Sunday, November 6, 2022

The Sins of Omission Series: A Call for Criminal and Financial Accountability the Legionaries of Christ Need to Answer

 "God does not need my name nailed to the church. God knows how black my sins are."

                                                Daniel Day Lewis as John Proctor in "The Crucible"

     By: Rich Bergeron 

     The Salem Witch Trials ended so long ago, it is easy forget the impact that travesty of justice still has on today's society. The term "witch hunt" is still a "huge" part of our vernacular. Just ask Former President Donald Trump. However, the throwing around of that term cheapens the real damage done by the actual event. Nineteen innocent victims were killed, railroaded by an unjust and maniacal crusade based on a purely false narrative. It is an allegory for how truly misguided government and judicial officials can be.

      We still find it easier and easier as a society to take the lies fed to us as truth if we receive those lies in a theatrical and entertaining format. The Legionaries of Christ are quick to point out all the results of their own paid-for investigations revealing unspeakable abuse over decades. They pepper us with the details of all they uncovered in their own published reports. They tell us all is right now because this is their coming to terms with all the damage done by this scandal. Reporting the most sordid nuances of how the chronic abuse occurred and paying victims for their silence is no penance.

     This is the song and dance these so-called spiritual leaders try to satisfy their flock and their donor base with. It is the propaganda they throw your way to distract you from the fact that the abusers under their wing were moved, protected and insulated. These perpetrators are still out of reach, free from having to endure any adequate earthly punishment for their evil acts of depravity. The victims must feel similar to those women labeled "witches" so long ago. They must still fear being publicly named and put in the uncomfortable spotlight as an accuser of any "holy" figure involved. The power of the church is so immense, it drowns out their collective screams of pain.      

     This secretive sect needs to start working with real law enforcement as closely as they have shown they can work with paid-for private investigators. They claim to be doing so already, but they are most certainly not. A criminal reckoning is due, and it comes on top of the financial one that is already in motion:

     We are more concerned about the criminal implications involved here at Plan B Justice, but we will follow up on the above order and the upcoming December 5th hearing in the next installment. There are some very concerning implications involved that relate to the negligence of Center Harbor officials in policing their own allowances of tax exemptions for the Legionaries and possibly other organizations based in town. 

      The fact remains that there are abusers on the loose to this day who need to be brought to justice. What is more disturbing than the church admitting to multiple "credible" claims of abuse against priests and seminarians from their order is the fact that they refuse to deny the same priests were insulated and protected and shuffled around the world once their abuse came to light. The evidence reveals a pattern of LOC officials pretending to care about reconciliation, healing and justice while only engaging in one primary task when it comes to victims: BUYING SILENCE.  

     The sect obviously must have a photograph of Former Seminarian David Consoli, but they have not even provided it for presentation on his page here: Seminarian David Consoli - ( Lawsuits brought in 2021 named him as an abuser in Center Harbor, but the Legionaries of Christ knew of the abuse allegations in 2018. He has not been charged with a single related crime. 

  Francisco Cardona will never see justice in the realm of the living. He is believed to be involved in the molestation of at least two Center Harbor students in the 1980s. He passed away before he could be charged or convicted of any related crime.   

     Fernando Cutanda is outlined in two abuse cases acknowledged by the Legionaries, but the vague window offered in their official, formulaic publication of the allegations puts these abuse cases somewhere in the 1980s. Perhaps this is because "Brother Fernando" is accused of raping one particular Center Harbor student over a three-year period starting in 1984. Fernando's Bishop Accountability page is also in need of a feature photo. A student in Center Harbor who came forward to report the abuse was told to pray 5 Rosaries for his sins. Brother Fernando was reportedly moved to Spain and once again put in charge of children after the sect expelled him from Center Harbor. At some point the order laicized Cutanda. He is actually listed in official documents as the co-founder of the Immaculate Conception Apostolate School in Center Harbor. It is hard to believe Cutanda does not have many more unknown victims. He has never been charged with any crimes related to his time in Center Harbor. He may still be in Spain, but his current whereabouts are unknown. 

