TUCSON The Diocese of Tucson announced a settlement of 11 lawsuits alleging that 4 priests had molested children. The settlement includes apologies to victims and their families, Bp. Manuel D. Moreno said. Financial terms were kept confidential.
The first suit was filed in 1997 in Yuma by a victim who had been an altar boy. The plaintiffs, who eventually totaled 16, contended molestations occurred from 1967 to 1989. Several cases involved repressed memory.
Two defendants, Fr. Michael J. Teta and Msgr. Robert C. Trupia, have been suspended from priestly activities. Moreno said proceedings have begun to have Teta defrocked, while Trupia faces continuing discipline.
``The diocese will continue to do all in its power to make sure that Msgr. Trupia ... will never be employed in active ministry,'' the bishop said.
The other two priests named in the suits have died. Defendants also included the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Diocese of Phoenix and several parishes.
SANTA ANA - Roman Catholic leaders in Orange and Los Angeles counties agreed to pay $5.2 million to settle a lawsuit accusing a once-popular priest of molestation. Church leaders also agreed to a code of conduct, which would be enforced by a judge, to crack down on clergymen who prey on children.
The settlement, which still needs to be approved by a judge, stems from accusations that Msgr. Michael Harris, 56, molested a 17-year-old high school student, Ryan DiMaria, in 1991.
"I'm very happy with what we got accomplished," DiMaria, now 28. "I think it will protect a lot of victims in the future," he said..
Harris, who declined to be interviewed, has always denied wrongdoing and never has been charged with a crime. However, he agreed to leave the priesthood and has been on inactive leave from the church since 1994.
The settlement in DiMaria's suit against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange calls for a toll-free number and the creation of a Web site for reporting molestation, as well as for educational pamphlets to be distributed to Catholic churches and schools. It also requires that priests sign agreements not to molest, among other things.
DiMaria brought the suit because he claimed that the dioceses turned their backs on the predatory behavior of Harris, who allegedly targeted young men in need of spiritual counseling.
Bp. Tod D. Brown of the Diocese of Orange, said he was deeply disturbed by the allegations against Harris and believes the church acted properly in suspending him.
DiMaria also sued Harris, and that case was recently settled. In a statement, Harris said he had done nothing wrong but couldn't afford to defend himself. A former pillar of Orange County's Catholic community, Harris raised most of the money to open Santa Margarita in 1987 and was its principal until 1994.
LOS ANGELES - Sheriff's investigators are seeking possible victims of sexual crimes that may have occurred in the Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks area from 1990 to this year, authorities said.
The search broadens the scope of an investigation into allegations that a youth pastor engaged in lewd conduct with three teenage boys ages 13 to 14 from 1986 to 2001.
Timothy Bayne Bernstein, 40, has already been charged with 10 counts of lewd conduct between 1987 and 1991, according to the LA County DA's office.
Bernstein surrendered to deputies after a warrant was issued. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond. Bernstein has been positively identified by three alleged victims, a police spokesman said, adding that they believe there may be additional victims.
One alleged victim, now an adult, recently told his therapist that he had engaged in lewd conduct with Bernstein more than a decade ago, he said. The therapist, who is required by law to report any incidence of child abuse, contacted authorities, opening an investigation that led to Bernstein's arrest.
Since his arrest, Bernstein has been placed on administrative leave from his position as director of elementary programs at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village.
LA Times, 4/7/01
PROVIDENCE -- Msgr. Louis Ward Dunn, the Roman Catholic priest convicted of raping a sexual-abuse victim in 1982 after she asked him for counseling, has died.
He died at Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, and the priest's funeral was private.
"We pray for Msgr. Dunn, as we do for all our dead, that God will give him a merciful judgment and grant him eternal rest," the Diocese of Providence said in a statement.
Dunn was given a 10-year suspended sentence during an emotional court hearing in 1999, in which prosecutors asked that he serve time in prison. Then 79, Dunn pleaded with the judge for mercy, calling himself a broken and humiliated man who had committed "a terrible breach of trust."
The priest's court case dragged on for nearly four years. Superior Court Judge Stephen Fortunato convicted Dunn, then overturned his own verdict after receiving more than 80 letters from the priest's supporters. Fortunato said he concluded from the letters that the defense had failed to call key character witnesses. The state Supreme Court later reinstated Dunn's conviction.
At sentencing, Fortunato noted Dunn's failing health when he gave the priest a suspended sentence. The priest suffered from senile dementia, high blood pressure, diabetes and other ailments. Dunn, the former pastor of St. Thomas Church in Providence, was ordered to register as a sex offender and remain at St. Antoine's Home in North Smithfield.
