Rodimer Calls Friend's Sex Abuse 'Horrendous'
He 'Didn't Know' What Priest Did to Boy
By John Chadwick
April 18, 2002
Peter J. Osinski was finishing up his priestly training at St. Paul's Church in Clifton when he and the pastor, the Rev. Frank Rodimer, became friends.
The two, who met in the late Sixties, would go on to bigger and better things. Rodimer became the bishop of the Diocese of Paterson and Osinski became a priest in the Diocese of Camden.
"He had a great interest in pastoral ministry, and he was very successful at that," Rodimer said Wednesday.
The men stayed friends, meeting for two weeks at vacation homes at the Jersey shore almost every summer from the early Seventies until 1996. That friendship now has become an embarrassment to Rodimer, amid revelations that Osinski molested a young boy at the house.
Osinski is serving a 10-year prison sentence for abusing the boy, and Rodimer settled a lawsuit accusing him of negligence in not noticing the abuse.
In an interview Wednesday, Rodimer said he was shocked to learn of Osinski's actions and insisted he knew nothing about them.
"Something was going on under the roof that was horrendous," said Rodimer, who became the bishop in 1977. "And I didn't know what was going on. " He described the summers with Osinski as almost a spiritual retreat.
"We prayed together every day, we said Mass together, and we talked about our pastoral experiences," he said.
Rodimer has declined to say how much the diocese had to pay to settle the lawsuit.
The suit attracted little notice when it was filed in Ocean County in 1998. But the episode is one of many stories coming to light amid the national sex abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church.
In court documents and interviews, a picture emerges of a disturbed priest and an unknowing bishop. The abuse took place between 1984 and 1996, both at the victim's home and at a vacation spot on Long Beach Island. In a deposition, Osinski said that on four or five occasions, Rodimer "was in his room asleep" while Osinski was in his own room having sexual contact with the boy.
Osinski also said Rodimer's room was down the hall from his own. But Osinski insisted during the deposition that Rodimer didn't know what was going on. The only times Rodimer may have witnessed Osinski and the victim physically close was when the two greeted each other with a hug, he said. One night -- sometime in the mid-Nineties - Rodimer, Osinski, and the victim went to see the movie "Sister Act. " The victim told authorities that Osinski abused him after they returned home from the movie.
Rodimer said Wednesday he can't discuss any details because he and the other parties to the lawsuit are bound by confidentiality agreements. Still, he said the continued publicity is troubling.
"I hate the implications of this," he said. "There is nothing wrong with priests having friends and going on vacation. " Attorney Ken Mullaney, who represents the diocese, said Rodimer's settling of the case should not be construed as an admission of liability. And Mullaney said Rodimer cooperated with authorities. He released to The Record a form letter written in July 1998 from the Ocean County prosecutor's office thanking the bishop for his help and cooperation.
Neither Mullaney nor the victim's lawyer, Stephen Rubino, would discuss details of the case.
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