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  HIV-Positive Catholic Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse Dies in North Texas

By Darren Barbee
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

August 14, 2008

http://www.star-telegram.com/northeast/story/831219.html

The Rev. Philip Anthony Magaldi, who was convicted of embezzlement and was accused by two people of separate but similar incidents of sexual abuse, died Tuesday. He was 72.

The priest, who maintained his innocence, had told the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese in February that he was HIV positive. He died in a North Texas healthcare facility, according to a diocese statement.

Bishop Kevin Vann, leader of the Fort Worth diocese, was in the process of having the priest defrocked. In 2006, he barred Magaldi from performing religious services "because of credible allegations of sexual misconduct," according to the statement.

Magaldi was removed from active duties in 1999 by Bishop Joseph P. Delaney after sexual misconduct allegations in Fort Worth and Rhode Island.

He will be cremated and buried with his parents in Florida. Local funeral arrangements are pending, said Pat Svacina, diocese spokesman.

Magaldi had been living in a North Richland Hills assisted living facility. The diocese did not know the cause of his death, but a friend said Magaldiís "heart just gave out."

"We pray for the repose of his soul," the diocese said Wednesday.

Allegations

Magaldi served at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in North Richland Hills.

In 1997, while serving at the parish, Magaldi was accused of paying a young man to give him enemas. He was placed under the supervision of another priest but was allowed by Delaney to continue to serve.

After new allegations that he had paid for enemas and had raped a boy, Magaldiís career effectively ended in 1999. Church officials later learned of additional claims of inappropriate behavior, including visiting Web chat rooms "looking for minors" and possessing "pedophilic material," according to court documents.

Vann has said that Magaldi should have been immediately removed when the first allegation came to light. Magaldi had denied all of the allegations.

Before moving to Fort Worth, Magaldi had been accused of perjury in New England and had served time in a halfway house for embezzling $123,400 from his Rhode Island parish.

Magaldi was also under investigation by the North Richland Hills Police Department in connection with a report made by a man in October 2006 that Magaldi abused him when he was a minor, church officials have said. North Richland Hills Investigator Larry Irving, a police spokesman, said the case was open as of Tuesday but that "due to some circumstances, there wasnít enough to give to the DAís office, so it was never filed."

Reaction

Perhaps something positive will come from Magaldiís death, said David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"I hope that his passing will bring some comfort to those he so deeply wounded," he said.

"I think at some level we should be grateful that late in his life he acknowledged that he was HIV positive, and I hope that prompted some of his victims to get tested," Clohessy said. "If thereís a silver lining, itís that he canít hurt vulnerable children or young adults anymore."

The Rev. Charles King, who served at St. John the Apostle from 1988 to 2000, said he saw no evidence of any inappropriate sexual behavior during the time that he and Magaldi served together.

"He was very personable, very outgoing, easy to work with," said King, now of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denton. "He was a good preacher and very popular with the congregation."

He said Magaldi showed poor judgment with his personal finances and ran up debts, so a parishioner helped him manage his business affairs.

Jerry Koller, who was Magaldiís friend and caretaker, said he always believed that Magaldi was innocent. He said the priest was a caring person.

"He personally loved helping people. He gave to a lot of charities. Iíve seen all that." Koller said. "Right now, itís just between him and the good Lord."

Staff writer Terry Lee Goodrich contributed to this report.

Contact: dbarbee@star-telegram.com

 
 

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