An ex-priest said Monday that he left the priesthood because one of his colleagues, who he claims abused him for four years, was not removed from ministry by church officials.
The revelations — including the witness’ statement that he reported the abuse to Monsignor William J. Lynn — came during the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex-abuse case, where Lynn is a defendant.
The witness, R.K., testified that he took a leave of absence because “I could no longer get out there on Sunday and defend a church that didn’t protect me.” The Legal is not naming the alleged victims.
R.K. testified that he reported his abuse to the archdiocese when Lynn was secretary for clergy in the archdiocese between 1992 and 2004.
Lynn was responsible for the assignment of priests and responding to reports of sexual abuse or other improprieties allegedly committed by priests.
Lynn is on trial for allegedly endangering the welfare of two young men whom his co-defendants allegedly abused and being in a conspiracy with his co-defendants.
R.K. said he told church supervisors in the early 1990s that the Rev. Stanley Gana had abused him from 1980 to 1984. Yet Gana was not defrocked until 2006, according to the Associated Press.
R.K. said between 1997 and 2002 he was in touch with Lynn through letters, meetings or phone calls about the abuse he suffered at Gana’s hands.
In 1997, Lynn and R.K. met, the witness said. Lynn said that Gana was not classified as a pedophile — a person who prefers children sexually over adults — or as a ephebophile — a person who prefers adolescents sexually over adults. Lynn also said, R.K. testified, that Gana also was sexually acting out with women and stealing money from parishes and that he was now under supervised ministry and no longer would be a risk.
His sister, who R.K. had told about the abuse, called him in the spring of 1999 saying that she had seen Gana celebrate Mass at a monastery and that there were altar servers with him in the sanctuary.
When R.K. reached out to Lynn about that, he said Lynn told him that the mother superior of the monastery scheduled the altar servers and that the servers were never left alone with Gana. But R.K. testified that he said Gana would have the opportunity to meet the parents of the altar servers at Mass and through the parents’ permission get time alone with the altar servers.
“I remember saying, ‘He’s a very smart man. He knows how to get things done,’” R.K. testified.
In 2002, R.K. said he wrote to Lynn again because a controversy had erupted over the Archdiocese of Boston’s policy of moving sexually abusive priests around.
Lynn wrote back to inform R.K. that the archdiocese’s policies had changed and any priest who’d had sexual contacts with minors would no longer be allowed to be in ministry.
“I was getting increasingly more angry that Stanley Gana had a place in Philadelphia but, selfishly, I did not,” R.K. said.
During cross-examination by Lynn’s defense attorney Thomas A. Bergstrom, Bergstrom emphasized that Lynn told R.K. that it was the late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua’s position that Gana should be in restricted ministry, instead of being kept out of ministry altogether.
“‘Please know I do not act independently of Cardinal Bevilacqua,”” Lynn wrote in 2002, R.K. testified.
Gana abused at least three others to his knowledge, R.K. testified.
The abuse started when he was 13, the summer before he started his freshman year of high school, R.K. said.
R.K. said after he started working at the church on the weekend assisting the priests before and after Mass, Gana invited him to spend time at his farmhouse in the Poconos, to go out to see movies, to go out to eat and to watch television in Gana’s rooms. To the minds of his devout Catholic parents it was a great honor that a priest had taken such an interest in their son, R.K. said.
R.K. said during times he was alone with Gana there was oral sex and Gana would try to sodomize him.
Even though R.K. would cry when Gana would try to penetrate him, Gana would tell him he loved him and it was just one man’s expression of love for another.
R.K. said he was naïve and trusting, and Gana knew what to say to him: “‘I love you. It’s OK. It’s our special relationship.’”
He also was raised to believe that a Catholic priest would never harm you, R.K. said.
And “as sick as that is,” R.K. said he feared rejection if Gana’s sexual attentions ended, including that Gana would no longer be a part of his family and no longer stop by to say hello to his parents and drop off extra items Gana would buy in bulk.
Gana kept him isolated from his peers, R.K. said.
He recounted his excitement at receiving an invitation to join the National Honor Society while attending Archbishop Ryan High School, but Gana told him he wasn’t smart enough, that he would be probably kicked out of the society and he would dishonor his family, R.K. testified.
The abuse continued until R.K. entered the seminary for college with the intention of becoming a priest, he said.
Gana would show up at the seminary, R.K. said.
In 1985, he told Gana that he knew what he had been doing to him and that it was going to stop, R.K. testified. Gana was angry and said he’d done more for him than his family had, R.K. testified.
“The chains of that relationship that bound me were breaking apart for me but I don’t think they ever broke apart for him,” R.K. said.
Lynn was working at R.K.’s seminary at the same time that R.K. was in attendance, R.K. said.
In 1991, R.K. said he had contact again with Lynn when he was facing allegations of sexual misconduct with a fellow seminarian and because R.K. was questioning the teachings about married clergy and homosexual clergy. Lynn was one of the ones looking into the allegations.
The evidence of the allegations was found to be inconclusive, but Bevilacqua ruled that R.K. should either seek “excardination” or placement in another diocese, R.K. said.
R.K. finished his priestly education in the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut, he said, and he served nine years as a priest.
R.K. has stayed involved in Catholicism. He works for a Catholic school for inner-city children in Chicago, he said.