Cross to Bare

For 20 years Dale Fushek was the golden boy of the Phoenix Catholic Diocese. Now, his golden boys are talking

Partsch and Montano moved back to Grand Junction together. But Partsch was a different man by then, she says.

"He was depressed, he couldn't make decisions, he was just floundering," she says. "At some point, I just couldn't take it anymore. We had to split up."

Partsch now has his own business. He's back on his feet, he says, and strong again in his faith.

Panty raid: Fushek is on leave, and the Maricopa County Attorney's office is looking into his past.
Mark Poutenis
Panty raid: Fushek is on leave, and the Maricopa County Attorney's office is looking into his past.
Monsignor Dale Fushek testifying in then-bishop 
Thomas O'Brien's hit-and-run trial.
AP/Wide World Photos
Monsignor Dale Fushek testifying in then-bishop Thomas O'Brien's hit-and-run trial.

"But that guy put a big hole in my life," he says. "I just pray for the others who have had to go through this."


William Cesolini is known to friends and family as Billy. For those who know him, the youthful nickname still fits. He is a frail, gentle, deeply devout man, and those who know him say he wouldn't hurt a fly and wouldn't know how to lie.

Fushek, Baniewicz and attorney Manning aren't calling Billy a liar. Billy, they suggest, very well may believe his delusions are real.

Billy Cesolini was 14 years old when his parents and seven siblings moved to the Valley from Massachusetts in 1985. The Cesolinis began attending church at St. Tim's, and Billy became involved with the church's youth program.

Until two years ago, Cesolini apparently had buried his memories about his time at St. Tim's.

Cesolini eventually ended up attending Mount Angel Seminary in California. From there, he went to live in a California monastery.

But besides struggling with emotional issues, Cesolini, who is gay, was also being harassed and followed by a domineering ex-lover. Cesolini decided to leave the monastery and return to Phoenix.

Cesolini went to see his priest at St. Anne's in Gilbert. The priest, Father Doug Lorig, sent Cesolini to a counselor, Sheila Howe, who works out of the St. Anne's offices. Cesolini began therapy in August of 2002.

Six months later, Cesolini attended a concert in Sedona with a Valley priest. During the trip, the priest made a sexual advance on Cesolini.

That advance triggered a flood of what Billy and his supporters believe are memories of Fushek and Baniewicz watching Lehman sexually assault him, and what Fushek and Baniewicz's supporters believe are twisted dreams.

Some of Fushek's supporters even see conspiracy in Cesolini's claims. They point to a long-running feud between Fushek and Lorig, pastor of St. Anne's, the only parish in the Valley that surpasses St. Tim's in membership.

"We believe this may have been manufactured or implanted by someone," Manning says.

Interestingly, the problems between Fushek and Lorig began during Fushek's troubles with Jim Partsch in the mid-1990s. Partsch had talked with Lorig before going to diocese officials. Fushek, angry that Lorig had spoken with Partsch, retaliated by spreading grossly trumped-up allegations about Lorig's beating his son (Lorig, who converted from Episcopalian to Catholic ministry after starting a family, is the only married priest in the Phoenix Diocese).

Essentially, Fushek learned that Lorig had paddled his oldest son. So Fushek went to Winters, the diocesan chancellor, and said that Father Lorig was a violent child abuser.

Lorig would not speak to New Times. But the allegedly abused son, Michael, now a business owner in Mesa, did speak.

"Fushek just made up a bunch of stuff to try to get my father," Mike Lorig says. "It was as simple as that. Fushek just flat-out made false allegations."

As history has shown, no impropriety involving the Catholic Church is complete without alleged conspiracy.

Fushek and Baniewicz's supporters are quick to note that Cesolini's flood of memories, which poured forth in February 2003, at first only involved Mark Lehman. It wasn't until 10 months later that Cesolini began remembering Fushek and Baniewicz's alleged involvement.

Mental-health professionals counter, however, that it is not at all uncommon for painful memories to come back in shattered pieces.

The picture Billy Cesolini now sees is this:

In 1985, shortly after Cesolini moved to the Valley at age 14, he was befriended at St. Tim's by Lehman, who, five years later, would begin the 10-year prison sentence for molesting children at a different parish.

One day, Lehman took Cesolini to play tennis.

After tennis, while sitting in a parking lot, Lehman begins making sexual advances toward Cesolini. Lehman then takes Cesolini back to the priest's bedroom at the St. Tim's rectory and sodomizes him.

Lehman, at his home in central Phoenix, told New Times he could not speak on advice of his attorney.

"I would very much like to tell the whole story to you," he said. "But the way the world is, I've been told I can't. I wish the world wasn't this way, but it is."

Cesolini says Lehman sodomized him several more times after that. Baniewicz, he claims, was only involved twice. Fushek, once.

Cesolini remembers walking down a hallway at the rectory one day after he had been sodomized by Lehman in Lehman's room. Baniewicz, Cesolini claims, emerged from a separate room in his underwear and stopped Cesolini.

"You like what you see?" Cesolini quotes Baniewicz as asking.

In his lawsuit, Cesolini says Baniewicz then pulled him into his room and sodomized him.

Manning says this allegation is "laughable."

The attorney says about Baniewicz, who is married with children: "Phil's problem is that he struggles with his absolute disgust with other people's homosexuality. The guy is about as fiercely heterosexual as you get."

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3 comments
Pauline44
Pauline44

Bishop Olmsted after reading Dale Fushek book, you are one dirty bastard and you need to go to hell, what a scum bag MF it's to bad your mother could have avoid us this pain that we are feeling by having an abortion. We hate you bastard don't come to Sun City West any time soon.

Sun City West Bill
Sun City West Bill

Bishop took action on Fushek, we have a PERVERT from Canada David Ostler has been here five years at two catholic churches he can't live in Sun City West he is not 55years old the bishop assigned him here to keep him away from children.

HonestCatholic
HonestCatholic

The New Times is a joke. To even consider your liberal paper would even give this great man the benefit of the doubt would be impossible.

Your paper, your staff and writers are a despicable bunch of anti-Christian type.. we know this. You might fool a few underaged kids, but not us who are in the know.

I know this man and very well I might add. You, along with your noisey evil followers, the AZ Republic, jumped all over this man with vigorous hate.. I have never seen the like. And why? Because some snot-nose little jerks (including Mark Tropio - his dad never did like "FD") didn't get to head Life Teen - so they plotted revenge. Yes I know the facts, and Msgr. Dale was/is totally innocent.

The sumbag lawyers and shrinks all had a hand in manufacturing this bunch of lies - to what end??? For $40,000.. Wow.. To ruin a man for money while your ignorant stinking paper writes the lies to condemn this man. Shame on you and your staff for adding insult to injury.

Msgr. Dale is innocent, whether you like it or not. That is fact and truth. He also built Life Teen, and the most awesome parish in the country.. and it took a bunch of loser liberal evil newspapers, filty lawyers, and corrupt shrinks over many years to crucify this great man.. and he carries his cross well.

Msgr. Dale will not seek revenge. He is a man of God and one who forgives.. He is bigger than us.. He is better than us... He has done God's work.. I am proof of this. He brought me back "home" - back to Church, back home to God and Jesus Christ!

I thank God for Msgr. Dale Fushek.. If you read this "FD", know that you are loved and missed by thousands of your flock.

To the New Times.. your paper is trash.. it caters to people who are unknowning, unsuspecting, ignorant, people who have yet to realize the love of God.

I pray your paper goes out of business by 2010.

 

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