January 28, 2005

Mesa priests accused of molestation

East Valley Tribune

By Kristina Davis, Tribune
A Valley man who says he’s retrieved repressed memories of sexual abuse by Mesa priests and a youth minister filed a lawsuit Thursday filled with sweeping accusations against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

The complaint, filed by victim William J. Cesolini in Maricopa County Superior Court, named the diocese; St. Timothy Catholic Community in Mesa; Life Teen; Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, leader of the Phoenix diocese; Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien, former leader of the Phoenix diocese; two priests; and a youth leader.

The suit says Monsignor Dale Fushek, pastor of St. Timothy and arguably one of the diocese’s most popular priests, masturbated while watching another priest sexually abuse a 14-year-old Cesolini in 1985.

"He knew of the sexual abuse . . . and did nothing to stop or prevent it; nor did Fushek report the sexual abuse to authorities," the lawsuit stated.

Fushek also is accused of giving the teen alcohol.

Attorney Frank Verderame notified church officials Dec. 22 that a former parishioner claimed to have recovered repressed memories of molestation by the Rev. Mark Lehman, who served 10 years in prison for molesting students in the late 1980s at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School in Phoenix.

Posted by kshaw at January 28, 2005 08:41 AM