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Byzantine Catholic priest who made sexually suggestive videos defrocked over abuse claims

By Mark Mueller/The Star-Ledger
on July 26, 2013
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/20...r_abuse_claims.html#incart_river_default

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A Byzantine Catholic priest who once ran a wrestling website that critics likened to child pornography has been laicized — or expelled from the priesthood — following claims that he sexually abused teenage boys in New Jersey.

Glenn Davidowich, 49, had been on leave from ministry since at least 2011, when the Eparchy of Passaic reached a $200,000 settlement with one of his alleged victims. Davidowich now lives in Manitowoc, Wis.

The eparchy, the equivalent of a diocese in the Roman Catholic church, announced in its monthly newspaper, Eastern Catholic Life, that Davidowich was removed from the priesthood April 2. His expulsion was approved in December by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Byzantine Catholic Church is autonomous from the Roman Catholic Church but remains under the auspices of the pope.

Two months after Davidowich’s removal, the eparchy settled with another alleged victim, said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represented the accuser.

Garabedian said his client had not authorized him to reveal the exact amount of the June 29 settlement, though he said it was in the six figures.

"Father Glenn Davidowich was a serial pedophile," said Garabedian, who has handled hundreds of clergy sex abuse cases. "He was open and notorious with his activities involving children. Once again, the question arises: Where were the supervisors? And once again, you have reportedly the most moral institution in the world acting immorally regarding sexual abuse and negligence by supervisors."

Davidowich was never criminally charged. In both cases, the accusers came forward after the statute of limitations had passed.

The eparchy referred calls about Davidowich to its lawyer, Thomas De Vita, who did not respond to requests for comment. Davidowich has an unlisted phone number in Manitowoc. Efforts to reach him through social media were unsuccessful.

A Bayonne native who grew up in Dunellen, Davidowich served at churches throughout New Jersey and at parishes in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Connecticut.

He made national headlines in 2002, when news outlets identified him as the founder of the Junior Pro Wrestling Association, which produced and sold sexually suggestive videos of teenage boys wrestling in skimpy, bikini-style bottoms.

The teens were given provocative pseudonyms, including "Bad Brad" and the "Hardcore Kid," and were videotaped in all manner of compromising positions. In several cases, the videos were shot on church property.

Davidowich distanced himself from the company after the revelations, while his partner in the venture, Tony Karl, defended the videos as "sports entertainment." Karl and Davidowich now live together in Manitowoc, property records show.

It was through wrestling that the former priest groomed his alleged victims, said Garabedian, the Boston lawyer.

"He would stage wrestling matches with them," Garabedian said. "But they were a facade, a means for him to sexually molest children."

The accuser who settled with the eparchy in 2011 told The Star-Ledger Davidowich abused him for three years in the 1990s while the former priest was assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Trenton. The second alleged victim knew Davidowich through St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Florence Township, Garabedian said.

In addition to those postings, Davidowich has served at Byzantine Catholic churches in Perth Amboy and Edison.

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People were complaining to me about him back in the late 1990s. Specifically, they told me that they had taken their complaints to the chancery of the Eparchy of Passaic and been blown off. it is quite clear that Father Glenn could not have continued in his ministry without the protection of someone at the very top of the Eparchial leadership.

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In the Diocese of Oakland where I am a catechist in a Latin parish you literally cannot turn on the light on the ambo if you have not completed the "Safe Environment" training and been run thru the "Megan's list" database. The SF Archdiocese is less strict about who must be trained, tho all of our parish council have trained. Of course clergy and certain others must have additional training, and be fingerprinted. I'm still trying to get some things done in my parish (windows in doors of rooms used for counseling) which are standard now in the Oakland diocese.

In Oakland we now have the option to train in the "advanced" program which covers issues related to safe environment for the elderly, the disabled, and other vulnerable persons. Taking that caused me to be concerned about some potential red flags with an elderly couple.

Presently a close Orthodox friend is greatly suffering over "problems" with some Orthodox monks he/she is close to. I was stunned when an Orthodox priest I walked with for several years in the Walk for Life was tried and convicted. Two of his parishioners were in a class I was in. It was my first experience with this "close to home". Three days ago a local YMCA worker was arrested, accused of sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl, with two more girls having since come forward.

I support what the Diocese of Oakland is doing. It does cost money to train a huge number of those in the diocese but we all need to be made aware of red flags and what to do when we see them.

Yes, I do have an opinion! smile

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Talk about old news... According to the ECL Davidowich was laicized at his own request.

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Well, of course. His protector had to resign, and then died, and the handwriting was truly on the wall.

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In the Diocese of Oakland where I am a catechist in a Latin parish you literally cannot turn on the light on the ambo if you have not completed the "Safe Environment" training and been run thru the "Megan's list" database.


These CYA measures are not intended to protect children, only to insulate bishops and dioceses from legal liability. If you thought about it for a moment, you'd realize not only is the process ineffective, it's also tremendously insulting, which is why I--who have been subject to more background investigations than most people on this forum (including those requiring polygraph examination)--simply refused to comply and resigned as an ECF instructor. That a certain bishop was at the same time protecting certain priests who were known to have transgressed in this area did not incline me to be charitable in assessing the reasons for the new policy.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
Quote
In the Diocese of Oakland where I am a catechist in a Latin parish you literally cannot turn on the light on the ambo if you have not completed the "Safe Environment" training and been run thru the "Megan's list" database.


