Guest Priest Is Facing a Sex Abuse Lawsuit Here
The Preacher Allegedly Assaulted a Minor over a 4-Year Period
By Mary Adamski
May 22, 2003
A priest well known here as a guest preacher at Catholic parish retreats and ecumenical events has been accused of sexual abuse in a lawsuit filed yesterday.
Hawaii resident Elton Killion claims that the Rev. Andrew Mannetta "engaged in a series of unwanted and unlawful sexual advances" over four years while Killion was a minor.
The alleged misconduct included "unwanted kissing, taking steps to have plaintiff become intoxicated and then sexually assaulting the plaintiff," according to the suit filed by attorney David Gierlach. Killion asks for monetary compensation to be determined at trial.
Mannetta could not be reached for comment. He is a member of the Capuchin Franciscans and was reassigned to New York last year by the religious organization.
He served as pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Aiea from 1994 to 1997 and later lived at the parish residence for Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Pearl City while on the Capuchin Preaching Ministry speaking circuit.
Mary Ann Wirth, attorney for Mannetta's superiors in White Plains, N.Y., said yesterday, "We are not able to comment because we have not seen the legal papers and do not know what the allegations are."
The suit also names as a defendant the Province of St. Mary, a geographical unit of the international Capuchin Franciscans religious order, which staffs three Hawaii churches as well as parishes in Guam.
Honolulu diocesan spokesman Patrick Downes said Bishop Francis DiLorenzo does not assign members of religious orders and that it was Mannetta's superiors who reassigned him from Hawaii last October.
Over the past several years, Mannetta was frequently booked to speak at "parish missions" and retreats. He presented workshops at the Hawaiian Islands Ministries 2002 conference, one of dozens of speakers at the annual event that draws more than 3,000 people from various denominations.
Tapes of his talks were sold by the Capuchin Preaching Ministry, and testimonials to his preaching appear on the Web site of a lay Catholic group here, St. Michael Center for the Blessed Virgin Mary, at www. smcenter.org.
Killion claims that the alleged misconduct began in 1997 or 1998 and continued through December 2001. Gierlach said that Killion became an adult in 2001.
The suit was initially filed Tuesday with the priest identified as Andrew Mannath, which Gierlach said was based on misinformation provided by Killion. Gierlach filed an amended version yesterday naming Mannetta.
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