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Ex-Marconi pastor accused of abuse

A grand jury report that netted five arrests included claims that the former head of St. Richard molested boys at another church.

By Amanda L. Snyder
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 35 | Posted Feb. 17, 2011

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(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.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 35 of 35
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1. pete hoge said... on Feb 17, 2011 at 05:49PM

“These offenses are terrible, but it does not
change the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord
and the Catholic Church is the chosen
way for all mankind to be blessed with the
eternal beatific vision if they repent and
live a Gospel life.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 17, 2011 at 08:32PM

“I went to school at St. Richards and was an alter boy for 5 years. Let me tell you that this is a total load of "junk". People looking for handouts for made up events, nothing more. Dont get me wrong, there are sick people out there in the catholic church but this man, is not one of them.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Feb 18, 2011 at 09:08AM

“Just because you weren't molested or groped, doesn't mean the events didn't take place...maybe you weren't one of his targets...father Gallagher was an a**hole and an embarrassment to the catholic church...while being self absorbed and narsocisstic doesn't make you a pedophile, it leaves me wit no mercy or pity for the man...he had certain tendencies and there's some more credible evidence than you must not realize”

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4. Anonymous said... on Feb 18, 2011 at 10:19AM

“Every boy who attended St. Richard's knew that this guy was a creep. There are hundreds of people who can corroborate the fact that he regularly talked to boys about masturbation in the confessional. He had a sick obsession with it combined with a authoritarian personality, the two made for disturbing behavior. I'm glad this jerk is finally reaping what he sowed.”

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5. Bernadette Nevate said... on Feb 18, 2011 at 01:16PM

“My husband and I took our children out of this school when they were much younger and have always believed that he was shady in this way..Proven right again! The people of this parish are so led by the nose and have feared him for years when if fact the only thing anyone should fear is GOD. The mothers and fathers that have children attending this school now should insist for the history of this current priest, but they won't.”

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6. Bernadette Nevate said... on Feb 18, 2011 at 02:55PM

“After posting my first comment I thought about it? If you are a mother and father currently there at that parish "get a set"...and demand a history report”

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7. Anonymous said... on Feb 19, 2011 at 08:27AM

“the catholic church and the archdiocese are a disgrace. i went to st richards school and found out years later that my best friend was molested by fr killian when she was a little girl. my son was an alter boy at st john the baptist in roxborough and was molested by a priest there and the guy was sent to another parish to hide his actions. i am a catholic i believe iin god but i dont think these men who become priests to hide their sick lives is what god had in mind”

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8. Anonymous said... on Feb 20, 2011 at 08:21PM

“I was an alterboy with father Gallagher for several years. I have also have had father Gallagher hear my confessions. He did ask if you had a problem with masturbation. I never knew what I was doing had a name or that it was wrong. He taught the teaching of the church regarding masturbation. For this, I am grateful. I realized that it was difficult to hear but he was speaking the truth. Father Gallagher was never inappropriate.

On the contrary, as I understand it, he and Father Kostelnic has a heated discussion outside of the Church apparently related to Father Kostelnics inappropriate behavior. I am not surprised about the masturbation comments but I am floored that he is being accused of such a crime. I initially thought this matter pertained to Father Kostelnic. I pray that this is not true, however, if it is, then justice should be swift and severe. I just caution all of us to show patience, we should not assume guilt until all involved are given the opportunity for a defense”

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9. Ryan Bartley said... on Feb 23, 2011 at 09:01PM

“I went to Saint Richard's and Father Gallagher always asked about masturbation in the confessional. And he didn't ask this as a concerned priest would. He asked it as an interested pervert would. This man drove many people away from our church and is no man of God. If you regard this man as righteous or even remotely good, you have a serious problem judging character. This man is no role model for Catholics and he is most definitely a very disturbed individual.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Feb 24, 2011 at 12:23AM

“I also attended saint richards and served as an alter boy for about 3 years, I was warned about gallagher being a creep and I also wasn't to happy with him as my priest. I never had an in appropriet situation with gallagher but he did have a history of hitting you when you messed up during mass which was takin care of aftter an "unfortunate run in" with a parent but I wouldn't put molesting children past him. He was a creep and I'm sure he still is, and I think it would be best if he spent the rest of his years in a retirement home, away from kids and others for that matter. Also whatevr sick motherf***er thinks a priest asking about masterbation isn't wrong well you need some serious f***ing help”

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11. Bernadette Nevate said... on Feb 25, 2011 at 01:21PM

“I wish that if you have something to say and feel strong enough to say it regarding this matter...that you wouldn't be anonymous. But, I could understand it. Remember he's the sick bastard I personally would love to tell him to his face and anybody else that's accused of this crime, trust me he's reading these comments. Which is to me an even greater reason to put my name on it....”

