Bishop Adamec Releases Statement Names 13 Individuals Accused of Sexual Misconduct
By G. Kerry Webster
March 10, 2003
Bishop Joseph Adamec, leader of the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese, released a lengthy statement this weekend detailing the diocese's stance on the recent allegations of sexual misconduct by priests within the organization and also a list of 13 individuals alleged to be involved with the negative activity.
Adamec's statement comes on the heels of numerous civil lawsuits filed against him, the diocese and former Bishop James Hogan.
Altoona attorney Richard Serbin is representing seven men who have recently come forward to say they were abused sexually by priests, told leaders of the diocese about the incidents, but were not satisfied with the diocese's handling of the reports.
Most recently, Paul D. Claar, 37, of Altoona and Anthony M. Coray, 39, of State College, addressed the media to tell of the alleged abuse. Both claim Bishop Joseph Adamec failed to respond or do anything about sexual abuse allegations brought to the bishop's attention years ago.
Both men, like the five before, have filed civil lawsuits in Blair County.
Serbin said the state's statue of limitations will not allow the alleged victims in the cases to file civil charges against them individually. Also, he said because so much time has passed, criminal action could not be taken.
In Adamec's most recent statement, he said the news media has given people two basic misconceptions � that these are new allegations and that nothing was done in regards to the allegations. He said neither are true.
"We Bishops have committed ourselves to reporting to civil authorities cases that need to be reported," Adamec said in his lengthy statement. "We continue to be in contact with the district attorney. It is our understanding that he (Dave Gorman) feels that we are in compliance with his expectations."
He said that just because the news media is not aware of an investigation and/or an action having been taken does not mean that none has.
"Dealing with matters prudently, confidentially, and charitably so as to respect those rights does not amount to a malicious cover-up."
Adamec claims that no allegation of sexual abuse of a minor on the part of a priest having occurred during the past 15 years has ever been reported to me.
"In the past, I have taken the advice of professional evaluators as to whether or not a case in regard to a particular priest is such that he would need to leave active ministry altogether," the statement reads. "I have followed the advice of the professionals."
He said bishops today are "taking even more stringent steps" to curtail this type of activity. He also noted there are no priests active in the ministry within the Diocesan Church against whom allegations "have been sustained." He did say there are some against whom allegations have been made, but not substantiated, despite active investigations.
"We have assisted alleged victims with therapy in the past, and continue to do so in the present," he said, "whether or not their claims are substantiated 'beyond the question of a doubt'."
According to Adamec, it is not a policy of the church to publicize the names, especially those of victims, in cases such as this. But, he said since certain names have already become public through the media, he felt appropriate to briefly comment on some.
The following individuals were outlined in Adamec's statement:
• Joseph Bender - was accused by an anonymous letter in August of 1991 of actions to have occurred prior to 1971. He began an evaluation of several sessions immediately. The professional evaluator advised Adamec that Bender was not a danger at that point in time.
On June 10, 1992, Bender relinquished his ministerial responsibilities. He died in August of 2000.
• James Bunn - became a concern of Adamec's in early 1988. He met with Bunn several times and Bunn underwent an evaluation in 1988. The evaluation report stated that Bunn was not a pedophile and was not a threat to children.
Allegations against Bunn came again in February 2001. Members of Adamec's staff met with the family immediately after that. Adamec met with Bunn and continued with the investigation.
Bunn spent time at a treatment center. He has not been in public ministry since May of 2002.
• Thomas Carroll - met with Adamec in January 1988. They discussed allegations made against him; however, in the process of investigation, he became ill and died in the fall of 1988.
• Dennis Coleman - had already been relieved of public ministry by Bishop Hogan when Adamec became the Diocesan Bishop. Shortly after Adamec's arrival, he suspended Coleman, barring him from priestly ministry all together. He remains suspended to this day.
• Joseph Gaborek - had accusation made against him prior to Adamec becoming Diocesan Bishop. These were already being addressed by Bishop Hogan. Three months after Adamec became bishop in 1987, he met with Gaborek several times and made arrangements for both in-patient and out-patient evaluation and therapy. He was placed on administrative leave.
Adamec said his attitude proved to be uncooperative. Consequently, he was suspended from priestly ministry in July of 1988 and remains in that status at present. Adamec said he has spoken on occasion by phone with members of the family, which had brought accusations against Gaborek.
• Bernard Grattan - was accused in June of 1994 of inappropriate actions with a minor from 1979 to 1983. He was immediately asked to relinquish his ministerial duties. Grattan underwent in-patient evaluation and subsequent therapy of several months. Upon his return, he concluded his pastorate, meanwhile residing in a different rectory with another priest, subsequently given responsibilities as chaplain at a hospital.
