“I’m not Catholic. Why should I care about the church’s abuse and cover-up scandals? It doesn’t affect me or my family. We’re not Catholic.” Who knows how many people have thought this over the past few decades? That has been some people’s response to clergy sexual abuse reform. Whatever your religion may be, knowing right from wrong should be in everyone’s rule book.
Here is why non-Catholics should care about sexual abuse in the church
In the most narrow sense, they’re right. Most predator priests prey on Catholic children, presumably because they have access to them and authority over them. But plenty of child-molesting Catholic clergy have also assaulted non-Catholic children. And many have moved on, after being suspended or defrocked or sometimes even criminally convicted, to work at tax-payer-funded jobs in governmental agencies.
Consider these cases.
- Fr. Albert E. Delvecchio of Albany left active duty as a cleric and went on to work for Schenectady County DSS as coordinator of the Independent Living Program, from which he retired in 2001. He was accused of molesting a girl with Bishop Howard Hubbard and Fr. Francis Melfe.
- Fr. James Beine was accused of molesting dozens of kids and later worked at public schools in Missouri and West Virginia. He also tried to get a teaching license in Nevada.
- Fr. Patrick G. O’Donnell of Washington State reportedly abused at least 65 boys but later went on to get a psychology degree with funding from his church supervisors. Fr. O’Donnell worked as a psychologist for teenagers until his license was permanently removed. He admitted guilt in a civil suit, and as of 2019, he was living in Mt. Vernon, Washington.
- Fr. Michael E. Brewer of Kansas City, Missouri, was included on that diocese’s ‘credibly accused’ list in 2019 with multiple substantiated allegations that were permanently removed from ministry. He later became an attorney and was involved with a foundation in Colorado with a mission to serve disadvantaged youth and their families.
- Brother John J. Woulfe of St. Louis also worked in Texas and left the ministry to work in public schools in Illinois. In 2020, his religious order, the Marianists, put him on its list of clergy “found to have sexually abused a minor.”
- Fr. Daniel M. Azzarone Jr. of Rhode Island pled “no contest” to two counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault and then later sued. He went on to work at a Providence-based non-profit agency called Open Doors.
- Brother Frank Paduch of the Augustinians allegedly molested five children in the 1980s. In 2005, he began working for the City of Berwyn in suburban Chicago. He also worked in Texas, where Bishop Curtis J. Guillory of Beaumont – disclosed that Fr. Paduch was defrocked because of credible child sex abuse allegations.
- Fr. Walter Dalton Salisbury of Texas also worked in Washington DC, and Mobile, AL. He was convicted twice on child sex charges but kept in ministry. Years later, Fr. Salisbury relocated to his native Bar Harbor, Maine, where he spent many years on the town’s housing authority board.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures or other clergy. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a member of a religious organization, contact us today at 844-291-9022 or [email protected] to discuss your options today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.