DA Gets Inquiry into Priest Conduct
The Diocese of Scranton Turns the Investigation of Two Pike County Priests over to Lackawanna County Authorities
By Mark Guydish
Wilkes Barre Times Leader
February 27, 2002
SCRANTON - The Diocese of Scranton turned its investigation - reportedly of priest misconduct - over to the Lackawanna County district attorney, and has been named in separate lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by another priest.
Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola confirmed Tuesday that the diocese chancellor contacted him "concerning a matter that we are looking into," but would not comment further because his office is conducting an investigation.
A spokeswoman at the diocese said no one was available to comment on the matter, but according to television reports, Bishop James Timlin had said that case involved two priests from the relatively new St. John's Society in Shohola Township, Pike County.
Last month Timlin confirmed two society priests had - as per diocese policy - been relieved of duty pending a review of allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.
Those allegations have been made and repeated frequently by Jeffrey Bond. Bond had been hired by the society to help establish a small Liberal Arts College, but broke away from the society last year.
Timlin said the priests have consistently denied the charges, and that an initial internal investigation found no conclusive evidence. That changed in January when the diocese received the name of an alleged victim, prompting the latest inquiry.
In a separate case, a lawsuit was filed against the diocese in U. S. District Court in Scranton alleging sexual harassment by a priest at the Villa St. Joseph in Dunmore.
The suit, filed Feb. 20 by Margaret Angeloni of Dunmore, names the diocese, Villa St. Joseph and "Rev. Hazzouri" - no first name - as defendants. According to the lawsuit paperwork:
Angeloni "reached the age of majority on Feb. 22, 2000" and was employed as a "dining room/kitchen server" at the Villa until Jan. 19, 1998. On several occasions Hazzouri touched Angeloni "in an inappropriate, sexual fashion."
Hazzouri's actions were "frequent," "consistent," "intentional" and "unwelcome." Hazzouri also attempted to engage Angeloni "in conversations about her personal life, including the identity of her boyfriend and where she spent her free time."
In July 1997, Angeloni told her supervisor at the villa about Hazzouri's actions, and the supervisor contacted Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty, who met with Angeloni's parents and promised to address the matter and to tell Hazzouri not to discuss it with Angeloni without talking to her parents.
In December 1997 Hazzouri tried to discuss the matter with Angeloni, who contacted her supervisor immediately. Angeloni's mother met with Dougherty again and explained that her daughter "feared for her safety due to the conduct of Father Hazzouri"
During that meeting, "Dougherty informed (Angeloni's) mother that if (Angeloni) was fearful for her safety, then she should resign her position." Angeloni resigned Jan. 19, 1998.
The suit contends that Angeloni's resignation was "the direct result of sexual harassment" and that Dougherty's suggestion to resign "constitutes a constructive discharge."
The suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages and legal fees in excess of $75,000.
There was no answer at Villa St. Joseph on Tuesday evening. Angeloni's number was not listed in the Scranton phone book.
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