As of about a year ago, Adamec said he no longer functions publicly as a priest nor resides in a rectory. Adamec said the individual making the accusation was assisted by the diocese in his therapy for the duration desired.
• Leonard Inman - had been in treatment upon Adamec becoming bishop. His placement for the purpose of monitoring were deliberate and in accord with professional advice. His assignment to public ministry ceased in August of 1989. He died in June of 2001.
• Robert Kelly - was accused in March of 1993 of inappropriate touching to have occurred around 1975-77. Adamec communicated several times with both the alleged victim by phone and letter, and, with the parents by phone and face-to-face. Adamec said several professional evaluations failed to substantiate concern. Father Kelly has denied and continues to deny this allegation.
During the process of extensive evaluation, Kelly served in administrative positions and resided in a rectory with limited ministerial responsibilities.
In October of 1999, he was appointed pastor. The diocese assisted the individual that made the accusation with therapy for a period of four years.
• William Kovach - was evaluated in 1988 at an in-patient institution following my having been informed of an allegation.
Adamec said the professional advice given to him at the time was that, given the circumstances of the case, there was no need to limit his ministry. Kovach has not exercised public ministry since July 11, 2001.
• Francis Luddy - was sent by Bishop Hogan for evaluation and therapy out of state to a religious community that specialized in that type of treatment in May of 1987 upon notice of inappropriate conduct.
The matter of his attire did not come into question, as he was living and, subsequently, working within that religious community, not posing a danger to any person outside.
Adamec said when that changed in 1993, he directed Luddy not to present himself as a priest publicly, confirming what had been an understanding even before. Later, the Holy Father accepted Adamec's request that he be dismissed from the clerical state, even against his will. That occurred in 1988.
• Francis McCaa - had already been removed from parish ministry by Hogan upon Adamec becoming the bishop. Professional advice in those days was that offending individuals could continue in some non-parish ministry. In light of recently-approved norms, that has changed.
McCaa has not been permitted to function or present himself as a priest publicly since July of 1992.
• Martin McCamley - has been accused of inappropriate actions dating back to 1968. Since Adamec had been apprised of these allegation, he said he and his staff have met with the family on several occasions.
Several other allegations have been received recently. McCamley continues to deny these allegations. This investigation is continuing. He has been placed on administrative leave for the duration of the investigation.
• James Skupien - came to Adamec's attention several months after he became bishop. The allegation did not have to do with minors.
In 1994, there were allegations made against him, dating back prior to 1987. These allegations did not come from any alleged victim and appeared rather general. Nevertheless, Adamec followed up by speaking with him on several occasions, at which times he denied any involvement with minors.
He participated in counseling and had been a resident of a treatment center. Adamec said he received a letter in the Spring of 2002 accusing him of having abused a minor prior to 1987. Skupien died in February of 1996.
Adamec also made statements regarding individuals who identified themselves as victims at a recent news conference.
• Brian Gergley - made his case in regard to McCaa known to Adamec in June of 2002. Adamec responded to him and met with him and his mother, as well as spoke with him several times by phone since.
Wishing to assist him in his therapy, the diocese agreed to pay for his therapy sessions and medication, which it continues to do to this day.
• Kevin Hoover - is a former seminarian for the diocese, leaving in 1991. His accusation against McCaa came by way of letter in 1997. Both Adamec's Vicar General and Adamec met with Hoover and have been in communication with him. The diocese began assisting him with the expense of therapy in the fall of 1997.
• Jeffrey Lafferty - is known to us since 2001. Members of my staff, with whom he has been in contact, continue to seek some conclusion in the process of the "investigation."
In conclusion, Adamec said he wanted to assure the public once again that the leadership of the diocese intends to protect minors from abuse by its clergy, employees and volunteers.
He said that no matter what he does, it will not be the right thing in everyone's eyes.
"If there is an agenda other than promoting the welfare of God's children in the series of newspaper articles to which we have been subjected, then we are all victims," reads the statement. "But, be it known, that such will not derail me from acting appropriately (legally and morally) in regard to both the accuser and the accused."
He repeated what he has said in other statements that there has been no allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest of the diocese having occurred since he became bishop on May 20, 1987.
"The communities which comprise that Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown can be assured that any allegation of a sexual abuse of a minor prior to 1987, of which I have been made aware, has been handled in an appropriate manner," said Adamec. "For the safety of our children, for the healing of victims, and for the purification of our Church, I ask that those who have not yet shared with me allegations of sexual abuse of minors on the part of any one of the priests in this Diocesan Church to do so with the confidence that doing so is the right thing to do."
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