|Neighbors Unaware of Priest's Past
By Ben Finley
Bucks County Courier Times
February 20, 2008
When David Sicoli was a priest at Bristol Township's Immaculate Conception BVM church, he allegedly would take boys to his Shore house, get them drunk and molest them.
Sicoli was eventually transferred to another parish in the early 1980s. But as late as 2001, fellow priests were warning the Philadelphia archdiocese about Sicoli's unhealthy relationship with boys.
Sicoli is now a defrocked priest accused of abusing 11 children. And he still reportedly owns property at the Jersey Shore — located across from a playground, tennis courts and softball fields.
But Sicoli's neighbors — and their children — may be unaware of his alleged past.
Sicoli could try to molest again, and there's nothing stopping him, according to one of his alleged victims, a local psychologist and a victims' advocacy group.
The Philadelphia archdiocese has not told Sicoli's neighbors about the well-documented accusations. Law enforcement officials cannot inform Sicoli's neighbors of anything.
The statute of limitations for Sicoli's alleged crimes has expired. Like many accused priests, Sicoli, 59, was never charged with a crime.
With no convictions, Sicoli is not a registered sex offender. If he was, a mandated psychological evaluation might've found Sicoli to be a sexually violent predator. And then his address and other personal information would be made public.
Dean Dickson, a licensed psychologist who's been treating sex offenders for 25 years, said that if Sicoli had been prosecuted, he likely would've been found to be a sexually violent predator.
"He is a permanent risk to re-offend," Dickson said. "We have a situation in the commonwealth where someone who had one piece of child porn on their computer is listed on [the Megan's Law] Web site. But someone like [Sicoli] can live in any community without notification."
A victims' advocacy group, The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the Philadelphia archdiocese is endangering children by not telling Sicoli's neighbors about his past.
David Clohessy, SNAP's national director, said: "Any reasonable person would agree that this person is still dangerous. Men who molest kids rarely stop."
One of Sicoli's alleged Levittown victims agreed.
"That [behavior] doesn't change," said the man, who still lives in the area and didn't want his name published.
"Have you ever seen a person cured from pedophilia?" he asked.
Donna Farrell, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said the organization knows where Sicoli lives. But she declined to divulge his address except to say it is outside the Philadelphia archdiocese.
The Press of Atlantic City and the Philadelphia Daily News reported that Sicoli owns property in Sea Isle City, which is the same New Jersey town where he allegedly abused the boys from Levittown. The papers said Sicoli's condominium sits on Central Avenue across the street from Play-By-The-Bay, a complex of playgrounds, tennis courts and baseball fields.
The Courier Times was unsuccessful in reaching Sicoli for comment.
Farrell said the archdiocese informed the Catholic bishop in the area about Sicoli's residence and his past. She said the archdiocese provided the same information to the police department and district attorney's office in Sicoli's area.
Farrell added that the archdiocese listed on its Web site Sicoli's photo, name, birth date and history with the archdiocese, including all of his assignments between 1975 and 2002.
"I understand why the victims are concerned," Farrell said. "We certainly have learned a lot from victims."
She added: "The archdiocese does believe it has a lot more to do."
Earlier this month, the Vatican permanently removed Sicoli from the priesthood after finding enough substance to the allegations against him. The Philadelphia archdiocese had barred Sicoli from performing as a priest in 2004, when the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office began its investigation of alleged abuse and an organized cover-up in the archdiocese.
The grand jury's report, which can be found on the Philadelphia district attorney's Web site, details the allegations against Sicoli over several pages. Sicoli allegedly chose favorite boys at each of the parishes he worked at. He barraged the boys with money, gifts and trips and got them drunk, the report said. His alleged victims testified that Sicoli treated them like they were his girlfriends.
At the time of Sicoli's alleged abuses, the statute of limitations for his crimes was two years after the molestation occurred. Most of his victims would still have been teenagers then.
Some of the victims are hoping a bill in the state assembly will lift the statute of limitations so they can sue Sicoli civilly for damages. The legislation, House Bill 1574, is in committee.
"Give each child a day in court," the alleged victim from Levittown said.
On the Web
To read more about the accusations against David Sicoli and other accused priests from the Philadelphia area, visit the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office Web site at www.philadelphiadistrictattorney.com/images/Grand_Jury_Report.pdf
Ben Finley can be reached at 215-949-4203 or bfinley@phillyBurbs.com.
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