Moving of Convicted Priest Hits Obstacles

By David Owens
Hartford Courant [Connecticut]
December 8, 1999

Winsted — A Roman Catholic priest who was convicted a month ago of fondling an 18-year-old man and an 8-year-old boy was temporarily returned to the church he used to serve.

Officials with the Rev. John Rudy's order, the Franciscans, have experienced difficulty transferring him to a Maryland treatment facility. So Rudy was returned to the St. Joseph's Church friary in Winsted, where he had served as a priest before his arrest in June 1998.

Parents picking up their children at St. Anthony School shortly before Thanksgiving saw Rudy enter the friary as he returned from an errand. Many complained to authorities.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Andrew Wittstein, who prosecuted Rudy, received several of those calls. Wittstein said Rudy has since been removed from Winsted and is now staying at a Hartford church. He'll remain there until he is placed in a sex offender program.

"There are complications regarding the plan to send him to Maryland," Wittstein said.

Church officials blamed problems between the Connecticut and Maryland adult probation departments.

"We were all set and we had him lined up for admission in Maryland and it was probation that stopped it," said the Rev. Charles Miller, an official with the Holy Name Province and chairman of the order's sexual misconduct review board.

"We're waiting for the court to tell us we can get him help," Miller said. "It's the court that is sitting on this now."

Miller said Rudy has been removed from Winsted, but would not say where he has been sent. Rudy's lawyer, Hubert Santos of Hartford, has not returned telephone calls seeking comment.

Wittstein said Rudy was removed from the Winsted friary shortly after complaints were received. He then contacted Santos, who made arrangements to move Rudy out of Winsted, Wittstein said.

Rudy is now at the Hartford church and is "under fairly careful observation," Wittstein said he's been told.

The conditions of Rudy's probation do not require that he go to the treatment facility in Maryland, just that be receive sex offender treatment.

"He's going to be in a treatment program in one place or another," Wittstein said. He said he expects the issue to be resolved shortly.

Rudy was convicted Nov. 5 of fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct. He pleaded no contest to the reduced charges as part of a plea bargain. He received a one-year suspended prison sentence and two years of probation. Conditions of that probation include no contact with the victims, sex offender treatment and no unsupervised contact with people younger than 18.

At the time of the sentencing, Litchfield Superior Court Judge Charles Gill read a letter from Rudy's order saying Rudy would undergo at least six months of treatment at the St. Luke Institute, a Maryland facility for priests accused of sexual misconduct. In the letter, officials also pledged that Rudy would receive treatment the rest of his life, be closely supervised and be assigned to a friary with little or no contact with children.


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