2 Catholic orders name 65 priests accused or convicted of abuse; 27 served in Arizona

azcentral [Tysons Corner VA]

June 19, 2019

By Lauren Castle

Two Catholic religious orders recently released lists naming 65 clergy accused of sexual abuse against minors dating back decades; 27 of the men served in Arizona.

The newly released information comes as American bishops met this week in Baltimore for a conference that focused on how to respond to the church’s sex-abuse crisis, which has increasingly caught the attention of state prosecutors across the U.S.

The Franciscan Friars of the Province of Saint Barbara, based in Oakland, California, released its list of credible abuse claims in late May. The claims stretch as far back as the 1930s, and the most recent claim is from the 1980s. More than two dozen on the list had assignments in Arizona, from St. Mary’s in Phoenix to St. Xavier del Bac near Tucson. Most of the accused have long since died. 

In a letter, Father David Gaa, provincial minister for the Franciscan Friars of Saint Barbara, said the list is a commitment to transparency and accountability. “The victims, their families, and the People of God deserve transparency,” the letter says. 

A Catholic religious order that founded University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College in Indiana released a list of credible sex abuse claims involving minors on Wednesday. The Congregation of Holy Cross’ list dates back to the 1940s.

Two of the accused clergy served in Phoenix. 

“Over the last two decades, but particularly in the last year, we have all become more aware of the problem of sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church and its mishandling,” Rev. William Lies, the provincial superior of the order, said in a letter published with the list

“I share your frustration, anger and sadness at these revelations. I also share your desire for transparency and healing,” the letter says.

The Diocese of Phoenix, which began publishing its list of credible abuse claims against clergy seven years ago, issued a statement that it is reviewing both lists. 

Bishop Thomas Olmsted and the Phoenix diocese, in the statement, urged anyone who has been a victim of abuse to call a local law-enforcement agency. 

Scrutiny grows across the country

Abuse in the Roman Catholic church gathered greater scrutiny with the release of a Pennsylvania Attorney General’s grand jury report last year.

More than 300 “predator priests” molested more than 1,000 children in six dioceses across Pennsylvania for more than six decades, according to the report.

“Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing: They hid it all,” the report says.

The Pennsylvania report spurred prosecutors across the U.S. to investigate abuse claims in the church. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests points out on its website that many states have set up hotlines for victims to report clergy abuse. Arizona is not among them.  

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office would not comment on possible action but encouraged victims to report abuse to law enforcement. 

“Anyone who abuses a child needs to be held accountable, no matter how long ago the abuse took place,” Katie Conner, an AG’s Office spokeswoman, told The Arizona Republic

Clergy abuse in Arizona has been investigated before. In 2003, then-Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley headed an investigation that led to six criminal indictments of priests and countless lawsuits.

Former Bishop Thomas O’Brien, then the leader of the Diocese of Phoenix, was granted immunity from prosecution after admitting his part in cover-ups. He eventually acknowledged some 50 priests and church staff were accused of abuse over the years and that the diocese had paid millions to settle lawsuits. 

The diocese agreed with Romley to appoint a curator to oversee internal church investigations and to provide nearly $700,000 for treatment for victims.

O’Brien resigned within weeks of the settlement after being arrested for a fatal hit-and-run accident. He was convicted and sentenced to probation, living in a church-owned house in Phoenix until his death last year.  

A civil lawsuit accusing O’Brien of abuse had been filed in 2017, but was dismissed after his death. Other lawsuits against priests who served in Arizona continue.  

Diocese of Phoenix weighs in

The Diocese of Phoenix began publishing lists of priests accused or convicted of abusing children in 2012. There are 39 names on current lists, whether diocese priests or those from other religious orders who served in the area.  

The diocese sends community notifications when new lists, such as those from the Franciscan and Holy Cross orders, are released. 

The diocese has made strides to fulfill its promise to protect children, educate the community and provide healing to those who have been abused, said Robert DeFrancesco, spokesman for the diocese.

The diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection provides healing Masses, referrals for counseling, spiritual direction and facilitates meetings with Bishop Olmsted. 

The local diocese surveyed parishioners last fall in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, many who said they were angry, embarrassed, confused and disgusted.

