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  Uncloaked

By Beth Miller, Mike Chalmers and Gary Soulsman
News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware)
November 17, 2006

For the first time, parents in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington have the names of diocesan priests accused of sexually abusing children. They know which parishes they worked in and when they were there.

For the first time, victims can say their allegations against these abusers have been "admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated" to the satisfaction of Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli and the Diocesan Review Board he appointed to investigate allegations.

And for the first time, some victims who have never spoken about the abuse they suffered may find the courage to tell someone and get the help experts say they need to recover.

Reversing a long-standing policy, Saltarelli on Thursday released the names of the 20 diocesan priests in the diocese's weekly newspaper, The Dialog.

He had refused to do so after the scandal of clergy abuse emerged nationally in 2002.

He had refused to do so under pressure from victims groups and lay groups in the diocese.

He had refused to release the names despite the concerns of community members and legislators about the whereabouts of sexual offenders.

He refused to do so in 2005, when The News Journal made the first public attempt to chronicle how church leaders in Delaware handled molestation claims. The diocese had acknowledged that at least 30 priests had been accused of molesting more than 60 children since 1950, but neither the church nor Delaware prosecutors ever published a full account.

The newspaper's review showed that in many ways, the Diocese of Wilmington followed the same pattern revealed in Boston, Philadelphia and other dioceses, where abusive priests were quietly transferred from parish to parish. They were sent to psychologists rather than to police. Victims were forced to sign confidentiality agreements as part of any legal settlements, a practice now forbidden by the diocese.

Saltarelli changed his mind about releasing the names of accused priests after a Syracuse, N.Y., teenager told his parents that a former Delaware priest living there had been sexually abusing him. The retired priest, the Rev. Francis G. DeLuca, was arrested last month.

In a letter to Catholics in the diocese, Saltarelli said he was "deeply troubled" by DeLuca's arrest. DeLuca had been allowed to retire to Syracuse after abuse allegations arose here in 1993. Syracuse police say DeLuca, 77, confessed to them.

Saltarelli also said he released the names "to continue the efforts of our diocese to encourage victims of clerical sexual abuse to come forward and seek help."

John Dougherty, who grew up in Wilmington's Forty Acres neighborhood and now lives in Las Vegas, came forward years ago. But nobody believed him then.

"This blows my mind," said Dougherty, who was sexually abused by the Rev. Edward B. Carley for more than a decade. Carley, who died in 1998, was a priest in the Wilmington Diocese for 50 years. "This kind of makes all the pain I went through worthwhile in a way. More people have to know about this. The truth has to be told."

The Rev. Thomas Flowers, pastor of St. Polycarp Catholic Church in Smyrna, said it is a painful moment for local Christians, especially Catholics. The Diocese of Wilmington includes all of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, about 220,000 Catholics.

"This is our spiritual tsunami," Flowers said. "Priests will need to address the news in services this weekend. You can't ignore it, pretend it didn't happen. The services will be like funeral masses. The hurt is going to be deep."

He expects people to feel many emotions — disappointment, embarrassment, anger, grief and shame.

For some, the emotion may be relief.

Move is short of full disclosure

The diocese's move is a long overdue step in the healing of sexual abuse victims and their families, said Valerie Marek, executive director of Survivors of Abuse in Recovery, or SOAR, a nonprofit counseling and therapy group with offices in Wilmington and Dover.

"We've been talking about this for, what, 15 years now, and they're just now coming forward with these names," Marek said. "They're doing the right thing. It's about time."

But Saltarelli didn't tell all Thursday.

He did not name two long-dead diocesan priests against whom credible allegations had been filed but not, in the judgment of the review board, substantiated.

He also did not release the names of the 10 priests ordained by private religious orders who have credible allegations of sexual abuse against them, but he has recommended that superiors of those orders do so, diocese spokesman Robert G. Krebs said.

Officials of the Norbertines and the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales did not return calls from The News Journal on Thursday. Those orders operate Archmere Academy and Salesianum School, where civil lawsuits are pending against priests who formerly worked there.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kenneth Whitwell, whose suit against Archmere, the Wilmington Diocese and the Rev. Edward Smith is pending in federal court, was disappointed that Saltarelli excluded the names of nondiocesan priests.

