July 30, 2005

Accused deacon led church out of debt

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

By Gary T. Kubota
WAILUKU James Ronald Gonsalves was the exception among about 50 deacons in the Catholic Diocese of Hawaii.

While most deacons are volunteers, he was hired six years ago to be a full-time paid administrator for a parish on Maui and gained praise for bringing St. Ann Church in Waihee out of debt and more than doubling its membership.

"By all measures he was doing a great job," said diocesan spokesman Patrick Downes.

Recent allegations that Gonsalves repeatedly sexually assaulted a boy over three years have stunned many parishioners who valued his friendship and leadership. And the accusations have once again brought attention to the conduct of clergy in Hawaii -- a diocese where at least three other priests have been accused of molesting male youths.

Gonsalves, 68, pleaded not guilty to 62 charges related to the sexual assault of a boy between June 2003 and last month while the deacon was employed at St. Ann. The charges included 30 counts of first-degree sexual assault, which under Hawaii law means forced sexual penetration. The boy was 12 years old when the alleged acts began.

Posted by kshaw at July 30, 2005 09:16 AM