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  Bishop Denied Knowledge in '89 of Abuse Report

By Karen E. Henderson
Plain Dealer [Cleveland, Ohio]
July 11, 1990

Byzantine Catholic Bishop Andrew Pataki denied knowledge of any alleged child molesting by diocesan priests in a sworn statement he made last year in a Minnesota lawsuit involving a priest convicted of molesting six children there.

However, Pataki returned another priest to parish work at St. Eugene Byzantine Catholic Church in Bedford in 1984 amid allegations that the priest, the Rev. John Rebovich, had molested a 15-year-old St. Eugene altar boy in 1980.

The former altar boy, James Kotyk, now 25, of Solon last week sued Rebovich, Pataki, the church and the diocese, claiming he was raped and molested by Rebovich. The suit alleges church officials, including Pataki, covered up the incidents and failed to act on complaints Kotyk first made to diocesan officials in 1984.

Pataki denied knowledge of any alleged molestations in a sworn deposition taken by St. Paul, Minn., lawyer Patrick K. Horan for a civil suit filed on behalf of two youths molested by the Rev. Robert Ruglovsky, pastor of St. John Byzantine Catholic Church in Minneapolis.

In his January 1989 deposition, Pataki was asked: "OK, before you received the phone call from Father or Monsignor (Robert) Yarnovitz regarding the fact there was an allegation of child abuse by the Byzantine Priest Ruglovsky, had you ever received before that phone call any information from any source whatsoever regarding allegations of sexual abuse of a youth by a Byzantine priest?"

Pataki replied: "I have not."

"So this was startling information to you, was it not when you received it in February of 1987?"

"It was," Pataki said.

Pataki could not be reached for comment. A diocesan official who refused to be named said Pataki did not know of the allegations concerning Kotyk because information concerning that case went to other diocesan officials and that the bishop had never spoken with Kotyk. But several priests said they wrote letters and personally spoke to Pataki about the Kotyk case.

"I think the judicial process is the way these kinds of things get resolved," said James Haigh, a Minneapolis lawyer representing the diocese in the Ruglovsky case. "Because it is a pending case, that's all I'm going to say at this point."

Ruglovsky, 53, formerly assigned to several Ohio parishes including St. Stephen in Euclid before becoming pastor of St. John, pleaded guilty in Hennepin County, Minnesota, in 1987 to six counts of criminal sexual conduct for molesting six boys aged 12 to 14. He was sentenced to a year in a workhouse, 15 years' probation and ordered to complete long-term, sex-offender treatment.

St. John is part of the Diocese of Parma which covers most of the Midwest.

Two of the youths sued Ruglovsky, the church and diocese over the molestations.

"The evidence will also show that homosexuality in general, and pedophilia in particular had been practiced throughout the Byzantine Church for years," the pending civil suits allege.

Though the Minnesota suits do not allege a cover-up by the diocese in the Ruglovsky case, lawyer Horan said one occurred because of the number of times Ruglovsky was shifted to different jobs and parishes. Ruglovsky also admitted in a deposition to numerous sexual involvements with young boys over a period of more than 20 years while he was a priest working in parishes in Ohio and elsewhere.

"I suspect that given the number of prior victims in the Ruglovsky case that the same thing (a cover-up) may have occurred," Horan said. Horan said he had, been tempted to run newspaper ads in the areas where Ruglovsky worked to see if other victims would come forward.

Pataki appointed Rebovich, 50, pastor of St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Akron in 1985, despite continuing complaints by Kotyk and a dozen diocesan priests who last January petitioned Rome to send someone to investigate the allegations.

 
 

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