Toledo, OH - Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of the Diocese of Toledo spoke exclusively with Toledo's News Leader to answer why he is named in one page of a 2011 grand jury report detailing allegations of clergy sex abuse at the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Along with a previous report filed in 2003, both Philadelphia grand jury reports pre-date this month's bombshell Pennsylvania grand jury report, revealing more than one thousand survivors and three hundred priests.
Bishop Thomas is not named as an abuser.
He served as Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, returning to serve to his hometown in June of 2006 after 18 years in Rome. This Archdiocese, like many around the country, was in the grips of scandal, after a 2003 grand jury report detailed at least sixty-three priests sexually abused hundreds of children. Reforms to the Archdiocese and to state laws followed this report.
But in 2011, another grand jury was frustrated with what it calls a continuing culture of cover up.
In 124 pages, it exposes 41 more priests who remained in active ministry after the Archdiocese learned of inappropriate behavior or sexual abuse of children.That includes a victim who goes by the pseudonym of Ben.
Pages 57 through 61 detail his sexual abuse as a boy by the Reverend Joseph J. Gallagher-including sexual assault and fondling his genitals.
In October of 2007, then 36-year-old Ben reports his abuse to the Archdiocese which the report states knew of a previous allegation against Father Gallagher. After an internal investigation, a Review Board determines Ben's allegations unsubstantiated.
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas agrees.
The Cardinal accepts this recommendation. Less than a year later after learning his allegations didn't pass Archdiocese muster, Ben committed suicide.
"In hindsight, perhaps I would have asked if there was more information we could determine and make a final determination on," confessed Bishop Thomas when we ask him if he should have taken a different approach with the Review Board's findings. "Well I think that I feel guilty not just for myself but for any Bishop and priest who has in any way learned and known of any abuse taking place."
WTOL asked if the Bishop has a message for "Ben's" family.
"To his family, to offer our prayer for healing, our sorrow and our pain. And to let them know that we're standing with them in their sorrow."