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Archbishop appeals for abuse info (Chaput)
Denver Post ^ | 27July 2005 | Eric Gorski

Posted on 07/27/2005 4:23:12 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham

Archbishop appeals for abuse info

By Eric Gorski
Denver Post Staff Writer

Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput faxed letters Tuesday to 11 parishes across Colorado where a priest accused of child molestation formerly served, asking parishioners to come forward with information about child sexual abuse.

In response to a report Tuesday in The Denver Post detailing the allegation of abuse, Chaput also issued a statement detailing the steps the church has taken to protect children.

A 49-year-old Southern California man, Brandon Trask, notified the archdiocese this year that Harold Robert White had molested him in the early 1970s when White was pastor of St. Patrick's Church in Minturn, a small Eagle County town.

The 72-year-old White, who lives in a Denver retirement community, has said he does not remember Trask or the alleged abuse.

In the letters sent Tuesday to the 11 parishes where White served between 1960 and 1993, Chaput reiterates previous statements that White has been out of active ministry since 1993 and was laicized, or removed from clerical status, by the Vatican last year. Chaput also includes the years White served at the specific parish he is addressing.

Chaput did not ask parishioners to come forward with any information about White. Rather, he uses more general language, asking, "If you or anyone you know has information regarding the sexual abuse of a minor," contact Nancy Walla, who was hired to oversee the archdiocese's response to national reforms adopted following the clergy abuse scandal that erupted three years ago.

Chaput has made similar pleas in the past.

Fran Maier, chancellor of the archdiocese, declined to provide a copy of the letter, saying the parishes need a chance to read it before it is widely publicized. A staff member at one of the churches agreed to share its contents with The Denver Post.

Troy Gray, who heads the Colorado chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, the nation's largest clergy abuse victims group, commended the archdiocese for contacting the parishes but said that should have been done when Trask first brought the allegation forward this year.

"I applaud the church for what they're doing now," Gray said. "They have no perpetrators in ministry. Bravo. But the damage was done 20, 40 years ago. We're too deep into this so-called scandal across the nation. Don't hide anything. Just be truthful."

In a statement intended for the entire 24-county archdiocese, Chaput notes that while the church "cannot control events of the past," it promptly and seriously responds to every allegation, even those decades old.

"We do not have, and will not tolerate, any priest in active ministry in the Archdiocese of Denver who has a credible claim of child sexual misconduct against him," Chaput wrote. "... We will respond to anyone else who makes an allegation - as well as anyone who is accused - with a spirit of justice, prudence and healing."

Chaput said the archdiocese reports all claims of sexual abuse against minors to law enforcement; respects the rights of accuser, accused and others involved; and offers counseling when helpful, "including some cases where the claim seems unfounded."

The archdiocese reported Trask's complaint to Minturn police. Trask accepted the diocese's offer of paid counseling.

Citing privacy, the archdiocese has declined to answer several questions about White, including whether he has been accused by others in the past.

Staff writer Eric Gorski can be reached at 303-820-1698 or

Where he served
June 4, 1960: Ordained

1960-63: assistant pastor, St. Catherine, Denver

1963-65: assistant pastor, St. Mary, Colorado Springs*

1965-68: assistant pastor, St. Anthony Church, Sterling

1968-70: assistant pastor, St. John the Evangelist, Loveland

1970-79: pastor, St. Patrick's Church, Minturn

1978-81: pastor, St. Mary, Aspen

1981-83: associate pastor, Good Shepherd, Denver

1983-85: associate pastor, Sts. Peter and Paul, Wheat Ridge

1985-90: associate pastor, St. Anne, Grand Lake

1990: parochial vicar (assistant pastor), Holy Name, Steamboat Springs

1990-93: parochial vicar, St. Patrick's in Minturn and St. Mary in Eagle

1993: Leaves active ministry

2004: Laicized, or officially removed from clerical status

* At the time, Colorado Springs was part of the Denver archdiocese.

