DENVER — A report released Wednesday states that 37 priests who worked in the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo during a period of decades have been credibly identified as sexual abusers.
The number is many times more than stated in a similar report issued last month by the Colorado Attorney General's office.
That report was limited to priests who were under the auspices of the diocese. The new report also includes priests who were under the auspices of religious orders, such as Jesuits.
The Pueblo Diocese "had an extraordinary amount of abusers," said attorney Darrow Anderson, an attorney who helped develop the report, which also includes information about sex abuse in the Diocese of Colorado Springs and the Archdiocese of Denver.
It states that three bishops of the Pueblo diocese likely were complicit in the misconduct of some of the 37 priests because information had been presented to the bishops about sexual abuse by specific priests but the bishops allegedly did not report the information to law enforcement in some instances. The former bishops listed in the report are Charles Buswell, Arthur Tafoya and Fernando Isern.
The 37 served in Pueblo, La Junta, Avondale, Vineland, Ordway, Rocky Ford, Canon City, Las Animas, Walsenburg, Trinidad, Gardner, Monte Vista, Alamosa, Antonito, San Luis, Capulin, Del Norte, Lamar, Salida, as well as other parts of the diocese, which extends to the Utah state line.
The report was compiled by a law firm, Jeff Anderson & Associates, which has represented scores of sexual abuse victims across the United States, including one in Pueblo. The firm is based in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Anderson represented Thomas Perea in a 1993 lawsuit against the Pueblo diocese, who alleged he was sexually abused multiple times, starting as a 15-year-old, by the Rev. Delbert Blong. The case was settled in 1994.
Jeff Anderson distributed Wednesday's report at a news conference in Denver. He said the report is based on "publicly available sources, claims made by survivors to the dioceses and religious orders responsible for the offenders and legal settlements made as a result of claims for sexual abuse and misconduct."
The report says it is based on "substantiated allegations of clergy sexual abuse" and based on "credibly accused" priests. The information in the report was issued previously by governmental agencies and by official Catholic entities in various parts of the U.S.
Anderson cautioned: "The allegations should be considered just allegations and should not be considered proved or substantiated in a court of law." In many instances, the alleged perpetrators could not be sued or criminally prosecuted because the alleged misconduct occurred after the statute of limitations had expired.
Not all of the documented allegations of the 37 occurred within the Pueblo diocese – some occurred in other states where the priests served before or after they served in the Pueblo diocese.
The priests identified in Wednesday report include:
•The Rev. William G. Allison, who served at Sacred Heart in Avondale in 1970-73. The report states: "William Allison has a storied history of child sexual abuse, having been accused by numerous individuals in Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana and California. In 2005, Allison was named on the Diocese of Gallup's ‘List of priests, religious and other persons who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.’”
•The Rev. John R. Beno, who served at Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Francis Xavier, Our Lady of Assumption, St. Anne, all in Pueblo, from the 1960s to the 1980s, and at St. Peter's, Rocky Ford, in the 1960s.The Pueblo Chieftain reported on Oct. 24 that Beno was identified in the Colorado Attorney General's report, accused of sexually assaulting two school girls, in 1961 and 1969. As a Colorado state senator, Beno served on the powerful Joint Budget Committee.
•The Rev. Delbert F. Blong, who served at Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Junta, in the 1950s and 1960s; at the Newman Center and Christ the King, both in Pueblo, in the 1970s and 1980s. The report states he was accused in a lawsuit "of sexually abusing a boy for a 20-year period beginning in 1971." According to the attorney general's report, Blog sexually abused at least six minor boys in La Junta and Alamosa in the 1950s and 1960s.
•The Rev. Leo M. Bonfadini, who served at St. Francis Xavier, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart and St. Pius X, all in Pueblo, from the 1970s to the 1990s. According to the attorney general's report, Bonfadini was accused in 1994 of sexually abusing a boy in the Our Lady rectory in approximately 1979, and was placed on leave in 1995 and sent to "an institution known for treating priests accused of child sexual abuse." In the Oct. 28 Chieftain, Bonfadini, accompanied by his Pueblo attorney, emphatically denied the 1984 accusation.