"The diocese grants them privileges to function as a priest and therefore gives them the cloak under which they operate," Whitwell said Thursday. "The priest who abused me could not have come into my home if he had not been authorized to be a priest here by the Diocese of Wilmington."

Beyond the law

Most of the reported abuse happened decades ago, beyond the reach of the criminal statute of limitations. And many Catholics and diocesan officials have believed that meant the abuses had ended. DeLuca's October arrest put an end to that assumption.

"By disclosing the names and locations of those living priests ... we perhaps in some way may help prevent or deter any further incidents," Saltarelli wrote.

Flowers agreed the release could help other victims get help.

"I would hate to think there is some person out there suffering because the names never appeared in public. If only one other person begins to heal, all this pain will be worth it," he said. "It can be hard for victims to come forward if everyone else speaks of a priest as a hero and that person knows them as something else. Perhaps that has been an obstacle for victims getting healing."

The statute of limitations also has been an obstacle. Few legal remedies exist for abuses that happened many years ago.

An effort earlier this year by legislators to change Delaware's civil statute of limitations met support from lawmakers, but time expired before a bill was passed. Another will be introduced next year, said Rep. Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, who was among the co-sponsors of the bill.

"The diocese has hopefully learned from their mistakes in the past," Lavelle said. "Anything that can bring light to this, to show that molesters can't hide in the shadows, is a good thing."

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said legislative pressure probably was another factor in Saltarelli's decision.

"We're glad for truth-telling for any reason," Clohessy said. "If the bishop genuinely wants to protect kids and heal victims, he'll disclose the names of all predators the diocese has ever had — lay and clerical, priest and seminarian."

None in public ministry

Ten of the priests named are dead. The diocese says none of the living priests remains in active public ministry, but one of them — the Rev. Douglas W. Dempster — told The News Journal he ministers "in his own way" in homes in rural Marydel, Md.

Krebs said the diocese will ask Pope Benedict XVI to remove the living priests from the priesthood, a process known as "laicization." But, he said, the diocese can't do much more to monitor those still living in the community.

The Rev. Edward F. Dudzinski, 56, lives 100 yards from a Herndon, Va., elementary school, according to Jim Money, a former Washington police officer who has been monitoring Dudzinski's activities since learning of his history.

Dudzinski was removed from ministry in the Wilmington Diocese in 1985 because of sexual abuse allegations, but that did not prevent him from becoming a juvenile counselor in Virginia. He surrendered his license in 2003 as part of a settlement stemming from allegations that he slept in the same bed with a minor on at least 10 occasions in 2001. Money said no authorities are monitoring Dudzinski, who was never criminally prosecuted.

"I certainly hope if there are any other skeletons in the closet that [diocese officials] come forward and bring those out to the public," said Nelson Lamb, whose son, Barry, was among Dudzinski's accusers.

Mike Schulte, who grew up in Wilmington and lives in Virginia, was elated to hear the diocese had released 20 names.

"It's superlative," said Schulte, who says he was among DeLuca's Wilmington victims. "Saltarelli has done more than any other bishop."

Carlene M. Sandella, director of worship at St. John the Baptist-Holy Angels in Newark, said the atmosphere was very heavy at the church Thursday, and that she was shocked by some of the names released.

She is also a member of the northern Delaware chapter of Voice of the Faithful, a lay group that has served as an advocate for victims and faithful priests.

Sandella commended Saltarelli for releasing the names, though she says it took considerable pressure. She hopes the bishop will be open to greater transparency. At the same time, she suspects the bishop will take heat from other bishops for this action.

"I feel really sorry right now for the really good priests who are embarrassed to wear the collar," she said.

The Rev. Richard A. Reissmann, pastor of Sandella's church, said he believes the Catholic church will be better for Thursday's disclosures.

"If I didn't believe in the Holy Spirit, I would tend to give up hope," he said. "But I firmly believe that we will move through this. I believe that in time we will be stronger for the action the bishop has taken."

More might come forward

The public acknowledgement is a relief to victims, many of whom have kept their abuse a secret for decades.

"When something like this happens, you have many more survivors come forward," Marek said. "It could validate what happened to them. At long last, someone believes them."

