Tag: Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse attorney

Fr. James Dux – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father James M. Dux

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. James Dux Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1948

Retired (in good standing): 1994

Faculties restricted: 1995

Permanent restriction: 2005

Died: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • 1948-1955 Our Lady of Hungary (Northampton, PA)
  • 1955-1960 St. Paul (Reading, PA)
  • 1960-1965 St. Philip Neri (Lafayette Hill, PA)
  • 1965-1966 St. Philip Neri (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1966-1974 St. Eugene (Primos, PA)
  • 1974-1975 St. Anthony of Padua (Ambler, PA)
  • 1975-1994 St. John the Baptist (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1994-2006 Villa St. Joseph (in residence)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father James Dux:

According to the 2005 grand jury report, Father James Dux was a prolific serial predator with nearly a dozen victims known to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as of 2005.  The amount of victims who have come forward since 2005 is not known as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has never disclosed that information publicly except under subpoena.

According to the grand jury report’s summary of allegations:

  • In 1975, Dux was accused by three boys, at least one of whom was in seventh grade, of some type of sexual misconduct that is not detailed in the catalog of allegations.  However, the allegations were serious enough to cause the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to tell Dux to start seeing a psychiatrist. He was also immediately transferred to St. John the Baptist.  Dux continued in ministry unrestricted.
  • In July 1985, Dux was found in possession of “inappropriate sexual material, including child pornography.”  The material was all destroyed and no further action was taken.
  • In 1992, a man alleged that he and other boy were sexually abused by Dux while they served as his altar boys at St. Philip Neri in Lafayette Hill in the 1960s.  There was no investigation or follow-up by the Archdiocese.
  • In 1994, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received reports that several “eighth grade boys and girls (altar servers)” were the object of inappropriate conduct (that was not outlined in detail) by Dux in his then-current assignment, St. John the Baptist.  According to grand jury notes, Dux was “encouraged” to retire from active ministry, and Cardinal Bevilacqua accepted his request to retire in March 1994.
  • In 1995, a man reported that he was molested at St. Eugene in Primos during the 1960s while he was a fifth-grade altar boy.  After questioning Dux about the allegation, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia restricted Dux’s ministry faculties to performing private mass only.  He was also directed to have no contact with minor children for any reason.
  • In 1998, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received information that a 10 year old boy was molested by Dux during a time period and at a parish that are not disclosed in the grand jury report.  It may be that the accuser opted not to pursue his report and did not provide that information. Notes suggest that Msgr. William Lynn, the former Secretary for Clergy, had a telephone conversation with the accuser.  Lynn has a history of telling victims that the priest is dead or out of ministry so there is no sense in pursuing the allegation; in this case, Dux was retired and in restricted ministry so he may have convinced the accuser to drop the matter.
  • In 2000, another man approached the Archdiocese to report molestation by Dux at St. Eugene in Primos when the victim was an 8 or 9 year old altar boy.  The period of abuse is not specified but Dux was assigned there from 1966 to 1974.
  • In 2002, another man reported that he was sexually abused as a sixth grade altar boy at an unspecified parish and during an unspecified time.  Similar to the other “vague” allegation, notes in the grand jury report state that Lynn “informed the complainant that Rev. Dux was retired and not in active ministry,” so that information may not have been provided by the victim.
  • Later in 2002, another man came forward to report his abuse by Dux.  He alleged sexual abuse as a 9 year old boy at his family’s summer home, where Dux was an honored guest.  He said that the abuse occurred repeatedly during the summers from 1969 to 1972, while Dux was assigned to St. Eugene in Primos.  These particular allegations were investigated and reviewed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s newly formed internal review board. The board concluded that the allegations were credible and recommended additional restrictions on Dux’s ministry faculties.  The Cardinal agreed, and forwarded the matter to the Vatican to request Dux’s laicization (removal from the priesthood).

In 2004, when it became clear that Dux (and other priests) would not be involuntarily removed from the priesthood by the Vatican without a full-blown canonical trial, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia began offering priests a compromise.  Dux agreed to surrender his remaining limited faculties and live a “supervised life of prayer and penance” at Villa St. Joseph (where he already lived). Technically, he was still a priest but he had no faculties.

Dux resided at Villa St. Joseph until his death in 2006.  The exact extent of his “supervision” during that time is unclear; Cardinal Bevilacqua told the grand jury that he did not know what “supervision” the Villa St. Joseph priests had when he testified in 2004.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Msgr. Francis Feret – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Msgr. Francis Feret

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. Francis Feret Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1962

Suspended: 2011

Permanently Restricted: 2012

Named in civil lawsuit: 2012

Assigned as follows:

  • Immaculate Conception (Levittown, PA)
  • Our Lady of Mercy (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Cardinal Dougherty High School (Philadelphia, PA)
  • St. Peter (Pottstown, PA)
  • St. Adalbert (Philadelphia, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Monsignor Francis Feret:

Monsignor Francis Feret was one of 21 priests placed on administrative suspension following the release of the second grand jury report in 2011.  The second grand jury identified more than 30 priests in active ministry despite the fact that they had allegations of sexual misconduct in their personnel files.

No details were offered to the public about the allegation(s) against Feret or why he was left in ministry despite an allegation of misconduct in his file.

In May 2012, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s internal review board concluded its investigation and determined that Feret did not commit “sexual abuse” of a child but did violation standards of ministerial behavior and boundaries.  The violation was enough to deem him unsuitable for future ministry. Cardinal Rigali agreed and announced that he would not be returning Feret to ministry.

No additional information about Feret’s violations was provided to the public, except for a general statement that priests removed for that reason generally had “boundary issues with children.” According to media reports, “Church officials have declined to release details on specific accusations but say boundary issues can include inappropriate talk or contact, sharing alcohol or pornography with minors or other conduct that may be construed as “grooming” a victim.”

Nor was any explanation offered as to why Feret was allowed to remain in ministry despite an allegation of misconduct that apparently could be easily proven.

Feret was named in a civil lawsuit filed in late 2012. The plaintiff alleged that he was sexually abused by Feret regularly and repeatedly for several years in the early 1970s at St. Timothy parish.

