After Second Complaint, Bishop
Star-Telegram [Fort Worth TX]
November 29, 2006
[See related articles on the Fort
Worth files, and the accused priests Hanlon,
See also the documents
on which this series is based, with links to assignment records and background
[Note from BishopAccountability.org: We have provided links to the documents
quoted and referenced in this article. Our additions are in square brackets.
for the original article without links to the documents. See also all
the released Magaldi documents in batches, and a list of links
to selected Magaldi documents.]
The Rev. Philip Anthony Magaldi
Incardinated: Jan. 30, 1995
Assignments: St. Mary, Henrietta; St. John the Apostle,
North Richland Hills [See also a more
complete list of assignments.]
| Philip Anthony Magaldi
Over the Rev. Philip Magaldi's flamboyant career [see Bishop Delaney's
use of the same phrase in a 12/23/98
memo], he weathered perjury charges in New England and served time
in a halfway house for embezzling $123,400 from his Rhode Island parish.
The second complaint
The diocese kept quiet about the first sexual abuse complaint against
him in 1997. But a second, startlingly similar allegation -- and the threat
of publicity -- about two years later forced Bishop Delaney to remove
the priest from ministry.
Details of one allegation were not revealed until the documents were released
Even as Delaney came to believe that Magaldi was a possible danger to
children, he considered returning him to limited duties or helping him
find work in another diocese.
Magaldi's last assignment was as associate pastor at St. John the Apostle
Catholic Church in North Richland Hills. Church officials there would
later learn of additional claims of inappropriate behavior, including
his visiting Web chat rooms "looking for minors" and possessing
"pedophilic material." [See Thompson's
There is no record in the files released by the court that the bishop
contacted police about the abuse allegations or the material reportedly
found on Magaldi's computer.
Jerry Koller, a friend of Magaldi's who said he is the priest's caregiver,
said Tuesday that Magaldi was too ill to give interviews. Koller said
he believes that Magaldi was falsely accused.
The priest has maintained his innocence.
The first complaint
The first sexual misconduct complaint against Magaldi surfaced in January
1997 when a college student contacted Delaney [see Delaney's
1/3/97 memo] and later the Rev. Robert Wilson, the former chancellor
of the diocese [see Wilson's
Magaldi befriended the man in summer 1995 after he had given his confession
at a church, according to the files.
During the summer, Magaldi, then in his 60s, spent time with the man.
Magaldi took him to dinner at expensive restaurants. The man said he was
concerned that Magaldi never wore his clerical garb.
Magaldi introduced the man as his nephew and encouraged the minor to have
beer or wine, according to the files.
The two went swimming at Magaldi's apartment complex, and the man felt
that the priest was "getting too friendly," according to Delaney's
At other times, Magaldi would grab the man's buttocks, which the priest
explained by saying "we always did that in high school," according
to the files [see 1/8/97
Magaldi then asked the student for a strange favor: The priest wanted
the man to help administer four enemas that Magaldi said his doctor had
Magaldi said he wanted to avoid embarrassment by having the man administer
them instead of going to his mother. He offered him $25 each time he did
it. The man told Magaldi that he didn't want to take part. But Magaldi
insisted, and the man eventually agreed, the man told diocese officials.
The man "realized that what happened was unwholesome and is worried
that PM [Magaldi] may be doing the same -- or worse -- to other young
men," Delaney wrote in his notes. [See Delaney's
Magaldi sent him $100 checks every six weeks, the files say.
In fall 1995, Magaldi encountered the man again and kissed him on the
lips, the man told diocese officials. Magaldi later wrote him, "explaining
away what he did and sending more money," according to Delaney's
notes in the files. In a 1999 interview with a church official, Magaldi
did not deny the incident but said "this was not a sexual thing."
[See the relevant excerpt
from this interview, which was conducted on 12/30/98 by an investigator
in the Providence diocese. See also the full interview transcript: Parts
, and 4.]
He also said the kiss was misinterpreted and was on the cheek, not the
lips, "as Italians do." [See 1/8/97
Chancery memo for this quote.] Church officials met with Magaldi,
who appeared anxious and animated during his interview, the records show.
"He had assumed that there would be a major lawsuit involving large
sums of settlement money and was told by Father Wilson that this did not
appear to be the case." [See 1/8/97
Magaldi denied all wrongdoing.
Magaldi said he befriended the man because he saw him as a potential "vocation."
If he ordered wine at dinner, he didn't encourage the student to drink,
he told the officials.
Magaldi admitted paying the man to administer enemas.
An unidentified person wrote that Magaldi was "completely without
insight regarding his actions and certainly lacking in sound judgment.
He assumes no responsibility and sees nothing questionable in his actions."
Chancery memo for Magaldi's version.]
