O'Brien accused of covering up sex-abuse case
Dec. 3, 2002 01:00 PM
Phoenix diocese Bishop Thomas O'Brien told the family of a teen who allegedly was sexually abused by a priest two decades ago not to contact authorities, officials said Tuesday.
O'Brien, who was a priest but not a bishop at the time, allegedly told 15-year-old Ben Kulina's family that contacting authorities would only cause more harm to the teen. The Kulina family was told the accused priest would be transferred to another parish.
On Tuesday, Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley announced that former priest, John Giadelone, 55, has been charged with three counts of sexual conduct with a minor stemming from three incidents in 1979 and 1980.
Giandelone allegedly had the 15-year-old, who is now a lieutenant with the Mesa Police Department, perform oral sex on him two different times when Giandelone was a priest at St. Joseph Parish in Phoenix. During another incident, Giandelone allegedly had sexual intercourse with the minor, Romley said.
Giandelone was arrested in Fort Myers, Fla., Tuesday, and is awaiting extradition.
It is not known whether O'Brien will face charges connected with the alleged cover-up, Romley said.
"Clearly, I am troubled by the church not taking this to authorities," said Romley, who has publicly clashed with the church over investigations into alleged church abuse. "If this was handled responsibly to begin with, this molestation never had to occur."
Shortly after the alleged abuse two decades ago, Kulina notified his youth counselor about what had happened. Romley said the youth counselor told O'Brien, who then allegedly told the family not to notify authorities.
Giandelone was then transferred to St. Mary's Parish in Chandler. While there, a man allegedly caught Giandelone having oral sex with his son. The father contacted authorities, and Giandelone voluntarily resigned and moved to Florida, where he is a registered sex offender.
A message on the diocese voicemail system said the staff was away Tuesday and would not be available.