County Announces New Policy for Priest Misconduct Investigations

By Carol Sowers
The Arizona Republic
April 1, 2003

Prosecutors have changed their strategy in the investigation of sexual misconduct by priests that has scandalized the Phoenix Diocese for almost a year.

Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said Tuesday that he no longer will announce grand jury indictments of priests as they are handed up, waiting instead until the complex investigation is complete. He called the swarm of media attention over two earlier indictments "too distracting."

Romley would not be specific, but suggested that some indictments may be sealed until he is ready to announce them. He refused to speculate on the length of the investigation, saying only that it "must be complete."

The grand jury investigation began last summer. Since then, the two resulting indictments were against a priest and a former priest, both accused of sexual misconduct that occurred decades ago.

"The statute of limitations has clearly presented us with some difficult problems," Romley said.

Charges in one of the cases, filed against the Rev. Patrick Colleary, were dismissed in January after the discovery of a long-lost police report meant the statute of limitations in the alleged crime had expired.

The former priest, John Maurice Giandelone, was sentenced last month to 22 months in prison for the 1979-80 molestations of an altar boy, who is now a Mesa police lieutenant.

Before that, Giandelone spent a year in jail and work release for molesting another boy. The former priest says senior church officials, including current Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien, told the parents of his victims to keep quiet about the attacks and quietly transferred him from parish to parish.

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