Philly to Dallas, Ex-Priest a 'Brutal Abuser' without Remorse
By William Bender
Philadelphia Daily News
January 29, 2014
|Maggie Caster (front) and
Bill Johnson said they were suspicious of the behavior of
their new neighbor, who turned out to be a defrocked
Philadelphia priest described in a grand jury report as one of
the most brutal abusers' of children. (Photo: Rex C. Curry/For
the Daily News)
WHEN BILL Johnson moved into a Dallas apartment complex
in October 2012, a neighbor named James rolled out the welcome
wagon. Sort of.
"Oh, great, another old queen moving in," James said as
Johnson and his friends unloaded his belongings at Crescent View
Apartments in the Texas city's Oak Lawn section.
Johnson, 54, an unemployed financial adviser, figured
that James was just being nice, one gay man to another in the
"I think he was trying to be friendly and joking,"
Johnson said. "He doesn't have a muffler on his mouth, as my mama
used to say."
Johnson had no way to know it at the time, but the
neighbor was James Brzyski, a defrocked priest described in the
Philadelphia District Attorney's Office's 2005 grand-jury report
as one of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's "most brutal
The 6-foot-5 Brzyski allegedly preyed on at least 17
altar boys in the 1970s and '80s, subjecting them to "unrelenting
abuse, including fondling, oral sex and rape," according to the
Brzyski, 62, has managed to leave all that behind. In
Dallas, he reinvented himself as a jovial former Xerox employee
who'd lost millions after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Johnson initially had no reason to doubt that backstory.
You don't automatically suspect that your new neighbor is a child
"He said before he retired that he worked for Xerox for
30 years," Johnson said.
Brzyski is able to move from one community to another in
relative anonymity - at least until his behavior gives him away -
because the Archdiocese won't disclose his whereabouts, or the
whereabouts of 23 other Philadelphia priests who have been
defrocked for abusing minors.
So Johnson and Brzyski became friends last spring. They
were part of a small group at Crescent View that would relax at
the pool, or get together for dinner or wine. None of them knew
at first that they'd let a "monster" into their circle, Johnson
"He puts on a great front, and he's a great guy to hang
around with," Johnson said. "Until you find out about him."
In the pool, on the Web
Over the summer, Brzyski's neighbors realized that
something was wrong.
They saw him playing with young boys in the pool. He
bragged about going online to find males who appeared to be
underage and said he liked "fat boys," Johnson said. A Facebook
page that Brzyski has used - with a different name and
corresponding email address - includes a photo of a shirtless
overweight boy with an obscene caption.
Brzyski, neighbors say, was acting like a pedophile -
the same man who the Archdiocese acknowledges abused boys at St.
John the Evangelist School in Bucks County and St. Cecilia School
in Philadelphia's Fox Chase section decades ago.
But in Dallas, he was just a retired Xerox worker.
"There are people in the complex that always have their
nieces and nephews over, and he would get in the pool and pick
the boys up and throw them and play with them," Johnson said.
"But he wouldn't pay any attention to the girls."
Maggie Caster, a friend of Johnson's who lives at
Crescent View, also found Brzyski's behavior suspicious. She said
he had given one child candy and money.
"He was the only one that was really interacting with
them in the pool, which we found unusual," Caster recalled.
"There was a group of us adults, and just the kids playing among
themselves, and he was over with the kids."
Johnson said that Brzyski had been reaching out to boys
he met online and that some of the pictures he'd received were of
males who appeared to be underage. Caster also saw some of the
photos and said the males seemed to be minors.
After Brzyski sent a box of candy to one of them,
Johnson said, the kid "texted him telling him not to send things
to his house because his parents open his mail."
"I said, 'James, that tells you right there he's not
18,' " Johnson said.
Even at dinner, Caster said, Brzyski would steer
conversations toward young males and it quickly would become an
"We would be talking about something random and he would
take his computer or phone out and show us pictures of these
boys," Caster said. "He just seemed like he was a pedophile. His
characteristics were very much that way."
Attempts by the Daily News to reach Brzyski
were unsuccessful. He did not respond to an email or a voice mail
left on his last known phone number.
'We were horrified'
Alarmed by his behavior, Brzyski's neighbors went online
a few months ago and found news stories about his past, including
a 2008 Daily News article about Brzyski and other
pedophile ex-priests cut loose by the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Prior to that, no one at Crescent View had known the
real James Brzyski. Not even the apartment manager.
"We were horrified by the stories we read about him.
When I asked him about it, his reply was that he was abused by
priests in the seminary so he thought that was OK," Johnson said.
"I said, 'James, that's not saying you're sorry. That's making
excuses for horrendous behavior.' "
They spread the word to their friends, including those
whose nephews Brzyski had targeted in the pool over the summer.
Brzyski tried to do "damage control," but ultimately moved out
last month, Johnson said.
"I was a victim of child abuse, and I don't play that
game or put up with people that have done it, especially with
people that have no remorse," Johnson said. "He said, 'Yeah, that
went on a long time ago,' and 'I can't believe you looked me up
on Google,' and 'Real friends don't do that.'
