Planning a Gay Cruise to Thailand? Call Father Mike

By Ralph Cipriano
Philadelphia Priest Abuse Trial Blog
May 15, 2012

Father Michael J. McCarthy like to sleep naked with teenage boys who stayed over his beach house at the Jersey Shore. He also ran a travel business on the side, planning gay cruises to places like Thailand.

Prosecutors on Tuesday used documents from the secret archive files introduced by Detective Joe Walsh to tell Father McCarthy's story to the jury in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse case.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington suggested that the church had turned a blind eye to Father McCarthy's transgressions with teenage boys, as long as scandal could be avoided by transferring the priest to another parish. In September 1992, the cardinal promoted Father McCarthy to pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord Church in Norristown, despite two complaints of sex abuse in his file.

It was the priest's business venture that got him into trouble, the prosecutor said, especially after the cardinal found out that Father McCarthy was taking business away from another local travel agent who had just donated $25,000 to the archdiocese for Catholic Life 2000.

The first complaint in the archdiocese's secret archive files was made against Father McCarthy back in 1986. A mother reported to the archdiocese that in biology class at Cardinal O'Hara High, Father McCarthy had touched her son in an improper way, by running his hands down the boy's back and buttocks.

The next victim, a married father of two daughters, called the archdiocese on Nov. 27, 1991, to say that Father McCarthy had abused him sexually from 1974 to 1976, when the boy was a student at Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield, and the priest was his biology teacher. McCarthy was on the faculty at Cardinal O'Hara from 1965 until 1989.

Father O'Hara invited the boy to stay at his beach house in Margate. The place had two bedrooms, but one belonged to his late mother, the priest told the victim, so that nobody else was allowed to sleep there. So the boy had to share the priest's bedroom, and his bed.

The bar at Father McCarthy's beach house stocked with at least 50 bottles of liquor, so the priest could serve lots of alcohol to his teenage house guests. He slept naked, and insisted the boys do the same.

The victim said that one night, after several drinks, Father McCarthy began stroking the boy's genitals, to the point of orgasm. The priest told the victim he did this with other boys that he brought to the beach house. Then the priest "masturbated himself," the victim said. The victim gave the names of four other victims to Msgr. James E. Molloy, assistant vicar for administration, and his assistant, Msgr. William J. Lynn.

Msgr. Lynn typed up his notes on Jan. 23, 1992, and had the victim sign it. In the margin, Msgr. Molloy admonished Msgr. Lynn for being too forthcoming. "Unnecessary statement," Molloy wrote. "Never admit to victim that there have been other cases."

On Feb. 17, 1992, Father McCarthy denied the victim's accusation, writing, "To the best of my recollection, the incident alleged ... never took place." A handwritten note on the priest's declaration, presumably from one of the monsignors, described the priest's denial as "very guarded" and "suspicious."

At the time, Father McCarthy was parochial administrator at St. Kevin in Springfield, but the priest wanted to be promoted to pastor.

But first, the cardinal's men had to decide what to do about the victim's charges. On July 14, 1992, Msgr. Lynn wrote a "confidential memorandum about his meeting with Father McCarthy and Msgr. Molloy. The purpose of the meeting, Lynn wrote, was to "convey Cardinal Bevilacqua's directions to Father McCarthy concerning the pastorship of St. Kevin Parish."

"Cardinal Bevilacqua has decided it is in Father McCarthy's best interest not to be appointed pastor of St. Kevin Parish," Lynn wrote. "The reason for this is the possibility that if appointed pastor of St. Kevin Parish, he could be the subject of great publicity and tarnished reputation should the complainant go public with his story."

"Monsignor Molloy stated that there is the possibility of Father McCarthy being appointed pastor at another parish after an interval of time has passed," Msgr. Lynn wrote. "This parish would be distant from St. Kevin Parish so that the profile can be as low as possible and not attract attention from the complainant. Monsignor Molloy stated that the Archbishop was not implying doubt about Father McCarthy's ability to be a pastor."

Within two weeks of his appointment, Father Michael O'Malley, a fellow priest at Epiphany complained to Msgr. Lynn about Father McCarthy's open discussions about his visits to gay bars, and his constant sexual jokes and innuendos. Father O'Malley also told Msgr. Lynn that Father McCarthy kept a bag of gay pornographic tapes in his closet at the rectory. He also wasn't an easy guy to live with. Father McCarthy was described by his fellow priests as "a man full of rage."

At the time, the archdiocese was running a big fundraiser, Catholic Life 2000. On April 13, 1993, Cardinal Bevilacqua received a letter from a local travel agent, Lily Giuffrida, who said that her husband had just donated $25,000 to Catholic Life 2000. That had to get the cardinal's attention.