Source: Archdiocese of Denver

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events

1 posted on 07/27/2005 4:23:12 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
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Breaking his long silence

He claims he was molested by a priest as a Minturn teen in the '70s. The church says it takes allegations seriously, but he's not convinced.

By Eric Gorski
Denver Post Staff Writer

Minturn - He is 49 years old now, with thinning hair, a goatee and an art career on the West Coast. But a drive through the town where he grew up brings childhood back to Brandon Trask: picking blueberries by the river, Sunday Mass at the old yellow church, the priest who lived across the street and touched him like a priest shouldn't.

In the early 1970s, when he was in his early teens, Trask said, the Rev. Harold Robert White invited him to the famous mineral pool in Glenwood Springs.

The boy figured it was a group outing. But driving off in the priest's black Mustang, it was just the two of them.

In the chest-deep water, Trask alleged, the priest reached into his swim trunks and molested him, holding the boy back when he tried to swim away.

Returning that night to this Eagle County town, White led the boy into his bedroom in the church rectory and molested him again, Trask alleged.

Even now, he remembers the wooden crucifix that hung on the wall.

"I was asking myself, 'Why is this happening to me? Is there something I did wrong?"' Trask said. "I could have never, ever said anything about this to anybody. It would just not have been believed."

Contacted by The Denver Post last week, White said he had no recollection of Trask or what he described.

After a life of silence, Trask formally brought the allegations to the Denver Roman Catholic Archdiocese this spring.

What happened next is usually shrouded in secrecy: The archdiocese will not discuss specific complaints or disclose names of accused priests. In talking to The Denver Post, Trask provided an unusual glimpse into how complaints are handled.

On the essentials, church officials followed protocol: They invited Trask to appear last month before a sexual-conduct response team, offered to pay for his counseling and notified Minturn police of the allegation against White.

But the tensions between accuser and archdiocese that have since developed illustrate the difficulties and conflicting priorities that persist more than three years after the U.S. Catholic Church was plunged into scandal by a flood of allegations against priests accused of molesting minors and bishops covering it up.

Trask is pushing for full disclosure and demanding to know what church officials knew about White and when - including whether others had accused White. Trask said he is planning to sue the archdiocese.

The archdiocese says it takes allegations seriously and is committed to protecting children but draws the line at disclosing details of allegations, citing the privacy of accuser and accused.

Fran Maier, chancellor of the archdiocese, would not say whether other allegations have been leveled against White. But Maier confirmed that White worked in 11 parishes over 33 years, has been out of active ministry since 1993 and was laicized - or reduced to lay status - by the Vatican last year.

That process can be started by either priest or archdiocese, and the Denver archdiocese would not say which happened in this case or why. Though reforms adopted by U.S. bishops in 2002 in response to the scandal mention laicization as a remedy against problem priests, the process is sought for other reasons as well.

A search of public records found no evidence that White has faced criminal charges of any kind.

Reached last week at his apartment in a Denver retirement community and told of Trask's allegation, the 72-year-old White replied, "Aw, geez." He paused, then continued: "I sure don't recall that. I have no recollection of that person."

Asked whether he had ever been accused of child sexual abuse, White said, "That's sort of a personal question. I don't think you have the right to ask that."

He was asked the same question twice more.

"That I don't think I have to answer," he said. "I was in Minturn in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That's a long time ago."

Distancing from the past

The son of a zinc miner and a homemaker, Trask said his teen years were mostly happily spent skiing in the trees at Vail and clambering up mountain peaks.

Back then, Trask's name was Jesse Gonzales. He said he changed his name in 1997 to help his art career and distance himself from the past.

Across the street lived White, who graduated from St. Thomas Seminary in Denver in 1960. White arrived at St. Patrick's Church in Minturn in 1970; it was his fifth parish and his first assignment as a pastor.

Trask recalls one other incident of abuse, the last one: He said White cornered him in the rectory hallway, zipped down his pants and attempted oral sex.

"I told him, 'No,"' Trask said. "I told him I wanted to have a girlfriend because this is not me. He said, 'Well, this is just for fun.' I walked out the door."

