B. The evidence provides many examples that help illustrate the
patterns of abuse.
It was Fr. Brzyski who told his victims that their parents knew and approved of his sexual abuse of their sons. The 6'5", 220-pound priest told this to a devout 12-year-old boy, "Sean," (the names of victims have been changed in this Report) whom he began anally raping in 1984. Sean, now a grown man, told the Jurors:
Father Bryzski had started the abuse when Sean was 10 or 11 years old - fondling the boy's genitals and rubbing his own against the child in the corner of the sacristy where the altar boys dressed. Sean estimated that Fr. Brzyski molested him "a couple of hundred times." The abuse progressed from fondling to oral sex to anal rape.
Sean testified that he was scared, but he was devout. He believed that to say anything bad about a priest was a mortal sin, and that he would go to Hell if he told. So he said nothing, and continued to suffer the abuse even as its severity increased. His parents expressed pleasure that he was spending time with the priest. The abuse continued for seven or eight years.
Another of Fr. Brzyski's victims, "Billy," told the Grand Jury that his deepest wish was to return to who he had been before the priest first thrust his hands down the 11-year-old's pants. He wanted God back, and his parents, and the joy of celebrating Easter and Christmas. He wanted to believe in Heaven and morality. He described how Fr. Brzyski's abuse had "turned this good kid into this monster." He began to think of himself as two different people. He told the Jurors:
The Archdiocese files had the names of 11 boys who had been reported
as victims of Fr. Brzyski. Three of his victims who testified before the
Grand Jury provided names of still others they knew of. Sean told Jurors
that he saw as many as a hundred photographs of boys, ages 13 to 16, many
of them nude, which Fr. Brzyski kept in a box in his bedroom. One of the
pictures was of Sean.
A top aide to Cardinal Bevilacqua described Father Nicholas Cudemo to the Grand Jury as "one of sickest people I ever knew." This priest raped an 11-year-old girl. He molested a 5th grader in the confessional. He invoked God to seduce and shame his victims. He maintained sexually abusive relationships simultaneously with several girls from the Catholic school where he was a teacher. His own family accused him of molesting his younger cousins.
Complaints of Fr. Cudemo's sexual abuse of adolescent girls began in 1966, with a letter to Cardinal Krol describing a three-year "affair" between the priest, then in his first assignment, and a junior at Lansdale Catholic High School. More allegations followed in 1968 and 1977, the latter alerting the Archdiocese to another long-term sexual relationship with a schoolgirl, and her possible pregnancy.
Father Cudemo began abusing another girl, "Ruth," in the late 1960s when she was 9 or 10 years old. When she was 11, he began to rape her. He would then hear her confession. He convinced the child that she could not survive without him, and that only through her confession was she worthy of God's love. When Ruth became pregnant at age 11 or 12, he took her for an abortion. He abused her until she was 17. She has suffered severely ever since.
Father Cudemo taught at three high schools—Bishop Neumann, Archbishop
Kennedy, and Cardinal Dougherty—being transferred each time because
of what were recorded in Archdiocese files as "particular friendships"
with girls. He was then recycled through five parishes, and twice promoted
by Cardinal Bevilacqua to serve as a parish pastor. The Grand Jury heard
of at least 16 victims.
Father Gerard Chambers was accused of molesting numerous altar boys, and of anally and orally raping at least one, during 40 years as a priest in the Archdiocese. Beginning in 1994, four of his victims came forward to the Archdiocese to talk about their abuse. (The victims were from his 14th and 15th assignments—Saint Gregory, in West Philadelphia; and Seven Dolors, in Wyndmoor.) One victim, "Benjamin," told the Archdiocese that Fr. Chambers plied him with alcohol and cigarettes and then abused him, "hugging, kissing, masturbating" him and engaging in "mutual fondling of the genitals." This happened in the church sacristy, at Fr. Chambers' sister's house, and in the priest's car.
