|Member of Bishop's Advisory Panel Resigns
By Martin Espinoza
April 28, 2010
Psychologist alerted alleged abuse victim that committee differed with Walsh on whether to keep priest
A member of Bishop Daniel Walsh's advisory board on clergy sex abuse submitted his resignation just before publication of a newspaper story that revealed the panel had recommended removal of a Napa priest from ministry.
Tony Madrid, a west county psychologist and member of the Diocesan Review Board, said in an e-mail Tuesday that he does not know if Bishop Daniel Walsh has accepted his request to step down.
Madrid said last week that he would resign if it were made public that he had notified the alleged victim, Erin Brady, now 51, of the board's recommendation.
In a story Saturday, The Press Democrat reported that the seven-member review board recommended last October that Monsignor Joseph Alzugaray, pastor of St. Apollinaris in Napa, should be removed because of accusations that he repeatedly sexually abused Brady when she was in grade school more than 40 years ago. Walsh rejected that recommendation in January.
Alzugaray has repeatedly denied Brady's claims, the only public allegations brought against him.
The review board's recommendation and Walsh's rejection of it were kept confidential within the Catholic diocese until Madrid phoned Brady in the last few weeks to inform her of the actions.
Madrid, interviewed last Wednesday at the Monte Rio offices of Russian River Counselors, where he is the director, said that disclosure of his communication with Brady would compromise his role as a confidential adviser to Walsh and the local diocese.
But Madrid said, "I would not be disgraced or ashamed" by the revelation. Madrid, who is on vacation, was not available for further comment.
Walsh, who is in Chicago this week, did not return phone calls to his Santa Rosa office requesting comment.
Brady said Tuesday that Madrid, in phoning her, "should be proud of what he's done, not ashamed . . . It does take a lot of courage to go against the grain and speak the truth and to protect the kids. That's what he's doing."
Brady, in a 2003 civil lawsuit, claimed that from "approximately 1967 through approximately 1970, Joseph Alzugaray engaged in unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual conduct and contact" with her at Immaculate Conception Church in Monrovia. The details were documented in a 2002 Monrovia Police Department report.
The case was part of a $660 million settlement between clergy abuse victims and the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 2007. Brady said she received $2 million.
Brady's attorney in that case, Anthony De Marco, said that Brady submitted legal documents to the review board, including psychological reviews, that found her claims of abuse credible. He also said that a 2004 polygraph test done as part of the lawsuit found "no deception" in her allegations.
Alzugaray, who insists that Brady's story is "bogus," said earlier this month that he was not aware of the review board's recommendation nor Walsh's decision to keep him in ministry.
"Apparently (Walsh) decided there was nothing there," Alzugaray said, referring to Brady's allegations.
"It hasn't been easy," he said. "I find it interesting that everyone is so quick to believe her. Being characterized as a pedophile is a horrible, horrible thing."
In 2004, Alzugaray filed a libel suit against Brady, her attorney and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. The suit was dismissed by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.
On Tuesday, David Clohessy, SNAP's national director, praised Madrid's "candor, courage and compassion" in notifying Brady of Walsh's decision to keep Alzugaray in ministry.
"If more review board members across the U.S. were brave like Madrid, kids would be much safer," Clohessy said in an e-mail. "But many appointees seem to value their relationship to their bishop more than their duty to children."
Julie Sparacio, the diocese's victims assistance coordinator who works closely with the independent review board, said she does not know why Madrid chose to resign, nor what he said in his resignation letter to the bishop last week.
Madrid's expertise as a clinical psychologist is "so valuable when we're reviewing cases," she said. "But his experience as a Catholic, as a human being, I don't want to disqualify those, are also very valuable."
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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