Randy Engel
Sex abuse victims and clerical suicide – A study of the toxic legacy of clerical molestation
Editor's note: Originally published in The Catholic Inquisitor, February & March 2019
By Randy Engel
April 29, 2019


On February 21-24, 2019, Pope Francis will convene an international "summit" on clerical sexual abuse and the protection of minors (and vulnerable adults) in the Church in the New Synod Hall in Rome. The meeting will focus on three particular areas – responsibility, accountability and transparency. It will include plenary sessions, working groups, moments of common prayer and listening to testimonies, a penitential liturgy and a final Eucharistic celebration. The plenary sessions with be directed by the Italian Jesuit, Father Federico Lombardi, former Director of the Vatican Press Office from 2006 to 2010.

In attendance will be an estimated 130 presidents of Catholic episcopal bureaucracies from around the world. Included in this configuration is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) which, if the truth be told, has been a major player for decades both in the promotion of clerical homosexuality and the cover-up of sexual abuse cases by bishops, priests, and religious (male and female) in the United States.

Members of the Preparatory Committee for the February meeting include Cardinal Blasé Cupich, head of the Chicago Archdiocese; Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai (Bombay), India; and sex abuse "experts" Archbishop Charles Scicluna, a papal trouble-shooter from Malta, and German Jesuit Rev. Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable and President of the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The CCP will be the subject of a future article in the Catholic Inquisitor.

In a December 12, 2018 statement issued by the Vatican Press Office headed by Opus Dei numerary and spin-master, Greg Burke (now retired), the Catholic laity was told:
    Each of us needs to own this challenge (of a comprehensive and communal response that will bring healing to victim survivors), coming together in solidarity, humility and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency and holding everyone in the church accountable (bold added).
Unfortunately, when it come to "repairing the damage done" to victims of clerical sexual abuse, the sad, unvarnished truth is that NO ONE including the current occupant of the Chair of Peter and the Catholic hierarchy, and no amount of financial compensation or belated apologies can EVER bring back the years of childhood innocence which have been brutally stolen from young victims of clerical abuse, most especially when said victims have SUICIDED – died by their own hand.

I began to collect information and data on the connection between pederasty and the suicide of victims and their clerical perpetrators in 1987 when I started my research for The Rite of Sodomy, which was published nineteen years later in 2006. This article on one of the deadly outcomes of clerical sexual abuse is based on a small selection of suicide cases from my files.

But first, some historical footnotes about suicide and its relationship to homosexuality and pederasty.

Homosexuality, Pederasty and Suicide

From ancient Athens where suicide, murder and assassination by Athenian boy lovers or their quarry were not unknown; to Victorian London's "molly houses" where same-sex prostitution and criminality flourished; to turn-of-the 20th century homosexual scandals and suicides associated with Germany's Alfred Krupp, aka, the "Cannon King's" pederast affair with young boys in Berlin and Capri; to the modern Castro District of San Francisco where "domestic violence" aka "love crimes" between same-sex male and female couples remains a serious "psychosexual" problem for both public health and law enforcement officials – homosexuality, pederasty and suicide have always maintained a symbiotic relationship.

Like its secular counterpart, the clerical homosexual world, of which pederasty is a subset, is historically and universally a world of sexual deviancy, violence and criminality including drug use, pornography, rape, prostitution, homicide, murder, blackmail, robbery and embezzlement, and SUICIDE, the latter being the main subject of this commentary.

It should, therefore, come as no surprise to either Francis or the Catholic hierarchy or the Catholic laity that the current epidemic of suicide among homosexual clerical predators and their victims is unlikely to be curbed, much less ended, any time soon unless the root causes are addressed at the February summit.

Church Teachings on the Malice of Suicide

The 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law, Canon 1240 §1 specifically provides: "Unless they gave before death a sign of repentance, the following are deprived of ecclesiastical burial: 3°: Those who kill themselves by deliberate counsel."

However, the 1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1184 §1 avoids the specific category of those who directly suicide. It reads: "Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals 3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful."

Admittedly, I find the use of the phrase "without public scandal of the faithful," manifestly ironic given that this very same clause has been called forth ad nauseam by members of the Catholic hierarchy to explain away their cowardness and lack of true faith in not reporting crimes of pederasty to secular law enforcement authorities.

Part III, Paragraph 2282 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1992, states that "Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide."

Paragraph 2283 provides that "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him [sic] alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. [After death?] The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives."

In summary, direct suicide has been defined as self-murder, and as such, objectively speaking, stands condemned by Holy Scripture, the Catholic Church and Tradition. Deliberate suicide is unlawful and a mortal sin, which is why, in hatred of the sin, the Church has, in the past, denied the unrepentant suicide a Christian burial.

There are obvious exceptions to this rule, of course, including minors, and adults who are of unsound mind, or under the influence of mind-altering medications.

