Statement Regarding Lawsuit Involving Former Principal of Archbishop Ryan High School
By Catherine L. Rossi
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
June 16, 2004
The Archdiocese has learned that a civil lawsuit was filed June 16, 2004 in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against the Franciscan Friars Assumption BVM Province, Incorporated, Reverend Thomas Luczak, OFM, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Archbishop Ryan High School, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.
The lawsuit involves the former President of Archbishop Ryan High School in Northeast Philadelphia, Reverend Charles Newman, OFM, a religious order priest (Franciscan) who served as Principal from 1993 until 2002 and President of Archbishop Ryan from 2002 until November 2003. On November 20, 2003, Father Newman relinquished his position as President. At that time, the Archdiocese made public that it had found financial irregularities at the high school and was investigating the matter.
Early in the course of the financial investigation, the Archdiocese learned of possible misconduct/allegations of abuse and misappropriation of funds involving Father Newman and acted decisively and swiftly to report its findings to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. It is our understanding that this was the first indication made to law enforcement concerning these alleged acts. The Archdiocese has stood ready to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in any investigation on their part. When Father Newman relinquished his position, he returned to his religious community (the Franciscans).
In late April 2004, independent outside auditors completed their review of the finances at Archbishop Ryan High School and forwarded their findings to the Archdiocese. The findings are now under internal review. We are not in a position to disclose the findings at this time as they have not yet been shared with the Franciscans. In the early stages of the audit, the Franciscans expressed to the Archdiocese their intention to reimburse Archbishop Ryan High School for any possible loss resulting from any misappropriation of funds.
We understand that as part of the lawsuit, the plaintiff, Mr. Arthur Baselice, III alleges that Reverend Thomas Lucsak, O.F.M. improperly attempted to obtain from him a release of claims on behalf of all defendants in exchange for a payment of $50,000.00. The Archdiocese wishes to make it known that, if this occurred, Reverend Lucsak was not acting with the prior knowledge or approval of the Archdiocese.
In reporting these incidents to law enforcement as quickly as was done gives evidence of the Archdiocese's and Cardinal Rigali's resolve in these matters and the fact that the current Archdiocesan procedures do work. We know that this lawsuit will be a cause for concern among current Archbishop Ryan High School staff, students and others. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia expresses its reassurances that comprehensive policies and programs are in place to protect children and young people and to prevent abuse of any kind as much as humanly possible.
Editor's Note: The communications person for the Franciscans, Jay Devine, can be reached 215-568-2525.
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