Two More Big Island Men Claim Abuse by Priest 40 Years Ago

Associated Press State & Local Wire
June 20, 2002

PAHALA, Hawaii — Two more men have come forward to report they were molested by a priest more than 40 years ago on the Big Island, according to police.

The men reported the incidents after Glenn Gravela, 50, filed a complaint with police against the priest, who is now 84 years old and living in a church retirement home in New York. Gravela first made his allegations a month ago after the issue of priest abuse gained national attention.

Big Island Police Sgt. James Day did not identify the two other men who have come forward.

The elderly priest's name also has not been made public. He was assigned to Hawaii as a missionary from 1948 to 1992 and worked at Sacred Heart Church in Naalehu for more than 30 years.

Gravela said he and his late brother were assaulted in 1961 by the priest at Sacred Heart Church

A spokeswoman for the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers said earlier this week that the priest remembers Gravela's family but denies molesting the boys.

Spokeswoman Marybeth Christie said the Maryknoll Society is extremely concerned about the allegations and is taking them with "utmost seriousness."

Day said the cases were turned over to the prosecutor, but the statute of limitations has run out, preventing prosecution. Gravela said he talked to a lawyer who told him the case was too old for a civil suit.

Gravela said he wants church officials to meet with him and make a personal apology. He also wants the church to offer counseling and therapy to those who may have been sexually abused.

Gravela said a Honolulu church official told him it wasn't the diocese's responsibility to look into the complaint. But diocese spokesman Patrick Downes said the church remains open to discussions regarding the allegations.


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