Byzantine Catholic Priest Now Living in Manitowoc Defrocked over Sexual Abuse Claims (update, with Response)
July 27, 2013
|Glenn Davidowich, who was expelled from the priesthood in the Byzantine Catholic church following sex abuse claims in New Jersey, is seen here July 13 at Krazy Daze in Manitowoc, where he now lives. The New Jersey native had just hit the target on a dunk tank. / Photo by Matthew Apgar/HTR Media|
A Byzantine Catholic priest from New Jersey now living in Manitowoc, who once ran a wrestling website that critics likened to child pornography has been laicized — or expelled from the priesthood — following claims he sexually abused teen boys in New Jersey.
The accused, Glenn Davidowich, responds to the HTR via email. Read his response, found at the bottom of this story.
Glenn Davidowich, 49, of Manitowoc, had been on leave from ministry since at least 2011, when the Eparchy of Passaic reached a $200,000 settlement with one of his alleged victims.
The eparchy, the equivalent of a diocese in the Roman Catholic church, announced in its monthly newspaper, Eastern Catholic Life, that Davidowich was removed from the priesthood April 2. His expulsion was approved in December by Pope Benedict XVI.
The Byzantine Catholic Church is autonomous from the Roman Catholic Church but remains under the auspices of the pope.
Two months after Davidowich’s removal, the eparchy settled with another alleged victim, said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represented the accuser. Garabedian said the June 29 settlement was in the six figures.
Davidowich was never criminally charged. In both cases, the accusers came forward after the statute of limitations had passed.
The eparchy referred calls about Davidowich to its lawyer, Thomas De Vita, who did not respond to requests for comment. Davidowich did not respond to requests seeking comment from the Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., but he did respond via email to HTR Media after the Star-Ledger’s story ran on htrnews.com. He declined to be interviewed. His email follows:
Glenn Davidowich's email response to reporter Suzanne Weiss
(Name withheld) told me you were interested in my side of the story for an article the HTR will be distributing about me. I hope you will understand that I am in no condition to speak at this time, but I'm hoping you find any or all of the following email helpful.
Several years ago, the Eparchy of Passaic (my former employer) received a letter from an attorney alleging abuse and demanding a million dollar settlement. Per church policy, I was placed on administrative leave from my parish assignment. The Eparchy of Passaic Safe Environment Program investigated and found me innocent. The Eparchy chose to settle with the alleged victim for $200,000. Per church policy, I was not allowed to participate in the proceedings, including the mediation settlement—I was simply given status updates. Per the church polity, I was not allowed to defend myself.
Toward the end of those proceedings, I decided I no longer wished to remain a priest. I talked to my bishop about how to begin that process, which included my writing a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, who approved my request for laicization. I was not "expelled", "defrocked", or forcibly removed in any way.
The laicization process is slow in Rome, and it took more than a year. In the meantime, after the first settlement was made public by the attorney, a second alleged victim contacted that attorney. As I was in the process of laicization, I was given almost no information about these allegations. I was unaware that allegation even proceeded or was settled, until reading it online today. Once again, I was never given a chance to defend myself.
Due to personal immaturity and lack of common sense at the time, I showed poor judgment and put myself in situations where I was occasionally alone with minors. I never sexually assaulted or abused either of my accusers, or anybody else. I deeply regret that my immaturity caused me to embarrass my church, my family, and my friends. My friends and colleagues in Manitowoc know me for the hopefully wiser person I am today. Many of them are aware of the mistakes of my past, and I am grateful for their support. While I am no longer a priest and not in church leadership, I do remain a person of faith and continue to praise God for the chance to learn and grow from my mistakes.
Manitowoc is a wonderful community I am happy to be part of, and I would like to continue to be involved in making this a better community for all through my involvement in the Miracle League of the Lakeshore, volunteering for local mission, and other ways. Thank you for the opportunity to share my side of this story. If you would like to email any follow-up questions, I would be happy to answer them.