News Analysis
At Least 16 Abusers in Gallup Diocese

Part IV of a five-part series

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola
Independent correspondent
Gallup Independent (Gallup, NM)
May 27, 2011

[See the complete series: 1. Diocese Fails to Deliver Answers (5/24/11); 2. Gallup Diocese: In or Out of Compliance? (5/25/11); 3. Gallup Diocese Still Mum on Payouts (5/26/11); 4. At Least 16 Abusers in Gallup Diocese (5/27/11); 5. Gallup Diocese's List of Known Abusers (5/28/11).]

[ William G. Allison | Michael J. Aten | John Boland | James M. Burns | Santino “Tony” A. Casimano | Charles “Chuck” Cichanowicz OFM | David J. Clark | Clement A. Hageman | Julian Hartig OFM | Robert J. Kirsch | Diego Mazon OFM | Bruce MacArthur | Douglas A. McNeill | Francis “Frank” Murphy | Jose H. Rodriguez | John T. Sullivan ]

GALLUP — Local Catholics may have a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea of clergy abuse in the Diocese of Gallup.

Perhaps they’ve never met any of the priests accused of abuse. Perhaps they’ve never met any abuse victim. Perhaps the stories of abuse are difficult to believe.

But for Catholics who regularly attended Mass in a parish in Northern Arizona during the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s or ’80s, they probably had at least one parish priest who was a sex abuser, and they probably attended church with a number of abuse victims. And for Hispanics from devout Catholic families in Northern Arizona, they probably have at least one relative who was an abuse victim.

Many of Gallup’s abusive priests were sent to far-flung Arizona communities that were hundreds of miles from the eyes and ears of the Gallup chancery. In addition to its parishes in Apache and Navajo Counties, the Gallup Diocese once included many Arizona communities in Coconino, Mohave and Yavapai counties, such as Flagstaff, Kingman, Prescott and Camp Verde.

Since Bishop James S. Wall and his chancery officials have failed to release their promised list of clergy abusers, the following is an updated list of priests associated with the Diocese of Gallup who have been publicly accused of the sexual abuse of minors.

William G. Allison: The Gallup Diocese publicly identified Allison as an abuser in 2005. Allison, apparently from the Diocese of Alexandria, La., was a patient of the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs when he was allowed into the Gallup Diocese by Bishop Bernard Espelage. Allison worked from 1960 to 1961 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Flagstaff, and he directed the Newman Club at Arizona State College, now Northern Arizona University. Allison later worked in California parishes. Although Gallup diocesan officials said in 2005 there was only one credible allegation against Allison, the Rev. James Lindenmeyer, Allison’s former supervisor in Flagstaff, wrote a letter in 1963 saying, “Three young men in the parish have told me of incidents involving him.” Allison’s personnel file was obtained by subpoena in a lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Fresno, Calif. If Allison is still alive, his whereabouts are unknown.

Michael J. Aten: The Diocese of Gallup announced in 2003 that it had received more than one credible allegation of abuse against Aten, who was ordained for the Gallup Diocese in January 1977. Aten worked in the Arizona communities of Pinetop, St. Johns and Winslow. At Pinetop’s St. Mary of the Angels, Aten worked with notorious sex abuser James M. Burns. Aten was removed from ministry and is believed to have abused a number of boys in Apache and Navajo Counties. Aten died in Missouri, June 24, 2001.

John Boland: Ordained for the Gallup Diocese in June 1975, Boland worked in 10 communities in Arizona and New Mexico before being removed from ministry in February 2009 by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Gallup’s apostolic administrator. Olmsted had learned of Boland’s 1983 arrest in Winslow, Ariz. A grand jury had charged Boland with four misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one felony charge of committing a lewd and lascivious act with a child under the age of 15 (Navajo County Superior Court Docket No. 7708). Under a plea agreement, Boland pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor and prosecutors dropped the other charges. Boland has a number of supporters who believe he was not guilty of sex molestation and believe he was framed by a group of teen boys. However, the Diocese of Gallup has negotiated, or is currently negotiating, confidential, out-of-court settlements with several alleged victims. Boland reportedly returned to his native Ireland in 2010.

