The notorious Fr. John S. Hoehl giving me my diploma many moons ago.
Donald Wuerl did reassign him to ministry (hospital chaplaincy work), after
former Pittsburgh bishop, Anthony Bevilacqua, put him on the sidelines. I heard
the rumors about Hoehl, and in looking back, there were a few indications thereof.
There was a time when Cardinal Wuerl operated in a mode of conduct that
would become synonymous with the way of Boston's Cardinal Bernad Law.
In fact, the original handling of lone wolf molester, John Hoehl, proved this
to be true.The 1992 to 1994 saga involvingFr. Edward Huff,also proved
this to be true.
Wuerl's original way of handling sex abuse cases was to position a molester
priest toward non-parish ministry, if and only if a psychiatric facility would
give that priest a favorable prognosis.In as much, Richard Zula wasn't be-
ing positioned back into any form of ministry, on account of his sadistic acts.
The same could not be said for Wolk, Pucci, the Edward Huff whom Wuerl
placed in chaplaincy minister, and the John Hoehl to whom Wuerl did the
same ... even though Anthony Bevilacqua, Wuerl's predecessor, suspended
Hoehl and had him go on administrative leave.
Assigning a priest to non-parish duties places such a priest one step away
from parish ministry.Whether Wuerl would have eventually placing back
into ministry priests who abused minors will be unknown only because he
was shut down before the opportunity to do so presented itself.The simul-
taneous indictments of Wolk, Zula, and Pucci shut down's Wuerl's way of
handling sex abuse cases, at least for a short while.They prompted him to
immediately oust from ministry the John S. Hoehl whom he reassigned four
months prior.However, priests who did wrong to youths over the age of
eighteen have been kept in ministry by Wuerl.
Then came the Father Edward Huff case, where a third complaint against
the priest finally put Wuerl on the spot, thereby shutting down his opportun-
ity to do anything more than take Huff out of ministry and shuttle him back
to a St Louis psychiatric facility from whence he came.By all indications,
Wuerl was on his way to becoming a bishop in the image and likeness of
Bernard Cardinal Law.In fact, the Huff cover-up shows that Wuerl was
still toying with law enforcement authorities even after having been in law
enforcement's spotlight four years prior.
One thing is certain.Wuerl has proven his willingness to reassign to parish
ministry the type of priest who commits physically invasive homosexual ha-
rassment and then engages in retaliatory conduct upon being reported for the
conduct.As was previously mentioned, such a priest was a personal secre-
tary of Donald Wuerl.What was not yet mentioned is that Wuerl assigned
that priest to the pastor's post of St Basil's Parish, in Carrick, Pennsylvania.
The assignment was effective January 1, 2004.
Add to this the credible allegations against one Father Donald Sotak who
was accused of attacking a youth over the age of 18, to the point of alleged-
ly knocking the young man unconscious, while the youth allegedly resisted
Sotak's alleged advances.
The Diocese Denied Any Wrongdoing,
as History Was Revised Years Later
Concerning his triple cover-up, Wuerl publicly denied that his diocese stone-
walled the investigation of the Pittsburgh diocese's molestation clique.How-
ever, he didn't deny that he materially concealed a trio of abusive priests from
law enforcement authorities.He simply denied that those actions constituted
cover-ups. For example, it was after Fr. Robbert Wolk was charged by Alle-
gheny County authorities, Wuerl made the following statement:"We can't
condemn him and throw him out and away." Wuerl also stated, "It is not
covering up to embrace a man who is suffering, just as we will not walk
away from the family."
Wuerl claimed that it is not covering-up to hide a priest in either a psychia-
tric facility or at a relative's home, all the while telling no one how danger-
ous he is.It's not covering up, according to Wuerl, to treat the criminal as
the suffering victim.
Incidentally, when it came time to process the indictment of Richard Zula,
his whereabouts were unknown.Wuerl's diocese was NOT keeping track
of him.The official diocesan spokesman, as well as the Allegheny County
DA, claimed that the Diocese of Pittsburgh had no obligation to notify Child
Youth Services about any molester priests, as was prescribed in the Child
Protective Services Act.
