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  Diocese Protects Priests from Child-Molesting Charges

United Press International
July 12, 1987

The Catholic Diocese tried to hide incidents of sexual assault and child molesting by priests by offering victims' families money and valuables not to press charges, the Plain Dealer reported Sunday.

In exchange for one family's agreement not to take criminal or civil action against a priest, the diocese offered to pay $40,000 to a 14-year-old altar boy who allegedly was molested in 1981 and $10,000 to the boy's parents, the Plain Dealer reported.

The boy's aunt and another source said the boy was doing yard work for the Rev. F. James Mulica, now 47, when Mulica gave the boy beer and suggested they swim in the rectory pool. After the youth changed into swimming trunks, he found Mulica lying naked in his bed.

Mulica allegedly asked the boy to perform oral sex and, when the boy tried to run away, sexually assaulted him.

The diocese convinced the boy's parents not to notify the police and paid for counseling for the boy and his family. The parents hired Cleveland lawyer Niki Schwartz, who negotiated the $50,000 settlement, the newspaper said.

After pressure from the parents, the diocese sent Mulica to an out-of-state alcohol treatment center and promised he would not be assigned to a church where he would deal with children.

After his treatment, however, Mulica was made an associate pastor of St. Jude Church in Elyria and, a year later, was transferred Holy Redeemer Church in Cleveland. Both the parishes have schools.

After a reporter inquired in March about the incident, Mulica was transferred to Little Sisters of the Poor, a Warrensville Township convent whre he is chaplain for nuns and for a home for the elderly.

Last month, Mulica told the newspaper, "We're trying to keep a low-key profile."

When asked to discuss his side, he said, "I don't have to tell you."

In another case, a 13-year-old boy told his mother in August 1985 that the Rev. Joseph Romansky, pastor of Holy Family Church in Cleveland, had played a card game similar to strip poker with four boys at the priest's home, and had masturbated in front of the boys.

Romansky, now 36, was arrested and pleaded guilty in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to a charge of disseminating material and-or performance harmful to juveniles.

Romansky was placed on probation and sent to a Maryland center for the treatment of alcoholism and psychiatric disorders. The diocese agreed to pay for the boy's psychiatric treatment and paid for used furniture and an apartment so the mother could be near her son while he was being treated.

Not long after the mother hired a lawyer, the diocese offered to give her a job, a condominium and a used van if she would dismiss the lawyer and agree not to file a damage suit, she said.

When she refused to sign an agreement not to sue, she was fired from the diocesan office job, she said, and had to move out of the apartment and return the used furniture.

The mother has filed a $6 million lawsuit against the diocese and Romansky, and the mother of another boy has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit in connection with the same incident.

Church lawyers have gotten the diocese dropped from the first lawsuit, arguing the church is not responsible for the actions of priests because they are "independent contractors."

A similar case involves the Rev. Allen F. Bruening of Ascension Church in Cleveland in 1984. The mother of a 13-year-old boy said her son told her he, the priest and other boys had played strip poker and suggestive word games where the boys filled in the "dirty" words.

The boy also said the priest had asked him to shower with him.

The mother said she called her older son, who is now in his 30s, and was shocked when he related similar situations, like skinny dipping with the same priest, that had happened when the son was in the fifth through eighth grades.

The older son had been embarrassed to tell his parents and said he thought at the time it must have been alright because a priest would not do anything wrong.

The mother said she did not file charges in the matter because she wanted to spare the son and the family the ordeal of a trial. Despite pressure from the brothers' parents, Bruening, now 60, was not removed from his position for several months.

Bruening now is a chaplain at Loran Community Hospital. He declined comment.

The Rev. John J. Wright, legal and financial adviser for the diocese, also declined to comment on the cases.

 
 

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