Image: The advanced access to the area of the Affiliation of St. John in Shohola
On Dec. 18, 2001, a atrocious North Carolina dad wrote a letter to the Vatican allurement the leaders of the Roman Catholic Abbey to conduct a accumulation of priests at a Pennsylvania boys’ boarding academy who he said took turns ually abusing his boyish son.
The priests were associates of an alignment declared the Affiliation of Saint John, the ancestor wrote, and Abbey James Timlin, again the arch of the Area of Scranton, had accustomed them to booty up abode at St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania.
“How continued will the Abbey of Scranton abide this Affiliation of Priests and advance them and their plans?” the father, whose name NBC Account is not advice to assure his son’s identity, asked in the 2001 letter.
The acknowledgment angry out to be two added years. It was not until 2003, afterwards the man’s son filed a federal lawsuit, that the Affiliation of Saint John was assuredly disbanded in Scranton. The accusation accused two of the society’s priests of cultivating “intimate relationships with students” and of plying acceptance “with alcohol, as able-bodied as sleeping with them.”
The affiliation was singled out in the belittling admirable lath abode that Pennsylvania Advocate Accepted Josh Shapiro appear in August, which included its baton and three members, forth with 297 added Pennsylvania clerics that he branded “predator priests.”
The affiliation is a decidedly air-conditioned archetype of priests with red flags in their backgrounds who were accustomed to accomplish in aing adjacency to the best accessible abbey associates with little oversight. Clerical corruption survivors say the society’s adventure is a admonishment of Timlin, who is now retired and was accused in the admirable lath abode of declining to act bound to aish dozens of priests accused of corruption during his 20-year administration as the arch of the Area of Scranton.
When told of the Affiliation of Saint John’s abuses, Timlin dedicated the accused priests, autograph in a 2002 letter to the Vatican that they had “stopped the convenance of ‘sleeping with boys’ as anon as I explained how brash this was.”
One of those accused priests was the society’s leader, the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity, a absorbing priest from Argentina who, according to belletrist and a letter from a priest who knew him, was kicked out of the seminary there in the 1980s for authoritative a canyon at a adolescent seminarian.
For the son of the North Carolina man who accomplished out to the Vatican for advice — NBC Account will accredit to the son as John Doe, as he was declared in the accusation — the admittance of the Affiliation of Saint John in the admirable lath abode was both a acceptable development and “too little, too late.”
Speaking about for the aboriginal time aback he and his parents filed a federal accusation adjoin the Area of Scranton, Affiliation of Saint John, St. Gregory’s Academy, Timlin, Urrutigoity and others in March 2002, which eventually led to the society’s demise, Doe said that the corruption by three Affiliation of Saint John priests from 1997 to 2000 about ashore his life. All three were called in the admirable lath report.
“I went from actuality a kid who anticipation about acceptable a priest to actuality a kid who absent his faith,” Doe said. “I’ve apparently been to Mass alert aback 2000, and anniversary time it was for a funeral.”
The Affiliation of Saint John’s misbehavior in Scranton followed an all-too-familiar arrangement in the Catholic Church, said Donna Doucette, controlling administrator of Voice of the Faithful, a accumulation of Catholics formed in 2002 to apostle for accountability and accuracy in the abbey in the deathwatch of the pedophile priest aspersion in Boston.
“You will acquisition with about every one of these appropriate organizations like the Affiliation of Saint John, there were red flags that went up on the priests in their seminary canicule and the red flags were ignored,” Doucette said. “We accept a anatomy aural the Catholic Abbey that gives the bishops complete ability aural their diocese. They do what they want. The alone analysis on the bishops are the added bishops or if the pope gets mad at you.”
After Urrutigoity was booted from the seminary in Argentina, he confused to the United States, area he founded the Affiliation of Saint John in 1997. He dreamed of architecture an arch-conservative “village” complete with Latin masses, active quarters, a basilica and clandestine college, according to the society’s fundraising letters. It would be a abode area Urrutigoity and added priests could “practice their own cast of Catholicism,” Doe’s ancestor wrote.
An affiliation is a accumulation of Catholic priests who accept permission from the abbey to alive calm and backpack out a assertive apostolic mission. In the case of the Affiliation of Saint John, their mission was breeding acceptable Latin masses and a bourgeois anatomy of Catholicism.
To accomplish that vision, the affiliation reportedly purchased acreage in Shohola, Pennsylvania, for $2.2 actor in September 1999, with the absolution of Timlin, who co-signed the loan. Afore that acreage was ready, Timlin abiding for the affiliation to be based at St. Gregory’s. At atomic two acceptance there accept accused the society’s priests of abuse, according to cloister records.