However, the unfortunate trend today is to not deny any suicide a Catholic burial on the mistaken belief that no sane person would deliberately take his own life, and therefore no suicide is culpable for his actions.

The Suicide of Victims of Pederasty

While most boys and girls, young men and women, who have been sexually abused by clerics and religious contemplate suicide at some stage of their lives, statistically more females attempt suicide, but more males complete the act and kill themselves.

The more intellectual, sensitive and creative the victim the more traumatic and long-lasting the effects of the assault. The greater the religiosity of the parents of the victim and their attachment to the Church, the less likely the victim (especially a boy) is to reveal the abuse to them.

Many victims of clerical sexual suffer life-long episodes of lack of trust, and never feel really safe from harm. For them, suicide is always a lingering option.

The anti-authority attitudes engendered by the abuse is likely to be reflected in increased anti-social behaviors including illegal drug use, petty theft, and truancy. Physical and emotional disorders especially in the form of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa are common to abuse victims of both sexes and are often precursors to suicide attempts.

Oral/anal sexual penetration or attempted penetration of minors, especially acts of sodomy and fellatio performed on young boys, dramatically increases the rate of suicide of abuse victims. The performance of adult homosexual acts on minor boys also increases the likelihood that they will adopt a homosexual death-style. In addition to the nature of the sexual abuse, the duration of the abuse which sometimes covers a period of many years is a key factor in the high incidence of suicide among abuse victims.

Approximately 25% of childhood sexual abuse victims state that they were initially unaffected by the assault. However, later interviews reveal that sexual abuse, especially clerical sexual abuse, leaves mental, emotional, physical and spiritual scars that are never fully erased by the victim.

Long-term healing comes to victims of clerical sexual abuse largely from facing the reality of their abuse and confronting their abuser where possible, and recognizing that while they can never regain a lost childhood – it is lost forever – they can find new life (separate from the abuse) and new hope and peace with God in the world to come.

Cases Studies Involving Victim Suicide
  • The Case of Brian Teeman – Diocese of St. Joseph/Kansas City

    Brian was an 8th grade high school freshmen at Archbishop O'Hara High School when he took his own life with a gunshot wound at his family home on November 1, 1983. He was only 14 years old. The perpetrator, Msgr. Thomas J. O'Brien, abused Brian when he was an 11-year-old altar boy at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Independence, Mo. The sex acts took place before Mass. The priest bought the victim's silence with threats including the threat of hell and excommunication.

    The diocese was aware of O'Brien's criminal proclivities involving young boys, but covered-up the abuse by sending O'Brien for psychological in-patient "evaluation" and "treatment," first to the Paraclete Fathers in New Mexico and later to the St. Luke Institute in far-away Maryland.

    The Teeman family never knew the reason for their son's suicide, until 28 years later, when they were notified by another of O'Brien's victims, that their son had also been sexually abused by Msgr. O'Brien. The diocese spent $1.4 million fighting the case, but eventually settled the "wrongful death re suicide" suit for $2.25 million in July 2013. The settlement was not covered by the Chicago Insurance Company. In addition, the diocese was forced to pay out millions more for dozens of additional victims of O'Brien.

    Msgr. O'Brien retired in 2002, but did not "retire" from pederasty and continued to rack up additional victims. At the time of his death in October 2013 at the age of 87, six more cases were pending. Monsignor Thomas J. O'Brien never spent a single day in jail, nor was he defrocked.

    The case of sex abuse victims of Catholic priests suiciding is not reserved only to the United States.

    Just before the Christmas of 2007, a 13-year-old boy, Bartek Obloj, hanged himself in his home in the village of Hlundo, Poland. He left a suicide letter stating that his parish rector, Fr. Stanislaw Kaszowski, had molested him.

    Local state officials later testified that the priest's "sadistic behavior" and "sexual exploits" were notorious, but complaints to the Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Przemyśl, Archbishop Jozef Michalik, at the time, the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference, fell upon deaf ears.

    Father Kaszowski denied Obloj's accusations and refused to attend a court hearing on the charges made against him. Later, his superiors moved him to another a parish just twenty miles away. No further information is available on the case.

    Although convicted civilian pederasts face harsh prison sentences in Poland, clerical perverts are rarely prosecuted "for the good of the Church," and victims of sexual abuse receive neither attention nor therapy nor financial compensation. Such was the case even when Karol Józef Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, was archbishop of Krakow.

  • The Case of Brian Gergely – Diocese of Altoona – Johnstown

    Brian Gergely's abuse in the sacristy and confessional at the hand of Monsignor Francis McCaa, pastor of Holy Name Parish in Ebensburg, Penn., began at the age of 10 and continued for more than four years. Gergely killed himself at age 46 in July 2016 by hanging in his family's garage, shortly after the Pennsylvania legislature, under pressure from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, failed to pass a law to lift the statute of limitations on lawsuits and criminal prosecutions against the church. Gergely would not have profited from the measure as he had already settled his case with the diocese in 2005, but he had continued to advocate for other victims of clerical sexual abuse.