•The Rev. Gordon J. Buckley, who served St. Patrick's in La Junta in the 1950s, Holy Trinity, San Isidore Mission and Mt. St. Raphael Hospital, all in Trinidad, in the 1950s, and St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, in the 1950s. Anderson's report says Buckley is listed in a report of "Priests Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of a Minor," which was issued by a diocese in Minnesota, where he served in the 1960s and 1970s.
•The Rev. Walter P. Buetzler, who served at Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Junta, in 1953, and in St. Joseph's, Monte Vista, in 1954. Anderson said the Pueblo diocese received a report in 1953 that Buetzler abused a minor at St. Joseph's. The priest reportedly was transferred to California. The victim reported the abuse again in 1990, and the priest is included in the attorney general's report.
•The Rev. Andrew A. Burke, who served at St. Pius X in Pueblo in 1972-73. Anderson's report states Burke was accused of sexually abusing an altar server in the early 1970s at St. Pius. In 2005, two other victims reported being sexually abused by him in the 1970s at St. Pius.
•The Rev. Robert "Bob" J. Carden, who served at St. Francis Xavier from 1989 to 1995, at St. Joseph, from 1996 to 2002, both in Pueblo; and St. Therese, Vineland, from 1997 to 2003. He was identified in a 2019 list by the Archdiocese of New York of "Clergy Credibly Accused." He served in New York before serving in Colorado.
•The Rev. Bernard J. Casper, who was chaplain at the State Home for the Aged in Trinidad in 1962 and 1963. In 1963, he reportedly underwent treatment in New Mexico and did not return to the Pueblo diocese, according to Anderson's report. In 2002, the Albany, New York, diocese received a report that Casper sexually abused two boys in the 1970s.
•The Rev. Meinrad Richard Chung, who was at Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City from 1983 to 1992. In 2004, a victim sued, alleging Chung sexually abused him at the abbey in approximately 1982, according to Anderson's report.
•The Rev. Michael DeScoise, who served at St. Mary, St. Pius, St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, and Parkview Medical Center, all in Pueblo, at various years from 1991 to 2012. He was listed in the attorney general's report, which stated that the diocese "had received numerous reports of DeScoise committing sexual misconduct with adults." His faculties were suspended in 2016, but were restored in 2017 after receiving treatment in Denver." Anderson's report states the diocese received a report from a victim that DeScoise abused a minor in the 1980s when he was serving at a Grand Junction church. "His faculties reportedly were suspended again"
•The Rev. Burton (B.J.) Fraser served Our Lady of St. Carmel. Pueblo, in 1952. In 2009, he was listed in the Jesuits' list of "Credible Accusations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor" in the 1950s.
•The Rev. William T. Gleeson, who served St. Pius X, Pueblo, in 1969-70; St. Mary, Las Animas, 1971-1980; St. Mary, Walsenburg, 1981-85; Christ the King, Pueblo, 1986-1995; and St. Joseph, Pueblo, 2008-12; and Sacred Heart, Avondale, 2017-18. Anderson's report states Gleeson allegedly sexually abused a boy in 1969, which was reported to the diocese in 1993, which did not report it to law enforcement until 2019. Gleeson is in the attorney general's report.
•The Rev. John A. Haberthier, who served St. Francis Xavier, Pueblo, 1976-79. According to the attorney general's report, he allegedly groomed and sexually abused at least four boys during that period.
•The Rev. Michael Kurz, who served Sacred Heart, Christ the King, St. Anne, St. Francis Xavier, all in Pueblo, from 1976 to 1988. From then until 1993, he served at several locations in the diocese. In 1994 he served at St. Mary in Walsenburg. He was named in a lawsuit that alleged he sexually abused a boy in approximately 1976. According to Anderson's report, the Diocesan Review Board purportedly conducted an investigation and determined the allegation to be false. After allegations of sexual abuse involving Kurz arose, at least two settlements were reached with the victims. The report does not state where those instances allegedly occurred. He served in in Illinois after leaving Walsenburg.