Doe told NBC Account that he was 16 in 1997 aback Urrutigoity’s right-hand man, the Rev. Eric Ensey, began bartering him with liquor and cigarettes and coercing him to accept “under the guise of accouterment airy direction,” Doe said.
Doe said the corruption happened at St. Gregory’s and during a appointment to California in 1998, aback he and Ensey backward at the priest’s ancestors home during Thanksgiving.
Then Ensey, according to the letter from Doe’s father, anesthetized his son on to a visiting priest and affiliation member, Christopher Clay, who took Doe to his abode and got him “so bagged that the alone anamnesis my son has is alive up the aing morning afterwards his clothes on.”
“Subsequently,” Doe’s accusation states, “Father Ensey conveyed to the Plaintiff, John Doe, that he should be accepting ‘spiritual direction’ from the Defendant, Ancestor Urrutigoity.”
This was in the abatement of 2000.
“The Plaintiff did not doubtable Ancestor Urrutigoity of actuality able of the aforementioned behavior as Ancestor Ensey, but afterwards several nights of sleeping calm in the aforementioned bed, Ancestor Urrutigoity directed inappropriate ual acquaintance to the Plaintiff,” the clothing states.
Urrutigoity in particular, Doe’s ancestor wrote in his letter to the Vatican, “was actual acceptable at anecdotic people’s weaknesses.”
Doe agreed. “I would absolutely abode him in the band baton category,” he told NBC News.
To accouchement steeped in bourgeois Catholicism and active at a boarding academy abroad from the alfresco world, Urrutigoity and Ensey seemed to be cut from a altered — and far acknowledgment — t than the priests they’d accepted until then, Doe said in an interview.
“Here were these air-conditioned adolescent priests who let you breach the rules a bit,” he said. “[Urrutigoity] would criticize abstemious American rules about things like drinking, which was absolutely adorable to teenagers who tend to be rebellious.”
Urrutigoity’s eyes additionally fabricated a big consequence on the St. Gregory students, he said.
“He would allocution about how we’re activity to body this medieval village, how we’re activity to accompany aback Latin Mass and acceptable Catholicism,” he said. “In hindsight, this guy is crazy. They didn’t accept basal sanitation in the Middle Ages. Who would be for that?”
But at the time, Doe said, it all fabricated sense. And he said he wasn’t the alone apprentice whose bed was invaded by these priests, a affirmation backed up by the admirable lath abode and a bigmouth aural the affiliation who appear a account about in 2002 about the abuse, afterwards Doe’s accusation was filed.
The federal accusation was acclimatized in 2005 for $380,000, according to the admirable lath report. Doe’s attorneys said the adjustment — paid by the diocese, the Affiliation of Saint John and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, which ran St. Gregory’s — included annuities and was account added than $450,000.
At the time, Abbey Joseph F. Martino, Timlin’s successor, appear a statement: “In actualization of the austere claims fabricated by the adolescent actuality and in ablaze of the statements by the assemblage who accurate his claim, it was bent that the aloof accommodation was to ability a adjustment that will abetment the victim and his ancestors as they attack to heal.”
The area did not animadversion added this week. The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter did not acknowledge to a appeal for comment. The Affiliation of Saint John could not be accomplished for comment.
A acquaintance of Doe’s additionally claimed he had been groped by Urrutigoity, according to 2004 cloister filing in a abstracted case. (That case did not move advanced because the statute of limitations had expired.)
The classmate, whom NBC Account is additionally not identifying, said in the cloister filing that he advised Urrutigoity “a absolute priest” but initially rebuffed his appeal in 1999 that they allotment a bed.
“Fr. Urrutigoity said that the acumen I acquainted afflictive was because I had a abstemious attitude, and that this was due to a bad accord with my father,” the acquaintance said in the cloister filing. “He said that sleeping with him would alleviate this problem. I accordingly agreed to do so.”
The Lackawanna County commune attorney’s appointment beneath to arraign Urrutigoity in the classmate’s case because the Pennsylvania statute of limitations had passed, according to a accusation the acquaintance filed. The DA’s appointment additionally beneath to arraign Urrutigoity in the Doe case because the statute of limitations had passed, according to Shapiro’s admirable lath report. At the time, victims of adolescent corruption had until age 23 to appear advanced with bent allegations in Pennsylvania, bristles years afterwards their 18th birthday.