    Family members said that Brian had forgiven McCaa for his crime and that his suicide was motivated by a sense hopelessness that other victims of clerical abuse will ever receive full justice from the Catholic Church. According to his lawyer, Richard M. Serbin, Gergely's suicide was the 4th suicide among the abuse victims he represented and that didn't include those who met premature deaths from illegal drug use and alcoholism related to their early abuse. While scores of the boys were abused by Monsignor McCaa, he received no jail time and was not defrocked.

  • The Case of John K. Houston – Archdiocese of Chicago

    In 1980, a ten-year old altar boy at St. Bede's Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago was sexually abused by Rev. Norbert Maday. That altar boy and former Marine and veteran of the Gulf War, John Houston, took his own life at the age of 33 in October 2002. Or perhaps it would be more truthful to say that Maday and Cardinal Francis George took the young man's life – Maday when he sexually assaulted Houston, and Cardinal George when he excused and fawned over the convicted pederast and attempted to get Maday a "Get Out of Jail Early" card, while nary giving a passing glance to Houston and the dozens of Maday's other victims who were robbed of their childhood and set upon a path of alcohol and illegal drug use.

    As with the majority of clerical abuse cases in the United States, the statute of limitations for Illinois prevented Cook County authorities from pursuing the Houston case in 1992. It was only after a geographical quirk of fate (Maday crossed state lines to Wisconsin), that the serial predator was eventually convicted in 1994 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the sexually abuse of two young boys and for threatening to kill one of the victim's brothers if the victim squealed. From the deposition that Cardinal George gave on the Houston Case, it is clear that he was one of those prelates who never met a clerical pederast he didn't like, including the unrepentant laicized Maday, currently a registered sex offender in Wisconsin.

  • The Case of Rev. James Norman Chevedden S.J.

    The Chevedden case is an unusual in that it falls under the Vatican's category of "vulnerable adults" (never fully defined), and not minors. Thus the priest was not a minor when he was abused, but was in his early 50s; His abuser, Brother Charles Leonard Connor, was a serial sexual predator from the same Jesuit order, the largest religious order in the United States.

    Ordained a Jesuit priest on July 31, 1978, Chevedden loved the priesthood from the time he was a young boy. He learned Mandarin and taught abroad in Taiwan for almost 20 years. Then in the summer of 1995, he underwent a psychotic mental breakdown and was returned to San Francisco for treatment by his superiors. One year later, in 1996, he took up residence at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, Calif. In 1998, he seriously injured his spine and feet by jumping off of a scaffold at the Jesuit facility. It was not a suicide attempt, but the result of not taking his regular medications.

    It was at the Sacred Heart Center that one of his caretakers, Brother "Charlie" Connor began to sexually molest Chevedden. When the priest resisted his sexual advances, Connor sent the victim's wheelchair careening into a barrier as punishment. Anxious and fearful he would not be believed, Chevedden remained silent about his abuse.

    In the meantime, Connor, along with other Jesuit perps, continued to abuse and sodomize two mentally disabled young men who lived and worked the Sacred Heart Center for more than two decades. For this crime, on January 17, 2001, Connor was sentenced to six months house arrest away from the center, and the Jesuits, who claimed they didn't know about the abuse, paid out a $7.5 million settlement to "John Doe" and "James Doe." In 2002, Connor was permitted to return to the Sacred Heart Center which at this point was housing at least five sexual predators from the Jesuit California Province.

    It was at this time that Chevedden gathered up enough courage to report Connor's abuse to his family, his therapist, and his Jesuit superiors.

    According to San Francisco psychiatrist, Dr. George Maloof, whom the Jesuits paid to treat the priest for two years before his death, "Chevedden had paranoid delusions, but I have no doubt that he was accurate in what he described. He was very precise in detailing and documenting what transpired."

    Maloof stated that the main concern of the Jesuit superiors was to keep Chevedden's allegations from becoming public. "They didn't want another case involving Brother Connor," Maloof said. "They were determined to quash any further disclosures of abuse." On the other hand, Maloof said, "Chevedden was ready to blow the whistle and make the issue public."

    "Regrettably," Maloof said, "he [Maloof] put the brakes on the priest and persuaded him to work out a compromise with his superiors if he wished to remain with the Society of Jesus. Restrictions were placed on Connor's activities and whereabouts at the center, but were not strictly observed by Connor. Maloof said he warned the Jesuit leaders that they were making a big mistake in not separating the victim from his abuser and that the loose environment was "completely unsupportable." Unfortunately, his dire warnings went unheeded by the Jesuit superiors.