For some victims, though, the revelations could stir up memories and feelings they've worked for years to suppress, she said.

"There are folks who have been able to push it out of their minds for many years and now it comes back to them," Marek said.

Still, acknowledging and confronting the abuse is a healthy step for victims, families and the church, she said.

"You're only as sick as the secrets you keep," Marek said. "Hopefully, this is a trend toward a healthier church and healthier survivors who've lived with stigma all their lives. If we can transfer the stigma from the victim to the perpetrator, that's a lot better."

Contact Beth Miller at 324-2784 or bmiller@delawareonline.com. Contact Mike Chalmers at 324-2790 or mchalmers@delawareonline.com. Contact Gary Soulsman at 324-2893 or gsoulsman@delawareonline.com.

ACCUSED PRIESTS WHO HAVE DIED

EDWARD B. CARLEY — BORN 1917, ORDAINED 1948, DIED 1998. Assignments: St. Mary Refuge of Sinners, Cambridge, Md., 1948; St. Ann, Wilmington, 1954; St. Paul, Wilmington, 1962; St. Peter's Cathedral, Wilmington, 1964 and 1970; Church of the Good Shepherd, Perryville, Md., 1967; Our Mother of Sorrows, Centreville, Md., 1972; St. Dennis, Galena, Md., 1982; retired 1993.

EUGENE F. CLARAHAN — BORN 1925, ORDAINED 1952, DIED 1999. Assignments: Corpus Christi, Elsmere, 1952; chaplain of (Del.) state institutions, 1960; Holy Spirit (residence), New Castle, 1967; St. Peter, New Castle, 1968; Holy Cross, Dover, 1978; Church of the Good Shepherd, Perryville, Md., 1983; St. Benedict, Ridgely, Md., 1987; removed from ministry, 1993.

FRANCIS P. CORNELY — BORN 1924, ORDAINED 1949, DIED 1975. Assignments: St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md., 1949; St. John the Baptist, Newark, 1950; St. Edmond, Rehoboth Beach, 1958; chaplain, University of Delaware, 1962; St. Mary Refuge of Sinners, Cambridge, Md., 1964; Christ Our King, Wilmington, 1969; St. Edmond, Rehoboth Beach, 1974.

HENRY J. DREYER — BORN 1903, ORDAINED 1930, DIED 1969. Assignments: St. Paul, Wilmington, 1930; St. Teresa, Port Deposit, Md., 1931; St. Ann, Wilmington, 1933; St. Charles, Cape Charles, Va., 1937; St. Teresa, Port Deposit, Md., 1941; St. Joseph on the Brandywine, Greenville, 1950; retired 1966; St. Ann, Wilmington (residence), 1967.

RICHARD F. GARDINER — BORN 1916, ORDAINED 1968, DIED 1989. Assignments: St. Edmond, Rehoboth Beach, May 1968; Holy Cross, Dover, Nov. 1968; St. Ann, Bethany Beach, and St. Michael, Georgetown, 1972; St. John the Beloved, Milltown, 1974; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Bear, 1978; St. Luke/St. Andrew, Ocean City, Md., 1985.

WILLIAM E. IRWIN — BORN 1938, ORDAINED 1964, DIED 2005. Assignments: St. Edmond, Rehoboth Beach, 1964; Immaculate Conception, Elkton, 1964; Holy Cross, Dover, 1966; St. Mary of the Assumption, Hockessin, 1968; Immaculate Heart of Mary (residence), Brandywine Hundred, 1970; Our Lady of Fatima (residence), New Castle, 1972; St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md., 1976; St. Mary of the Assumption, 1986; Holy Family, Newark, 1990; St. Mary Magdalen, Fairfax, 2001; removed from ministry, 2002.

JOHN A. LIND — BORN 1931, ORDAINED 1960, DIED 1997. Assignments: St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md., 1960; St. Catherine of Siena, Greenville, 1962; St. Elizabeth, Wilmington, 1965; removed from ministry, 1966.