•The Rev. Conrad Lee, who served Holy Family, Pueblo, 1956-57, and then served in Oregon, Washington, and California. A report by Franciscan Friars in California listed Lee being reported in 1978, alleging he sexually abused a minor from 1957 to 1961, Anderson said. The location is not stated.
•The Rev. Daniel C. Maio, who served Christ the King, 1967; St. Patrick's, 1968-70, Propagation of the Faith, 1971-74, all in Pueblo. Anderson's report says a lawsuit was filed against him in 2010 for allegedly sexually abusing a minor in 1968-69 while he was diocesan youth director. Another lawsuit. alleging similar conduct, was filed the same year. Both were settled in 2011. He is part of the attorney general's report.
•The Rev. Philip Marin, is listed in the attorney general's report. Anderson's report says Marin was accused in 2009 of sexually abusing a girl, when he was working at Our Lady of the Assumption. Pueblo. The report, seemingly contradictory, lists both Pueblo and Trinidad as the church's location. Marin is listed in the attorney general's report.
•The Rev. John F. Martin, who served St. Mary's, Walsenburg, from 1953-59; Sacred Heart, Avondale, 1965-66; St. Anthony of Padua, Pueblo, 1967-70; St. Pius X, Pueblo, 1971-73; and St. Dismiss Chapel, Canon City, 1974. He is listed in the attorney general's report for reportedly sexually abusing a boy in 1971. "The Diocese was purportedly made aware of Martin sexually abusing minors in 1973 and transferred him to the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City," Anderson's report states.
•The Rev. Lucien ("Luke," "Maurice") J. Meunier was a visiting priest in many dioceses, according to Anderson's report. Multiple reports were made beginning in the 1960s that he sexually abused minor boys. "In 1972, the bishop of the diocese of Pueblo reportedly arranged for Fr. Meunier to see a psychologist … (but he) purportedly never went for treatment and fled." He was accused of child sexual abuse in multiple lawsuits in the 1990s and 2000s in five states, including Colorado. He is named in the Tucson diocese 2011 report of "credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving a minor."
•Brother William C. Mueller reportedly sexually abused at least 40 minors in the 1960s and 1970s, including students at Roncalli High School, Pueblo. He was named in 23 lawsuits, according to Anderson. The Chieftain has reported that Mueller's religious order paid $1 million of a $4.2 million settlement of the lawsuits.
•Clifford A. Norman, who served Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Junta, 1961-63; St. Mary's, Walsenburg, 1964, Sacred Heart, Avondale, 1968-71. He is listed in the attorney general's report. Anderson says Norman sexually abused an altar boy in 1968.
•Joseph A. Reade, who served St. Patrick's, Pueblo, 1955; St. Patrick's, La Junta, 1956; Shrine of St. Therese, Pueblo, 1957-58; St. Patrick's, Pueblo, 1959-63; Newman Center, Pueblo, 1974; Parkview Medical Center, 1975-80; St. Mary, Pueblo, 1980. He is included in the attorney general's report, which stated child sexual abuse allegations were made in in 1986 and 1994 against Reade, in other parts of the diocese. Anderson's report says the diocese purportedly reached a financial settlement with one victim and concluded a second allegation was unsubstantiated. The diocese in approximately 1986 briefly suspended Reade's faculties, Anderson said.
•Lawrence C. Silvers, who served St. Francis Xavier, Pueblo, 1970-71. He is listed in the attorney general's report. In 2014 and 2018, a woman reported being sexually abused in 1969 by Silvers when she was a child in another part of the diocese.
•Barnabus Stelzer, a monk at Holy Cross Abbey, Canon City. In the early 1980s, he allegedly sexually molested a child, according to Anderson's report.
Not all 37 priests who worked in the diocese are included in this news report because some of them were located in parts of the diocese that are beyond the Pueblo area.