    On May 19, 2004, Chevedden's 56th birthday, the priest was given permission to appear for jury duty in downtown San Jose. His superior assigned one of its known sex offenders from the center to drive him to the courthouse. Chevedden never returned to the Sacred Heart Center. That afternoon, shortly after the jurors were dismissed, Rev. James Chevedden jumped to his death from the roof of the courthouse parking garage. Three years later, on Dec 14, 2007, the Chevedden family reached a $1.6 million "wrongful death" settlement with the California Province of the Jesuits without the latter admitting liability.

  • Mass Suicide in Diocese of Ballarat, Australia

    The Diocese of Ballarat, which covers the 41 dioceses of the Central Highlands of Victoria, has been one of the Catholic Church's international epicenters of suicides of clerical sexual abuse victims, almost all males.

    In May and December 2015, the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse heard weeks of testimony of a pedophile/pederast ring that operated in Ballarat for more than 30 years. In the early 1970s, it is reported that every boy between the ages of 10 to 16 at St. Alipius Primary School was molested by ring members which included all male teachers and the chaplain. Of the 33 boys captured in a grade four class picture, 12 were said to have suicided. Most were victims of the infamous Father Gerald Ridsdale.

    Take a gander at Ridsdale's clerical record and rap sheet:

      Ridsdale began culling young male victims prior to his ordination. He attended three seminaries – in Werribee (Australia), Genoa (Italy) and Dublin (Ireland). After his ordination on July 25, 1961, at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Ballarat, he went on to claim new victims in parishes in Horsham, Inglewood, Camperdown, Ballarat North, Mildura, Swan Hill, Warrnambool, Ballarat East, Apollo Bay, Edenhope, Melbourne and Mortlake.

      In 1980, Bishop Ronald A. Mulkearns gave Ridsdale a "study leave" at the National Pastoral Institute where he offended. From 1982 to 1985, he was assigned to the Catholic Enquiry Center in Sydney where he assaulted his altar boy. In the fall of 1989, Mulkearns sent the serial predator to the U.S. to the Paraclete Father's "rehabilitation center" at Jemez Springs, New Mexico where Ridsdale later admitted he claimed more victims. When he returned to Australia, he was reassigned as a hospital chaplain in New South Wales. His crimes were not reported to the police.

      In May 1993, Ridsdale was arrested for child sexual assault and sentenced to two years and three months, but was released after three months. At his first court hearing, he was accompanied by Cardinal George Pell, who had served as a priest in the Ballarat area from 1971 to 1987, and Father Adrian McIInerney, the pastor of St. Alipius Parish. They were present to give character witness on behalf of Ridsdale. Later, Pell excused himself for his act of "priestly solidarity" by claiming that he didn't know the extent of the Ridsdale's crimes.

      In November 1993, Ridsdale was laicized.

      In August 1994, he is was arrested for abusing 20 boys and one girl from 1961 to 1981 and sentenced to prison for 18 years. In August 2006, he was sentenced to 13 years after abusing 10 boys from 1970 to 1987. In April 2014, he was sentence to eight years for abusing 11 boys and three girls from 1961-1980. Ridsdale managed to claim more than 130 known victims, and an estimated 1000 unknown victims. In April 2019, he is eligible for parole at the age of 84.
I believe that this sampling of hundreds of files on victim abuse suicides from a collection started 32 years ago, clearly demonstrates the urgent need of the Holy See to acknowledge and address the tragedy of clerical victim suicide and make it priority topic at the February 2019 meeting in Rome.

The Suicide of Clerical Sexual Predators

Following close on the heels of the suicide of victims of clerical sex abuse, is the tragedy of Catholic priests and religious (male and female) involved in homosexuality and pederasty who take their own lives. The rising tide of suicide among clerics, especially those involved in the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults has become a serious problem not only for the Catholic Church in America, but also abroad including Ireland, Australia, Belgium, and Poland.

The vice and grave sin of homosexuality involves a double sexual deviancy in terms of its same-sex object and perverted sex acts especially sodomy. Statistically, the suicide of self-identified homosexuals, including suicide pacts, is linked to high-risk and criminally-attendant behaviors especially polydrug use, and poor mental, physical, and emotional health and hygiene. A "love affair" gone sour, conflict and depression over sexual identity, loneliness, the contraction of AIDS or the loss of a partner due to AIDs are the most common reasons given by homosexuals themselves for attempted or completed suicide.

The crime and grave sin of pederasty adds a third deviant element to the equation in that the victim is a minor, not an adult. Moreover, when the pederast is a priest, religious or deacon, another significant dimension is added – he also becomes a murderer of souls. For these and many other reasons, the suicide rate of Catholic clerical sexual perpetrators is steadily mounting, although the number will never surpass that of their innocent victims. That's because homosexual pederasts have the highest rate of recidivism among sexual perverts due to their rabid narcissism and inability to feel or demonstrate authentic remorse for their crimes.

Cases of Clerical Suicides Involving Sex Abuse
  • The Case of Richard Chung, O.S.B.