When Doe came forward, and alike afterwards he sued, Abbey Timlin dedicated Urrutigoity and Ensey. Timlin fabricated a point of acquainted in a letter to the Vatican on May 8, 2002, that he had warned both priests to “avoid alike the actualization of evil.”
“They accept done aggregate I asked them to do,” Timlin wrote, afterwards accepting a archetype of John Doe’s father’s letter. “They chock-full the convenance of confined wine at table to aerial academy acceptance and chock-full the convenance of ‘sleeping with boys’ as anon as I explained how brash this was.”
When Timlin confronted Urrutigoity about administration beds with students, “Urrutigoity did accept that there may accept been occasions aback brimming altitude prompted aggregate sleeping arrangements,” according to the admirable lath report.
The whistleblowing affiliate of the Affiliation of Saint John, the Rev. Richard Munkelt, claimed in an Oct. 15, 2003, letter to Abbey Martino, Timlin’s successor, that Timlin had rebuffed him aback he told the abbey that Urrutigoity was the baton of a “cult of ual predators” that preyed on boyish boys.
“They advance amidst adolescence baby-like fantasies of macho camaraderie,” he wrote. “And they use booze and tobacco to breach bottomward the attrition of victims.”
But Timlin, Munkelt wrote, “wanted aggregate to be kept quiet.”
“Bishop Timlin banned to characterization Rev. Urrutigoity’s conduct as immoral, but alone ‘perhaps imprudent,'” he wrote.
Munkelt had fabricated agnate allegations in a 2002 accessible account afterwards Doe sued. Timlin replied at the time: “I haven’t been behindhand with either the affiliation or anyone else.”
Munkelt did not acknowledge to requests for comment.
Doe told NBC Account that Timlin “basically went to bat for these guys.”
“When we aboriginal contacted the church, we accepted them to investigate appropriate abroad but for months they stonewalled,” Doe said. “They did not acquaint the commune advocate — we had to do that.”
Doe said he served as an chantry boy for Timlin. He said he remembers that afore his ancestor wrote to the Vatican, Timlin “called my abode and in an advancing abode he talked to my dad,” a chat Doe said he witnessed.
“I aloof bethink my dad actuality livid,” Doe said. “I additionally bethink audition about how Timlin said that in the old canicule aback article like that happened you could action [the accuser] chargeless academy and accomplish this go away.”
Thomas Dubas, the Lackawanna County investigator assigned to attending into Doe’s allegations in 2002, said that Timlin was not cooperative.
“They didn’t accessible their accoutrements to any investigation,” Dubas told NBC Account of Timlin’s diocese. “For months we accustomed to get a account of acceptance from the area and aback we assuredly got it I beatific a letter to every kid cogent them to alarm us if they were affected inappropriately.” (No one added than Doe responded to the letter.)
Timlin, who retired in 2003, is now 91 and active at the Villa St. Joseph in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, which is a home for retired priests. He is not accomplishing interviews, said Bill Genello, a agent for the Area of Scranton.
In acknowledgment to an emailed account of questions, Timlin’s lawyer, Marc Raspanti, beatific a statement: “Respectfully, Abbey Timlin does not ambition any added animadversion above what he has already provided to the Admirable Jury.”
The account Timlin’s attorneys provided to the admirable lath did not anon abode Timlin’s administration of the allegations adjoin Urrutigoity and the Affiliation of Saint John. The account about dedicated Timlin’s acknowledgment to corruption allegations adjoin priests. In 1993, Timlin accustomed an absolute analysis lath of lay bodies to admonish him on the issue, and he additionally created a compatible action for responding to adolescent corruption allegations, the account said.
“While not perfect, the Area of Scranton was in the beat of abounding religious organizations acclamation the austere apropos accompanying to adolescent animal corruption by associates of the clergy,” the account said.
Still, Timlin accustomed in the account his attorneys provided to the admirable lath that his efforts were not consistently sufficient.
“Bishop Emeritus Timlin recognizes that some of his accomplished decisions apropos offenders were imperfect, and in hindsight abjure that his accomplished judgements at the time acquired a distinct day of affliction to any victims,” the account said.
John Doe’s father’s letter to the Vatican about the declared corruption was afterwards baffled to Timlin. It was not the aboriginal time Timlin had been warned about Urrutigoity’s behavior.
In 1999, Bernard Fellay, arch of the traditionalist Catholic Affiliation of Saint Pius X, wrote Timlin a letter advertisement that Urrutigoity’s “homual behavior” got him booted from the seminary in Argentina and that he was accustomed a “second chance” at the society’s seminary in Winona, Minnesota. But there he was accused in the 1990s of aing a adolescent seminarian’s bed “for accessible backbiting acts.”
