Cross to Bare

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

Cesolini remembers one more visit to the rectory.

Lehman invited him to dinner. Cesolini remembers having Italian food and wine with Lehman, Baniewicz and Fushek.

He remembers feeling tipsy. He remembers Lehman taking him back to his bedroom.

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.

He claims Baniewicz came into the room and rubbed his chest and kissed him on the neck. He remembers Fushek walking in, sitting down and watching as Lehman and Baniewicz touched him.

He remembers Lehman getting on his knees and performing oral sex on him. And he remembers Fushek looking on and masturbating.

He remembers crying afterward. He remembers Fushek telling him to compose himself. "You need to stop crying," he quotes Fushek as saying, "or your mom will think something is wrong."

He remembers composing himself before his mother picked him up from the rectory.

He says he saw Lehman only once more -- at a St. Tim's ice cream social. Then, Lehman moved on to St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School, where he sexually assaulted several children in the late 1980s.

Fushek wrote to the judge after Lehman's conviction asking for leniency.

Lehman was released from prison in early 2002 after 10 years.

Upon Lehman's release, church officials gave him a $1,000 advance as well as $400 to set up an apartment.

The parents of Lehman's victims were infuriated when they learned of the payouts. At the time, one of the parents said the diocese's continued financial support of Lehman looked like "hush money of some sort."

Church officials countered that it was simply their responsibility to help Lehman get reestablished in the outside world.

Essentially, says Billy Cesolini, that is all he has ever wanted, too.

"I just want to heal," he says today.

"But I feel I must talk, too, because there may be others out there who have been hurt."


Mark Olsen, now a businessman in Mesa, was more your typical Life Teen member.

Fushek and Baniewicz often targeted popular high school kids to join their program. They felt that, basically, if the cool kids were doing it, everybody would want to do it.

In 1988, Olsen was a 15-year-old sophomore at Dobson High School and a member of the junior varsity baseball team.

At the time, Phil Baniewicz was helping coach the baseball team.

One day after practice, Baniewicz invited Olsen and three other ball players to attend a Life Teen meeting at St. Tim's.

"I was interested," Olsen says. "I wasn't a religious kid, but I was certainly curious about religion."

Olsen began attending meetings with friends. Early on, they went on a Life Teen retreat in the mountains around Payson.

"Every night on the retreat, Father Dale would walk into our bunkhouse and give . . . guys a kiss on the lips," Olsen says. "I remember thinking it was awfully weird. But [somebody said]: 'Oh, settle down, that's just what priests do.'

"Looking back, it's amazing what things were passed off as normal behavior."

Through his two years in the program, Olsen says, Fushek increasingly began talking with him. And the topic increasingly involved sex and masturbation.

"He was fascinated that I was having sex with my girlfriend at the time," Olsen says. "He was always asking about it. And he talked about erections a lot, about masturbating. It was really uncomfortable, but as a kid, you just figure the guy's trying to save your soul or whatever."

One afternoon, when Olsen was 17, Fushek invited Olsen to have dinner with him. The two went to a nearby Sizzler.

Throughout dinner, Olsen says, Fushek drilled him with questions about his sex life and what thoughts give him erections.

"I remember asking him: 'Well, what happens to you when you see a good-looking girl with a great body?' And [Fushek] says, 'I get an erection.' At the time, I'm thinking that's a pretty honest answer from a priest. Now I'm just thinking why the hell was this guy always asking a teenager about his erections?"

After dinner, Fushek invited Olsen back to the rectory. There, Olsen says, Fushek suggested they go into the hot tub together. All of a sudden, Olsen says, Fushek is tossing a pair of swim trunks at him as Fushek is pulling off his own pants.

"He just drops his pants right there," Olsen says. "He's buck naked, and he just stands there watching me while I change. At this point, I'm getting really nervous."

Olsen followed Fushek into the hot tub. Fushek, he says, quickly began talking about sex again.

"At that point, I finally bolt," Olsen says. "That was it. It was just too weird."

"I mean, you start thinking of everything," he says. "What the hell am I doing there? Why does a priest have swim trunks that fit a boy? What the hell is a priest doing having a hot tub? And who the hell invites kids to hot tub with them? And who the hell hot tubs in the middle of a Phoenix summer? And what would have happened had I stuck around with him until I was 18?"

Olsen went home and told his mom what happened and that he was quitting Life Teen.

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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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