By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New evidence in the Philadelphia clergy sex abuse case indicates that church officials, including the late cardinals John Krol and Anthony Bevilacqua, allowed an alleged predator priest to remain in ministry for years, apparently ignored increasingly dire warnings the priest was “a powder keg.”
The defense for Monsignor William Lynn, now being tried on charges that he endangered children by allowing alleged or admitted predator priests to remain in ministry, today suggested to the jury that it was Lynn who finally acted to remove the priest from ministry in late 1993.
According to testimony today, church officials first learned in 1986 that Father Peter Dunne had allegedly sexually assaulted an altar boy years earlier.
Secret church archives show there were additional allegations and admissions, but still the late Cardinal John Krol assigned Dunne to a Bucks County parish in 1987.
And later, even after a therapist told church officials that Dunne was a pedophile who should never minister to children, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua assigned Dunne as assistant pastor at Visitation BVM in Norristown.
Father Dunne, ordained in 1954, allegedly had carried on a long relationship with an altar boy. He allegedly began grooming the boy after the teen voiced concerns in confession about his sexual identity.
Secret church archives indicate that Dunne admitted to having sex with adult men but denied sex with children — but a therapist who treated Dunne reported he was in denial, dangerous, “a powder keg,” and recommended that Dunne never minister to children again.
The defense for Monsignor William Lynn, who has pleaded not guilty, contends that the archbishops had final say on priest placements — and that many of the church actions in this and other cited cases happened before Lynn was appointed Secretary for Clergy in 2002.
The grand jury considered charges against Bevilacqua but declined. Until his death, Bevilacqua denied wrongdoing. Lynn is not charged in the Dunne case.