Catholic Scouters & Sexual Abuse

  The media attention of the conspiracy to cover-up sexual abuse by members of the Roman Catholic Church (ministers and employees) is very similar to the past actions (and inactions) of the Boy Scouts of America. Peter Boyle's book - Scout's Honor - is an insightful look at how BSA mishandled sexual predators within the organization.
     Surprisingly, one of the issues BSA rejected in dealing with this situation was the linking of homosexuality with pedophilia. Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic Church has yet to move out of the Dark Ages and learn what modern science and -- ironically -- BSA knows about this falsehood. Although, in talking to support groups of survivors of clerical abuse, more than half have turned out to be women -- not men.
     However, since the Catholic Church has historically been a major persecutor of men who have engaged in same-sex acts (at least in the West) and has been in public denial of the number of gay priests (both priests who do and do not live chaste lives) within the church, we've decided to highlight the sexual abuse committed by some national Catholic Scouting leaders. (A recent review of historical documents and news articles reveals several other priests involved with Scouting who sexually abused youth. One of them was honored by the BSA with the Silver Buffalo award! For more information on these past incidents, click here.)

  • NEW02 Information about Brother Edmund (AKA Robert Coakley), is now available. This Franciscan brother was a Scoutmaster who sexually abused a boy in his troop. Edmund's victim later committed suicide.

  • NEW02 The Rev. Thomas M. Kohler, was laicized in January 2005. He was was accused in a lawsuit of abusing a Bucks County (PA) boy from 1973 to 1978 during trips to the Jersey Shore and elsewhere. The suit, filed in 1994, was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia removed him from active ministry that year.  At the time, he was the Archdiocesan Scout Chaplain.

  • NEW02 The Rev. Robert Ray Peebles,  Scout Chaplain for the Diocese of Dallas, was accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy in 1984 at Fort Benning, GA. Peebles admitted molesting the boy, according to court documents and testimony, and was allowed to resign from the Army instead of being prosecuted. For more information, click here.

  • The Scout Chaplain -- Rev. James McShane -- for the Burlington Diocese (Burlington, VT) resigned from ministry due to sexual abuse allegations. In 2004, the diocese settled a lawsuit from on of his victims. What his current status with the Church is, is not known at this time.
  • The web site has accumulated an impressive amount of documents regarding the former (1980-90) Scout Chaplain for the Diocese of Davenport (IA), Rev. James M. Janssen. To learn more about his background and victims, click here.
  • A former Scout Chaplain for the Spokane Diocese is not only a self-confessed sexual predator, but has testified about his actions. For more information about Patrick O'Donnell, click here.
  • Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger (Evansville, IN) is the current Bishop Advisor to the National Catholic Committee on Scouting (the Catholic Church's liaison between the BSA and the Catholic Church, NCCS). At the May 2002 Bishop's meeting, he was a vocal opponent of the one-strike policy in the USCCB adopted Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. At the November 2002 Bishop's meeting, he was one of only seven bishops who voted against the new policies the US Bishops voted upon to prevent sexual abuse of minors. He has admitted to allowing at least one convicted child molester serve as a priest in the diocese, as well as other known molesters.

    "In late March 2002, Bishop Gettelfinger told parishioners that priests who sexually abuse children are guilty of "grave sins" and that he would not tolerate them. A couple months later, news accounts detailed the backgrounds of six diocesan priests," some had been convicted for sexual abuse, yet allowed to remain ministers in the diocese. One had been a Scout Chaplain. For more information, click here.
  • In the Diocese of Providence (RI), the Rev. Edmund Micarelli, who had been the Diocesan Scout Chaplain, the NCCS Regional Scout Chaplain, a member of the Executive Board of the NCCS, and at one time, the chaplain for a council scout camp, caused the diocese to settle with his victims for millions of dollars. For more information, click here.
  • updated03 Rev. Thomas Rainforth, an Eagle Scout and a priest of the Diocese of Paterson (NJ), who has received the Bronze Pelican and St. George awards from the NCCS, was returned to ministry after a diocesan board determined that he had genital contact with a minor. The board felt that such action did not rise to the level of sexual abuse. Until recently Fr. Rainforth had been a unit leader for a unit sponsored by St. Philip the Apostle Church. It is unclear if Fr. Rainworth has rejoined the BSA. However, a lawsuit has been filed by his alleged victims. For more information, click here.

  • Bishop Joseph Hart, who retired in September 2001 as the Bishop of Cheyenne, WY, was also a former Bishop Advisor to the NCCS and is an Eagle Scout. It recently came to the public's attention that he had allegedly assaulted several children while serving as a priest in Kansas City. For more information, click here,
  • Rev. Donald Peters, who had served until 1993 as Scout Chaplain for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, has recently confessed to having sex with children. He also was a member of the NCCS Executive Board and served for 20 years as his OA lodge's Chapter Advisor. For more information, click here.
  • Richard M. Boucher, while serving as a Vice-Chairman of the NCCS, was arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced for the crime of child molestation. For more information, click here,
  • The Dallas Morning News has reported that several priests who sexually abused children were also serving as Diocesan Scout Chaplains.

     According to the Dallas Morning News, the following Bishops knew that priests had sexually abused children, yet allowed them to stay involved with Catholic Scouting:Upp02

Ft. Worth - Bishop Joseph Delaney

    "In the late 1980s, Bishop Delaney hired an old friend, the Rev. Philip Magaldi, who had been suspended in his original diocese of Providence, R.I., for stealing from a church. Rhode Island authorities said he used some of the money for tropical vacations with adolescent boys and once gave a teenager he met in a park enough money to buy a car. Father Magaldi, who has denied wrongdoing, served as chaplain of the Fort Worth diocesan scouting program . Bishop Delaney no longer allows him to have a public ministry."

Dallas (Victoria, TX) - Bishop David Fellhauer

    "As a high-ranking Diocese of Dallas official in the 1980s, he helped move the Rev. Robert Peebles to different jobs after molestation complaints were made. One transfer made him a military chaplain in Georgia, where he sexually assaulted a boy. He was sent back to Dallas to avoid a court martial and became the diocesan scouting director. "We made the best decision at the time in view of the circumstances," Bishop Fellhauer told The Dallas Morning News in 1994. "There are also matters of confidentiality and people's reputations." Mr. Peebles was forced out of the priesthood in the late 1980s after he acknowledged abusing other boys, but he was not prosecuted. The diocese has paid millions to his victims and also paid for him to get a law degree in New Orleans. Bishop Fellhauer has acknowledged making a mistake regarding Mr. Peebles."

Chicago (St. Thomas, USVI) - Bishop George Murry

    "Despite the Rev. John Calicott's admission that he engaged in sexual misconduct with two teenage boys in the mid-1970s, the Chicago archdiocese reinstated him in 1995 - contrary to its policy against letting known abusers work. Bishop Murry, then an auxiliary to the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, was supervising the archdiocesan region where Father Calicott was stationed. And he led Father Calicott's reinstatement ceremony. Bishop Murry said at the time that church members had assured him that they wanted Father Calicott returned to their parish. After the victims had come forward in 1994 and an archdiocesean review panel recommended removal, Father Calicott was placed on leave and sent to treatment. Evaluations prepared during his treatment concluded that he wasn't a sexual predator, clearing the way for his reinstatement. Upon his return, Father Calicott described himself as "angry" that the church removed him and put him through "rigorous" counseling. The archdiocese did order that a monitor be present whenever he had contact with children, which today includes his work as a Boy Scout master and a grammar school teacher."

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