Priest admits theft from St. Joseph’s Church in Downingtown

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Westchester – After a child abuse scandal, Joseph C. McClune of Monsignor, a popular pastor assigned to St. Joseph’s Church in Downingtown, stole more than $ 30,000 in church funds during his tenure on Thursday. I pleaded guilty. the.

McLoone was sentenced by Justice Jacquline Carroll Cody of Common Pleas to five years on probation under court supervision. The first 90 days must be done in electronic confinement or under house arrest.

McClune pleaded guilty to theft for not having the necessary funds and for the number of thefts due to illegal doses classified as misdemeanor, on church day donations of the dead, priests’ scholarships, and only he admitted that he improperly received and was able to access $ 30,892.50 from a secret church account. Some of the money he stole was used for credit card payments and remittances to adult men involved in consensual relationships.

As part of the legal terms negotiated between the prosecution and his attorney, McClune was ordered to write an apology to two members of the Parish of St. Joseph and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, whom he led during seven years. I did. He has been on leave since parish authorities discovered misuse of church funds in April 2018. He was finally charged in August 2019.

McClune, 58, who now lives in Bryn Mawr, said “yes” to a question about the judge’s criteria for his decision to waive his right to a trial, saying next to nothing in Cody’s short court proceeding. Or not. ”On October 12, when Cody asked if he had anything to say about the crime he had confessed to committing, he refused.

“I hope you are making good use of your talents for others,” the judge said to the priest in black with his priest collar. “Yes,” he replied.

Kathleen Connell Wright, an assistant prosecutor who indicted the case, said her office was investigating the cases, as well as parish and archdiocesan officials over the terms of the plea. She said everyone was in agreement with the decision.

Wright said the decision to provide McClune with probation instead of requiring jail time for such a serious theft from the church was based on a lack of a criminal record. His willingness to accept responsibility for his crimes by pleading guilty. And the mutual desire to put the problem in the past and save the parish from yet another trauma with long trials. Members of the parish of St. Joseph and officials of the archdiocese, including those overseeing finances, were reportedly called to testify in court by the prosecution or the defense.

Archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin said the archdiocese will now begin its own investigation into the matter.

“It is the policy of the Archdiocese not to conduct formal investigations until law enforcement has completed their work,” Gavin said in an email. “Once the civil authorities have completed the process, we can begin a formal investigation. Administrative sanctions against Bishop McClune will be suspended until the results of the process are available.

“The Archdiocese and Parish are grateful for the resolution of this issue, as well as the closure and healing it brings,” he said.

However, a longtime Saint Joseph parishioner criticized the decision, saying they were “disappointed and tired” of what they saw as generosity to the priest.

“McClune was our minister and stole a lot of money from those who trusted him,” said one church member who asked to remain anonymous so he could speak out freely. “To make matters worse, he stole the money he was given by saddening his family. The parish had been waiting for more than three years for justice to be done. Probation and $ 30,000. Reimbursement is not justice. McClune should be in jail. “

A plea negotiation between Wright and Westchester defense attorney Melissa McFati also provided for the return of funds McClune admitted to stealing. Complete 300 hours of community service and receive a mental health assessment. Submit a DNA sample. He may also not be financially responsible in a parish in the future.

He left the courtroom with his family members after pleading. He then declined to comment, standing outside the Chester County Probation Office.

From the fact that Wright recorded and McClune agreed, his theft was due to three causes:

First, while serving at Saint-Joseph from 2011 to 2018, he received donations during the annual Day of the Dead fundraiser. It was turned over to the parish and used as personal income to single-handedly receive a donation of $ 13,310. It was against the policy of the archdiocese and against the intentions of the donor.

Second, McClune regularly doubled the benefits given to pastors, including himself, from $ 25 to $ 50 for saying mass and serving at weddings and funerals. .. He did this without the knowledge of the Archdiocese and took $ 7,410 for himself.

Finally, he opens a bank account for the “off-book” church where he is the sole signer, and uses the funds deposited in that account to make personal payments by credit card. ” Who is he ? I sent the money to someone who knows. He was not a parishioner of the church or was engaged in an unrelated relationship with Saint Joseph. The total of these thefts was $ 10,172.

At the time of his arrest, Martin’s affidavit indicated that he had stolen more than $ 98,000. The amount indicated in the plea was clearly reached through negotiations between the two parties.

A county detective’s investigation into McClune’s financial transactions in the spring of 2018, shortly after it was announced he was on leave at a Sunday mass two weeks after Easter and resigned as chief of the greater Saint-Joseph. It all started in the Catholic parish of Chester County, suspected of illegal activity. Questions from parishioners swirled around the church for some time after he left his main service in early 2018.

McClune is popular with many parishioners and was brought in in 2011 by the Archdiocese to lead the parish. This is to help stabilize the church after Bishop Williamlin was found guilty of protecting a priest accused of sexually abusing children after his arrest. (The conviction was eventually overturned and Lynn is awaiting a new trial.)

In a press release announcing the 2019 arrest, DA’s office included information about how McClune’s stolen money was deposited into his “off-book” account.

“The defendant took full advantage of his lack of control over his activity account and used it to finance his personal lifestyle,” the statement said. “His lifestyle included beach houses, travel, food and expenses for the adult men he had had sex with.” It got set up with Square and J-Pay. I used my account to send money to a man I met on the gay dating site Grindr.

One of the men identified in the complaint was currently being held in a New York jail. When first asked about a man and his payments from October 2013 to February 2014, McClune said the man was a parishioner of St. Catherine Drexel in Chester and was a pastor before arriving at St. Joseph . I said there was.

But according to Martin, the man was not a member of the ward, or even a resident of Pennsylvania, according to his research. Instead, he lived in New York and met McLoone in Grindr. The priest said he and the man had entered into a sexual relationship and sent him $ 1,200 in jail.

The court settlement does not include any conditions as to how McClune will make the refund or payment it plans to make.

To contact editor Michael P. Rerahan, call 610-696-1544.

Priest admits theft from St. Joseph’s Church in Downingtown


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