Trask left Minturn for good after high school, moving to Oregon to study photography, then relocating to Los Angeles. A bodybuilding career was cut short when he was struck crossing the street by a drunken driver. He worked for a fitness center and started making art, crafting body casts of male nudes.

Trask believes what happened to him in his hometown changed him profoundly. He said he became distant from his parents, three brothers and one sister. He couldn't trust people as before.

He struggled with his sexuality. Growing up, Trask said, he always thought he was gay. But in his late teens, he became involved with women, even fathering twins out of wedlock. Trask said it took years to realize that being gay was who he was and that White had nothing to do with it.

It wasn't until two years ago that Trask said he started thinking about White again. He said the trigger was a neck injury on the job that laid him up, causing him to think about things.

"The thought of Father White blindsided me," Trask said. "It's hard to explain. This is helping me cleanse my life, to close some doors that have never been closed before."

Dealing with the church

Trask's first contact with the archdiocese came last year when he called the current priest in Minturn. He referred Trask to Nancy Walla, hired in 2003 to oversee the Denver archdiocese's compliance with reforms adopted by U.S. bishops to quell the abuse scandal.

Walla called Trask, and the two talked for two hours. In June, Trask traveled to Colorado to meet the conduct response team, composed mostly of lay people, that reviews allegations.

Before the meeting, Trask sought advice from Troy Gray, who heads the Colorado chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. Gray, who won a settlement against the Tucson diocese, advised Trask, "Watch what you say, and don't sign anything."

Seated at a long wooden table, Trask described what had happened. He was asked what he wanted. He said he wanted an apology from White.

Trask said Walla asked whether a phone call from White would suffice. He replied that he wanted a face-to-face meeting.

Walla told Trask that White was no longer a priest, but she would not answer questions about his other parish assignments, where he is now or whether he left the priesthood on his own or was forced, Trask said.

Walla asked whether Trask wanted therapy, and he accepted the archdiocese's offer to pay for it. Maier, the chancellor of the archdiocese, said the archdiocese tends to offer counseling "for any allegation with any credibility" but emphasized it is not an admission that abuse occurred.

Trask said he left the meeting unsatisfied.

"I told them, 'I'm leaving here with an empty heart.' It isn't that they didn't believe it. It's that nothing will come of it."

Trask also is upset by a May 18 e-mail in which Monsignor Thomas Fryar, the archdiocese's vicar for clergy, details Trask's claim in a report to Minturn Police Chief Lorenzo Martinez.

Since 1991, the archdiocese has followed a policy that it report child- abuse claims to authorities. The Colorado legislature in 2002 made it state law: Clergy must report child-abuse allegations to police. However, the criminal statute of limitations on child sex abuse - 10 years past the victim's 18th birthday - had long since passed for Trask.

In Fryar's e-mail, Trask's name, address and phone number are listed. White is identified, but the report lacks his full name, date of birth or last known address.

"Police reports have information on both parties," Trask said. "It made it look like it's all me."

Maier said victims' information is included so police can reach them. He said that because White is no longer an employee, the archdiocese doesn't have his address. Martinez was unavailable for comment.

Scandal limited in Colorado

Exploding in Boston in 2002 and reaching nearly every corner of the country, the clergy abuse scandal has become the worst crisis in the church's U.S. history. More than 4,300 priests allegedly abused more than 10,000 minors since 1950.

In Colorado, the damage has been limited. The Denver archdiocese has reported credible allegations against seven priests involving 21 victims and $997,730 spent on settlements and counseling since 1950. The archdiocese also revealed it fielded additional allegations in 2004 against eight priests, most involving decades-old cases.

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput has said no priest in active ministry has been credibly accused of molesting a child, which Maier said remains true.

U.S. bishops three years ago adopted a policy that stated, "When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established ... the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry."

But the issue of disclosure remains controversial. When U.S. bishops renewed the abuse reforms in June, victim advocates demanded that dioceses be required to disclose perpetrators' names, to no avail.

