Victims Target Priests
FW: Bishop Urged to Discipline Those Who Didn't File Abuse Reports
By Brooks Egerton
Dallas Morning News [Fort Worth TX]
December 1, 2006
An international organization of clergy abuse victims expressed outrage Thursday over the contents of unsealed Fort Worth Catholic Diocese records and urged Bishop Kevin Vann to discipline priests who "enabled or covered up for their abusive peers."
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said one of its targets is the Rev. Tim Thompson, pastor of St. John the Apostle Church in North Richland Hills. He failed to tell police of a parishioner's tip that the Rev. Philip Magaldi was trolling chat rooms for minors and had "pedophilic material" on his computer.
"It never crossed my mind that I should report it to police," Father Thompson said Thursday.
The unsealed records, which The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram obtained this week after a 19-month court battle, show that Father Thompson did tell Bishop Joseph Delaney about the 2001 tip.
At that time, Father Magaldi was trying to transfer from Fort Worth to a Florida diocese, having been removed from ministry at least three times – once for stealing from a parish and twice because of sexual abuse complaints. He had been returned to duty twice and, on another occasion, stayed on the job despite church investigators' conclusion that he was "guilty of sexual exploitation."
The records show that Father Thompson urged Bishop Delaney, who has since died, to alert a bishop in Florida "if he is still thinking of letting Phil work there." He added: "I doubt that there is anything we can or need to do here."
Under Texas law, anyone who has "cause to believe" a child is being abused must notify civil authorities. The records, covering seven abusers who were left in ministry over two decades, contain no sign that Fort Worth church leaders ever did that.
Father Thompson told The News that he and Bishop Delaney did not even discuss the possibility of calling police.
"In hindsight, maybe there is more I could have done," the priest said. "I don't know that there is anything I need to apologize for."
Father Thompson said Bishop Delaney never told him about key elements of Father Magaldi's past and that he learned them only this week, from the records obtained by the newspapers.
For example, he said he didn't know that Father Magaldi had admitted paying a teenager for enemas after the youth came to him for confession. And he didn't know that, months before the 2001 tip about chat rooms, Bishop Delaney had removed Father Magaldi from a Keller parish because of numerous misconduct reports there.
Father Thompson said he did know what The News had already reported on at the time – that Father Magaldi had spent lavishly on boys, had been accused of abusing one and had been convicted of stealing from a Rhode Island church.
A mother who complained that Father Magaldi hugged and kissed her son inappropriately in 2000 said Thursday that SNAP should focus on top diocesan leaders.
"The individual priests – I'm not sure they're guilty of covering it up," the woman said. "The priests didn't have all the information."
Responsibility lies, she said, with the superiors to whom they reported problems.
Keller's pastor, the Rev. John Gremmels, wrote Bishop Delaney a memo detailing the woman's complaint and three other incidents of inappropriate behavior by Father Magaldi.
SNAP called for Bishop Vann to discipline Father Gremmels, too, for not calling police. The priest could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Bishop Vann, who succeeded Bishop Delaney last year, declined to comment. A day earlier, he apologized for the seven abusers' actions and said he is asking the Vatican to remove two of them from the priesthood: Father Magaldi and the Rev. Rudolf "Rudy" Renteria.
Father Magaldi has denied wrongdoing, and Father Renteria has not responded to interview requests.
Bishop Vann declined Wednesday to criticize the cover-ups and said nothing about discipline for anyone who participated in them.
SNAP's national director, David Clohessy, said Bishop Vann's approach amounted to this: "Let's beat up on more of the street-level dope dealers and ignore the drug kingpins."
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