Posted December 1, 2008
The six short years he was in Portland, from 1950 to 1956, Father Rocco Perone, a “Paulist” priest (“OSP”), abused at least 15 boys, and quite possibly another half-dozen who never came forward—two of whom committed suicide. According to the victim’s testimony, Perone followed a standard MO when abusing boys: he called them up to the “Scout Room” (a storage room in the upstairs portion of a building at St. Philip Neri) and had them give confessions about their “impure thoughts.” He then asked the boys to “show” him, at which point he would sexually abuse them. He would bind the boys to sacramental secrecy, instilling divine fear in them should they speak up about it.
Father Rocco Francis Perone was ordained as a Paulist Priest on May 3, 1949, at St. Paul’s College in New York. Beginning in June, 1949, and throughout his career, he held five distinct positions in five different regions, until his retirement in August, 1989. His first assignment was at St. Mary’s in Chicago, Illinois. He was then transferred in 1950 to Portland, Oregon, to work at St. Philip Neri. Six years later, in 1956, he was suddenly transferred to Layton, Utah, to work at St. Rose, under the capacity of missions ministry. Then, between 1957 and 1988, he worked in missions out of St. Austin’s, in Austin, Texas. His final assignment was from 1988 to 1989, where he was assigned to St. Peter’s Parish in Toronto,
The first known report of abuse was made by a boy’s mother in 1953, in Oregon. The 12-year old boy had been informed by Father Perone that a physical inspection of his genitals was necessary for a sports clearance. Infuriated, the boy’s mother called Father Quinn, the pastor of St. Philip Neri, in Portland — Father Perone’s church. The next day, in all-too-familiar Church protocol, Father Perone was placed “on a mission,” to Utah. The boy’s mother was prepared to testify to all this in 2002. The six short years he was in Portland, from 1950 to 1956, Father Rocco Perone, a “Paulist” priest (“OSP”), abused at least 15 boys, and quite possibly another half-dozen who never came forward—two of whom committed suicide. According to the victim’s testimony, Perone followed a standard MO when abusing boys: he called them up to the “Scout Room” (a storage room in the upstairs portion of a building at St. Philip Neri) and had them give confessions about their “impure thoughts.” He then asked the boys to “show” him, at which point he would sexually abuse them. He would bind the boys to sacramental secrecy, instilling divine fear in them should they speak up about it.
Witnesses were also prepared to testify that the Paulist Fathers again received written complaints about sexual abuse of boys by Perone in 1956, while he was on “mission” in Utah. They nonetheless allowed him to stay in ministry. Father Perone’s victims from the 1950s continued to struggle many years later with the effects of the devastating abuse, as evidenced in one of his Portland, Oregon victim’s 1989 letter to the Father Gallagher of the Paulist Fathers. ARCH 031; K.A. letter to Fr. Gallagher, dated 6/20/1989. To see Fr. Gallagher’s response to this particular victim’s letter, ARCH 028; response to K.A. To see the Portland Archdiocese’s action taken in response to their conversation with Father Gallagher, click ARCH 018; Lienert to Levada letter. Neither the Paulists nor the Archdiocese ever gave the requested notice, despite that they acknowledged it would help victims. ARCH018-019.
In Father Lienert’s own words, he states that the Church’s protocol for handling incidents of priests’ sexual abuse of children is that they remove the priest from the parish, get him therapy, and then make a determination of whether he can remain in ministry. Therefore, the Church acknowledged that its own policy was to leave the option open for allowing a priest who had been found abusing children to remain in ministry. ARCH 012; Lienert memo to file dated 4/28/1989
Even after receiving an in-person admission to abusing two boys from Perone himself, the Paulist Fathers nonetheless decided to place him in a position in a parish in San Antonio, Texas, following his release from a Catholic-run sexual treatment program, on the condition that Perone not be allowed to have any contact with young people. ARCH 010; Lienert memo to file, 3/21/89. To our knowledge none of Perone’s parishes, including this one, were ever told of his prior accusations of abuse.
Continuing Deception by Archdiocese Even in Current Internet Postings
Incredibly, even after a decade of being held accountable for sexual abuse by its priests, the Archdiocese of Portland in its own website as recently as of today (11/26/08), continued to post documents in a deceptive fashion. One example is document no. ARCH014 As readers can discern from the narrative above regarding the correspondence between a Perone victim and the Archdiocese in 1989, the Archdiocese never, in fact, agreed to give the notice to St. Philip Neri parish or other parishes concerning Fr. Perone. They simply refused to do it. Yet, by posting this document at the very beginning of its website, taken out of context, the Archdiocese deliberately sought to make it appear that they did, in fact, give this warning.
What other possible reason could there be for the Archdiocese posting this document in isolation at the beginning of the material on Fr. Perone? Readers should not be deceived: document no. ARCH014 was the notice that K.A., a Perone victim, requested that the Archdiocese give in 1989. Despite discussion of the possible benefits of doing so, ultimately the Archdiocese decided not to give the notice. For the Archdiocese to post this notice conspicuously at the beginning of the Perone documents is nothing but misleading.
Include: Complaint w/request for punitives; the Memo in Support of Punitives.