Group Wants Giuliani Priest Pal Fired
By FRANK ELTMAN, Associated Press Writer
8:12 PM PDT, June 22, 2007
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Advocates for victims of abuse by Catholic clergy on Friday urged presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani to fire a priest who was suspended from the church and then hired by the ex-mayor's security consulting business. A spokeswoman for Giuliani said the firm had no plans to fire Monsignor Alan Placa.
Placa, a childhood friend of Giuliani's, has defended himself for years over allegations in a 2003 Suffolk County grand jury report that detailed decades-old abuses by priests in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y.
None of the priests were ever prosecuted or even identified because statutes of limitations had expired long before the district attorney's investigation. Days after the report, Placa acknowledged in an interview with The New York Times that he was implicated in the grand jury report but he denied that he had ever abused children.
"There's ample evidence showing that Placa consistently protected predators, shrewdly deceived victims, and covered up horrific clergy sex crimes," said a statement from David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. SNAP also contends that he abused children.
Placa was suspended from his duties as a priest in June 2002 after the abuse allegations surfaced. A lawyer, he currently works as a consultant for Giuliani Partners.
Placa was unavailable for comment Friday, said company spokeswoman Sunny Mindel. She said Giuliani was standing by his childhood friend.
"The former mayor believes that Alan Placa has been unjustly accused," she said.
SNAP called for Giuliani to fire Placa following the publication of a Salon profile of the cleric. In the story, the online magazine quotes Richard Tollner, who testified before the Suffolk County grand jury and claimed he had been abused by Placa. Tollner told the magazine Placa molested him and at least two others, but school authorities did nothing when they were told about it.
Placa and Giuliani have been friends since their days together at Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. After he was suspended, Placa received special permission to officiate at the funeral of the former mayor's mother, Helen, in 2002. He also baptized both of Giuliani's children.