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By Ramsey Scott
Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Diocese of Cheyenne releases list of 11 sexual abusers

 

June 20, 2019



CHEYENNE – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne released the names of 10 priests and one bishop they said served in Wyoming and faced substantiated accusations of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults dating back to 1950.

The list was released Wednesday in the Diocese newsletter, the Wyoming Catholic Register, and was accompanied by a long letter from Bishop Steven Biegler, who said the names of the men “represents a betrayal of trust, a violation of the innocent and a human tragedy.”

In his letter, Biegler called the history of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church an “appalling sin and a reprehensible crime,” and the lack of a response from officials in the church across the world an absolute breach of their role as the mediators between God and his worshipers.

“On behalf of the church, I apologize to each victim, not only for the misconduct of those who committed sexual abuse, but also for the failure of any Church leader who did not take appropriate action after having received a report of an allegation,” Biegler said. “Finally, I pledge to do all that we can to assist with your healing and to learn from errors in our past.”

The list of abusers

The Diocese outlined its findings on incidents that occurred between 1957 and 2003 with 29 minors and one vulnerable adult reporting they had been victims of clerical sexual abuse.

The list included what Biegler said were “substantiated allegations” which had to meet one of several criteria, including collaborating testimony or evidence, a pattern of accusations or a victim’s unchanging testimony throughout interviews.

“A substantiated allegation is one which has been determined to have reasonable probability or even certainty based on a convincing level of proof,” he said. “When these elements are absent, the allegation is unconfirmed and lacks substantiation.”

Biegler said the names on the list were the result of an investigation of 303 files going back to 1950 of Catholic clergy of the Diocese of Cheyenne, including five bishops, 253 priests and 45 deacons. The Diocese had contracted with the law firm Nussbaum Speir, which has worked with other Catholic dioceses on this issue, to provide an impartial assessment of the cases.

One of those named in the letter is Bishop-Emeritus Joseph Hart, who worked in Cheyenne from 1976-2001.

Last August, the Diocese announced it had received credible evidence that Hart had abused at least two young boys while in Cheyenne. Two more survivors came forward after that announcement with credible accounts according to the Diocese.

The Cheyenne Police Department also launched an investigation into the alleged sexual abuse.

Hart has repeatedly denied the accusations, often citing a 2002 investigation by the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office that found “no evidence” of such abuse.

According to Wednesday’s newsletter, Hart faced substantiated allegations from three adolescent males. The case against Hart is also being sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith for adjudication.

Why take these steps and what’s next

Biegler said he prayed the publication of this list and a further commitment to support those survivors would single a change in the church’s previous lack of transparency, and belief in victims when they came forward with their story.

“Transparency creates an atmosphere in which victims can breathe a sigh of relief and know that they can speak about this horrible experience,” Biegler said. “I know this personally because victims of family sexual abuse have written to me after they learned about the steps that we have taken to address sexual abuse in the Diocese.”

Biegler said he knows some in the church might question the publication of the names and ask about the idea of mercy and the ability of those who committed these acts to be able to seek forgiveness. But while there’s always the ability to seek mercy and forgiveness from God, in the church there needs to be a responsibility to protecting victims and consequences for one’s actions, he said.

“God’s mercy knows no bounds, and abusers who acknowledge their sins are readily forgiven. But there is a difference between divine forgiveness and ecclesiastical reassignment,” Biegler said. “We need to be compassionate to victims. Too often some have expressed concern for merciful treatment of clergy abusers without mention of the victims. That has to change.

“Our society needs a conversion regarding how we think about those affected by sexual abuse. We need a revolution in our thinking so that the victims are at the center of our hearts.”

On its website, the Diocese also has compiled resources for those abused on how to file a report, and statements from leaders on how the church should move forward.

To visit that site and to find a copy of the letter, visit dioceseofcheyenne.org/protect.html.

Below is a list of accused sexual abusers released Thursday by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne:

JOHN MURRAY

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Cheyenne

DOB: 1933

YEAR OF ORDINATION: 1960

STATUS: Retired; prohibited from active ministry

REPORTING VICTIMS: Two adolescent females

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1976-77

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Mary’s, Cheyenne; St. Joseph, Cheyenne; St. Anthony, Casper; Saints Cyril & Methodius, Rock Springs; Our Lady of Fatima, Casper; Our Lady of Peace, Pinedale; St. Anthony, Guernsey; St. Edmund, Ranchester; Holy Name, Sheridan; Holy Rosary, Lander; St. Patrick, Wheatland; Our Lady of Sorrows, Rock Springs; St. Ann, Saratoga; St. James, Douglas; St. Patrick, Kemmerer.

