Skip to comments.Pedophile Priest & Boy Vacations with Bishop
Posted on 06/29/2002 4:05:17 PM PDT by Coleus
Just before Easter, Paterson's Roman Catholic bishop gave his flock some instructions on what to do about sexual abuse by priests.
Report it to the cops, said Bishop Frank Rodimer.
The bishop's letter stands in sad, ironic contrast to the fix he now finds himself in. Rodimer needs to tell us what he knows about a priest-friend who sexually abused a boy. Otherwise, the bishop looks like he's hiding something.
This story begins three decades ago. Two priests rented a beach house at the Jersey shore. Rodimer and his friend, the Rev. Peter Osinski, enjoyed each other's company so much that they rented other beach houses during other summers, even after Rodimer became a bishop and Osinski a principal of a Catholic high school in the Salem County community of Carneys Point. On some of those beach sojourns, Father Osinski was visited by a young boy.
In October 1997, Father Osinski was arrested for sexually abusing the boy for seven years, beginning when the boy was 6. Some of the abuse took place at a house on Long Beach Island that Father Osinski rented with Bishop Rodimer. In March 1998, Father Osinski pleaded guilty to sexual assault and endangering a child's welfare. He was given a 10-year prison term.
It needs to be said here that law enforcement authorities never considered Bishop Rodimer a suspect. The bishop claims he never noticed any sort of abuse at the beach house. Nevertheless, the bishop agreed in 1999 to settle a civil suit - and pay money - to the victim's family. The suit charged that Bishop Rodimer was negligent and should have noticed the abuse.
Bishop Rodimer kept this settlement a secret until last week. And even then, he was hardly forthcoming. He still won't say how much his diocese agreed to pay. A diocesan spokeswoman will reveal only that the payment was part of a settlement of $2.3 million to $2.5 million paid out to victims of a number of sexual abuse cases.
The bishop explains that he was bound by a legal agreement to keep the settlement terms confidential. Fine. But a far more important priority requires that he come forward now.
Bishop Rodimer is not just any obscure citizen. He is the spiritual leader of 377,000 Catholics in Passaic, Morris, and Sussex counties. He needs to answer this question: If he did nothing wrong, why did he agree to settle a lawsuit in a sexual abuse case - one authorities say he had nothing to do with?
Maybe he feared bad public relations, that to challenge such a lawsuit in court could be embarrassing to him and the Catholic Church. Maybe he worried about the toll a trial would take on the victim, now in his early 20s.
The problem is no one is quite sure what the bishop was thinking. For him to continue as a moral force, he needs to explain himself - especially when the nation is hearing new allegations of sexual abuse by priests and coverups by bishops almost every day.
"Hindsight is a brutal and humbling teacher," Bishop Rodimer said in a three-page statement released Saturday, amid news reports about the beach house he rented with Father Osinski.
The bishop's words seem pained, weighed down by the knowledge that Catholicism faces rough times ahead. He is a good man, it seems, with a record of never being afraid to speak out.
He needs to speak now. He needs to be clear and complete
Peter J. Osinski was finishing up his priestly training at St. Paul's Church in Clifton when he and the pastor, the Rev. Frank Rodimer, became friends.
The two, who met in the late Sixties, would go on to bigger and better things. Rodimer became the bishop of the Diocese of Paterson and Osinski became a priest in the Diocese of Camden.
"He had a great interest in pastoral ministry, and he was very successful at that," Rodimer said Wednesday.
The men stayed friends, meeting for two weeks at vacation homes at the Jersey shore almost every summer from the early Seventies until 1996. That friendship now has become an embarrassment to Rodimer, amid revelations that Osinski molested a young boy at the house.
Osinski is serving a 10-year prison sentence for abusing the boy, and Rodimer settled a lawsuit accusing him of negligence in not noticing the abuse.
In an interview Wednesday, Rodimer said he was shocked to learn of Osinski's actions and insisted he knew nothing about them.
"Something was going on under the roof that was horrendous," said Rodimer, who became the bishop in 1977. "And I didn't know what was going on." He described the summers with Osinski as almost a spiritual retreat.
