|Accused Priest Honored at Recognition Dinner
Sister of Alleged Victim Protests
By Brittney Walker
November 28, 2008
An accused molester was honored Nov. 22 at the Bishop Carl Fisher Vocation Recognition Dinner, hosted by African American Catholic Center for Evangelization (AACCFE). Rita J. Prince, Las Vegas chapter leader of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) discovered the news on the AACCFE Web site. She immediately contacted the media after she found that Father Paul GoPaul, who was possibly responsible for her brother's suicide, was being honored at an awards banquet here in L.A. "This is a slap in the face to the victims who have had their lives devastated by sexual predators masquerading as priests," Prince said.
Ryan was a student at St. Johns University in Collegeville, Minnesota when he was allegedly drugged with Hashish and raped by his history professor, Father Paul GoPaul. The 19 year old college student fled home to California and swore he would never return. Ryan's father wrote a letter to the university, explaining his son's withdrawal, but Prince says the only punishment GoPaul received was a denial of tenure as a history professor. Sometime after Ryan was admitted to a mental hospital, he committed suicide by hanging himself in February 1971.
Prince's brother is not the only victim of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. SNAP is an abuse recovery agency that helps victims who have been molested by priests find help. "We want to protect the children out there from the abuse. The priests are being protected by the Catholic Church," says Prince. "Victims feel helpless because the church is much more powerful than an individual," she adds. Many accused priests go unpunished and continue to commit heinous acts within the church.
The AACCFE recognizes nine active priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, who have exceptionally served their community, by awarding them with the Bishop Carl Fisher Awards. This year, the awards are named after nine deceased priests, two of whom were accused molesters: Paul GoPaul and Vance Thorne, who was sued for his actions.
Though the AACCFE could not be contacted directly, Andrew Knox, an AACCFE Saint Brigid parish representative, was not aware of the accusations on either priest.
As of print time, the archdiocese has not responded to our numerous calls for comment.
Prince says, "This is a big embarrassment to the Church and if they care, they would clear the names before using them." Bishopaccountability.org provides a database of priests who have been accused, sued, or convicted of sexual crimes within the Church.
GoPaul allegedly died of AIDS in 1988 after serving as a professor at Cal State Dominguez Hills. For information about SNAP, log onto snapnetwork.org.
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