Documents Give inside Look to FW Diocese

By Brad Watson
WFAA [Fort Worth TX]
November 28, 2006

Despite years of battling by the Fort Worth Catholic Diocese's attorneys, hundreds of pages of documents that contain information on how leaders dealt with allegations of sexual abuse against several priests were released Tuesday.

The documents released include internal notes, memos, letters and e-mails created and maintained by diocese leaders.

The priests accused of sexual abuse served under Bishop Joseph Delaney (above), who died in 2005.
Photo by The DMN / File

A judge presiding over one of the abuse cases released the 700 pages of documents, which show a diocese in turmoil and leaders agonizing over what to do over the allegations. It also reveals steps some took to mislead the public and keep the accused priests working.

The lawsuits against the Fort Worth Catholic Diocese covered six priests accused of sexual misconduct, some of which were allegedly against children.

The result decades later, said one abuse victim who is one of 11 former altar boys who settled a suit against the Rev. James Reilly, is continued pain.

After allegations surfaced against Reilly in 1994, the documents show Bishop Joseph Delaney didn't want to pursue them in hopes the complainant would "simply let it go." However, allegations kept coming, and more priests were added to the list of alleged sexual abusers.

The pastor of Saint Patrick Cathedral, William Hoover, quit in 1995 after admitting an incident involving a minor boy.

But one memo showed Delaney wanted to put off an announcement until Hoover was in therapy, writing "if the accuser is not insistent on getting money, it may work."

Serious sex abuse allegations were made against the Rev. Philip Magaldi.

"I never raped anybody or forced anybody to do anything sexually with me," Magaldi said while pressed by Delaney in an interview document.

But a frustrated Delaney said worried about the information going public.

"There would be no defense," he said during the interview. "You can get up and say forever it's not true, but I couldn't get up and say it's not true."

The attorney who brought the lawsuit regarding Reilly called the documents a rare glimpse into the diocese.

"These documents show us a pattern and practice consistent with other diocese across the US of covering up these matters," said attorney Tahira Khan-Merritt.

Kevin Vann, the current bishop, didn't have any comment Tuesday. Delaney, Hoover and Reilly are all dead. Magaldi and the other priests in the lawsuits all declined comment or couldn't be found.

The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report


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