More allegations surface against Mesa priest - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

More allegations surface against Mesa priest

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Posted: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 11:42 am | Updated: 11:50 am, Wed Nov 2, 2011.

The number of allegations involving sexual conduct with minors against a prominent East Valley priest is growing.

The Rev. Jack Spaulding, former pastor of St. Timothy's Catholic Community in Mesa, who is facing allegations of having sexual relationships with teenage boys as long ago as the mid-1970s, now has been accused of four such incidents overall, three more since the Diocese of Phoenix announced the first allegations against Spaulding in June.

In June, Spaulding resigned from St. Tim's and the Diocese of Phoenix suspended him after a diocesan review board deemed allegations of Spaulding having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy in 1984 and 1985 as credible. Spaulding served at St. Maria Goretti Church in Scottsdale at the time of the alleged incidents. But, the victim, David Pain Jr. died in June, 2010, and the case was brought to the attention of the diocese by his father. It is believed to be the first such case brought against a priest on behalf of a deceased victim,

The most recent claims were received by the diocese in July of 2011, according to the public notification statement released by the Diocese of Phoenix on Oct. 14. Two adult males allege that Spaulding had inappropriate sexual contact with them over 30 years ago, when they were approximately 11 and 13 years old, respectively. The men state that they met Spaulding at St. Helen Parish in Glendale, and that the misconduct occurred at a private residence. The diocese advised the men to contact the Glendale police, but they indicated that they have no interest in doing so.

Information about all of the alleged incidents will be sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome for further review in the days ahead, according to the Diocese of Phoenix. If Spaulding is found guilty of the allegations by the Vatican-based board, he will be removed from the priesthood.

However, Spaulding would not be facing any legal penalties as the statute of limitations has expired on all of the cases.

"It is important to remember that a preliminary finding of credibility by a Diocesan Review Board - or the suspension of a cleric's faculties by Bishop Olmsted - does not mean that the cleric is guilty or innocent of an allegation," the Diocese said in its most recent public notification statement on Oct. 14. "It simply means that the allegation has a semblance of truth to it, and that further canonical proceedings are required to determine if the cleric has committed the alleged ecclesiastical crime."

In July, after seeing news reports about Spaulding allegedly molesting the Scottsdale boy, another man reported to the Office of Child Youth and Protection at the Diocese of Phoenix and to Glendale police that Spaulding had molested him about 37 years ago when he was 13 years old. Spaulding was priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale at the time.

The Glendale Police Department does not intend to investigate the allegation, and has closed its file on the matter. The diocese subsequently contacted the person who made the allegation and his attorney to request an interview by an independent investigator, but that request was refused and additional calls have not been returned, according to the diocese.

Spaulding was incardinated in the Diocese of Phoenix in 1971, and has served in a number of parishes since then: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glendale, Christ the King Parish in Mesa, Santa Teresita Parish in El Mirage, St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale, St. Raphael Parish in Glendale, St. Helen Parish in Glendale, St. Maria Goretti Parish in Scottsdale, St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Phoenix, St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Cave Creek, and St. Timothy in Mesa.

Spaulding's attorney, Don Wilkinson, told the Tribune on Monday that he has spoken with Spaulding about the accusations, but would not comment on what he said.

"If someone makes an accusation, and if that priest was there at the time, the diocese deems it credible," Wilkinson said. "That doesn't mean much, and credible is an unfortunate term the diocese uses in these cases, but that's the way it seems to be coming down. It is disappointing. Father Spaulding is a charismatic figure who is well-loved throughout the Valley. This isn't adding up."

The public notification from the Diocese of Phoenix regarding Spaulding states that anyone with information should contact local law enforcement or Paul Pfaffenberger at the Diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection at (602) 354-2396.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

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