Feret is now 81 years old.  His current location and affiliation with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, if any, is unknown. Public records suggest he resides at the Villa St. Joseph retirement home, where priests accused of sexual misconduct living “supervised lives of prayer and penance” are also living.  The Archdiocese has not announced his laicization (removal from the priesthood) by the Vatican, as it has with other priests accused of misconduct, so he may still be an ordained priest.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Fr. Mark E. Fernandes – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Mark Fernandes

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. Mark Fernandes Horowitz Law

Ordained:  2004

Administrative leave: 2006-2007

Leave of Absence for Health: 2007-2009

Suspended: 2011

Permanently Restricted: 2013

Current affiliation with Archdiocese of Philadelphia: unknown

Assigned as follows:

  • Assumption B.V.M. (West Grove, PA)
  • Holy Cross (Springfield, PA)
  • Chaplain, Grand View Hospital (Sellersville, PA)
  • St. Agnes (Sellersville, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Mark Fernandes:

Father Mark Fernandes was one of 21 priests placed on administrative suspension following the release of the second grand jury report in 2011.  The second grand jury identified more than 30 priests in active ministry despite the fact that they had allegations of sexual misconduct in their personnel files.

No details were offered to the public about the details of the allegation(s) against Fernandes.  However, based upon our experience with the modus operandi of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and elsewhere, there are definite red flags in Fernandes’ relatively brief assignment history. For example, an administrative leave followed by a health leave suggests that he may have been removed pending an investigation into an allegation of misconduct, and then sent for type of inpatient evaluation and treatment. This is a pattern seen over and over in cases of sexual abuse of minors in Philadelphia.  Add to it that Fernandes’ first assignment after a health leave was a hospital chaplaincy, rather than a parish assignment, and there are far more questions here than answers. Of course, we cannot say with certainty what happened without seeing Fernandes’ personnel files, but there are definite red flags to investigate.

At any rate, in 2013 the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s internal review board determined that, in its view, Fernandes did not commit sexual abuse of a minor, but he did violate the standards of ministerial behavior and boundaries.  This rendered him unsuitable for further ministry, and Cardinal Rigali agreed, publicly announcing not long after that Fernandes would not return to active ministry. What Rigali did not explain was how Fernandes, who had been a priest for a relatively short amount of time, remained a priest despite what apparently proved to be an easily investigated and substantiated allegation of misconduct.  

No additional information about Fernandes’ violations was provided to the public, except for a general statement that priests removed for that reason generally had “boundary issues with children.” According to media reports, “Church officials have declined to release details on specific accusations but say boundary issues can include inappropriate talk or contact, sharing alcohol or pornography with minors or other conduct that may be construed as “grooming” a victim.”

Another priest, Father Zachary Navit, was found to have violated the standards of ministerial behavior, but the same announcement that announced Fernandes’ permanent restriction also stated that Navit could return to ministry because he posed no danger to children.  This suggests that the review board concluded that the same could not be said of Fernandes and the likelihood that children would be safe around him.

Fernandes’ current status with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is unknown. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has not announced his laicization (removal from the priest), which suggests that he remains a priest with restricted faculties.

Fernandes is 45 years old.  Based upon public records, he appears to be residing in a private residence near a public high school in northern Philadelphia.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

Msgr. J. Michael Flood – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Msgr. J. Michael Flood

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. Michael Flood Horowitz LawOrdained: 1968

Named in civil lawsuit: 2009

Suspended from ministry: 2011

Reinstated: 2012

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Patrick (Malvern, PA)
  • St. Rose of Lima (North Wales, PA)
  • Cardinal O’Hara High School (Springfield, PA)
  • St. Malachy (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Incarnation of Our Lord (Philadelphia, PA)
  • St. John Neumann High School (Philadelphia, PA)
  • St. Maria Goretti High School (Philadelphia, PA)
  • St. Madeleine Sophie (Philadelphia, PA)
  • St. Luke the Evangelist (Glenside, PA)
  • Regina Coeli Residence

Summary of Allegations against Father J. Michael Flood:

In 2009, Father J. Michael Flood was named in a civil lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Publicly, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia stated that it had never heard the allegation before being served with the lawsuit and that Flood denied the allegation that he abused the plaintiff in 1976 while the boy attended St. John Neumann High School and Flood was his teacher.  

It also slammed the man who filed the lawsuit because he opted to file his lawsuit using the common pseudonym “John Broe #1,” rather than make his name part of the public record.  This is a common practice in civil lawsuits; in our experience, most survivors of abuse choose to use a pseudonym, such as John Doe. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia used it as a means to intimidate and manipulate the plaintiff: the general public was told that Flood would remain in ministry for so long as his accuser was publicly anonymous, claiming that an investigation would be impossible.  Of course, anyone at the Archdiocese could have picked up the phone and called the plaintiff’s lawyer for that information – which would also be provided in the usual course of litigation.

Flood remained in ministry for nearly two years, long after the Archdiocese of Philadelphia no doubt learned the identity of the plaintiff, until the second grand jury report was released in 2011.  Just weeks after stating publicly that not a single priest active in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had been accused of sexual abuse, he suddenly suspended Flood and 20 other priests on the grounds that they had been accused with little to no investigation done.  The matters were referred to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s internal review board for investigation and recommendation.

In late 2011, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit after a particularly strenuous deposition that his lawyer said took a huge toll on him in part because of the effects of the abuse.  He reiterated to the media that his client was still willing to participate in the Archdiocese’s internal investigation.

Flood’s lawyer, and the lawyer the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, on the other hand, did a public victory lap touting the plaintiff as a manipulative liar who could not stand up to arduous cross-examination because he was a liar.  “His credibility was completely shot,” according to Flood’s attorney.

Based solely upon the fact that the lawsuit was voluntarily withdrawn, and not any investigation of its own – like an interview with the plaintiff – the internal review board recommended that Flood be returned to ministry, unrestricted.  

