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Friday, February 22, 2019

Guest Post: Clerical Sex Abuse and Suicide: The Toxic Legacy -- Part 2: Suicide of Predators

Rev. Alfred Bietighofer killed
himself in 2002 during treatment
at the infamous St. Luke Institute
in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Sex Abuse Victims and Clerical Suicide 
A Study of the Toxic Legacy of Clerical Molestation  
By Randy Engel
Read the first part of this article here.
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 deaconanother 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 advisor 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.  

Infamous St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland
         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, Penna. 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’s 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 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 begin to assemble. He and they needs 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.
The End
Contact: Randy Engel
724 – 327-7379


[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/


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