Grand jury in Cleveland indicts retired priest, former employees

By PAUL SINGER, Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - A county grand jury has indicted a retired priest and six former employees of a Roman Catholic children's hospital on sex abuse charges, the prosecutor announced Wednesday.

A total of 11 people were indicted on charges that include sexual battery, rape and compelling prostitution.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason said the Rev. Daniel McBride is accused of soliciting sex with a minor in April. McBride previously was placed on administrative leave by the diocese.

"Even one accused among us is too many," Bishop Anthony Pilla said in a prepared statement. "We can, however, take some comfort in the fact that after a very thorough investigation, no one currently in active ministry of our church was charged."

Pilla read his statement to reporters but did not answer questions.

"It is now in the hands of the courts, and we leave all other judgments to God," he said.

McBride could not be reached for comment. Messages seeking comment were left at his attorney's office and at his most recent residence, St. Barnabas Church in suburban Northfield.

The indictments follow a seven-month investigation into allegations of child sex abuse in the diocese. Over the past few months, authorities across the country have filed charges against priests in similar investigations.

The grand jury was asked to decide whether to indict any of about 496 people, of whom 145 are priests. Mason said prosecutors identified 1,019 victims of alleged abuse, but 593 of the allegations were barred either because the deadline for prosecution had passed or they already had been through the courts.

Prosecutors presented evidence alleging involvement of Pilla and Auxiliary Bishop A. James Quinn in the church sex abuse scandal, but the grand jury declined to indict them on any charges. Quinn, a lawyer, has directed the diocese legal defense strategy against child sex abuse allegations for years.

Assistant Prosecutor Tim Miller said McBride went to Marshall McCarron's Tavern to meet a boy and arranged to pay the youth to travel to McBride's condominium in New York for sex. Prosecutors shut the bar down in June, saying it houses a prostitution ring of boys.

Charges against the ex-employees of Parmadale Family Services include gross sexual imposition, kidnapping and rape. Parmadale is a treatment center for emotionally disturbed children run by Cleveland Catholic Charities, which is the charitable arm of the diocese.

Warrants had been issued for the men who were indicted, Mason said.

J. Thomas Mullen, president of Catholic Charities in Cleveland, said five of the employees had been investigated previously on sexual abuse claims, and four had resigned or been fired. Two workers were fired Wednesday, one of whom had been on administrative leave.

The Cleveland diocese has 235 parishes with more than 800,000 Catholics and about 340 priests in eight counties.

In May, Pilla said priests guilty of sexual abuse against a child would be banned from the ministry. Fifteen priests were placed on administrative leave pending investigation of allegations against them.

Diocesean spokesman Robert Tayek said the diocese will set up a committee of laypeople to review requests from suspended priests who wish to return to active duty.

Mason's office has forwarded to 17 county prosecutors in Ohio -- as well as county prosecutors in Indiana, Michigan, Utah, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- information about allegations of abuse that took place in their jurisdictions.

He said he has sent information regarding allegations of sexual abuse by 10 other priests to the prosecutors in Lake, Summit, Wayne and Lorain counties for further investigation.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)