Lawyer: Priest admitted creating pornography
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An attorney for Saint Vincent College says a monk who formerly taught there has "admitted creating pornographic materials" on a college computer, "including grossly inappropriate depictions of himself."
The statement from Thomas W. McGough Jr. came after he saw a statement from the Rev. Mark Gruber concerning why the Benedictine monk dropped his defamation lawsuit against the college last week. Father Gruber said he dropped the suit to prevent trauma to others who might have to testify.
Mr. McGough said that during a sworn deposition, Father Gruber was confronted with pornographic photographs and that he admitted creating and e-mailing them.
Father Gruber's attorney, Sharon Smith, said the evidence at deposition "was taken completely out of context." It was part of a "dialogue" between Father Gruber and anthropology students, she said. She declined to elaborate, but said sexuality is part of what anthropologists study.
"He never admitted to creating anything," she said. "He was part of a dialogue with these students, but it was nothing that correlates to child pornography."
Because the college asked the state police to search the computer for child pornography in 2009, "We already know that ... there were images of pornography. But it has long since been determined that we have had someone come forward to say that the one doing the downloading was not Father Mark," she said.
Until the pornography was discovered in July 2009, Father Gruber was an anthropology professor at Saint Vincent. He sued the school for defamation 14 months after he was removed from both teaching and ministry but dropped the suit two months later. He was silent on his reasons for a week but issued a statement Monday saying that his suit posed a "trauma" to others.
The brief existence of his lawsuit "provided me a forum for anyone that wishes to know my story. I hope that all parties can wait ... for a final decision from Rome," he said.
In 2009 the state police said it was impossible to tell if the young males whose nude images were on the computer were minors. In April they identified three as under 18. But one of those was traced to a former Saint Vincent student who told police he had downloaded pornography on the priest's computer. He said Father Gruber couldn't defend himself because the priest had heard his confession about downloading the pornography. Priests are forbidden to reveal what they hear in confession.
When Father Gruber dropped his lawsuit, Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, his Benedictine superior, issued a statement saying that during a deposition, "Father Gruber finally had to confront his egregious misconduct."
While the priest remained silent, some of his supporters speculated that he dropped the case to protect the young man who had confessed. Ms. Smith said he was concerned about many people who might have had to testify.
"This can cause a lot of heartache and chaos and mayhem in many people's lives," she said before Mr. McGough released his own statement in response.
"Like his recent effort to shift attention onto a supposed penitent, Father Gruber's attempt to renew the allegations in his meritless complaint should be ignored," Mr. McGough said.
The "grossly inappropriate" images of Father Gruber are "among other clear misconduct," he said. "The Vatican will now decide what the church's response to that misconduct should be."
First Published November 9, 2010 12:00 am