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12. Anonymous said... on Feb 25, 2011 at 03:25PM

“I went to St. Nicholas of Tolentine School and I loved it until I got a nun by the name of Sr. Pasqualina who mentally and physically abused the children in her class. If you told your parents you got left down. She beat all of us in that class and humiliated us. I was a first honor student until I got her (it was all down hill for me). Going to school scared to death is not healthy for children and we all suffered for it and some of us still are suffereing from it. They did put her in a crazy house finally. But the knew she was crazy and kept her there anyway. I just don't understand why?”

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13. Anonymous said... on Mar 7, 2011 at 12:00AM

“Are You Judgemental or Judging?
Father Gallagher is both a man and a priest. Where were you when your children were in school? How did you follow up on your children's welfare? It is easy to judge after the fact. There is no evidence. The man/priest had retired from St. Richard's of Chichester with no incidences. We all have a personality flaw at one time or another unless we are in denial or are self-righeous. Are You? Father Gallagher is on a dialysis machine. Why don't you go to a center and visit?
God the father is his judge. He is not actively praticing for the next twenty-years.
Is it fair that you crucify him while he's carrying his cross. Watch what you do?
Our maker is watching. Your anger is displaced. Look at yourselves first! Are you a good role model for your children. I don't see anyone correcting or angry at their children as they walk in church with cell phones, breast hanging out, thongs oulined, etc.”

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14. Anonymous said... on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:30AM

“And so it begins, blaming the children and young adults for the acts of this piece of shit and other pieces of shit like him..commenting on anger being displaced. Children are being molested at a young age, damn straight parents should be angery!!!! Him being on a dialysis machine well, actually I have no comment.. If you know what I mean....”

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15. Anonymous said... on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:44AM

“Also about the comment once again about where were you when your children is school, working to pay for the high cost of a catholic education..
And yes parents 9-out of ten parent in this parish are good role models.
so I ask "are you being judgemental or judging"?
Sign your name to a comment like that.”

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16. Bernadette Nevate said... on Mar 11, 2011 at 04:25PM

“The comment about correcting your children as they walk to church with cell phones-breast hanging out-thongs outllined.. *First of all these priests are molesting little boys, your the one watching breast and thongs..and cell phone well that has not a thing to do with this situation*”

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17. Bob McNulty said... on Mar 13, 2011 at 08:26AM

“I have known Fr Gallagher for 37 years. He was in charge of the Altar Boys at Ascension. I went on many of those trips to his mothers shore house and Father was always a perfect priest. As annonymous mentioned here, yes, he could be an authoritarian and an "A-hole"...but that was only if you misbehaved in church and deserved it. If he is a pedo priest then there should be a slew of complaints against him, but there arent. It's so hip these days to jump on the bandwagon and bash the Catholic Church so there is no way Father G will get a fair shake. Father G married me and Baptized both of my kids. In all of these years he's never been anything other than a model priest. As far as i am concerned, his accusers are liars looking for a free payday.”

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18. dana said... on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:05PM

“Bob,
You are a moron. Why does he need to have a slew of complaints against him to be a pedophile? One is good enough!”

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19. Bob McNulty said... on Mar 17, 2011 at 04:18AM

“Dana....hey sweetie...you missed my point....if he was a pedo priest, then there should be more than 2 accusations over a 50 year career. I guess you couldnt think of anything intelligent to say so you resorted to name calling...typical philly trash!”

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20. Anonymous said... on Apr 7, 2011 at 01:51PM

“Bob McNulty--my son was an alter boy and was abused by Father Joseph Gallagher. Iknow who you are and it is a shame that you defend another child abuser. I was a teacher aid at Ascension and never thought Father G was a model priest. Take another good look. Thank God you're twins were not abused. This is no pay day, it is life shattering. You need to make these priests accountable. My son was eight years old and the youngest alter boy. A model priest does not hut a child!”