Maier said the Denver archdiocese takes seriously and acts promptly on all allegations. But he said priests deserve protection from potentially false allegations, and many victims desire privacy out of fear of being retraumatized.

"Our policies have always been guided by sensitivity and discretion to the people who might be hurt by the information," Maier said.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, dismissed the idea that victims' privacy is at risk because identifying perpetrators does not identify their victims.

Clohessy said there is value in disclosing the names of abusers, even if the cases date back 20 or 30 years.

"There may well be dozens of other men and women who were molested by these guys, each suffering in shame and self-blame and thinking they're the only ones," he said.

White doesn't recall teen

Over three decades, Harold Robert White moved from urban to rural settings, from being an assistant pastor to pastor and back to assistant pastor. He is also identified in archdiocese directories as H. Robert White and Robert White.

In a brief phone interview last week, White said the archdiocese had not contacted him about Trask's allegation. He said he remembered a family named Gonzales across the street from him, but no Jesse.

White said he left the archdiocese in the early 1990s because he was suffering from heart problems and to care for his ill mother. He cut the interview short, referring further questions to the archdiocese. He has not responded to further interview requests.

Trask has changed his mind about wanting only an apology. Now he said he hopes that other victims come forward as a result of his going public and that he can file a lawsuit against the Denver archdiocese.

In general, child sex abuse victims in Colorado must file a civil suit by the time they reach age 24 except in select circumstances, including cases of repressed memory. Some plaintiffs, however, have sued Catholic dioceses and argued that statutes of limitations should be extended.

Before leaving Colorado to return to Southern California, Trask talked with his family.

He told them how much he enjoyed his time back home, how it brought back memories of foraging along the Eagle River, of climbing Mount of the Holy Cross, and of the priest who lived across the street.

"I have to say something," he told his mother, father and sister. "I have to tell everyone."

His mother, he said, was shocked by what he described.

"Father White?" she said. "Him? I don't believe it."

"Yes, Father White," her son replied. "It's taken me 30 years to tell you."

Staff writer Eric Gorski can be reached at 303-820-1698 or

2 posted on 07/27/2005 4:31:21 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
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Dear friends in the Lord,

Over the past 17 years, as society's understanding of sexual abuse has deepened, laypeople and clergy of the Archdiocese of Denver have worked hard to maintain a Church environment free of sexual misconduct, especially with minors. Throughout those efforts, we’ve always understood that we do not and cannot control events of the past. At the same time, we can and do respond to any allegation of child sexual abuse - including those from decades ago - promptly, seriously and pastorally as we receive them. This we have done, and this will continue.

The story in today’s Denver Post is painful but not unexpected. The victim in question contacted us earlier this year with allegations of sexual abuse as a minor 30 years ago by a former priest of the archdiocese. We reported the matter to law enforcement authorities, as we would with any such allegation. While it is inappropriate to discuss the details of any specific case, we do immediately invite any victim who comes forward to share his or her experiences with our archdiocesan Conduct Response Team. That team - which has a lay majority and includes a former state judge, a licensed psychologist, two licensed counselors and the archdiocese’s vicar for clergy - has the task of listening carefully to the experiences of victims and recommending to me the best course of assistance. We do not, and will not, interfere with anyone’s choice to seek media attention for any allegation.

We approach any allegation of this nature with these guiding principles:

1. We take every claim of sexual misconduct, and especially sexual abuse of a minor, seriously -- and we address it promptly;

2. We report all claims of sexual abuse of a minor to the appropriate law enforcement authorities;

3. We offer counseling in any case where it will be helpful, including some cases where the claim seems unfounded;

4. We follow our policies (see links here) and the requirements of the national Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People consistently;

5. We respect the rights of the accuser, the accused and other persons who might be collaterally affected by an allegation;

6. We never resolve these issues in the media.

These principles will not change. As I’ve said in the past: We do not have, and will not tolerate, any priest in active ministry in the Archdiocese of Denver who has a credible claim of child sexual misconduct against him.

