Entries in Priest (10)


Former Conn. Priest Indicted on Meth Charges

Image Source/Thinkstock(BRIDGEPORT, Conn.) -- A former Roman Catholic priest from Connecticut has fallen from grace after being indicted on charges that he was part of an alleged cross-country crystal methamphetamine drug ring.

Former Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 61, of Waterbury, who was the pastor of the St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport for nearly a decade, was one of five people indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday for allegedly transporting methamphetamine from Connecticut to California.

Also charged were Kenneth Devries, 52, of Waterbury; Michael Nelson, 40, of Manchester; Chad McCluskey, 43, of San Clemente, Calif.; and Kristen Laschober, 47, of Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Wallin was also charged with six counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams of methamphetamine since September, according to court documents.

Law enforcement officials say they believe he received shipments of methamphetamine from the West Coast and resold the drugs out of his apartment in Waterbury, ABC station WABC-TV in New York reported.

In addition, investigators suspect that Wallin may have owned an adult video shop in North Haven called Land of Oz that he allegedly used the store to launder the money he earned selling drugs, according to court documents.

The Diocese of Bridgeport released a statement saying that Wallin resigned as pastor of the Bridgeport parish in 2011, citing health and personal issues, and was granted a sabbatical.

The diocese said that Wallin's "faculties for public ministry were suspended in May 2012, and he has not been reassigned."

Despite that, the diocese continued to pay him a stipend until he was arrested on Jan. 3, the Connecticut Post reported.

Some of his former parishioners are shocked the man they esteemed as a "very honorable man of God" would be involved in such a scandal.

"I feel terrible about it. And we just keep praying from him, that's all. If these allegations are true, we pray he repents, makes his peace with God, like we all have to," a parishioner told ABC affiliate WABC.

If convicted, Wallin faces a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Priest's 'Horrible' Job of Telling Newtown Parents of Children's Deaths

ABC News(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- A Newtown, Conn., priest had the "horrible" job of going door-to-door informing families early Saturday morning that their children had been killed in the elementary school massacre.

There were 20 children among the 27 people killed the day Adam Lanza, 20, invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire on staff and students. Lanza was also found dead in the school.

Most of the children were between the ages of 5 and 10, President Obama said on Friday.

Medical examiners have completed the grim work of identifying all of the victims at the school and families were informed early on Saturday morning that their loved ones had been killed.

"We were gathered until after midnight and we were sent out with teams to go to the homes of the victims," parish priest Monsignor Robert Weiss told Good Morning America on Saturday. "We went to their homes early this morning to confirm the death of their children and it was just horrible."

"The uncertainty...even though they knew in their hearts that this was real," he said. "And the questions they were asking, the regrets they had. 'Why did I send my child to school today?'"


Weiss said some of the parents shared the last moments they had with their children. One dad said that, for some reason, his child got up early Friday morning and came down to tell the father how much she loved him. Another parent said their child had asked what dying was like just the day before.

"Parents are really going through a tremendous amount of pain and hurt right now, trying to deal with not just their personal loss, but what happened to their child in the last moments of their life," he said.

A number of the victims' families are part of Weiss' parish. He baptized some of the children and some of them went to his parish's nursery school.

"It's hard to believe that these little children are gone," he said.

Weiss met with the families from his parish who lost children and said the hurt and the anguish are "just settling in now" and then "there's going to be anger."

"And then they're going to have to live with this reality that this big part of their life is gone for them," he said.

Weiss said he has "no answer" when families ask him why their children have been taken from them.

"This was not God's plan," he said. "This was a man who has serious issues in his life. Why he'd want to destroy innocent children, no one can figure out."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Retiring Chicago Priest Refuses to Leave Rectory

George Doyle/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A Chicago parish is in turmoil because its beloved priest has balked at his impending removal from the Catholic Church rectory, while his incoming successor, who says he was attacked by a staff member, admits that he shares some of the blame for the disruption.

The Rev. Daniel Mallette, a civil rights and anti-poverty activist, has lived at St. Margaret of Scotland rectory since 1977, but the Chicago Archdiocese ordered him to move out earlier this year because it is in need of repair and is now considered unsafe for the frail but spry reverend.  Mallette, 80, was brutally beaten on the church's property by robbers late last year; he recovered from the incident and soon returned to St. Margaret's.

