Accused of Abuse
By Tom Waring
Still no word, though, from the man at the center of the alleged scandal — the Rev. Charles Newman.
On June 16, former Ryan student Arthur Baselice III sued the archdiocese,
Ryan, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Newman’s
order and its provincial, the Rev. Thomas Luczak.
Jay Abramowitch, Baselice’s attorney, suggested that more lawsuits against Newman and others could be forthcoming.
“This is the first of a number of suits that will be filed by the next generation of victims of pedophilia,” he said.
In addition, the lawsuit accuses Luczak of offering Baselice $50,000 to drop any potential claims against the church.
In a statement, Luczak made no mention of the alleged payoff.
“I can say that when allegations against Reverend Newman were brought to our attention, he was removed from active ministry,” he said.
“Further, at the time of the allegations, we cooperated fully with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and facilitated its reporting of the allegations to the appropriate legal authorities.”
Newman was principal from 1993 to 2002, during the years Baselice attended Ryan. He became the school’s president in 2002 but resigned on Nov. 20, 2003, after financial irregularities were found during a budgetary review. He also directed the school’s plays.
• • •
The announcement of the lawsuit forced Ryan to cancel the closing Mass and the final day of school for freshmen on June 17. Officials apparently feared the news media would converge on the Academy Road school that day.
The school mailed report cards to the students’ homes and invited the students to clear out their lockers on Tuesday.
Principal Helen Chaykowsky, who succeeded Newman two years ago, referred all comment to the archdiocese.
The archdiocese issued a statement saying that it learned of possible misconduct and allegations of abuse early in the course of its financial investigation of Newman.
Officials contacted the city district attorney’s office. They did not make that known publicly because they did not wish to hinder the law enforcement investigation.
The financial investigation by independent outside auditors was completed in April. The archdiocese is reviewing the data.
The statement denies any knowledge of Luczak’s alleged payout offer.
“The archdiocese wishes to make it known that, if this occurred, Reverend Luczak was not acting with the prior knowledge or approval of the archdiocese,” according to the statement.
Newman, 53, and Brother Patrick McCormack, Ryan’s director of institutional advancement, were relieved of their ministries after the financial irregularities were discovered.
The OFM would say only that both are living in Franciscan houses in the Midwest. McCormack is not part of the sexual-abuse allegations.
Newman’s attorney, Frank DeSimone, did not return a call for comment.
The priest is not a defendant in the lawsuit because Abramowitch has not
had the chance to take his deposition.
• • •
Abramowitch said Bevilacqua, who retired last year, indicated that pedophile priests were removed from their positions and that the abuse cases were decades old.
The statute of limitations in such cases expires when the alleged victims turn 30. Baselice will be 26 on June 30.
More young people are expected to come forward with allegations of abuse.
“Mr. Baselice is the first,” his attorney said.
The lawsuit said that Newman befriended Baselice when he was a freshman, even though the student was not in any of the priest’s classes. It contends that Newman began to groom the student for his own sexual gratification.
In Baselice’s sophomore year, the lawsuit says, Newman routinely removed him from classes and allowed him to sit in his office. The student was allowed to chew tobacco and swear.
For the next three years, according to the suit, Newman manipulated Baselice’s grades so he wouldn’t have to attend summer school.
Newman regularly called the boy “stud” and began to supply him with alcohol, cocaine and marijuana by his junior year, according to the suit.
The priest asked the teenager to visit him at his residence at the St. Pius X Friary at 11051 Academy Road, where the alleged abuse took place.
According to the suit, Newman supplied the student with alcohol, then asked him to remove his clothes. He then told the teen to put on a pair of black socks, which he sniffed.
The suit contends that Newman put on pornographic videos while the two engaged in masturbation and oral sex. On one occasion, he asked the boy to urinate on him.
Near the end of his senior year, Baselice traveled with Newman to Denver to attend a hockey playoff game. The priest allegedly provided alcohol and committed sexual abuse, but never took the student to the game.
“I can’t think of anything more disgusting,” Abramowitch said of the abuse allegations.
The suit also maintains that Newman gave money to Baselice so he could
buy drugs from dealers.
The two remained in contact, with Newman giving Baselice $10,800 in December 2002 and $32,000 in January 2003 to purchase illegal controlled substances or pay off debts, according to the lawsuit.The suit contains an allegation that Newman went to a bar to pay off one of Baselice’s drug debts.
At present, Baselice is addicted to alcohol and controlled substances.
In May, he entered the Caron Foundation in Berks County. There, Luczak allegedly mailed him documents offering $50,000 in exchange for releasing the church from any claims.
Baselice left the drug rehabilitation facility after other patients offered to give him money to buy drugs in Reading.
On May 25, Luczak allegedly mailed another proposed settlement agreement to Baselice’s Gloucester County home.
On May 28, Luczak allegedly called Baselice and asked him to sign the forms. On June 3, he left three phone messages with the same request.
“That’s when he contacted me,” Abramowitch said.
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached aT 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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