"Father" David Steffy (photo at left) is not on the published list of abusers known to the Legionaries in the United States. He is in the database for an incident with one boy in Center Harbor that stemmed from a series of 2021 lawsuits later dismissed for lack of jurisdiction (the plaintiffs sued in Connecticut instead of New Hampshire). Steffy's name also appears on documentation related to tax exempt properties owned by the Legionaries in Center Harbor. If it was just one boy the sect knew about Steffy abusing, it is certainly odd that he coincidentally received a formal transfer to Jerusalem from Atlanta, Georgia in 2019. The Legionaries of Christ operate their "North American Territorial Office" in Roswell, Georgia. The lawsuit documentation even reports that Steffy encouraged a student in Center Harbor to molest another fellow student. Steffy has not been charged or convicted of any crimes related to the abuse allegations, and no extradition request has been made to get him back to the United States for potential prosecution. 

     "Father" Oscar Turrion (above) is also named in the 2021 lawsuits and also supposedly only connected to the abuse of just one boy in Center Harbor in the early 1990s. His full birth name is Oscar Juan Turrion Pablos, and he is originally from Spain but last operated as a priest in Rome. The order admits that Turrion was ordained after the abuse and moved outside the United States, but the Legionaries insist he was only tasked with interacting with adults in that capacity. He went on to a post at a prominent ecclesiastic college in Rome that he held for 7 years until 2014. He reportedly left the priesthood in 2017 after fathering two children. Oscar is definitely a real chip off the old Maciel block. He has not been charged or convicted of a single crime associated with the abuse allegation against him. 

     "Father" Patrick Walsh also faced scrutiny for allegations of abuse against a student in Center Harbor. The victim alleging the abuse communicated his concerns through anonymous emails to Father Anthony O'Bannon, who supervised the Center Harbor school for many years. These emails are detailed in official documentation from the NH Attorney General. The first communication to O'Bannon was short and to the point: 



     The former student went on to report shame and humiliation, a sincere desire to bring no harm to the Legion itself, and a culture of supervisors normalizing sexual and physical abuses that he endured in Center Harbor. 

     Clearly, this evidence explains why the Salem Witch Trials are comparable to what is unfolding for the Legion's victims. Prior to the indisputable evidence of these abuses coming to light--long after the school's formal closure--too many victims were blamed themselves for stirring up trouble or simply had their claims dismissed by LOC superiors. They could never adequately defend themselves and speak out about their abuse for fear of the damage it would do to their sect and the Catholic faith itself. Their own community would effectively shun them if they voiced their truths, and the backlash was indeed vicious for some who tried to report early abuses. On top of that there was the embarrassment of having to admit to being taken advantage of and used as a sexual plaything by men of God. The chance of victims coming out of the woodwork to publicly press charges is so slim only because of the aggressive indoctrination the Legion has mastered over the years to control their flock. Like Good Will Hunting, these poor souls need to be convinced that the horrors visited upon them are not their fault.  

   The alleged anonymous victim eventually reached out to ABC and 20/20 producers. Once he did so, Father O'Bannon suddenly began advocating for the abuse allegations to be formally reported to authorities. The final letter to the former student from O'Bannon is in larger print and seems to be very carefully crafted. It even for the first time in the back and forth confirms that Father Walsh was confronted about the allegations and asked to leave the school property. 

     Father O'Bannon's shifting concerns related to the ABC involvement represent the epitome of the phrase "sunlight is the best disinfectant." The victim expressed his direct concerns about telling his story to a jury in prior emails to the supervisor. He did not want to go through that. He did not want spiritual direction or assistance. He no longer trusted the church. Just like when this young man was first allegedly abused, Father O'Bannon was aggressively pushing him to do something he was not comfortable doing. Unfortunately, no formal criminal charges ever resulted from this report and the ABC exposure.

      It is not so hard to fathom how difficult it must be to bring such formal charges publicly with your name attached to them when we examine another local incident that does not involve a church at all. This one involves an Alton, NH marina where the managers allegedly sexually exploited their employees and pointed to powerful connections in law enforcement to keep their victims from reporting the abuse. The Gilford, NH police chief later resigned after one of the managers reportedly claimed to be having sexual intercourse with him and may have used that allegation as leverage over his victims. The chief was thoroughly investigated and cleared of any formal charges, and his resignation did not address the scandal or his connections to it. 

