Accused Priest Back in Ministry
By Giuseppe Ricapito
December 1, 2016
A priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton has been reinstated to active ministry from administrative leave following an in-house investigation of alleged inappropriate conduct with a minor.
Father Editho Mascardo, who served as a parochial vicar at St. Patrick’s Church in Sonora, where he celebrated the 30th anniversary of his ordination in 2013, was placed on administrative leave in July 2015.
The Stockton Diocesan Review Board reviewed the allegations from July 2015 until May 23, 2016, and did not conclude that sexual abuse had occurred.
The Review Board “recommended that a path toward healing be considered to resolve the situation,” a Diocese of Stockton press release said.
No further information about the accusation, the age and gender of the minor, or when and where the alleged sexual conduct took place has been released.
Northwest Director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Joey Piscatelli said “the Diocese and the Review Board is a total sham.”
“My personal experience is that they don’t handle it well,” he said. “How would the review board know if it occurred? How they do the investigation is they ask the priest. They always, as a rule, as a habit, say that it hasn’t occurred. They say that to the press and its ludicrous.”
Stockton Police Department Public Information Officer Joseph Silva said his office had no record of any report filed against Father Mascardo in 2015.
A report containing allegations of sexual misconduct was filed in September 2001, he said, but in November 2001 the complaint was denied by the District Attorney “for insufficient evidence.”
“It could have been the same case, but the only thing is back in 2001,” he said.
Diocese of Stockton Director of Communications Sister Terry Davis said that Mascardo was placed on leave “within days” of the allegations being received by the Diocese of Stockton in July 2015.
“We have not heard anything from law enforcement or the Stockton Police Department,” she said.
The Stockton Diocese is made up of about 250,000 total members, covering a five-county area, including Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. The diocese includes 35 parishes with churches in Sonora, Twain Harte, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, San Andreas, West Point and Mokelumne Hill.
The Stockton Diocese has paid upwards of $20 million dollars to victims of clergy sexual abuse to settle allegations out of court in the past 20 years.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 15, 2014, citing the payouts as the reason.
Mascardo, who is also a chaplain for Stanislaus County, served as an associate pastor at St. Anthony’s Church in Hughson from 2006 to 2011, and as parochial vicar at St. Patrick’s Church in Sonora until 2013. He served at the St. George Church in Stockton from 1996 until 1999 and St. Mary of Assumption Church in Stockton from 1999 until 2006.
At the time of the allegations, Mascardo was working at the St. Mary of Assumption Church in Stockton.
Mascardo was a priest in residence at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Modesto at the time he was put on administrative leave.
“I would not be able to answer any questions about Fr. Mascardo’s assignment at St. Patrick’s in Sonora since I never served with him,” said Father Sam West at St. Patrick’s Church over email.
Sister Terry said that the Diocesan Review Board investigation was in accordance with the Charter for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a document “to protect children” from the “terrible problem in the church.”
Sister Terry acknowledged that the Diocesan Review Board was an organ of the church and completely independent from a law enforcement investigation.
The Stockton Diocesan Review Board is made up of “somewhere between eight and 12 people” she said, and staffed by “a lot of people representing different points of view,” including psychiatrists, therapists, retired law enforcement, and attorneys.
In accordance with the Charter stipulations to create a safe environment for children, the Board advised to Bishop Stephen Blaire that it “did not conclude that sexual abuse occurred,” the press release said.
The Diocese of Stockton press release noted that Blaire had met with “both parties on several occasions,” but does not specify if it occurred before, during, or after the investigation.
Piscatelli, who has been a SNAP advocate since 2001, filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Diocese in 2003 over abuse which occurred to him while he was a child.
He won a jury trial in 2006, and the subsequent appeal by the San Francisco Diocese to the higher appellate court in 2009.
The Diocese of Stockton and Catholic Church in general, Piscatelli said, has a history of “shielding the priest.”
“That’s what got the Catholic Church in the trouble that they’re in, by throwing away all the allegations,” he said.
The church should err on the side of caution with victim’s allegations and not just maintain deniability on each different claim, he added.
“I don’t think they’ve learned their lesson in Stockton, yet.”
Piscatelli noted that the function of SNAP was to “bring awareness to the public and provide support for victims,” and in cases such as these, he recommended that people bring their allegation “to the attention of the police and legal representatives” rather than to the diocese.
During his period of administrative leave, Mascardo was “unable to operate as a priest in this or any other diocese,” Sister Terry said, which meant he “could not administer sacraments or work in any other parish.”
With his reinstatement to the ministry, Mascardo “will be doing hospital chaplain work in the Modesto area,” Sister Terry said.
Ed Dyrda, parish administrator at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Modesto, who had just heard the news of Mascardo’s reinstatement “hours ago” as of Thursday afternoon, was unsure if Mascardo would be returning to the Holy Family Catholic Church.
“Everything is rumoured now, I haven’t heard anything concrete,” he said.