Another victim, "Owen," has tried to commit suicide and has been institutionalized at a state mental hospital. Father Chambers anally and orally raped him when he was 12 years old. Owen was, and continues to be, especially devout. He suffers delusions because he cannot reconcile his faith in the Church with what happened to him. Two of his brothers, "George" and "Francis," were also victims of Fr. Chambers and are still haunted by their abuse more than 40 years later. They described to the Grand Jury how the abuse ruined their family—each boy withdrawing and suffering in silence, even though they knew, they said, on some level, that Fr. Chambers was abusing them all. They could not tell their parents, who taught them to be in "awe" of priests. Rather than confide in anyone, George said they just "stuffed it down." But he began drinking at age 13, and still suffers from serious depression.
The victims named several other boys from Saint Gregory whom the priest
had abused. One of the brothers testified that he believed Chambers "sexually
abused every altar boy and quite frequently those who weren't altar boys."
Father Stanley Gana also sexually abused countless boys in a succession of parishes. One victim, "John," who testified before the Grand Jury, had gone to Fr. Gana in 1977 because the then-14-year-old had been sexually abused by a family friend. Father Gana used his position as a counselor and the ruse of therapy to persuade the boy to have physical contact with him. This "therapy" slowly progressed to full-fledged sexual abuse, involving genital touching, masturbation, and oral and anal sodomy. It continued for more than five years. Father Gana abused John in the rectory, at a house at the New Jersey Shore, on trips, and at the priest's weekend house in the Poconos. Often there were several boys involved in a weekend or on a trip, and Fr. Gana would have them take turns coming into his bed. Sometimes he would have sex with John and another boy, "Timmy," at the same time.
Father Gana abused Timmy for nearly six years, beginning in 1980, when the boy was 13. The priest ingratiated himself with Timmy's parents. He was a frequent dinner guest and he often brought gifts to the family. He hired Timmy to work in the rectory, took him on trips with John and other boys to Niagara Falls and Disney World, and for weekends to the Poconos. Timmy's parents pressured their son to spend time with Fr. Gana and constantly told Timmy that he should be grateful for all the priest did for him. Timmy found it impossible to avoid or report his abuse. He knew that his parents' view of priests could not be reconciled with his reality—the obese priest pushing the boy's scrawny, undeveloped body across a rectory bed so that his face was pressed against the carpet, ignoring the boy's cries of pain, and forcibly penetrating him anally.
Timmy was sure his parents would not believe him.
In 1992, training to become a priest himself and in his final year of
seminary, Timmy told Cardinal Bevilacqua's Secretary for Clergy, William
Lynn, and another aide about his years of abuse by Fr. Gana. But, after
hearing from the seminary dean that he thought Timmy "might sue the
diocese for pedophilia," Cardinal Bevilacqua ordered an investigation—of
the seminarian. The probe failed to prove any wrongdoing on Timmy's part,
but the Cardinal refused to allow the victim to complete his studies and
forced him to seek ordination outside the diocese. Father Gana remained
an active priest in the Archdiocese until 2002.
The Secret Archives file (where the Archdiocese, in accordance with Canon law, recorded complaints of sexual abuse by priests) for Father Kostelnick contained numerous reports that he sexually fondled young girls. The reported incidents spanned 32 years, beginning in 1968, when he fondled the genitals and breasts of three sisters, ages 6 to 13 years old, as he showed slides to their parents in the family's darkened living room.
The three sisters also reported, in 2002, that Fr. Kostelnick had fondled their other sister as she lay in traction in a hospital following an automobile accident in 1971. They said the injured girl had to ring for the nurse to stop her molestation.
In 1987, Fr. Kostelnick was reported to the police for fondling an 8-year-old girl in an offensive manner.
