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Accused priests no longer active in Hawaii


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POSTED: Sunday, March 15, 2009

Question: What ever happened to the Hawaii Catholic priests who were accused of sexually molesting minors?

Answer: None of the six clergymen named in lawsuits are functioning as priests in the Honolulu diocese. Nor are two priests and a former deacon who were found guilty of criminal sexual assault charges in Hawaii courts. Another man was removed from an Oahu parish assignment and sent back to the Philippines to answer charges there.

The Honolulu diocese was named as co-defendant in six lawsuits and paid cash settlements to defendants in four cases. The amount paid was disclosed in only one case: The diocese paid $375,000 to Elton Killion, who had accused the Rev. Andrew Mannetta in 1997-98 instances of molestation. Mannetta was recalled to the mainland by his religious order, the Capuchin Franciscans, St. Mary Province in New York.

Honolulu bishops removed the “;faculties”; of six men, denying them the right to perform as clergy here. Only two of them still live in Hawaii. The Rev. Joseph Bukoski, a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, lives on Oahu. He pays part of his monthly stipend to a plaintiff in a settlement of a lawsuit. James “;Ron”; Gonsalves was removed from his position as a deacon on Maui and served a one-year jail term on a sexual abuse charge.

The other two convicted of criminal charges were the Rev. Arthur O'Brien, who received probation on four counts in 1992 and has since died, and the Rev. Mark Matson, an Army chaplain, who served prison time for a 1998 assault and has left Hawaii.

Two lawsuits still pending were filed within the past year by attorney David Gierlach on behalf of men who are identified only as “;John Doe.”; A Big Island man sued the diocese and the Rev. Eugene Blazek, claiming sexual assault between 1979 and 1982. The suit identified Blazek as currently a military chaplain in North Carolina. Diocesan spokesman Patrick Downes said he served at St. Elizabeth parish in Aiea at one time but left the diocese years ago.

Gierlach filed another lawsuit on Jan. 22 for an Oahu man who accused the Rev. Robert Burkholder of a 1984 assault. Burkholder moved to Hawaii in 1981 from the Detroit diocese and helped out in local parishes, Downes said. He was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in a Detroit court in 2002. He has since died.

Downes said the church's insurance policies paid off the four court settlements. The amounts of money paid out by church here were kept secret at the request of the plaintiffs, said Downes. “;If the diocese had its choice, the results would be as transparent as possible.”;

 


This update was written by Star-Bulletin reporter Mary Adamski. You can write us at What Ever Happened to ..., Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).