Wilson noted in a January 1997 report that a committee "believes
that PM [Magaldi] is guilty of sexual exploitation." [See Wilson's
1/12/97 executive summary.]
Records show that Magaldi remained at St. John the Apostle under the supervision
of another priest for at least eight months.
The records show that Wilson told Magaldi's accuser that the priest "would
not be in contact with youth in the parish, and had been taken off the
altar server duty." [See Wilson's
2/13/97 memo. See also Delaney's
earlier 1/17/97 memo describing his conversation with Magaldi announcing
these arrangements; Magaldi complained
Magaldi was still working as an associate pastor at the church in December
1998 when Fort Worth officials were contacted by the Diocese of Providence,
Rhode Island, about a sex abuse complaint. [Bishop Mulvee wrote a 12/4/98
letter to Bishop Delaney, enclosing a 12/3/98
memo describing the allegation summarized below. The Worcester accuser
subsequently filed a legal
The new allegation would sound all too familiar to Delaney.
A man told Providence officials that when he was 13 or 14 in Worcester,
Mass., Magaldi stopped to help him with a flat bicycle tire.
Magaldi offered to give him a ride home but instead took him to a hotel.
There, the man said, he was raped.
As with the 1997 complaint, the man alleged that Magaldi "made me give
him an enema" and gave him money in exchange.
"He ah, had this thing with enemas. Use to call it holy water,"
the man said, according to the files.
He also accused Magaldi of raping him and paying him money after as many
as 18 incidents of abuse over the course of several years.
When a diocese sexual misconduct committee interviewed Magaldi on Dec. 19,
1998, about the allegations, the priest said that the devil was at work
and that he had no way to defend himself. [See the committee's
interview transcript, PDF p. 1.]
Magaldi said he didn't know the man.
"I have never performed oral sex on anybody," he told the committee.
"I have never raped anybody, God forbid." [See the transcript,
PDF p. 1.]
Delaney was worried. The similarity between the 1997 and 1998 allegations
was striking. He had defended Magaldi when the priest's embezzlement conviction
had been brought to light in the media. And he hadn't removed Magaldi after
the 1997 allegation, though it had been in the back of his mind.
Now he was forced to act. If not, he told committee members, "There
is no way that -- that I can defend myself before God or before the people
of the diocese or before the world." [For this quote, see the interview
transcript, PDF p. 10.]
But Magaldi wasn't removed from active ministry for four more months.
In the meantime, Delaney met with Magaldi and later wrote that if the allegations
were true, the priest "could be a danger to young people in his ministry,"
according to a Feb. 19, 1999, note in the confidential files.
[BA.org note: Magaldi was, however, sent to Providence to talk with
the diocesan investigator there on 12/30/98 (see the full transcript
of that interview 1,
, and 4)
and to take a polygraph test. Then he was sent for an evaluation beginning
1/3/99. The evaluation facility's name is redacted in the committee's
12/19/98 interview transcript (PDF pp. 13, 16-18) and in a 12/23/98
memo by Delaney to the facility. Perhaps it was the Institute of
Living, which is in Hartford CT. See also the interesting attachment
to Delaney's 12/23/98 memo, containing a description by Delaney
of Magaldi's involvement in the von Bulow trial and his embezzlement
[BA.org note: See Delaney's
2/19/99 note for that quote and the following one. This important
memo also reveals that the evaluation facility recommended Magaldi "return
for extended therapy," and that Delaney postponed a decision on
the recommendation until he had the polygraph results. Those results
are also discussed in the memo, as is the news that the accuser has
"retained an attorney."]
Still, Delaney told Magaldi that "I could try to assist him to find
a place in ministry in another diocese, or that he could retire."
In March, shortly before Magaldi was removed, Delaney witnessed firsthand
what he described as an inappropriate gesture: Magaldi held his cheek
against an altar boy's and tied the boy's cincture. [See Delaney's
3/11/99 memo describing this gesture.] Then, in April, Delaney learned
of reports that Magaldi was allowing a 13- or 14-year-old boy to stay
with him during the day. [See Schumacher's
4/7/99 email to Delaney.]
In mid-April , Delaney removed Magaldi from ministry.
The files show that Magaldi passed one polygraph test but failed another.
[BA.org note: See Delaney's
4/16/99 memo referring to the 4/9/99
threat of a lawsuit and describing the committee's approval of the
decision to retire Magaldi; see also Delaney's
4/19/99 memo describing a meeting that Magaldi had with sympathetic
parishioners about his retirement. In a 4/29/99
follow-up letter to the diocesan lawyer, the Worcester accuser's
attorney revealed that he had learned about the earlier 1997 Fort Worth
allegation. The importance of this revelation is indicated by double
exclamation points in the margin of the diocesan copy of the letter.