    Born in 1951, on March 20, 1992, the Rev. Richard Chung committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning (asphyxiation) from running car fumes. The suicide took place one day after the police were moving in on him based on a report that he sexually molested a young boy at St. Mary's High School in Colorado Springs where the monk was chairman of the religious education department. The deceased was buried on the grounds of the Holy Cross Benedictine Abbey, where Chung was ordained, following a Church funeral that attracted more than 600 grieving mourners.

    Thirteen years after the suicide, in November 2004, Chung was named in a law suit filed by a Californian, Wayne Dennis Corder, who alleged that Chung has abused him in 1982 when he was 14-years-old at the now defunct boarding school operated by Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City in the Diocese of Pueblo.

    According to Corder, Chung was a chaplain and dorm adviser at the boarding school. When the young boy expressed an objection to using open bathing facilities in the dorm, Chung offered him the use of his private shower. The sexual abuse began soon after in the monk's room with at least one incident occurring at the victim's home in Denver when Chung visited the family.
The Chung case is significant to the upcoming February 2019 meeting on sexual abuse in Rome because Chung was not a diocesan priest but a member of a religious order. To date, sexual abuse data and settlement accounts by religious orders, most especially the Jesuits, Benedictines, Franciscans and Christian Brothers, have been shrouded in secrecy. It is not unusual for large religious orders to hide their billion-dollar financial assets at their mother house in Rome so as to exclude the funds from being used in cases of alleged bankruptcy and multi-million lawsuit sex abuse settlements. Financial transparency in sex abuse case settlements is an obligation not only for dioceses but for religious orders as well.
  • Case of Rev. Alfred J. Bietighofer – Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn.

    On the afternoon of May 16, 2002, Rev. Alfred Bietighofer, 64, was found dead by hanging in his dormitory residence room at the infamous St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland where he had been sent for "evaluation" by his superiors. Bietighofer had "voluntarily" resigned as the associate pastor at St. Andrew Parish in Bridgeport on April 29, 2002, after Bishop William Lori received complaints from two men that the bishop found to be "credible." Lori said that this was the first complaint made against the priest, but if he had read the diocese's secret archives, he would have known this was not true.

    Bietighofer was sent to a private hospital for two weeks and then to the St. Luke Institute in Maryland. The President and CEO of the institute at the time was Rev. Stephen J. Rossetti who claimed this was the "first suicide" at the 70-patient facility, which, as shall see in the case of Rev. Theodore Llanos Case, was technically true, but not completely true.

    A native New Yorker, Bietighofer was ordained in 1965 and served in the Bridgeport Diocese for decades except for two annual stints in Peru.

    Later records would document the fact that Bietighofer's criminal tendency to pederasty began in the 1970s at Blessed Sacrament Parish on the East Side which had a large Hispanic population. The sexual abuse took place in the rectory, the priest's bedroom and the confessional. His victims were young male students between the ages of 8 and 14.

    The first reported incident occurred in 1996, when a mother complained that Bietighofer was removing boys' pants and spanking them. The priest replied that was part of the Hispanic tradition! The incidents were written off by then Bishop Edward Egan.

    In the spring of 2016, four men approached the Bridgeport legal firm of Tremont and Sheldon to report their abuse by Father Bietighofer.

    By the time the dust had settled, it was estimated that Bietighofer had abused some 60 boys in his clerical career under the guise of giving them a "sex education."

    As is par for the course, there was never any public investigation concerning the possible abuse of young boys in Peru where the priest had spent significant time.

    The then Bishop Lori, who has since moved up to become the Archbishop of Baltimore, issued a statement following the news of Father Bietighofer's suicide at the St. Luke Institute in which he said, "The distressing circumstances surrounding his [Bietighofer] death do not eradicate all the good he did in the course of his priestly ministry of 37 years." Some 60 plus victims and Lori is talking about "all the good he did." Unfortunately, that the sick mind-set of so many American bishops.

  • The Case of Rev. Theodore Llanos – Archdiocese of Los Angeles

    Father "Ted" Llanos, who suicided in his apartment on December 30, 1996, after submitting to "treatment" and "therapy" at the St. Luke Institute, was a casualty of one of AmChurch's most the infamous sodomite lavender palaces, St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, Calif. He took his own life with a combination of cold syrup and sleeping pills and a plastic bag fastened around his neck with headphones piping in soft music.

    Llanos started sexually abusing boys before his ordination to the priesthood on January 12, 1974, at the age of 28, under Cardinal Timothy F. Manning's watch, and his criminal activities spilled over to that of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony. Llanos abused at least 20 young boys, mostly altar boys, in a least five different Los Angeles parishes where he served from February 1974 until July 1992. The priest was put on "sick leave" on September 19, 1994, when the first public accusation was made against him to archdiocesan officials.