      The victims in the Alton case have managed to work with both civil and criminal authorities while also keeping their names anonymous so far. I know NH state authorities will respect the rights of the Legion's victims in the same manner if those victims choose to press charges and seek criminal and civil accountability for these accused sect members.  

      These offenders connected to Center Harbor may be only the short list of a much greater number of abusers who frequented the Immaculate Conception Apostolate School property there over the years or served a direct role with the school. Allegations against the Legion's clerical professionals from Connecticut, Florida and Rhode Island are also prominently featured on

     Nowhere in the Legionaries of Christ's extensive web-based report on abuse cases do officials mention a plan to aggressively promote criminal prosecution of any offending sect members. The word "criminal" only appears three times, and once within the term "canonical criminal trial." Not sure what in the world that means. Do religious courts hand out religious prison sentences? Only three of 28 "credibly accused" priests in the order were convicted for their crimes so far according to this passage: 

There are 28 cases verified by admission, a civil trial, a canonical proceeding endorsed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or a declaration from the appropriate major superior. Of these priests, 17 remain in the Congregation (one of whom has been removed from the clerical state). All of these cases have been presented to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and dealt with according to their directions. Four have died, six have left the priesthood and the Congregation, and one has left the Congregation. Of the 17 who remain in the Congregation, 15 exercise no public priestly ministry; two exercise restricted ministry that excludes pastoral work with minors (schools, youth groups, etc.).

  • Civilly, of the 28 priests, three died without being tried, three have been convicted in criminal courts. The others, so far, have not been prosecuted for various reasons, such as the legal situation in the respective countries or because the statute of limitations has elapsed.
  • Canonically, of the 28 priests, the Congregation has asked the Holy See to lift the statute of limitations on eight of them so that they can be tried. Of the 28, two died without being tried, 20 were sanctioned, one received a dispensation from ministry without trial, and five are currently undergoing canonical proceedings.

      The offenders referenced above by the Legion itself make up about two percent of the entire organization, LOC officials are quick to point out. However, it is important to identify the qualifiers. This report only accounts for abuse to those under the age of 18. It only accounts for sexual abuse and not physical abuse or "brainwashing" as the anonymous victim cited above alleged. This report does not even stress the very real possibility that there may be a much larger number of abusers within Legion ranks who have yet to be identified. 

     Further, we did not even discuss the full extent of the vast coverup of this abusive behavior by Legion clergy over so many decades. It is not just about the abusers themselves as much as it is about the entire structure that would permit such sordid realities to remain secret for so long amid baseless denials that any of it ever even happened. The accountability failure rises all the way to two popes. John Paul II allegedly stonewalled an investigation by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI. One of Benedict's first major moves upon ascension to the highest office in the faith was to exile the disgraced Legionaries of Christ founder. Did Benedict wait too long to act appropriately because of church politics and due to Maciel being such a legendary fundraiser for the church? Could his appointment to the papacy be a direct result of his playing ball with his colleagues and honoring John Paul's hesitancy to distance Maciel from the church? These questions may be much too big for us to answer with this series. 

      One question we will strive to answer is are the Legionaries of Christ really serious about coming to terms with their dark history and their own "black sins" beyond engaging in targeted spiritual and psychological therapy offerings for victims and hollow, self-controlled "canonical" remedies for offenders?  Penance is long overdue for those who molested these children and those who permitted such acts to continue unchecked for so long. 

     Just like the aging Nazis who helped run World War II concentration camps were dragged before formal courts and tribunals many decades after their crimes, so too should these priests face their criminal fate. They are not similarly accused of exterminating people, but what they did is in many ways just as horrible. 

      What does a man have left without ever being able to enjoy a peaceful soul due to the immense pain and suffering his own blind devotion to his faith ultimately caused him? How can that broken trust ever be repaired? What price is enough for the guilty to pay that could possibly quiet all those ruthlessly and carelessly destroyed and disturbed souls? 

     Stay tuned to this series, as there will be some crucial developments over the next few months. If you have any information on any offenders you would like to share with us, please email site founder Rich Bergeron at 

CLICK HERE to read Part 1 of the Sins of Omission Series. 

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