The men who serve Catholics of northern Colorado as priests have gratitude for, and take pride in, their vocation. The support they enjoy from their people is a blessing for the whole Church. We will continue to work to deepen that bond by doing everything we can to protect our children and families from any form of sexual misconduct in a Church-related environment.

In the meantime we will respond to anyone else who makes an allegation - as well as anyone who is accused - with a spirit of justice, prudence and healing.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver


3 posted on 07/27/2005 4:36:48 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
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To: A.A. Cunningham

If this is Brandon Jason Trask that exhibits at Icaro Gallery in SoCal that puts a twist on the story.

It will be interesting to see if anyone else comes forward describing a similar M.O. for White.

4 posted on 07/28/2005 10:34:36 AM PDT by siunevada
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To: siunevada

Channel 9 in Denver ran a story tonight about more allegations against White. If the stories prove to be true it looks like he was shuffled around by Chaputs' predecessors Stafford, Casey and Vehr. The Denver Post is supposed to have an article in tomorrows paper with comments from Stafford. Casey and Vehr are long ago deceased.

5 posted on 07/28/2005 9:45:58 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
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To: siunevada
"Our little secret"
More alleged victims recount haunting words, actions
By Eric Gorski
Denver Post Staff Writer

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver was told at least three times of child sex-abuse allegations against one of its priests but continued to allow him to serve and moved him from parish to parish for years, according to interviews with alleged victims, one of his former superiors and church documents obtained by The Denver Post.

Since the newspaper on Tuesday detailed one allegation against the former priest, 72-year-old Harold Robert White of Denver, seven other men have come to The Post with allegations of being fondled or sexually abused by White in the 1960s.

The Rev. Harold White in a 1967 photo

The men, all of whom are now in their 50s, described being fondled by White in a swimming pool, while driving his car, at church rectories and at a mountain cabin. While some alleged victims kept quiet, others said they alerted parents or church officials as early as the middle to late 1960s, when White was still early in his career as a priest.

In an interview with The Post last week, White said he did not recall the alleged victim who had been interviewed, and he would not answer questions about whether he had ever been accused.

An archdiocesan spokesman would not comment on the specifics of White's history but emphasized it is committed to helping heal all those involved.

One of the men, who grew up on a farm in the northeastern Colorado town of Sterling, provided copies of correspondence between him and the archdiocese showing that he alleged to the archdiocese in 1988 that White had molested him in the late 1960s.

The man requested anonymity. The Denver Post does not name victims of alleged sexual abuse unless they give consent.

In an Aug. 30, 1988, letter to the alleged victim, the Very Rev. Michael Chamberlain wrote that the archbishop at the time, J. Francis Stafford, had met with White.

Stafford, 72, is now a prominent cardinal in Rome serving on a Vatican congregation that rules on whether to remove accused priests from ministry. Reached by phone at his Rome residence Thursday night, Stafford would not comment directly on White.

"The only response I can give is I am fully supportive of the archbishop's statement," Stafford said, referring to a statement Tuesday by Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput in which Chaput outlines steps taken to safeguard children. "It's been so long that I've been involved in these issues, I really do have to leave it at that," Stafford said.

In the 1988 letter, Chamberlain went on to write: "I have been given to understand that Father White is to receive an evaluation from competent personnel to determine whether there are any recurring difficulties."

White served at three more parishes in subsequent years and remained in the ministry until 1993. He was laicized, or removed from the priesthood, last year.

The archdiocese knew about potential problems with White well before the 1980s, however. The Rev. James E. Kane, White's former superior at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Sterling, confirmed that he notified then- Archbishop James Casey in the middle to late 1960s about an allegation against White. The person who came forward, according to Kane, "in no way wanted (White) harmed" but instead wanted to help him.

Kane, now retired, refused to answer questions about what happened as a result of his report to Casey, who died in 1986.

"I am a good friend of Father White's, and I personally like Father White, and I personally think this publicity is scandalous because I feel if a person has an illness, whatever it should be, what we should do for these people is pray for them and not criticize them or write stories about them," Kane said. "We should hate sin, but we should love sinners just like Jesus hated sin and loved sinners."