    One year later, on August 1, 1995, Llanos was put on "inactive leave." An archdiocesan spokesman said that Llanos had been cut loose and was on his own, but that was not true because the priest was on his way to St. Luke's and someone had to pay the bill for Llanos's "evaluation" and "rehabilitation."

    In November 1995, Los Angeles prosecutors representing five men who were ages 13 to 17 when abused by Llanos, filed 38 counts against the priest. The presiding judge dismissed the charges, however, as the statute of limitations had run out. Unfortunately for Llanos, in 1996, these legal barriers were removed in California and the charges along with new charges from other men were refiled.

    After Llanos's suicide, St. Luke's chief executive officer, Rev. Stephen J. Rossetti, said he couldn't provide any details regarding the priest's presence or treatment program at the Institute, but we know that Llanos was a patient there somewhere between August 1995 when the priest was put on "inactive leave" and July 1996 when he took up residence and started a job in the Georgetown/Washington, D.C. area.

    Even though both the authorities at St. Luke and Los Angeles diocesan officials knew that Llanos was a serial sex offender of minor children, his name was not put on a public sex offender list and local residents were unaware of the threat to their children by the presence of Llanos in their community.

  • The Case of Brother Stephen P. Baker – Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown

    Brother Baker, 62, a Third Order Regular Franciscan, Province of Immaculate Conception, committed suicide by self-inflicted knife wounds to the heart at St. Bernardine Monastery in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania on January 26, 2013. Baker had a criminal pederasty record that spanned two decades and covered dioceses in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Minnesota.

    Brother Baker served as a religion teacher, athletic trainer, and sports coach at Catholic elementary and high schools where his modus operandi was to tell young male athletes they needed massages (including the genitals) to prevent injury. He also engaged in groping and digital penetration of boys as young as 10.

    To date, the different dioceses and Franciscan Order have paid out more than $10 million in settlement claims for more than 100 of Baker's victims and the filing of lawsuits in the Baker case have continued into 2018.

    Also, three Franciscan provincials, Rev. Anthony A. Schinelli, Rev. Robert J. D'Aversa and Rev. Anthony M. Criscitelli were later charged with conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children because they gave Barker assignments that provided the predator with an endless supply of potential victims. D'Versa and Criscitelli were sentenced to five-years-probation and fined $1,000 each. The case against Schinelli's was dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out.

    Many times, serial pederasts like Brother Baker who commit suicide, leave behind a string of victims who either directly suicide or indirectly suicide by turning to alcohol and drugs and anti-social behaviors.

    Corey Leech and Luke Bradesku were two of Baker's victims. Corey at age 31 died by drug overdose in May 2017, and Luke took his own life in 2003 at age 26. Luke' first attempt was made when he was a high school freshman. He took his tragic secret of abuse by "Brother Steve" to his grave, but the agony of his death is forever in the minds and hearts of his family.

  • The Case of the Columbian Suicide Pact

    In January 2011, Father Richard Piffano, 37, and his priest/partner, Father Rafael Reatiga, were found shot dead in a car in the capital of Bogota. According to local prosecutors, they had hired an assassin to kill them when one of the priests was discovered to have AIDS. Police investigators were able to trace the location of the hit men using Piffano's cell phone. The killers were paid approximately $8,500 (U.S.) to murder the two homosexual men and make the incident look like a robbery. The two priests were reportedly friends from their seminary days and often concelebrated Mass and other religious services together.

  • The Case of a the "Singing Nun"

    Belgian nun Sister Luc-Gabrielle (Jeannine Deckers) popularly known as the "Singing Nun" entered the Missionary Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Fichermont in Waterloo, Belgium in September 1959. In 1963, her superiors sent Sister Luc to the University of Louvain to take theology courses. Three years later, in 1966, after gaining international fame from her single hit song "Dominique" and the fictionalized movie of her life, Deckers left her convent and became a lay Dominican to pursue a singing career under the name Luc-Dominique as well as a career in social work. The former career never materialized.

    Under the intoxicating spell of the emerging Charismatic Renewal Movement headed by Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Deckers underwent a spiritual and political radicalization culminating in a song titled "Glory Be to God for The Golden Pill," a hymn to the abortifacient birth control pill. In 1980, she formed a lesbian relationship with her childhood friend and admirer, Annie Pescher, who was eleven years younger than Deckers.

