Scranton Times Tribune
August 29, 2004
Much of former Bishop James C. Timlin's deposition in the clergy abuse lawsuit against the Society of St. John is public record, disclosed in documents filed in U.S. District Court.
The former bishop was deposed Oct. 20, by attorney James Bendell, who represents the former student who claims he was molested by the Rev. Eric Ensey and the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity.
Through Diocese of Scranton spokeswoman Maria Orzel, Bishop Timlin declined an interview with The Sunday Times to discuss his deposition.
Below are excerpts:
The bishop is asked how intensely the diocese scrutinized the priests, former members of the Society of St. Pius X, before accepting them into the diocese.
Bishop Timlin: There's a need to scrutinize them; there are varying degrees of that, of course. I didn't think it was necessary to go and unearth everything in their past because I figured that had been done in spades.
Mr. Bendell: By the Society of St. Pius X.
Bishop Timlin: Exactly.
Mr. Bendell: Now did you know they were asked to leave the Society of St. Pius X?
Bishop Timlin: I knew they were asked to leave because they wanted to be regularized in the Catholic Church.
Mr. Bendell: How did you know that that's the reason?
Bishop Timlin: That's what they told me.
Asked why the diocese never investigated allegations the Rev. Urrutigoity molested a seminarian in Argentina, Bishop Timlin explains the Society of St. Pius X later ordained him a priest and made him a faculty member at a seminary in Winona, Minn.
Bishop Timlin: So I mean apparently they didn't think that that was, from our review that there was anything wrong in Argentina. Why would they take him up to ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^C1 this country and ordain him a priest and put him in a seminary teaching other seminarians if there was something that they had against him. So again, we felt there was nothing against him in Argentina.
Mr. Bendell: So you felt there was no need to investigate the charges in Argentina?
Bishop Timlin: Correct.
Bishop Timlin is later asked whether anything would prevent the diocese from undertaking an investigation of the Argentina allegations now.
Bishop Timlin: Nobody would tell us not to do that, we can do whatever we want with regard to that, sure.
Mr. Bendell: But have you decided to send somebody down there to investigate it?
Bishop Timlin: No, we have not done anything like that yet at all. We're stymied at this point, that's our position in the whole thing, that we have not been able to proceed because first of all we don't have a victim and then when we found a victim, one victim, that's the only one that's ever come forward after an exhaustive search, the only one that's made any allegations of this nature, they refused to cooperate and they just wouldn't talk. ...
Mr. Bendell: But you have no intention of doing it now?
Bishop Timlin: ... It would be up to the new bishop to decide what he wants to do. When this case comes up before him, and it will come up before him eventually, to see where we're going to go. But it's an evolving case, it's in the process, so it's kind of stymied up to now, it's been kind of stymied pretty much and there's never any indication that we would have to go to Argentina. ...
Bishop Timlin is looking at a document and objects to a statement written by Mr. Bendell, which he says the attorney indicated earlier he would correct. It leads to a testy exchange, and the bishop suggests Mr. Bendell is angry. The attorney says he's not.
Bishop Timlin: You're not? OK. You sound angry but go ahead.
Mr. Bendell: I'm angry that a boy was molested and you don't seem to give a damn.
Bishop Timlin: Don't you dare say that to me. Don't you dare say that to me. Don't you dare say anything like that to me. I'll get very angry if you accuse me of something like that because that's not true. Never mind why it's not true, you said something and I said it's not true, and I'll not sit here and let you accuse me of saying something like that or doing something like that. How dare you say that. I don't care whether a boy was molested or not -- how could you come to a conclusion like that?
Mr. Bendell asks Bishop Timlin how he responded to allegations that priests at the Society of St. John were sharing beds with young men and giving them alcohol. The bishop says he called the priests to a meeting at the chancery.
Bishop Timlin: ... They denied any wrongdoing, of course, no wrongdoing.
But I said you have to avoid even the appearance of something like that and that has to stop. You can't possibly do anything like that that would give anybody the impression that something was wrong. That has to stop absolutely. And they agreed with me, no question. And the same thing with alcohol. See, these are allegations that are being made about you and you must understand what the law in Pennsylvania is with regard to serving alcohol to minors, any kind of alcohol, even parents serving alcohol to minors. You must not do that at all ...
