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Club Ped -- Missouri retreat for pedophile priests (Part 2)

10:03 PM, May 6, 2010   |    comments
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  • U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan.
  • Reyma McCoy.
    

By Leisa Zigman, I-Team Reporter

Read Part 1 of this I-Team investigation here

KSDK -- Some viewers reacting to an I-Team investigation into what critics call Club Ped, a retreat for pedophile priests, say they are outraged the facility exists while others question why these priests aren't in prison. 

As a direct result of our inquiries, Missouri's Board of Probation and Parole is actively investigating whether the Vianney Renewal Center is an appropriate facility for priests on parole.

When the FBI in St. Louis arrested Father James Grady last July they discovered more than 100 images of child porn on his St. Rafael parish computer in south St. Louis.

Instead of waiting for his trial in jail, the courts agreed to let Fr. Grady stay at Vianney in Dittmer, Missouri.

Reyma McCoy, a former Vianney employee who served as the therapeutic program coordinator said, "They (pedophile priests) are corralled there, hush-hush by diocese across the country."

McCoy's job was eliminated in January but she has a letter from the head administrator saying she left in good standing.

McCoy explained, "Some people in the court system see Vianney as a viable alternative to incarceration."

She said at Vianney priests receive counseling and treatment. But they also enjoy amenities others would never get in jail or prison.

Rob Furey is Vianney's clinical director.

He said, "You have to ask permission to go everywhere. Their computers are monitored to the best of our abilities. It is not an easy life, but you try to make it a humane life."

There's a Jacuzzi, hiking trails, picnic tables, satellite TV and according to McCoy, access to pornography.

"It's not that they're allowed it. It's that there is nobody checking," McCoy said.

Furey strongly denies that claim.

"It's an emotional attack without reason. They've been out there 22 years and to my knowledge no one has been hurt by any of them," Furey said.  "If they are the worst of the worst, then we must be doing a pretty good job."

McCoy says she consistently complained that residents should not have access to the internet in their rooms. She also thought it was inappropriate that residents would drive fellow residents to court appearances. "Jim Grady was transported to court meetings by another resident, until I stepped in and said, 'That is not appropriate,'" said McCoy.

While he wouldn't say if Grady ever stayed a Vianney, Furey admits to a one time breach in security when one resident drove another to court.

"A staff member determined that it might be safe. By the way, it was a mistake," said Furey.

As we shot video from the street, construction workers told us they were building several additional bedrooms.

The expansion alarms David Clohessy, with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, SNAP.

He says Vianney and other facilities like it, serve as a  get out of prison early card.

"Defense lawyers for the church and the predator priest go to the judges and prosecutors and say, 'Listen, we're going to make sure he's off the streets. He'll be supervised. It won't cost the state anything, and everybody wins here," explained Clohessy.

He continued, "Do you know of any other profession that can say something similar? Can a superintendent say, 'Don't send that pedophile teacher to prison because we have a special facility that will treat and house him?"

While Furey disputes all of McCoy's claims, she provided internal documents showing administrators are well aware of residents viewing porn on computers, cell phones and in magazines.

Staff minutes and memos from last summer mention Fr. J bringing porn into Vianney and Fr. R turning off "Covenant Eyes," for three weeks in a row. Covenant Eyes is the facility's filtering software. McCoy explained neither priest was disciplined.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said, "If those allegations are true it would concern me as a citizen. It would certainly concern me as a Catholic."

Callahan's office successfully prosecuted Fr Grady.

"As far as we know, all of the conditions of the bond were followed," he said.

McCoy is now assisting Missouri's Board of Probation and Parole in its investigation.

Scott Johnston, the state supervisor for Probation and Parole said," Based on the information you just provided me, if we find any of this to be true, and there may be violations of the conditions of their supervision, we would be reporting that to the court or the paroling authorities, and discussing whether or not this is a suitable place for them to be able to live."

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson will not comment about the pornography allegations or the allegations about a lack of supervision at Vianney.

He explains Vianney is run by a separate Catholic order called the Servants of the Paraclete. That order he says, does not fall under his authority.

An expert in canon law disagrees and so does Clohessy. He said, "Archbishop Carlson is ultimately responsible for every Catholic in the Archdiocese. To passively sit back and pretend to be powerless while dozens of convicted and accused priests are imported into St.Louis, that is Archbishop Carlson's choice, and it's a reckless choice."

The Archdiocese of St. Louis refuses to detail how much it pays for priests to receive treatment at Vianney. A spokesperson said to comment would be a violation of the priest's expectation of privacy.

The Archdiocese of Seattle readily said it has paid $736 per month since October, 2001, to cover a portion of the expenses to house Fr. James McGreal.  A spokesman said  his pension covers the rest of the costs. McGreal who has admitted to molesting hundreds of boys was never charged because the statute of limitations had expired. Pat Sursely, Director of the Office of Finance and Administration with the Seattle Archdiocese described Fr. McGreal as a person too dangerous to be on the streets. He said Vianney provides supervision much like a lock down but without bars and guards.

The Vianney Renewal Center has no connection to Vianney High School.

KSDK

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