- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
A psychiatric hospital in Prince George's County that treats pedophile priests is not legally obligated to report abusers who come for treatment from another state, the facility's director said yesterday.
But an assistant attorney general has said the law requires all cases to be reported.
The Rev. Stephen Rossetti, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," said St. Luke Institute has a 1991 statement from the Maryland attorney general saying that priests from other states who come for treatment do not have to be reported.
He also said the facility was bound by law not to infringe on patients' privacy.
Father Rossetti spoke in response to a report released last week in which health inspectors said they found no records showing that St. Luke had given police the names of priests who had acknowledged abusing children.
Father Rossetti said the facility has turned over names of abusers from the state of Maryland.
Health officials also said the facility in Adelphi does not have a written policy on the matter.
People living or working near the institute told The Washington Times in April that 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.
Father Rossetti said at the time patients convicted of sex offenses are directed to register.
He said the one male patient listed on Maryland's Internet registry at the institute's address was the only current patient required to register of as many as 10 priests being treated for pedophilia.
A Maryland assistant attorney general, however, said Father Rossetti's interpretation of the state law is wrong. Wendy Kronmiller told The Washington Post last week that the reporting is required regardless of when the reputed molestation took place.
But Father Rossetti disagreed.
"We have a statement from the attorney general, [who] is her supervisor, saying that's not the case, and we've asked the state of Maryland to review that because we have a contradiction," he said yesterday.
Failure to follow the state reporting law was one of several deficiencies cited last week by the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality, which sent inspectors to St. Luke after the May 16 suicide of a patient in his room.
Carol Benner, director of the Office of Health Care Quality, has been critical of the facility's record-keeping.
After the suicide last month of the Rev. Alfred J. Bietighofer, Miss Benner ordered St. Luke to restrict its admissions and make improvements at the facility.
At the same time, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, a Chicago-based private agency that inspects hospitals and nursing homes on behalf of federal and state governments, moved to revoke St. Luke's accreditation.
The agency is to make a final decision on the accreditation of the institute June 26.
Since the hospital's founding in 1981, hundreds of priests have been treated at St. Luke for pedophilia, alcoholism and other disorders.
The hospital operates independently of the U.S. Catholic Church, but treatment costs are paid by the dioceses that refer priests to the institution.


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