Flood continues to be a priest in good standing.  He is the pastor Emeritus of St. Luke parish and works as an administrator at a retirement home for priests.  He is now 77 years old.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Fr. Stanley Gana – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Stanley Gana

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. Stanley Gana Horowitz Law
Ordained: 1970

Leave of Absence: 1995-1997

Inpatient treatment: 1995, 1996-1997

Laicized (removed from priesthood): 2006

 

Assigned as follows:

  • 1970-1974 Assumption B.V.M. (Feasterville, PA)
  • 1972-1974 Chaplain, Boy Scouts of America
  • 1972-1974 Archbishop Wood Boys High School
  • 1974 Sacred Heart (Phoenixville, PA)
  • 1974-1980 Ascension (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1980-1985 Our Lady of Calvary (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1985-1986 Sacred Heart (Havertown, PA)
  • 1986-1995 Our Mother of Sorrows (Bridgeport, PA)
  • 1995-1997 Leave of Absence
  • 1995-2002 Immaculate Conception (Philadelphia, PA) (in res.)
  • 1997-2002 Chaplain, Discalced Carmelite Monastery
  • 2002-2005 Leave of Absence

 

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Stanley Gana:

Of the Father Stanley Gana case the 2005 grand jury said Gana “took advantage of altar boys, their trusting families, and vulnerable teenagers with emotional problems.”  Again and again and again, Gana’s victims and their families where threatened and intimidated when they attempted to speak up so that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia never faced the consequences of its leaders’ actions and Gana could remain a priest.  It is very clear that the Gana matter was particularly offensive to the members of the grand jury – and it is clear why.  

  • GANA HIMSELF BRAGGED ABOUT ALL OF THE SEXUAL ABUSE HE GOT AWAY WITH – TO HIS OTHER VICTIMS

Gana boasted to some of his victims in the 1980s that someone reported his sexual activities with boys to the Archdiocese in the 1970s, but that he “had blocked the inquiry” by telling the Chancery that the pastor at the parish was having an affair with the parish housekeeper. He then produced women’s clothing in the rectory, and suddenly the Chancery was not interested in stirring up anything at the parish.

In late 1980, Gana himself called the Chancery to report that his own nephew had told people that he was, among other things, a homosexual and a “deviate.”  Gana told the Chancery that his family had a problem with in-fighting and the nephew was merely trying to cause problems because he had emotional problems of his own.  Gana was told to “keep a low profile,” and to look into hiring a lawyer to protect himself from the rumors. No investigation was done into whether Gana may have abused his own nephew.

  • IGNORING THOSE REPORTS STARTED A NIGHTMARE CHAIN OF EVENTS FOR A 13 YEAR OLD ALTAR BOY WHO DREAMED OF BECOMING A PRIEST

Around the time he made that call to smooth over any conflict headed his way because of his nephew, Gana was abusing a 13 year old altar boy at Our Lady of Calvary.  Gana ingratiated himself into the boy’s life by exploiting his insecurity about a speech impediment, and soon the boy’s parents readily gave permission for the honored priest to take the boy on long weekends out of state.  The child, who came from a large family, was grateful for the 1:1 adult attention, though he could have done without the obese priest’s attempts to wrestle with him. Soon, the trips and the overnight stays at the rectory so the boy could serve the early mass with Gana, started to involve the priest sexually abusing the boy.  Over the next four years, the boy was abused in all manner of ways – including countless incidents of sodomy – by the priest. When a milky fluid sometimes came out of him as he sat on the toilet, his mother said it was just because he was lactose intolerant.

In 1984, the boy started at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.  He wanted to become a priest himself. The abuse continued, but it was far less frequent because the boy was not allowed off campus very often.  Away from the constant manipulation and abuse, the boy began to plan to end the “relationship,” either by telling someone or by killing himself.      

As fate would have it, the dean of the college was Msgr. William Lynn, who eventually became Cardinal Bevilacqua’s Secretary for Clergy – and a convicted criminal for his role in the massive coverup of abuse and endangerment of children in Philadelphia.  When the boy asked for a referral to a therapist, Lynn gave it to him but did not ask any questions of the boy. He was, however, well aware of how much time the boy spent with Gana off campus.

The boy eventually told the therapist about Gana.  Then he told two priests at the seminary about it. They said nothing.  The boy never reported the events to police because his spiritual advisor at the graduate seminary told him that it would jeopardize his own chances of being ordained.  Somehow, the seminary rector (a fourth priest) also learned of the allegations and told the Chancery. He also told the Chancery that the boy was telling other seminarians what Gana did to him.  

Not long after, the Chancery took serious and swift action – but not against Gana. On Cardinal Bevilacqua’s personal command, the Chancery launched a full scale “investigation” into the boy and rumors that he had “homosexual” contact with another seminarian. The Chancery told the boy that his chances of being ordained hung in the balance; if the rumors were true, his dream of being a priest (and his 7.5 years of preparation in college and graduate school) would be over.  

  • THE ARCHDIOCESE AGREED THE BOY – SOON TO BE A FELLOW PRIEST- WAS “DAMAGED GOODS” AND GANA NEEDED THEIR PROTECTION

No one spoke with Gana about the boy’s allegations.  They were too focused on running the boy out of the priesthood.  Ultimately, the Chancery officials involved in the investigation told Bevilacqua that the boy was “damaged goods” who considered suing the Archdiocese for sexual abuse.  He was directed to leave the seminary; he would never be ordained anywhere in Pennsylvania.

Lynn would later testify before the 2005 grand jury; he told them that he believed the boy made up the story about Gana, despite all of the corroborating evidence to the contrary.

When he was finally interviewed about the allegations in 1993, Gana admitted that he “had some close calls” with boys (plural) over the years, but never had sexual contact with anyone, including the seminarian.  Lynn agreed with Gana’s conclusion that the boy simply “misinterpreted” affectionate touches, and that the boy was “troubled” due to his involvement in a “sex ring” with someone else he claimed was a victim of Gana.  According to Lynn, poor Gana was just caught up in a torrent of lies made up by men who wanted to blackmail him.

Gana remained at Our Mother of Sorrows in Bridgeport.  One of the Chancery officials who investigated these same allegations would letter tell a grand jury that it would have been “prudent” to be concerned about future victims, and Lynn agreed, but instead, they did nothing.

  • THE 1995 ALLEGATIONS

In 1995, another man came to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to report that he was sexually abused by Gana at Ascension in 1977, when he was 14 years old.  He had just told his mom that a close (adult) family friend was forcing him to engage in oral sex against his will. His mom got him into counseling and also turned to her church for support.  Gana, the assistant pastor, recommended regular meetings with the boy to help him through his recovery. Over the course of the next few months and years, Gana took his time grooming the boy and making him comfortable spending time alone (and sometimes overnight) with the priest. Gana initiated seemingly harmless physical contact that escalated and that eventually became oral sex and sodomy.  At that point, Gana had become so welcome in the family that he began abusing the boys’ brothers and a close friend.

