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Wednesday, March 13, 2019 1:00 am

Group says diocese list of accused clergy short

Survivors organization adds 10 men with local ties

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests has released the names of 10 men accused of sexually abusing minors who served or spent time in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend but are not on its list of credibly accused clerics.

The organization, also known as SNAP, released the names during a news conference Tuesday in front of the diocese's former chancery at 1103 S. Calhoun St.

All the men were credibly accused of acts outside the local diocese but spent time here, said David Clohessy, a SNAP organizer who released the list.

Five are deceased, he said. Some alleged abuse dates to the 1950s, while the most recent case came to light about three months ago, he said.

Clohessy said the list was compiled with a few hours of online research of publicly available internet postings. Many names came from www.bishop-accountability.org, a comprehensive abuse tracker.

Some came from the website of Jeff Anderson & Associates, Minnesota attorneys who work with victims, and others from disclosures by priests' own orders or dioceses.

The names would be available to diocesan Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Clohessy said. But the bishop has not included them on a list of 18 credibly accused priests he released in August.

That list was amended with two names in October and one in November. Those names are not posted on the list as it appears on the diocese's website. However, the bishop has pledged to supplement the list based on future determinations of credible allegations.

Mary Glowaski, the diocese's victim assistance coordinator, said Tuesday the diocese's acting spokesman and vicar general, the Rev. Jason Gurtner, and the bishop were not immediately available.

Rhoades was conducting a Lenten retreat with priests.

“I think even now, “ Clohessy said, “despite all the lofty words from Rome, the bishops do the bare minimum” in being transparent about accusations.

Clohessy said he wants bishops to release names and the assignment records of credibly accused priests if they served in a particular diocese. 

The new names include several members of religious orders that have released names in recent months or years. Those men were supervised by their orders' superiors, not the local diocese's bishop.

Several on the list are reported as having been at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend. 

Accused

The only priests to have held posts in Fort Wayne are Gregory H. Poser and Jerome Plourde, both members of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, commonly known as the order of Crosiers.

Poser is reported to have been at the Crosier House of Studies and the Crosier Retreat Center, both in Fort Wayne, from 1979 to 1983. He also is reported to have been with Crosier Fathers and Brothers in Garrett in 1984.

Poser was suspended from parish assignments in Minnesota after May 2016 after a report surfaced from the 1970s at a parish in Shoreview, Minnesota.

Plourde is reported being at the Crosier House of Studies from 1970 to 1978 and at Our Lady of the Lake Seminary in Syracuse in 1960. In 2015, his name was released by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. 

Also on the new list is Vincert Arthur Yzermans, known as “Father Art,” who was an editor of Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic weekly newspaper based in Huntington and who lived from 1967 to 1969 at the Victory Noll Motherhouse and College in Huntington.

His name was released in 2014 by the diocese in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Affiliated with Notre Dame from 1977 to 1979 is John J. Gallen, described as an internationally known liturgical scholar and author, and Michael Stephen Baker, who was at Notre Dame in a capacity not stated on SNAP's list in 1986.

Gallen is on a list released in 2016 by his supervisors in the Jesuit order. The case in Milwaukee could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had run out.

Baker was defrocked in 2000 after a case was dropped when the Supreme Court barred the revival of old claims.

He was arrested in 2006, pleaded guilty to abusing two boys, and sentenced to 10 years in prison but paroled in 2011 and arrested in 2012 for violating parole. He is estimated to have abused two dozen children, according to www.bishop-accountability.org. That is the highest number of victims on SNAP's list.

Others affiliated with Notre Dame are the late Gerard (“Angelo”) Zankl and Bernard (“Barney”) McMeel, who are both listed as at Notre Dame in an unlisted capacity. McMeel was there in 1979, but no date is included for Zankl.

Accused abuser Joseph F. Mika, also known as Salvatore Mika, was at Immaculate Conception of Lourdes Monastery in Cedar Lake in 1951 and 1952. Accused abuser Harvey Lamothe was at Donaldson at the Divine Heart Seminary in 1950 and 1951.

Mika was accused in 2004 in Wisconsin, and Lamothe was accused in New Hampshire, where a civil settlement with several victims was reached in 2002.

The list also includes Francis Emil Dilla, who moved to live with a family in New Carlisle after being removed from ministry in 1993 as a result of allegations in Chicago's archdiocese.

“In 1993, Chicago Catholic officials wrote to Fort Wayne's bishop alerting him to Dilla's status and his presence in Indiana,” the SNAP list says. At that time, the bishop would have been the Rev. John M. D'Arcy.

Clohessy said last month's summit at the Vatican on sexual abuse convened by Pope Francis did little to advance disclosure by victims.

He said it is now up to civil authorities to ease or repeal statute of limitation deadlines or create a special window of time for child victims to come forward.

“Bishops talk about these lists as being healing or advancing transparency, but ... we have yet to see a list that was anywhere near complete,” Clohessy said, saying Rhoades' behavior in that regard “was not an outlier.” 

But, if credibly accused priests “are under the radar, and one of them assaults a child, Rhoades as a bishop is in some degree responsible because he has the power and duty to warn families, and he is choosing not to.”

rsalter@jg.net