Las Vegas priest resigns amid sexual abuse lawsuit


A Las Vegas Episcopal priest resigned from his duties at his church Thursday after his name surfaced in a lawsuit alleging a Missouri monastery covered up sexual abuse by him.

The lawsuit, filed in Missouri by a former choir boy, alleged the Roman Catholic monastery, Conception Abbey, kept secret the boy's 1987 sexual assault by Bede Parry, then a Catholic priest who directed the choir.

Parry, 69, who was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, had been serving as the organist and choir director at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Las Vegas since 2000.

He said he told the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada of his resignation as the Missouri lawsuit became public Thursday morning.

Bishop Dan Edwards, who heads the Nevada diocese, confirmed the resignation and said that because Parry remains a priest, the diocese is investigating internally to determine whether any further action needs to be taken against him.

"Certainly we regard this situation with grave concern," Edwards said. "We will need to be sure we are following the right process to be fair to all concerned."

Parry said he also asked the diocese to relieve him of his priest duties.

"I feel terrible for anybody that I've hurt," he said. "I feel terrible that my actions would cause a lawsuit to be filed against the abbey, and I feel terrible about letting down my friends and the diocese here."

Parry did not deny the 1987 incident in Missouri and said the abbey sent him to New Mexico afterward for several months of treatment.

But Parry insisted that he has had no other sexual incidents with minors since then, including during his time in Las Vegas.

Edwards said Parry's work at All Saints' has "not involved contact with youth or children."

The former choir boy, identified only as John Doe 181, was attending a summer choir camp in Missouri when the 1987 sexual assault occurred, the lawsuit alleged.

His parents confronted abbey officials after the assault and were told that Parry had a "mental breakdown" and would undergo treatment, the lawsuit said.

"In fact, Father Parry did not have a mental breakdown," the lawsuit alleged. "Instead, Father Parry was a known serial child predator who had sexually abused numerous students before Father Parry sexually abused plaintiff."

Parry admitted to abbey officials that he had other "inappropriate sexual relationships" between 1973 and 1979 while a monk at the monastery, the lawsuit alleged.

Parry didn't deny those allegations Thursday.

"The actions of the abbey were outrageous and utterly repugnant to a civilized society," the lawsuit said.

Abbey officials in Conception, Mo., said they were working on a statement to respond to the lawsuit.

Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson, who filed the lawsuit on the former choir boy's behalf, said the allegations focus on the "institutional failures" of the abbey and Catholic Church to protect innocent children from Parry.

"They took a gamble and rolled the dice knowing there was a risk that he was going to offend again," Anderson said.

Anderson, who has made a career of filing sexual abuse cases involving clergy, said he has no proof that Parry committed any sexual acts against members of his Episcopal church in Las Vegas. But he added, "We have every reason to believe he is at grave risk for continuing to do it."

The lawsuit alleged that the results of psychological testing in 2000 showed that Parry was a "sexual abuser who had the proclivity to reoffend with minors." The results were provided to Catholic and Episcopal church leaders in Nevada, the lawsuit said.

Parry acknowledged the results but said Episcopal leaders here were not informed in 2000. He said he told church officials about the 1987 incident when he was applying to become an Episcopal priest in 2002. They did a background check and ended up allowing him into the priesthood in 2004.

Barbara Blaine, president and founder of the Chicago-based watchdog Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was at All Saints' Episcopal Church on Thursday to call attention to the lawsuit and Parry's past. The Washington Avenue church has some 500 members.

"The reason that this is so horrific is that the Episcopal Church authorities knew about Father Parry's history, and yet they still allowed him to come and work here," she said.

Blaine, 54, who said she was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest herself as a teenager, said church officials should atone for allowing Parry to work there.

Contact reporter Jeff German at jgerman@review journal.com or 702-380-8135.

 

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