A Case Study of Sexual Abuse
Interview with Magaldi
Magaldi floundered through his December 1998 interview with Lt. McCarthy of the Massachusetts State Police. He tried to cast suspicions on David Marriot and other unspecified enemies who were out to ruin him by a vast conspiracy. He also learned that Marks had agreed to a polygraph. Several months later, on April 7, 1999 Marks was asked:
Did Father Magaldi ever give you an enema?
Did you ever engage in oral sex while in the city of Worcester with Father Magaldi?
Did you ever have anal sex with Father Magaldi?
The examiner concluded “No reactions indicative of deception were recorded.”49Fort Worth Documents 0660.
Magaldi also took a polygraph. When Magaldi was first questioned about having sex with Marks, the examiner concluded that he “was not telling the truth”50Fort Worth Documents 0630. and there were “reactions indicative of deception.” Through his attorney, Magaldi arranged for a second polygraph. This time, when Magaldi denied having oral or anal sex with Marks, the examiner concluded “he is telling the truth.”51Fort Worth Documents 0628. As a result, the polygraph was inconclusive and Delaney considered trying to pawn him off on another diocese.52Fort Worth Documents 0623.
Also during this time, Magaldi’s parishioners hired a private detective, John M. Lajoie, to investigate Marks. Lajoie produced a report that concluded Marks’ accusations were unfounded, and that Marks, who was Jewish, even claimed to have been an altar boy. Lajoie said that “his suits were an attempt to get money from the Catholic Church.”53 Mark Melady, “Former R. I. Priest Seems Reinstatement,” Worcester Telegram and Telegraph, December 16, 2000.
Magaldi was triumphant and felt completely vindicated: “I want to be restored to full-time ministry,” including working with young people, he said.54Brooks Egerton, “Supporters Want Priest Reinstated: Old Sex Accusations False, Parishioners Say,” Dallas Morning News, December 14, 2000. Delaney considered granting Magaldi limited faculties.
On April 29, 1999, authorities told Magaldi’s parish that he had been formally accused of sexual abuse. Magaldi retired, denying everything, and denouncing the allegation as “false and frivolous” and “an attempt to extort money from the Diocese of Fort Worth.”55Fort Worth Documents 0652. On May 21, 1999, Delaney told Magaldi he could no longer perform public ministry.56Fort Worth Documents 0683.
Unfortunately, Marks continued to deteriorate. He fired his lawyer, and therefore Magaldi was not served in the first abuse case, filed in July 1999. The suit was later dismissed on technical grounds.57Brooks Egerton, “Supporters Want Priest Reinstated: Old Sex Accusations False, Parishioners Say,” Dallas Morning News, December 14, 2000. A second case also was dismissed. Magaldi and his supporters took this as proof of his innocence. After all, hadn’t Magaldi just said mass with Pope John Paul II in the Pope’s private chapel?58Fort Worth Documents 0688.
Magaldi asked Delaney to send him back to St. John the Apostle Church, where the parishioners were clamoring for his return. One parishioner wrote to Delaney of Magaldi’s “wisdom, compassion, and wit,” his “true and loving spirit that beckons to those young ones who might otherwise remain indifferent to the call of faith.”59Fort Worth Documents 0688. In April 2000, Magaldi asked Delaney for an increase in his pension60Fort Worth Documents 0684. and told the Providence Diocese that Delaney had restored his ability to function as a priest (this was untrue).61Fort Worth Documents 0686.
Throughout the scandal, Bishop Delaney never expressed concern for Magaldi’s victims or a fear of God. There was only one thing the bishop feared: reporter Brooks Egerton, of the Dallas Morning News. Delaney said “there is no way that – that I can defend myself before God or before the people of the diocese or before the world, if Bruce [sic] Egerton, for instance tomorrow morning, published all of this.”62Fort Worth Documents 0460. Delaney also asked about a main episcopal concern: “Whether the statute of limitations is expired on criminal activity?”63Fort Worth Documents 0461.
Following the Marks scandal, in January 2001 a woman called Rev. John Gremmels. She told him that in October 2000, a visiting priest at his parish showed her and her teenage son around a new facility. Her son was wearing a t-shirt with the words “thin, attractive, and available” on the front and a picture of a new thin screen television on the back. The priest, she said, “touched the boy on the bottom and said something like ‘you are not very thin back here.’” Gremmels knew the visiting priest was Magaldi.64Fort Worth Documents 0698. Gremmels reported other disturbing incidents in which Magaldi was involved.
Additionally, in February 2001, Bishop Delaney received a letter from a friend of the recently deceased Marks. The friend had known Marks a long time, and described him as “the most caring and considerate person I have ever known.” The friend continued that, “I have had many conversations with [Marks] about the sexual abuse he had as a child … Life was a struggle for [Marks] and unfortunately he used drugs as a way to escape the pain.” The friend said he knew of Lajoie’s investigation and that Lajoie had discovered Marks’ criminal record, but he believed the arrests were “the result of the sexual abuse.”65Fort Worth Documents 0699.
The Vatican Learns of Magaldi
Despite the new allegations, Magaldi continued demanding to be restored as a priest. Delaney told Magaldi he could appeal his suspension to the Vatican; Magaldi then sent a letter to the Secretary for the Congregation for the Clergy.
