Another Local Priest Accused of Sex Abuse

By Jeff Tucker
The Pueblo Chieftain
March 19, 2010

A new lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo alleges the former director of youth services for the diocese was a sexual predator.

The suit, filed by former Puebloan John Yengich, claims that Rev. Daniel Maio sexually abused him dozens of times from 1968 to 1969.

The suit claims Yengich suffered greatly from the abuse, including severe depression, isolation, drug and alcohol abuse and thoughts of self-mutilation. The suit claims the Pueblo diocese took steps to conceal the abuse and Maio's propensity for committing it.

Yengich is asking for damages in excess of $1 million.

"We strongly believe the Diocese of Pueblo had known for a very long time about Father Maio abusing children," Yengich's attorney, Adam Horowitz, said. "At the time, he was assigned to work with children for the entire diocese. He was in a position of direct contact with children and (with) the least supervision."

Monsignor Mark Plewka of the Pueblo diocese said Thursday that the diocese had been informed of the lawsuit but he could not comment because it had not received a copy of the civil complaint.

Once it does, the diocese will begin its own investigation of the claim, Plewka said.

"The bishop of Pueblo expresses his concern and regret for the pain experienced by the victims of sexual abuse," Plewka said.

Plewka said Maio was ordained in 1966 in Pueblo and left the priesthood in the spring 1974 after requesting to work at his family's printing shop in Colorado Springs.

He died in 2006 in Colorado Springs.

According to the lawsuit, Yengich, now 57 and living in Northern

California, first met with Maio as a confused 15-year-old in 1968.

The suit claims that Yengich met with Maio at the suggestion of a friend after Yengich became confused about his sexuality.

The suit claims Yengich viewed priests as "next to God."

According to the complaint, Maio met with Yengich, they talked and Maio took him to dinner.

According to court documents, that night Maio told Yengich to call his parents and inform them he was staying overnight at the priest's rectory apartment located in St. Patrick Church.

The suit alleges Maio then invited Yengich into his bed and molested him.

The sexual abuse continued for the next year and a half and included fondling, masturbation, oral sex and sodomy, the suit alleges.

The suit claims that on several occasions Maio would hold parties for groups of boys, including Yengich, and the boys were given marijuana and alcohol.

The suit claims at one such party Maio and the boys played strip poker and other games.

The suit also claims Maio abused Yengich during a weekend trip when Maio took a group of boys to a mountain cabin owned by then-Bishop Charles Buswell.

The Yengich suit is the first to name Maio as an alleged abuser, but Horowitz thinks there are more to come.

In a press release, Horowitz noted that Maio was in a supervisory role over another accused priest, Rev. Andrew Burke, who killed himself in 2005 after the diocese received an allegation that he sexually abused a child.

The new lawsuit comes on the heels of a settlement in the Burke case, which was set for trial in May.

Another settlement was reached in a case involving a confidential victim and Rev. Michael Kurz, formerly of the Pueblo Diocese.

Both settlements are confidential per agreement of both parties.



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