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21. Anonymous said... on Apr 7, 2011 at 09:00PM

“Father Joseph Gallagher will one day have to answer to God. I would not, want to be him. He should be in prision for whatI hope you never has he did to innocent children. My catholic faith is shattered,as I know may others feel the same way. Thank God you're children were not subjected to Father Gallagher's sickness. Wake up Bob and pray for the victims instead of defending a sick human being.. I hope you never go through waht other familys are going through due to your so called model priest.”

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22. Anonymous said... on Apr 23, 2011 at 06:45AM

“As we are in the Easter Triduum (until Sunday evening prayer) let's not forget how Jesus felt when he broke bread with Judas at the Last Supper. How he reminded Peter would deny him three times, How he suffered and died on the cross. Yet he still forgave. I was molested by a family member when I was young and hated the person with everything in me. When he committed suicide I felt angrier because I wasn't the only victim. As time went on and I grew in my Catholic faith I found that forgivness is what we're about. Let God judge Fr/Mr Galallagher. He claims he is innocent and was found innocent by the Church in 2008. Let this new investigation be completed before you say "crucify him". The investgators are well quailifed and will come to the correct conclusion.”

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23. Anonymous said... on Apr 23, 2011 at 06:46AM

“As we are in the Easter Triduum (until Sunday evening prayer) let's not forget how Jesus felt when he broke bread with Judas at the Last Supper. How he reminded Peter would deny him three times, How he suffered and died on the cross. Yet he still forgave. I was molested by a family member when I was young and hated the person with everything in me. When he committed suicide I felt angrier because I wasn't the only victim. As time went on and I grew in my Catholic faith I found that forgivness is what we're about. Let God judge Fr/Mr Galallagher. He claims he is innocent and was found innocent by the Church in 2008. Let this new investigation be completed before you say "crucify him". The investgators are well quailifed and will come to the correct conclusion.”

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24. Matt Sullivan said... on Jun 2, 2011 at 02:11PM

“I was at the Ascension when Father Gallagher was there. Not even sure what to say, let alone think. I had no issues with him, I too spent weekends with him at the shore and nothing happened. I won't pass judgement on him, I'll leave that up to God. Lets try to remember innocent until proven guilty. It does make me sick knowing priest are out there doing this to children. Children are the most precious gift God has given to us and they need to be protected. Looks like the Church failed in that area. God help us all to get through this, especially those that were victims.”

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25. Anonymous said... on Jun 19, 2011 at 08:58PM

“This is the first I am hearing about Crazy Joe Gallagher as a pedophile.
He lorded over St Richard church and School and the threat that he'd ki k your children out of school for an act of family disobedience was very real.
(none wanted their kids ejected into the PS system).
I hope justice is served and someone unplugs the dialysis machine.
"Sic semper Tyrannis"...”

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26. Anonymous said... on Jul 19, 2011 at 08:50AM

“These allegations are very very real...Father Gallagher or should I say Joe would ask about masturbation just about every single time in the confessional...He used phrases such as "have you ever touched your penis" and "have you ever played with yourself"..totally inappropriate talk ..This man would routinely gossip about underprivaledged families in our parish..Just a real creep..It comforts me to know that there will be a fiery place in hell for Gallagher and men like him..SRS '98”

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27. Steve Scarlata said... on Jan 9, 2013 at 02:19PM

“For those in denial about Father Gallagher, please read the actual Grand Jury report of the accusations against him which can be found here beginning on page 62. http://media.philly.com/documents/clergyAbuse2-finalReport.pdf
It's important for people to know that his accuser knew exactly what Fr. Gallagher's mother's house (the site of the abuse) looked like, particularly the bedroom, and also knew that he had a mentally disabled sister who lived there. Just so that everyone can see exactly what a creep he is, this is the exact quote from the report of what Fr. Gallagher did to this boy: "The priest unbuckled the boy’s belt, pulled down his
pants, and fondled his genitals. After less than two minutes, Gallagher pulled up the boy’s pants and started to leave the room. But as Ben was refastening his pants, Gallagher returned, pulled the child’s pants down again, bent him over at the waist, and stuck his finger in the boy’s anus."

