Men [of God] at work in California

13 Mar 2001


SAN FRANCISCO - The Archdiocese of San Francisco says that a priest who is an academic dean of a seminary has been arrested on charges which may be related to child pornography and sexual abuse. He allegedly used the Internet to distribute illegal materials.

According to the archdiocese, a search warrant indicates that the San Jose Police have been investigating Fr. Carl Schipper, 57, for the last 6 months on suspicion of child sexual abuse and solicitation of sex with minors using the Internet. He was arrested at his home in Santa Rosa on March 2. The archdiocese says it first learned of the charges when the search warrant was served. Schipper, assigned to the seminary for the past 8 years, was relieved of his duties as dean and placed on administrative leave.

Abp. William Levada issued an open letter outlining steps to address issues surrounding the arrest.

CNS, 3/10/00; Daily News, 3/6


FULLERTON - A priest posing as a police chaplain who pleaded guilty in Jan. to molesting two young girls has been sentenced to 5 years in state prison. Fr. Fernando Deliz, 67, agreed to a last-minute plea-bargain with prosecutors. He admitted that he molested two girls, ages 8 and 11, between Aug. 1996 and June 1999.

Police Sgt. Joe Klein said Deliz preyed on his victims by falsely impersonating a Fullerton Police Department chaplain. Deliz volunteered at the Brookhurst First Baptist Church in Fullerton and was a member of the Florida-based National Chaplains Assn. He was arrested in Aug.1999 and has been in county jail since then.

LA Times, 3/8/00


FRESNO - Policeman Paul Hurth, 44, who is also a Baptist minister, has been charged with murder of the husband of his alleged mistress. Hurth was held on $1 million bond.

Hurth was arrested one week after Ralph Gawor, 43, was found shot to death inside his home. An officer for 4 years, Hurth was fired shortly afterwards.

Gawor, 43, a sales manager for a downtown car lot, was last seen alive Feb. 18 when he left work. Investigators have discovered physical evidence linking Hurth to the scene. Gawor's employers said there was no indication of any problems in his 12-year marriage to Nancy Gawor.

However, the attorney for Hurth's family told The Fresno Bee that his client "was involved with the victim's wife in a romantic relationship."

AP, 2/29/00


SAN FRANCISCO - A three-judge court of appeals has ruled that a former seminarian could proceed with his sexual-harassment suit against the Jesuit order in Calif.

This is the first time any federal court has extended the reach of the Civil Rights Act to include churches under the sexual-harassment laws that govern other employers.

John Bollard, the plaintiff, spent 7 years as a Jesuit seminarian and teacher. During a CBS-TV "60 Minutes" broadcast last May he charged that at least 12 different priests and superiors had made unwelcome sexual advances toward him, creating a decidedly hostile work environment, as defined as a violation of the Civil Rights Act. He complained to Fr. John Privett, the head of all West Coast Jesuits, and an investigation was undertaken.

"But," Bollard claimed, "they never asked me to come back in and talk to them about it. They never asked me about witnesses." He added that what he wanted was "a sincere apology" - and reason to believe that such acts would be prevented from happening again.

Eventually, believing that the secret was not serious, Bollard resigned from the Jesuits in 1996 before ordination. He is now a schoolteacher in Southern Calif.

In his opinion, Judge William Fletcher took great care to answer the claim that the decision would interfere with "the selection, assessment, retention and discipline of seminarians, priests and other clergy." Thereby resulting in an unconstitutional entanglement of church and state.

The judge, however, noted that "the Jesuits do not offer a religious justification for the harassment that Bollard alleges. Indeed, they condemn it as inconsistent with their values and beliefs.

"There is thus no danger," the judge continued "that, by allowing this suit to proceed, we will thrust the secular courts into the constitutionally untenable position of passing judgment on religious faith or doctrine."

The decision to allow Bollard to go on with his lawsuit applies only to the West, and the defendants have asked the courts for a review of the decision.

Jewish World Review, 2/6/00


SAN JOSE - More than 2 years after his arrest, a former Lutheran pastor testified that he did not molest a teenage boy, but instead was teaching him about his body in a sexual-learning experience that went awry.

Frequently closing his eyes to recall details from Oct. 1997, Howard DePorte, 44, denied he was guilty of 10 felony child-molestation charges involving a now-17-year-old, mildly retarded student.

But DePorte did admit that his actions were inappropriate. "I knew it was conduct contrary to theR law, but I had the growing sense that no one would take the risk to help him (the teen) the way I thought he needed to be helped," said DePorte, who resigned from the Holy Redeemer Church in 1997.

DePorte testified in front of a packed courtroom made up mostly of his church supporters that he knew he was in a "moral dilemma." If convicted on all counts, DePorte could face a maximum 21 years in prison.

The boy, whose testimony was sometimes contradictory, said the ex-pastor molested him on two separate occasions.

According to DePorte, the boy, who was in his confirmation class for 2 years, repeatedly talked about sexual fantasies with soap-opera actresses and how he thought sex was evil. On several occasions, the boy told the ex-pastor that his genitals were in pain because he masturbated without lotion. DePorte testified he decided to show the boy step by step how to masturbate. Then they masturbated in front of each other in DePorte's church office, he testified. DePorte also testified that he knows his open views about sexuality and masturbation go against the teachings of the conservative branch of the Lutheran church.

Mercury News, 1/6/00


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