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  Chapter and Verse of the Accusations

By Eden Laikin and Steve Wick
Newsday
February 11, 2003

What follows is a summary of accusations made against 23 Roman Catholic priests in the Suffolk County grand jury report released yesterday. All quotations are from the report. The priests, whose names were omitted, were identified only by letters in the report, but some of the scenarios were so specific that they were able to be matched to priests named in previous Newsday stories. The priests named did not return calls for comment or could not be found.

[Photo captions: Rev. Joseph Mundy. Rev. Matthew Fitzgerald. Rev. Brian McKeon. Msgr. Alan Placa. Rev. Robert Huneke. Msgr. Charles "Bud" Ribaudo. Rev. Andrew Milla. Rev. Michael Hands.]

Priest A: He took a 14-year-old boy to a gay club in New York City where he and other patrons engaged in sexual activity with the boy. This account matches allegations against the Rev. Joseph Mundy, whose victim has said that what happened to him left him scarred and suicidal. Mundy has left the priesthood.

Priest B: He fondled altar boys as they prepared for Mass, in a sauna at a health club, and during play "wrestling" in his rectory bedroom. This account matches allegations against the Rev. Matthew Fitzgerald, who was reassigned to a diocese in Florida. He was later accused in Florida of molesting children in two parishes and was relieved of his duties. A victim who testified to the grand jury confirmed to Newsday that the priest was Fitzgerald.

Priest C: He "wreaked havoc" by abusing boys as young as 10. "For this, he was rewarded by being a pastor ... He left behind a trail of alcohol abuse, depression, anger and disillusionment," and his own pastor "turned a blind eye to his behavior." This account matches allegations made against the Rev. Brian McKeon, who has had his priestly faculties removed by the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The father of one of the victims, who testified, told Newsday that Priest C was McKeon.

Priest D: He abused "a minimum of six boys who ranged in age from 10 to 17" at several parishes. He also kept a "trove" of pornographic magazines and videos in his rectory bedroom, where several boys spent the night. Priests who lived in the rectory never questioned the presence of boys in the priest's room. Personnel records said the priest admitted to diocesan officials that he abused "at least 12 boys."

Priest E: While there were a number of victims, the report tells the story of one, who was 11 when the abuse started and later died of a drug overdose after receiving a $25,000 settlement from the diocese. This account matches the events surrounding the death of Raymond Trypuc Jr., who was allegedly abused by the Rev. James Bergin, who died in 1992. Raymond Trypuc Sr., who testified to the grand jury, confirmed that Priest E was Bergin.

Priest F: He "made feeble attempts" to abuse an altar boy in his first assignment. After this, the priest was transferred to "a large and continuous source of boys - a school," where he was "relentless in his pursuit of victims ... Everyone in the school" knew to stay away from the priest. These and other allegations match accusations against Msgr. Alan Placa, who, as the diocese's vice chancellor, was the chief architect of its sexual abuse policy. He has since had his priestly faculties temporarily removed.

Priest G: Prior to becoming a priest, he was described in a psychiatric report as "immature and somewhat schizoid." Altar boys were a "favorite target." In one instance, he placed a dog collar around a boy's neck. After being accused of abusing a boy at a diocesan elementary school, he was removed - to another elementary school, where the abuse continued.

Priest H: He began abusing a boy when the boy was 10. An associate pastor testified that he heard "horsing around" in the priest's bedroom and believed it was sexual in nature. The pastor told the grand jury he "never made an official report to anyone in the diocese" about the priest. The diocese required the priest to receive psychological counseling, and it later assigned him as chaplain to an "area" hospital, allowing him to celebrate Mass at a parish on weekends.

Priest I: Among his victims were two brothers. One of the brothers "tried to tell another parish priest what was happening to him, but he was ignored." Later, at his sister's wedding, the boy put a note asking for help in the collection basket "with his name and telephone number ... He never heard anything."

Priest J: Two sisters were among his victims. The priest raped one of the girls when she was 15. The other sister was abused behind a church altar, in the priest's rectory bedroom and at the girl's home when her parents were away. At a parochial high school, one of the sisters told a priest what had happened to her, but nothing came of it. Years later, she told "various people affiliated with the diocese," and again nothing came of it until, after the woman married, the diocese offered her a financial settlement. This account matches accusations made against the Rev. Nicholas Unterstein, and it was confirmed by one of the sisters, who testified.

