Two Priests Added to List of Diocese Abuse Suspects

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)
December 4, 2004

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson on Friday added two priests to a public list of clergy with "credible" accusations of sexually abusing children.

The addition of the Rev. Fernando L. Manzo and the Rev. Claudio Riol brings the list to a total of 30 priests, two deacons and one nun. The diocese created the list in 2002 after reaching a $14 million settlement with 10 men who said they were abused by four local clergy members during the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

Until December 2003, Manzo was the pastor of San Felipe de Jesus Catholic Church in Nogales, Ariz. Manzo, 48, disappeared after being told he was under investigation because of an accusation by his nephew, Brandon Croly, who said Manzo sexually molested him as a teen- ager. Manzo has not been criminally charged, though the Tucson Police Department was informed of the allegation.

Croly is a U.S. Army investigator who is preparing to leave for a yearlong deployment in Iraq. His case is one of 22 civil actions pending against the local diocese, which filed for federal bankruptcy protection Sept. 20. The bankruptcy filing temporarily stayed all pending legal actions against the diocese, but the lawsuits all must be resolved as part of the bankruptcy reorganization plan.

"I'm sure Pvt. Croly is extremely happy to finally be believed by the diocese," said Lynne M. Cadigan, a local attorney representing him in his civil case against the diocese.

Manzo was ordained a priest for the local diocese in 1983. He was put on administrative leave in December 2003. In May 2004, after the diocese could not locate him, Manzo was suspended from priestly ministry. Diocese officials say they are still unaware of Manzo's whereabouts. He is not receiving a salary or any other financial support from the diocese, spokesman Fred Allison said Friday.

Manzo's assignments were at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Safford from 1983 to '85; St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma from 1985 to '86; Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Somerton from 1986 to '98; St. Monica's Catholic Church in Tucson from 1998 to 2001; and San Felipe de Jesus from 2001 to '03.

Diocese officials say they are unaware of Riol's whereabouts or if he's even alive. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Trujillo, Peru, in 1930 and had no assignments in the local diocese after 1966. His local assignments were at Tucson's Immaculate Heart Academy from 1960 to '61, Phoenix's St. Catherine Catholic Church in 1961, Pirtleville's St. Bernard Parish in 1961, Phoenix's Immaculate Heart Catholic Church in 1965 and Ajo's Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in 1966.

The diocese's Sexual Misconduct Review Board, also created in the wake of the 2002 settlement, recommended Kicanas add Manzo and Riol to the list. The list dates to 1950. Until 1969, Catholic churches in Phoenix were part of the local diocese.

Where to call

* The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson urges anyone who has experienced abuse or sexual misconduct by anyone who worked for the church or the local diocese to contact its Victim Assistance Program at 1-800-234-0344 or the diocese's Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection at 520-792-3410.

* Anyone abused by clergy or other Diocese of Tucson employees is asked to file a claim by April 15. For information about filing a claim, call 1-866-413-4242.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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