In direct contrast was James A. Esler, the head of the human service section
of Allegheny County's Law Department.He stated that there was no question
in his mind that the Diocese of Pittsburgh had the obligation to report priests
who molest youths.Today, it's understood that anyone who learned of a mo-
lester has the obligation to report him, for the sake of those who would other-
wise become future sex abuse casualties.
WUERL SOUGHT TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT AND HAVE CATHOLICS IGNORE IT
Wuerl completed a four page letter addressed to every Pittsburgh diocesan
member, two weeks after Robert Wolk's October 11 indictment.While tak-
ing zero blame for the cover-up, Wuerl tried to persuade each reader to ig-
nore the indictment and to place the attention one other things.Then, seven-
teen days after the release date of Wuerl's change-the-subject letter, Wolk,
Zula, and Pucci were indicted in Washington County.The following link
reported on the letter:
REVISIONIST HISTORY MADE WUERL LOOK
LIKE A HERO IN HIS OWN TRIPLE COVER-UP
A number of the 2002, 2003, 2004+ news articles which mentioned Wuerl's
triple cover-up explained it so poorly that it constituted fiction.At times, the
cover-up was explained with slight of hand deception, while at other times it
was explained with blatant falsehood.Some of the articles went as far as to
claim that Wuerl was a stern yet discrete hero in handling of the three molest-
er priests.In fact, of all the news outlets who alluded to Wuerl's triple cover-
up in revisionist terms, CBS was the one who lied the most.The Pittsburgh
Post Gazette came in second place.
CBS made it look as ifWuerl suspended those three priests immediately af-
ter having learned of their perversity and then went swiftly to thehome of the
molested altar boys, as a gesture of compassionate concern.He didn't.Other
21st Century articles made it look as if Wuerl quickly went to the home of the
molested altar boys, as if to be on a fact finding mission, only to gain the reali-
zation that he had to oust the three priests immediately thereafter.This, too,
was a lie.Other articles stated that Wuerl discretely suspended three priests,
as if he had reviewed a filing cabinet of diocesan priest dossiers and then de-
cided to cut three unrelated players from a team roster.Needless to say, this
didn't happen, either.In fact, Wuerl was not the one who suspended those
Moreover, in 1988, Wuerl deceived the public by stating that he visited the
victimized family after he "became bishop in February."The wording of
Wuerl's claim made a reasonably minded person assume that he diligently
visited the family in the month of February, the first month of his tenure in
Pittsburgh.No such visitation by Wuerl or any other Pittsburgh diocesan
member occurred that February, that March, that April, May, June, July, or
even August.The following is what actually happened:
Bevilacqua suspended the priests during the Autumn of 1987.Wuerl then re-
placed Bevilacqua in February 1988.He kept his distance from the family
of the two sex abuse casualties and did no more than see to it that the two
molested youths would continue to have their psychiatric sessions free of
charge.The criminal priests would stay on sick leave, spending some time
in a psychiatric facility, while living under the radar of law enforcement.
From the view of the logical mind, the venues of the abusive priests were
likened to resorts and hideouts.It were as if they would get away with what
they did and be able to snag other sexual prey down the road.This triggered
within the family of the sex abuse casualties the resolve to go to the police and
sue the diocese.This resolve occurred in the vicinity of September.In fact,
the October 13, 1988 edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette explained it in the
"...THEY WERE WORRIED THAT THE PRIESTS MIGHT TRY TO MOLEST SOMEONE ELSE."
In the October 21st edition of the same Post Gazette, at the City/Area Section,
on Page A-4, it was reported that the family decided to go to the law enforce-
ment authorities when they discovered that at least one member of the molester
trio "were not in an institution on a daily basis."
The pastor of the family's parish, John Arnott, informed Wuerl what the fam-
ily decided to do.In response, Wuerl asked Arnott to see if a meeting with
the family could be arranged.It was then and only then when Wuerl closed
the distance and went to the victimized family's home.The reasonable per-
son would deduce this to be the actof a self-seeking Wuerl, attempting to
persuade a family into changing its mind about reporting criminal priests to
the police.This would be consistent with a bishop wanting to perpetuate an
Now, Wuerl's visit to the home of sex abuse casualties was in September.
The family filed its notice of intent to sue at the end of that month, in Alle-
gheny County Common Pleas Court.For those unfamiliar, Allegheny is the
county were Pittsburgh is located.