Accused of Abuse, Priest Put on Leave

By Blake Morlock
Tucson Citizen [Tucson AZ]
November 28, 2006

Bishop Manuel D. Moreno's death still hasn't sunk in for Troy Gray, who settled a lawsuit in 2005 with the Diocese of Tucson over sexual abuse allegations.

Moreno knew Gray's family and his picture is in photos taken during Gray's confirmation.

Moreno allowed the Rev. Kevin Barmasse into the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson despite allegations of predatory behavior against the priest from southern California, and Barmasse molested Gray as a boy, Gray's lawsuit alleged.

Moreno's death left Gray conflicted.

"A part of me felt bad, but another part of me thinks that he'll finally get to be judged," said Gray, whose lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

The Tucson diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2004 after being plagued with lawsuits alleging abuse by priests and has struggled to regain parishioners' trust. It will be part of Moreno's legacy.

Much of the alleged abuse in Tucson happened before Moreno came to the diocese in 1982. When the allegations came to light on Moreno's watch, critics - and Moreno himself - said he didn't do enough to rid the church of the culprits.

Michael Moylan, 36, of Tucson also settled a lawsuit alleging Barmasse sexually abused him as a boy.

Barmasse was a priest in the Tucson diocese, which covers southern Arizona, from 1983 to 1991. He served at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 8650 N. Shannon Road, in Tucson from 1986 to 1988.

Moreno eventually took a stern line against abusive priests and sought to defrock, rather than just suspend, priests about whom there was little doubt of their transgressions.

In 2002, the Tucson diocese published the names of priests with credible allegations against them. Barmasse was on that list.

Gray complimented Moreno on his work with Hispanics in the diocese and efforts to help the poor.

"I don't think he was a bad man," Moylan said. "He made some mistakes. One of the large mistakes he made caused a good part of my life to be partially ruined."

But Gray, a 38-year-old maintenance supervisor in Vail, Colo., said he still has trouble with trust and intimacy and is just now at the point where he "doesn't freak" when someone approaches him unexpectedly, he said.

He blames his divorce six years ago to his problems with trust.

All of that could have been avoided, Gray said, if Moreno had just said "no" to accepting a priest with a record of improper conduct around children.

But Gray admits that kind of confrontation probably wasn't in Moreno's nature.

"Bishop Moreno was so timid, I don't think he would have won an argument like that," Gray said.

Neither Moylan nor Gray considers himself Catholic any more. Gray's memories bring up conflict about how he lost faith.

"When I look at the picture of Bishop Moreno at my confirmation, it makes want to cry," Gray said.



Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.