    Eight years later, on March 29, 1985, Deckers, an alcoholic, and Pescher, her caregiver, committed double suicide using a combination of barbiturates and alcohol. Per their written request, which included a note asking clemency from God in light of their sufferings, the two women were granted a Catholic funeral and buried together at Cheremont Cemetery in Wavre, Belgium.
The Deckers-Pescher suicide pact brings up the issue of the rise of lesbian relationships in Catholic women religious orders, along with the attendant incidents of sexual abuse of novices and young nuns by lesbian superiors and older nuns. However, since the 2004 Visitation of Women's Religious Orders sanctioned by Pope Benedict XVI never addressed the issue, it's unlikely that Francis or any Episcopal Conference leaders will attempt to raise the issue of lesbian sexual abuse at the February meeting in Rome. Meanwhile, these Modernist orders in the Americas (North, Central and South), Europe and Oceania, are in a self-destructive mode and imploding into oblivion at a catastrophic rate. But neither Francis nor the Catholic hierarchy appear not to care a fig!
  • The Hubbard/ Minkler/ and Zalay Case – Diocese of Albany

    It bears repeating that the world of vice, especially when it involves the grave vice and sin of sodomy is inevitably connected to violence and criminality. This final case involves now retired Bishop Emeritus of Albany, Howard J. Hubbard; the faithful and intrepid priest, Father John Minkler of the Albany Diocese, who was found dead on February 15, 2004; and Thomas Zalay, a young Catholic man living in the Diocese of Albany, who suicided in the spring of 1978 by setting himself on fire at his family home.

    The homosexual background of Bishop Hubbard closely fits the homosexual mold and line of homosexual succession of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The intergenerational litany begins with Cardinal Spellman of New York who consecrated Bishop (later Cardinal) Terence Cooke; Cardinals Spellman and Cooke assisted by George Henry Guilfoyle of Camden, N.J. ordained Edwin Broderick, Bishop of Albany in 1969; and Cooke and Broderick consecrated Howard Hubbard, Bishop of Albany in 1977 – homosexuals all.

    Hubbard's meteoric rise from street priest to bishop took a mere 14 years. Hubbard's destruction of the Diocese of Albany took a little longer, 37 years. The tragedy is recorded for posterity in the 11-part Wanderer series begun in March 1991, "Agony in Albany," by the late and great Catholic news reporter Paul Likoudis.

    Father John Minkler attended Mater Christi Seminary in Albany, and the University Seminary and St. Paul University in Ottawa. He was ordained a priest for the Albany Diocese by Bishop Broderick at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on May 13, 1972 after which he served at St. Joseph's and St. Teresa Avila Parishes. In 1980, he became Vice Chancellor for the Military Ordinate and served under Archbishop Joseph Ryan and later under Archbishop John O'Connor. In 1984 until his death in 2004, Father Minkler was the chaplain at the Albany Stratton Veterans Administration Medical Center. In 1998, O'Connor made Minkler a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, and one year later appointed him Deputy Chaplain to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Father Minkler was a solemnly professed member of the Secular Order of the Discalced Carmelites.

    On June 10, 1995, at the request of Cardinal O'Connor, now Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Minkler prepared and delivered to his benefactor a seven-page report that summarized years of heretical and liturgical abuses in the Albany Diocese, and documented (with names) the homosexual takeover of the diocese under the leadership of Bishop Hubbard, with support from Hubbard's sidekick, Bishop Matthew Clark of the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y.

    O'Connor reportedly presented the Minkler report to Pope John Paul II and urged the pontiff to take action against Hubbard, but to no avail. According to Minkler, the pope responded, "There's nothing I can do," which loosely translates into, "I'm not willing to do anything about it, so live with it."

    The reader will note that the full contents of the Minkler report never saw the light of day until Church Militant released its content (including six pages of added handwritten notations) on August 22, 2018, 14 years after the priest's alleged suicide in 2004.

    It was in that year, in February 2004, that Andrew Zalay, the older brother of Thomas Zalay, discovered letters his mother had kept from the family concerning the suicide letter of Thomas written in 1978, in which he (Thomas) confessed to his troubled sexual relationship with Hubbard, and said that suicide was his only way "out." Shortly after Andrew made the affair public, at least one former male prostitute came forward and stated he had had homo sex with Hubbard in the 1970s in Washington Park, a popular homosexual cruising ground. His statement was followed by that of the wife of a veteran Albany police officer, then deceased, who had told her that one evening in the mid-70s, he found Hubbard in a parked car in Washington Park with a teenage boy dressed as a girl, but that he didn't arrest the bishop because of his position.

    In the midst of these public accusations against Hubbard, the roof fell in on February 15, 2004, when the dead body of Father Minkler was found under mysterious circumstances at the priest's home in Watervliet only two days after Hubbard had forced Minkler to renounce his 1995 report on Hubbard to Cardinal O'Conner.
This writer is one of many Catholics who had hoped that the Minkler investigation would one day be reopened, and his name and reputation cleared. I still hold out that hope, but not under the current papacy.

Dealing With Francis' "Below the Belt" Syndrome

That Francis needs to take the lead in cleaning out the Augean stables of homosexuals and other sexual miscreants in the Catholic clergy and religious life world-wide is an absolute given. However, I am not inspired with any degree of confidence that this will ever happen given the pope's self-admission that he believes "Sins (of morality) 'Below the Belt' are 'the Lightest.'" 1

Nevertheless, there is no harm at this late date, when there is really nothing to lose and something to gain, in proposing some constructive propositions in connection with victim and clerical suicide with the hope that at least one or two recommendations might find their way to the February summit's agenda in Rome.

