Predator or protector?

Predator or protector?

Here is the strange story of Msgr. Placa, a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY. In a grand jury report, it makes oblique references to him, which say he abused and attempted to abuse kids back in the 1970s, that he was in charge of diocesan policy dealing with abusive priests, and that he protected abusers. On the other hand, Placa is much reviled among the priests of his diocese because they saw him as arrogant and abrupt in dealing with accused priests, removing them from their parishes at the first accusation. So which is it? Who are his victims? Children or priests?

If the article is accurate—a big if—I find some of the accusations against him suspect.

    Over the last year, several victims and their relatives have complained about Monsignor Placa’s manner. Kathy Lotten, whose son was abused as a teenager by a priest in Kings Park in the late 1970’s, called the diocese in 1993 after learning that the priest had been appointed pastor at another parish. She said that Monsignor Placa was “kind of oily.”

    “He was very articulate and used a lot of big words, which I felt was to intimidate me,” Mrs. Lotten said. “One in particular I remember was, if this priest is guilty he’s guilty of ephebophilia” ? the abuse of an adolescent, not a child. “He said, ‘Are you aware that the statute is way out,’ or something along those lines, and I can’t sue.”

    “I wouldn’t swear to it, but I do not remember him saying that he was an attorney,” she said. “If he was there as an attorney, then I should have had an attorney.”

He used big words? One person’s big words are another person’s standard vocabulary. Have you ever known an attorney who didn’t speak in legalese? As for him being an attorney, he was trained as one, but not necessarily acting as the diocese’s legal representative, so that’s irrelevant. And pointing out that the statute of limitations expired doesn’t seem all that sinister to me.

I guess what I’m saying is that while Msgr. Placa doesn’t seem like the kind of nice, cuddly priest that everyone in the parish loves, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s some kind of monster either. A grand jury report is not evidence or a conviction, so I’m wary of drawing conclusions from it.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli