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  Spokesman Said That Carmody Didn't Hide Tyler Priest's Past

By Tim Eaton
Corpus Christi Caller-Times [Texas]
June 14, 2002

Corpus Christi Bishop Edmond Carmody did not hide from an East Texas parish a sexual liaison that allegedly occurred 20 years ago involving a priest he brought to the Tyler Catholic Diocese in 1999, a spokesman for the local diocese said Thursday.

Corpus Christi Diocese Communication Director Marty Wind said Carmody, when he was bishop in Tyler, welcomed Monsignor John Flynn into the East Texas diocese. According to a Dallas Morning News article published Wednesday, Flynn admitted to sexual abuse of a teen-age girl in the 1970s and stepped down in 1997 after acknowledging the liaison while serving in a parish in the San Antonio archdiocese.

Wind said Carmody informed the parish at St. Matthew's in Longview about Flynn and his past. He said Carmody never tried to protect the priest, and the parishioners did not object to his presence.

Bishop Carmody could not be reached at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas. But he has said Flynn is no threat and that "it's time to forgive and go on," the Dallas Morning News reported as part of a nationwide investigation of the Catholic church and sex abuse allegations.

Account confirmed

The Rev. Gavin Vaverek of the Tyler diocese confirmed Wind's account that Carmody publicly revealed Flynn's past.

Vavarek said he recalls a discussion of the situation with a group of advisers in the parish and later an announcement to the entire parish.

"What was announced was that he had an affair with an adult woman," Vaverek said.

Vaverek said many people already knew of Flynn because of massive media attention that originated in San Antonio.

"For the most part, it was old news and not a big thing," Vaverek said. "I think if it were a child, it would have been subject to more outrage because that's criminal."

The age of the female at the beginning of the affair is still unclear, based on conflicting reports.

Flynn, who couldn't be reached for comment, was ordered into treatment and said earlier this year, "I'm not restricted from being around young people," the newspaper reported.

Zero-tolerance policy

Carmody's successor, Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio, allowed Flynn to continue preaching until May, when two female parishioners said they were uncomfortable with Flynn, the newspaper reported.

Also mentioned on the newspaper's Web site was a 1997 indictment against Rev. Gustavo Cuello, who was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl at his church, also in the Tyler diocese. Cuello fled the country when he was out on bail.

When Carmody learned of the accusations, he has said, he went to Cuello, called police and sat with him as he was arrested. He has said he has not seen or heard from him since. Carmody said parishioners, not he nor the diocese bailed out Cuello, who remains at large.

In an April interview, Carmody said that lessons he learned in Tyler helped inspire the Corpus Christi Diocese zero-tolerance policy on sex allegations, which is stricter than most other dioceses across the county.

The policy, adopted after Carmody's arrival in March 2000, also was in response to sex abuse allegations within the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

In 1988, the Rev. Jesus Garcia, who served as a priest in Mathis, was accused of molesting and sexually abusing several male members of his church and a teen-ager studying to be a priest. Garcia also has fled the country.

Carmody said that the policy has five basic principles.

* Every suspected incident must be reported to the bishop.

* An investigation should begin immediately following an allegation.

* The victim and family will be treated with great respect.

* If a minor is involved, the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services will be promptly notified in compliance with state law.

* If there is substance to the allegation, the accused will be relieved of his ministry until the investigation is complete.

Carmody said in the April interview that he sees reporting incidents of child molestation as a responsibility.

 
 

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