Law firm identifies eight priests as possible abusers

NEW ULM – A retired priest who had once been director of Priest Personnel for the Diocese of New Ulm revealed in a deposition that a priest he had kicked out of his chemical dependency education program in Willmar had been reappointed by then Bishop Raymond Lucker to assist at a parish in Granite Falls.

The Rev. Francis J. Garvey gave his deposition in January to Michael G. Finnegan, an attorney with Jeff Anderson & Associates, PA, in a lawsuit alleging clerical sexual misconduct against the Diocese of New Ulm.

The Anderson law firm released the deposition Monday in a continuing effort to force the Diocese of New Ulm to release the names of priests who have had credible accusations of sexual misconduct made against them. The New Ulm Diocese is the only diocese in the state that has not released its list.

In the deposition, Garvey, who was 81 when he was interviewed, described a program he ran at the Willmar State Hospital where he was assigned from 1962 to 2001.

In his program, he often had priests referred from a religious community known as the Servants of the Paraclete, which operated programs to treat priests for alcoholism, depression, or sexual misconduct. Some of them with chemical dependency problems were referred to the program at Willmar as a means of furthering their recovery and learning to act as counselors for chemical dependent people.

One of the priests sent to him was the Rev. Francis Markey, an Irish priest who was the subject of lawsuits in the Diocese and died in 2012 while awaiting trial on criminal sex charges in Ireland. Garvey said the Paracletes had not told them about Markey’s background of accusations of sexually molesting children. When Markey “got in trouble” at the treatment center, Garvey said he confronted the Paracletes and was told they had just found out about the accusations.

Garvey said he was so angry he immediately removed Markey from the program and told him to leave.

“I kicked him out,” said Garvey. “I was so angry at him I didn’t care where he went. He could walk down the road, the railroad track, or whatever. Just get the heck out of Willmar.”

“And unbeknown to me, he conned Bishop Lucker into keeping him in the diocese here, and I didn’t know that.”

Garvey found out Markey was in Granite Falls when he got a call from a woman concerned about Markey taking some boys on a camping trip. Garvey said he called a Father John McRaith, who was chancellor and vicar general of the Diocese, who went to Granite Falls the same day and had Markey removed and sent to a treatment center.

Garvey also recalled dealing with other accusations, including one against another accused priest, the Rev. David Roney. After a nun who was principal of their parish school told Garvey of her concerns over attention Roney was paying to young girls at their school, Garvey said he went to Roney, the subject of another lawsuit, and told him of the concerns. He said Roney was silent, and did not respond. Garvey said he left, and never reported the matter to his bishop.

Garvey also described instances where accusations were dealt with by removing priests, or where priests resigned. He said he never reported any of the accusations to law enforcement.

The Anderson law firm released a list of eight priests who had been accused of sexual misconduct in the diocese, who had been identified through the deposition or through civil lawsuits. They include Roney, Markey, the Rev. Vincent Fitzgerald, the Rev. William J. Marks, the Rev. Michael G. Skoblik, the Rev. John L. Gleason, the Rev. Douglas Schliesman and the Rev. John M. Murphy.

Seven of these priests have died and the eighth left the priesthood more than 30 years ago, the Associated Press reported.

The Diocese of New Ulm has not issued a statement in response to the latest revelations, but in the past the diocese has expressed its sorrow for the misconduct, and has encouraged anyone who has been or knows someone who has been sexually exploited by the clergy to call the diocese.

“The Diocese of New Ulm continues to take steps to ensure that our children and young people are protected.” said a statement from Msgr. Douglas Grams. “Visit the diocesan web site www.dnu.org for further information about diocesan efforts to promote safe, healthy communities of faith; to effectively prevent misconduct; and to respond fairly and compassionately to those harmed by clerical sexual misconduct. Rev. Douglas L Grams is the Bishop’s Delegate in Matters Pertaining to Clergy Sexual Misconduct.

“If you or someone you know has been sexually exploited by a member of the clergy, and you need to talk with someone about abuse, exploitation, or harassment, please contact the Diocese of New Ulm Victim Assistance Coordinator, or the Bishop’s Delegate in Matters Pertaining to Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, 1400 6th Street North, New Ulm, MN 56073; phone: (507) 359-2966.”

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