Monsignor Monahan

Monsignor Monaghan

More former students of revered Parma priest Nicholas Monaghan say he molested them

June 12, 2011
­The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

PARMA, Ohio — A recent story about a 65-year-old woman who says she was sexually abused by a Catholic priest when she was a schoolgirl growing up in Parma has prompted other women to come forward with similar allega­tions against the priest.

Barbara Johnson of Fort Worth, Texas, told The Plain Dealer that when she was a teenager, Monsignor Nicholas Monaghan, founder of St. Charles of Bor­romeo Catholic Church on Ridge Road, regularly forced himself on her, fondling her breasts and stick­ing his tongue in her mouth.

Since the story appeared last week, four women who attended grade school at St. Charles in the 1950s and ’60s have contacted the newspaper, saying they, too, were groped and kissed by Monaghan, who died in 1967 at age 85.

Johnson, a psychiatric nurse prac­titioner, said she carried the emo­tional trauma of the abuses well into adulthood, keeping them a secret from friends and family.

But in July 2008, after undergo­ing seven months of therapy, Johnson came to Cleveland to present her allegations to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

She said she had no intention of suing the diocese, but she asked diocesan officials to re­move a plaque honoring Mon­aghan from the vestibule at St. Charles and to take his name off Monaghan Hall on the church campus.

The diocese refused, saying the alleged abuses happened too long ago and that there was no proof.

But for Cecelia Puls, 69, of Brun­swick; Shirley Schewzow, 70, of North Royalton; Pat Barrett, 69, of Medina; and Susan Kane, 62, of University Heights — all claiming abuse at the hands of Monaghan — there is plenty of proof.

“Monsignor Monaghan groped me and my sister for years,” Kane said. “He would put his arm around my waist and his hand would go up to my breast. He felt me up all the time, especially when I was in the eighth grade. I didn’t know what to do.

“At that time you didn’t say any­thing bad about a priest, especially him. He was a monsignor, and he walked around like a king.”…

The diocese did not respond to the latest call to remove the plaque and the name….

The women said Monaghan preyed regularly on the seventh- and eighth-grade girls because they were more physically de­veloped.

“When we saw him coming, we’d whisper, ‘Father Monaghan’s com­ing!’ and we would scatter,” said Schewzow, who graduated from St. Charles in 1954. “While he was hugging you, somehow his hand got over your boobs and rubbed up and down while he was telling you what a good girl you were.”…

Another woman who asked that her name not be published said she recently began talking to a counselor about repeated ab­uses by Monaghan. She is 72 years old.

Johnson said she isn’t sur­prised that other alleged victims of Monaghan are coming for­ward. “Pedophiles typically ab­use hundreds of children in their lifetimes,” she said.

“And though I believe that Mon­aghan’s name on the building and the plaque should be removed, as they are offensive to all who were abused by him, I believe that the most important thing is for people to speak out and seek help if­ needed.”…

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Parma parish removes plaque honoring late priest accused of mo­lesting schoolgirls

June 15, 2011
The Plain Dealer

PARMA, Ohio — St. Charles Bor­romeo Catholic Church has re­moved a plaque there that honored the late priest recently ac­cused by women of molesting them decades ago when they were schoolgirls.  Church leaders also took his name off a parish building….

Since reading Johnson’s story, about a dozen women have con­tacted The Plain Dealer, saying they too were victims of Monaghan.