It is part of established church governance in Chicago that a departing pastor lives off the premises for six months after the new pastor arrives, so he can get settled and establish his leadership.  The deadline for Mallette to leave the church came and went Monday, and he has yet to vacate.

"I would love to stay where I'm at, and I thought when you became a pastor emeritus, this new pastor would come in and run the parish and I wouldn't interfere with anything," Mallette told ABC News affiliate WLS-TV.

Mallette said the cardinal previously told him that he would be able to reside at the rectory until he dies.  But now, he says, the cardinal denies having told him that.

"There was a time I thought that was what he said," Mallette told ABC News Wednesday.  "He's a good man, and he's suffering.  He says he didn't say it.  I thought I heard him say that I could stay here.  It could be that I didn't hear it correctly."

Colleen Dolan, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Archdiocese, told the Chicago Sun-Times that repairs on the rectory that were scheduled to begin on Monday have now been delayed.

The kerfuffle over Mallette's departure comes as conflict grows between senior staff at the church's school and the new parish priest, the Rev. William O'Donnell, who arrived at St. Margaret's three months ago.

Rickey Harris, the principal of St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic School, sent a letter to church families on Tuesday announcing his resignation.  He mentioned his treatment by the Office of Catholic Schools and his "recent suspension by Fr. William O'Donnell."

"The unfortunate events of these last few weeks have caused me to pause and reflect on who I am, my purpose, and whether or not I will allow myself to be disrespected, my integrity questioned and reputation that I have worked so hard to build to be stained with deception and untruths," Harris wrote, adding that O'Donnell questioned his commitment to those he serves.

O'Donnell, however, told WLS on Tuesday that it is he who has been subjected to intimidation since his arrival at St. Margaret's, and that a now-suspended school staff member lunged at him twice.

"I was physically intimidated and, in fact, other teachers in the room stepped between us to stop it," O'Donnell said.

Principal Harris told ABC News that he was not present at the time of the alleged altercation, but he was surprised when he heard about it.  Although O'Donnell says he was almost attacked, he believes he must share some of the blame over how his arrival at the church has played out, he said.

"It would be very arrogant of me to think I was not somehow part of the problem; that perhaps I didn't do this correctly," O'Donnell said.

Mallette has also chimed in on O'Donnell, calling him arrogant and even a bully, WLS reported.  When asked about his successor during one interview, Mallette reportedly broke into a rendition of the folk song "Plastic Jesus."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prominent Priest Defends Sex Abusers, Later Apologizes

Image Source/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A well-known Catholic priest who hosts a weekly religious television show said in an interview this week that child sex abusers are often seduced by teenage boys and should not go to jail on a first offense.  But the comments were removed by the website that published them and replaced by an apology from the priest and the site's editors.

The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, 79, who hosts a weekly show on the Catholic television network EWTN, originally made the comments in an interview with the National Catholic Register.  He also referred to convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State coach convicted of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, as a "poor guy."

"People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to -- a psychopath.  But that's not the case.  Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him.  A lot of the cases, the youngster -- 14, 16, 18 -- is the seducer," Groeschel was quoted as saying in the interview, which is no longer available on the paper's website.

The interview has now been replaced by a statement from Groeschel.

"I apologize for my comments," it said.  "I did not intend to blame the victim.  A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible.  My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be.  I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could.  I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone."

Jeanette R. De Melo, the site's editor in chief, included her own apology for posting the interview.

"Child sexual abuse is never excusable," she wrote.  "The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel's comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse.  Nothing could be further from the truth."

The interview, billed as a reflection on the 25 years since Groeschel founded the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal order, covered many topics, but Groeschel's comments on child sexual abuse brought it national attention.

"Well, it's not so hard to see.  A kid looking for a father and didn't have his own -- and they won't be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping, but not having intercourse or anything like that.  I's an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers," Groeschel was quoted as saying.

Quotes from the interview remained posted on websites including the National Catholic Reporter, the Huffington Post, and the Catholic blog Renew America, all of which criticized Groeschel for the remarks.

Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter called the comments "particularly disturbing" because of Groeschel's background in psychology.  He received a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University.

"(The comments) cannot stand unchallenged," Roberts wrote.

Groeschel could not be reached for comment.  Representatives for the National Catholic Register and EWTN did not immediately return calls for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Acquitted of Beating of Priest He Said Sexually Abused Him

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- William Lynch, the California man who admitted he pummeled a priest who he said abused him as a boy, has been found not guilty of felony assault and elder abuse charges.

The jury of nine men and three women could not reach a verdict on a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault for the 2010 attack at a retirement home.

The jury began deliberations late Monday after hearing impassioned closing arguments from both sides.

The defense's strategy had long been to prove to the jury that the wrong man was on trial. However, prosecutor Vicki Gemetti urged jurors to focus on the assault.

"Two wrongs don't make a right," she said in her closing arguments on Monday.

Lynch's crusade for his own form of personal justice against the priest, Jerry Lindner, drew supporters to the courthouse in San Jose, Calif., during his nearly three-week trial. They carried signs that read "stop clergy sex abuse" and condemned the "pedophile playground" retirement community that is home to Lindner, who has had previous allegations against him.

Lynch testified last Friday that he visited Lindner with the intention of having the aging Jesuit sign a confession, but when the priest "looked up and leered" at Lynch in the same manner he did more than 35 years ago when he sexually abused him, Lynch said he ordered the priest to take off his glasses and hit him.

Lynch passed up a plea deal of one year in jail and instead chose to go to trial to publicly shame the man who he said haunted his memories for 35 years.

On a family camping trip 35 years ago, Lynch said he was brutally raped at age 7 by Lindner and was then forced to perform sex acts on his 4-year-old brother.

The boys kept their painful secret for years, long past the six-year statute of limitations California had in place at the time of the alleged crimes.

Lynch got his wish to see the priest in court, even if the tables were turned. Lindner was forced to testify, but a short time later the Jesuit invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The judge struck his testimony from the record.

During his short time on the stand, Lindner, now 67, told the court he remembered Lynch, but only as the man who attacked him at a Los Gatos, Calif., Jesuit retirement community where the priest has resided since 2001.

Lindner denied molesting Lynch and his younger brother on a camping trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974.

Lynch's attorney declared the priest had perjured himself and even prosecutor Vicki Gemetti said in her opening statement that she expected Lindner to lie on the stand or say he didn't remember certain events.

"The evidence will show [Lindner] molested the defendant all those years ago," she said, but urged the jury to focus on Lynch's attack.

Lynch's case of alleged vigilante justice has attracted support from around the world and has shed light on a justice system many view as flawed.

Lynch and his brother were awarded $625,000 after filing a civil suit against Lindner in 1997. The priest was removed from active ministry and was moved to the Jesuit retirement community in 2001.

Lindner was named in two other abuse lawsuits, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Priest Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Woman Undergoing Exorcisms

Image Source/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- A Virginia woman came to a priest to be purged of her "evil spirits" in 2008 but claims the priest repeatedly molested her during the two-year exorcism that followed.

The woman -- known only as Jane Doe -- filed a lawsuit on June 19 in Arlington County Circuit Court against Human Life International, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington and one of its bishops, alleging they failed to stop the abusive sexual encounters. She seeks more than $5.3 million in damages.

The woman had already reached a private settlement with the exorcist, Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, who was the president of anti-abortion rights group Human Life International during the time of the exorcism, according to her lawyer.

In the lawsuit filed last week, she claims Euteneuer abused her in the Human Life International offices during working hours, and the employees knew the exorcism sessions were going on there. In addition, the suit claims the Diocese of Arlington should have been responsible for Euteneuer's conduct because he was working within its jurisdiction.

The lawsuit alleges that Euteneuer told the woman her "case" was "severe," and in April 2008, told her the Diocese had given him permission to perform the exorcism.

That month, Euteneuer hugged Jane Doe and told her "I wish I could go a lot further," according to the lawsuit, before carrying her to a guest residence at Human Life International, where he "laid her on the bed" and "touched her under her bra."

