Cross to Bare

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

"I was shocked about what he told me," Diane Olsen recalls. "But, the fact is, I didn't do anything at the time. I didn't want to embarrass Mark. He wanted to handle it himself, and I let him. And, to tell the truth, we just weren't sure what route to take.

"I was just happy Mark had made the decision to leave. For us, that was the end of it."

Olsen's story is frighteningly similar to the stories of others who are now stepping forward.

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.

Three other men, now in their 30s, say that, within weeks after their 18th birthdays, Fushek had them naked in his bed, touching and tickling them and telling them they needed to be more comfortable with their bodies.

"All of them took issue with his advances at the time," says Pfaffenberger, the state SNAP leader who also has talked with the three men, all of whom wish to remain anonymous. "But Dale would just keep normalizing the behavior. His line was that being comfortable with each other's bodies was a way to get comfortable with God, and one way to learn vulnerability with God was to be physically vulnerable with each other."

It's a pickup line Pfaffenberger has heard over and over as he has talked to victims around the country.

The men also tell stories similar to Partsch's. Gifts of underwear. Being asked to model their underwear. Being cajoled to get naked.

In one case, one of Fushek's former Life Teen underlings, who was 21 at the time, claims Fushek had him go to his home and bring all of his underwear back to the rectory. He says Fushek then had him write the letters "FD" upside down on the crotch of the underwear.

The idea, the young man was told: If he got an erection, the letters FD (short for Father Dale) would rise up to remind him of his sin.

All three of the men have given, or will be giving, sworn statements to county attorney's investigator Mark Stribling.

Fushek has admitted in depositions that he has hot-tubbed naked with other adult males at the rectory.

But he admits to no inappropriate -- much less illegal -- activity.

Fushek refused to discuss the allegations against him with New Times. And Manning admits that he has never asked Fushek about what he did with young men of legal age.

"We simply haven't talked about that," Manning says. "What I do know, again, is that none of these complaints has ever come forward before now. Doesn't that seem odd? For 20 years, nothing. Nothing to the board of Life Teen, nothing to the diocese -- except Partsch.

"I have a pretty good bullshit antenna," Manning says, "and I never heard that alarm sounding [regarding Fushek]. That in itself says something to me."


Dale Fushek's stock already was falling within the diocese before Cesolini's allegations came out in December.

But before 2004, his stock was always blue chip.

When close friend Bishop O'Brien named him vicar-general of the diocese in April of 2000, he became second in command over nearly half a million Catholics in central and northern Arizona.

In February 2001, he was given the honorary title of monsignor by Pope John Paul II.

At that time, it seemed very clear that Fushek would be the next bishop once O'Brien, then already 65, retired.

In 2002, all that changed as new scandals emerged in the Phoenix Diocese.

Overarching the new charges of abuse by area priests was evidence that O'Brien and his underlings had long covered up reports of abuse by Valley priests. O'Brien was found to have often quietly shipped abusive priests to new parishes without notifying staff or parishioners of the priests' pasts.

A county attorney's inquiry ensued. Investigators found proof of a cover-up, and O'Brien, in an immunity agreement, admitted shuffling troubled priests from parish to parish during his tenure.

It was also believed that Moyer and Fushek knew of and assisted in the moving of problem priests.

In June 2003, O'Brien resigned after his arrest in a fatal hit-and-run accident. O'Brien was later convicted in the notorious case, becoming the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States to be convicted of a felony.

It was Fushek who went to O'Brien with news that his church superiors were requesting his resignation.

In April 2004, new bishop Thomas Olmsted removed both Fushek and his old mentor, Richard Moyer, as co-vicars-general. Fushek was reassigned to oversee building projects for the diocese.

In late December, after receiving word of the Cesolini complaint, Bishop Olmsted immediately placed Fushek on administrative leave until an internal investigation is completed. Olmsted also notified the County Attorney's Office, which opened its investigation.

Considering the way the diocese has handled past allegations against priests, Olmsted's response to the Cesolini complaint was startling in its swiftness and decisiveness.

"All of a sudden, they're holding a press conference and Fushek is being placed on administrative leave," says Cesolini's attorney, Frank Verderame. "Frankly, it blew me away. You get the sense that they know something I don't.

"It appears these next few months are going to be very informative," the attorney says.

"This is how it happens, this is how it has happened here in the past," says SNAP's Pfaffenberger (whose group can be contacted by calling 480-600-7811). "One person finds the courage to speak, and that inspires others. And that is the process that leads us to the truth."

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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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