A grand jury report that netted five arrests included claims that the former head of St. Richard molested boys at another church.
(Also see Stella Maris priest's past conduct to be examined for another clergy member named in the grand jury report.)
The District Attorney’s Office released a grand jury report Feb. 10 that resulted in the arrests of three priests, a Catholic schoolteacher and the former Archdiocese of Philadelphia secretary of the clergy.
The report also revealed 41 priests have remained in ministry since 2005 even after sexual abuse accusations were made against them. Rev. Joseph J. Gallagher, who served as the pastor of St. Richard of Chichester, 18th and Pollock streets, for 16 years before retiring in 2006, had two accusations of abuse that went before the Archdiocesan Review Board, but were found to be unsupported.
Following the issuance of the report, Cardinal Justin Rigali said in a statement sent to all the parishes “… I assure all the faithful that there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.”
Yesterday the Archdiocese announced it will reexamine the cases and has placed three accused priests including Gallagher on administrative leave pending the outcome of the review.
Gallagher was appointed as St. Richard’s administrator in May 1990 while Father William Mooney was recovering from an illness, according to St. Richard’s website. Following Mooney’s death five months later, Gallagher became the parish’s sixth pastor. During his tenure, he established the Feast of St. Lucy caroling and the St. Joseph Triduum celebration, and led the church in its 75th anniversary. Decades earlier, he had been accused of groping boys at a Bristol-based church.
Although Gallagher has not been charged with any wrongdoing, a 44-year-old reported in 2006 to an Archdiocese assistance coordinator that Gallagher had touched him inappropriately during a second grade field trip and allegedly questioned him about masturbation during confession.
The review board estimated the man would have been in second grade in 1969, but Gallagher did not work at the parish until the next year, according to the report.
“Therefore, ruled the board, the man must not be telling the truth,” according to the report. “Apparently there was no possibility that, after almost four decades, the victim could have been off by a few months about the date, but still right about the conduct.”
In 2007, the Archdiocese received another complaint against Gallagher, according to the report, which alleged he molested a 36-year-old when the man was an alter boy at a Bristol-based church.
Gallagher allegedly fondled the boy in his car, at his mother’s home, upstairs in the rectory, in a sacristy utility room and in a church loft; discussed masturbation during confession; and hit the boy for not obliging to a sexual request, according to the report. The man provided names of other alter boys to corroborate his story, but none of them admitted to being abused although a few did recall Gallagher allegedly questioning them if they had problems masturbating.
When the review board interviewed Gallagher, he denied the allegations with statements such as “I have no picture of that,” “I can’t say it happened” and “I’m right to the best of my knowledge,” according to the report.
The board found this accusation unsubstantiated and Rigali accepted the board’s findings July 3, ’08, according to the report. Three weeks later, the man allegedly abused was informed of the decision.
“The man killed himself shortly after the board’s decision,” according to the report.
The coordinator’s checked in with the man’s mother in 2009. The coordinator’s notes indicated, “She keeps questioning why. He was really hurt when the [Archdiocese of Philadelphia] did not substantiate the charges. He had so many disappointments in his life.”
The grand jury has recommended the Archdiocese revamp its victim assistance measures and practices for removing those accused of molestation. The Archdiocese has already made a few changes in response to the report. Rigali said in a statement yesterday that the Archdiocese will work to “recognize where we have fallen short and to let our actions speak to our resolve.”
“The Grand Jury Report makes clear that for as much as the Archdiocese has done to address child sexual abuse, there is still much to do,” he said.
District Attorney Seth Williams commended the Archdiocese’s actions yesterday.
Along with Rev. Joseph Gallagher, the former pastor at St. Richard of Chichester, 18th and Pollock streets, a second priest with ties to the area was also named in the District Attorney’s Office Feb. 10 grand jury report.
Instead of pulling over, a man allegedly hit the gas when state police attempted to stop him for a traffic violation that ultimately kicked off a high speed chase from Delaware County into Philadelphia early Tuesday.
The Rev. Robert Brennan, 67, is accused of molesting 20 boys. The Rev. John H. Mulholland, 66, allegedly had a fetish for human feces and sadomasochism, with the latter detailed in letters to young boys, one of whom he nicknamed "Man of Steel." Both served as assistant pastors at Stella Maris, 814 Bigler St., in the mid-1970s and late-1980s. And both were active priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese until Cardinal Justin Rigali relieved them of their assignments Sept. 25, days after a 418-page grand jury indictment identified Brennan and Mulholland among 63 priests accused of raping and molesting teenage boys and girls over three decades. The report also said there were more priests, as victims lodged complaints against 169 priests who had served in the archdiocese since 1967. "Can you just imagine Jesus Christ condoning something like this? The Bible speaks of wolves in sheep's clothing, and if they [the priests] don't fit the description, I don't know what does," said Lucille Pandalino, a former Catholic who became a Jehovah's Witness in the 1950s. Because the statute of limitations on child abuse has expired on these alleged crimes, the accused can not be tried. Brennan and Mulholland were removed from their posts as chaplains...