret Archives file of inappropriate relationships with
these four victims and five other boys, Cardinal Bevilacqua appointed the priest to four
pastorates between 1990 and 1999. At each one he seized on a favorite boy, or a
succession of favorites, on whom he showered attention, money, and trips. Three of these
boys lived with Fr. Sicoli in the rectories with the knowledge of Msgr. Lynn.
In October 2004, the Archdiocese finally removed Fr. Sicoli from ministry
following an investigation by the Archdiocesan Review Board, which was created in
2002 to help assess allegations of abuse. The Review Board found â€œmultiple
substantiated allegations involving a total of 11 minors over an extensive period of time
beginning in 1977 and proceeding to 2002.â€
Overview of the Cover-Up by Archdiocese Officials
For a more complete picture of the actions taken by the Archdiocese to hide priest
sexual abuse â€“ from parents, potential victims, and the public at large â€“ it is necessary to
read the Case Studies in Section V of this Report. This Section, however, will provide an
outline of the careful methods by which the Archdiocese accomplished its concealment of
these crimes, and thereby facilitated the abuse of even more Archdiocese children.
A. Archdiocese leaders were aware that priests were sexually abusing
hundreds of children, and that their continued ministry presented great
Grand Jurors heard evidence proving that Cardinals Bevilacqua and Krol, and
their aides, were aware that priests in the diocese were perpetrating massive amounts of
child molestations and sexual assaults. The Archdioceseâ€™s own files reveal a steady
stream of reports and allegations from the 1960s through the 1980s, accelerating in the
1990s (with nearly 100 allegations in that decade), and exploding after 2001. In many
cases, the same priests were reported again and again.
Notes in Archdiocese files prove that the Church leaders not only saw, but
understood, that sexually offending priests typically have multiple victims, and are
unlikely to stop abusing children unless the opportunity is removed. Cardinal Krol
displayed his understanding of sexual compulsion when he wrote, in the case of Fr.
Leneweaver, that the priestâ€™s problem would â€œfollow him wherever he goes.â€ Cardinal
Bevilacqua noted in the file of Fr. Connor, an admitted child molester, that the priest
could present a â€œserious riskâ€ if allowed to continue in ministry (which he was). Notes in
the file of Fr. Peter Dunne show that Cardinal Bevilacqua also was aware that therapists
recommend lifelong supervision and restricted access to children for pedophiles. (Fr.
Dunne, a diagnosed pedophile, did not receive such supervision and was permitted to
continue in parish ministry.)
Secretary for Clergy William Lynn displayed his understanding of child
molestation when he told Fr. Thomas Shea that â€œthe evidence of the medical professionâ€
makes it â€œvery unusual for such instances [of sexual abuse] to be with only one
youngster.â€ Cardinal Bevilacqua and his staff also knew from experience that most
victims do not report their abuse until many years later, if at all.
B. Archdiocese leaders employed deliberate strategies to conceal known
In the face of crimes they knew were being committed by their priests, Church
leaders could have reported them to police. They could have removed the child molesters
from ministry, and stopped the sexual abuse of minors by Archdiocesan clerics. Instead,
they consistently chose to conceal the abuse rather than to end it. They chose to protect
themselves from scandal and liability rather than protect children from the priestsâ€™
For most of Cardinal Krolâ€™s tenure, concealment mainly entailed persuading
victimsâ€™ parents not to report the priestsâ€™ crimes to police, and transferring priests to other
parishes if parents demanded it or if â€œgeneral scandalâ€ seemed imminent. When Cardinal
Bevilacqua took over as Archbishop in February 1988, concern over legal liability had
joined fears of scandal. Dioceses across the country were grappling with the implications
of a 1984 case in which a Louisiana diocese paid $4.2 million to nine victims of a
Cardinal Bevilacqua was trained as an attorney. (He holds degrees in Canon law
from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, and in American law from St.
Johnsâ€™ University Law School in Queens, New York.) The Grand Jurors find that, in his
handling of priestsâ€™ sexual abuse, Cardinal Bevilacqua was motivated by an intent to keep
the record clear of evidence that would implicate him or the Archdiocese. To this end, he
continued many of the practices of his predecessor, Cardinal Krol, aimed at avoiding
scandal, while also introducing policies that reflected a growing awareness that dioceses
and bishops might be held legally responsible for their negligent and knowing actions
that abetted known abusers.