Most of the 1,600 respondents were active Catholics who said the recent abuse scandals have not led them to question their faith, although less-active parishioners questioned their faith more based on the recent developments, according to the survey highlights released in February.

“In light of recent abuse scandals, now is an important time for the Church to recall what has been learned, to keep in prayer those who are victims, and to recommit ourselves to vigilance in our Catholic community to protect our children from the evils of abuse,” DeFrancesco said. 

50 names on the Franciscan list

Half of the 50 friars on the Franciscan list had served in Arizona.

Two already were on the Phoenix diocese list, including Louis Ladenburger, who was convicted of sex crimes against children.  

Ladenburger served in the area from 1965-1967 and 1992-1993 at St. Mary High School in Phoenix, the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix and St. Joan of Arc Parish in Phoenix. 

Allegations of abuse against Ladenburger from 1973-1974 were reported in 1984 and 2018, according to the Franciscan Friars. 

He left the order in 1996.

Less then 10 years later, the Phoenix Diocese alerted the community about his arrest. He was accused in 2007 of molesting two teenage boys while working as a school counselor in Bonner County, Idaho.

Others listed who served in Arizona include: 

  • Dennis Duffy: Served at San Carlos in Whiteriver from 1971-1973 and St. Francis in Whiteriver from 1975-1980. Alleged abuse happened in 1975. Abuse reported in 1990. Removed from ministry in 1990. 
  • Felipe Baldonado: Served at St. Mary’s in Phoenix from 1949-1950 and Sacred Heart in Phoenix from 1964-1967. Alleged abuse happened in 1959. Abuse reported in 2003. Died in 2003. 
  • Samuel Cabot: Served at Casa de Paz y Bien Retreat in Scottsdale from 1954-1956. Alleged abuse happened from 1977-1985. Abuse reported in 2002. Died in 2019. 
  • Camillus Cavagnaro: Served at Native American missions across Arizona from 1947-1961 and 1985-1986, San Solano Missions in Topowa and Sells from 1964-1971 and 1973-1978, St. Francis Mission in Whiteriver from 1978-1984, San Carlos in 1984, St. Mary’s in Phoenix from 1984-1985, San Xavier del Bac near Tucson from 2002-2005 and 2006-2007 and lived in an elder care facility in Arizona from 2007 to 2010. Alleged abuse happened from 1962-1965. Abuse reported in 2004. Died in 2011. 
  • Mario Cimmarrusti: Served at Immaculate Conception (St. Mary’s) in Phoenix from 1957-1958. Alleged abuse happened from 1962-1969. Abuse reported in 1993 and 2004. Died in 2013. 
  • Berard Connolly: Served at San Xavier del Bac near Tucson from 1988 to 1993. Alleged abuse happened from 1960-1963 and 1982-1984. Abuse reported in 1993, 2003, 2004 and 2014. Died in 1999. 
  • Owen da Silva: Served at St. Mary’s in Phoenix from 1940 – 1943 and Casa de Paz y Bien Retreat in Scottsdale from 1952-1957 and 1964-1966. Alleged abuse happened from 1936-1937. Abuse reported in 2004. Died in 1967. 
  • Kevin Dunne: Served at Casa de Paz y Bien in Scottsdale from 1953-1955, San Xavier del Bac near Tucson from 1995-1997 and St. Mary’s in Phoenix. Alleged abused happened from from 1970-1973. Abuse reported in 1993. Died in 2010. 
  • Adrian Furman: Served at San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, St. Mary’s in Phoenix from 1964-1966 and lived in an elder care facility in Phoenix from 2001-2002. Alleged abuse happened from 1959-1965. Abuse reported in 2002 and 2010. Died in 2003. 
  • Martin Gates: Served at Sacred Heart in Phoenix from 1966-1971. Alleged abuse happened from 1970-1989. Abuse reported in 1993 and 1995. Died in 2000. 
  • Gavin Griffith: Served at St. Mary’s in Phoenix from 1966-1979 and Franciscan Renewal Center from 1979-1987. Alleged abuse happened from 1979-1985. Abuse reported in 1987. Died in 2017. 
  • Gus Hootka: Served in Parker from 1954-1955. Alleged abuse happened from 1956-1957. Abuse reported in 2018. Died in 2007. 
  • Conan Lee: Served in St. Mary’s in Phoenix from 1944-1947. Alleged abuse happened from 1957-1961. Abuse reported in 2010. Died in 1978. 
  • Mark Liening: Served in St. Mary’s in Phoenix in 1942, 1943-1944, 1945-1947, 1950-1951, 1964-1966 and 1974 – 1979, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix in 1943, San Carlos from 1953-1955 and Covered Wells in 1964. Alleged abuse happened from 1943-1944. Abuse reported in 2007. Died in 1985. 
  • Finbar Kenneally: Served at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix from 1950-1953. Alleged abuse happened from 1962-1964. Abuse reported in 1991. Died in 1991. 
  • Sylvester Mancuso: Served in San Carlos from 1950 to 1951, Parker from 1955-1958, St. Peter’s in Bapchule from 1958-1964, St. Francis in Whiteriver from 1964-1971, Native American missions across Arizona from 1973-1978. Alleged abuse happened in 1961 and in the 1970s. Abuse reported in 1999 and 2004. Died in 1979. 
  • Bede McKinnon: Served at Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale from 1983-1985 and 1994. Alleged abuse happened from 1978-1979. Abuse reported in 2010. Died in 1998. 
  • Claude Riffel: Served at St. Mary’s in Phoenix from 1945-1946. Alleged abuse from 1962-1965. Abuse reported in 2009. Died in 1977. 
  • Remy Rudin: Served in Topawa from 1950-1951, 1955-1960 and 1985-1989, Cowlic from 1951-1955. Alleged abuse happened in 1965-1975. Abuse reported in 2004 and 2017. Died in 1991. 
  • Ramon Varela: Served in Native American missions across the state from 1949-1955, St. Peter’s in Bapchule in 1962-1963, Sacred Heart from 1963-1967 and 1979. Alleged abuse happened from 1949-1979. Abuse reported in 1994. Died in 2002. 
  • Santiago Alamaguer: Served at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Guadalupe in 1978. Alleged abuse happened in 1978. Abuse reported in 1979. Returned to Mexico Province in 1979. 
  • Edward Henriques: Served at St. John’s in Laveen from 1946-1956. Alleged abuse happened in 1949 and 1963. Abuse reported in 1949 and 2005. Left the order in 1965. 
  • Charles “Jude” Ruetten: Served at St. John’s in Komatke in 1960-1963. Alleged abuse happened in 1963. Abuse reported in 1993. Left the order in 1967. 
  • Jorge Ortiz Lopez: His time in Arizona is not noted on the Franciscans’ list, but the Phoenix diocese list mentions time at Sacred Heart in Phoenix and that the Franciscans removed him from ministry in 2003. The Franciscan list notes he died in 2004. Alleged abuse happened in 1975 and 1976. 

