Wisconsin Priest Who Headed Philadelphia School Accused of Stealing $900k

Associated Press, carried in Appleton Post-Crescent
December 20, 2007

PHILADELPHIA — A Wisconsin priest who once led the largest Roman Catholic high school in Philadelphia stole $900,000 and used some of it to ply a student he had molested with drugs and alcohol, prosecutors said Thursday.

The Rev. Charles Newman became president of Archbishop Ryan High School in July 2002 but was fired 15 months later when questions arose about his handling of school finances.

Forensic audits show he stole $331,000 from the school and more than $500,000 from his religious order, the Franciscan Friars, Dist. Atty. Lynne Abraham said.

Newman, 57, gave $54,000 to former student Arthur Baselice III, who later sued over what he described as a sexual relationship with Newman that started when he was a high school junior. The pair would meet at Newman's office or residence and often used drugs together while having sex, prosecutors said.

Baselice unsuccessfully sued the archdiocese and spoke publicly about the case before dying of a drug overdose on Nov. 30, 2006. He was 28 and had struggled with addiction to cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, according to his lawyer, Jay N. Abramowitch.

The indictment unsealed Thursday charges Newman with six counts of felony theft and one count of felony forgery, the latter stemming from his alleged use of another friar's signature stamp.

The deadline for filing sex-abuse charges in Pennsylvania had passed before Baselice raised the claims.

Prosecutors believe that Newman sexually abused at least three or four other underage students during his time at Archbishop Ryan, where he spent nine years as principal and 13 years as a religion teacher before his promotion to president.

After his dismissal from the school, Newman was sent to a treatment center for priests and now lives at a Franciscan retirement home in Pulaski, where he remains a restricted member of the clergy, authorities said.

Abraham's office will seek to extradite him to Philadelphia in the coming days.

It was not immediately clear if he had retained a criminal lawyer. A message left in the general mailbox of the Assumption Friary in Pulaski was not immediately returned Thursday.


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