Priest K: He abused a child during his first parish assignment. The abuse of this boy continued even after the priest was transferred to another parish. Years later, in 1998, the victim secretly tape-recorded a meeting with the priest, who acknowledged his actions. A lawsuit was later filed and settled for $160,000. The priest abused a boy at another parish, whose father reported the incident to the diocese. "Despite this, Priest K remained at the parish."

Priest L: He abused one of four brothers when the boy was 9. Two other brothers were also abused, and a fourth committed suicide before it could be determined if he was abused. Later, the surviving brothers complained to the diocese. The brothers' treatment by diocesan officials, who offered them little more than counseling, "was a disgrace." After years of angry letter writing, the brothers each accepted a settlement of $65,000.

Priest M: Four victims of this priest testified to the grand jury. "By Priest M's own admissions there could have been more." Two of the four were brothers. The priest's abuse of the boys was "relentless" and included following them to their college. This account matches allegations against the Rev. Robert Huneke. One of the victims who testified to the grand jury confirmed this was his testimony about Huneke.

Priest N: He sexually abused girls in two parishes. The parents of one of the girls complained to a diocesan official, who told the mother that the abuse was a "cultural misunderstanding" because the priest was from "a country in the South Pacific." The diocese later sent the priest for psychiatric treatment.

Priest O: He "wrestled with issues relating to his sexual orientation for most of his adult life" and regularly sought psychiatric counseling. "What is known is that Priest O was repeatedly sexually abusive and that the diocese knew this years before they took any action against him ... Priest O had the art of seducing teenage boys down to a science." The priest acknowledged in an evaluation that he abused "at least 12 boys." This account matches accusations against Msgr. Charles "Bud" Ribaudo, a former pastor of wealthy St. Dominic's Parish in Oyster Bay. He has had his priestly functions removed by the diocese.

Priest P: Assigned to a parish elementary school, this priest had a foot fetish. A nun testified to the grand jury that he had sexual contact with at least four boys and that "a senior cleric in the diocese, Priest P's pastor, and a deacon, all knew this." The priest was later reassigned to another parish elementary school, where he entertained boys in his rectory bedroom. He was later sent by the diocese for treatment but continued to celebrate Mass on weekends in a parish.

Priest Q: Pornographic tapes were found in his bedroom by his pastor. On one of the tapes was "sexual activity with an underage boy apparently from the parish." The pastor reported this to diocesan officials. The priest admitted to abusing a 15-year-old boy, but "no consideration was given [by the diocese] to reporting the abuse to law enforcement. No attempt was made by the diocese to locate and assist the victim."

Priest R: He was "assigned to a diocesan school where seven boys complained to the diocese that he had sexually abused them." He also gave the boys "drugs, alcohol and pornography ... Priest R usually picked out one boy per night to sleep with him in his bed. Priest R later admitted that all of the boys' reports were true." At treatment sessions, he said a priest had abused him when he was a child. A report recommended the priest never serve around young boys. "After this Priest R was assigned as chaplain at several diocesan hospitals ... "

Priest S: He "was accused of fondling and raping four teenage girls in his parish." A psychiatric evaluation recommended he never be allowed to work as a priest. "For some unexplainable reason the diocese disregarded this advice and returned Priest S to his parish." New abuse allegations were reported to the diocese. One victim attempted suicide, and others suffered from anger and depression.

Priest T: He molested "a number of young children in a parish assignment." After therapy, the diocese recommended he not be returned to the ministry and was instead given the post of "Vicar for Senior Priests."

Priest U: The report says the diocese settled with one victim for $50,000.

Priest V: This priest was "ultimately allowed to retire from active status after serious, credible allegations of child abuse against him were brought to the attention of the diocese within the criminal statute of limitations." He was arrested for the abuse of one boy. The account matched allegations against the Rev. Andrew Millar, who was arrested for abusing a learning disabled boy in 1999 and was sentenced the following year to 1 to 3 years in prison.

Priest W: Ordained in 1993, this priest was later arrested in the abuse of an underage boy. The account matches a sworn statement from the Rev. Michael Hands, who has pleaded guilty in the case. The grand jury report states that, while in counseling, the priest told his therapist he had been abused by Priest O (Ribaudo). "Each year he was abused six to ten times by Priest O," the report says. The grand jury report says "a high ranking diocesan official" asked Hands not to publicly disclose this abuse because it would be "bad for diocesan public relations and finances ..."

 
 

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