Cardinal Bevilacqua learned of additional complaints in 1988 and 1992,
yet he allowed the priest to continue as pastor of Saint Mark parish in
Bristol. The priest admitted in 2004 to the Archdiocese Review Board that
his "longstanding habit" of "fondling the breasts of young
girls" continued after these victims' complaints were ignored in
1992. In 1997, Cardinal Bevilacqua honored the serial molester at a luncheon
at the Cardinal's house and set him loose as a senior priest in a new
parish, Assumption B.V.M. in Feasterville. By the time Fr. Kostelnick
was finally removed from ministry in 2004 (after Cardinal Bevilacqua's
tenure had ended), the Archdiocese had heard reports about at least 18
At Saint Monica parish in South Philadelphia, Fr. Leneweaver named a group of altar boys whom he abused the "Philadelphia Rovers" and had T-shirts made up for them. He took the 11- and 12-year-olds on outings and, when he was alone with them, he molested them. He anally raped at least one boy. He repeatedly pulled another out of class at the parish grade school, took him to the school auditorium, forced the boy to bend over a table, and rubbed against him until the priest ejaculated. Another time in his rectory bedroom, Fr. Leneweaver pulled the boy's pants down, smeared lubricant on his buttocks, and thrust his penis against the boy's backside. Each time the priest's crimes were reported to the Archdiocese, he admitted his offenses. By 1975, he had confessed to homosexual activity with at least seven named children with whom he was "seriously involved." He told Archdiocese officials of others he was involved with "in an incidental fashion."
Cardinal Krol transferred this chronic abuser four times after learning of his admitted abuses. Predictably, Fr. Leneweaver continued to abuse boys in his new parishes. When he finally requested a leave from ministry in 1980, Cardinal Krol wrote a notation on a memo to his Chancellor:
While this note shows that the Cardinal understood the compulsive nature
of pedophilia and knew the likelihood that Fr. Leneweaver would abuse
boys wherever he was assigned, the parents of his victims could not imagine
such abhorrent behavior from a priest. They could not have conceived of
the truth—that Fr. Leneweaver had been transferred to Saint Monica
after admitting to the abuse of another boy at a previous assignment.
The father of one victim beat his son until he was unconscious when the
boy tried to report Fr. Leneweaver's actions. The devout father, trusting
priests and the Church more than his son, repeated as he beat the boy,
"priests don't do that."
Father Martins was a Brazilian pediatrician and religious-order priest who came to the Archdiocese in 1978. In May 1984, he was assigned as an assistant pastor at Incarnation of Our Lord in North Philadelphia. On a Saturday afternoon in early February 1985, he invited a 12-year-old altar boy, "Daniel," up to his rectory bedroom to watch television, ordered the boy to undress, and anally raped him.
Daniel, now a Philadelphia police officer, testified that as he cried out in pain, the priest kept insisting: "Tell me that you like it." Daniel told the Grand Jury that he saw blood and was terrified. When the priest was done, he gave Daniel a puzzle as a present and told the boy to get dressed and leave.
Daniel, who had an unhappy home life and an abusive stepfather, went down to the church and cried. A young priest he considered a friend, Fr. Peter Welsh, saw him and asked what happened. After Daniel finished telling him, Fr. Martins entered and approached the two. Father Welsh then left the boy, took Fr. Martins' confession, and never returned to talk to the boy.
A few days later, Daniel confided in his lay math teacher at the parish grade school. The teacher was horrified and immediately informed the pastor, Fr. John Shelley. The teacher also encouraged Daniel to tell his parents. Frightened that he might be beaten if he told his mother and stepfather, Daniel asked Fr. Welsh to go with him to tell them. Father Welsh said he was busy. The pastor, who should have reported the boy's rape to police, or at least to his parents, also refused to accompany the boy to his house. Daniel finally got up the nerve to tell his mother. At her urging, he called the police.
The next day, when Daniel went to the church—as he did everyday
to be with his friends—Fr. Shelley told him that he was not welcome
anymore. The 12-year-old victim of a brutal anal rape by a priest was
no longer allowed to be an altar boy. As word circulated, children at
school called him a "faggot" and laughed as they said, "Ah,
you got fucked in the ass." Even a teacher, Sister Maria Loyola,
he said, started referring to him in class as "Daniella," prompting
the class to laugh. When he asked her to stop calling him that, she gave
him a demerit.
Father David Sicoli
[This was an excerpt from Section II of the Philadelphia grand jury report.
See also the full report.]
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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