LEONARD J. MACKIEWICZ — BORN 1931, ORDAINED 1957, DIED 1994. Assignments: St. Edmond, Rehoboth Beach, 1957; chaplain for Boy Scouts, 1957; Immaculate Conception, Marydel, Md., 1958; St. Thomas, Wilmington, 1960; St. Hedwig, Wilmington, 1961; Holy Rosary, Claymont, 1964; St. Thomas, 1967; St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md., 1970; St. Michael the Archangel, Georgetown, 1971; St. Edmond, 1972; St. Mary Refuge of Sinners, Cambridge, Md., 1972; Holy Cross, Dover, 1975; chaplain, Delaware Correctional Center, 1976; St. Polycarp, Smyrna, 1985; removed from ministry, 1987.

WALTER D. POWER — BORN 1918, ORDAINED 1952, DIED 1998. Assignments: St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, 1952; St. Helena, Bellefonte, 1954; director of Boy Scouts, 1956; St. Mary Refuge of Sinners, Cambridge, Md., 1957; Immaculate Conception, Marydel, Md., 1960; chaplain, St. Gertrude Convent, Ridgely, Md., 1960; Sacred Heart, Chestertown, Md., 1964; Holy Name of Jesus, Pocomoke City, Md., 1968; St. Mary Refuge of Sinners, 1969; Immaculate Conception, Elkton, 1979; retired 1983, with residence at Good Shepherd, Perryville.

CARMEN D. VIGNOLA — BORN 1946, ORDAINED 1972, DIED 1989. Assignments: Holy Cross, Dover (deacon), 1972; St. Ann, Wilmington, 1972; St. Elizabeth, Wilmington, 1978; Our Lady of Fatima, New Castle, 1983; St. Joseph, Middletown, 1984; Holy Cross, Dover, 1987.

ACCUSED PRIESTS WHO ARE LIVING

FRANCIS G. DELUCA — BORN 1929, ORDAINED 1958. Assignments: St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md., 1958; St. John the Beloved, Milltown, 1961; St. Elizabeth, Wilmington, 1966; Holy Spirit, New Castle, 1969; St. Matthew, Woodcrest, 1976, St. Joseph on the Brandywine, Greenville, 1989; removed from ministry, 1993; resides in Syracuse, N.Y. Arrested Oct. 19 on charges he had been sexually abusing a now-18-year-old male for the past five years. DeLuca reportedly confessed to Syracuse police and awaits trial.

DOUGLAS W. DEMPSTER — BORN 1937, ORDAINED 1962. Assignments: St. Michael the Archangel, Georgetown, 1962; St. John the Beloved, Milltown, 1962; Immaculate Conception, Elkton, Md., 1966; St. Mary Refuge of Sinners, Cambridge, Md., 1967; St. John-Holy Angels, Newark, 1969; Church of the Good Shepherd, Perryville, Md., 1970; Church of the Holy Child, Brandywine Hundred, 1978; Immaculate Conception, Marydel, Md., 1979; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Secretary, Md., 1992; removed from ministry 1993. He now resides in Marydel, Md.

EDWARD F. DUDZINSKI — BORN 1950, ORDAINED 1978. Assignments: St. Joseph on the Brandywine, Greenville (deacon), 1977; St. Mary Magdalen, Fairfax, 1978; St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md., 1983; removed from ministry 1985; resides in Herndon, Va. He had worked in Virginia as a children's counselor but agreed to give up his license in 2003 as part of a settlement stemming from allegations that he slept in the same bed with a minor on at least 10 occasions in 2001.

KENNETH J. MARTIN — BORN 1945, ORDAINED 1989. Assignments: Holy Cross, Dover, 1989; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brandywine Hundred, 1990; St. Paul, Wilmington, 1991; St. Mary Magdalen, Fairfax, 1991; Holy Family (residence), Newark, 1997; Church of the Holy Child (residence), Brandywine Hundred, 1998; removed from ministry 2001; resides in New Jersey.

JOSEPH A. MCGOVERN — BORN 1949, ORDAINED 1979. Assignments: St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md., 1978; St. Mary Refuge of Sinners, Cambridge, Md., 1979; St. Catherine of Siena, Greenville, 1980; St. John/Holy Angels, Newark, 1983; removed from ministry 1986. After abuse allegations surfaced in 1986, McGovern was treated for pedophilia at St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., and placed on Depo-Provera, a sexual inhibitor, according to a grand jury report released by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office last fall. He now resides in Philadelphia.

