HOUSTON — Representatives of a top leader of the U.S. Catholic Church say he acted “swiftly and justly” to the allegations made by a woman who claims his former deputy lured her into a sexual relationship.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston issued a statement Tuesday in response to an Associated Press investigation of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who is leading the U.S. Church’s response to its sex abuse scandal.
Laura Pontikes accuses DiNardo of not fulfilling the archdiocese’s promises to prevent Monsignor Frank Rossi from being a pastor or counseling women after engaging in a sexual relationship with her. Instead, DiNardo allowed Rossi to go to a parish in rural east Texas in another diocese.
The statement from church officials says DiNardo agreed not to reassign Rossi in his archdiocese. It accuses the AP of publishing “unprofessional, biased and one-sided reporting,” and says some comments attributed to DiNardo by Pontikes and her husband, George, are “an absolute fabrication.”
It also says Pontikes demanded $10 million from the archdiocese. Pontikes acknowledges she made a demand for an unspecified amount of money in an off-the-cuff fit of anger, but says she was clear from the start that she wasn’t interested in a financial payoff. The Pontikeses and her lawyer told AP that details of mediation, including any financial negotiations, were confidential.
Before publication, the AP presented a detailed list of questions to the archdiocese and twice requested interviews with DiNardo. Those requests were denied.
Meanwhile, an advocacy group for clergy abuse victims is calling on DiNardo to resign or step aside from his role leading the U.S. Catholic Church’s response to its sex abuse crisis.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests lauded Pontikes for “speaking out against wrongdoing and in standing up for other survivors.” The group accuses DiNardo of having “compounded” the difficulties faced by adults who allege abuse in the Church.
On Tuesday, Rossi’s new bishop put him on temporary leave after Associated Press inquired about a police investigation.
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