|Accused Priest Was Sent to 3 Treatment Centers and 1 Psychologist
February 2, 2011
Newly disclosed records buttress reports of cleric's child sexual abuse
Self help group blasts bishop for refusing to admit allegations are credible
"Every day Conlon is silent, parents trust their kids around a dangerous man," SNAP says
Newly released secret Catholic church records show that a Steubenville priest who is accused of molesting a young girl in the early 1990's was sent to three treatment centers that specialize in handling known and suspected child molesting clerics.. He also went to therapy with a Wheeling mental health professional.
The alleged child molesting cleric is Fr. Gary Zalenski, who was removed from his parish duties at Sacred Heart in Neffs, Ohio in November 2007, after Beth Rocker reported that he had sexually abused her in 1991.
Also, these records show that Zalenski was sent to these treatment centers because a 'second victim' reported having been sexually abused by him when she was a child. The second victim had reported her abuse by Zalenski in 1991.
These records, obtained through a civil lawsuit, are being disclosed today by SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a Chicago-based support group. They are posted at http://www.steubenvilletruth.org/
The three centers to which he was sent are:
--St Luke's Center in Maryland in summer1991, http://www.sli.org/
--Isaac Ray Center in Chicago IL, in Sept.1991, http://www.isaacraycenterinc.org/ , and
--the New Life Center in Virginia, in Oct. 1991
He was also sent to see a Wheeling psychologist, Charles W. Hewitt , in 1992, (304) 242-8790
SNAP says that over the years, many known and suspected pedophile priests have been ordered to seek treatment at St. Luke's and Isaac Ray.
In October 2008, a Guernsey county grand jury opted to not indict Zalenski on child sex charges against Rocker. But Zalenski's supervisors at the Steubenville Catholic diocese still have not put him back into priestly ministry.
SNAP believes Bishop R. Daniel Conlon is secretly working with Vatican officials to defrock Zalenski.
"We are urging everyone who has been around this priest to read these documents," says Barbara Dorris, SNAP's outreach director. "After reading these records, we feel this priest could be very dangerous and he most likely has even more victims."
“We hope these facts will help parents understand why they should keep their kids away from Fr. Zalenski,” said David Clohessy of SNAP. “It’s a shame that Bishop Conlon apparently values the privacy of an accused child molester more than the safety of innocent children. He should have shared this information with parents, parishioners and the public.”
SNAP is also pushing Conlon to admit that the allegations against Zalenski are credible and that he is being defrocked.
“Every day that Conlon hides the truth gives Zalenski more opportunities to hurt kids,” said Clohessy. “Conlon knows Zalenski has committed crimes. And Conlon knows some parents believe Zalenski is innocent. So Conlon’s continuing silence is extraordinarily reckless.”
Zalenski’s whereabouts are unknown.
“But he belongs in jail or in a remote, secure, independently-run treatment center, so that kids are safer,” Dorris said.
The attorney who secured the release of the documents is Konrad Kircher of Mason, OH (513-229-7996).
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