“Our cessation is that there is a alarming arrangement in Fr. Urrutigoity and we feel answerable to acknowledge this to you,” Fellay wrote in the letter, which he beatific aback he abstruse Urrutigoity had confused to Pennsylvania.
Fellay did not acknowledge to requests for comment.
Timlin, in an Oct. 27, 2003, degradation in the John Doe case, said he confronted Urrutigoity with the letter.
“I went appropriate up and showed him the letter and he denied that there was any atrocity there,” Timlin said.
Timlin accomplished a leash of priests to Minnesota in July 1999 to investigate the allegations. Amidst added things, the seminarian mentioned in Fellay’s letter told them that Urrutigoity groped him and capital to watch him use a suppository, according to the admirable lath abode and added documents.
“They could not appear to a cessation as to whether [Urrutigoity] was accusable or not,” Timlin said in the deposition.
So Timlin larboard Urrutigoity area he was.
“There was annihilation that I could do at that point, there was no way I could administer any amends or all of that because he hasn’t been accurate guilty,” Timlin said in the deposition. “And so that was the end of that.”
Timlin said he additionally batten with Urrutigoity about the Argentina allegations.
“His account was they had a accurate accord of some affectionate but annihilation amiss and annihilation wrong,” the abbey said.
Urrutigoity and Ensey did not amble continued in Scranton afterwards Doe sued. Timlin abeyant the priests in 2002 and accomplished them for cerebral evaluations to the Southdown Convention in Canada, which specializes in alleviative clergy, The Pocono Record appear in June 2012.
Citing account from a March 2002 audition of the Area of Scranton absolute analysis board, the cardboard appear that doctors at the convention recommended that both priests be barred from accessible ministry.
Timlin’s successor, Abbey Martino, completed the abeyance of the Affiliation of Saint John in 2004 and awash off the 1,000-acre Shohola property, which had been purchased with a $2.6 actor accommodation affirmed by Timlin, according to appear reports. The acreage itself was bought for $2.2 actor and the blow of the money was to be acclimated to body on the land.
When Urrutigoity was aggravating to get his Catholic apple built, two affluent donors — Matthew Sawyer and John Blewitt — abdicate the lath in beef amidst revelations that the priests had spent $134,486 on appliance and ashen tens of bags added on commons and added items, according to belletrist and a letter from Sawyer beheld by NBC News.
Urrutigoity eventually begin a safe anchorage in Paraguay at the Area of Ciudad del Este, area the Affiliation of Saint John was reportedly reconstituted. The arch-conservative abbey Rogelio Livieres Plano fabricated Urrutigoity his No. 2.
“The Abbey of the Area of Ciudad del Este accepted Urrutigoity, citation the letter accounting by Timlin wherein Timlin gave a aglow assessment of the SSJ [Society of Saint John] and Urrutigoity,” Shapiro, the Pennsylvania advocate general, wrote in his abode on the admirable lath findings.
It wasn’t bright whether Timlin wrote this letter afore the Scranton aspersion bankrupt or afterward. But aback the Paraguayan aggregation abstruse of the corruption allegations adjoin Urrutigoity, the account acquired an uproar and eventually led to the abatement of Livieres and Urrutigoity in 2014.
Urrutigoity again confused aback to Argentina, according to bounded media cited by GlobalPost. He could not be amid for comment.
Ensey begin abutment in Vancouver, Canada, area a priest hosted him at Sts. Peter and Paul Abbey and helped him accession money for the Affiliation of Saint John, The Vancouver Sun reported. The funds went to the society’s operations in Paraguay, which aggregation were told included an orphanage, the Sun reported.
Ensey was eventually defrocked in 2014, according to appear reports. His aftermost accepted abode was in Redding, California, and he did not acknowledgment a alarm to his home buzz number.
The Urrutigoity aspersion apparent a declining in the Catholic Church’s “zero tolerance” action for bloodthirsty priests, which the U.S. bishops accustomed in 2002, said C. Colt Anderson, a abbey historian and theologian at Fordham University who was one of the aboriginal Catholic advisers to address about the priest corruption scandal.
The action has no accouterment for policing the bishops, who accept a lot of elbowroom in ablution investigations and adorning botheration priests — as Timlin bootless to do, Anderson said.
“This is not activity to be resolved,” Anderson said, “unless you authority the bishops accountable.”
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