In a 5/21/99
letter to Magaldi, Delaney confirmed Magaldi's 4/25/99 retirement
and restrictions. But in a 4/29/99
memo, Delaney reports that the Fort Worth accuser had called him,
saying that he'd heard Magaldi's retirement was temporary. Delaney replied
that it was permanent. The accuser offered to go public "if it
were needed to bolster the case for keeping PM out of ministry. I told
him I didn't think that would be necessary." Yet when the Worcester
accuser filed a federal suit in July 1999, the Fort Worth diocese issued
release on 7/22/99, stating that "if Fr. Magaldi is exonerated
[in the Worcester case], his status will be reevaluated."
email from Schumacher to Delaney states that Magaldi's faculties
"had been taken away for a second time, just within the past week."
This indicates that sometime between April 1999 and April 2000, Magaldi's
faculties had indeed been restored. Perhaps they were restored as a
result of Magaldi's
3/21/00 request, enclosing the notice
that the Worcester accuser's suit
had been dismissed, albeit without prejudice. Then why were Magaldi's
faculties again removed within the month? A handwritten note apparently
in Wilson's hand on the copy of the notice
might be relevant: "3-23-00 J. Crumley [diocesan attorney] called
to emphasize the 'without prejudice'." Also, the Worcester accuser
refiled his suit in April 2000.]
By the end of 2000, Delaney was willing to discuss returning Magaldi to
limited duties. [The Worcester accuser died 10/9/00 and his refiled suit
was dismissed 10/20/00, as discussed in a 12/8/00
article in the Star-Telegram.] But because of an article
in the Star-Telegram and another
in The Dallas Morning News, Delaney wrote that "a great deal of publicity
was being generated about whether he was to be allowed to function again
[BA.org note: Magaldi failed his first test on 1/2/99, and then passed
a 2/21/99 test arranged by his own lawyer. The results of the failed
test and a second opinion on the first test seem to have been withheld
from this document release (perhaps they are in the pp. 602 to 612 block
of withheld pages). But the results of the test
that Magaldi passed were released. The results of the Worcester
accuser's 4/3/99 polygraph are included twice (1
The results of Magaldi's tests are described in Delaney's
2/24/99 memo and his earlier 2/19/99
"... I explained to PM (I regret, with some heat) that under the circumstances,
my granting him even limited faculties would imply that all the innuendos
and allegations meant nothing to me and that I endorsed him as a competent
minister, and that I could not do that." [See Delaney's
12/15/00 memo, which states that he had met with Magaldi on the previous
day. Indeed, "the purpose of the meeting had originally been to discuss
granting him limited faculties." But the publicity changed all that.
Delaney received a 1/1/01
letter from a friend of the now deceased Worcester accuser, vouching
for him and his account.]
Other allegations of inappropriate conduct by Magaldi continued to surface,
including that he kissed a 17-year-old boy on both cheeks in public and
gave him a lengthy embrace. The boy's grandfather had recently died. [See
1/13/01 memo, item 2.]
Magaldi also asked staff members at one church for the phone numbers of
four teenage boys whom he said he wanted to take to a Texas Rangers game
in thanks for serving at a funeral Mass. [See Gremmels'
1/13/01 memo, item 3.]
Lobbying the Vatican
By 2001, Magaldi was lobbying the Vatican to allow him to return to ministry.
[See the Vatican's 4/7/01
response.] Delaney put his foot down. He wrote to the Vatican, outlining
what he knew about the abuse allegations and recommending that Magaldi never
be allowed to minister again. [See Delaney's
"I cannot in conscience entrust to him public ministry in the church,"
Delaney wrote. "Over and over again, he has proved that he cannot be
trusted in his dealings with young boys, and what causes me even more concern,
he seems totally oblivious to the reality that his conduct is in any way
A short time later, Delaney learned of a new incident involving "material
on Phil's computer and on his desk that showed he was in chat rooms looking
for minors," according to an e-mail.
The e-mail, sent by another priest, said a friend of Magaldi's made the
discovery. "She didn't say that he had any photos, but that he had
pedophilic material," the e-mail stated. [See Thompson's
This year, Magaldi's attorney filed court documents showing that Magaldi
resides in an assisted-living center, is legally blind and cannot walk without
[BA.org note: Magaldi appealed Delaney's decision to the Vatican, which
3/16/02 raised the issue again with Delaney, who replied
on 4/11/02. In a 1/11/03
letter, Magaldi asked the Fort Worth diocese for a copy of his personnel
file, on the advice of Msgr. William Varvaro, his canon lawyer.]
In August, Bishop Kevin W. Vann announced that Magaldi had been publicly
performing priestly duties at the nursing center. On Aug. 10, Vann forbade
Magaldi from presenting himself as a priest or conducting any services.