He often bragged to all of them about all of the teenage boys he had sex with during his priesthood.  He also showed them nude photos of other boys that he said he had taken before and after having sex with them.  The man gave the Archdiocese the names of some of those other boys.  Nothing was done.

As a result of the 1995 allegations, Gana was sent for an evaluation at St. John Vianney, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests.  During the course of his evaluation, experts opined that returning him to ministry was dangerous to parishioners and to the Archdiocese because of the public relations issues that could arise.  Gana was asked to resign from his pastorate and elected to obtain inpatient treatment at Southdown, another notorious treatment facility, in Toronto.

  • CANADIAN TREATMENT PROFESSIONALS AGREE TO CORROBORATE THE ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA’S LIES SO GANA CAN RETURN TO MINISTRY

The report that came from Southdown was confusing, to say the least.  Experts there concluded that Gana was heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol and that the addiction caused him to abuse children.  No one had ever said that Gana was under the influence when he abused them – in fact, the boys had specifically denied ever seeing him drink.  Even Lynn would later testify that he was very surprised since he had never heard a suggestion of a substance abuse problem. In fact, Gana once sought a papal dispensation not to drink wine during Lenten services.  A second report assured Lynn that Gana “would not be diagnosed as a pedophile or an ephebophile, but rather as a person who acted under the influence of drugs and alcohol.”

Less than two weeks later, Gana checked out of Southdown and went to his house in Florida.  Not long after, the Chancellor in Orlando called Lynn- neighbors were very concerned about all of the students who seemed to be living there all of the sudden.  There was no response.

Three months later, Lynn would look the victim in the 1995 allegations in the eye and swear to him that Gana was in treatment at the exact moment they were meeting when he knew, with certainty, that Gana was in Florida.

Three weeks after telling that bald faced lie, in mid-1995, Gana wrote to Lynn from Slovakia.  He felt like taking an international trip with his teenage friends from Florida.  Above all, Gana was concerned about whether he could return to ministry since he left Southdown.  Lynn assured him it would be ok as long as he never received an official diagnosis of pedophilia. Gana remained on an unauthorized leave and eventually returned to Southdown six months later.  His therapist would eventually say that Gana was neither a pedophile or an ephebophile, and that his risk for future sexual misconduct was “minimal.” The therapist was certain of his conclusions, particularly since he was only aware of the three victims Lynn told him about – and not the countless others that Lynn knew about. He did not correct any o of the other lies that Gana told the therapist either.  

In 1997, two years after he first reported his abuse (and that of his friend and brothers), almost nothing had been done by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  He offered to produce the other men to give statements, but Lynn told him not to discuss the allegations with them. He also said that they could do nothing because Gana denied all of the allegations, even though Lynn knew that Gana had admitted to the abuse while in therapy.

Despite the man’s numerous requests to meet with Cardinal Bevilacqua, the Cardinal refused to meet with the victim “lest it set a precedent i.e. for the Cardinal to meet with such individuals.”  Lynn put the man off by referring him to Catholic Charities to help him find a job.

Sister Pat Kelly, to whom the victim was referred for employment and housing assistance, grilled the victim about his abuse experience and asked for privileged therapy information.  She expressed that she did not see his experience with Gana as not abuse because it seemed to her that the victim was sexually satisfied by it.

  • GANA’S POST-SOUTHDOWN TREATMENT LIFE IN ACTIVE MINISTRY

Around the same time, Gana was due to be discharged from his second stint at Southdown.  Lynn would tell Bevilacqua about the therapists conclusions, and also that they (as an Archdiocese) should encourage Gana to seek ministry outside of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, presumably so the media would not be as interested in the story.   Alternatively, he should be assigned as a chaplain to a religious community to minimize his profile.

Cardinal Bevilacqua assigned Gana as chaplain to the Carmelite nuns.   He would reside at Immaculate Conception parish, “along with other priests who were recovering from alcoholism and other problems.”  The pastor was never told that Gana had a history of abusing children and should not be around them. He was told by Lynn that Gana was free to do supply ministry at any Philadelphia parish that needed a priest, except, coincidentally, any of the parishes where Gana had already been assigned.  

That prohibition was empty – less than a month later, Gana was celebrating mass, complete with altar boys, at Ascension parish in Kensington where the group of brothers and their friend was abused.  

  • THE FORMER SEMINARIAN FINDS OUT ABOUT THE ASCENSION MASS AND AGAIN PLEADS FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE TO PROTECT KIDS INSTEAD OF GANA

The ousted seminarian learned of the Ascension mass from a relative and immediately wrote to the Cardinal – he wanted to impress upon the Chancery how much of a danger Gana was.  Cardinal Bevilacqua directed Lynn to reply and invite him to the Chancery. Lynn was not to tell him that the Cardinal had read the letter personally.

At their meeting in early 1998, Lynn apologized to the man (who was also his former student) for how the allegations were handled.  Lynn told the victim that he now believed that Gana abused him now that others had accused him of similar conduct. Even a Slovakian student that was residing in Orlando told the Archdiocese he was sexually abused in “exchange” for Gana sponsoring his student visa.  He spoke of one of the brothers abused at Ascension and how he “will never be right” because of what Gana did.

Yet, despite his apparent depth of understanding the danger and the depth of its effects, Lynn reaffirmed that Gana would remain in ministry because no one ever diagnosed him as a pedophile.  

Gana celebrated Easter Mass at the Carmelite nuns’ monastery in 1998.  He was assisted by a cadre of altar boys.

  • ONLY THE PUBLICITY FROM THE SCANDAL IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON BROUGHT ABOUT GANA’S REMOVAL

By February 2002, the depth of the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston was quickly becoming regular national news.  Suddenly, Cardinal Bevilacqua knew that scandal was possibly at his doorstep. He very quickly suspended multiple priests from ministry because the Archdiocese was suddenly “unable to provide and sustain an adequate level of supervision” for all of the accused priests in active ministry. Gana was finally suspended from ministry.   

In late 2004, faced with the possibility of involuntary laicization and a lengthy canonical trial, Gana agreed to cease all ministry and live a “supervised life of prayer and penance.”  

