Almanac

News - June 8, 2011

Parish stunned by pastor's leave, incident with teen

by Sandy Brundage

St. Raymond parishioners said they felt hurt and betrayed by the actions of their pastor, Father William Myers, after the revelation that the pastor has been on administrative leave since May 27 following an incident with a 17-year-old boy.

More than 100 people attended a meeting June 1 at the Menlo Park church, led by Bishop William Justice, to share concerns and ask questions.

Describing the incident as a "boundary violation" that involved no physical contact, the archdiocese said San Francisco police determined there was no criminal activity and that the archdiocese's independent review board will also evaluate the situation.

The boy's father asked store staff to call police after watching Father Myers follow the teenager into a dressing room at a Ross Dress for Less on 16th Street in San Francisco on April 19, according to the archdiocese.

Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak said the case remains open. Investigators are still following up with the boy, his father, and the district attorney's office.

More than a month passed before the church found out about the incident. Director of Communications George Wesolek said a source tipped off the archdiocese on May 26.

"We don't know," he said when asked why the delay. "If we had been notified on April 19, we would've taken action on April 20."

Since the police found no criminal activity, Mr. Wesolek said, no policy required notification, but the delay was not in the church's best interest.

"It's one of those things, we have learned that we cannot step back, and if there is something like this that's gone to police, we have to take action immediately and put our process into play," he said.

Mr. Wesolek said that to his knowledge, no other allegations were made against the priest in the past.

Father Myers is now seeking treatment for a sexual addiction to adults, the archdiocese said, a condition he revealed to church officials when confronted about the dressing room incident. He joined St. Raymond in 2007, transferring from St. Brendan Church in San Francisco.

According to those who attended the June 1 meeting, Father Myers also told officials he'd previously received therapy for sexual identity issues while serving in the Diocese of Stockton.

The archdiocese asked that any allegations of sexual abuse involving Father Myers be reported to the police and to its victim assistance coordinator, Barbara Elordi, at 415-614-5506 or elordib@sfarchdiocese.org.

Staff at St. Raymond directed questions to the archdiocese. Monsignor Michael Padazinski has been appointed to take over administrative duties at the parish.

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