Saturday, November 11, 2006

Trial in Erie

The ecclesiastical tribunal weighing abuse charges against Msgr Charles Kavanagh, former director of development for the archdiocese of New York (and leading Egan critic) begins Monday catty-corner across the state:
The closed trial before a panel of priests is expected to run through Friday at St. Mark's Catholic Center in Erie. Kavanagh's accuser said he is due to testify Nov. 16. His parents and several siblings will testify Monday.

The archdiocese announced in January that the Vatican had granted a church trial to Kavanagh, a well-known figure among affluent Catholics in the northern suburbs. At the archdiocese's request, the Vatican moved the trial outside New York to reduce media coverage.
The parties involved were told months ago that the trial was likely to be held in November, and they received word only within the past two weeks that the date had been set.

Kavanagh was vicar of development and pastor of St. Raymond's Church in the Bronx when the archdiocese received a letter in 2002 from Daniel Donohue, a former seminarian who grew up in Peekskill. Donohue accused Kavanagh of luring him into an inappropriately close and emotional relationship while Donohue was a student at Cathedral Preparatory Seminary, a high school for prospective seminarians, from 1978 to 1982.

Donohue charged that Kavanagh got into bed with him, but he did not accuse him of genital contact.

Cardinal Edward Egan removed Kavanagh from ministry in May 2002 after an archdiocesan lay board reviewed the charges. The church tribunal will likely review Egan's decision and Kavanagh's fate....

"It's a strange situation because I'm the star witness for the archdiocese," Donohue said yesterday. "It's not really my case. It's Kavanagh vs. the archdiocese. And the expectations we have, as Americans, for a judicial process will not be met in any way by this process. Transparency and openness will not happen."...

Kavanagh, who openly campaigned for due process after Egan removed him, could not be reached for comment.

Ann Mandt, Kavanagh's sister, would not confirm that the trial is beginning.

"(Kavanagh) has been ordered by the Vatican to maintain silence through this proceeding," she said. "His family will cooperate. We are very confident that the truth will prevail."

Donohue's family has mixed feelings about the trial, said his sister, Patricia Donohue of Pittsburgh, who said she would testify Thursday. Her parents and two siblings will testify Monday, she said.

"We're glad it's moving forward, but the process isn't about Daniel," she said. "It's Egan v. Kavanagh. Daniel and other members of my family are, in effect, witnesses for Egan. We're concerned that there won't be justice for Daniel."

Daniel Donohue, now 42 and a father of four, said that he asked yesterday which priests will serve on the church tribunal and did not receive an immediate answer.

"I would like to know who they are, because they will have a fairly good idea who I am," he said.

He said that the archdiocese is paying the costs for his family to travel to Erie.