"We prayed together every day, we said Mass together, and we talked about our pastoral experiences," he said.
Rodimer has declined to say how much the diocese had to pay to settle the lawsuit.
The suit attracted little notice when it was filed in Ocean County in 1998. But the episode is one of many stories coming to light amid the national sex abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church.
In court documents and interviews, a picture emerges of a disturbed priest and an unknowing bishop. The abuse took place between 1984 and 1996, both at the victim's home and at a vacation spot on Long Beach Island. In a deposition, Osinski said that on four or five occasions, Rodimer "was in his room asleep" while Osinski was in his own room having sexual contact with the boy.
Osinski also said Rodimer's room was down the hall from his own. But Osinski insisted during the deposition that Rodimer didn't know what was going on. The only times Rodimer may have witnessed Osinski and the victim physically close was when the two greeted each other with a hug, he said. One night - sometime in the mid-Nineties - Rodimer, Osinski, and the victim went to see the movie "Sister Act." The victim told authorities that Osinski abused him after they returned home from the movie.
Rodimer said Wednesday he can't discuss any details because he and the other parties to the lawsuit are bound by confidentiality agreements. Still, he said the continued publicity is troubling.
"I hate the implications of this,'' he said. "There is nothing wrong with priests having friends and going on vacation."
Attorney Ken Mullaney, who represents the diocese, said Rodimer's settling of the case should not be construed as an admission of liability. And Mullaney said Rodimer cooperated with authorities. He released to The Record a form letter written in July 1998 from the Ocean County prosecutor's office thanking the bishop for his help and cooperation.
Neither Mullaney nor the victim's lawyer, Stephen Rubino, would discuss details of the case.
Bishop Frank J. Rodimer of the Diocese of Paterson said he never knew his friend and colleague, the Rev. Peter Osinski, was abusing a boy while the two clerics shared a summer home.
For some, Rodimer's failure to recognize what was happening under his own roof suggests a troubling disconnect, emblematic of the sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic church.
"The point is, there is a built-in denial system in the clerical system, especially about sex,'' said A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist who has treated both victims and abuser priests. "It's not seen. It's not commented on. It's denied.''
Yet other experts, speaking in general terms, said it's reasonable the bishop knew nothing because child abuse is carried out in countless households unbeknown to spouses and siblings.
Dr. Fred Berlin, a psychiatrist who founded the sexual disorders clinic at Johns Hopkins University, said society as a whole has been slow to recognize the warning signs of sexual abuse against boys.
"For years, people did not think boys would be the victims of sexual abuse; it was girls who needed protection,'' Berlin said. "Now we have learned very sadly that boys needed the protection. But that kind of appreciation has only come to a head in more recent years.''
Rodimer and Osinski shared vacation homes at the New Jersey shore from the early 1970s to 1997, the year Osinski was arrested for molesting a boy over a period of 12 years. Osinski, a priest in the Diocese of Camden, pleaded guilty and is serving a 10-year prison term.
Rodimer said he knew nothing about the abuse, and said he was horrified to learn the truth.
In a deposition, Osinski said he engaged in sexual contact with the boy four or five times in a Long Beach Island home while Rodimer was asleep in his room down the hall.
One victims' advocate, speaking in general terms, expressed skepticism that such abuse could go unnoticed.
"In deposition after deposition, we have seen dozens if not hundreds of priests say things like 'it seemed odd,' or 'it troubled me,' or 'I wondered if something happened,'" said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
Still, both Osinski and the victim told authorities Rodimer had no knowledge of their relationship, and never asked about it. Osinski said he didn't need to explain the boy's presence to Rodimer, because the boy's family also visited the summer home as overnight guests. The parents gave their permission for the boy to stay on after they left.
In a suit filed against Rodimer, however, Stephen Rubino, the lawyer for the victim, says the bishop's experience at handling sex abuse cases within the diocese should have enabled him to recognize that Osinski was "grooming'' the boy for a sexual relationship.
For Rodimer, the lessons of the Osinski case seemed evident in a sworn statement he gave a year after Osinski was sentenced.
