Catholic priest Monsignor Larry McGovern, above, is being sued by a pool maintenance contractor for alleged sexual harassment and retaliation.
According to this report, McGovern, of the Stockton Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in California, sacked the contractor after the victim reported receiving a picture of the priest’s genitals.
Attorney John Manly, acting for the victim, said:
This is a classic case of sexual harassment and retaliation. Monsignor McGovern texted a graphic photograph of his naked genitalia to my client, then terminated his employment after my client reported the lewd photo to the police. This would be a clear violation of the law by any employer but it is even more disturbing when committed by a member of the clergy.
The lawsuit states the incident happened on July 26 and claims when the victim asked why McGovern sent the photo and if the monsignor was supposed to be celibate, McGovern responded with:
Celibate means not married …
This report adds that Manly’s client is a married man in his 40s.
The attorney said that when his client was cleaning the pool, McGovern, who also heads the Presentation Catholic School, would often sunbathe and make flirtatious comments while:
Laying around in a Speedo, making our client very uncomfortable. Our client’s a married man; this is his pastor.
After being challenged by the victim, McGovern allegedly wrote:
Oops. Sorry about that. The curse of the Internet. Shame on me. What is my penance?
Monsignor McGovern either fired him because he reported him or he fired him because he rebuffed whatever advance McGovern was making. If any principal or any school administrator sent a picture of their penis to a parent, they should be fired, not the other way around.
The lawsuit also reveals that McGovern was a key witness in several sexual harassment lawsuits involving Father Oliver O’ Grady, who allegedly molested and abused at least 25 children, and Father Michael Kelly who allegedly molested an altar boy in the 1980s.
The victims’ attorney Vince W Finaldi, said:
Monsignor McGovern was a witness and denied knowing of any sexual improprieties by Father Kelly and Father O’Grady, despite living with them in the rectory for years and contrary to victim statements. It is sad but not surprising that he now stands accused of sexual misconduct.
On Friday, August 12, the Diocese of Stockton responded to the allegations with the following statement:
Today the Diocese of Stockton learned for the first time of employment-related allegations against Monsignor Lawrence McGovern, the Pastor of Presentation Parish in Stockton. In accordance with the Canon Law of the Church, Bishop Stephen Blaire has placed Monsignor McGovern on administrative leave pending a full and complete investigation.