Msgr. David Walls
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Inpatient evaluation: 1988
Laicized (removed from priesthood): 2006
Assigned as follows:
- 1960-1962 All Saints Chapel (Philadelphia, PA)
- 1961-1962 Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia)
- 1962-1965 Student, Catholic University of America
- 1965-1986 Office of Catholic Education
- 1965-1987 St. Matthias (Bala Cynwyd, PA)
- 1985-1987 Superintendent of Catholic Schools
- 1987-1988 Office of Catholic Education
- 1987-2002 In residence, St. John Neumann (Bryn Mawr, PA)
- 1988-2006 Leave of Absence (working at Catholic Human Services)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Msgr. David Walls:
Msgr. David Walls was ordained a priest in 1960. He served in multiple parishes throughout his career. According to media reports, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had actual knowledge that Msgr. Walls, a high-ranking official in the Office of Catholic Education who even served as superintendent, sexually abused children at least as early as the mid-1980s.
11 PARISHIONERS COMPLAIN ABOUT “DEVIATE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR”
In 1987, shortly before Walls moved to St. John Neumann parish, 11 people from the St. Matthias parish approached the St. John Neumann pastor, Father John McFadden, to protest Walls’ assignment at SJN due to his “deviant sexual behavior.” The parishioners all believed that Walls needed to be institutionalized, not assigned to their parish. Yet, he was.
THE 17 YEAR OLD GIRL AND HER BROTHER
Eight months after his assignment to St. John Neumann, and shortly before the arrival of the new Archbishop, Anthony Bevilacqua. A therapist called the Archdiocese to report that her client, a young female, disclosed that she was sexually abused by Walls in 1986 as a 17 year old girl. She reported that the girl was in the rectory and Msgr. David Walls approached her to inquire about some family difficulties. He brought her to his room, turned off the lights, and made sexual advances. He was able to get her down to the ground, but she wrestled away from him. He then chased her around the room but she was able to get out. He then pursued her outside and for four blocks as she ran away from him.
The Chancery official who investigated the allegation also learned of another incident in which Walls propositioned two underage boys – one of whom is the female victim’s brother. He also learned that the family told their parish priest, Father John McFadden, about the incident in the rectory shortly after it happened. There is no evidence McFadden did anything with that information.
When confronted with the information, Walls “minimized” the incidents but did not deny them. Walls told the Archdiocese of Philadelphia official that he had been seeing a psychiatrist for over a year, but refused to provide a name or any contact information for the Archdiocese to verify the information.
THE ADMITTED MOLESTER IS SENT FOR AN EVALUATION, THEN RETURNED TO MINISTRY FOR 14 YEARS
According to media reports, in March, 1988, Walls was sent to St. Luke Institute, a notorious facility for the treatment of pedophile priests in Suitland, Maryland. After a 10 day evaluation, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was informed that Walls again admitted to the incidents reported to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The report also recommended that Walls “abstain from working with or mingling with youth or young adults in unsupervised capacity.” The staff also wanted Walls re-evaluated in six months. Nonetheless, Bevilacqua returned Walls to St. John Neumann parish, to live in the rectory unsupervised and oversee the parish grammar school.
In April 1988, the pastor of St. John Neumann wrote to the Archbishop, seeking assistance with the Walls situation. He (the pastor) was not in regular contact with Walls and was not supervising him. He later told the Archbishop that the “reports about Msgr. Walls are becoming more and more public,” and that “several women have stated that he has been involved in” what the women characterized as “pedophilia.”
Bevilacqua met with Walls in May, 1988, and told him that he would be remaining at St. John Neumann and would conduct his duties unrestricted, including saying mass and hearing confessions, even of children. He did, however, ask Walls to resign from his position in the Office of Catholic Education because rumors of his misconduct were becoming more public. Bevilacqua cited the “fear that the parents of recent victims were not likely to take any action of a legal nature as long as the Archdiocese has acted strongly.”
Walls remained at St. John Neumann for 14 more years. The lack of supervision continued for that time, and the parish pastor continued to make pleas for assistance that went ignored by Bevilacqua.
THE 17 YEAR OLD GIRL (THAT BEVILACQUA SAYS WAS NOT A MINOR) COMES FORWARD AGAIN
In 2002, the female victim and her mother approached the Archdiocese of Philadelphia personally. The woman reported the rectory incident, as well as second incident in which she was kissed and her breasts fondled in Walls’ car. Walls was removed from his residence at St. John Neumann and went to live in an undisclosed private residence.
When later testifying before the grand jury, Bevilacqua repeatedly testified that he did not know that the female victim was a minor, contrary to information contained in countless memoranda to him which repeatedly stated her age. He testified that is why he allowed Walls to remain in ministry unsupervised; he believed the woman sexually assaulted was an adult so that made it acceptable. He also disregarded all of the St. Luke Institute’s recommendations for that same reason.
Walls died in 2009.
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 Archdiocese of Philadelphia may have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so please do not delay in reaching out to us.
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