- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2002

As many as 10 Catholic priests are being treated for pedophilia at a church-run psychiatric facility in Prince George's County.
The priests sent to St. Luke Institute are admitted or known sex offenders. The majority of the priests do not have to report their names and addresses to Maryland's new online sex offender registry because they have not been prosecuted. Sex offenders with even one conviction are required to report to the state's registry.
The institute treats troubled priests and nuns from across the nation. John Geoghan, a defrocked priest convicted of molesting a 10-year-old boy and accused of assaulting more than 130 other children in Massachusetts, was a patient of St. Luke at one time.
People living or working near the institute said they had no idea of its mission or who was treated there.
One man said he knew the institute treated drug- and alcohol-addicted nuns and priests, but not pedophiles.
"Treat them I don't have a problem with that, but I think the church should report them," said Autrineice Fant, who was watching a softball game at Broad Acres Elementary when she learned that pedophiles lived less than a mile away at the institute.
The Rev. Stephen J. Rossetti, chief executive officer of St. Luke Institute, said patients convicted of sex offenses are directed to register.
Father Rossetti said the one male patient listed on Maryland's Internet registry at the institute's address is the only current patient required to register.
Priests and nuns are not allowed to leave the premises alone or in clerical collars or habits, although patients who are more progressed in their treatment may go off campus with others, said Father Rossetti, who is also a licensed psychologist.
Cpl. George Long, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Police Department, said he knew of no reports of problems with patients from the facility. St. Luke Institute was located to the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Metzerott Road north of Langley Park in 1995, after operating in Suitland for 14 years.
Many residents are recent immigrants who speak little English and have no memory of the attention or the public hearing before the institute's move to the neighborhood.
The institute has evaluated or treated several notorious pedophile priests like Geoghan since 1981.
St. Luke counselors warned church leaders that Geoghan was a "homosexual pedophile" at "high risk" for reoffending, according to a report that aired April 19 on the NBC news show "Dateline."
Counselors also warned Catholic Church authorities about several other pedophile priests, saying they should not have access to minors or that they would need more treatment before the church should consider letting them return to work. A survey of published reports indicates that church authorities ignored those warnings.
Father Rossetti said confidentiality rules prevent him from disclosing patients' names or discussing their cases. But problems with reporting sex offenders aren't limited to the church, he said.
"Very few cases are adjudicated either the statute of limitations has run out, there's not enough evidence or victims don't want to go through [testifying]," Father Rossetti said.
"I'm not saying we don't have problems because we do The church has failed in a lot of cases," Father Rossetti said.
But he said secular society also has failed and "should rethink what cases it wants reported."
"In most cases in Maryland, authorities are not going to investigate if the victims are no longer minors," Father Rossetti said.
Legislation enacted last week in accordance with federal funding guidelines would expand the state's sex-offender registry.
Those convicted of sex offenses before 1995 did not have to register under previous law, and those registered were on the list for 10 years. With the changes, those required to register under previous law must register for life if convicted of other qualifying offenses, including acts committed as long ago as 1975.
Even that may not be enough, one legislator suggested.
"I'm concerned that child sexual offenders anywhere are being treated [and] that people are not reporting [them]," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat who represents parts of Prince George's, Calvert and Anne Arundel counties.

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