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28. Steve Scarlata said... on Jan 9, 2013 at 02:25PM

“If you still want to defend Fr. Gallagher based on the actual evidence cited and instead accuse the children of seeking handouts, then you are a sick and pathetic person. For those who say "innocent until proven guilty," why then did the Church refuse, despite the evidence, to recommend this case to the District Attorney. This information only came to light because the DA's office took it upon themselves to reexamine the case since the Church dismissed it and others based on a lack of evidence which was obviously bullshit.”

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29. Anonymous said... on Apr 8, 2013 at 08:45PM

“I grew up in the Bristol parish that Father Gallagher was at prior to moving to Ascension and although I am a female, I FIRMLY believe that he was a pedophile priest. There were stories and I can tell you first hand how uncomfortable some of those boys looked at him when he requested they go somewhere with him. Just because "ONLY 2" (honestly, ONE is too many) accusations ever came out against him, I can tell you there were absolutely, positively MORE. They just used to sweep everything under the rug back then.”

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30. Anonymous said... on Apr 11, 2013 at 01:10PM

“My family grew up in St. Monica Parish, where Father Gallagher was a parish priest for a long time, It was after St. Mark's and before St. Richard's. When my brother's bridal party had their rehearsal night for his wedding, Father Gallagher asked my brother, in the confessional, if my brother "ever had sex with animals?" What a disgusting piece of .... he was. We never looked at him again. It's a shame the people of St. Richard's Parish had to put up with him all of those years, and all of their complaints about him were ignored.”

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31. Mary McKinney said... on Apr 19, 2013 at 02:51PM

“I of all people do not be leave that Father Gallagher would ever do a thing like that and I have know him for25 years and had some bad run in with him and at times I even lost myself with him,But I have to tell you that his faith in God was one of a kind,When I say that he was an old time prest I mean yes he did ask the boys if they did play with there self ,witch a lot of old timers did,even when my mother went to school but I can't be leave he would do something like that,His Belief in God would never let himself do something like that,I love you father please hang in there and remember people can say what they want but the bottom line is God knows we're your heart was and is,I will keep you in my prays and ask God to please clear all this up for as much as I had my disagreement ,Your faith in God was one of a kind,Love the McKinney





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32. Mary McKinney said... on Apr 19, 2013 at 02:51PM

“I of all people do not be leave that Father Gallagher would ever do a thing like that and I have know him for25 years and had some bad run in with him and at times I even lost myself with him,But I have to tell you that his faith in God was one of a kind,When I say that he was an old time prest I mean yes he did ask the boys if they did play with there self ,witch a lot of old timers did,even when my mother went to school but I can't be leave he would do something like that,His Belief in God would never let himself do something like that,I love you father please hang in there and remember people can say what they want but the bottom line is God knows we're your heart was and is,I will keep you in my prays and ask God to please clear all this up for as much as I had my disagreement ,Your faith in God was one of a kind,Love the McKinney





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33. Anonymous said... on Jan 29, 2014 at 03:54PM

“He was also a total bigot who hated Italians, in spite of the fact that at least 50% of St. Richard parish is Italian!”

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34. Anonymous said... on May 1, 2014 at 07:06PM

“I did not attend St. Richards. This is so sad that children have been ignored for many years. What about the voice of the child or children? Just because someone is a "Man of God" does not mean that they are not capable of abusing a child. WAKE UP PEOPLE, AND GET OFF OF YOUR CATHOLIC HIGH HOARSE.......I am a Christian and a God fearing woman, not perfect either......I pray that justice and healing are accomplished. All things through Jesus, and in his Holy Name......”

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35. Anonymous said... on Oct 18, 2014 at 03:13AM

“After 10 years relationship with my boyfriend, he changed suddenly and stopped contacting me regularly, he would come up with excuses of not seeing me all the time. He stopped answering my calls and my sms and he stopped seeing me regularly. I then started catching him with different girls friends several times but every time he would say that he love me and that he needed some time to think about our relationship. But after l contacted Dr. Ikhine of spell cast temple he cast a love spell and after a day, my boyfriend started contacting me regularly and we moved in together after a few months and he was more open to me than before and he started spending more time with me than his friends. We eventually got married and we now have been married happily for 3 years with a son. Ever since Dr. Ikhine of agbadado@gmail.com or call him 2347060552255 helped me, my partner is very stable, faithful and closer to me than before”

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