‘It’s an old-boy network’: Survivors feel disgust, vindication after Sun names church officials in abuse cover-ups

Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]

May 8, 2023

By Jean Marbella, Alex Mann and Lee O. Sanderlin

When Brian P. Hannon finally reported to the Baltimore Archdiocese that as a teenager he had been repeatedly raped by a priest in the rectory of a Catonsville church, one of the officials he met with was the Rev. Bruce Jarboe, now a monsignor.

“He’s the one running the show,” Hannon, now 65, recalled of the meeting about 20 years ago. “He was very condescending to me. They acted like I was putting them out.”

When Hannon learned Friday that Jarboe was one of five high-ranking church officials who helped abusive priests escape accountability, but whose names were redacted from the recent Maryland Attorney General’s Office report on decades of clergy child sex abuse in the archdiocese, he wasn’t surprised.

“Disgusting,” Hannon said. “It’s an old-boy network.”

The archdiocese paid for lawyers to argue before a Baltimore judge, successfully as it turns out, that the names should be withheld from the initial public version of the report released last month.

The Baltimore Sun, combing through thousands of pages of court records, archdiocese directories and newspaper articles from the past, determined the names of the men referred to as Officials A, B, C, D and E. The newspaper confirmed its reporting with people with knowledge of their conduct at the time or who are familiar with the report.

The priest who abused Hannon at St. Mark in Catonsville, David G. Smith, pleaded guilty to perverted practice in 2002 in that case and received probation.

Two years before that, Jarboe, called “Official A” in 10 places in the report, had counseled Smith, the report said. The priest told him he wanted to take a leave of absence to receive psychological counseling, and Jarboe suggested he consider a facility that would not “mark him unfairly” in the future.

Jarboe is the pastor of St. Ann Roman Catholic Church in Hagerstown, where he celebrated Mass on Sunday. He made no mention of The Sun’s revelation of him as “Official A,” according to a livestream of the service.

Jarboe will transfer July 1 to Immaculate Conception in Towson as its pastor, according to a March announcement by the archdiocese. Following Mass there Sunday, William Keenan said he would stop worshipping at the parish if that happens.

Keenan said he only started going to Mass again about a year ago, after stepping away from the Catholic Church after learning about other instances of abuse.

He called the findings of the attorney general’s report “disappointing, but not terribly surprising.” He added that while the issue is widespread and systemic, it isn’t necessarily the entire Catholic Church itself.

Keenan said those who committed abuse should face jail time and those who were complicit should be removed from the priesthood. He also said the names uncovered by The Sun should have been publicly shared earlier, and that there should be apologies.

”There can’t be any forgiveness without an apology,” Keenan said.

In the wake of the report, Archbishop William Lori offered his “deepest apology” for “the ways the church did not root out those who would harm children and properly address the grievous harm committed, and above all, for the suffering of each person who has been abused.”

As far as the five officials in the report, they have either declined to comment to The Sun or not responded to interview requests.

The Most Rev. Richard “Rick” Woy, “Official B” in the report, is pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Crofton, and its website appears to show he celebrated Mass on Wednesday. He did not appear to take part in the parish’s livestreamed Mass on Sunday.

Monsignor G. Michael Schleupner is “Official E” in 50 places in the redacted report, including one it calls “illustrative of the role senior members of church leadership played in perpetrating and covering up abuse.” He is assigned to Our Lady of Grace in Parkton. Schleupner was not scheduled to celebrate Mass on Sunday, but is slated to lead Mass on Wednesday, according to the church bulletin.

Mary Vonderheide, a lifelong Catholic, worshipped Sunday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. She said any discipline involving abusive priests or church leaders who covered up abuse should be left to the pope.

“I prayed for those people, because something must have gone wrong,” Vonderheide said, adding that she prayed for victims of abuse and their abusers.

John Farmer III, who converted to Catholicism in 2019, said it’s important not to paint a picture of the Catholic Church with too broad a brush.

