Michigan Bishop Shrugs Off Concerns About Sex Abuser

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by Church Militant  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 7, 2019   

Bishop Boyea sat on allegation for four years, stripped priest of faculties only once victim threatened to go public

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By Anita Carey and Christine Niles

LANSING, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Michigan bishop is facing scrutiny over his failure to immediately discipline a priest after a credible allegation of abuse.

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Fr. Pat Egan

Bishop Earl Boyea of the diocese of Lansing waited four years to remove faculties from Fr. Pat Egan, accused of sexual misconduct. In an audio recording of a public conversation acquired by Church Militant, Boyea claimed Egan was still meeting with minors but dismissed concerns expressed by a victims advocate. 

After a media query by Church Militant, the bishop clarified that he had "misunderstood" what had been told to him, and "in fact, there were no minors in his presence."

Allegations Involving Fr. Pat Egan

In the audio recording, which took place publicly at the diocese of Lansing's men's conference on Feb. 23, Boyea can be heard saying that Egan was still meeting with children in the Ann Arbor area.

Egan's priestly faculties were revoked in September following "a credible allegation of inappropriate sexual behavior with an adult male." The diocese issued a statement at the time:

Rev Patrick Egan, a Senior Priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster in London, England, currently residing in Washtenaw County, Michigan, has had his priestly faculties removed due to a credible allegation of inappropriate sexual behavior with an adult male.

The statement fails to mention that the "inappropriate sexual behavior" involved non-consensual conduct. It also does not mention that this allegation was first brought forward in 2014.


 

Prior to this allegation, Fr. Egan was the chaplain of Ave Maria Radio and was featured on the daily radio show "Fully Alive."

"At the time of the allegation, Egan was no longer our chaplain," said Al Kresta, president of Ave Maria Radio, in recent comments to Church Militant. "For years his activity had been marginal." 

In a statement in Sept. 2018, when Egan's faculties were removed, Kresta wrote, "Shocked as I am, I continue to count him as a friend. A person is not fully defined by his basest acts." 

"I'm not sure further details satisfy any legitimate public interest at the moment," he said, adding that a small group of laity is encouraging "complete transparency of all involved." 

"The lay faithful must take co-responsibility for the Church," he said. 

Kresta clarified in comments to Church Militant that his initial statement was inadequate, and that the diocese needs to do more in the way of transparency: "Almost immediately after posting that statement, I saw problems in the way the diocese was presenting the situation. We need more not less explanation and description."

"The mystery that remains is, 'Why so few victims of Egan?" Kresta asked. "Maybe the UM Boxing Club has something on the 1990 incident that might be fruitful" — referring to an early allegation of abuse deemed not credible.

Feb. 23 Conversation With Bp. Boyea

An excerpt from the transcript of the Feb. 23 audio recording shows Boyea appearing to make light of concerns about Egan's apparent access to minors, at one point even mocking the idea of monitoring the priest. 

VA: Right, but you delivered a letter to Fr. Pat in 2014.
BB: Yup.
VA: But the statement says the first time you heard about it was 2018.
BB: But I delivered one to stop, uh, stop boxing. We just thought it was inappropriate for him to be boxing.
VA: Fr. Ed [Fride] had already told him to stop boxing in 2013.
BB: Yup, and he did. So I wrote a letter.
VA: But no one checked.
BB: I could have put him in a prison someplace to watch him. Or I could have moved in with him and lived with him, and put a chain on his arm.
VA: Or you could have removed his faculties.
BB: Do you think that is stopping him?
VA: Yeah.
BB: No, it isn’t, he still meets with kids. On his own!
VA: Well, can we make a statement then?
BB: Father Ed has been telling everybody — not kids, young adults, just adults. But I told him I said it should only be women that come to see him. Now I could go and lock myself-chain myself too him and watch him 24 hours a day. Or I just have to say or I could put him in prison. I'll let you put him in prison.

Allegation From 1990s

Few details have emerged about the allegations surrounding Egan. Church Militant has learned that Egan would use his hobby of boxing as a way to engage in inappropriate sexual contact with younger men, a hobby that he continued to pursue even after the allegations surfaced.

Church Militant can confirm that an allegation of abuse was brought against Egan in the 1990s, but no follow-up was made regarding the claim, which was dismissed by the diocese as "not credible" in 2003. The University of Michigan, however, took the accusation seriously, removing Egan as a coach from the university boxing program.

The University of Michigan, however, took the accusation seriously, removing Egan as a coach from the university boxing program.

Mike Gunther, Egan's spiritual superior in the Word of God community, to which Egan belonged, was a member of the diocesan review board that dismissed the allegation against Egan — a violation of diocesan rules, which requires independence and impartiality among all members.

Allegation From 2014

Another young male brought an allegation against Egan in 2014 claiming that during a boxing session, Egan became aroused and masturbated in front of him. This was reported to the diocese, and the only response was that Egan was told he must stop boxing. Egan failed to obey the order.

The same claim was brought forward in private meetings with Boyea in 2016 and again in 2017, with the same response, the bishop claiming he was powerless to do anything against Egan because Egan was not incardinated in the diocese.

Only when the victim threatened to go public with the allegation in Sept. 2018 did Boyea finally strip Egan of his faculties — contradicting his prior claims that he could do nothing to the priest.

Church Militant reached out to Boyea for clarification of his remarks from Feb. 23. He answered within 24 hours, writing:

Apparently Fr. Egan had contacted a couple of young men to come visit him but they declined due to the information that had already been given them. So, in fact, there were no minors in his presence. In addition, due to the fact that he is a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster, I can do nothing more than remove his faculties which I did.