To protect themselves from negative publicity or expensive lawsuits â€“ while
keeping abusive priests active â€“ the Cardinals and their aides hid the priestsâ€™ crimes from
parishioners, police, and the general public. They employed a variety of tactics to
accomplish this end.
1. Archdiocese leaders conducted non-investigations designed to avoid
establishing priestsâ€™ guilt.
At first, Grand Jurors wondered whether Archdiocese officials, including Cardinal
Bevilacqua and his aides, were tragically incompetent at rooting out sexually abusive
priests and removing them from ministry. Secretary for Clergy William Lynn suggested,
for example, that accusations made against Fr. Stanley Gana in 1992 â€“ of anal rape, oral
sodomy, and years of molestation of adolescent boys â€“ â€œmust have fallen through the
cracks,â€ since Fr. Gana remained a pastor three more years until another allegation
surfaced. Soon the Jurors came to realize that sexual abuse cases in the Philadelphia
Archdiocese did not fall â€œthrough the cracksâ€ by accident or mistake.
The Secretary for Clergy, whom Cardinal Bevilacqua assigned to investigate
allegations of sexual abuse by priests, routinely failed to interview even named victims,
not to mention rectory staff and colleagues in a position to observe the accused priests.
The only â€œinvestigationâ€ conducted after a victim reported being abused was to ask the
priest if he did what was alleged. If the accused priest, whose very crime is characterized
by deceit and secretiveness, denied the allegation, Archdiocese officials considered the
allegation unproven. Monsignor Lynn professed to the Grand Jury that he could not
determine the credibility of accusations â€“ no matter how detailed the victimsâ€™
descriptions, or how many corroborating witnesses there might be, or how many similar
accusations had been made against a priest by victims who did not know each other, or
how incriminating a priestâ€™s own explanation of the events.
The reason for Msgr. Lynnâ€™s apparent lack of judgment, curiosity, or common
sense in refusing to acknowledge the truth of abuse allegations became evident when
Cardinal Bevilacqua testified. The Cardinal said that, when assigning and promoting
priests, he disregarded anonymous or third-party reports of sexual crimes against children
that were contained in many priestsâ€™ files. The Cardinal, like his Secretary for Clergy,
claimed to be unable to determine whether the reports were true. He told the Grand Jury
that he could not know without an investigation. And yet the staff, with his approval,
never truly investigated these reports â€“ no matter how serious, how believable, or how
easily verified. This was the case even when victims were named and other priests had
witnessed and reported incidents. The Cardinal conceded under questioning that
allegations against a priest were generally not labeled â€œcredibleâ€ unless the priest
happened to confess.
The Grand Jury is convinced that the Archdiocese could have identified scores of
child molesters in the priesthood simply by encouraging other clergy to report what they
witnessed â€“ for example, incidents in which they saw fellow priests routinely take young
boys, alone, into their bedrooms. We heard from many victims that their abuse had been
witnessed by other priests. Fellow priests observed Frs. Nicholas Cudemo, Craig
Brugger, Richard McLoughlin, Albert Kostelnick, Francis Rogers, James Brzyski, and
John Schmeer as they were abusing young victims. None of these witnesses helped the
children or reported what they saw. Father Donald Walker confirmed what we came to
believe â€“ that the Archdiocese had an unwritten rule discouraging â€œratting on fellow
We were initially incredulous when Cardinal Bevilacqua insisted that Msgr. Lynn
was very intelligent and competent. After all, the Secretary for Clergyâ€™s â€œinvestigationsâ€
did not bother with witnesses, nor did they seek the truth or falsity of allegations, unless
the priest happened to confess. But after reviewing files that all contained the same
â€œincompetentâ€ investigation techniques, it became apparent to the Grand Jurors that
Msgr. Lynn was handling the cases precisely as his boss wished.
2. The Cardinals transferred known abusers to other parishes where their
reputations were not known and parents could not, therefore, protect
a. The decision whether to transfer a known abuser was determined by the
threat of scandal or lawsuit, not by the priestâ€™s guilt or the danger he
Father Donald Walker was one of three priests in Cardinal Krolâ€™s Chancery
Office charged with investigating and handling sexual abuse allegations against priests.
