Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

happy trials to you

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 31, 2004

Life-Teen founder Msgr. Dale Fushek is once more in hot water. In 1995 the diocese paid $45,000 to settle a sexual harrassment claim brought against Fushek by a male parishioner. Wednesday he was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation of accusation that he was present while a 14-year-old boy was abused by another priest, Fr. Mark Lehman, in an incident alledged to have occurred 20 years ago.

Dom rightly points to the holes in this story, yet it's hard to feel confidence in Fushek, regardless of the merits of the current claim. Fushek was a vicar general of the Phoenix Diocese under the egregious Bishop Thomas O'Brien, and it is not believable that he was ignorant of the criminal activities to which O'Brien confessed. The fact that Fushek was conscious of but did not take a stand against the malignancies of the diocese does him no honor.

More unsettling -- though inconclusive -- is this curious passage in the Phoenix detectives' interview of Bishop O'Brien, the Monday after his fatal hit-and-run in June 2003:

Detective Dehority: Has anybody in the diocese contacted you about this at all? Nobody?

Bishop O'Brien: Oh ... Father Dale called me last night.

Detective Dehority: And what did he tell you?

Bishop O'Brien: He said that something about a fatality and I said I don't know anything about it.

Detective Dehority: Father Dale Evans?

Bishop O'Brien: Uh hum, oh no ...

Detective Dehority: The monsignor?

Bishop O'Brien: Yah.

Detective Dehority: The Monsignor Dale Evans ... Okay.

Why would Detective Dehority go out of his way to bait O'Brien by calling his VG after Roy Rogers's girl friend? The obvious explanation is that Fushek was already notorious to the Phoenix police force as a gay -- note that the detective, not the bishop, rightly titles Fushek "monsignor" -- and that Dale Fushek was nicknamed Dale Evans by the cops in ridicule of his demeanor or his appetites. That Dehority felt free to taunt O'Brien in this fashion and O'Brien meekly accepted the treatment indicates they both knew the detective was on solid ground.

So, boys and girls, it's the same sad story. The "threat to children" scare gives way to a broader uneasiness. How is that a priest can buy his way out of a homosexual harrassment rap, earn a contemptuous reputation among the local cops, and still manage to go from strength to strength within the Church?

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