Diocese Retires Va. Beach Priest
Sexual Contact with Minors Alleged
By Alberta Lindsey
Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
September 25, 2002
A Virginia Beach Catholic priest has been removed from active ministry because of several alleged incidents of sexual misconduct with minors.
The Rev. Eugene Teslovic, pastor of St. Luke Catholic Church in Virginia Beach for the past 12 years, is the fifth priest in the Diocese of Richmond to be accused of sexual abuse of children.
The Most Rev. Walter F. Sullivan, bishop of the Richmond diocese, placed Teslovic, 55, on restricted retirement yesterday. The priest is prohibited from carrying out any functions as a priest.
At its Monday night meeting, the newly appointed diocesan sexual-abuse review board "strongly recommended" that Teslovic be removed immediately from all priestly ministries, said the Rev. Pasquale Apuzzo, spokesman for the diocese.
Apuzzo announced the bishop's action at a news conference yesterday
cm9/24> at the diocese. Sullivan did not attend.
Apuzzo said Sullivan's inquiries were continuing and that the particulars of Teslovic's retirement have not been worked out.
Last month, Teslovic asked another priest to inform Sullivan that "someone had recently approached [Teslovic] about a past sexual impropriety," Apuzzo said. "The alleged impropriety took place in 1977 when Eugene Teslovic was a deacon at Resurrection Parish in Portsmouth."
The complainant, who was a parishioner at Resurrection Church, was then in his early 20s, Apuzzo said. The complainant has not contacted the diocese.
Sullivan began "an immediate inquiry to discover if anything similar had occurred during [Teslovic's] priesthood," Apuzzo added. "From that inquiry, it was determined that Eugene Teslovic had actually been involved in several incidents of sexual misconduct with minors during the late '70s and mid-'80s."
The bishop is continuing the inquiries, which he began about three weeks ago, Apuzzo said. "One of our concerns is to extend help to any victims."
Teslovic was removed because of alleged inappropriate sexual conduct with minors, he said. The priest was not removed because of the alleged incident with the man in his early 20s.
No allegations against Teslovic have been made to the diocese, Apuzzo said. He added that the incidents were not necessarily attached to a church.
Sullivan has not spoken with any alleged victims, Apuzzo said. However, "the bishop confirmed enough information to his satisfaction to remove Father Teslovic," he added.
About 10 years ago, Sullivan made inquiries after hearing rumors linking Teslovic to alleged sexual improprieties, Apuzzo said. At that time, the bishop found nothing to substantiate the rumors.
In addition to Resurrection and St. Luke, Teslovic has served at St. Catherine of Siena in Clarksville, St. Paschal Baylon in South Boston, Holy Name of Mary in Bedford and St. Jude in Franklin.
"The diocese deeply regrets any lack of vigilance that failed to remove this priest from pastoral ministry before now," Apuzzo said.
"Bishop Sullivan expresses his heartfelt sorrow for any consequent harm that has come to any person or community," he added. "At the same time, we are thankful that we have been able to act swiftly and decisively to end this matter now."
Teslovic is the third diocesan priest to be forced to retire because of alleged sexual misconduct with minors. The other two are the Rev. John Paul Blankenship, who has been indicted by a Prince George County grand jury for sodomy, and the Rev. Julian B. Goodman.
Goodman allegedly abused a student at St. John Vianney Seminary in Goochland County when Goodman was on the seminary's faculty in the 1970s.
A fourth priest, the Rev. John E. Leonard, pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church in Glen Allen, is under investigation by the Goochland County commonwealth's attorney's office. He has been accused of sexual misconduct by former students at St. John Vianney Seminary in Goochland.
The diocese is examining a complaint against a fifth priest, the Rev. Steven R. Rule, who is on administrative leave and undergoing treatment.
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