In the weeks that followed, Euteneuer explained "full, passionate kisses as 'blowing the Holy Spirit' into her," the lawsuit said.

For the next two years, he would direct the woman to undress and touch his penis, according to the lawsuit. He also "digitally" penetrated her, the court filing said.

The suit goes on to say that Human Life International hired the woman by circumventing its usual hiring policies, and that Euteneuer regularly gave her money. He later followed her to Hawaii, where she was vacationing with her family, and burned her journal to get rid of evidence of their encounters, the lawsuit alleges.

The woman complained to the Diocese about the abuse in July 2010, but Euteneuer stayed in office for another two months before he resigned and was recalled to the Diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., according to the document.

He sexually abused her two more times, becoming rough and making her bleed, the suit claims.

The suit alleges that Euteneuer knew his victim had dissociative disorder, which Mayo Clinic defines as "escap[ing] reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy."

In 2011, Euteneuer issued a statement in which he admitted to "violations of chastity" with an adult woman but that he never intended to leave the priesthood over the accusations.

Euteneuer was not named as a defendant in the current lawsuit, because he and the woman had already reached a private settlement, according to the victim's lawyer, Demetrios Pikrallidas.

Although the defendants have not yet been served and are therefore not required to respond to these allegations, Human Life International and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington have sent statements to ABC News.

Human Life International spokesman Stephan Phelan said the accusations concern Euteneuer -- who has not been an HLI employee for nearly two years -- not the anti-abortion rights organization.

"We intend to vigorously defend HLI from the false accusations made against it, and we are undeterred in pursuing HLI's mission to build a culture of life and protect the unborn," Phelan said.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington emphasized that Euteneuer was not one of its priests, but a priest with the Diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., which was not named as a defendant in the suit.

Diocese of Arlington spokesman Michael Donohue told ABC News that Euteneuer was never authorized to perform an exorcism. Although the Diocese does have an exorcist, Donohue said the exorcist's name is not public.

Donohue said that once the woman complained to the Diocese of Arlington, it reported the allegations to the Diocese in Palm Beach within two days.

Pikrallidas told ABC News that it took her "a lot of courage" to file the charges against the organization, and that she remains "distraught."

"A person that reached a point in their life turns to the church to seek guidance and is led down the wrong path for personal gratification," Pikrallidas said. "This was not easy by any stretch of the imagination for her."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Md. Priest Who Denied Lesbian Communion at Funeral Placed on Leave

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A priest who denied communion to a gay woman at her mother’s funeral mass has been put on leave by the Washington D.C.-area archdiocese, but the archdiocese said the suspension is not related to the communion controversy.

In a statement, the archdiocese said Father Marcel Guarnizo was placed on administrative leave because of “credible allegation that Father Guarnizo had engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others.”

The statement did not elaborate on what that behavior might have been.

Guarnizo, a suburban Maryland priest, had been criticized by Barbara Johnson and her family for his behavior at the funeral of Johnson’s mother. Johnson, who is a lesbian, said Guarnizo denied her communion at her mother’s funeral mass.

“He covered the bowl with the Eucharist with his hand and looked at me, and said I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin in the eyes of the church,” Johnson told ABC News affiliate WLJA in Washington.

“She was clearly distraught,”  her older brother Larry Johnson told ABC News.

Both Barbara and Larry Johnson wrote letters to the Archdiocese of Washington, saying they believe that Guarnizo’s actions then and during the rest of the funeral were unacceptable. The Johnsons say the priest walked out of the service while Barbara Johnson was delivering her eulogy.

Family members also say the priest failed to come to the grave site, and the burial was attended by a substitute priest found by the funeral director.

As for the decision to suspend Guarnizo, Larry Johnson told ABC News: “I think the actions of the diocese speak for themselves. Whatever the ultimate reasons were, as far as I’m concerned, this individual, for the time being, will not be in parish life."

“I think this is a pretty significant action that they took,” he said. “I don’t think they would have taken it lightly.”

The Johnson family issued a statement Monday saying that they “pray for the Archdiocese of Washington, Father Guarnizo, and all Catholics during this time of upheaval.”

