3 former Gallup friars are named as sex abusers

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola
Gallup Independent correspondent
June 7, 2019

GALLUP – A California province of Franciscan friars has publicly released a list of 50 credibly accused clergy sex abusers that includes the names of three friars who worked on Arizona’s White Mountain Apache Reservation in the Diocese of Gallup.

Those three Franciscan friars – Dennis Duffy, Camillus Cavagnaro and Sylvester Mancuso – have never before been publicly identified by the Gallup Diocese as credibly accused abusers.

The new list, posted online by the Franciscan Friars of the Province on St. Barbara May 31, also includes the names of additional friars sent to other reservation and non-reservation assignments in Arizona and New Mexico.

“The list is being published as part of our continuous commitment to transparency and accountability,” Provincial Minister David Gaa said in a statement that accompanied the list. “We are determined to demonstrate, through this action, that we are committed to helping survivors and their families heal. The victims, their families, and the People of God deserve transparency.”

The publication of this latest list comes against the backdrop of a statewide investigation into clergy sex abuse and cover-up by the California Office of Attorney General. In early May, all Catholic dioceses in the state received letters from the AG instructing them to preserve or turn over documents related to clergy sex abuse.

Diocese of Gallup abusers

According to the Franciscans, Duffy, who is still living, was assigned to the St. Francis Mission at Whiteriver, Arizona from 1975 to 1980. Whiteriver is the capital of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Duffy also worked on the San Carlos Apache Reservation from 1971 to 1973. The Franciscan list states Duffy sexually abused minors in 1975, a year he spent part of the time in both Whiteriver and Fresno, California. According to the Franciscans, Duffy is currently living in an elder care facility in California.

Cavagnaro, who died in 2011, also worked at the St. Francis Mission in Whiteriver from 1978 to 1984. In addition, Cavagnaro was assigned to many other Native American Catholic missions, including those on the Tohono O’odham Nation and the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona, the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico and the Oglala Lakota Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. During the years Cavagnaro reportedly abused a minor, 1962 to 1965, he was in Spokane, Washington and then on the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona.

Mancuso also worked at the Diocese of Gallup’s St. Francis Mission in Whiteriver from 1964 to 1971. Additionally, he was assigned to other missions in Native American communities, such as the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico, and the San Carlos Apache Reservation, the Gila River Indian Reservation and the Colorado Indian River Tribes Reservation in Arizona. Mancuso was credibly accused of sexually abusing minors in 1961, when he was on the Gila River Indian Reservation, and in the 1970s, when he had several different ministry assignments. Mancuso died in 1979.

Abusers in Southwest

Nine other credibly accused Franciscan friars from the Province of St. Barbara were assigned to Native American missions in Arizona and New Mexico. Those friars include Berard Connolly, Adrian Furman, Gus Hootka, Mark Liening, Remy Rudin, Ramon Varela, Santiago Alamaguer, Edward Henriques and Charles “Jude” Ruetten.

In addition, 10 St. Barbara friars also worked in southern New Mexico, in what is now the Diocese of Las Cruces. Friars Felipe Baldonado, Samuel Cabot, Owen da Silva, Kevin Dunne, Gus Hootka, Mark Liening, Claude Riffel, Santiago Alamaguer, Felix “Raymond” Calonge and Louis Ladenburger were assigned to the Holy Cross Retreat in Mesilla Park, St. Francis de Paula in Tularosa or St. Joseph’s Mission on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

Like most lists released by Catholic dioceses and religious orders, the St. Barbara Province list includes the names of only those with credible accusations involving minors, not adult victims.

“An allegation is deemed ‘credible’ if there is a preponderance of evidence that the allegation is more likely true than not after investigation,” Gaa said in his statement.

“It should be noted that in each evaluation of an accusation the benefit of any doubt was given to the victim,” Gaa added. “It is our belief that almost all victims are trustworthy and telling the truth.”

According to Gaa, the Franciscan province is having “external professionals” review their files so if additional credible accusations are discovered, those offenders’ names will be added to the list.

The Franciscan Province of St. Barbara is headquartered in Oakland, California. It currently has friars in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.




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