Denver-based Catholic friars are accused of sexual abuse

Nine accused friars were stationed in Denver, Thornton and Colorado Springs.

Franciscan clergymen in Jerusalem. (AP)

Franciscan clergymen in Jerusalem. (AP)

ashley-dean-square-crop

The Denver-based Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad on Thursday released a list of 13 friars who have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult.

Nine of the accused friars were assigned at some point to friaries in Denver, Thornton and Colorado Springs, according to a press release from the province. Two of them have died and the others either left the order or were removed.

Most cases occurred in the 1970s and ’80s. The one allegation of sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult was estimated to have happened in the 2000s and 2010s. Of all 13, none is in active ministry.

“An outside group of qualified professionals” conducted an independent audit of 266 of the province’s personnel files as well as other relevant documents, according to the release. Allegations were deemed credible if the investigators determined, based on presented facts, that it was more likely than not the abused occurred.

“As friars and followers of St. Francis of Assisi, our vocation is to serve as lesser brothers. Therefore, the abuse of a minor by someone in such a sacred position of trust is all the more egregious,” Provincial Minister, Fr. Christopher Popravak said in the release. “I have personally met with numerous victims and can attest to the devastation wreaked upon their lives and those of their families. Though the words may ring hollow as many other Church leaders are voicing similar sentiments, I can only say that I am sorry from the depths of my heart. I have asked the friars of our Province to commit to serious penance and reparation on behalf of the misdeeds of our brothers and for the healing of victims,” Popravak said.

According to the release the audit results are “only the first step in a new age of transparency.”

“We are striving to be vigilant and have taken serious steps in the last fifteen years to ensure the careful and diligent screening of candidates to our way of life. We must persevere in our efforts to ensure that such a scandalous series of violations never occurs again,” Popravak said in the release.

The St. Conrad Province is in Colorado, Kansas and Missouri and the Diocese of Belleville, Peoria and Springfield, Ill. It also has two houses in San Antonio, Texas. It was established in April 1977.

These are the friars based in Colorado with credible allegations against them:

One credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor:

Gregory Beyer, who died in 2010, was assigned to Annunciation Friary in Denver and Solanus Casey Friary in Colorado Springs. Estimated timeframe of abuse: 1970s.

Benignus Scarry, who left the order in 2016, was assigned to San Damiano Friary, San Antonio Friary and St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Denver and Our Lady of Angels Friary in Colorado Springs. Estimated timeframe of abuse: 1980s.

Felix Shinsky, who was removed from ministry, was assigned to Santa Clara Friary, Elizabeth Friary and St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Denver. Estimated timeframe of abuse: 1977.

Charles Wolf, who was dismissed from Order in 1987, was assigned to Holy Cross Friary in Thornton. Estimated timeframe of abuse: 1976.

More than one credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor:

Bennett Colucci, who was removed from ministry, was assigned to Annunciation Friary, Alverno Friary and Santa Clara Friary in Denver and Holy Cross Friary in Thornton. Estimated timeframe of abuse: 1970-80s.

David Gottschalk, who was removed from ministry, was assigned to St. Francis Friary in Denver and Our Lady of Angels Friary in Colorado Springs. Estimated timeframe of abuse: 1970s.

Julian Haas, who was removed from ministry, was assigned to Annunciation Friary and St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Denver and Solanus Casey Friary and Our Lady of Angels Friary in Colorado Springs. Estimated timeframe of abuse: 1970-80s.

Thaddeus Posey, who died in 2013, was assigned to Alverno Friary in Denver. Estimated timeframe of abuse: 1980s.

More than one credible allegation of sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult:

Matthew Gross, who was removed from ministry, was assigned to Annunciation Friary and St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Denver and Solanus Casey Friary and Our Lady of Angels Friary in Colorado Springs. Estimated timeframe of abuse: 2000-2010s.

Anyone who has been abused by a Capuchin member should report it to the police and the Safe Environment Coordinator Jason Faris at 303-477-5436 or jason.faris@capuchins.org.

Hi! You’re like us!

Looks like you’re the type of person who reads to the ends of articles! Well, true believer, you might really like our morning newsletter. It’s quick, free and gets you up to speed on the important and delightful things happening right here in Denver.

Thanks for reading another Denverite story

Does Denverite help you feel more connected to what’s up in your area? Do you want to be a part of it?

Member donations are critical to our continued existence and growth.

Thanks for reading another Denverite story

Does Denverite help you feel more connected to what’s up in your area? Do you want to be a part of it?

Member donations are critical to our continued existence and growth.

You’re our superpower

Denverite supporters have made the decision to financially support local journalism that matters to you. Ready to tell your networks why? Sharing our “About” page with your own personal comments could really help us out.

You’re our superpower

Denverite members have made the decision to financially support local journalism that matters to you. Ready to tell your networks why? Sharing our “About” page with your own personal comments could really help us out.