GERALD CHLEBORAD

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Cheyenne

DOB: 1934

ORDINATION: 1960

STATUS: Suspended; faculties removed; retired

REPORTING VICTIMS: Three adolescent males

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1984-85, 1995, 2003

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Joseph, Cheyenne; St. Mary’s, Cheyenne; Holy Name, Sheridan; St. Matthew, Gillette; St. Joseph, Lovell; St. John the Baptist, Buffalo; St. Patrick, Kemmerer; St. Margaret, Riverton; Saints. Cyril & Methodius, Rock Springs; Our Lady of the Mountains, Jackson; St. Ann, Saratoga.

PHILIP COLIBRARO

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Cheyenne

DOB: 1930

YEAR OF ORDINATION: 1957

STATUS: Deceased

REPORTING VICTIM: One adolescent male

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1965

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Paul, Pine Bluffs; St. Paul, Pine Bluffs; Holy Name, Sheridan; Our Lady of Sorrows, Rock Springs; St. Patrick, Kemmerer; Saints Cyril & Methodius, Rock Springs; St. Mary Magdalen, Evanston; St. James, Douglas; Our Lady of Fatima, Casper.

ROCCO PERONE

AFFILIATION: Paulist Fathers

DOB: 1920

ORDINATION: 1949

STATUS: Deceased

REPORTING VICTIM: One adolescent male (others reported elsewhere)

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1957

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Anthony, Casper

JAMES POWER

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Cheyenne

DOB: 1915

ORDINATION: 1939

STATUS: Deceased

REPORTING VICTIMS: Five adolescent males

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1958-72

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Thomas, Monarch; St. Matthew, Gillette; St. John the Baptist, Buffalo; St. Patrick, Casper; St. Rose, Torrington.

JOSEPH HART

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Cheyenne

DOB: 1931

ORDINATION: 1956

STATUS: Retired; Pope Francis imposed restrictions and authorized a penal process

REPORTING VICTIMS: Three adolescent males

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1977-80

ASSIGNMENTS: Ordinary Bishop of Diocese of Cheyenne and Auxiliary Bishop of Diocese of Cheyenne; Priest in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

ANTHONY JABLONOWSKI

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Covington (1970-1980); Diocese of Cheyenne (1980-2000)

DOB: 1937

ORDINATION: 1970

STATUS: Dismissed from clerical state and released from prison

REPORTING VICTIMS: Four adolescent males

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1983-88

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Anthony, Guernsey; Our Lady of Lourdes, Glendo; St. Leo, Lusk; Holy Rosary, Lander; Diocese of Steubenville.

CLETUS PRADO

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Cheyenne

DOB: 1928

ORDINATION: 1958

STATUS: Faculties Removed; Retired; Deceased

REPORTING VICTIMS: Two adolescent males

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1958-63, 1977-78

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Joseph, Rawlins; Our Lady of Sorrows, Rock Springs; St. Margaret, Riverton; St. Barbara, Powell; St. Paul, Sundance; St. Anthony, Upton; Corpus Christi, Newcastle; Holy Rosary, Lander; St. John the Baptist, Buffalo; St. Patrick, Wheatland; St. Mary Magdalene, Evanston.

GEORGE TELLEZ

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Cheyenne

BIRTH: 1935

ORDINATION: 1961

STATUS: Resigned from ministry to marry; laicized; married

REPORTING VICTIMS: Three adolescent females

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1966-1971

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Joseph, Rawlins; Our Lady of Fatima, Casper; Corpus Christi, Newcastle; St. Laurence O’Toole, Laramie; St. Edmund, Ranchester.

CHARLES GORMLY

(Conducted abuse in the Diocese of Duluth)

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Cheyenne

BIRTH: 1910

ORDINATION: 1936

STATUS: Deceased

REPORTING VICTIMS: One pre-adolescent and four adolescent females

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1960-61

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Paul, Pine Bluffs; Our Lady of Sorrows, Rock Springs; Holy Rosary, Lander; St. Laurence O’Toole, Laramie.

RONALD STOLCIS

AFFILIATION: Diocese of Cheyenne

BIRTH: 1942

ORDINATION: 1968

STATUS: Retired; restricted from public ministry

REPORTING VICTIM: One male (vulnerable adult)

EST. TIME OF ABUSE: 1995-1997

ASSIGNMENTS: St. Barbara, Powell; St. Anthony, Casper; St. Margaret, Riverton; Sacred Heart, Greybull; St. Mary Magdalen, Worland; Holy Name, Sheridan.

 
 

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