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  Bishop: Narrow Scope in Cases against 2 Priests

By Sheryl Kornman
Tucson Citizen (Tucson, AZ)
August 7, 2004

The cases against two Tucson diocese priests removed from the priesthood by the Vatican were narrow in scope, according to the bishop.

The cases included accusations made in civil lawsuits settled by the diocese, said Bishop Gerald Kicanas.

Kicanas said the cases the diocese presented to Pope John Paul II focused on Monsignor Robert Trupia's sexual abuse of a young boy and Rev. Michael Teta's "repeated sexual misconduct with (male) adults."

Thursday, Kicanas announced the men were no longer priests.

"The case that was presented to the Holy Father was based on already litigated allegations of misconduct with minors," Kicanas said regarding Trupia. "There were multiple offenses."

The diocese identified both men as among 26 diocese priests with credible accusations of child molestation since 1950, according to Citizen archives. Both are named in civil lawsuits.

The parish priest for Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, where both Trupia and Teta served as ministers, said in a statement Thursday that the defrocking brings some closure to the parish.

"My heart aches for the victims of abuse, their parents and families, and also for the mothers of the two men who have been (defrocked)," Monsignor Thomas P. Cahalane said in the statement.

He asked parishioners to respond to the news with "prayer and compassion."

Since the early 1990s, the diocese paid what it calls "sustenance payments" to both men after suspending them from their priestly duties over accusations of sexual impropriety.

Kicanas said Trupia, in his appeals to the Vatican, denied he ever committed sexual impropriety. Kicanas said Teta never denied or admitted any wrongdoing. Diocese officials deny knowing Teta's whereabouts, despite the regular payments he received.

Trupia and Teta were represented by counsel provided by the Roman Catholic Church, Kicanas said.

The diocese has reached out to the mothers of both men, Kicanas said, without giving details. Both women live in Tucson. He said media coverage of the priest abuse cases has been stressful for the women for quite some time.

"I feel relieved that closure now has come around a rather neuralgic (painful) question for our community, and that is the fate of Robert Trupia," Kicanas said.

"The decision of the Holy Father to remove a priest from the clerical state is the gravest penalty that can be imposed on any priest."

Neither Trupia nor Teta has been criminally charged with abuse because of the statute of limitations, Kicanas said.

 
 

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