Tough Questions: Dirty Priests?

By Wendy Saltzman
CBS Atlanta
March 4, 2010

[statement from the Atlanta archdiocese]

[archdiocese response to Chappell]

[Chappell's letter to the archdiocese]

ATLANTA -- CBS Atlanta is breaking news about salacious sex charges in the Catholic Church. Two priests in the Atlanta Archdiocese have been removed from their parishes after engaging in homosexual relationships.

Dale Chappell, the man who said these two priests conspired to "use him for sex," is speaking only to CBS Atlanta News. He provided chief investigative reporter Wendy Saltzman with the text messages and pictures that document 5 years of inappropriate relationships, concealed behind closed doors in Atlanta's Catholic church.

Saltzman asked Chappell if he had physical sexual relationships with these two members of the clergy.

"Yes, I did. With both," he responded.

Chappell said he was the victim of the two priests' conspiracy, a plan that did the unthinkable: to break the priests' vows to God, and the church.

"I know they do not have good character, I can tell you that. Because they are liars. They are chronic liars, and they duped me not once, but twice," Chappell said.

Chappell said he met Juan Carlos Arce at Tripp’s gay bar in Atlanta.

"If you met this guy, you would never guess that he was a priest," Chappell said.

They started a homosexual relationship back in 2005, which Chappell said included having sex on church property.

"We were intimate in the rectory. I didn't know it was a rectory at the time," Chappell continued.

Chappell said he had no idea Arce was actually a Catholic priest at St. Joseph's Parish in Athens. When he found out, Chappell said he ended the relationship because it conflicted with his religious and moral values. Chappell said Arce told him he was a social worker with the Catholic church.

"In retrospect, I see clues that he was hiding what he did," Chappell said.

He said that's when Arce introduced him to another gay "friend," Juan Fernando Areiza, whom he later learned was a priest at St. Andrews Church in Roswell.

"Somehow, I believe they may have conspired together just to use me for sex," Chappell said.

Text messages and pictures Chappell provided to CBS Atlanta News confirm his allegations of these hoimosexual relationships, including dozens of texts with Areiza.

"Here's one that says, 'Miss you and love you,'" Chappell showed us.

He read another text. "It says, 'I realize that I am not honest since I broke the promises I did to be with you,'" Chappell read.

When we called the Archdiocese of Atlanta, officials confirmed the allegations.

"They take vows of celibacy when they become priests. So what has happened here is totally inappropriate, and we are saddened. These are sinful acts," said Pat Chivers, representative for the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta.

And even though the Archdiocese maintains these were consensual relationships, they removed both men from their duties.

"One of the priests was on loan to the Archdiocese, and he has been removed. He is no longer here. His Bishop has been informed of the activities. And the other priest is a priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and he is receiving counseling, at his request. And he has been removed," Chivers continued.

But the Archdiocese is now making stunning claims of their own, that Chappell went public with his claims in order to extort money from the church.

"He has noted that he would be open to other possibilities to settling this other than going public, and of course the Archbishop would never consider that," Chivers said.

"Do you feel like this was an attempt at extortion?" Saltzman asked.

"That is a possibility. It appears that way," Chivers replied.

Chappell told Saltzman that he never wanted money from the church, and never got any.

Meanwhile, there is a possibility Juan Fernando Areiza could return to his post, but the Archdiocese said that is unlikely.


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