Priest's Web Site Role Scrutinized // Internet : a Catholic Order Is Investigating Involvement in Wrestling Sites, Donations.

By Barbara Kingsley
Orange County Register
June 1, 2002

A Catholic order of missionary priests is investigating a former Orange County priest's involvement in two wrestling Web sites featuring thinly clad young men.

The Chicago-based Claretian Missionaries is investigating the Rev. James Curran's involvement in the Web sites and in charitable funds created ostensibly to help a young Lake Forest man who suffered severe brain injuries in a 1994 auto accident.

One of the Web sites showed young wrestlers and sold wrestling videos for $20.

"It's not something a priest should be involved in," said Richard Leamy, an attorney representing the Claretians. "That's why we're looking into this."

Leamy said he knew of no misconduct by Curran. "It seems like it was bad judgment."

The young man, Tomas Mejia, a star cross-country athlete at El Toro High, was paralyzed and remains severely disabled. The family has no insurance.

The site, run by the Junior Professional Wrestling Association, shut down this week. It showed photos of young wrestlers in various holds and clinches.

Some of the names included "Savage," "Baci d'Morte," "Hardkore Kid" and "Corporal Punishment."

The association was founded by the Rev. Glenn Michael Davidowich of St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine in Mont Clare, Pa.

Curran met Davidowich in about 1997 and told him of Mejia's plight.

Davidowich offered to help, according to Leamy.

However, Curran stopped taking contributions from the site after questioning the nature of its photos, Leamy said.

According to papers filed with the state, Curran set up his own site, Con Ganas ("with gusto"), which featured young wrestlers baring their muscles.

That site also sold wrestling videos, promising that the "commentary is as caustic as the action is ruthless." It also had an extensive account of Mejia's injuries and struggle to recover. That site was shut down last year, according to a farewell notice, "while we consider more cost-efficient ways of accomplishing our original purpose."

The Mejia family members, who have devoted themselves to around-the-clock care for Tomas, say they don't know what money they may have received.

But Leamy said he has been told by Curran's attorney that the Mejia family's vendors and creditors have been directly paid through proceeds from the sites.

The Claretians are also investigating whether charitable donations have actually gone to the family, Leamy said. "Father Curran was trying to do a good thing," Leamy said. "He was trying to set up a fund so the family would be able to take care of this boy's injuries." He said Curran was fully cooperating with the investigation.

Curran came to Orange County in 1994 working as a hospital chaplain. He was assigned to St. Joseph's in Placentia in 1997 and left to return to his order in 2001. He is now associate pastor with a church in Stone Mountain, Ga.

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