In May 2001, Delaney explained to the Secretary for the Congregation for the Clergy exactly why he suspended Magaldi:
1. The indictment for perjury
Delaney told the Vatican that he did not have a formal canonical hearing about Magaldi “to prevent his reputation from being further damaged,” and he was especially disturbed that Magaldi “seems totally oblivious to the reality that his conduct is in any way improper.”66Fort Worth Documents 0704-7. The Secretary agreed with Bishop Delaney’s suspension of Magaldi.67Fort Worth Documents 0715.
In October 2001, a supporter of Magaldi’s told the Fort Worth diocese that a friend of hers, who helped care for Magaldi’s mother, found material on his computer “that showed he was in chat rooms looking for minors” and “that he had pedophilic material.”68Fort Worth Documents 0713. This information was relayed to Archbishop Favalora of Miami and Bishop Nevins of Venice, both to whom Magaldi was appealing to take him in.69Fort Worth Documents 0714
In December 2002, Magaldi appealed to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (then headed by Cardinal Ratzinger) to restore him as a priest. Delaney sent the group a copy of the letter he sent to the Congregation for the Clergy.
Bishop Delaney of Fort Worth died on July 12, 2005. His successor, Bishop Kevin Vann, forbade Magaldi to say Mass. Magaldi ignored him. The bishop then “decided to ask the Vatican to permanently and forcibly remove Father Magaldi from the priesthood.”70Brooks Egerton, “F[ort] W[orth] Bishop: Abuse Cases ‘Extraordinarily Painful,’” Dallas Morning News, November 29, 2006.
The Vatican has not yet made a decision, and in the meantime, it appears Magaldi is still receiving “full retirement benefits”71Fort Worth Documents 0725. – his pension.
Sonny von Bülow is still in a coma. Claus von Bülow is a writer, who now lives in London.
Thomas Marks died of cancer on October 9, 2000, at the age of 42.
Bishop Delaney of Fort Worth died on July 12, 2005.
Magaldi is unavailable for comment because, according to his caregiver Jerry Koller, at the age of 72, today Magaldi is “legally blind, needs help walking and suffers from dementia.”72 Darren Barbee, “Process to Defrock Two Underway,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 30, 2006. In February 2008 Magaldi informed the diocese of Fort Worth that he was HIV positive; the diocese is notifying his victims.73 Darren Barbee, “Accused Priest Has HIV, Says Diocese,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 15, 2008.
Throughout his clerical life, Magaldi’s disconnect from reality was clear and noted repeatedly by Bishop Delaney. Though it is risky to diagnose someone from written accounts, Magaldi has all the characteristics of extreme narcissism: he thought the world revolved around him and almost nothing stopped him from fulfilling his desires for money and sex.
The clerical environment did not help: rough patches in Magaldi’s life were smoothed over as much as possible by the bishops around him. Perhaps they would have done this for any priest; perhaps they owed Magaldi a big favor. Whatever the truth of particular allegations, it is clear the clerical environment in New England was corrupt, and the deference given to clergy gave them the impression that they were above the law and could do as they pleased, with no consequences.
Most shocking, perhaps, is that clerical leaders consistently showed no interest in helping Marks: he wasn’t a cleric, he was not even a Catholic – he was Jewish. Marks was never informed that Magaldi had been accused of similar abuse in Texas – abuse that would have made his accusations all the more credible. His fate did not interest the bishops. As Marks’ friend observed: “Lives are ruined by these guilty priests and the Catholic Church seems to turn their heads. No one cares about the victims and their lives.”74Fort Worth Documents 0700.
49 Fort Worth Documents 0660.
50 Fort Worth Documents 0630.
51 Fort Worth Documents 0628.
52 Fort Worth Documents 0623.
53 Mark Melady, “Former R. I. Priest Seems Reinstatement,” Worcester Telegram and Telegraph, December 16, 2000.
54 Brooks Egerton, “Supporters Want Priest Reinstated: Old Sex Accusations False, Parishioners Say,” Dallas Morning News, December 14, 2000.
55 “Priest Denies Abuse Claim,” Providence Journal, April 29, 1999.
56 Fort Worth Documents 0652.
57 Fort Worth Documents 0683.
58 Brooks Egerton, “Supporters Want Priest Reinstated: Old Sex Accusations False, Parishioners Say,” Dallas Morning News, December 14, 2000.
59 Fort Worth Documents 0688.
60 Fort Worth Documents 0684.
61 Fort Worth Documents 0686.
62 Fort Worth Documents 0460.
63 Fort Worth Documents 0461.
64 Fort Worth Documents 0698.
65 Fort Worth Documents 0699.
66 Fort Worth Documents 0704-7.
67 Fort Worth Documents 0715.
68 Fort Worth Documents 0713.
69 Fort Worth Documents 0714.
70 Brooks Egerton, “F[ort] W[orth] Bishop: Abuse Cases ‘Extraordinarily Painful,’” Dallas Morning News, November 29, 2006.
71 Fort Worth Documents 0725.
72 Darren Barbee, “Process to Defrock Two Underway,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 30, 2006.
73 Darren Barbee, “Accused Priest Has HIV, Says Diocese,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 15, 2008.
74 Fort Worth Documents 0700.