Apparently, that was too much supervision for Gana, or too much responsibility for the Archdiocese.  Within months, Gana asked for, and was granted, dispensation from his vows as a priest.  He was formally removed from the priesthood (laicized) by the Vatican in 2006.  

Gana now resides in Orlando, Florida.  He is 75 years old.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.   

 

Fr. Armand Garcia – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Armand Garcia

Archdiocese of PhiladelphiaFr. Armand Garcia Horowitz Law

Ordained: 2005

Suspended:  2018

Arrested: March 2019

Parish and School assignments include:

Saint Joseph, Downington (2005-2008)

Saint Eleanor, Collegeville (2008-2009)

Saint Katherine of Siena, Philadelphia (2009-2010)

Personal Leave (2010-2011)

Our Lady of the Assumption, Strafford (2011)

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Roxborough/Philadelphia (2011-2017)

Saint Martin of Tours, Northeast Philadelphia (2017-2018)

Summary of Allegations against Father Armand Garcia:

In March 2018, police executed a search warrant on the St. Martin of Tours parish rectory.  The same day, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia removed Father Armand Garcia from his post at St. Martin of Tours, publicly stating only that the removal was related to the police investigation of “a report of alleged misconduct with a minor.”

In March 2019, police arrested Garcia and charged him with rape of a teenage girl.  According to media reports, the abuse of the girl allegedly occurred at Immaculate Heart in Roxborough in August 2014.  The girl was around 16 at the time.  Police say he also recorded himself having sex with the girl.  Some reports state that the abuse continued until Garcia was transferred from the parish in 2017.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia told reporters that it is the same allegation that led to the March 2018 search warrant, not a new allegation. 

Garcia remains on leave from ministry.  Until his arrest, he was residing in a private residence in Aston, Pennsylvania, according to the Archdiocese.  He is now free on bond. 

Anyone with information about Garcia’s alleged misconduct is encouraged to contact police investigators.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Fr. Mark Gaspar – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Mark S. Gaspar

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Ordained: 1998

Suspended: 2011

Permanently removed: 2013

Current status with Archdiocese of Philadelphia: unknown

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Mark Gaspar:

Father Mark Gaspar was one of 21 priests suspended by Cardinal Justin Rigali in 2011 following the release of the second grand jury report, which indicated that more than 30 active priests had allegations of sexual misconduct during their priesthood.  No information was offered to the general public about the nature or details of the allegation(s) against Gaspar.

In April 2013, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that its internal review board determined the allegation against Gaspar, a relatively young priest, had been substantiated and he would be permanently removed from ministry.  The review board determined that Gaspar violated the standards of ministerial conduct and was therefore unsuitable for ministry.

No additional information about those violations was provided to the public, except for a general statement that priests removed for that reason generally had “boundary issues with children.” According to media reports, “Church officials have declined to release details on specific accusations but say boundary issues can include inappropriate talk or contact, sharing alcohol or pornography with minors or other conduct that may be construed as “grooming” a victim.”

Additionally, no explanation was offered as to why Gaspar, who only became a priest in 1998, was allowed to remain in ministry despite an allegation that could apparently be proven.  

Gaspar’s name does not appear on any of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s lists of credibly accused priests, so his current status with the Archdiocese is unknown.  For all we know, he continues to work as a priest in some capacity. It is not clear why the Archdiocese of Philadelphia continues to cover up for him even today.

Gaspar is now 48 years old.  He is believed to be residing in the Philadelphia area.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Fr. Joseph Gausch – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Joseph Gausch

Archdiocese of PhiladelphiaFr. Joseph Tausch Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1945

Suspension/Inpatient treatment: 1948-1949

Retired/named Pastor Emeritus 1992

Died: 1999

Named in civil lawsuits: 2004, 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • 1945-1948 St. Joseph (Jim Thorpe, PA)
  • 1947-1948 St. Alphonsus (Maple Glen, PA)
  • 1948-1949 Leave of Absence
  • 1949-1953 St. Anthony of Padua (Easton, PA)
  • 1953-1956 Our Lady Help of Christians (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1956-1961 St. Stanislaus (Lansdale, PA)
  • 1961-1964 Our Lady of Peace (Milmont Park, PA)
  • 1964-1973 St. Bridget (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1973-1977 Queen of the Universe (Levittown, PA)
  • 1977-1980 St. Aloysius (Pottstown, PA)
  • 1980-1999 Good Shepherd (Philadelphia, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Joseph Gausch:

According to the 2005 grand jury report, “Father Joseph Gausch began serving as a priest in the Philadelphia Archdiocese in December 1945 and based on the Secret Archive file provided, he started to abuse young boys almost immediately thereafter…There is every reason to believe that Fr. Gausch continued his reign of terror throughout his 54 years of service in the Archdiocese.  Yet because of the manner in which complaints of abuse were handled, neither the Grand Jury nor anyone else will be able to determine just how many victims this priest left in his wake.”

  • IN 1948, A FELLOW PRIEST TURNS OVER GRAPHIC LETTERS DESCRIBING SEXUAL ATTRACTION AND ACTIVITIES WITH TEENAGE BOYS

In 1948, Gausch was sent to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to a notorious pedophile priest treatment facility to do “penance for perversion and homosexuality.”  He was sent there by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia after another priest discovered letters Gausch had written to a third priest, Fr. Charles L.G. Knapp.  Knapp, an Augustinian priest, and Gausch were likely classmates at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and bonded over their attraction to young boys, apparently.  The letters described, in great detail, sexual contact that Gausch was having with teenage boys.

In a 1946 letter to Knapp, Gausch described going to see a high school football game, lamenting that he had to act interested in the game and not the players themselves. The “trick,” he said, “will be to appear interested in the game and not the players…The latest obstacle to my spiritual advancement is a 14 year old 7th grader…and sex has already made itself a nice place in his life.”

In a second letter to Knapp from 1946, Gausch expressed envy that Knapp was working with adolescents in his latest assignment.  He said, “I only hope it is less dangerous than my own escapades with male teenagers. I sometimes feel that it is just a question of when I am going to reach out and snatch.  I’ve come THAT close so often…” (emphasis in original).

