Twin Cities Diocese Helps Pedophile Priest Back in the Saddle With a Lifetime of Jobs and Disability Payments

When priest Gil Gustafson was caught, tried, and convicted in a child sex abuse case in the 1980s, his superiors excommunicated him from the Church and never spoke of him again.

Ha ha. As if.

No: the Twin Cities Archdiocese made sure that Gustafson was essentially set for life.

[It] continued his priestly salary and health insurance, covered his living expenses and psychological treatment and paid for his education and training, according to church records and a former archdiocese accountant. It has given him jobs in the chancery, helped him establish his own consulting business, and steered clients his way.

And it gets better worse.

In July 2006, Gustafson was declared “disabled” based on his pedophilia, the church said. This allowed him to collect disability checks on top of his earnings as a leadership consultant. …

Scott Domeier, a former accounting director for the archdiocese now in prison for embezzling more than $600,000, said Gustafson was in a group of sexually abusive priests who were paid greater amounts than those paid to priests who were still active in ministry and in good standing. In Gustafson’s case, the church also paid for his education, travel, room and board and other expenses, at least until 2007, Domeier said.

Jeff Herrity, whose son Brian was sexually abused by Gustafson for five long years, starting when the boy was only 10, asks an inevitable question.

Since when is a crime a disability? If that’s the case, everyone in prison should be disabled.”

Herrity Sr. still lives in a world of pain. A Star Tribune reporter who visited his home viewed

… Brian’s class pictures [that] reveal the transformation from a friendly kid with goofy bangs on his forehead to “a person we couldn’t recognize,” Herrity said.

The years of abuse “mentally and physically destroyed him,” Herrity said. Classmates at Hill-Murray School mocked him after he went public with his abuse, his father said. He began a descent down a “path of destruction” that included drug abuse and promiscuity and ended in his death of complications from AIDS at age 28, in 1995.

So what can Gustafson’s superiors possibly say for themselves? It’s simple, really:

The archdiocese said it is required by church law and “Christian compassion” to care for priests removed from ministry.

“Gustafson is permanently and totally disabled and is therefore entitled to benefits through the Pension Plan for Priests,” said a statement to the Star Tribune.

How much of that famous Catholic compassion has been showered non-stop on families like the Herritys in remotely the same generous fashion that it was on the Church’s rapey representatives of God?

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.


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