By Julia Marsh
December 10, 2015
A Catholic priest swiped collection-plate donations to pay for drug-fueled, kinky sex romps with a heavily muscled S&M “master,” a new lawsuit charges.
Outraged parishioners claim that the Rev. Peter Miqueli has stolen at least $1 million since 2003 while leading churches on Roosevelt Island and in The Bronx, where he’s currently pastor of St. Frances de Chantal in Throggs Neck.
The suit alleges he used the money to act out unholy fantasies as a sexual “slave,” blowing $1,000 at a time on bondage-and-discipline sessions where a “homosexual sex ‘master’” — identified in court papers as Keith Crist — “would force Father Miqueli to drink Keith Crist’s urine.”
(Important!—Until proven or disproven, the accusations in the lawsuit remain mere allegations!)
Miqueli also spent $60,000 in 2012 alone for “illicit and prescription drugs” he used with Crist, bought a $264,000 home in Brick, N.J, and paid $1,075.50 a month for Crist’s East Harlem apartment, court papers say.
The suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Thursday, also alleges that the Archdiocese of New York and Timothy Cardinal Dolan knew about Miqueli’s “illegal scheme” and did nothing to keep it from growing into “the monster it is today.”
“This lawsuit seeks to finally put an end to this truly sinful conduct so that St. Frances de Chantal parish can regain the strength, spirituality and faith it once had before Father Miqueli arrived,” court papers say.
An on-and-off girlfriend of Crist’s, Tatyana Gudin, told The Post that the bodybuilder once hurt his knees while having sex with Miqueli in a bathtub.
She also claims to have sent repeated emails to Dolan and other high-ranking church officials detailing the relationship between Crist and Miqueli, based on numerous text and email messages between them.
The suit seeks unspecified damages from Miqueli, Crist, Dolan and the Archdiocese on grounds including negligent supervision, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and unjust enrichment.
Plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael G. Dowd [link to lawyer rating] said, “I feel really bad for the parishioners,” and estimated that Migueli “had to have taken $1 million from each parish.”
Michael G. Dowd of Michael G. Dowd 425 Park Avenue, 26th Floor, New York, NY, 10022. Practice areas include Clergy Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Criminal Defense and Sexual Harassment.
For more than 130 years, lawyers have relied on the AV® Preeminent™ rating while searching for their own expert attorneys. Now anyone can depend on this important, trusted rating. The Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Preeminent™ rating is the highest possible rating for an attorney for both ethical standards and legal ability. This rating represents the pinnacle of professional excellence. It is achieved only after an attorney has been reviewed and recommended by their peers - members of the bar and the judiciary. Michael G. Dowd has achieved an AV® Preeminent™ Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®.
“We’ve done a lot of homework. This is a bad guy,” Dowd said.
Dowd added: “The thing that’s really amazing to me is, how could this guy be acting this way for nine years or so and the Archdiocese does nothing?”
“Someone extremely powerful is keeping Miqueli in as pastor,” he said.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese said it “has … taken these allegations seriously (see report below—“(The concerned parishioners) don’t offer any proof,” said Zwilling. “Anyone can make an allegation, but where is something to back it up?”), and has been investigating them, including … a forensic audit of the parish, which is still ongoing.” (At some point the Archdiocese decided to take matters, i.e., parishioners' 2014 request for a forensic audit, more seriously.)
“To date we have found nothing to substantiate the allegations that have been raised. If anyone has information or documentation to substantiate the allegations, we would invite them to bring that information forward, or to contact the district attorney,” the spokesman said. (Apparently, if the comments of the lawyer for the plaintiffs indicate evidence is in his possession confirming malfeasance, then it's appropriate that the Archdiocese is now asking for witnesses. Too little too late?)
Parishioners at St. Frances in Throggs Neck question the leadership of its pastor
By Patrick Rocchio
Nov. 6, 2014
Citing concerns about what they say is the pastor’s chronic absenteeism and his not following proper procedure in handling cash donations, a letter by the group was circulated calling on all parishioners to take certain actions.
It states that the parish is dying, and takes Father Peter Miqueli, the pastor, to task on several allegations. He has denied the group’s allegations through an Archdiocesan spokesman.
The letter alleges that Fr, Miqueli is absent from the parish four days out of every seven per week. It also cites concerns like “bags containing cash contributions left unsealed outside the pastor’s living quarters for six weeks while he was away on vacation.”
“Parishioners have attempted to make their voices heard,” the letter states. “They have met with the pastor. They have written many letters and made many phone calls to the Archdiocese.” (Apparently, no one was listening.)
Some parishioners have begun donating a dollar a month by check to the parish to send a message to the Archdiocese of New York about what they term “questionable financial procedures.” This action was confirmed by prominent local Throggs Neck resident Jack Lynch.
Lynch, along with other concerned parishioners are calling for a forensic audit of the parish’s finances (which, as noted in the previous article, the Archdiocese is currently conducting), and for a change in the current leadership.
Lynch said that he had a meeting about a year ago with Fr. Miqueli over lunch because he was concerned about the direction the parish was going in.
“I presented him with a letter with all the issues I thought were important - and there were many issues,” said Lynch. “It was like talking to a stone wall. There was no substantive response.”
The group of parishioners, according to Lynch, have three major concerns about Fr. Miqueli that they would like him to address: a lack of spirituality since he took over the parish two years ago; the need for greater transparency as to how donations are handled; and what they see as Fr. Miqueli’s aloofness and his lack of communication with his flock.
Lynch also said that Fr, Miqueli is not a regular fixture in the parish school or at religious education classes, adding that children in religious education do not even know who he is.
A fellow parishioner who asked that his name not be used said that even though Fr. Miqueli delivers excellent homilies, he seems to disinterested in running the parish.
“It is almost as if he does not want to be a pastor to begin with,” the source said. He added “there is just not a good feeling about what is going on.”
Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling said he has seen the letter and spoke to Fr. Miqueli, who denies the allegations. (They said... he said... who said... what?!) Zwilling said that the archdiocese has bank statements showing that deposits of donations took place on a regular basis in the summer. (Was the full amount collected from parishioners deposited each time?)
“He has bank statements showing that the deposits were made, and the armored truck comes every Tuesday to pick up the donations,” said Zwilling. “The only changes he has made to the people who do the counting of the money is that he has added more people to do it. He certainly does not count the money by himself in his room.”
Zwilling said that Fr. Miqueli said that the only day he has taken off regularly has been on Friday, and in September and October he has even cut short his day off to celebrate First Friday mass.
“(The concerned parishioners) don’t offer any proof,” said Zwilling. “Anyone can make an allegation, but where is something to back it up?” (If the lawyer for the plaintiff's comments mean anything, then perhaps the Archdiocese might
Our Saviour was a sleepy parish in the Murray Hill neighborhood of midtown Manhattan when Father George W. Rutler, noted author and preacher, was appointed its pastor in 2001. He breathed new life into it. He hired and collaborated with Ken Woo, an artist who filled the sanctuary with stunning iconography. It won awards. Rutler added the traditional Latin Mass to the weekly schedule. During his twelve-year term, twelve parishioners entered the seminary. That’s a lot. When Rutler arrived, he inherited a deficit. When he left, Our Saviour was running surpluses and had money in the bank. In 2013, Rutler was reassigned to a parish on the other side of town, in Hell’s Kitchen. The incoming pastor at Our Saviour told Rutler that he would keep the Latin Mass. A few weeks into his term, he discontinued it, without notice. Last summer he started removing the icons — again, without notice.