James M. Burns: The Gallup Diocese publicly identified Burns as an abuser in 2003. Ordained for the Gallup Diocese in May 1962, Burns’ career spanned more than 30 years, and his assignments sent him to parishes across Northern Arizona and finally to Blanco, N.M. Burns is believed to have abused upwards of several dozen children, mostly boys from devout Hispanic families. In 2004, Superior Court Judge Gloria J. Kindig sentenced Burns to 18 months in prison after one of Burns’ victims filed a complaint with the Winslow Police Department and the County Attorney’s Office prosecuted Burns (Navajo County Superior Court Case No. CR20040417). That same victim also hired the California law firm of Kiesel Boucher & Larson and filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Dec. 24, 2003. Burns died in Wickenburg, Ariz., Aug. 6, 2010. Gallup Bishop James S. Wall allowed Burns to be buried in the predominately Hispanic Catholic cemetery at St. Rose in Blanco.

Santino “Tony” A. Casimano: The Gallup Diocese publicly identified Casimano as an abuser in 2005. Ordained for the Diocese of Gallup in August 1975, Casimano worked just about one year at St. Paul in Crownpoint on the Navajo Nation. By 1978, Casimano received permission to work in California. He later bounced from one Navy chaplain position to another. In 2004, California attorney Katherine K. Freberg filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of two brothers who said Casimano had sexually abused them. According to the Orange County Register, the Diocese of Orange, one of the defendants in the case, eventually paid a $4.2 million settlement to Casimano’s victims. The Diocese of Gallup was also named in the lawsuit. Casimano died Aug. 8, 2005.

Charles “Chuck” Cichanowicz, O.F.M: Cichanowicz is a former Franciscan priest who worked on the Navajo Nation in St. Michaels and Shiprock. He later left the Franciscan priesthood to become a mental health counselor in Indiana. Patrick Noaker, an attorney with Jeff Anderson & Associates of St. Paul, Minn., and attorney William R. Keeler of Gallup, have filed three lawsuits in the Navajo Nation courts on behalf of three Navajo men who say they were sexually abused by Cichanowicz. The first lawsuit was filed in Shiprock District Court in November 2007 (Case No. SR-CV-369-07-CV), and the other two lawsuits were filed in Window Rock District Court on April 15, 2009 and May 11, 2009. The Shiprock judge dismissed the first case, ruling the statue of limitations had expired. Noaker and Keeler have filed an appeal with the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, but at this time all three cases are stalled in the Navajo court system. Cichanowicz’s whereabouts are unknown.

David J. Clark: According to a Feb. 7, 1994, article in the Phoenix Gazette, two brothers filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Gallup in Maricopa County Superior Court in 1993 (Case No. CV1993-026626). The brothers claimed that Clark, a member of the Claretian Missionaries, had sexually abused them in 1959 and 1960, while Clark was working at the Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott, Ariz., which was once a part of the Diocese of Gallup prior to the formation of the Diocese of Phoenix. Clark’s whereabouts are unknown.

Clement A. Hageman: The Gallup Diocese publicly identified Hageman as an abuser in 2005. An alleged victim of Hageman’s is suing the diocese in Arizona’s Coconino County Superior Court (Case No. CV2010-00713). The plaintiff’s attorney, Robert Pastor of Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally, has obtained documents from Hageman’s personnel file that shows the priest abused boys in the Diocese of Corpus Christi in Texas before moving to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and eventually the Diocese of Gallup, where he worked for about 35 years. Pastor has also discovered a trail of Hageman’s abuse victims, mostly Hispanic males, from Holbrook, Winslow and Kingman. Many of the victims have received confidential settlement payouts from the Diocese of Gallup. Hageman died in Winslow in 1975.

Tomorrow: The remaining eight names of known clergy abusers in the Gallup Diocese.

Reporter Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola can be contacted at (505) 863-6811 ext. 218 or


























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