Obviously, more research needs to be done on the subject of "attempted" and "completed suicide" carried out by abuse victims of all ages and their perpetrators. Vatican archives and the archives of episcopal conferences offer a rare source of invaluable raw data on clerical and religious suicide and the suicide of victims of clerical sexual abuse. This is an unexplored area in which researchers from a variety of academic, medical and juridical disciplines can make a major contribution to the healing and prevention process of victims of clerical sexual abuse suicide and their perpetrators who are contemplating suicide or other forms of self-destruction. This presupposes that the Vatican and Episcopal Conferences will permit these researchers unfettered access to this information (with the probable proviso that names of victims and perpetrators be withheld).

Of course, this suicide data, is not the only information that needs to be released by the authority of Francis in order that both the Catholic hierarchy and laity can finally understand and come to grips with the length and breadth and ramifications of the tragedy of clerical sexual abuse in the Church. We also need basic information that is sitting in Vatican files and archives on the nature and frequency of clerical sexual abuse – homosexual and heterosexual – by country and accurate statistics on cases involving Catholic priests and religious who have died of AIDS.

Regarding the suicide of victims and perpetrators, it would be helpful to know if the person had been put on drugs (anti-depressants, etc.) in connection with the molestation, and which might have contributed to the suicide.

Regarding other aspects of clerical sexual abuse, this writer is a firm believer in the dissolution of Diocesan Review Boards, not their proliferation, even though I know that many participants at the upcoming Rome conference will advocate them as a positive solution to the sex abuse crisis in the Church. Diocesan Review Boards which are the creation and servants of the Ordinary of the Diocese have a built-in bias favoring the Ordinary and Church interests over that of clerical abuse victims and their families. The trend in Church circles world-wide is to create more and more bureaucratic structures, commissions, etc., in response to the sex abuse crisis while at the same time ignoring real and immediate solutions such as the vigorous and stringent vetting of suitable candidates for the diocesan priesthood and religious life as prescribed in the February 2, 1961 Vatican document Careful Selection And Training Of Candidates For The States Of Perfection And Sacred Orders, which prohibited the ordination of all homosexuals, pederasts and habituated masturbators.

Instead of creating Diocesan Review Boards, I believe that all clerical sexual crimes or suspected clerical sexual crimes (including but not limited to children and vulnerable adults such as the handicapped and seminarians and novices) should be automatically reported by the diocesan bishop or his appointed representative to law enforcement authorities who are authorized to investigate such cases, and judge and sentence the guilty. Further, the interrogation of minors who have been sexually abused is an art form which requires special training and skills by professionals in the employ of law enforcement entities.

There are also practical considerations which support my opposition to Diocesan Review Boards in dealing with sex abuse crimes. I have also known cases involving predator priests who left the state or the country, or destroyed critical evidence tying them to their crimes after being tipped off that their name had been submitted to a Diocesan Review Board.

In short, the Church deals with a man's sins. Let the State deal with a man's crimes.

Finally, I have a word of advice for Francis and the leaders and delegates of the upcoming meeting on clerical sexual abuse. He and they need to understand that the suicide of victims of clerical predators is preventable, and it begins with a visit by the bishop or religious superior to the home and family of the victim (not the perpetrator or diocesan lawyers), whose first words on bended knee to the minor are "You are not to blame," and "the priest who hurt you did not act as an alter Christus but as a devil, a slayer of souls. Believe me when I tell you I shall move heaven and earth to see that he is brought to justice, and that you receive all the help you need to recover from this crime. But most of all, I pledge thee my spiritual assistance and solace for as long as I live, so help me God."

The theme of Christ as the Good Shepherd is often used in the Mass for victims of clerical sexual abuse. When Catholic bishops act as Good Shepherds who watch over and defend their flock, and the hierarchy becomes more "notorious" for their defense and advocacy of clerical sexual abuse victims than for their cover-ups of these crimes, then we'll know that that there is indeed Christ's Light at the end of this dreadful tunnel of human misery and despair in the Catholic Church.

Nothing short of this miracle will turn the tide of clerical sexual abuse.

Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for Us.


1 See Sandro Magister, “Memo For the Summit On Abuse. For Francis , the Sins ‘Below the Belt’ Are ‘the Lightest,’” January 21, 2019 at http://magister.blogaulore.espresso.republica.i/

© Randy Engel


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Randy Engel

Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters, began her journalistic career shortly after her graduation from the University of New York at Cortland, in 1961. A specialist in Vietnamese history and folklore, in 1963, she became the editor of The Vietnam Journal, the official publication of the Vietnam Refugee and Information Services, a national relief program in South Vietnam for war refugees and orphans based in Dayton, Ohio... (more)


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