Letters Support Catholic Leaders Knew about Priest Abuse Allegations

By Esteban Parra
The News Journal

August 6, 2008

Correspondence between an alleged sexual abuse victim and two priests suggest Catholic leaders knew years ago about allegations against a former Salesianum School priest, who continued to work at other Catholic schools.

The letters contradict Catholic officials’ claims made earlier this week that they were not aware of sex-abuse accusations lodged against the Rev. Dennis Killion until a lawsuit was filed Monday in New Castle County Superior Court. The order of priests to which Killion belongs, Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, issued a press release that day saying Killion had been placed on administrative leave "after learning this morning about a lawsuit alleging abuse by the priest."

"The idea that the first they knew there was a problem here was when we filed this lawsuit ... that is just categorically wrong," said Bartholomew J. Dalton, one of the three lawyers representing the four men suing Killion. "We felt, based on the statements that were made by the Oblates, that we should release at least this part of the case to show that in fact they had knowledge."

According to the suit, the abuse occurred between 1983 and 1987 when Killion was a teacher at the all-boys Catholic high school in Wilmington. The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, based in Wilmington and Philadelphia, allegedly knew about Killion's abuses as early as the 1980s but did nothing about it. The letters released today show correspondence between the alleged victim and Oblates leadership as early as 2002.

Two of the four victims reported their abuse, said John C. Manly, a California attorney representing the men. "They were told he was going to be transferred and to keep quiet."

Killion, who had been working as activities director at a Catholic high school in Florida, recently was assigned to St. Bede the Venerable Parish in Holland, Pa., as associate pastor. The church, which runs a school adjacent the site, announced Killion's assignment Sunday. Cardinal Justin Rigali withdrew the assignment Monday, officials from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said.

Killion had served in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as assistant principal of Archbishop Wood Boys High School in Warminster from 1986-1990, and as a faculty member at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia from 1991 to 2006. The archdiocese said it had not received any allegation against Killion.

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