Father Steven Stencil
Diocese of Tucson
Assigned as follows:
- 1981-1984 Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish (Miami, AZ)
- 1984-1986 Sacred Heart Parish (Clifton, AZ)
- 1986-1989 Vocations, Diocese of Tucson
- 1989-1999 St. Anthony Parish (Casa Grande, AZ)
- 1999-2001 St. Mark the Evangelist Parish (Tucson, AZ)
Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Steven Stencil:
According to media reports, in 2000, a teen-age boy complained to Church officials that Father Steven Stencil had groped him at a pool party in 1999 when he was 17 years old. The boy said Father Stencil, then pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Casa Grande, squeezed his penis for two to three seconds during horseplay in the pool.
The Diocese of Tucson learned of the incident a few weeks later, when the boy confided in another member of the clergy. Diocesan officials did their own investigation of the incident. According to a Diocese of Tucson’s spokesman’s deposition, after officials’ first interview with the boy, the spokesman said he was instructed to telephone the boy and ask him if what Father Stencil did in the swimming pool could have been accidental or unintentional. The boy said it could have been accidental, and the matter was dropped. Law enforcement authorities were not notified.
The boy said he felt uncomfortable previously, as well. In response to questioning, the spokesman said that the boy reported that Father Stencil asked him questions about sex during private confessions and that he placed his hand on the boy’s thigh during those confessions.
The boy changed his mind in February 2002, shortly after the Diocese of Tucson settled 11 lawsuits that accused four local priests of sexually abusing 10 young men in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. The incident was then reported to authorities.
In February 2001, Father Stencil was removed from the priesthood for violating the Diocese of Tucson’s policy forbidding priests from being in the company of minors overnight on two separate occasions.
In June 2002, Father Stencil’s name appeared on the Diocese of Tucson’s list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.
In July 2004, a former Catholic seminarian filed suit against the Diocese of Tucson, its bishops, and Bishop Wilton Gregory, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops among other high-ranking American prelates. The suit alleges a pattern of racketeering activity exemplified by fraud and obstruction of justice.
The man’s complaint also documents an encounter he had with Father Stencil. According to the lawsuit, Father Stencil lured him into his rectory on the pretense that he needed his assistance. Once inside the rectory, the man claims, Father Stencil allegedly attempted to sexually assault him, and told him that “it’s OK to be a homosexual.” The man said he was never a homosexual, and as a devout Catholic, he believed in and supported the promise of celibacy that every priest of the Roman rite is required to make upon ordination.
He claims he had to struggle to free himself from the vocations director, and once away from his would-be rapist, immediately left Father Stencil’s rectory for safer territory. He initially told no one about the alleged assault out of fear of Father Stencil’s power to have him expelled from the Diocese of Tucson. The lawsuit states that he had learned in Harrisburg “that revelation to priests or bishops with management authority of the acts of predator priests was futile and counter-productive.”
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