He explained to the Grand Jury how, during his tenure, the Archdioceseâ€™s primary goal in
dealing with these cases was to reduce the risk of â€œscandalâ€ to the Church. The Grand
Jurors saw this pattern for ourselves as we reviewed the files of priests accused of
molesting minors. Whether an accused molester stayed in his position, was transferred to
another parish, or was removed from ministry, the Archdiocese response bore no
consistent relationship to the seriousness of his offense or the risk he posed to the
children of his parish. Rather, the decision was based entirely on an assessment of the
risk of scandal or, under Cardinal Bevilacqua, legal liability.
We saw this vividly illustrated in the case of Fr. John Mulholland. In 1970,
Archdiocese managers had reason to believe that Fr. Mulholland was taking parish boys
at Saint Anastasia in Newtown Square on vacations and engaging in sadomasochistic
behaviors with them. An adviser to the churchâ€™s youth group, the CYO, had warned the
managers and given the names of many of the boys involved. Believing at first that Fr.
Mulhollandâ€™s reputation for â€œplay[ing] around with boysâ€ was widespread, Archdiocese
officials decided he would have to be reassigned because of â€œscandal.â€ Many of the
parents of these boys, however, never imagined what was going on and opposed Fr.
Mulhollandâ€™s transfer. When the Archdiocese officials realized that there was no hue and
cry, they decided to let Fr. Mulholland stay in the parish where they had been told he was
committing his abuse. The reason for the change of heart was recorded in Church
documents: â€œthe amount of scandal given seemed to lie only with a very small minority.â€
While Archdiocese memos recording abuse allegations often omitted the names of
victims or the nature of the priestsâ€™ offenses, they almost never failed to note the degree
of scandal or whether the victim had told anyone else. When scandal threatened, the
Archdiocese would take action. During Cardinal Krolâ€™s administration, this almost
always meant a transfer to another parish and the managersâ€™ memos unabashedly
recorded the motive. In Fr. Joseph Gauschâ€™s file, for example, one of his many transfers
was explained this way: â€œbecause of the scandal which already has taken place and
because of the possible future scandal, we will transfer him in the near future.â€
Cardinal Bevilacquaâ€™s decisions, like his predecessorâ€™s, were similarly dictated by
an assessment of risk to the Archdiocese. In the case of Fr. Cudemo, multiple victims
came forward in 1991, reporting to the Archdiocese that the priest had abused them when
they were minors. One he had raped when she was 11 years old, another he had had a
sexual relationship with for 14 years, beginning when she was 15. The priestâ€™s Secret
Archives file contained at least three allegations previously made against the priest. As
more and more victims came forward, Cardinal Bevilacqua steadfastly refused to remove
Fr. Cudemo as pastor of Saint Callistus parish. Only when some of the victims threatened
to sue the Archdiocese and Cardinal Bevilacqua did he finally ask the priest to leave his
parish. After the lawsuit was dismissed because the statute of limitations had run, the
Cardinal permitted Fr. Cudemo to resume ministering.
b. Parishioners were not told, or were misled about, the reason for the
The Archdioceseâ€™s purpose in transferring its sexually abusive priests was clear â€“
to remove them from parishes where parents knew of their behavior and to place them
among unsuspecting families. The obvious premise of this pattern was the Church
officialsâ€™ understanding that parents would never knowingly allow their children to serve
as altar boys, or work in rectories, or be taken to the New Jersey Shore by men they knew
had molested other boys. The result of the Archdioceseâ€™s purposeful action was to
multiply the number of children exposed to these priests while reducing the possibility
that their parents could protect them.
Cardinal Bevilacqua had a strict policy, according to his aides, that forbid
informing parishioners â€“ either those whose children had recently been exposed to a
sexual offender in his old parish or the parents of potential victims in a newly assigned
parish â€“ about any problems in a priestâ€™s background. The Cardinal, in fact, encouraged
that parishioners be misinformed. When Fr. Brennan was removed from an assignment in
1992 because of allegations of improper behavior with several parish boys, one
parishioner remembers being told to pray for the Father because he was â€œbeing treated for
Lyme Disease.â€ Even the pastors of the new parishes, who might have supervised the
abusers if aware of their history, were usually told nothing.
c. Sexual Offenders were transferred to distant parishes where their
reputations would not be known.