In a third letter, Gausch described his happiness with his latest conquest, “Teddy,” and how much he looked forward to spending time with Teddy “after school” and his housebound grandmother.

In a 1948 letter, the excitement that Gausch felt about being asked to be alone with a small group of hand-picked 8th grade boys was palpable.  He wrote:

Letter from Fr. Gausch to Fr. Knapp Horowitz Law

Upon review of the letters, Cardinal Dennis Dougherty suspended Gausch and shipped him off to Wisconsin for eight months to deal with his “homosexuality.”  According to Church leaders, the age of the boys did not matter when evaluating the priest’s misdeeds- only their gender did.

There was no attempt to identify the teenagers involved or to contact their parents.

  • NOT SURPRISINGLY, GAUSCH IS ACCUSED OF MOLESTING A BOY AFTER HIS RETURN TO MINISTRY

After he completed his “penance” in Wisconsin, Gausch was assigned to St. Anthony of Padua in Easton, Pennsylvania.  He remained there until a transfer to Our Lady of Peace in Milmont, where he was again accused of molesting a boy.

According to a 1974 memo in Gausch’s personnel file, in 1964 he brought a boy he met at a local swimming pool back to the OLP rectory and molested him.  There were no other details in the personnel file reviewed by the grand jury, except to note that Gausch was immediately transferred to St. Bridget in North Philadelphia when the Chancery learned of the incident (which was not long after it happened).

At St. Bridget, Gausch regularly and repeatedly molested a 12 year old altar boy, who felt he could not tell anyone what was happening because of his family’s devotion to the tenets of the Catholic faith, including that priests were infallible messengers of God.  Gausch also told the child that no one would believe the boy if he told anyone because “nobody would believe a colored boy” over a priest. While it affected every aspect of his adult life, the altar boy told no one about the abuse until after Gausch died in 1999.

  • THE SOLUTION TO THE ST. BRIDGET “PROBLEM” IS A TRANSFER TO QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE – WHERE GAUSCH SOON ADMITS TO MOLESTING A BOY ALMOST AS SOON AS HE ARRIVED

In 1973, Gausch was transferred to Queen of the Universe in Levittown. Not long after, the Chancery received information that Gausch was abusing the son of a prominent parishioner, and, according to the nuns in the school, he made “familiar advances toward the boys in the school” repeatedly.  

When finally confronted with all of the allegations against him in 1974, Gausch admitted that they were all true.  The Chancery’s reaction to this admission? According to an internal memo, the Chancellor concluded “because of the scandal which has already taken place and because of the possible future scandal, we will transfer him in the near future.”  It was left up to Gausch to decide if he needed psychological help himself.

  • ANOTHER TRANSFER, ANOTHER ALLEGATION – AND TWO PROMOTIONS

Gausch was then transferred to St. Aloysius in Pottstown.  He would receive one more transfer in his career – to Good Shepherd – which would also be a promotion to pastor.  In that role, he would be unsupervised his daily activities. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia took it one step further by honoring him with the title of Pastor Emeritus when he retired in 1992.  

In 1994, a 27 year old man reported that he was sexually abused as an altar boy at Good Shepherd in 1980.  He as 12 years old at the time. He also identified another boy that he witnessed being abused by Gausch during the period of his abuse. During a meeting with former Secretary for Clergy Msgr. William Lynn, Lynn asked the man if it was possible he simply “misinterpreted” Gausch’s actions, which included masturbating the child.  

Gausch denied the newest allegations and assailed his accuser’s “home life” as the reason he would concoct the allegations.  Gausch insisted he had overcome his past “problems” and refused to address them again. Lynn told Gausch that he had the full s support of the Archdiocese and would turn his efforts to investigating the accuser’s  background instead. No more investigation went into the allegations (or Fr. Gausch). Instead, Lynn tracked down former teachers and principals at Good Shepherd, who recalled that the victim was sometimes absent from school and was generally a below average student.  No attempt was made to contact the second boy identified.

Lynn, and subsequently Cardinal Bevilacqua, deemed the allegations unfounded as they concluded from those two facts that the victim was only after money.  Of course, they did not take into account that Gausch had been repeatedly accused of similar abuse in his past, and that the victim had no way of knowing that since the Archdiocese never told parishioners.

  • THE MOUNTAIN OF ALLEGATIONS CONTINUES TO BUILD AFTER GAUSCH’S DEATH

In 2000, yet another man reported abuse by Gausch at Good Shepherd.  The victim worked in the church rectory as a boy in the early 1980s. He reported seeing Gausch act inappropriately with other boys in the parish too.  Cardinal Bevilacqua personally read the letter and forwarded it to Lynn with directions to read it and file it away.

In 2002, another man reported to Lynn that he was abused as an 18 year old at St. Stanislaus parish (sometime between 1956 and 1961).  

Also in 2002, the Archdiocese received a report from a man who says he was abused by Gausch from 1963-1964 while serving as an altar boy at Our Lady of Peace in Milmont.  He says that, at the time it was happening, he told his father, who immediately confronted Gausch and told the parish pastor, Fr. Noll, what was happening. The abuse ended with Gausch’s transfer to St. Bridget’s not long after.  Of course, according to internal memos from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the reason for the St. Bridget’s transfer was related to the molestation of a different boy.

The number of allegations received since the publication of the grand jury report in 2005 is unknown, as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has never provided that information to the public voluntarily.  

Gausch has been named in at least four civil lawsuits since 2004.

Gausch died in 1999.  At the time, he was a retired priest in good standing who never once had his faculties restricted despite his admission that he was a serial sexual predator.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Msgr. Francis Giliberti – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Msgr. Francis Giliberti

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. Francis Giliberti Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1970

Psychological evaluation: 2002

Retired (in good standing): 2003

Permanently restricted: 2004

Died: 2018

Assigned as follows:

  • 1970-1973 Our Lady of the Assumption (Strafford, PA)
  • 1971-1973 Archbishop Carroll Boys High School
  • 1973-1978 Cardinal O’Hara High School (Springfield, PA)
  • 1973 St. Patrick (Kennett Square, PA)
  • 1973-1987 Nativity B.V.M. (Media, PA)
  • 1978-1987 West Catholic Boys High School
  • 1987-1991 St. Barbara (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1991-2003 Nativity B.V.M. (Media, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Giliberti:

The case of Msgr. Francis Giliberti – and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s handling of the allegations against him – was examined in great detail by the 2005 grand jury.

