Bishop Accountability

Egan Resources – December 2002

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Monsignor in Abuse Case Faces No Criminal Charges

By Daniel J. Wakin
New York Times
December 7, 2002

The Bronx district attorney has found no cause for a criminal proceeding against Msgr. Charles M. Kavanagh, the most prominent New York priest caught up in the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal. Now, according to the New York Archdiocese's policy, a special review board is expected to take up his case next week to determine whether the monsignor can return to ministry.

[Photo Caption: Kavanagh.]

The Bronx district attorney, Robert T. Johnson, found the Kavanagh case and a number of others to be beyond the statute of limitations, his spokesman said this week.

Church officials are struggling to find the truth in the case, which they say is the most difficult facing Cardinal Edward M. Egan. Until now, it has generated little but frustration for Monsignor Kavanagh's accuser, Daniel Donohue, and the popular clergyman's many supporters. It is just one example of how the abuse cases involving priests around the country remain unsettled despite intense efforts by American bishops and the Vatican to deal with them and the resulting public outrage.

"I'm sure it's going to be a tough one," said Sister Mary Rose McGeady, president of Covenant House and a board member, referring to the Kavanagh case. "We're really trying to be as thorough as we can because it's tough work."

The Charter Advisory Board in New York, which was established according to guidelines from the nation's bishops for addressing the scandal, has examined at least five cases, she said. All the priests had admitted abuses, and thus would be permanently kept out of the ministry, she said. The archdiocese has declined to comment on the board's workings, but has publicly acknowledged that at least eight of its priests besides Monsignor Kavanagh have been suspended over the past year.

Monsignor Kavanagh was suspended in May, ordered to stop functioning as a priest and removed as vicar for development -- chief of fund-raising for the archdiocese -- and pastor of St. Raymond's, a large and prominent parish in the Bronx.

Monsignor Kavanagh was a teacher and Mr. Donohue's spiritual adviser while he was a student at Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Manhattan from 1978 to 1982. Mr. Donohue accused Monsignor Kavanagh of sexually charged touching amid an intense friendship; the priest has denied anything improper.

The case has drawn strong interest in Catholic circles because of the monsignor's many powerful friends and popularity at St. Raymond's, and because of the Donohue family's history of service to the church.

Mr. Donohue said Msgr. Desmond O'Connor, the head of the priest personnel board, told him the review board would take up the Kavanagh case on Wednesday.

Mr. Donohue said he wrote Cardinal Egan a month ago, asking for a meeting, but was rebuffed. He said he had no plans for a lawsuit, but wants a public apology from Monsignor Kavanagh. An archdiocese official, he said, told him, "Knowing Charlie, he will never do that."

Mr. Donohue, once a star pupil and athlete at the seminary, said he was despairing of receiving a sense of resolution.

He was not "looking to bring somebody down," he said. "I just want to move this thing forward."

He added: "Here's the victim offering an opportunity for this priest to be forgiven, redeemed. That's what this faith is all about."

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the archdiocese, said Cardinal Egan's policy was to leave it to the advisory board to have any contact -- if it wished -- with victims. And, he noted, Mr. Donohue has a lawyer who has raised the possibility of a lawsuit, a further reason for the cardinal not to meet with him.

While the archdiocese's wheels have been turning slowly since the dismissals of the priests in spring, there is some progress. Cardinal Egan has submitted all past abuse cases to the district attorneys within the archdiocese, and has said he will wait for word from them before moving forward.

In an effort to determine whether Monsignor Kavanagh violated the church's own guidelines on abuse, and thus faces permanent expulsion from ministry, Mr. Donohue said the archdiocese had contacted him, his parents and his family's former spiritual adviser, who is now a retired priest in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Monsignor Kavanagh, who has apparently been staying with relatives on Long Island, has met with the archdiocese's legal counsel, James P. McCabe, according to one official of the archdiocese who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Cardinal Egan has also spoken to Monsignor Kavanagh, among other suspended priests, several times in recent months, Mr. Zwilling said.

"We have been, through Jim McCabe, in touch with various people, trying to get as much information as we possibly can," he said.

The investigation hinges on a letter to Mr. Donohue's family from Monsignor Kavanagh in 1984. The family has described it as having the tone of a love letter, with what they and others who are familiar with its contents said were incriminating statements.

The archdiocese has pressed Mr. Donohue and his family to release the letter, saying it would help resolve the case. But he has refused, saying he has been ignored by the archdiocese and left powerless as it handles his case.

Egan Is Cleared of Allegation of Sex Abuse

By Daniel J. Wakin
New York Times
December 28, 2002

The Archdiocese of New York said yesterday that Cardinal Edward M. Egan had been cleared in the investigation of a man's allegation that the cardinal, while a priest in Chicago in 1969, had sexually abused him when he was a teenager.

The allegation came to light only yesterday when the archdiocese issued a statement saying the investigation ended when the accusation was found to be baseless. The Cook County, Ill., state's attorney's office said it had found "no credible evidence on which to proceed."

In the statement, Cardinal Egan called the allegation "totally false and beneath contempt," saying he had never met the man, who was not identified, or even heard his name until the charge was made.

Joseph Zwilling, the spokesman for the New York Archdiocese, said the cardinal, in telephone conversations, answered questions from both an assistant state's attorney and an official of the Chicago Archdiocese's review board, which also found the charge baseless.

According to the New York Archdiocese, the Chicago Archdiocese notified it in August that a man had made "allegations of sexual misconduct against more than 20 'high profile persons,' " including local and national political figures and other clergy members. One was Cardinal Egan, who in 1969 was secretary to Cardinal John Cody and co-chancellor of the archdiocese. Cardinal Egan, who was ordained in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1957, has come under fire for his handling of accusations against several priests while he was bishop of Bridgeport, Conn. Prosecutors declined to comment on any other allegations by the man.

The New York Archdiocese also released a letter to Cardinal Egan from Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who accepted the recommendation of his archdiocese's Professional Fitness Review Board to throw out the case. "I am deeply sorry for the personal anguish this false accusation has caused you," he wrote.


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