Churches' Plea Angers Some
Kettering Pastor Says Credibility Damaged
By Jim DeBrosse jdebrosse@DaytonDailyNews.com and Tom Beyerlein
Dayton Daily News [Dayton OH]
Downloaded November 22, 2003
Should Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk resign?
Total Votes 609
DAYTON | At least one Dayton area priest thinks that Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk did more harm than good in not admitting personal or individual guilt on charges of failing to report child sexual abuse by priests.
"Certainly, his credibility is less today than it was" before Thursday, when Pilarczyk appeared in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to agree to a no-contest settlement with prosecutors, said Monsignor Lawrence Breslin, pastor of St. Charles Church in Kettering.
Pilarczyk agreed to the conviction of the archdiocese as an entity, but not of any individual, on five fourth-degree misdemeanor counts of failing to report felony sex crimes against children.
Breslin said he has heard from numerous lay people who are angry with the plea agreement. The settlement includes a $3 million compensation fund for abuse victims that can't be accessed unless they give up the right to sue the archdiocese.
"There is a tremendous amount of anger against the archbishop," Breslin said. "It's all over the place."
The five counts applied only to 1978 through 1982, before Pilarczyk was promoted from auxiliary bishop to archbishop of the archdiocese. The case is believed to the first U.S. criminal conviction of a Catholic diocese.
Even so, "the one approach that remains untested is putting a bishop on the witness stand under oath in front of a jury and have him defend his cover-up," said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, an organization that provides resources and support for abuse victims.
Archdiocese officials said there was no cover-up. Before the archdiocese's child protection decree of 1993, there was no clear chain of command for reporting allegations of sexual abuse against children, said Dan Andriacco, a spokesman for the archdiocese.
Local survivors of sexual abuse by priests had a mixed reaction to the plea agreement.
"I think it's a good first step — the emphasis on first," said Stuart Dupras, who claims he was abused by a priest during his youth in New York City.
Dupras said the settlement fund for victims — amounting to about $30,000 for each of the 100 or so alleged victims in Hamilton County — is not enough. "But at least a few people, albeit a few, will be able to benefit from it," he said.
Mike Knellinger, co-founder of the Dayton chapter of the lay reform group Voice of the Faithful, said the archbishop should be removed. "What message have we sent to the kids in our schools? 'We admit we did wrong, we admit we failed to report child sex abuse. We don't admit the guilt.' ''
As part of the agreement, the archdiocese will report allegations of child sexual abuse by priests, employees or volunteers in Hamilton County to the county prosecutor within 24 hours.
But there won't be a similar arrangement with the other 18 counties in the archdiocese, which includes all of the Miami Valley. "The other 18 didn't have a problem with the way we were doing it before," Andriacco said.
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