No Wafer for Rudy

Giuliani campaigns as a Catholic, but he's on the outs with God

Tax returns suggest that Tice is correct: The most Giuliani and Hanover ever gave to St. Monica's in any tax year in the 1980s and 1990s was $200, and that was the most they gave any church. The couple also gave $100 some years to Alan Placa's church in Long Island. They claimed no charitable deductions at all for most of the 1980s, when that annulment meant so much to Giuliani.

Alan Placa is not just a major figure in Giuliani's marital life: He baptized both of Giuliani's children, and though already stripped of his priestly powers, he was given special dispensation from his bishop in Long Island to preside at Helen Giuliani's September 2002 funeral. A month earlier—despite still-pending allegations that he'd groped four minors in Long Island's Diocese of Rockville Center—he was hired as a three-day-a-week consultant at Giuliani Partners, where he remains today. Michael Hess, the managing partner of Giuliani's firm and the city's former top lawyer, represents Placa in the ongoing cases. When first reached by a reporter at Giuliani Partners, Placa claimed that he was only visiting—a falsehood quickly reversed by a firm spokeswoman.


Research assistance by: Benjamin Bright, Ben Greenberg, Alexandra Kahan, Jan Ransom, Ethan Strauss, Hannah Vahl, Tom Wiedeman

Giuliani's friends cite the awkward hiring as an example of his loyalty, though he has long been known to jettison people close to him. His best-selling memoir, Leadership, included his dog Goalie in the acknowledgement list of the major people in his life, but not the mother of his two children. He forced out Police Commissioner Bill Bratton for appearing on the cover of Time, and also his dear friend and schools chancellor, Rudy Crew, because Crew tried to hold him to his word to never fund a voucher program. And he trashed them on their way out the door, smearing Crew the day he eulogized his ex-wife. On the other hand, in Giuliani's categorical mind, Placa is forever a good guy, no matter the facts.

Indeed, even if one assumes that America won't be offended by the contradiction between Giuliani's marital choices and his professed Catholicism, that will almost certainly change as the country learns more about his best friend, business associate, and lifelong link to the church. New York papers have reported some devastating details, drawn largely from a Suffolk County grand jury report issued in 2003. One of his accusers, Richard Tollner, a mortgage broker who claims he was repeatedly groped by Placa while in high school, says the priest stopped only after Placa approached him at his father's funeral and Tollner threatened him. Tollner and two others testified against Placa before the grand jury, though the statute of limitations had run out on their decades-old allegations, making prosecution impossible. Placa was described in the report as "cautious but relentless in pursuing his victims," groping the boys under cover of a newspaper, book, or poster. One victim testified that he was fondled behind a banner made for a march protesting the Roe v. Wade decision.

But the grand jury found Placa's decade of systemic cover-up far more disturbing than his alleged abuse. Often the first person contacted by a victim because of his role as the bishop's top attorney and head of a three-member "intervention team," Placa wrote a memo to other diocesan officials asking them not to identify him as an attorney. "Priests who were civil attorneys," the report found, clearly referring to Placa, "portrayed themselves as interested in the concerns of victims and pretended to be acting for their benefit while they only acted to protect the diocese. These officials boldly bragged about their success." Victims were "ignored, belittled, and re-victimized," with Placa and his colleagues procrastinating "for the purpose of making sure that the civil and criminal statutes of limitation were no longer applicable."

Robert Fulton, an ex-priest who worked with Placa as the director of the diocese's priest health services, told the Times: "Placa tried to handle this all to the law of Placa. People didn't trust him; he's a snake." Suffolk DA Tom Spota said at a press conference: "This is a person who was directly involved in the so-called policy of the church to protect children, when in fact he was one of the abusers."

The darkest account of Placa's obfuscating machinations appears in a deposition from a priest, Michael Hands, who pled guilty to sexually assaulting 13-year-old Adam Hughes. Instead of going to the church, as most families do, Hughes's parents went straight to the police, and Hands was arrested. Placa rushed to Hands's cell and put him in touch with a private attorney, who Hands later came to believe had actually represented Placa in allegations involving his own conduct. Placa "was the man," Hands testified, "who had the authority to take $50,000—"which he could get from the diocese's insurance department"—and use that to pay off someone who had claimed that they were victimized." Hands said he "learned" that Placa arranged "sealed settlements" that "covered himself" at least twice. "The settlement would say that the issue did not involve sexual misconduct but involved a DWI claim, that Alan Placa was influenced by alcohol and hit his car, that's how it read . . . he very shrewdly covered that up."

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