Rapid City Priest Denies Allegation of Sexual Abuse

Associated Press State & Local Wire
February 20, 2003

A now-retired Catholic priest has been accused of sexually abusing a minor when he served in Sturgis five decades ago, the bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City said.

Bishop Blase Cupich said he has received a "credible allegation" against the Rev. Gilbert Stack. The male victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, was 14 years old at the time and came forward because of a belief "others may have been hurt by Father Stack," the bishop said.

Stack, 90, who served in Sturgis from 1946 to 1956, denies the accusations.

"I've never been allowed to confront the allegations or seen any of the literature," Stack told The Associated Press Thursday. "All of this was made without my input and I don't want to stir the mud up now."

"I have a right to answer these things."

Stack, who also operated and managed the Shrine of the Nativity at Bethlehem Cave near Piedmont from 1957 to 1992, now lives in retirement at Conception Abbey in Conception, Mo.

Cupich said he believed the testimony of the witness because he found the allegations to be "time-, place- and person-specific." There has been no indication of legal action by the victim against either Stack or the diocese, said Cupich.

"Nothing has been said about that at all," Cupich said. "We can't predict those things, but we can predict our own reaction."

If there are other victims, Cupich encouraged them to "come forward for healing and to receive my personal expression of sorrow and pledge of pastoral support."

The Rev. Dan Juelfs, a member of the diocesan review board, said the panel won't play a role in the case because there is little or no action for it to take.

Any allegations against Stack would fall under the jurisdiction of the abbot at the Benedictine monastery where he lives, as prescribed by the new guidelines governing clergy abuse.

In addition, the review board, named by Cupich in August 2002, doesn't technically become operational until March, when standards of the sexual-abuse charter enacted by American bishops last year go into effect.

The review board is made up of attorney Gary Jensen, school nurse Susan Massopust, Sister Lorane Coffin, prioress of St. Martin Monastery, and Fred Tully, a church deacon and former director of Children's Home Society in Rockerville, as well as alternates Pat Kenner and Bill Grode.

It will review two other current cases against diocesan priests, the Revs. Dennis Riss and John Correy.

The review board has met to discuss procedures and other administrative details but has not reviewed any abuse cases to date, Juelfs said.

Cupich said he knows of no other allegations of abuse against priests in his diocese that have not already been made public.


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