If a priest was particularly notorious or a former victim was vigilant and vocal,
the Archdiocese would transfer the priest to an especially distant parish, in hopes of
escaping notice. Thus, after Fr. Leneweaver had abused boys in parishes in Philadelphia,
Delaware, and Chester Counties, Chancellor Francis Statkus lamented that â€œthe latest
incident eliminates his usefulness in his ministry in the area of Chester County,â€ and
explained that he was to be transferred next to Bucks County â€œbecause it is one of the few
remaining areas where his scandalous action may not be known.â€ A notation in Fr.
Leneweaverâ€™s file stated that his reassignment would not be announced, making it
unlikely that anyone could forewarn the parents in his new parish.
Cardinal Bevilacqua used a similar strategy in 1992, when considering a
reassignment for Fr. Michael McCarthy. The Cardinal just months earlier had received
allegations that the priest had regularly taken students from Cardinal Oâ€™Hara High School
to his beach house, plied them with liquor, slept nude in the same bed with them, and
masturbated the boys and himself. The Cardinal had an aide tell the accused priest that,
despite the allegations against him, he could be â€œappointed pastor at another parish after
an interval of time has passed.â€ That new parish, according to the Cardinalâ€™s instructions,
â€œwould be distant from St. Kevin Parish so that the profile can be as low as possible and
not attract the attention of the complainant.â€
If a priest was arrested or convicted and his crimes publicized in the news, more
extreme measures were needed to return the abuser to ministry among uninformed
parishioners. Thus, when Archbishop Bevilacqua was deciding where to assign Fr.
Edward DePaoli after his conviction for possessing child pornography, he wrote: â€œfor the
present time it might be more advisable for [Fr. DePaoli] to return to the active ministry
in another diocese.â€ The Archbishop explained that this move would â€œput a sufficient
period between the publicity and reinstatement in the active ministry of the Archdiocese
of Philadelphia.â€ He arranged for Fr. DePaoli to be assigned to a parish in New Jersey
for three years.
d. The Archdiocese harbored abusers transferred from other dioceses.
Cardinal Bevilacqua also reciprocated with other dioceses, as part of what an aide
referred to as the â€œtradition of bishops helping bishops.â€ For five years, beginning in
1988, Cardinal Bevilacqua secretly harbored a New Jersey priest, Fr. John Connor, at
Saint Matthew parish in Conshohocken so that the bishop in Camden could avoid scandal
there. Cardinal Bevilacqua, despite an earlier acknowledgement that Fr. Connor could
present a â€œserious risk,â€ did not inform Saint Matthewâ€™s pastor of the danger. In fact, he
told the pastor that Fr. Connor had come to the parish from another diocese because his
mother was sick and he wanted to be near her. The pastor never knew, until he read it
years later in a newspaper, that Fr. Connor had been arrested in his home diocese of
Camden for sexually abusing a 14-year-old. As a result of his ignorance, the pastor did
not worry, as he should have, when Fr. Connor showered attention and gifts on a boy in
the parish grade school.
3. Archdiocese leaders made concerted efforts to prevent reports of priest
abuse to law enforcement.
The hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by priests that the Archdiocese has
received since 1967 have included serious crimes â€“ among them, the genital fondling and
anal, oral, and vaginal rape of children. Sometimes the abuse was ongoing at the time it
was reported. The obvious response would have been to report such crimes to law
enforcement, to allow police to investigate and to stop the perpetrators. The Archdiocese
managers, however, never reported a single instance of sexual abuse â€“ even when
admitted by the priests â€“ and did everything in their power to prevent others from
Cardinal Bevilacqua was asked repeatedly when he testified before the Grand
Jury why he and his aides never reported these crimes to law enforcement. His answer
was simply that Pennsylvania law did not require them to. That answer is unacceptable
(as well as the result of a strained and narrow interpretation of a law specifically intended
to require reporting sexual abuse of children). It reflects a willingness to allow such
crimes to continue, as well as an utter indifference to the suffering of the victims. Such
thinking is the reason, for example, that Fr. Leneweaver, an admitted abuser of 11- and
12-year-old boys, was able to receive a clean criminal record check and teach Latin at
Radnor Middle School last year.