Since the clergy abuse scandal began in Boston in 2002 and spread across the country, the church in Colorado has largely escaped the flood of allegations, lawsuits and criminal investigations elsewhere.

But the revelations about White this week suggest Colorado was not immune, that within its borders worked a priest who was accused of molesting multiple victims and was moved from place to place even after the church had been warned about him.

The Denver archdiocese declined Thursday to answer questions about how allegations against White were handled.

"It is important to keep in mind that the Archdiocese of Denver in any significant case has always been guided by the best expert advice available at the time," said Sergio Gutierrez, a spokesman for the archdiocese. "We have and will continue to approach these difficult situations with a spirit of goodwill and in a manner that is just, prudent and provides healing to all involved."

On Tuesday, The Denver Post reported the allegation of Brandon Trask, a 49-year-old Southern California man who alleges that White molested him in the early 1970s while White served as pastor of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Minturn. Trask alerted the archdiocese this spring, and the church has agreed to pay for his counseling, which the archdiocese says is not necessarily an admission of wrongdoing.

There is no evidence White has faced criminal charges. In an interview last week, White said he could not remember Trask or his allegations. He would not answer questions about whether he had ever been accused of child sexual abuse. White did not respond to messages Thursday left at his apartment in a Denver retirement community.

In recent days, several other men have contacted The Post, all telling similar stories about White during his first four parish postings in the 1960s.

Gary Wolf was an altar boy at St. Catherine parish in north Denver in the early 1960s while White served as an assistant pastor. Wolf said White often invited eighth-grade boys to drive his new white Buick or Mercury. White, according to Wolf, would sit in the passenger seat and fondle him when it was his turn to drive. He did the same to him in the sacristy, where priests and altar boys prepare for Mass, Wolf said.

"He would fondle you and go, 'I'm just a priest, I'm here to show my love for you,"' said Wolf, 55, of Westminster. "I'd try to push him away, and he'd say, 'There's nothing wrong with this.' I never let it go any further than that. I knew it wasn't right."

Wolf said he told his parents and nuns at school, but they didn't believe him.

"You know, in those days they thought a priest could do no wrong," said Wolf, who believes what happened to him played a role in personal problems, including two broken marriages. "I was upset because I wasn't lying, and they all thought I was."

More allegations followed White to his next assignment, St. Mary's parish in Colorado Springs, which at the time was part of the Archdiocese of Denver.

A 56-year-old Colorado Springs man who requested anonymity said White befriended his large Catholic family, often coming over for dinner.

The man said that when he was 15, he and his buddies from the football team were taken by White east of town, where the priest let him drive his new 1963 or 1964 Monte Carlo.

On one trip, the man said White put his hand on the boy's thigh, and he slapped it away.

Not long after, White, a pilot, flew the boy, his brother and two friends in a Cessna 150 to White's family cabin near Grand Lake, the man said.

That night, White insisted the boy sleep in his bed, the man said. He said he woke up to find White groping him. He was terrified. He rolled to his side. He curled up into a fetal position. But the priest, he said, kept making advances in the dark of the night.

"He chased me all night," the man said. "He never did get me."

Arriving home the next day, the man said he immediately told his parents. His parents believed him. He said all three of them reported what happened to White's supervisor at the parish, Monsignor Robert H. Hoffman, who died in 1997.

The next day, the man said, White was gone from St. Mary's. The archdiocese won't confirm that.

"I am very fortunate because I had strong character and my mom had strong character, and I'm sure it saved me from all the agony these other poor guys went through," the man said.

Allegations surfaced at White's next assignment at St. Anthony's Church in Sterling, according to both the anonymous man who complained to the archdiocese and Greg Roberts, 52, a former altar boy at the parish who contacted The Post.

Roberts said White, a handsome, affable priest with a cleft in his chin, fondled him and other boys while giving them rides in his Pontiac Grand Prix.

"I thought, 'This is weird,' and I didn't know anything about homosexual advances or gayness," said Roberts, who works at a Fort Collins senior center. "This was not something you expected from a person you trusted implicitly."

He said he told his parents, who went to Kane, the pastor. White was gone from the parish shortly afterward, Roberts said.

Kane confirmed that someone reported a claim to him and that he contacted Casey, the archbishop. But he declined to provide further details. Said Kane: "It's sad Father White has to be dragged through this stuff."

But the report by Kane did not end White's career. In 1968, he was assigned to St. John the Evangelist Church in Loveland. A Loveland man who requested anonymity said that when he was a 13- or 14-year-old altar boy, White bought wine coolers for him and his friends and let them drive his Ford Bronco or took them skiing at Vail.

The man said White would "start off wrestling with us, and next thing you knew he was fondling." He said White fondled him while he was at home after getting his appendix removed. White told him, "Don't tell anyone - it's our little secret," the man said.

"He was actually a really nice guy, really persuasive," the man said. "I guess it shamed me more than anything. I didn't know whether it was right or wrong."

The most detailed account of how the Denver Archdiocese dealt with complaints about White is outlined in a series of letters between the archdiocese and one of the alleged Sterling victims, a 53-year-old man who now lives in Michigan but has family in the Colorado farm town. The man provided copies of the letters to The Post.

In a phone interview, the man said that when he was 15 or 16, his parents were having marriage troubles and White invited him to spend the night at the rectory.

He alleges that he woke up in the middle of the night to find White performing oral sex on him. He said White did the same thing to him at the mountain cabin.

"He made it seem like I was really special to him," the man said. "I was having problems relating to my father. (White) cared about me. But I was consumed with guilt, believing it had to be me, something about me."

The man said the experience began to haunt him again in about 1986, after he got into a car accident. For the first time, he told his mother and his sister.

He and his sister traveled to Denver to talk to archdiocesan officials. At the meeting, the man requested compensation for therapy bills. He said he also asked that White be pulled from parish work and get counseling.

In a September 1988 letter, the man pressed the archdiocese for details about the "competent personnel" who church officials said were dealing with the allegation.

He requested an acknowledgment and an apology from White and "fair monetary compensation" for what he had endured. He wrote that he suffered from severe guilt and stress, alienation and damaged male relationships.

He wrote he hoped it could be resolved "without a civil and/or criminal suit being filed against Father White and the church."

A reply came a few weeks later from one of the archdiocese's lawyers. In a Sept. 19 letter, attorney Charles Goldberg told the man that archdiocesan officials had listened carefully to what he and his sister had said. "You may be assured that they have reacted appropriately ...," Goldberg wrote.

The letter provided no details. In any case, White remained in ministry for another five years.

The next month, the man wrote back and reiterated his earlier requests. But he said he never got answers or compensation from the Denver archdiocese.

The man contacted the archdiocese again in 1994. The Very Rev. R. Walker Nickless, the archdiocese's vicar general at the time, responded in a letter, "I want to express my apology for what you state has happened to you. The behavior you described is totally unacceptable and is not tolerated by anyone in the Archdiocese of Denver."

In December 2002, the man wrote again, this time to the current archbishop, Chaput. He asked why his requests of 14 years earlier had, in his words, been ignored. He wondered whether other complaints were unheeded. "The victims," the man wrote, "seem to become the villains."

Chaput responded with a letter apologizing for the man's suffering and for correspondence that may have seemed insensitive. He offered to pay for the man's counseling and to meet with him personally.

Chaput closed by offering goodwill and prayers to the man and his mother, who had recently sent a Christmas card to the Denver archbishop.

Staff writer Eric Gorski can be reached at 303-820-1698 or

6 posted on 07/29/2005 6:18:50 AM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Looks like the same M.O. to me.

It's incomprehensible to me that anyone, anytime, anywhere would get two similar reports and hesitate for an instant to get these guys out of parish work.

Somebody might convince themselves they need priests; but these guys are pale imitations of real priests, or worse.

7 posted on 07/29/2005 10:00:07 AM PDT by siunevada
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