Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the character of some priest accusers:
Last week we learned that Msgr. William Lynn, who was sentenced in 2012 for child endangerment when he was secretary for the clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, will be retried again—his conviction was twice overturned—on March 16. But it is an open question whether his accuser, Danny Gallagher, a.k.a, Billy Doe, will be called to testify.
Gallagher is one of many priest accusers who are of suspect character, yet this has mattered little to the courts or the media. Ralph Cipriano, who has done the best work of any journalist on this case, rightfully described Gallagher as “a former drug addict, heroin dealer, habitual liar, third-rate conman and thief,” who nonetheless was able to shake down the Church for $5 million in a civil settlement.
How could this have happened? Gallagher told two social workers for the archdiocese what allegedly happened to him at the hands of priests and a layman. Cipriano says that the details he offered—”the anal rapes, the punches, the threats, the claims about being tied up naked with altar sashes, strangled with a seatbelt, and forced to suck blood off a priest’s penis—all those graphic details were dropped from his story” when he spoke to the police.
Worse, the defense lawyers were kept in the dark about this and also never learned of the explosive affidavit by detective Joe Walsh; he questioned Gallagher before the trial. He provided many stunning inconsistencies in Gallagher’s account, concluding that he was an inveterate liar.
The week before last we learned that Father Roy T. Herberger from the Buffalo diocese filed a libel suit against his accuser who claimed that the priest abused him in the 1980s. The Diocese of Buffalo put the priest on administrative leave in June 2018, pending an investigation, and then concluded that the allegation was unfounded. He was returned to active ministry in December 2018.
Attorney Scott Riordan, who was hired by the diocese, did a report on the accuser. He found there was no record of him being at the school at the time when he was allegedly molested. The accuser said he was assaulted in the rectory of St. Ann church, but the priest had no key to get in as the parish was run by the Jesuits. The accuser said much of the abuse occurred in the priest’s home in Lackawanna, but the priest never owned or rented a house in that neighborhood. And the inside of the home that the accuser described was found completely wrong by the owners.
It is not just in the United States where these travesties of justice are taking place.
Cardinal George Pell, who is in an Australian prison for alleged sexual abuse (awaiting a final appeal) was accused as far back as 1962. The case was dismissed because nothing could be substantiated. His accuser had been convicted 39 times for offenses ranging from assault to drug use. He was a violent drug addict who drove drunk and beat people.
In 1969, Pell was accused of doing nothing to help an abused boy who pleaded for help. But Pell was not in Australia that year—he was in Rome. At a later date he was accused of chasing away a complainant who informed him of a molesting priest. But Pell did not live where this allegedly happened, and the accuser was later imprisoned for sexually abusing children.
When Pell was accused of joking about a notorious molester priest’s sexual assaults at a funeral Mass in Ballarat, it was later found that there was no Mass that day and the priest whom Pell was allegedly joking with was living someplace else when the alleged incident took place.
The occasions that got Pell imprisoned have also been called into question. One of his accusers was an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a thug who beat and stalked his girlfriend. His co-accuser also had a record of violence. As for the two choirboys who claimed Pell abused them, one has since died of a drug overdose, but not before telling his mother, on two occasions, that the alleged incident never happened.
These are three of the most high profile cases where a priest has been accused by men whose characterological profile is seriously impaired.
There is another priest, Father Gordon MacRae, who is still in prison in New Hampshire for crimes he vehemently denies, and whose accuser, Thomas Grover, has a history of theft, drugs, and violence. Even his former wife and stepson call him a “compulsive liar” and a “manipulator.”
Lest anyone think that I will defend any accused priest, let me be clear: I will defend the due process rights of any accused priest, but will not exculpate any priest who is guilty of an offense. The Catholic League is here to defend the Catholic Church against wrongdoing: We are not here to defend wrongdoing committed by the Church.