Not only did Church officials not report the crimes; they went even further, by
persuading parents not to involve law enforcement â€” promising that the Archdiocese
would take appropriate action itself. When the father of a 14-year-old boy reported to
Cardinal Krolâ€™s Chancellor in 1982 that Fr. Trauger had molested his son and that he had
told someone in the Morals Division of the Police Department (the father was himself a
detective), the Chancellor succeeded in fending off prosecution. Chancellor Statkus
informed the Cardinal: â€œConvinced of our sincere resolve to take the necessary action
regarding Fr. T., [the victimâ€™s father] does not plan to press any charges, police or
otherwise.â€ (What Cardinal Krol did upon receiving this information was what he had
done a year before, when Fr. Trauger had attempted to anally rape a 12-year-old boy
from his previous parish: the Cardinal merely transferred the priest to another parish,
where his crimes would not be known.)
Once in a while priests engaged so publicly in abusive acts that their crimes could
not be concealed â€“ such as when police in Rockville, Maryland stopped Fr. Thomas
Durkin â€“ a Philadelphia priest who was visiting the area â€“ in the middle of the night. At
the time of the police encounter, the priest was chasing a half-dressed 16-year-old boy
through the streets. The teenager had run from their shared bedroom to escape Fr.
Durkinâ€™s sexual advances. In that case, the Archdiocese had to rely on the local diocese
to intervene to keep the police from taking action. Having successfully hidden its priestâ€™s
crime and prevented the prosecution of it, the Archdiocese then permitted Fr. Durkin to
continue in ministry despite his admission that he had abused other boys as well.
4. Church leaders carefully avoided actions that would incriminate themselves or
Some of the Archdiocese leadersâ€™ actions or inactions, which initially might have
seemed merely callous or reckless, we soon came to realize were part of a deliberate and
all-encompassing strategy to avoid revealing their knowledge of crimes. Church officials
understood that knowing about the abuse, while taking steps that helped perpetuate it,
made them responsible for endangering children.
Many victims, for example, told the Grand Jurors that they were treated badly by
the Secretary for Clergy when they reported their abuse. After recounting their
nightmarish experiences to the Archdiocese managers, the victims were surprised at the
lack of outrage toward the priest or compassion toward the victim. They had wanted
desperately to be believed and hoped for an apology. They expected that the Archdiocese,
once informed, would make sure the offenders would never again hurt the children of
their parishes. Instead, the Church official charged with assisting the victims often
questioned their credibility and motives. When victims needing reassurance that the
abuse had not been their fault asked Msgr. Lynn whether their abuser had other victims,
the Secretary for Clergy refused to tell them â€“ or lied and said they were the only one.
Cardinal Bevilacquaâ€™s highest aide, Vicar for Administration Edward Cullen, instructed
his assistant, James Molloy (who at times displayed glimpses of compassion for victims),
never to tell victims that he believed them. Doing so would have made evident the
Church officialsâ€™ knowledge of other criminal acts and made later denials difficult.
Archdiocese leaders even left children in dangerous situations with known
abusers rather than reveal their culpable knowledge by intervening to protect a child.
Thus, when Archdiocese managers learned, on two separate occasions, that parish boys
were on camping trips with Frs. Francis Trauger and John Mulholland â€“ priests they had
just been told were abusers â€“ they did nothing to interrupt the camping trips. Nor did they
do anything afterwards to keep the priests away from the boys or to warn their parents.
Cardinal Krolâ€™s Assistant Chancellor, Vincent Walsh, sat silently while parents
from Saint Anastasia in Newtown Square voiced support for Fr. Mulholland, asking that
the Archdiocese reconsider its decision to transfer the priest to another parish. These
parents vouched for Fr. Mulhollandâ€™s interest in their sons: one was grateful that the
priest had taken his child on vacation without asking for money from the parents, another
that the priest had helped his son gain entry to a sought-after school. At the time of the
meeting, Fr. Walsh knew what the parents did not: that these teens had been reported as
possible victims of Fr. Mulhollandâ€™s sadomasochistic behavior. The Assistant Chancellor
said nothing to warn the unsuspecting parents, and Cardinal Krol left Fr. Mulholland in
Full 423 page report together with details of abusive priests and the coverup can be found at
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.Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia