Monaghan's " Agitated" Priest on Sexual Molestation

January 16, 2008

UNITED STATES — Could the Diocese of Venice use a priest who appears perpetually "agitated"? That may be what the Diocese gets when Ave Maria School of Law chaplain Fr. Michael Orsi moves with the institution from Michigan to Florida next year.

Chaplain Orsi has used his weekly Saturday radio show, "The Advocate", to put forth some rather controversial statements (see below), all tolerated quite well by the school's Dean Bernard Dobranski. Consider the 2006 rant by Orsi after a bishop from his own Diocese made public the difficult experience of having been sexually molested by a priest as a youth. Background - Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit said that, several times between 1945 and 1946 while in 9th and 10th grade, a priest privately molested him in "wrestling matches" that involved "putting his hand down Gumbleton's pants" (1, 2). Gumbleton revealed the abuse as part a statement to the Ohio House Judiciary Committee in support of a Ohio Senate bill that would have opened a one year window in which victims of sexual abuse could file a lawsuit, even if the abuse took place beyond the normal statute of limitations.

The first voice that you hear in the clip is Chaplain Orsi, AMSL's "Research Fellow in Law & Religion", who is a Catholic priest with a doctorate in Education.

Orsi on Gumbleton abuse - MP3 (43 sec.)

For starters, it is absolutely incorrect to say that Gumbleton "just remembered that he was abused". In the bishop's statement and subsequent interviews, there was no indication that Gumbleton ever forgot. Would you ever forget being 15 or 16 years old and having an adult of the same sex - one that you highly regarded - force his hands down your pants on multiple occasions?

Reasonable people can disagree on the statute of limitations. Fine. But to suggest that Gumbleton is not credible in his own molestation account without any evidence to the contrary is pretty bad for a law school educator, and even worse for a priest. Does he automatically consider every person in their 70's as someone without a credible memory? Orsi will have the opportunity to share that tidbit with the many south Floridians who fit that age.

If he'll publicly belittle a bishop's claim to molestation, how much quicker will he do so to a little person? In the BoysCherries story, look at how the concern and evidence brought to Orsi's attention by his own parishioner was dismissed, and with a backlash to the parishioner. Orsi's flippant "C'mon" in the radio clip is telling, and disturbing, but consistent… consistent with dismissing a sense of obligation to tell Dean Dobranski (until way after the fact) about how he offered Law School IT resources to a priest under investigation by his own diocese and state police for child pornography.

As reported earlier, Dean Dobranski said that Tom Monaghan was informed about these matters. Therefore, based on the lack of sanctions against Orsi, we conclude that Tom Monaghan is comfortable with this kind of behavior by his priests and employees. This is why I, personally, would not trust my children to the management of Tom Monaghan, especially in Monaghan's company town.


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