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  Catholic Priest in Winsted Charged with Sexual Assault

By Kevin Canfield
Hartford Courant
June 18, 1998

Winsted — A Catholic priest, widely known throughout town for his ritual of taking evening walks along Main Street, was arrested Wednesday on charges that he sexually assaulted a young man at his church's friary last month.

The Rev. John Rudy, 47, of St. Joseph's Church was charged with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault. Police said an 18-year-old man complained that Rudy twice touched him sexually one night in May.

"At this point, [Rudy] is denying the accusations," said police Sgt. Paul Campi.

Rudy, who has been a priest for about 25 years, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Rudy has been placed on administrative leave, the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, of which Rudy is a member, said in a statement. He plans to remain in Winsted at least for now, but will not serve in public ministry until the allegations are resolved, said the Rev. Kevin Mullen, the Manhattan- based order's spokesman.

The order is "committed to a careful listening and a respectful response to any person who believes that he or she has been harmed by the sexual misconduct of a friar," Mullen said. The order will cooperate in the investigation, he said. "We are aware of the profound harm which incidents of sexual misconduct have caused innocent people and the church community at large."

Police said the assault took place at the friary, where the church's priests live, on the night of May 20. The young man reported to police that Rudy had touched him in a sexual manner that police would not specify. Police did not release the name of the victim.

A friend of the victim, who had gone with Rudy to the friary to discuss personal matters, corroborated the young man's story, police said.

Mullen said he had spoken with Rudy about the allegations.

"At this point he's working with his attorney," Mullen said.

Mullen said Rudy spent a week at St. Luke's Institute in Maryland, a center run by the Franciscans that specializes in psychiatric and sexual evaluations, after his superiors learned of the allegations. Institute officials will make a recommendation on what is best for Rudy, Mullen said.

"I would suspect that they would recommend things that would help him in terms of his own personal life" and future work with the church, Mullen said.

Campi said police have no reason to believe that Rudy's alleged behavior is a pattern.

Rudy turned himself in to police Wednesday afternoon after learning there was a warrant for his arrest. He was released on a promise to appear in Bantam Superior Court on June 30.

Rudy has been at St. Joseph's for about five years. He spent eight years in Jerusalem and four years in Syria before coming to Winsted's only Catholic church.

Known about town for his regular evening walks around Main Street, Rudy told The Courant in 1994 that his frequent treks allowed him to get to know numerous townspeople. The walks, Rudy said, allow people to approach a priest on an informal basis.

"I don't know how many times people say, 'Can I talk to you?' " Rudy said. "I say, 'Yes, walk with me.' "

 
 

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