Priest Accused of Abuse
He Denies Allegations, Ends Active Ministry

By Brooks Egerton and Aline Mckenzie
Dallas Morning News
April 26, 1999

A controversial northeast Tarrant County priest has been accused of sexual abuse and has retired from active ministry, Fort Worth Catholic Diocese officials announced Sunday.

The Rev. Philip Magaldi, associate pastor at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in North Richland Hills and chaplain of the diocesan Scouting program, was accused by a 35-year-old Massachusetts man of years of abuse dating to the 1970s.

"Father Magaldi vehemently denies the truth of these accusations and insists that he has never met or had any contact with the person," according to a diocesan news release. "However, until this matter can be resolved, Father Magaldi is retiring from all active ministry."

The priest, who served a prison sentence for stealing from a Rhode Island parish, could not be reached for comment late Sunday. Diocesan spokesman Jeff Hensley, who issued the news release, would not say whether the retirement was forced, and he declined to comment further.

St. John's pastor, the Rev. Charles B. King, said that he read parishioners a statement announcing the retirement during Sunday services and that the reaction was "shock and support."

"He's been an excellent associate pastor," Monsignor King said. "He's been very good working with seniors, hospital visitations, young people and couples preparing for marriage."

Father Magaldi, a friend of Fort Worth Bishop Joseph P. Delaney for more than 40 years, pleaded guilty in 1992 to stealing more than $ 120,000 from his former parish in North Providence. Prosecutors said he used some of the money for tropical vacations with teenage boys and once gave a boy he had met in a park enough money to buy a car.

Last August, Father Magaldi told parishioners that news reports about his conviction and spending on boys wouldn't drive him from the North Richland Hills church. He supervised altar boys at St. John.

"Father Magaldi isn't going anywhere. Father Magaldi is staying right here," he said, to a standing ovation.

Bishop Delaney hired Father Magaldi about a decade ago, after he had been suspended by the Diocese of Providence in connection with the theft allegations but before the criminal case unfolded. Father Magaldi then went to work primarily in rural parishes north of Fort Worth.

When Father Magaldi subsequently pleaded guilty, the bishop wrote parishioners that he "probably unknowingly violated the law."

At the time, Father Magaldi said he mingled parish funds and personal money to pay for church renovations and to help needy parishioners. There were no records because he was a poor bookkeeper, he said.

The Rhode Island judge who sentenced the priest said in court that Texas parishioners had written to him complaining that the priest had continued to spend recklessly.

He was sentenced to two years in a work-release program and served eight months before returning to Texas. Bishop Delaney has said he was not allowed to handle church money after returning.

A Boston-based advocate for clergy sex abuse victims said Father Magaldi never should have been allowed to work in the Fort Worth diocese.

"If the allegations are true, then Father Magaldi joins a growing number of priests who have been transferred to rural communities in Texas after having molested youths in Massachusetts," said Phil Saviano, leader of the New England chapter of SNAP, the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The Dallas Morning News has previously identified two other Massachusetts priests who were allowed to work as priests in Texas after being accused of abuse in New England. One worked in several West Texas parishes; the other also worked with Bishop Delaney in the Fort Worth diocese.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.