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  Two More Allege Sex Abuse by Priest
Documents Reveal Ex-Bishop Timlin Sparred with Attorney over His Concern of Issue

By Mark Guydish markg@leader.net
July 21, 2004

SCRANTON - New court documents reveal two more witnesses who say they were molested by the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity, one of two priests at the center of a lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by the priests and negligence by the Scranton Diocese, former Bishop James Timlin and others.

Also, the records reveal the former bishop showed a rarely seen flare of temper during a deposition in the civil suit. And he admitted some seminaries have reputations for alleged homosexual activity.

The new details were made public in a flood of paperwork filed by James Bendell, the attorney for a man identified only as John Doe. Doe says he was sexually assaulted by Urrutigoity and the Rev. Eric Ensey, founding members of the Society of St. John in Shohola, Pike County.

In opposing a legal effort to remove Timlin and the diocese from the case, Bendell filed more than 150 pages of Timlin's deposition, taken shortly after the bishop retired in October. Among other things, Bendell was trying to prove that Timlin made no effort to investigate the two priests' backgrounds before letting them set up in the diocese.

Timlin's temper spiked when asked about a letter he had written to Jeffrey Bond, a relentless critic of the Society of St. John. Timlin said Bendell had taken part of that letter "out of context ... to support this erroneous and inaccurate betrayal." He then asked Bendell for an apology.

"Bishop Timlin," Bendell replied, "I will never apologize for anything I said to you or did in this case."

A few moments later, Timlin said that Bendell sounded angry, and Bendell replied, "I'm angry that a boy was molested and you don't seem to give a damn."

"Don't you dare say that to me," Timlin fired back. "Don't you say anything like that to me. I'll get very angry if you accuse me of something like that because that's not true."

At one point, Timlin's attorney, James O'Brien, threatened to adjourn the deposition if Bendell didn't ask "legitimate questions."

"I'm willing to ask questions if he stops screaming," Bendell said.

"I admit I'm screaming," Timlin said, "and I apologize for screaming, but I feel very strongly about this, much more strongly than you do. Go ahead now."

Under wide-ranging questioning:

Timlin pointed out that he and others in the diocese tried multiple times to talk to Doe and his family, but they would not cooperate.

Timlin said that although the Diocese of Scranton adheres to new guidelines on sexual abuse put out by U.S. bishops in 2003, "I know there are some bishops in the country who refuse to have anything to do with it and they have permission from Rome to do this."

Timlin said he never made society priests chaplains at St. Gregory's Academy, a school for boys in Elmhurst where the misconduct allegedly started. The society lived at the academy before buying the Shohola property.

Other depositions Bendell filed show the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the organization that runs the academy, made the society priests chaplains. This is important because the fraternity, like Timlin and the diocese, have tried to have themselves removed from the case.

Asked if he had ever told Bond that he wanted to keep allegations about the Society of St. John "quiet," Timlin replied: "No way, no cover up, that's not what we're doing at all. But I mean, do we want to broadcast everything out from the rooftops, I'll tell everything we know about everybody? No, we don't want to do anything like that. That would be imprudent in itself."

Timlin has repeatedly insisted that a balance must be struck between protecting children from abuse and respecting the rights of a priest to due process.

Bendell asked if Timlin was ever concerned about seminaries where diocese priests have been sent. Timlin said that one "has a reputation for being, maybe, I won't say, less careless, that would be a wrong word to use, not careless, but that there may be more homosexual activity there than we would like to see. I wouldn't want to see any of it for that matter."

Regarding another seminary, Timlin said "I don't mean there's homosexuality going on there, but that there's a reputation for people there maybe being a little bit inclined in that direction." Timlin stressed he had "no firsthand knowledge of anything like that."

Other paperwork filed by Bendell included excerpts from depositions and affidavits by two St. Gregory's Academy graduates.

One testified that he had visited Urrutigoity at the Shohola property and slept fully clothed in the same bed at the priest's urging. The student said Urrutigoity "put his right arm around my shoulder."

The other student said he similarly slept with Urrutigoity at the priest's urging and woke to find the priest's hand on his abdomen. "Urrutigoity then gradually worked his hand down to my private area," the student said.

Neither priest has been charged with a crime and both have denied Doe's accusations. Bendell has been trying to discredit them by introducing testimony from others who had attended the academy or spent time at the Shohola property with the priests.

Bendell also has attacked the priests' credibility. He released excerpts from Urrutigoity's deposition in which the priest denies giving tobacco to academy students. But Bendell produced a letter from Urrutigoity to academy staff apologizing for giving students cigars during a camping trip in 1999.

Bendell also released a Feb. 10, 1999, letter from Bishop Bernard Fellay to Timlin. Fellay headed the Society of St. Pius X in Minnesota when Urrutigoity was there, and relayed allegations against Urrutigoity.

"We felt he had a strange, abnormal influence on the seminarians and priests, whom he seemed to attach to his brilliant, charismatic personality," Fellay wrote. He refused to let Urrutigoity establish the Society of St. John in Minnesota because of "this strange personal, guru-like attachment between the disciples and their leader."

Timlin wrote back that the diocese investigated the allegations and found the evidence "inconclusive."

Among the hundreds of pages Bendell released was a psychological evaluation of Doe. The doctor went into some detail regarding Doe's alcoholism during the alleged misconduct by Ensey and Urrutigoity, noting that Doe "probably had a biological predisposition to alcohol addiction."

The doctor also said Doe has bipolar illness, shifting between states of euphoria and depression. Both that and the alcoholism were likely made worse when Ensey allegedly supplied alcohol to Doe on numerous occasions, the report said.

Mark Guydish, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7161.

 
 

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