“While we understand this letter does not pertain to the events that occurred at our mother’s funeral, we are hopeful that Bishop Knestout’s decision will ensure that no others will have to undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family,” the statement said. “We urge all Catholics to put aside political points of view, and pray that our Church will remain in Christ’s love."

But the head of DignityUSA, a group that focuses on gay and lesbian rights and the Catholic Church, said the incident is part of a wider problem.

“The reality is in some ways it is very emblematic of the hierarchy’s approach to gay people, transgender people,” Marianne Duddy-Burke said. “There are little messages of rejection that happen all the time.”

Guarnizo did not return an email asking for a comment about the communion incident.

The Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement that indicated Guarnizo should have taken up the matter of whether Johnson could receive communion in private.

“When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion it is not the policy of the Archdiocese to Washington to publicly reprimand the person,” the statement said.

Duddy-Burke said the archdiocese’s response misses the point.

“I would hope that it provides a wake-up call to church leaders to make them see where the extremes of their policy are leading,” she said. “My concern is they will just see this as an isolated incident and fail to see the context.”

Larry and Barbara Johnson both received letters from the archdiocese apologizing “that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life…was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity.”

Guarnizo has been in the Washington area for a year, after serving as a priest in Russia. The Archdiocese of Washington has launched an inquiry into his alleged intimidating behavior toward staff and others. In its statement, the archdiocese said, Guarnizo will remain on leave “until all matters can be appropriately resolved with the hope that he might return to the priestly ministry.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Priests In Church Abuse Crisis Not All Pedophiles, Report Claims

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A five-year examination of sexual abuse by Catholic priests changes a traditional definition of pedophilia and concludes that most abusive priests are not pedophiles; fewer than 5 percent of cases fit into that category, according to the report's definition.

The authors of the study, The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, consider children age 10 and younger "prepubescent," despite the typical definition that considers prepubescent kids to be those aged 13 and younger.

The report also found no statistical evidence that homosexual priests were more likely to abuse children than priests who are straight. Most of the victims were adolescent males, the report concludes, because of opportunity and not preference.

The report was prepared by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three Former Priests Laicized Following Sex Abuse Accusations

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BRAINTREE, Mass.) -- The Archdiocese of Boston announced Friday that three men who were attached to the archdiocese have had their priesthood rights removed following sexual abuse accusations.

By order of Pope Benedict XVI, the men -- Frederick J. Cartier, Louis J. Govoni and Frederick Guthrie -- may no longer function as priests, except for offering absolution to the dying.

According to a release by the Archdiocese of Boston, Cartier, who was ordained in 1963, was first accused in 2002 of sexually abusing a minor during the early 1970s. The archdiocese says by the time the accusation was made, Cartier had been out of ministry for 20 years, and had left the archdiocese without permission in 1980.

Govoni, who was ordained in 1972, was also first accused in 2002 of sexually abusing a minor during the mid-1970s. Govoni has reportedly been out of ministry since 1978.

Guthrie, ordained in 1962, was charged in 2001 with using a computer to solicit a minor and subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Alleged Victim to Highlight Priest's Abuse at Assault Trial

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) -- William Lynch, the Bay area man accused of beating the former priest who allegedly sexually assaulted him as a child, is using the charges against him to highlight what he says are the priest's unexposed crimes.

Lynch appeared in court Friday on charges he attacked Father Jerry Lindner at a Los Gatos retirement home for Jesuit Priests on May 10, where he allegedly beat him in front of several witnesses, according to San Francisco ABC News affiliate KGO-TV.

According to prosecutors, Lynch is accused of carrying out a premeditated attack on Linder and can be heard on 911 tapes making death threats against Linder, KGO-TV reported.

Lynch, 43, has said he will plead not guilty, but he did not enter a plea during Friday's hearing before a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge.

Lynch was ordered by the judge to not have any contact with Lindner, the priest he claims abused him and others more than 35 years ago.

Lynch has accused Linder of sexually abusing him when he was seven years old and his younger brother was four back in 1975 during weekend camping trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  According to Lynch, the brothers were raped and forced to have oral sex with each other while Lindner watched.

Lindner has denied any sexual assault and has never been criminally charged.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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