Giufrida explained how she and her husband ran a travel agency that used to do a lot of business with the travel club at Epiphany of Our Lord. Her travel agency also had a policy of providing free trips for priests and nuns.

But after Father McCarthy took over Epiphany, Giuffrida learned that the priest was himself a travel agent, and that he booked tours through a rival travel agency. Giuffrida told the cardinal that she was upset because she and her husband "donate to Churches who now become our competitors."

The secret archive files show that the cardinal took this complaint far more seriously than the previous complaints about Father McCarthy.

On April 20, 1993, according to the minutes of an "issues meeting," the cardinal "requested that a high priority be placed on procuring all the facts related to" Lily Giuffrida's charges. Two days later, Msgr. Lynn began an investigation.

Lynn visited the rectory when Father McCarthy was on vacation and found 13 gay porno videotapes in Father McCarthy's closet. He also found a copy of "A Guide to the Gay Northeast," and a gay travel guide to the hot spots of Thailand.

Msgr. confronted Father McCarthy on May 24, 1993, and informed him that moonlighting as a travel agent was a violation of canon law. Later that day, Cardinal Bevilacqua met with Father McCarthy at the cardinal's residence. In the secret archive files, the cardinal wrote, "It had to be very obvious from my interview and the interview with Msgr. Lynn that implications of the material found were that Father McCarthy was homosexual."

Two days later, Father McCarthy resigned as pastor of Epiphany and was placed on a health leave. The priest was shipped off to St. Luke Institute in Suitland, MD., where he was a patient from August 1993 until June 1994. The priest did not want to go to St. Luke's. Prior to his hospitalization there, Father McCarthy sent a newspaper story to Msgr. Lynn. In the article, the priest had underlined a passage where it was stated that St. Luke's used "chemical castration drugs" in therapy.

At St. Luke's, Father McCarthy was diagnosed as having a condition known as "homosexual ephebophilia," an attraction to post-pubescent boys. In the secret archive files, the therapists who treated the priest cited Father McCarthy's "sexual acting out behaviors" with eight high school students at his summer home.

On July 25, 1994, Cardinal Bevilacqua placed Father McCarthy on administrative leave, and limited his priestly faculties to celebrating private Mass for his own benefit.

Upon his release from St. Luke's halfway house in 1994, Father McCarthy got a job as a cashier on the graveyard shift at Merv Griffin's Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. But he still dreamed about being a priest.

In 1998, Father McCarthy wrote Msgr. Lynn, asking to be appointed as pastor to St. Kevin's parish. Lynn invited Father McCarthy to stop by his office and talk about it. In the meeting, Father McCarthy defended his conduct by saying he had "always acted out with age appropriateness" by having anonymous homosexual encounters with men in book stores or parks. He also challenged the accuracy of his diagnosis at St. Luke's.

The secret archive files show that Msgr. Lynn went through the motions of checking back with the therapists at St. Luke's, who said they had got it right the first time.

Then the archdiocese received another complaint about Father McCarthy. Two Irish immigrants wrote the archdiocese saying that Father McCarthy had let them live in a cottage on the grounds at St. Kevin's for five years, while he had a homosexual affair with one of the immigrants. The men said the archdiocese owed them $60,000.

Msgr. Lynn told Father McCarthy to seek voluntary retirement, but he did not retire until October 2003.

On cross-examination, Jeff Lindy, a lawyer for Msgr. Lynn, suggested to Detective Walsh, as he has previously, that Cardinal Bevilacqua was the puppet-master at the archdiocese, and that Lynn was just doing his bidding.

"He was the man at the top controlling the archdiocese," Lindy said of the late cardinal.

"He was the man at the top," Walsh replied.

"He had the final say," Walsh told Lindy during another point in the cross, but the detective cited other documents in the secret files that stated that the cardinal would "follow the recommendations of Msgr. Lynn."

Lindy pointed out that it was the monsignor who shipped Father McCarthy off to St. Luke's for evaluation, even though the priest had expressed concerns about "chemical castration drugs."

"Father McCarthy stayed at St. Luke's for a year or more, that place that he didn't want to go?"Lindy asked.

"That is correct," Detective Walsh replied. Lindy then tried to assert that it was also the monsignor who basically took Father McCarthy out of active ministry in 1993, by shipping him out to St. Luke's, and then recommending that the priest be put on administrative leave.

But Detective Walsh responded that Father McCarthy was still able to function as a priest periodically over the years at family weddings and confirmations.

"He is a minister, he just doesn't have an assignment," Walsh said.


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