Priest Accused of Stealing Nearly $1m from School, Order

December 21, 2007

PHILADELPHIA - Prosecutors said he took advantage of his position to steal huge sums of money. The Rev. Charles Newman was a trusted religious figure who spent nearly 20 years as an educator, principal and president of Archbishop Ryan High School.

Investigators said Thursday that it was through a multiyear investigation into missing money that they uncovered new allegations of drugs, alcohol and sexual abuse.

Newman vowed to live a life of chastity, order and poverty, but Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said the reverend didn't live that life.

"He lived a life of sexual debauchery and lechery, lying, stealing, deception -- a life filled with drugs and alcohol and the sexual abuse of young men," Abraham said.

It was in 2003 when Newman was suddenly dismissed from his post as president of the Catholic high school, which is the largest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

"We don't concern ourselves with why he hasn't been defrocked. We are only going to be answerable for the fact that we're charging him criminally for stealing over $900,000," Abraham said.

A grand jury report that has recently been unsealed alleges that Newman stole $331,000 from the high school scholarship and bingo funds and more than $500,000 from his religious order, the Franciscan Friars.

But in the years since, the district attorney's office and a grand jury launched an investigation that they said uncovered that some of those funds went to pay a former Ryan student Newman is accused of sexually abusing.

Abraham said Newman paid that man more than $50,000.

"He would invite him over to his office and then to the rectory and to his bedroom. And they would engage in sexual misconduct. In addition to that, Newman would give (him) drugs from other friars in the house who were taking medications for illnesses or ailments, and met (him) in bars and paid his bar bills and gave him large sums of money," Abraham said.

The younger man, who claimed Newman introduced him to drugs and alcohol, has since died from a drug overdose.

As for Newman, he's believed to be at a Franciscan Friar retirement home near Green Bay, Wis.

Abraham said she has told Newman's attorney that his client better turn himself in.

"If I had my druthers, I'd get in a car, get my shackles and my handcuffs and lock him up today," Abraham said.

The district attorney's office explained that, because Newman is represented, they must first go through his attorney, request that he turn himself in, and if that doesn't happen then they can go forward with the extradition process.

NBC 10 contacted the retirement home where Newman is believed to be staying, but a supervisor said not to call back again and hung up.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement Thursday afternoon stating that Newman is not a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia but a member of the Franciscan Friars Assumption BVM Province, who was working within the Archdiocese.

Read: Archdiocese Statement

Investigators said they believe Newman might have more victims out there. They do have a number of how many possible victims there could be, but they said that those victims are reluctant to come forward, NBC 10's Deanna Durante reported.


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