Official: Priest Was Removed over Theft
Attorney Says That Shows Church Was More Concerned with Financial Misdeeds
By Terrie Morgan-Besecker
November 8, 2007
SCRANTON – A church official testifying at the civil trial of the Rev. Albert Liberatore revealed another priest had been removed from the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Duryea for stealing $32,000 from the parish.
Daniel Brier, attorney for the man suing Liberatore and the Diocese of Scranton for sexual abuse, elicited the testimony as part of his efforts to show the diocese acted more quickly to remove priests accused of financial misdeeds than it did to remove those suspected of sexually abusing minors.
James Quinn, secretary of financial services for the diocese, testified suspicions about the Rev. Richard Kvedrovicz arose in 1997 after Liberatore, who had just replaced Kvedrovicz as pastor at Sacred Heart, noticed financial irregularities in the church's books.
The allegations against Kvedrovicz, who died in 2000, had never been publicly revealed before Quinn's testimony Wednesday. Quinn testified the church opted not to report the theft to police, and that Kvedrovicz repaid the money.
Quinn testified an audit team was immediately dispatched to review the church's books. Shortly after the investigation, Kvedrovicz admitted he took the money. Bishop James Timlin removed him from pastoral duties soon afterward.
Brier contrasted that to the lack of action he maintains the diocese took after suspicions of sexual misconduct by Liberatore first came to the attention of diocesan officials in 1997.
The church's response is the key issue in a federal civil lawsuit Liberatore's victim filed against the diocese and Liberatore. The trial in the case enters its third day today.
Brier maintains church officials failed to adequately investigate concerns that were raised by several lay church people, as well as other priests, regarding Liberatore's behavior regarding the youth.
That allowed Liberatore to remain in the priesthood. He later pleaded guilty to molesting the victim in the civil case over a four-year period from 1999 to 2002.
Terrie Morgan-Besecker, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7179.
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