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  Priests Preyed on Local Youths

By Beth Quinn
Times Herald-Record
February 28, 2004

The mid-Hudson has had its own share of priests who sexually abused children � cases that were reported to church officials but went largely ignored until the scandal broke two years ago.

The Archdiocese of New York, like others elsewhere, spent decades moving sexual predators from parish to parish and paying their victims hush money.

Cardinal Edward Egan, who heads New York's archdiocese, has also been accused of helping to hide cases of sexual abuse while he was bishop of Bridgeport, Conn.

It wasn't until April 2002 that the Archdiocese of New York gave the Manhattan District Attorney's Office a list of cases involving priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors.

With 2.4 million members, the New York archdiocese is the nation's third largest. It includes Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties along with Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx.

The following is a summary of local cases that have come to light in the past decade.

The former Rev. Edward Pipala sexually abused more than 60 boys over 25 years. The abuse was first reported to the archdiocese in 1977, yet the church kept transferring him from parish to parish for 25 years until he was finally arrested in 1993. Among the parishes he served were St. John the Evangelist in Goshen and Sacred Heart in Monroe.

Along the way, Pipala formed a sex club called "The Hole" while a youth minister at Sacred Heart. The initiation was sex with the priest. He gave young boys beer, showed them sex videos and took several on vacation to the New Jersey shore.

Pipala served seven years in federal prison. He was removed from the priesthood in July 2000 when he was released from prison after serving his full sentence.

The Archdiocese of New York was sued for $900 million in the cases. They were settled for an undisclosed amount.

Pipala's most recent known address is in an apartment in Yonkers, near two playgrounds and a junior high school.

The archdiocese followed the same pattern with the Rev. Francis Stinner, who served at St. Mary's Church in Port Jervis and taught at John S. Burke Catholic High School in Goshen.

Stinner was never brought to justice even after a high-ranking church official called a report of his sexual abuse of a boy "credible." An investigation in 1997 by a firm headed by former New York City Police Commissioner Robert McGuire confirmed the abuse.

Stinner was removed from St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in the Bronx and sent to a church-run facility.

Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said at the time that Stinner "would not return to a parish with children, I can assure you of that."

The church paid the victim $50,000 and a new Honda Accord in exchange for his silence.

Two years later, in 1999, Stinner returned to celebrate Mass at two Westchester churches with altar boys and children. He also performed a marriage at St. John the Evangelist in Goshen.

The Rev. George Boxelaar served the parish communities of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown and Our Lady of the Scapular in Unionville for nearly 30 years before he "retired" to Holland in 1985.

The retirement was a forced one on the part of the Archdiocese of New York, which sent Boxelaar away after years of complaints to church officials and threats of lawsuits.

One former altar boy says he was abused by Boxelaar when he was 8 years old in 1973 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Elementary School. The child's father was told that the kissing, hugging and touching was "just a European tradition." Boxelaar grew up in Holland.

The parents kept their mouths shut. It was, after all, 1973 and no one wanted to speak out against the Church.

After the Times Herald-Record wrote about Boxelaar in 2002, at least 25 men came forward to say that they, too, had been abused by Boxelaar during the 1970s. In some cases the abuse occurred 12 years after the priest was first reported to the archdiocese.

Boxelaar died in Holland in April 1990 at the age of 81. He was never brought to justice.

The Rev. Robert Caparelli, the parish priest at St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church in Dingman Hills, Pike County, Pa., forced at least two young boys to have sex on several occasions during the mid-1980s.

The cases against Caparelli were settled in a civil lawsuit in 1996. The terms of the settlement were kept secret.

Caparelli's abuses of the two boys were not the first reported to the Scranton Diocese. In 1968, he'd been transferred from a Hazelton church after allegations surfaced that he'd "demoralized" two boys. More accusations surfaced six years later at St. Mary's parish in Old Forge, Pa. The diocese then appointed him director of religious formation at Bishop O'Reilly High School in Kingston, Pa.

Caparelli died from AIDS at the age of 56. At the time of his death, Caparelli was in prison, serving a 2-to-5-year sentence for the sexual assault of one of his accusers. Two civil cases against the diocese were settled two years after his death.

The Rev. Juan Bazalar, a Monticello priest accused in 1991 of sexually molesting a former altar boy at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Monticello, fled to Canada after the accusations came to light.

He was extradited in 1993 and was tried in Sullivan County. The Peruvian-born priest was found guilty and sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

But the conviction was overturned in 1995 based on a language barrier at the first trial. The priest was found not guilty at a second trial.

Prosecutors attributed the defeat to the fact that a key witness had died between trials. The victim did not want to go through a third trial in the case.

At last word, Bazalar was returning to Peru to resume a career as an active priest.

Contact: bquinn@th-record.com

 
 

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