Cleveland Bishop Is Subject of Perjury Accusations, Protest

By James F. McCarty
Plain Dealer [Cleveland]
July 21, 2005

Critics from separate priest sexual-abuse cases launched independent attacks on Bishop Anthony Pilla Wednesday.

In the morning, attorney William Crosby, who questioned the bishop for six hours Tuesday for a defamation lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Cleveland, wrote to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason asking him to investigate Pilla for possible perjury charges.

Later, three women from Akron stood on the steps of St. John Cathedral and accused Pilla of breaking his promises to them and of covering up for a former priest who they claim raped them in the mid-1960s. The women?s lawyer, Jeff Anderson of St. Paul, Minn., said it was a coincidence that their announcement came on the same day as Crosby?s request for a criminal investigation of the bishop. He said the women have accused John Jacoby, a former religion teacher at St. Mary High School, of rape.

Jacoby, 77, is married and lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. He left the diocese and the priesthood in 1982. He was never charged with a crime. He could not be reached for comment.

?Bishop Pilla and the diocese continue to protect someone they have known was a serial predator since the 1960s,? Anderson said. ?They want to keep these attacks a secret to protect their image and to control the scandal.? After the girls complained about Jacoby, diocesan officials transferred him to Holy Family parish in Parma.

He later served at the cathedral, and for 10 years ran the St. Joseph Christian Life Center on Cleveland?s East Side.

Anderson did not sue the diocese, but reached a mediated settlement with diocesan lawyers in 2003. The diocese agreed to pay unspecified damages to five women who hired Anderson, who said the diocese also agreed to issue public and private apologies, to provide counseling and to contact other potential victims.

Anderson said the diocese paid but reneged on the other promises.

Diocesan spokesman Bob Tayek said the women?s complaints were premature.

?Matters related to this mediation are still being addressed,? Tayek said. ?Patience on behalf of the parties involved is appreciated, with the realization that these matters can take some time.? Tayek declined to address Crosby?s allegations against the bishop, saying they had received no notification of a complaint filed with Mason.

Mason also said he had not yet read Crosby?s letter or seen the documents the lawyer delivered to the prosecutor?s office.

Crosby represents sex-abuse victim Christopher Kodger and his parents in a libel lawsuit filed in 2003. The suit accuses diocesan officials of transferring Kodger?s attacker, ex-priest F.

James Mulica, in 1983, then later claiming publicly that the Kodgers had approved the moves ? claims the Kodgers maintain are defamatory lies.

Crosby presented Pilla with a pair of documents Tuesday that referred to the Kodgers being consulted and approving of Mulica?s transfers. The bishop testified he never saw the documents, although one was a letter addressed to him.

'We found out at the bishop's deposition that he was a recipient of the defamatory material and, in fact, was the only person in authority to have received it', Crosby said. 'Yet, under oath, he said he never saw it. That's perjury'.


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