Bishop Takes Heat in Abuse Case
Victims Group Wants Wenski's Apology in Deltona Priest's Removal

By Kristen Reed
Orlando Sentinel [Orlando FL]
January 19, 2007

A support group for victims of clergy molestation is calling on Orlando's Roman Catholic bishop to apologize for "secrecy and deceit" by not telling parishioners that a Deltona priest was removed from his post because of a sex-abuse investigation.

Leaders at the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests wrote Bishop Thomas Wenski on Thursday criticizing the way the diocese has informed parishioners and the public about the Rev. Carlos Bedoya.

Bedoya, the pastor at St. Clare Catholic Church, was removed in November, and parishioners were told it was to deal with "personal issues." They didn't learn until last week when it was reported in the Orlando Sentinel that Bedoya is being investigated on allegations he helped another man perform a sex act on a 35-year-old man.

Bedoya has not been arrested or charged, and the State Attorney's Office is reviewing the case. It is unknown how long the investigation will take.

"In the face of potentially very harmful criminal behavior, we have two choices: doing nothing or actively trying to help," said David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP. "Wenski, in essence, chose a different path -- that is to deceive people, which is the worst possible course to take."

Wenski could not be reached for comment, his secretary said.

The diocese spokeswoman said it had received the letter but had not yet responded.

"That letter requires thoughtful response," Carol Brinati said. "We do plan on responding to their concerns."

The chancellor confirmed last week that Bedoya was removed because of the allegations and said the diocese was assisting in the investigation as much as it could.

Clohessy said the bishop should apologize to the parish, inform them of the allegations and encourage anyone who has information about the case or may have been abused to come forward.

"Openness in these situations helps everyone," Clohessy said. "Secrecy only helps predators and their supervisors and their enablers."

Brinati said the bishop wrote a letter to St. Clare parishioners that was read at Masses last weekend.

"Given the gravity of the matter, we believed that administrative leave was the proper course of action and, due to the sensitive nature of the allegations and the rights of those involved, would protect the privacy rights of both the alleged victim and Fr. Bedoya," the letter stated. "At the same time, we offered assistance to both the alleged victim and Fr. Bedoya."

The allegations also involve David Estrada, a 24-year-old man who according to a sheriff's report was studying to be a priest. Diocese officials said for the first time Thursday that Estrada is not a seminarian. The victim told police that Bedoya told him Estrada came to the United States to study for the priesthood.

The alleged incidents took place Oct. 4 at Bedoya's home on church property when the victim was invited for lunch, the report states.

Kristen Reed can be reached at or 386-851-7924.


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