“I would make the distinction between the church and people,” he said. “Obviously, the church doesn’t teach that sexual abuse is a good thing.” Farmer said that some individuals made choices “contrary to what the church teaches” and should be dealt with appropriately.

He said whether it comes in the form of apologies, retribution or something else, “everything should be brought to light and there should be repentance for those sins.”

Asked about the identification of the five men as those who were among the most powerful, high-ranking and visible officials in the archdiocese, Democratic Gov. Wes Moore talked Friday about holding people responsible for the pain inflicted on victims and their families.

He said he was proud to sign the Child Victims Act last month to lift a statute of limitations on civil suits by those sexually abused as children.

“The only thing we’ve ever asked for is transparency in this whole process,” Moore said. “We have to increase measures of transparency and accountability of what happened and we have to make sure it actually happens.

“There has to be accountability, and people need to be held to account for actions that were done, regardless of when they were done.”

As well as Hannon, other survivors heralded The Sun’s naming of names.

“It is so affirming. It’s legitimizing,” said Jean Hargadon Wehner, who was featured in the 2017 Netflix documentary “The Keepers,” about the sexual abuse she and her classmates endured as students at the former Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore.

“To have to be found out in this way, they should be ashamed. They should be more than ashamed.”

But the affirmation came with anger for Wehner, who condemned the involvement of Woy and Auxiliary Bishop W. Francis Malooly in the case of Father A. Joseph Maskell.

The redacted version of the report refers to Malooly as “Official C” and describes an Aug. 2, 1996, letter Malooly wrote to Maskell saying he was “pleased” a lawsuit against the priest and the archdiocese might not proceed because of a late filing. Maskell died in 2001.

”I am so upset,” Wehner said, choking up on a call with a reporter. “You have no idea what they put my family through.”

She said church officials put pressure on her and her family to corroborate her abuse claims against Maskell, despite having ample evidence and previous reports from other victims. The report cited multiple instances of unnamed archdiocese officials being dismissive of victims’ accounts of Maskell’s actions.

”They used me instead of helping me,” Wehner said.

Kurt Rupprecht, a survivor and advocate who was abused as a boy on the Eastern Shore, called church officials “fixers” more interested in limiting the archdiocese’s exposure than tending to their flocks.

“They’re not there to be shepherds,” Rupprecht said. “They’re there to be damage control.”

He was incensed at the role played by Malooly, now the retired bishop of the Wilmington, Delaware, archdiocese.

Malooly is named in the original report 122 times, more than the next two most mentioned officials combined. It says he worked with other church leaders to help abusive priests get away with their crimes, either concealing the extent of a priest’s misdeeds or striking deals with prosecutors to avoid a criminal charge.

”It speaks to the proliferation of what was, frankly, the standard practice for generations, for decades,” Rupprecht said.

The Sun also reported that “Official D” in the document was the Most Rev. George B. Moeller.

Kurt Wolfgang, executive director of the Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center, said, “It’s fantastic that all five of those names were exposed, but it got us to having a discussion about how many other enablers in the church hierarchy weren’t exposed in this report. Hopefully, they’ll be exposed, as well.”

Wolfgang said he and his clients are adamant that the names of 10 more people affiliated with the church, who are still alive and were accused of abuse in the report, should also be unredacted.

Thomas Neuberger, an attorney who represented most of the survivors who sued the Wilmington archdiocese in the wake of a 2007 Delaware law opening a two-year window on such claims, said The Sun’s identification of Malooly “confirmed everything I thought.”

Neuberger said he had success in negotiating settlements with Malooly’s predecessor, Bishop Michael Angelo Saltarelli. But the tone changed when Malooly arrived in 2008. Malooly, now bishop emeritus of the Wilmington archdiocese, “was the leader up in Baltimore covering things up for decades.

“And then they sent him up here,” Neuberger said, “because he was experienced in it.”

The Wilmington archdiocese couldn’t be reached for comment.

Baltimore Sun reporters Hayes Gardner, Hannah Gaskill, Cassidy Jensen, Maya Lora, Jonathan M. Pitts and Lia Russell contributed to this article.