Giliberti was known to run a “sort of boot camp to stop masturbation” at his house on the Jersey Shore.  One of his “methods” involved walking in on boys as they masturbated. He convinced the boys that they were terrible sinners who could be subject to eternal damnation if they masturbated.  One victim told criminal investigators that Giliberti would “inspect” his penis to determine if it was “traumatized” by masturbation. Giliberti would order the boy to get an erection by masturbating in front of the priest – and Giliberti offered to perform oral sex on him if it would help – so that he could look at it.  One victim became so disgusted by his penis that he doused it in lighter fluid and set it on fire.

In April 2002, a 40 year old man reported to former Secretary for Clergy Msgr. William Lynn that he had been abused by Giliberti as a 15 year old sophomore at Cardinal O’Hara High School in 1977.  He reported graphic discussions about sex in his theology class, and that he thought he was going to hell because he masturbated. Fortunately for him, Giliberti assured the boys that he – their trusted priest – could help them.  When Jay asked for help, Giliberti told him to come by the rectory at Nativity B.V.M. to discuss his concerns. Once there, he directed the boy to remove his pants and obtain an erection. Giliberti told the child that he needed to see how traumatized the boy’s penis was.  The “inspection” included taking the boy’s penis his hand, stroking it, and giving the child alcohol. Other times, the priest made the boy masturbate in front of him to see the child’s technique, or he offered to perform oral sex on the boy.

The child wanted nothing more than to be perfect and pure for his ‘very ethical’ parents.  He was so ashamed that he could not stop masturbating despite the priest’s efforts, so he doused his penis with lighter fluid and set it on fire.  

Eventually, the boy grew into a man who attended St. Charles Borromeo seminary for two years.  He told two priests there what Giliberti had done – they told him to “let go” of it because it was his word against the Church’s.  Msgr. Lynn underscored their point by telling the victim he was the only person who ever accused Giliberti of wrongdoing.

When confronted, Giliberti denied sexually abusing the boy.  He remembered the child but said their relationship was limited to hearing one confession from him.  He said the child had several problems during that time period – one of which was masturbation – but the seal of the confessional prevented him from disclosing them to Lynn.  

No action was taken in response to the report.  Giliberti remained at Nativity B.V.M. – which also had a grammar school. One week after Lynn met with the man who set his own body on fire because of the priest’s manipulation, Cardinal Bevilacqua announced at a press conference: “I can assure all the people here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that there is no priest in any parish or any ministry whatsoever that was credibly accused of misconduct with a minor.”  

In September 2002, a 44 year old man contacted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to report that he was sexually abused by Giliberti in the mid-1970s when he attended Cardinal O’Hara High School.  Giliberti was his freshman theology teacher who convinced him that anyone who masturbated was headed for damnation. He came to the priest after school one day to express his fear about his soul’s future.  Giliberti assured the child he could help him stop masturbating and save himself from damnation. He mentioned a house on the Jersey Shore where he sometimes helped other boys struggling with the same issue.  The boy was too scared to go and did not take Giliberti up on his offer.

However, during his senior year, he went back to Giliberti because he had recently had an issue trying to have sex with his girlfriend.  The boy worried he might be gay because he had a hard time performing. Giliberti offered to introduce him to “half a dozen gay men in downtown Media if I thought I wanted to try it out.”  When the boy scoffed, Giliberti ordered him into the rectory bedroom to prove to “himself” that he could get an erection anytime. The boy acquiesced to the command and found himself naked on the priest’s bed.  When he struggled to obtain an erection as Giliberti watched, he was devastated. He never returned to church.

In October 2002, Giliberti was sent for a psychological examination, but the Archdiocese of Philadelphia opted to use a small consulting firm, rather than their usual team at St. John Vianney, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests that the Archdiocese also happened to own.  The Giliberti team concluded that there was no data to suggest that either of the allegations made about Giliberti could be true; they opined “there is no reason to conclude from the interview or the test data that Monsignor Giliberti is a threat to the physical or emotional health of those to whom he ministers.”  

Since neither victim had threatened to sue or go to the media, there was no threat of public scandal by leaving Giliberti in ministry.  Now, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia also had a self-serving “evaluation” that said the priest was safe to be around parishioners. He remained at his post as the unsupervised head of Nativity B.V.M. parish.

For reasons that are not entirely clear – perhaps because a secret grand jury had been convened – the Archdiocese of Philadelphia asked its internal review board to re-examine the two allegations against Giliberti, who was still in active ministry.  The review board concluded that both allegations were credible and substantiated. By that point, Giliberti had been “encouraged to retire,” so the findings and recommendations to the Cardinal simply meant that Giliberti would no longer have faculties to perform public ministry.  

In April 2004, a third man came forward to report that he was sexually abused by Giliberti while Giliberti was in seminary.  He also witnessed another boy being abused by Giliberti at the same time. The abuse occurred at a house on the Jersey Shore when Giliberti brought six boys for an overnight trip. He forced three of the boys to share a bed with him, and abused at least two of them during the night.  

In October 2004, the retired and aging Giliberti agreed to surrender his remaining faculties and live a “supervised life of prayer and penance” rather than go through a canonical trial to remove him from the priesthood (involuntary laicization).  When asked by the grand jury what was meant by “supervision,” retiring Cardinal Bevilacqua testified that he did not know. 

He resided at Villa St. Joseph with other accused priests who accepted the same “plea deal,” until he was moved to a specialized nursing home where he eventually died in April 2018.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.

 

Msgr. John Gillespie – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Msgr. John Gillespie

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. John Gillespie Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1953

Inpatient evaluation: 2000

Suspended from ministry: 2002

Permanently restricted: 2005

Died: 2008

Assigned as follows:

  • 1953-1954 Holy Family (New Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1954-1962 Immaculate Conception (Levittown, PA)
  • 1962-1967 Norristown State Hospital
  • 1962-1967 St. Francis of Assisi (Norristown, PA)
  • 1967-1978 St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
  • 1978-1984 Our Lady of Lourdes (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1984-2000 Our Lady of Calvary (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2000-2002 Motherhouse, Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father John Gillespie:

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s management of the allegations against Father John Gillespie were examined in great detail by the 2005 grand jury.  According to the grand jury report, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received the first indication that Gillespie molested children through a self-report to Mgsr. William Lynn, the former Secretary of Clergy.  

