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By Peter O'Dwyer
A group of parishioners from a Catholic church in the Bronx have filed a lawsuit against their own pastor as well as the archdiocese of New York and Cdl. Timothy Dolan, claiming to be victims of both financial fraud as well as a diocesan-wide cover-up.
Father Peter Miqueli is alleged to have stolen more than $1 million to pay for a drug-fueled lifestyle over a 10-year period at two parishes: St. Francis Cabrini on Roosevelt Island and St. Frances de Chantel in the Bronx.
Father Miqueli is accused of skimming money off the collections and using it to purchase sex sessions with a gay-for-pay prostitute named Keith Crist. The stolen money was also allegedly spent on illegally obtaining drugs and purchasing a house in New Jersey.
The archdiocese of New York, including Cdl. Dolan, was notified repeatedly of Fr. Miqueli's misbehavior, but each time the parishioners were stonewalled and Fr. Miqueli was left essentiall unpunished. In one case, a worker is reported to have been fired after meeting with auxiliary bishop Gerald Walsh, in retaliation for attempting to blow the whistle on Miqueli.
Why the cover-up? According to numerous sources, the archdiocese is covering Father Miqueli after the priest witnessed sexual abuse of a minoro at the hands of a fellow priest in 2002. After Fr. Miqueli reported it to the archdiocese, sources say that in exchange for his silence (recall, this was the year of the explosive sex abuse scandal in Boston), Fr. Miqueli received his own parish and was allowed free reign by the chancery.