Second Troubled Priest Now Back in Detroit
By David Clohessy
June 7, 2012
A Catholic priest who's being sued for allegedly committing child sex crimes is now back in the Detroit area.
Six months ago, with little or no fanfare, Fr. Maurice G. McNeely and the Diocese of Bismarck ND were named in a civil lawsuit charging that McNeely sexually abuse a young boy in Hawaii in 1976. According to the suit, Fr. McNeely befriended the victim while his father was stationed in Hawaii. The abuse was at the Chapel at Fort Shafter parish across the street from the boy’s home on the military base in Hawaii.
The Diocese of Bismarck is being sued for negligence and Fr. McNeely is being sued for sexual battery.
As best as SNAP can tell, there has been no public announcement about the allegation against Fr. McNeely (who currently lives in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills with his sister, Margaret Wirth) by any diocese, according to the attorney who represents his alleged victim.
"This case reminds us how little church officials have changed in dealing with predator priests,” said Joelle Casteix, SNAP Western Regional Director. "The fact that no bishop involved – in Hawaii, North Dakota or Michigan - is warning the public about the dangers posed by Fr. McNeely shows a reckless and callous disregard for the safety of innocent children."
McNeely is the second sexually troubled Catholic cleric to come back to Michigan recently. The other, Fr. Thomas D. Williams, was the public face of the controversial Legion of Christ religious order, whose founder himself has been credibly accused of abusing children. Fr. Williams, a popular and high-profile priest, returned to the Bloomfield Hills suburb of Detroit in disgrace after it was made public last monththat he had previously fathered a son and had repeatedly broken his vow of celibacy.
SNAP is concerned that two priests with histories of sexual impropriety have quietly or secretly moved into unsuspecting communities where they may pose a danger to others. Ten years ago this month in Dallas, America’s bishops promised to be open and transparent about clergy sex crimes.
SNAP is urging Archbishop Allen Vigneron to use every resource at his disposal—diocesan websites, newspapers, church bulletins and pulpit announcements—to alert his flock to the whereabouts of these men and an honest recounting of why they have been removed from ministry
“We want to prevent even one more child from being abused, or a vulnerable parishioner from being scammed,” said Casteix. “A little bit of outreach from the Archdiocese will go a long way towards keeping parishioners and the public safer.”
The victim's attorney is Adam Horowitz of Miami (305-931-2200, AHorowitz@Hermanlaw.com) and Peter T. Cahill of Hawaii. Fr. McNeely’s lawyer is Michael H. Tsuchida of Honolulu (808)524-2466, firstname.lastname@example.org