"But real friends don't go around raping people,"
Johnson said. "He never said sorry or felt guilty about it. That,
to me, is despicable."
Public records show that Brzyski, the son of a
Philadelphia police officer, has traveled coast to coast since
leaving the Archdiocese, with addresses including Virginia Beach,
Va., and West Hollywood, Calif.
He surfaced on a dating website as "JUSTINBLUE," asking
potential dates whether they would "mind putting on some weight"
and "enjoy the company of more mature men." He's recently used an
email address under the name "Joshua," according to Johnson.
"He's considered a sex offender. He should register,"
said Adriana Ramirez, Crescent View Apartments manager.
But Brzyski, who attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
and was ordained in 1977, doesn't have to register as a Megan's
Law sex offender because the Archdiocese kept his case under
wraps in the 1980s, when allegations that he was sexually abusing
children were first reported to church leaders, according to the
city's 2005 grand-jury report.
In an Oct. 31, 1984, letter to then-Cardinal John Krol,
the Rev. John W. Graf, an assistant chancellor, provided an
update on "the Father Brzyski situation." Graf told Krol that he
had advised a psychological counselor at Bishop Egan High School
not to treat one of Brzyski's alleged abuse victims "because of
the sensitivity of the situation" and in order to retain
Archdiocese officials did not notify police, and Brzyski
continued to abuse children, according to the grand-jury report.
He left active ministry in 1985, but it wasn't until March 2005
that the Archdiocese formally kicked him out of the priesthood -
laicized him, in church terminology - after concluding that he
had sexually abused minors. By then, it was too late to file
criminal charges, because of the statute of limitations.
David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors
Network of those Abused by Priests, said Brzyski is among a
diaspora of unregistered sex offenders unleashed by the Roman
Catholic Church since 2002. Few safeguards prevent the former
priests from abusing again.
"The reason these guys are walking free is because
church officials shielded them. Were it not for the actions of
the church hierarchy, many of these guys would be in jail,"
Clohessy said. "I think that increases the moral and civic duty
of bishops to say more than, 'Well, he's not in the diocese
Philadelphia Archdiocese spokesman Kenneth Gavin said
the Archdiocese maintains current addresses for sex-offender
priests who receive a pension and tries to keep track of those
who, like Brzyski, are not receiving a pension.
"Like any other organization, we do not release that
type of personal information publicly," Gavin said.
Gavin said the Archdiocese tries to protect communities
from defrocked priests who abused minors.
"Although a laicized priest is no longer serving the
Archdiocese or under its supervision, steps are taken to notify
local law enforcement when a priest who has been laicized due to
a substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor changes
residency," Gavin said.
That information, however, is not typically distributed
to neighbors. For Brzyski, the last place of residence that the
Archdiocese has on file is in Virginia in 2007, Gavin said.
Public records show that he later had addresses in Wisconsin and
California before moving to Dallas. On the Archdiocese website,
Brzyski's residence is listed only as "private."
"The Archdiocese has worked vigorously over the past
three years to reform the way it protects the people it serves,
including new policies and procedures, new standards of
ministerial behavior, new Archdiocesan review board members and
mandated reporter training for tens of thousands of clergy, staff
and volunteers," Gavin said. "All of the steps taken will
continue to be announced publicly. Additionally, they exceed what
is currently required by law in many instances."
Gavin said Brzyski is too young to receive a pension
from the Archdiocese, but would be paid if he becomes eligible.
"As with any other former employee, should he be
eligible and apply for a pension in the future, we would proceed
as required by the law," Gavin said.
'He's out of control'
Brzyski's choice of Dallas is ironic, because the man
who blew the whistle on him in the 1980s lives only a half-hour
away. The Rev. James Gigliotti, pastor of St. Maria Goretti in
Arlington, Texas, said he was unaware that Brzyski was living
nearby and was disturbed to hear neighbors' reports about his
behavior around kids.
In 2002, Brzyski was charged in Virginia with attempted
sexual battery involving a 17-year-old boy, but the charges later
were withdrawn, the Inquirer reported in 2005. He
previously had run a children's-birthday-party business from his
East Falls home, the paper reported.
"These people have chutzpah, I'll tell you. They have no
sense of decency. There are no boundaries," Gigliotti said of
ex-priests like Brzyski. "That man has hurt so many kids. He's
out of control."
Gigliotti, 66, said he told Graf, the assistant
chancellor, about Brzyski's abuse in the early 1980s.
"I was told to keep my mouth shut and that it's being
taken care of," Gigliotti said.
Gigliotti said he understands that civil and canon law
may limit what information Philadelphia Archdiocese officials
believe they can release about Brzyski and other defrocked
priests, but he said that doesn't absolve them of responsibility.
"They shoot themselves in the foot. There is an
opportunity to be transparent here," he said. "It's a moral
imperative. You have to protect the public, too, just like you
have to protect the flock."
Brzyski's former neighbors in Dallas want to warn his
new neighbors and their children, but they don't know who they
"We don't know where he is now," said Caster, his former
neighbor at Crescent View.