In push to withhold names from Maryland AG report, accused Catholic priests respond to allegations of abuse, cover-up

Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]

August 25, 2023

By Lee O. Sanderlin

When a city judge called for “more transparency, not less,” it was in reference to his decision to reveal 43 blacked-out names in a Maryland attorney general’s report on the history of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.

But it also applies to the inclusion in his opinion of some of the arguments those individuals made against being named publicly. Their contentions provide for the first time, in some cases, their comments on the allegations made against them.

The nearly four dozen names still concealed in the public version of the report include those of five high-ranking clerics who had a central role in handling abuse allegations over nearly half a century, as well as 10 of the people accused of abusing children.

While their names were redacted in the report released in April, The Baltimore Sun has since reported their identities. Many of the 15 declined to defend themselves from the allegations publicly — even as some stepped down from prominent positions, went on leave or had a work assignment changed.

Within Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert Taylor’s opinion, however, arguments he cited from some of them provided their responses — and possibly defenses they may offer in the future against liability: They didn’t do the thing they were accused of, or at least not as it’s laid out in the attorney general’s report.

For example, the senior officials identified in the report as Official C and Official E told Taylor that before 1993, it wasn’t certain whether they had to report abuse accusations to authorities if an adult reported something that happened to them as a child. That year, an attorney general’s opinion made clear that there was an obligation to report all accusations of child sexual abuse.

Even after that, other cases of abuse were mishandled in the late 1990s or kept under wraps. After The Boston Globe in 2002 revealed the scope of clerical sexual abuse in Boston, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops overhauled the guidelines for dealing with allegations. As opposed to covering up allegations and shuffling problem priests from parish to parish, the Baltimore archdiocese says it now reports every allegation to authorities.

The Sun identified Official C as Bishop W. Francis Malooly, who eventually became head of the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, and is now retired. Official E is Monsignor G. Michael Schleupner, who served in various senior roles within the archdiocese. Malooly told a Sun reporter in May that he “would say something, just not at this time.”

Monsignor Richard ‘Rick’ Woy, or Official B, argued the report mischaracterized his actions and he “properly investigated and reported actionable reports of abuse that he learned of,” Taylor wrote.

The attorney general’s office report described how in 2005, Woy defended a priest accused of giving alcohol to children and abusing them at his cabin. Woy, the report said, told fellow church officials he had been to the cabin and saw neither alcohol nor children. The priest pleaded guilty to child abuse in 2010 and registered as a sex offender.

“To the extent that these officials contend that their behavior was blameless, or at least justified under the circumstances, they are free to press that claim in a public manner,” Taylor wrote in response to their arguments. “To continue to hide their identities does not advance that interest in public discourse; just the opposite. It allows the most negative possible inferences to be drawn, while continuing to shroud this troubling history in secrecy.”

As to the 10 alleged abusers whose names remain shielded, for now, not all of them opposed publication. Those who did typically denied the allegation and said that naming them publicly would ruin their reputations.

Frank Cimino Jr., No. 147 in the report’s “List of Abusers,” told the court that naming him would harm his “constitutional liberty” to his “reputation” and would be unconstitutional.

The attorney general’s office wrote in its report that Cimino was fired in 1987 from his role as choir director of St. Thomas More in Baltimore after he was accused of molesting a choirboy a decade earlier. Cimino went on to found the Maryland State Boychoir, from which he resigned in May as president after The Sun revealed his identity in the report.

To Taylor, Cimino described the allegations as “hearsay” and inadmissible as evidence in court. Taylor responded that arguing over admissible evidence misses “the point entirely,” as the report is not a trial and the rules of evidence don’t apply.

Another alleged abuser, Father Samuel Lupico, designated No. 152 in the report, argued his name shouldn’t be public because only one person made an allegation against him and it wasn’t corroborated. However, there are two allegations against Lupico, according to the attorney general’s office, and the archdiocese suspended him from active ministry in January 2022.

Taylor’s Aug. 16 order, made public Tuesday, give the five high-ranking officials, 10 accused priests and 28 other church officials who he said should now be named an opportunity to appeal. Otherwise, the attorney general’s office will be able to name all but three people in the report as early as Sept. 26.