PENSACOLA - A priest accused of dealing drugs from the rectory has pleaded guilty to federal charges. Fr. Thomas Crandall, 47, could get five to 40 years in prison at sentencing April 17.
He pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and the drug Ecstasy.
The pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Milton came under investigation in Dec. after an informant identified the priest as his drug supplier. Crandall told the informant that he wanted him to sell between 1,000 and 1,500 Ecstasy tablets for him.
He was arrested Jan. 12 after agents found some 900 Esctasy tablets and 15 grams of meth in his sport utility vehicle and at the St. Rose rectory. Crandall admitted dealing drugs from the rectory and at his Bourbon Street condo in New Orleans.
DEA technicians determined, however, that Crandall had been "ripped off."
The Ecstasy was fake. During a recorded conversation with his informant, Crandall said his supplier had taken $6,000 he fronted him and had stolen $1,600 from his bank accounts.
He was placed on administrative leave after his arrest.
DELRAY BEACH -- An associate pastor is behind bars, accused of molesting a young girl and possibly fathering her child.
Police say that Lyndon Howell, who served at the Community Missionary Baptist Church, befriended the victim's family when she was 11 years old. For the next four years, police believe that Howell had sex with her. Howell faces several charges. He is being held without bond at the Palm Beach County Jail.
BOCA RATON - Rabbi Jerrold Levy, 58, has been jailed on federal charges of using the Internet to lure a minor into having sex and possessing child pornography. In a court hearing, a federal magistrate ordered Levy held without bail until his arraignment later this month.
Levy was arrested at his apartment by FBI agents and charged with possession of child pornography and using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.
The solicitation charge stems from his initial arrest by the Sheriff's Office on a similar state charge, after the father of a teenage boy, who after discovering Levy's sexually explicit emails to his son, posed as a teenager himself to entrap Levy. The child pornography charge was added after investigators found the images on his computer hard drive.
Levy also faces new allegations of having sex with a 14-year-old Wellington boy in the backseat of his car, according to a federal affidavit. The prosecutor asked that Levy be kept in jail, saying the rabbi recently tried to commit suicide and posed a threat to others. The judge ordered Levy to remain in jail until his lawyer submits a plan for treatment in a secured facility.
According to a FBI affidavit, a Sheriff's Office investigator found a password-protected diary of 30 America Online screen names on Levy's computer hard drive, which was seized after his April arrest. Levy, who used the screen name "CoachBoca," likely was corresponding with each person in the diary, investigators said. The diary contained sexually explicit information about each person in it, the affidavit said. The first name on the list was a 14-year-old Wellington boy, who identified Levy out of a photographic lineup as the person he had sex with, authorities say.
Levy pleaded guilty in 1984 to a misdemeanor count of third-degree sexual abuse for making an advance on an undercover police officer in a St. Louis park restroom, Missouri authorities said. He was then a religious studies instructor at St. Louis University.
Naples Daily News, 5/18/01, 5/16, 4/8
MIAMI - Police investigating the stabbing death of a nun at Holy Cross Academy are also looking into an allegation of sexual abuse at the parochial school in Kendall.
The same day that homicide detectives arrested a young monk in training, Mykaylo Kofel, for the murder of Sr. Michelle Lewis, detectives opened a sexual battery investigation, Miami-Dade police said.
Police would not say any more about the abuse case, which surfaced during the homicide investigation. A source close to the investigation said the sexual battery allegation was not leveled at the nun or the young monk.
Both prosecution and defense attorneys said officials at the academy, operated by the Byzantine Catholic Church, have blocked their efforts to question potential witnesses in the murder case. The school's insurance carrier has hired private attorneys for each potential witness, including another nun and a school maintenance man.
Assistant State Attorney Gail Levine said the church's intransigence further complicates the case, but she will now subpoena witnesses.
Assistant Public Defender Edith Georgi said she feared the school would send home four potential witnesses -- all Ukrainian nationals, like Kofel, who were recruited into the monastic training program at the school. Circuit Judge Manuel Crespo granted Georgi's motion asking that the students not be allowed to leave the country without court permission. They are Yosyp Lembek, 17, Vasyl Kopych, 18, Sasha Korsak, 19, and Petro Terenta, 20. Georgi said their testimony is "material to defendant's preparation of the case."
Lewis, 39, was found March 25, stabbed to death in the convent home she shared with another nun on the Holy Cross campus. Police said Kofel, 18, confessed to the murder. He was arrested the next day.
