PHOENIX – A new clergy
sexual abuse lawsuit is moving forward against the Diocese of Phoenix and the Salvatorian
religious order. The lawsuit alleges Father Dennis Pecore, a Salvatorian
priest, sexually abused a child while he was assigned to St. Mark’s
Catholic Church in the Phoenix Diocese.
Robert E. Pastor filed the lawsuit (CV2016-015552) in Maricopa County Superior Court on
October 6, 2016.
Former Bishop Thomas O’Brien and the Society of the Divine Savior
(Salvatorians), assigned Father Dennis Pecore to St. Mark’s Catholic
Parish in South Phoenix in 1982. While working for the Diocese of Phoenix,
Father Pecore was assigned to:
- • St. Mark’s Catholic Church and School;
- • St. Philip the Deacon Catholic Center;
- • the Arizona State Hospital;
- • Maricopa County Medical Center;
- • St. Luke’s Hospital;
- • Phoenix Children’s Hospital and;
- • the Hilton Rest Home.
The lawsuit alleges the Diocese of Phoenix, the Salvatorian order, and
St. Mark’s Catholic Church engaged in a pattern and practice of
covering up clergy sexual abuse. After Pecore was transferred out of the
Diocese of Phoenix, he was given assignments in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee,
where he was convicted of child sexual abuse:
- • In 1987, Pecore pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a boy in a
local Catholic school and was sentenced to one year in jail.
- • In 1994, Pecore was convicted of sexually abusing his own young
nephew, and he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
- • In 1995, the Catholic Church defrocked Father Pecore.
- • In 2002, a sex abuse survivor came forward and said they had been
sexually as a minor by Pecore in the mid-1970s at Holy Trinity Parish
in Glen Burnie, Maryland, prior to Pecore’s assignments in Phoenix.
• Details of Father Dennis Pecore’s assignments can be found
on the BishopAccountability website:
In addition to approving Father Pecore’s assignments in the Diocese
of Phoenix, former Bishop Thomas O’Brien assigned other pedophile
priests to St. Mark’s Catholic Church, the lawsuit alleges. Father
Joseph Henn was assigned to St. Mark’s Catholic Church from 1976
to 1979. In 2003, a Maricopa County grand jury indicted Father Henn on
thirteen counts of child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, just days before
an Italian court granted extradition to Maricopa County to face the charges,
Father Joseph Henn disappeared. Father Joseph Henn remains at large and
is listed as a fugitive on the Interpol Website.
In May 2003 in an agreement with then County Attorney Rick Romley, Bishop
Thomas O’Brien admitted he put children in the Phoenix Diocese at
risk by transferring priests accused of sexual abuse and failing to notify
parishioners that their children were in danger.
Robert E. Pastor, the attorney for the victim stated,
“When Catholic priests sexually abuse children, they destroy the
physical, psychological and spiritual life of that child. The secrecy
that continues to surround clergy sexual abuse must stop. It is time for
the Catholic Church to stop protecting pedophile priests and live up to
its promise to protect children including those who have been traumatically
harmed by sexual abuse. Those who have been victims of sexual abuse should
call police immediately.”