Lincoln Priest Suspended over 2nd Allegation
A Woman Says the Rev. Vincent Brady Molested Her More Than 25 Years Ago.
By Jennifer Garza
Sacramento Bee (California)
June 16, 2002
The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has removed a priest from his church following a second allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor.
The Rev. Vincent Brady, 59, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Lincoln, was placed on administrative leave and relieved of all priestly duties Friday after diocese officials received a complaint from a woman alleging that Brady molested her more than 25 years ago, according to Bishop William Weigand, leader of the Sacramento area's 500,000 Catholics.
Weigand, in Dallas for the just-concluded meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, declined to give details of the case. He did, however, call the allegations against Brady "credible" and said the diocese had reported the matter to legal authorities. The allegations were first reported to the diocese last week.
"It's all very sad," Weigand said. "I'm sad for the victim, I'm sad for the priest and I'm sad for the parishioners who have lost their pastor."
He said it was "highly unlikely" Brady would be returned to the ministry. Brady could not be reached for comment Saturday.
This is the second allegation against Brady. In 1999, Susan Hoey-Lees claimed Brady molested her from the time she was 11 years old until she was 16 while he was serving as an assistant pastor at St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Vallejo in the 1970s.
Her parents alleged that they caught the priest in bed with their 12-year-old daughter but were too shocked to do anything about it at the time. Brady denied the accusations and was placed on leave for about a year, during which time he received psychological counseling.
In March 2000, Hoey-Lees, who had sued Brady and the diocese, received a $350,000 settlement from the Sacramento Diocese. Church officials then conducted their own investigation, concluding that Hoey-Lees' claims could not be proven.
Weigand said the new allegation is not connected to Hoey-Lees' claims.
Three months ago, Brady stood before his parishioners at St. Joseph and vigorously denied Hoey-Lees' allegations. In a later interview with The Bee, he said, "Basically, it's her word versus my word, her life versus my life."
On April 27, Brady circulated a three-page letter to parishioners in response to a Bee story recounting Hoey-Lees' allegations. The letter again vigorously denied those claims.
Saturday afternoon, Hoey-Lees was overcome with emotion when told about the second allegation and that Brady had been removed from ministerial duties.
"Oh, my God," she said on the phone from her home in Washington state, where she is a landscape architect. Now 39, Hoey-Lees says she's waited years for this to happen.
"I'm just so terribly sorry that another gal went through this. I'm just so glad she had the strength to come forward," she said.
The diocese began informing parishioners at St. Joseph about Brady on Saturday. At the church's 5 p.m. Mass, the Rev. Tom Bland, the diocese's priest personnel director, made the announcement after several Bible readings and prayers.
"I have today some very sad news," he told the packed church. "The saddest news I've ever had to give."
Then he read a statement announcing that Brady had been "relieved of his priestly ministry." The parishioners gasped.
Afterward, many said they could not believe what they had just heard.
"Father Vincent Brady is loved and respected by the entire parish," said Ed Loughran, who has attended the church for 20 years. "We are all suspect of 25-year-old allegations."
His wife, Pat, is president of the church's altar society. She, too, said she believes in Brady.
"I think this parish will pull together and we will wait this out patiently. We feel certain he will be exonerated," she said. "Only the finest steel goes through fire."
Another parishioner, Brad Bonino, stood outside with his son, Angelo, who is 5. "Hopefully, everything will work out for him," he said. "I guess until they straighten everything out, it's a good thing."
In the statement released Saturday, Weigand said the new allegation against Brady was received through a hotline created in April for victims to report allegations of sexual abuse to the diocese.
"We are taking these precautions based on our policy of zero tolerance and our commitment to take all the necessary steps to protect young people," Weigand said in the statement.
Brady will remain on leave pending the outcome of investigations by the church and law-enforcement officials.
Brady has been a priest in the Sacramento Diocese for more than 34 years. He was at Vallejo's St. Vincent Ferrer Parish from September 1974 to August 1979, when he was transferred to Holy Spirit in Sacramento. In 1981, he became pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Red Bluff, and in September 1993, he was named rector of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento.
Following Hoey-Lees' complaint in 1999, he was placed on leave. After church officials concluded her accusations could not be proven in June 2000, Weigand assigned Brady to St. Joseph Parish in Lincoln.
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