Prosecutors announced in court that they will seek the death penalty against Kofel, who has lived at the school since he was 14.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 4/6/01
ATLANTA - Bp. Earl Paulk, accused in a lawsuit of molesting a lifelong member of his church, says all his actions toward the woman were "entirely proper and were kindly Christian acts." In papers filed in his behalf, Paulk "emphatically denies" molesting Jessica Battle.
Paulk told about 5,000 worshippers on Easter Sunday at his Chapel Hill Harvester Church, "All the accusations you have been hearing are absolutely untrue, and it will be proven so." Battle, a Florida college student who grew up in Paulk's south DeKalb County megachurch, filed suit in State Court in April charging Paulk with child molestation. Battle said in her suit that from the time she was 7 until she was about 11 years old, Paulk "engaged in a pattern of conduct . . . that included caressing her, fondling her sexual organs, performing oral sex on her and having sexual intercourse with her." She also charged that 5 years ago, when she was 17, Paulk had forcible intercourse with her. Some of the acts occurred on church property or during church-sponsored events, according to the suit. Battle's suit, filed against Paulk, Chapel Hill Harvester Church and five unidentified defendants, has been assigned to Judge Wayne Purdom
Chapel Hill Harvester Church, founded by Paulk, claims 15,000 members who meet in the $18.5 million, 7,700-seat neo-Gothic worship center on nearly 100 acres in south DeKalb County. Paulk also founded a Christian academy, a Bible institute for postsecondary study, programs for substance abusers and people with AIDS and an international television ministry. He has written more than a dozen books
RICHMOND - A Detroit minister found guilty of having sex with a 15-year-old girl could face up to50 years in prison, but police have to find him first.
Rev. Larry A. Flake, 55, was found guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor. The court also ruled him a habitual offender. Flake has two previous felony convictions. Flake did not show up for his jury trial on two counts of sexual misconduct and one count of rape.
He went missing after being released on bail on charges that he had attempted to bribe the mother of a Richmond girl to drop the sex-related charges against him..
DAVENPORT -- A priest has been charged with helping make and distribute the "date-rape" drug GHB. Fr. Jeffrey Windy, 31, was released to his parents' custody after posting $100,000 bond. He had been arrested and charged in federal court along with two other men, Timothy O'Brien and Bradley Bush, both of Davenport.
According to court documents, Windy and O'Brien were seen making the drug at O'Brien's house last May. Undercover narcotics agents allegedly later bought the drug from O'Brien. Court documents also said a chemical company's records showing 25 gallons of a solvent used in the making of GHB were sold to St. Patrick's Church in Sheffield, Ill., where Windy worked.
Windy was suspended from his duties at St. Patrick's Church and St. Margaret Mary's in Wyanet, Ill., pending the outcome of the case, said Kate Kenny, spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.
GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, is known as a date-rape drug for its ability to incapacitate people and leave them vulnerable to sexual assault. It is also used as a hallucinogen and to stimulate muscle growth in bodybuilders.
LAFAYETTE - Former Catholic priest Gilbert Gauthe must be set free again, and he cannot be prosecuted for the alleged rape of a woman 18 years ago, a state district judge has ruled.
The decision by Judge Edward Rubin means Gauthe will be released, unless prosecutors can persuade an appeals court to keep him in jail.
He was released from prison the first time in 1995 after serving 10 years of a 20-year sentence for sexually molesting altar boys in Vermilion Parish. He gained his freedom early under a provision of state law known as good time that rewards inmates for good behavior. That law has since been changed.
After his release, he went to Texas, where he was arrested on a charge of sexual indecency with a 3-year-old boy. He later pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of felony injury to a child and was sentenced to 7 years probation. Texas authorities said the sentence would have been more severe if they could have gotten documentation of his past, but Louisiana officials did not forward paperwork on his record. In 1997, District Attorney Mike Harson had Gauthe returned to jail, arguing that Gauthe failed to fulfill his agreement to serve 20 years in prison. Additionally, Gauthe was charged in a new case with rape of a 12-year-old girl in 1982 in Vermilion Parish.
Gauthe's attorneys argued that all state inmates were entitled to early release under the good time law. They also contended their client's plea agreement contained a clause that would give Gauthe immunity and prevent prosecutors from pursuing additional cases involving misconduct with children in the 15th Judicial District, which includes Vermilion Parish.
After a 90-minute hearing, and a two-hour recess, Rubin agreed with the defense. The judge said Gauthe's 1985 plea agreement lacks any mention of the "good time" law, and that the sentencing judge had no role in the issue of determining good time credit.
Gauthe will be returning to Texas, where he will be under the supervision of authorities there, according to his lawyer.
Baton Rouge Advocate, 2/01/01