The Defrocking of Father George

By Ward Harkavy and Terry Greene Prison
Phoenix New Times (Arizona)
March 7, 1990

Pedophile priest George Bredemann, currently serving a year in jail after he admitted molesting three boys, reportedly has been bounced out of the Roman Catholic priesthood.

But the Diocese of Phoenix won't comment on the strong rumors circulating around the controversial priest, and one of Bredemann's closest friends, Fred Noll, contends that the priest has not yet heard of a decision by Bishop Thomas O'Brien on his status.

"He hasn't said anything about the bishop telling him," says Noll, who is in regular contact with Bredemann. "I heard the bishop was going to let him know. He has mentioned to me several times that he would like to know."

Noll says O'Brien was supposed to have decided on Bredemann's status before last Christmas. "But I'm sure he's considering all facets of this," adds Noll.

Bredemann, one of the subjects of a New Times article last October on pedophilia in the local diocese, is scheduled to be released from Maricopa County Jail in July. He was one of three local priests in the mid-Eighties who were arrested for molesting boys. None of the three was fired by the church, although all were immediately suspended from parish work. One of the two other priests eventually quit the priesthood; the other is reportedly working as a hospital chaplain in the Midwest.

Bredemann, who used to romp nude with boys at his ramshackle desert hideaway near Wickenburg, was arrested in late 1988 and pleaded guilty last year to reduced charges in the sex case. He was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Robert Hertzberg to a year in jail and lifetime probation. Bishop O'Brien was criticized in the press and community for asking the court for leniency while virtually ignoring Father George's victims.

Bredemann, who had faced a possible twenty years in prison even on the reduced charges, received strong support from some parishioners and fellow priests who contended that he was innocent. But the priest himself let down his guard of denial the day before he was sentenced when he wrote to the judge: "I am a man who has a sexual attraction to young boys and a priest who is responsible for abusing a special position of trust in abusing these children."

"As far as I know, he has made no plans for the immediate future," Noll says of Bredemann. "He would like to stay a priest. Whether that's possible or not, I don't know. I am sure he wouldn't be able to stay in this diocese."

In a related matter, the Arizona State Legislature is considering a bill that would make public the law-enforcement authorities' list of convicted child molesters like Bredemann.

The father of one of Bredemann's victims bitterly complained last year that the current "sex-offender registry," which lists all convicted molesters who live in Arizona, is kept secret from the public. The registry was aimed at alerting police agencies and the public of the presence of convicted molesters. Currently, only police agencies and employers researching the backgrounds of job applicants can see the list.

"Confidentiality for these guys when they committed a crime like that is ridiculous," says the parent in the Bredemann case. "If they made a law to protect the public, then why deny the public access to the information to protect it?"

The secrecy of the registry—which also lists people who were convicted elsewhere and then moved to Arizona—baffled just about everyone else, including its sponsor, Scottsdale Republican Jim Skelly. Now, Skelly has sponsored an amendment that would make the names on the registry public. His bill recently passed the House Judiciary Committee and is expected to be voted on soon by the full House. —

"Confidentiality for these guys when they committed a crime like that is ridiculous."

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