Thursday, April 29, 2010

Incestuous, "elder abuse" by Staten Island priest

The verdict just came down in the case of the 86 year old Staten Island priest who was accused of compelling an adult, female relative to perform a sex act on him, while he was visiting Texas. Father Stephen Valenta, whose home was at the St. Francis friary- oops sorry- I meant the St. Francis Center for Spirituality- has been sentenced to five years probation after making a deal with the prosecutors and pleading no contest to a lesser charge of "injury to the elderly". He now will reside in a "monastery-type home for priests during his probation, and can't leave unless someone goes with him."
Except for a couple of cases, Staten Island really hasn't been touched by the church sex abuse scandal. Our priests may be apathetic, uninspiring, and sometimes heretical, but they seem to have kept their noses clean when it comes to the more vicious crimes, thank God. At first I thought this accusation was bogus. After all, how would it be possible for an 86 year old man, who by all accounts is in poor health, to force an adult woman to do such a thing? Also, several lay people who know him came forward to testify to his upright character. Now he pleads no contest to this charge and is sentenced to supervision in some sort of monastery/halfway house. Sure sounds like an admission of guilt to me. I see that his own "ministry" (which for some strange reason is based out of Iowa) seems to have stripped its website of every reference to him. Very sad.