Church Militant immediately followed up with further questions:

  • Why did you wait four years to remove Fr. Egan's faculties, as [the victim] first brought his allegation to the Lansing diocese in 2014?
  • Why did you tell [the victim] in a subsequent meeting that you had no ability to remove Fr. Egan's faculties, when in fact you did?
  • Why does the public statement on Fr. Egan not make clear that the first allegation of abuse brought against Fr. Egan was in 1991 (even though that allegation was not found credible)?

After several days, Church Militant has received no response.

Allegations Against Fr. Mark Inglot

Bishop Boyea has also been under increasing scrutiny for his lax treatment of another abusive priest, Fr. Mark Inglot. In a report by Jay McNally, two lay advocacy groups are criticizing Bp. Boyea for not disclosing "any and all misconduct investigations" involving Inglot.  

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Fr. Mark Inglot

On February 17, Fr. Inglot was given senior priest status and stripped of his public ministry after he was accused of sexually harassing a much younger priest. 

Previously, Inglot had served as the pastor of Michigan State University's student parish, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and St. John Church and Student Center in East Lansing — the home of a pro-LGBT Dignity Mass for nearly two decades.

Long before Inglot's arrival, the parish was known as a gathering place for homosexuals and had the full support of Bp. Carl Mengeling, Bp. Boyea's predecessor. 

Speaking with 6 News, a local television station, Karen Currie, a spokeswoman for St. Joan of Arc Coalition for Church Transparency and Safety, said that there were "multiple situations" where the diocese of Lansing failed to share information.

"It's fostering an environment for predators to continue to victimize other individuals because it seems there is a greater level of protection right now for predators within this Diocese within the Catholic Church then there are in other organizations," Currie said. "As a Catholic, as a Christian, it's deplorable."

 

The full transcript of the Feb. 23 conversation with Boyea follows: 


Victims Advocate: Are you aware of all the stuff that happened at St. Thomas Aquinas?
Bishop Earl Boyea: Where?
VA: In East Lansing?
BB: Oh yeah, of course, that's why we did what we did.
VA: With the coaches, and Larry Nasser teaching faith formation?
BB: Oh, I don’t know about any of that stuff, just know about the priests. I figure the state is taking care of that.
VA: ____________reported to the diocese about Fr. Pat in 1991, and the current statement says the first time the diocese heard about it was in 2018.
BB: What happens, if I'm not mistaken, whatever happened in the past was brought to the review board and the review board said it wasn't credible.
VA: But the members on the Review Board were not independent, they were friends of Fr. Pat.
BB: Right. So I can only go on the basis of what has happened. I can't reinvent the past.
VA: Right, but you delivered a letter to Fr. Pat in 2014.
BB: Yup.
VA: But the statement says the first time you heard about it was 2018.
BB: But I delivered one to stop, uh, stop boxing. We just thought it was inappropriate for him to be boxing.
VA: Fr. Ed [Fride] had already told him to stop boxing in 2013.
BB: Yup, and he did. So I wrote a letter.
VA: But no one checked.
BB: I could have put him in a prison someplace to watch him. Or I could have moved in with him and lived with him, and put a chain on his arm.
VA: Or you could have removed his faculties.
BB: Do you think that is stopping him?
VA: Yeah.
BB: No, it isn’t, he still meets with kids. On his own!
VA: Well, can we make a statement then?
BB: Father Ed has been telling everybody — not kids, young adults, just adults. But I told him I said it should only be women that come to see him. Now I could go and lock myself-chain myself too him and watch him 24 hours a day. Or I just have to say or I could put him in prison. I'll let you put him in prison.
VA: On a more personal level, these concerns need to be addressed, otherwise victims are left afraid, crying.
BB: I can't fix the world, I can't even fix the whole diocese! I can't be everywhere all the time! I just can't do it!
VA: Well, we can.
BB: Well, then do it.
VA: Will you ask us to help you?
BB: You do whatever you're going to do.
VA: So I have your permission?
BB: You can't be my official agent, I don't have any agents doing these things. Just do it. If you see Fr. Egan doing something wrong than tell him to stop. That's what Fr. Ed is supposed to be doing too, and uh, who else, there is somebody else, uh... that's what his friends are supposed to be doing, keeping an eye on him.
VA: You know parents came and took his boxing equipment.
BB: Took his what?
VA: Boxing equipment.
BB: Thanks be to God.
VA: But there is another issue, the faithful cannot determine what’s dangerous and what is not.
BB: Well, that is true. I think that's true. I don't think I understand what is dangerous and what is not.
VA: Well, we need to.
BB: Well, of course, and we learn all the time.
VA: Well then, uh...
BB: Well, sometimes walking with my Achilles sore is a dangerous thing and for two months I delayed getting it fixed and I shouldn't have. 
VA: Yeah. 
BB: There you have it. I learned. Hopefully we learn from these things. We don't know everything we need.
VA: Well, I think that the Church has the largest compilation of documents of these kinds of events and the Church would be able to study these things and prevent these kinds of issues.
BB: Well, people change; we get new people in.
VA: Well, it seems like it's the same pattern in Saginaw, and in Gaylord, and Lansing, and all of the above and we just want to have a safe place to be. I think the reason there is so much outrage is it seems like there is a disconnect between the administration and people that are concerned.
BB: Fair enough.
VA: I know that at least all of my questions have been ignored or refused.
BB: I am not going into that now.
VA: I understand.
BB: Because there is reason for that. 

 

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