ABC's Ross Accuses Rudy of Being Pedophile Priest's Pal

October 23rd, 2007 12:21 PM

On Tuesday's "Good Morning America," reporter Brian Ross continued his critical series of investigations into Republican presidential candidates. Just two weeks after he slammed Fred Thompson for his role in the 1973 Watergate investigation, the ABC correspondent looked into the fact that Rudy Giuliani's consulting firm has employed a priest that has been accused of molesting children in the '70s.

Of course, neither Ross, nor "Good Morning America" have seen fit to investigate Hillary Clinton's hiring of Sandy Berger, a man who has been convicted of stealing documents from the National Archives and stuffing them down his pants. Ross has similarly ignored the growing scandal of poor Chinese workers donating large sums of money to the Hillary Clinton campaign

Ross's October 23 report focused on Monsignor Alan Placa, who has been accused of molesting two boys in New York in the 1970s. Placa has since been forced by the Catholic Church to stop performing his priestly duties and a grand jury concluded that he did commit these actions. (The statute of limitations has expired and no charges have been brought.) Ross questioned whether such a man should be employed by Giuliani's consulting firm. However, the GMA reporter closed the segment by conceding, "...A Giuliani spokeswoman did arrange for four other students from the same school, although from a different class, to vouch for Father Placa. They said they had not molested and that they had never heard of allegations like this when they were at the school." Although Ross did feature the students defense of Placa in an online version of the story, they were not interviewed on camera and did not appear in the piece airing on ABC. Ross wrote on

"There was absolutely not a hint of rumor of a speculation or a whisper, in four years, or in decades after of any sexual predatoriness on the part of Rev. Placa," wrote [former student] Matthew Hogan in an e-mail to

In addition to ignoring the Sandy Berger story, Ross and GMA have yet to cover the potential scandal relating to poor Chinese immigrants donating large sums of money to Hillary Clinton's campaign. Certainly, however, that must be next on Brian Ross's investigative "to do" list, right?

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:33am on October 23, follows:

7:31am tease:

DIANE SAWYER: And also ahead in this half hour, other topics. Brian Ross is here with another major investigation in the presidential race, focusing on a longtime friend of Rudy Giuliani who faces some terrible accusations.


DIANE SAWYER: But now let's change topics and get back to Brian Ross's investigation. Rudy Giuliani has been dogged by questions in the past about his colleagues. Well, there's another one that has now arisen because of the defense of a longtime friend. And chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is here with that. Brian?

ABC GRAPHIC: Brian Ross Investigates: Predator or Priest?

BRIAN ROSS: Good morning, Diane. For Rudy Giuliani, it is apparently a case of loyalty to a close friend. But the friend is priest accused of sexually abusing teenage boys and currently banned from performing his priestly duties by the church. And now, some of the priestly accusers want to know why Giuliani is defending and protecting him. When he went to Rome this year, Giuliani was accompanied by his wife Judith and his longtime friend and priest, Monsignor Alan Placa.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE): Alan Placa has been a friend of mine for 38 years, 39 years. I know him really well.

ROSS: Placa was a college classmate and best man at Giuliani's first wedding, the priest at Giuliani's second wedding to Donna Hanover. And now Placa works for Giuliani at his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners. That has outraged some of the Monsignor Placa's former students and victims right groups who say the priest is a child molester who should not be protected by a man running for president.

DAVID CLOHESSY (SURVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS): Anything that gives monsignor Alan Placa any credibility or access to kids is very risky and dangerous and we think that Giuliani especially as former prosecute should realize this.

ALAN PLACA: I'm Father Alan Placa, a priest of the diocese of Rockville Center in New York.

ROSS: Monsignor Placa was told by the church to stop performing his priestly duties in 2002, as two former students and an altar boy came forward with their allegations.

RICHARD TOLLNER (ACCUSED PRIEST PLACA OF SEXUAL MOLESTATION): Alan Placa molested me in January of 1975 and that's when it started.

ROSS: Richard Tollner, now a mortgage broker in Albany, New York, was a student at a boy's Catholic high school where Placa taught. Appearing publicly for the first time, Tollner says the abuse started when he and Placa were making posters for a Right to Life march.

TOLLNER: As he started to explain how these poster shows be done, I realized that something was rubbing my body and I didn't know when it was. When after a minute or two I realized that he's feeling me.

ROSS: Tollner and the others testified before a grand jury in Suffolk County, New York, which concluded that Priest F, who Tollner says is Placa, had sexually molested three teenage boys again and again and again. The report also accused Priest F of being instrumental in developing a church policy that used deception and intimidation to essentially keep the church scandal quiet.

MELANIE LITTLE (ATTORNEY, DELL & LITTLE): He was more concerned with protecting the priest, protecting the reputation of the diocese and protecting the church coffers than he was protecting the children.

Ross: No criminal charges were brought against Placa because of the statute of limitations and he denied the allegations. It was just months later that Giuliani put Placa on the payroll of Giuliani Partners where Placa now works. Giuliani now defended Placa last week on the campaign trail, after protesters in St. Louis and Milwaukee confronted him.

GIULIANI: Hasn't been convicted of anything. Hasn't been convicted of anything. We give some of the worst people in our society presumption of innocence and benefit of the doubt. And this is more than that. I mean, I know the man. I know who he is. So, I support him.

TOLLNER: This man did unjust things and he's being protected and employed and taken care of and it's not a good thing.

ROSS: Monsignor Placa would not speak with us for this story, but a Giuliani spokeswoman did arrange for four other students from the same school, although from a different class, to vouch for father Placa. They said they had not molested and that they had never heard of allegations like this when they were at the school. Diane?