Sunday, February 25, 2007


Did Rudy Giuliani hire a pedophile priest -- and an enabler of other pedophile priests -- knowing the man's story but wanting to show loyalty to a friend?

A few days ago, Rants from the Rookery flagged several less-than-laudatory stories about Giuliani, including this one from Newsday:

It had been a few years since Richard Tollner last publicly accused his former teacher Msgr. Alan Placa of groping him in high school, but Tollner recently repeated the charges -- raising an awkward issue for Rudolph Giuliani's run for president.

Tollner, now a mortgage banker, appeared at a Feb. 8 Manhasset meeting of Voice of the Faithful of Long Island, a Catholic group concerned about priest-abuse cases, and told how Placa used to corner him.

After the accusations first surfaced in 2002, the Diocese of Rockville Centre placed Placa on administrative leave, barring him from priestly duties and from wearing the collar. Placa, who insists he is innocent, has not been charged with a crime.

Yet despite the controversy, Giuliani gave his old friend Placa a job at Giuliani Partners, and Michael Hess, a partner at the firm and the ex-mayor's corporation counsel, handled Placa's legal matters....

A 2002 Newsday article went into much more detail about Placa:

...Starting in the mid-1980s, when cases of priest sexual abuse came to national attention, Alan Placa played a central role in how such complaints were handled on Long Island.... Placa, 57, was a chief architect of the diocesan policy and one of its chief executors until he stepped down as vice chancellor in mid-April.

...Investigators are examining complaints that Placa and other top officials placed troubled priests back into jobs where they had contact with children, sometimes against the advice of psychiatrists -- a charge Placa denies. Victims, meanwhile, say that he was evasive and lacked compassion in dealing with their complaints, and that his dual role as priest-confidant and legal counsel to the bishop was not made clear to them, putting them at a disadvantage....

Here, according to Tollner, is Placa as a molester -- with a rather novel way of getting in the mood:

Richard Tollner, 43, a mortgage broker now living in the Albany area, said he told prosecutors he had his first encounter with the priest in January 1975, on a day that classes were out, and the teen had come in to help make banners for a Right to Life march in Washington, D.C.

He said the priest pulled out some posters in the deserted administrative area as if to show him something, and then began fondling him -- all the while making conversation about the posters.

Tollner said the incidents repeated every month or so for the next year and a half. "It was always groping," he said. "He'd draw his hand deliberately to the inside of my thigh, and over my penis. It would go on for four or five minutes, sometimes as long as 10."

A high school friend said Tollner told him about one incident soon after it occurred. "This isn't a figment of his imagination 25 years later," said Kevin Waldron of San Francisco. "He told me about it shortly after it happened. I'm certain of it."...

And here's an example of how Placa worked to enable molesters, in the case of a 14-year-old ex-altar boy who was being pursued by a priest named Reverend Joseph Mundy:

... the boy said Placa took him aside for a private chat and subtly pressured him to back off of his account.

..."He said to me that he knew kids didn't get much sleep when they went on these retreats, and that was a problem because sleep deprivation could play tricks on one's mind, isn't that right? He never asked me about Mundy."...

According to a grand jury report, Father Mundy later

took [the] 14-year-old boy to a gay club in New York City where he and other patrons engaged in sexual activity with the boy.... [The] victim has said that what happened to him left him scarred and suicidal. Mundy has left the priesthood.

Jimmy Breslin has more, including a grand jury report of a charge that Placa "tried to grope a young man in front of the casket at his father's wake."

But hey, Placa and Giuliani go way back, so Giuliani gave him a job.

Will we hear this name very much as we approach November '08? I wonder.

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