FRANCIS J. ROGERS — BORN 1954, ORDAINED 1981. Assignments: Corpus Christi (deacon), Elsmere, 1980; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Brandywine Hundred, 1981; St. Matthew, Woodcrest, 1986; Holy Rosary, Claymont, 1989; St. Mary Magdalen, Fairfax, 1992; Corpus Christi, 1995; removed from ministry 2003; last known address, Wilmington. Attempts to contact Rogers were unsuccessful.

JOHN A. SARRO — BORN 1941, ORDAINED 1979. Assignments: Worked in missions as religious-order priest until 1983; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Bear, 1983; St. Helena, Bellefonte, 1990; removed from ministry 1998; resides in a monitored religious retirement community in Maryland.

CHARLES W. WIGGINS — BORN 1957, ORDAINED 1985. Assignments: Our Lady of Fatima, New Castle, 1985; Parish of the Resurrection, Pike Creek, and chaplain at St. Mark's High School, 1986; St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, 1987; St. John, Milford, 1991; St. John/Holy Angels, Newark, 1992; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Secretary, Md., 1993; Holy Family, Newark, 1994; Holy Spirit, New Castle, 1997; removed from ministry 2003. Resides in Norwood, Pa.

PRIESTS OF OTHER DIOCESES

PAUL CALAMARI — BORN 1944, ORDAINED 1980 for Archdiocese of New Orleans. Assignments in Diocese of Wilmington: St. Mary of the Assumption, Hockessin, 1997; Holy Cross, Dover, 1999; chaplain in hospital ministry with residence at St. Peter, New Castle, 2000; removed from ministry 2003. Last known address, Pennsylvania.

GERARD C. SMIT — BORN 1924, ORDAINED 1950 for Diocese of Lake Charles, La. Assignments in Diocese of Wilmington: Immaculate Conception, Elkton, 1987; removed from ministry 1996. Last known address, Bear.

TIMELINE OF DISCLOSURE

2002

A scandal erupts nationwide over how the Catholic Church handled accusations of child sexual abuse against hundreds of priests. The Vatican outlines a new policy defining abuse and outlining how bishops should deal with allegations.

January 2003

The Diocese of Wilmington says it has received credible allegations of sexual abuse of children against 18 priests dating to 1952. Three are named: two who had resigned and one who had been relieved of his duties. The diocese refuses to release the names of the remaining 15 priests, saying seven were dead and none was in active ministry.

May 2003

The diocese releases a policy called "For the Sake of God's Children," detailing requirements including criminal background checks for workers in youth ministries, new rules about appropriate contact with children and a requirement for at least two adults to be present in virtually all situations.

January 2004

The diocese acknowledges that 60 people have accused priests of abuse in the past 50 years, and that the diocese has paid $1.6 million to victims and families. The diocese says substantiated claims had been made against one now-deceased priest, bringing the total to 19.

February 2005

The diocese acknowledges a $65,000 payment to a former Wilmington man to reimburse him for counseling needed after years of abuse by a diocesan priest, the Rev. Edward B. Carley, who died in 1998.

October 2005

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office releases the extensive report of its grand jury investigation of sexual abuse allegations in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. That report reveals the names of several priests from the Diocese of Wilmington.

October 2005

The News Journal makes the first public attempt to chronicle how church leaders in Delaware handled molestation claims. The diocese now has acknowledged that at least 30 priests had been accused of molesting more than 60 children since 1950, but refuses to release a full list of names, saying it sees no compelling reason to do so.

The newspaper's review showed that in many ways, the Diocese of Wilmington followed the same pattern revealed in Boston, Philadelphia and other dioceses, where abusive priests were quietly transferred from parish to parish.

October 2006

A former Delaware priest, the Rev. Francis G. DeLuca, is arrested on child sexual abuse charges in Syracuse, N.Y.

November 2006

The diocese releases the names of 20 diocesan priests about whom there have been "admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated" allegations of child sexual abuse.

REPORT ABUSE

Call Diocese of Wilmington's victims assistance coordinator Beth Krieger at 656-0651.

 
 

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