In a deposition for another sex abuse case, Rodimer expressed distaste after learning how one of his priests became unusually close with a student.
The student alleged abuse and the priest was removed from his teaching assignment.
"It's more obvious today than it ever was," he said, "that this is not a good relationship between a priest faculty member or |any faculty member, and a student.''
Staff Writer John Chadwick's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
This info should be subpoenaed. The Church has undermined all the good priests in this country by not being forthcoming.
What, exactly, does this mean? That priests can't go to a movie with teenage boys? That they can't go out for ice cream or a hamburger? I was interested in the priesthood at all because a good monsignor, Robert Forliti, took me under his wing and took a special interest in me.
Maybe he was gay, I don't know. But he never laid a hand on me or said anything out of the ordinary.
I suspect that the relationship between priests and boys who might be interested in the priesthood is going to change dramatically because of this scandal, and that will mean some of these guys go do other things and forget about the priesthood.
Did you know that those who give to Masonic Charities like the Shriners are not if favor with the Holy See?
He also recruited Fr. Alonzo who became rector of St. John's Cathedral, he too was a pedophile. He also allowed Fr. Hanley and many others to contiue with their evil ways. The Bishop sold Pope Pius XII High School in Passaic to settle a sex abuse case.
Where in the world did this come from? Are you drifting off into tinfoil land?
I've been to a Shriner's Circus in the past, and have given to the Shriner's Burn Center in Dallas in the past?
Am I going to burn in hell?
The Catholic Church weilds to much power. Many priests waste money, a priest in NYC spent $300,000 in school funds on his 18 yr. old houseboy, homosexual lover, as stated in the NY Post.
I've got two grown boys, but, if they were teenagers, I'd have second thoughts about letting them go anywhere with a priest, unless I knew him very, very well.
Now I see where you're coming from.
You don't like the Catholic Church. Catholics are not supposed to belong to the Masons. I haven't heard that they can't donate to Masonic Charities.
Friday, June 28, 2002
The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office said Thursday that it won't bring criminal charges against 20 priests accused of sexual abuse during the past 41 years.
After a review of church files, the prosecutor's office determined many of the cases were too old to prosecute. Those that weren't had either already been tried, involved priests who are no longer alive or were dismissed because of "anonymous or vague information."
Acting Prosecutor Boris Moczula was supportive of the diocese in his statement, holding that "the few times" the diocese didn't report allegations of child abuse, "there was no evidence of criminal intent" and that in those instances, their lack of disclosure was "an attempt at honoring the victims' confidentiality."
Out of 26 allegations of abuse shared by the 20 priests, 20 were determined to be beyond the New Jersey statute of limitations, two priests were deceased, four had already been prosecuted and dismissed for insufficient evidence, and two others, Peter McBride and José Alonso, had already been prosecuted.
Alonso pleaded guilty to molesting two altar boys in 1987 at St. John's Cathedral in Paterson. McBride was removed from St Andrew the Apostle Church in Clifton in 1994 after a minor accused him of exposing himself and the priest later pleaded guilty to harassing two adult women.
Although they are not legally responsible, the priests will be subject to a review by the diocese. According to a new policy regarding clergy who abuse minors that was approved by Catholic bishops two weeks ago, allegations must now go through a Diocesan Review Board made up mostly of lay people. The board will first determine if the priests are guilty of abuse, and then if the priests should step down or retain their positions.
Although most of the allegations were found to be too old, Moczula pointed out that the limitation "does not rule out the possibility that some victims were sexually abused."
"The information will be helpful for us to make our administrative decision," said Marianna Thompson, a diocesan spokeswoman.
Moczula said he was planning to turn over all information his office had gathered to the diocese by next week.
"We are counting on the quality of evidence we are providing them to help them determine any administrative decisions they might decide to make."
Admittedly Bishop Rodimer has made a lot of bad mistakes while he has been the Bishop of our Diocese, but you're trying to depict him as almost an evil man and I do not believe that to be the case.
I guess that vow of poverty went out the window the same time as the vow of chastity. I've been to Long Beach Island, and it's not cheap to rent a house there for the summer.
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