Mr. Bendell: Did you ever ask them point blank is it true that you've been sleeping with boys?
Bishop Timlin: I'm sure I did.
Mr. Bendell: What was their answer?
Bishop Timlin: And I don't recall the exact answer that they gave and they said, well, you know, maybe sleep with boys on a trip or something, were in a room with them or something like that, in sleeping bags, and they went onto something like that. I said, that has to stop, whatever you're doing along those lines has to stop because it's highly imprudent especially in this day and age. In itself it's imprudent, and they said, fine, no problem, we'll do that.
Mr. Bendell questions the bishop about an early draft of a letter he wrote that said a psychological report on the Rev. Ensey indicates "problems with pornography and other characteristics that concern me." The reference was removed in the final draft of the letter:
Bishop Timlin: I don't have any recollection of this pornography business. There was never anything that I ever saw about pornography or anything like that, and that was probably thrown out someplace. This is a draft that was prepared by somebody but not myself and they put down the draft and the facts and so forth. It's my letter, however, I signed it and before I sign anything I'm sure that it's my letter. ...
But that indicates it's problems with pornography or other characteristics which concern me. Now that's somebody else's, what they must have heard from somebody somewhere along the line. ..
Mr. Bendell: Do you know who might have put that in there to begin with?
Bishop Timlin: Well, again, conjecture on my part. I don't remember to tell you the truth, I'm not sure who put it in there, but it could have been somebody in our office.
Bishop Timlin is asked about diocesan-ordered psychological evaluations of the Rev. Ensey and the Rev. Urrutigoity at a treatment facility in Canada and whether he ever received them.
Bishop Timlin: I have not gotten them. I don't know whether I asked for them or not. I think I may have asked for them, but when it was told that they did not want me to have them, then I just said no problem. ...
Mr. Bendell: Have you been given verbal summaries of these evaluations?
Bishop Timlin: ... I heard something about -- not a deposition, about the report from the facility. I don't remember getting any report in writing certainly and I don't recall where I heard these things, but I did hear something someplace along the line, and it was OK. They were all right, the reports that I got. That's enough for me to get -- I shouldn't even say that.
Mr. Bendell: No, I just want the truth. Who gave you reports that they're OK?
Bishop Timlin: I don't know.
Mr. Bendell asks Bishop Timlin whether, during a 2001 conversation with Jeffrey Bond, Ph.D., he characterized the problems with the Society of St. John as a matter of imprudence and wanted to keep things quiet.
Bishop Timlin: I have no recollection of using those terms of keeping it quiet, but I do remember reading where Dr. Bond would take something like that and spin that out of control where I'm trying to cover up. ...
But I don't recall, I may have said something like that, about keeping it quiet or something like that. I don't recall saying that but it certainly not in the context of where we were covering up anything, that's not the idea. It's just that, you know, what's the problem here? We wanted to solve the problem, that's what we want to do.
Mr. Bendell asks Bishop Timlin about the whereabouts of the Rev. Ensey and the Rev. Urrutigoity, who were moved to Scranton from the society's property in Shohola after molestation allegations were made.
Bishop Timlin: No, we did not keep them in the place we brought them here. We had to do that quickly because we act immediately when that happened, they had no place else to go. So there was an arrangement made where they would live privately and they lived in separate places and so forth. And more recently they have moved back onto the grounds, the Society of St. John, because again, there are no children there and they are just living there. They're not involved in an apostolate or anything like that. They have to go someplace.
Mr. Bendell: Now you say that there are no children there?
Bishop Timlin: No minors, no.
Mr. Bendell: There are no minors?
Bishop Timlin: Not that I know of, no.
Mr. Bendell: So they are forbidden -- I already asked that question. A couple months ago we had a formal discovery proceeding where the attorneys have a chance to inspect the premises and we went out to Shohola and there was a luncheon there where Father Ensey was there, Father Urrutigoity was there and there was a group of children having lunch. Do you know anything about that?
Bishop Timlin: I heard about that, and, again, it's impossible for them not to have some contact -- from walking down the street with children, children can be around, they can be there, but they would always be never with children alone certainly.
Scranton Times Tribune 2004