Beach Priest Expelled over Abuse
He Is the Third Cleric Ordered into Retirement in Local Diocese
By Steven G. Vegh
September 25, 2002
The Rev. Eugene Teslovic of St. Luke Catholic Church in Virginia Beach was expelled from active ministry Tuesday in connection with several sexual encounters with minors during the late 1970s and mid-1980s.
Teslovic is the third priest in two months to be forced into retirement by Diocese of Richmond Bishop Walter F. Sullivan based on his finding that allegations of sexually abusing children were credible.
Teslovic's expulsion was in line with the recommendations Monday of a Diocesan Review Board established to investigate sexual abuse complaints against clergy and church employees.
Reeves W. Mahoney, Teslovic's attorney, said the priest chose to inform the diocese about the sexual misconduct before seeking a lawyer. Teslovic was unavailable for comment.
According to a news release from the diocese, Teslovic reported last month that a man had recently contacted him about a "sexual impropriety" between the two that occurred in 1977.
Back then, Teslovic was an ordained deacon serving Church of the Resurrection in Portsmouth, and the accuser was a parishioner in his early 20s.
Teslovic's report prompted Sullivan to scrutinize the priest's 25-year career.
The review revealed that the diocese had received abuse complaints in the late '70s and mid-'80s. That information somehow was overlooked this summer when officials re-examined every priest's record for evidence of past abuse, said the Rev. Thomas Caroluzza, who is Sullivan's representative in eastern Virginia.
Sullivan forwarded his findings last week to the Review Board, which "strongly recommended" that Teslovic be relieved of his priestly duties and authority.
"The diocese deeply regrets any lack of vigilance that failed to remove this priest from pastoral ministry before now," the diocesan news release stated. "Bishop Sullivan expresses his heartfelt sorrow for any consequent harm that has come to any person or community."
The announcement of Teslovic's expulsion comes as the Review Board continues its investigation of the Rev. Steven "Randy" Rule, who last pastored St. Andrew Catholic Church in Roanoke.
Meanwhile, the Goochland County commonwealth's attorney's office is continuing its investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of children by the Rev. John E. Leonard, the pastor at St. Michael Catholic Church in Glen Allen, outside Richmond.
Both Rule and Leonard were faculty members at St. John Vianney Seminary, a Catholic boys high school in Goochland that closed in 1978. Each is accused of abuse involving students at the school.
Another former Vianney teacher, the Rev. Julian B. Goodman, admitted in 1994 that he abused a student there from 1976 to 1978. His admission came only after the victim, James Kronzer of Washington, D.C., complained to the diocese.
Goodman, who pastored Blessed Sacrament Church in Norfolk in the 1990s, was forced into retirement by Sullivan on Aug. 7.
Two days later, Sullivan announced that the Rev. John P. Blankenship, a prison chaplain in Petersburg, was also being removed from active ministry. The decision was a response to Blankenship's acknowledgment in 1988 that he abused a 14-year-old parishioner in 1982 while pastoring Sacred Heart Church in New Bohemia. The priest's admission followed a complaint to the diocese by the victim.
Teslovic, ordained in 1977, came from Clarksville in 1991 to pastor St. Luke, at 2305 Salem Road in Virginia Beach.
The parish, which was established in 1986, had just 42 families when "Father Gene" arrived but grew to about 225 by 1992 when it began construction of the current church building.
Nonetheless, at about 400 households, St. Luke is small compared to Virginia Beach congregations such as St. Gregory Catholic Church, which has about 6,500 families.
The parish is a blend of Anglo, Hispanic and Filipino families, whom Teslovic addressed in English and in passable Spanish, Caroluzza said.
Handy at carpentry, Teslovic is also a licensed electrician and an experienced plumber. In addition, he is an antiques buff and runs a small business from his home.
Caroluzza said Teslovic had been out sick for about six weeks, with another priest filling in for him. No decision has been made on how to fill St. Luke's vacant pastor's office.
The Rev. Eugene Teslovic, who was expelled from active ministry Tuesday in connection with several sexual encounters with minors during the late 1970s and mid-1980s, came from Saint Jude Catholic Church in Franklin to pastor St. Luke Catholic Church in Virginia Beach. A front page story Wednesday contained an error. Also, Teslovic is accused of having a "sexual impropriety" with a parishioner in his early 20s at Church of the Resurrection in Portsmouth in 1977. A front page informational graphic said incorrectly that his involvement with minors included the Portsmouth church.
ACCUSATION; The Rev. Eugene Teslovic, shown in a file photo, of St. Luke Catholic Church in Virginia Beach, was accused of sexually abusing several minors during the late '70s and mid-'80s, including during his time at Church of the Resurrection in Portsmouth. ACTION Bishop Walter F. Sullivan removed the priest after a diocesan review board "strongly recommended" that Teslovic be relieved of his priestly duties and authority. The board was formed to investigate sexual abuse complaints against clergy.
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