The Divine Sociopath

Why isn't Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien in jail? There are far too many who have left the church because of his bad behavior.

It is at that moment, according to Ladensack, that Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien stepped over the line and broke the law.

"He said, 'I order you to go back to Chandler and tell that family to take back the complaint.'"

Ladensack refused.

Prosecutor Mitch Rand helped get a conviction, only to 
see the bishop get a slap on the wrist during sentencing.
Mark Henle
Prosecutor Mitch Rand helped get a conviction, only to see the bishop get a slap on the wrist during sentencing.
Prosecutor Anthony Novitsky (left), with County Attorney 
Rick Romley, who was livid about Gerst's kid-glove 
treatment of O'Brien.
Emmanuel Lozano
Prosecutor Anthony Novitsky (left), with County Attorney Rick Romley, who was livid about Gerst's kid-glove treatment of O'Brien.

"I said, 'Bishop O'Brien, excuse me, but you know that I'm a Vietnam vet. Have you ever heard of the Nuremberg trial? I was trained as a young officer that there are certain things called an unlawful order, and I consider what you're ordering me to do out of obedience to be an unlawful order and I refuse to do it.'"

A couple of days later, Father Ladensack claimed he received a phone call from diocese lawyer William P. Mahoney. The attorney told the priest the bishop was "extremely angry" with him. Nonetheless, Ladensack refused a second request to get the family to "unfile" the complaint.

The priest remembered the attorney's final words: "He said, 'Young man, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.'"

While secretly shifting molesters to new schools is morally reprehensible, the bishop broke no laws when he advised the faithful to avoid the police, cover up the crime and put their faith in God.

But once the Takatas initiated contact with the police and filed a complaint, Bishop O'Brien obstructed justice by ordering Father Ladensack to pressure the parents into rescinding the paperwork.

The bishop's current attorney, Tom Henze, is unimpressed by Ladensack's testimony before the County Attorney's Office. In a recent interview, Henze pointed out that the former priest gave a different version of events in a 1990 deposition.

In a lawsuit involving infamous pedophile Father George Bredemann, Ladensack was asked specifically about the Takata phone call with Bishop O'Brien.

Question: "Were you questioned in any way as to whether you had recommended to the parents for them to call the police?"

Answer: "I do not remember that at all."

Officials inside the County Attorney's Office counter that Ladensack was fearful of retribution from church authorities against numerous relatives active in the church, some of whom had business relationships with the diocese. They also point out, correctly, that if you read the entire deposition, it is obvious that Ladensack's attorney instructs him directly to be evasive and not answer questions.

Prosecutors argue that, by 2002, Ladensack was prepared to let the chips fall where they may.

Lieutenant Mark Stribling heads up the Special Investigations Bureau in the County Attorney's Office after a long career with the Phoenix Police Department and the FBI. He called Ladensack one of the most credible witnesses he had ever interviewed.

And whatever inconsistencies Henze noted, the bishop clearly signed the admission-of-guilt decree because O'Brien did not want to pit his credibility against Ladensack's.

During the two years from the Takata phone call in 1984 until 1986, Father Ladensack continued to advise the victims of predator priests to go to the authorities, which placed him continually at odds with the bishop; O'Brien remained adamant that all incidents should be reported to him so that he could handle them independent of the police and prosecutors.

In 1986, Father Ladensack told his bishop that he had "severe problems " with O'Brien and the church and the way child-molesting priests were dealt with in Phoenix.

O'Brien responded by revoking Father Ladensack's privileges as a priest.

His successor read from the pulpit a letter penned by the bishop explaining that Father Ladensack had experienced a kind of breakdown triggered by his tour in Vietnam.

It is unsettling to witness that old Soviet trope -- the disappeared are mentally ill -- utilized by a man of the cloth to explain Ladensack's absence.

The truth was the priest left the church in a crisis of faith.

The only thing more shocking than the revelations of widespread child abuse by priests was the systemic protection and shuffling around of predators to new postings. Given the gay culture of the diocese in Phoenix, there were those who could not help but wonder if the bishop protected deviate gay priests because of the sexual milieu. This was a problem the bishop's public information officer often faced.

"The Catholic church has no more pedophilia than the rest of society," claimed Perkes.

A religion writer for the Arizona Republic before joining the bishop's staff, Perkes said gay priests are not the issue, but rather gay priests without sexual maturity.

Perkes does not believe predators were protected by a gay culture so much as church leaders simply hid incidents to protect themselves legally and financially. But she admits that Bishop O'Brien surrounded himself with advisers who refused to face the problem.

If insiders such as Perkes have a more complicated and nuanced understanding of the predator crisis, outsiders are left with a confusing picture. The church condemns homosexual acts as mortal sins and attacks the proposal of gay marriage, going so far as to demand that Catholic politicians toe the religious line. And yet the Catholic clergy is hugely gay and widely understood to be sexually active. In 2000, the Kansas City Star reported that the death rate among priests as a result of AIDS was at least four times greater than that of the general population.

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Pervert David Ostler of Prince of Peace in Sun City West - just google Fr. David Ostler Cornwall,Ont. and read about the back door boys David and Gary Ostler

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