Many of the claims occurred during the years the men were in Arizona, although the information does not say where alleged abuse occurred.  

The Franciscan Friars said if anyone believes the list should be updated, they can contact its Victims Assistance Coordinator at 1-800-770-8013. 

Some on the Franciscans’ list were already known as they have faced lawsuits from abuse victims.

2 with Arizona ties on the Holy Cross list

The list released by the Congregation of Holy Cross provides the locations and dates of where the priests served and the locations of the alleged abuse. The list also provides how many abuse claims a person has against him and the years the claim occurred. 

Out of the 15 names on the list, two have connections to Arizona.  

  • John Fitzgerald: Served at Andre House in Phoenix. Location of alleged abuse was in Illinois in the 1970s. Abuse reported in 1992. Removed from ministry in 1992. Left the order in 1997. 
  • Paul LeBrun: Served at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tolleson and St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Goodyear. Multiple allegations made in Indiana and Arizona from 1980s-1990s. Abuse reported in 2000. Permanently removed from ministry in 2000. Dismissed from Holy Cross in 2007. 

LeBrun was already listed by the Phoenix diocese.

LeBrun is incarcerated in Florence after being sentenced to 111 years in prison in 2006 for sexually abusing six children in the West Valley between 1986 and 1989.  

Anyone with information about the list can contact the Congregation of Holy Cross’ victim assistance coordinator at 574-631-1126.