How Priests Abused, Leaders Enabled

By L. Stuart Ditzen
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 22, 2005

In chilling detail, the report of the Philadelphia Investigating Grand Jury made public yesterday spells out "how dozens of priests sexually abused hundreds of children" and were "excused and enabled" by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and its leaders.

"Sexually abusive priests were either left quietly in place or 'recycled' to unsuspecting new parishes - vastly expanding the number of children who were abused," the report said.

The grand jury documented cases of child sexual abuse by 63 priests going back decades. Its report includes 28 case studies, with names of victims changed to protect their privacy, in which priests allegedly raped, sodomized, fondled and masturbated their child victims. Here, from summaries in the report, are details of some of those cases:

Father Gana."Father Stanley Gana, ordained in 1970, sexually abused countless boys in a succession of Philadelphia Archdiocese parishes. He was known to kiss, fondle, anally sodomize and impose oral sex on his victims. He took advantage of altar boys, their trusting families, and vulnerable teenagers with emotional problems... .

"Archdiocese officials were aware of the priest's criminality. At least two victims came forward in the 1990s... .

"When Cardinal Bevilacqua and his aides heard that one of Fr. Gana's victims, 'Tim,' was telling fellow seminarians about his sexual abuse and might sue the Archdiocese, the Cardinal initiated a top-level investigation - against Tim."

Tim was expelled from the seminary, the grand jury report said, and Gana was allowed to remain a priest at Our Lady of Sorrows in Bridgeport for three more years until another victim complained about abuse.

In 1998, an aide to Bevilacqua, secretary for clergy Msgr. William J. Lynn, explained to Tim that Gana would have been removed from his position, but for the fact that he was not a "pure" pedophile. "Fr. Gana was not only having sex with children and teenage minors, Msgr. Lynn explained; he had also slept with women, abused alcohol and stolen money from parish churches. That is why he remained, with Cardinal Bevilacqua's blessing, a priest in active ministry."

Gana was removed from ministry in 2002.

Father Cudemo."Father Nicholas V. Cudemo, ordained in 1963, was described to the Grand Jury as 'one of the sickest people I ever knew' by Monsignor James E. Molloy, Cardinal Bevilacqua's vicar for administration. Father Cudemo raped an 11-year-old girl, molested a fifth grader in the confessional, invoked God to seduce and shame his victims, and maintained sexually abusive relationships simultaneously with several girls from the Catholic school where he was a teacher. His own family sued him for molesting a cousin.

"Yet, with serious allegations against the priest on record, Cardinal Bevilacqua twice promoted him to serve as pastor of Philadelphia parishes. Only after victims threatened to name the Cardinal and the Archdiocese in a lawsuit was Fr. Cudemo removed from his pastorate." He was permitted to retire in good standing in 1997 and moved to Orlando, Fla.

Father Brzyski."Father James Brzyski was one of the Archdiocese's most brutal abusers - emotionally as well as physically. The 6'5", 220-pound priest convinced a 12-year-old devout boy whom, beginning in 1983, he repeatedly anally raped, that the boy's mother had sanctioned the acts... .

"By one estimate, Fr. Brzyski, who was ordained in 1977, sexually abused a hundred young victims during just seven years he spent in two parishes of the Philadelphia Archdiocese... .

"In 1984, Fr. Brzyski admitted to a church official that he was a child molester. Archdiocese leaders knew the names of many of his victims, and could have known the identities of many more had they simply followed up on reports they received."

The church took steps to remove Brzyski from the priesthood in 2004.

Father Sicoli."Fr. David C. Sicoli had in his Secret Archives file a long history of abusive and manipulative relationships with adolescents, as well as numerous reports from other priests about these relationships... .

"With uninvestigated allegations involving at least nine boys in Fr. Sicoli's file, Cardinal Bevilacqua in 1990 promoted him to pastor at Our Lady of Holy Souls in North Philadelphia. The Cardinal would reassign him as pastor to three more parishes between 1991 and 1999, despite several more reports to the Archdiocese of intense, exclusive and suspicious relationships with teenaged boys."

The church took steps to remove Sicoli from ministry after he came under examination by the grand jury last year.

Father DePaoli."Father Edward M. DePaoli, ordained in 1970, was convicted in 1986 of receiving child pornography through the mail. A 1985 search by U.S. Postal Inspectors of his rectory room at Holy Martyrs Church in Oreland turned up an estimated $15,000 worth of pornography... . At the time he was teaching morals and ethics at an Archdiocese high school.

"Fr. DePaoli went for treatment, which proved unsuccessful. He was diagnosed with a sexual compulsion and relapsed repeatedly."

He continued in the ministry until 2002.

Father Rogers."The Grand Jury will never be able to determine how many boys Father Francis P. Rogers raped and sexually abused in his more than 50 years as a priest. Nor, probably, will we or anyone else be able to calculate the number of boys the Archdiocese could have saved from sexual abuse... .

"One of his victims described waking up intoxicated in the priest's bed, opening his eyes to see Fr. Rogers, three other priests, and a seminarian surrounding him. Two of the priests ejaculated on him while Fr. Rogers masturbated himself... .

"The Archdiocese responded to reports of his crimes with a shameful half-century of transfers, excuses and finger-wagging threats that did nothing to deter the priest from indulging his self-acknowledged 'weakness.' "

Father Trauger."One night in a Poconos motel in the spring of 1981, Fr. Francis X. Trauger repeatedly tried to anally penetrate a 12-year-old altar boy and for hours manually manipulated his penis. After the 5th-grader's parents reported the abuse through their parish pastor, the Archdiocese recorded the event this way: 'They shared the same bed and there were touches.' "

Msgr. Walls."Monsignor David Walls, ordained in 1960, was a sexual abuser of both boys and girls, yet served as Vicar for Catholic Education in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Cardinal Bevilacqua left him living in a parish rectory, ministering to all ages, even after learning of the priest's sexual offenses."


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