Sex-Abuse Suit Filed against Ex-'aiea Priest

By David Waite
Honolulu Advertiser
May 23, 2003

An O'ahu man is claiming that a former pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in 'Aiea sexually abused him from 1997 or 1998 until December 2001.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by Honolulu attorney David Gierlach contends that Andrew Mannetta engaged in misconduct toward Elton Killion that included unwanted kissing, getting him drunk and sexually assaulting him. The complaint says Mannetta used his authority as a Roman Catholic priest to facilitate his conduct.

Mannetta could not be reached for comment.

Gierlach said much of the alleged misconduct took place while Killion was a minor. Killion is now 22, his lawyer said.

Patrick Downes, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, said Mannetta came to O'ahu from Guam in 1993 and became pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in July 1994. In August 1997, Mannetta resigned as pastor to begin his own "preaching ministry," visiting various church parishes to conduct what Downes described as "revival sessions."

Downes said Mannetta was reassigned in October 2002 by his supervisors to a position in New York.

Because Mannetta was a member of the St. Mary Capuchin Order, he was supervised by the order's New York headquarters and not by the Honolulu Catholic Diocese, Downes said. The Honolulu Diocese is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Four priests who were under the control of the diocese here have been removed from serving the public during the past 10 years based on allegations of sexual improprieties, Downes said, but Mannetta was not one of them.

Colleen Roche, a spokeswoman for the Capuchin Order, said from her office in New York that Capuchin officials and the order's attorneys had received a copy of the complaint only yesterday.

"It would be imprudent to comment on the matter until we have had an opportunity to review and study the complaint," Roche said. She declined to say if similar complaints have been brought against any other priests within the Capuchin Order.

She said an investigation into the accusations against Mannetta will be conducted according to a process approved by the United State's Bishop's Conference.

The lawsuit claims the St. Mary Capuchin Order knew or should have known that Mannetta was a sexual predator, and seeks monetary damages, with the amount to be determined at trial.


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