  • GILLESPIE’S 1994 “SELF-REPORT” TO MSGR. WILLIAM LYNN THAT IS “JUST HEARSAY”

In 1994, Gillespie met with Lynn to report that he received two troubling phone calls: the first came from the mother of two former altar boys at Immaculate Conception, where Gillespie was assigned from 1954 to 1962.  The mother said that her two sons reported that Gillespie molested them and she wanted answers. A few weeks later, one of the boys called Gillespie himself, and confronted the priest with graphic details of his allegations.  

The purpose of Gillespie’s meeting with Lynn was so that Gillespie could provide the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with two letters that Gillespie sent to the boys (who were grown men by then).  While he denied touching the boys in a sexual manner, he did admit to, and apologize for, touching them on their bellies and other places. He closed each letter by begging the boys to “give him the benefit of the doubt” and “allow him to finish out his remaining years as a pastor without scandal.”   Lynn ordered Gillespie never to write to them again.

When called before the grand jury, Cardinal Bevilacqua testified that he always found Gillespie’s language concerning, and even the priest’s denials seemed “odd.”  Yet, he took no action on the report, except to call his attorney. His handwritten notes say that he believed Gillespie and referred to “the priest’s alleged experience of ‘false accusations,’” inferring that there had been prior allegations (plural) made against Gillespie at some point. Gillespie remained in ministry.

  • IT IS NOT A PROBLEM THAT GILLESPIE IS ASKING 12 YEAR OLDS IF THEY LIKE TO HURT PEOPLE FOR SEXUAL PLEASURE BECAUSE IT IS IN THE CONFESSIONAL, ACCORDING TO THE ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA

In 1997, the mother of a boy at Our Lady of Calvary wrote to Cardinal Bevilacqua, threatening to tell police about a “situation…between one of your priests and my 12 year old son.”  She was concerned about graphic sexual questions that Gillespie asked the boy in the confessional, including whether he has ever hurt himself or anyone else for sexual pleasure. Lynn never spoke with the priest about the allegation; instead he called the mother into the Chancery and directed her, as a “good Catholic,” never to mention the incident to the priest because it was a breach of the seal of the confessional.  He told her that her son, not Gillespie, was therefore the sinner, and that they would never ask Gillespie about the matter since he respected the seal. Cardinal Bevilacqua agreed with Lynn’s handling of the matter.

  • A POLICE OFFICER MAKES A REPORT AND GILLESPIE IS IMMEDIATELY SENT FOR A PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAM; GILLESPIE IS DIAGNOSED AS “DANGEROUS”

In 2000, a 29 year old policeman reported to the Archdiocese that he was an altar boy at Our Lady of Calvary who often served with Gillespie.  Gillespie molested him for all four years of high school. He told Lynn that had been in therapy and now wanted to make sure that no other children could be hurt by Gillespie.   When confronted a few days later, Gillespie again offered a qualified admission: he admitted to rubbing the boy’s stomach, reaching into his pants, and touching his pubic area, but never his penis.  When reminded of the first set of allegations, Gillespie again denied ever touching anyone’s penis.

In February 2000, Gillespie was sent to St. John Vianney, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, for an evaluation.  Notably, according to documents reviewed by the grand jury, the reason he was sent for an evaluation this time, and not with the first set of allegations, was because the allegation came directly to the Chancery from a victim, rather than through another person.  The allegations self-reported by Gillespie earlier were mere “hearsay” that required no action, apparently.

Treatment professionals concluded that Gillespie had committed sexual abuse of one or more children, had a sexual disorder as well as a personality disorder, and had no awareness of the impact his behavior has on others.  Therefore, they concluded that this “makes Monsignor dangerous to others.” They also warned the Archdiocese of Philadelphia – which owned St. John Vianney – that a return to ministry was dangerous not just for kids, but because of Gillespie’s “strong desire to make amends” that “could bring forth both difficulty for himself and legal jeopardy.”  

  • GILLESPIE CONTINUES IN MINISTRY UNTIL HE CAN BE GIVEN AN HONORARY PROMOTION AND SENT TO THE SCHOOL RUN BY LOCAL NUNS

Based upon the recommendation of the therapists, Cardinal Bevilacqua asked Gillespie to resign from Our Lady of Calvary voluntarily.  He agreed, but was permitted to remain as the unsupervised pastor for three more months until a new one could be named. As a reward, he was honored with the title of Pastor Emeritus and remained in ministry, albeit less active than before.  Gillespie then moved to the Motherhouse of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in Yardley. He regularly heard the confessions of the children attending the private school on the convent grounds.

In November 2001, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received yet another report of abuse by Gillespie.  This time, a man said that Gillespie abused him at the age of 15 at Mother of the Divine Providence in King of Prussia. The report was made to Lynn by another priest, whose parishioner was concerned that Gillespie was interacting with children at the convent school.  Lynn took no action to investigate the allegations but did tell Gillespie that, “in order to preserve his reputation and the reputation of the Church,” he should strongly consider retiring.

  • GILLESPIE IS FINALLY REMOVED AFTER THE SCANDAL ERUPTS IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON

In February 2002, Gillespie remained in active ministry, having never retired.  At that time, the depth of the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston was becoming national news.  Gillespie, along with several other priests, was suddenly suspended from public ministry by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in early 2002.  

Gillespie, who moved to Villa St. Joseph retirement home, lived a generally unsupervised life after his removal.  In late 2004 – more than two years after his suspension – the Chancery learned that he had continued to hear the confessions of parishioners even though he was not supposed to.  Cardinal Bevilacqua testified before the grand jury that he did not know what supervision, if any, Gillespie and other accused priests had at Villa St. Joseph.

In February 2005, Gillespie agreed to a total restriction of his faculties and a life of “supervised prayer and penance” at Villa St. Joseph in lieu of a canonical process to remove him from the priesthood (laicization).  Again, the level of said supervision is unknown.

It is not known how many more people have come forward to report abuse by Gillespie since the grand jury report was published in 2005 because the Archdiocese of Philadelphia does not provide that information to the public.

Gillespie died in 2008.  

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.