These CYA measures are not intended to protect children, only to insulate bishops and dioceses from legal liability. If you thought about it for a moment, you'd realize not only is the process ineffective, it's also tremendously insulting, which is why I--who have been subject to more background investigations than most people on this forum (including those requiring polygraph examination)--simply refused to comply and resigned as an ECF instructor. That a certain bishop was at the same time protecting certain priests who were known to have transgressed in this area did not incline me to be charitable in assessing the reasons for the new policy.


Really? Sounds like reasonable SOP. The Children's Museum where my wife works has similar rules, some state mandated, most insurance mandated and all common sense.

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Originally Posted by DMD
Originally Posted by StuartK
Quote
In the Diocese of Oakland where I am a catechist in a Latin parish you literally cannot turn on the light on the ambo if you have not completed the "Safe Environment" training and been run thru the "Megan's list" database.


These CYA measures are not intended to protect children, only to insulate bishops and dioceses from legal liability. If you thought about it for a moment, you'd realize not only is the process ineffective, it's also tremendously insulting, which is why I--who have been subject to more background investigations than most people on this forum (including those requiring polygraph examination)--simply refused to comply and resigned as an ECF instructor. That a certain bishop was at the same time protecting certain priests who were known to have transgressed in this area did not incline me to be charitable in assessing the reasons for the new policy.


Really? Sounds like reasonable SOP. The Children's Museum where my wife works has similar rules, some state mandated, most insurance mandated and all common sense.


Sounds like reasonable SOP to most...that being said...I know from previous correspondance with Stuart...background checks don't mean anything...

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Also, knowing Glenn well...I know him to be, I guess to be blunt and he admits as well, often immature at times...I can see how some horseplay which was not intended to be "sexual in nature" could have been taken that way...I respect that he requested to be laicized on his own...

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I also know background checks are no panacea. There is no national sexual abuse offender list list or national clearing house, so you could on a registry in NY but cleared by PA. Also you can be "indicated" on a registry for matters not really indicative of much of anything. But, they are better than nothing.

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Originally Posted by DMD
I also know background checks are no panacea. There is no national sexual abuse offender list list or national clearing house, so you could on a registry in NY but cleared by PA. Also you can be "indicated" on a registry for matters not really indicative of much of anything. But, they are better than nothing.


I agree

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They are singularly inappropriate for a Christian community of faith, though. We're supposed to be a family, and families do not make their members get background investigations, nor do they make them sign pledges saying they won't diddle the children. Families also stand by each other, and do not make their members sign agreements saying if you get into trouble, we'll recommend a good lawyer to you, but you're on your own. Families know each other and discipline each other in love. Process is not a substitute for close episcopal oversight. It is merely a means by which bishops can duck their responsibilities.

Inter alia, the rates of sexual abuse of children are far higher in the public school system than they ever were in the Catholic Church, despite the existence of more stringent background checks than those mandated under the Dallas Charter. All background investigations do is provide a false sense of security. A half-way clever sexual offender can get around them, in the same way that spies and traitors have been beating background investigations and polygraph tests for generations.

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As an employee of a public institution I am well aware of the CYA mentality. Background checks and compliance training are ubiquitous but serve no other purpose than to provide an excuse for someone higher up.

The root cause of this problem seems to be a willingness to overlook some serious personality traits in some seminary candidates in the past. The unwillingness of the bishops and in some cases the deliberate decision to ignore the problem seriously exasperated it.

As a member of a finance council at one parish I had the pleasure of sitting through the mandatory training. It is mostly about what to look for and how to report anything that is apparently unusual. Of course, if the bishop is unwilling to take any immediate action then all of the training in the world is not going to do anything at all.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
They are singularly inappropriate for a Christian community of faith, though. We're supposed to be a family, and families do not make their members get background investigations, nor do they make them sign pledges saying they won't diddle the children. Families also stand by each other, and do not make their members sign agreements saying if you get into trouble, we'll recommend a good lawyer to you, but you're on your own. Families know each other and discipline each other in love. Process is not a substitute for close episcopal oversight. It is merely a means by which bishops can duck their responsibilities.

Inter alia, the rates of sexual abuse of children are far higher in the public school system than they ever were in the Catholic Church, despite the existence of more stringent background checks than those mandated under the Dallas Charter. All background investigations do is provide a false sense of security. A half-way clever sexual offender can get around them, in the same way that spies and traitors have been beating background investigations and polygraph tests for generations.


I agree with you also...while I don't discount totally background checks for they do CYA in terms of protecting assets and meeting secular fiduciary duty tests...we do live in the real world and we do have to deal with those messy realities.

However, it seems to me that in the past at least, and still the case(?) in the Roman Catholic world, no local ordinary posseses the power to determine the fate of a particular priest. Do not all such matters have to go through the cumbersome bureaucracy to Rome and the Vatican? Unless a priest requests lay status from a local bishop are not the local bishop's hands somewhat tied? In the orthodox world these problems fall square in the lap of the diocesan Bishop and his advisors who are closer to the ground and more in touch with the local communities of faith and families. Our system is hardly perfect, and I know there are examples of cover ups etc...but the problem seems not to be as pervasive..

Of course that could be on account of our society's fascination with the 'conspiratorial' aspects of the 'Vatican' dealing with stuff...then again the history over the past twenty years - Cardinals Law and Mahoney come to mind - probably gives a color of credence to such thinking.....

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Background checks will only show if they have been caught somewhere before. Thats why these checks can't be the only brick in the child protection wall. Get a clearance does not mean someone is safe any more than a drivers licence means that the holder of the licence is an A1 driver at all times. When all it means is they passed a driving test at some time, it does not mean they will never speed, or drink and drive. A whole raft of policy and procedures need to be put in place to manage how adults behave around and with U18s.

cool

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