Benefit of the Doubt

What does “engaged in inappropriate behavior with minors mean?”

What does “credibly accused” mean?

What are the exact guidelines for placing a priest on administrative leave?

What is meant by “interim measure?” Will these priests see their day in court to be cleared or charged? If so, when?

Why won’t the Philadelphia Archdiocese share the allegations so we know who is accused of what?

These are my questions. A family friend, Father David W. Givey, was placed on administrative leave yesterday. I found out from a TV reporter before an interview and was devastated. It takes awhile to digest news like that.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that two retired priests have been placed on administrative leave while it reviews allegations that they have engaged in inappropriate behavior with minors. Donna Farrell, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, declined to name the two. The Inquirer has identified one as the Rev. David Givey, 67. Givey was editor of the Catholic Standard & Times from 1985 to 1992 and served in numerous parishes and chaplaincies since his ordination in 1971.”

My personal experiences with Father Dave were wonderful. I don’t know what the allegations are. Nothing has been disclosed. I’m upset the Philadelphia Archdiocese has left so many of us wondering about the priests in our lives.

Here’s an explanation of the removal process but it still leaves many unanswered questions.

“There were 37 priests, according to a scathing report by the grand jury, which was released last month. Shaken by accusations that it was trying to keep abusers in ministry without telling parishes, the archdiocese moved quickly: It hired Gina Maisto Smith, a former prosecutor with a specialty in child sex abuse cases, to investigate further. The church soon put 21 clergy on administrative leave,” as reported by Barbara Bradley Hagerty for National Public Radio. The number went to 23 yesterday.

By not releasing names or allegations, The Philadelphia Archdiocesan Church leaders prove they are not interested in transparency.

Regardless of my own feelings regarding Father Givey, anyone credibly accused with substantial evidence should be removed from ministry. That’s what happens with these types of accusations in other walks of life. Supervisors would remove an accused coach, teacher, Scout leader, etc.

I’ve contacted both the Archdiocesan Office for Communications and a Bishop in regard to Father Dave. I”ll report on their reply in a future post.

20 thoughts on “Benefit of the Doubt

  1. Call it sloppy journalism or a rush to judgment. You mention above there is evidence. Do you know something the rest of us don’t? If there was evidence he would have been arrested. I just think it is very irresponsible of you to write and say all of these things that you have, especially when you have not backed any of it with facts. Do you even know the facts? I really believe you need to go back on Fox29 and make a public apology to Father Dave. If your words were taken out of context then you need to contact them and have them make a retraction. You really need to be careful of what you say because you can ruin someones life. If one of my friends was accused of something I would try to find out what happened and not immediately pass judgment. How can you just out one of your “friend’s”? I’m glad your not one of my friends.

    1. All the suspended priests are being identified by the Archdiocese as “credibly accused” in relation to “evidence” provided to the former asst. District Attorney. I think I make it VERY clear that I believe we should all KNOW the allegations. I did not suspend Father Dave. I did not accuse Father Dave. I did not ruin Father Dave. Take this up with the Diocese. People’s lives have been ruined on all sides of this. I did try to call Father Dave before the interview and I did speak with him today when he called me. I have followed up in every way I can to clear his name.

      1. Ms Matthews, Please review “You Can Make a Difference” #11 and “What to do When Your Priest is Accused of Abuse” #14 under the heading “Ways You Can Help” The focus must always be on the abused!!!

        1. I am not supporting any specific priest. What I’m pointing out is that we don’t even know what the allegations are in individual cases – sexual abuse or boundary issues. Giving a kid a beer is very wrong but it’s not sexual abuse. A witch hunt will hurt victim advocacy. Victims come first – no doubt. I advocate for ALL Catholics in regard to this mess the Church leadership has created.

  2. Everyday a spouse or partner awakens to the fact that their partner has cheated on them. Or we learn that a trusted priest, rabbi, preacher, school teacher, boyscout leader, camp counsellor, pillar of the community has sexualy abused a child, or we see the film the Magdallen Sisters and wonder how the nuns could have punished and deceived so many innocent and vulnerable children. “In as much as ye do it unto the least of these………….” and “suffer the little children……..” A father starts to groom his daughter to tell her how “special” she is to him………….

    All too many, we learn, are capable of the most debased acts. Gangs sweep children off the streets to sexually exploit them, to USE them to make money

    All the preaching in the world, all the admonitions from the pulpit, all the confessions, or the religious rituals and the lessons of Sunday School seem to have little effect. SOMETHING ELSE IS WRONG WITH HUMAN BEINGS – I WISH I KNEW WHAT IT WAS. We waste our time and efforts saying tht masturbation is a sin and that gay love is an abomination in the sight of God, all the while losing sight of the fact that something much more insidious lurks in the hearts of men.

  3. The main difference between priests and
    others accused of “sexual abuse” is that
    the alleged acts of the priests in almost
    all, if not all, of the cases happened decades ago. I do not believe that teachers and coaches, etc. accused of long
    ago acts would be taken out. There are — rightly — statues of limitations that bar those actions, as well as union representation, and other defenses. While the “37” are in fact rightly protected from crimal prosecution because of the
    statue of limitation they are not protected
    from the Cardinal and the media. It is the
    Cardinal who is suspending these priests —
    who were at first “cleared” — because of
    media pressure. It is wrong to judge the
    long ago associations priests had with young people by today’s standards. Years
    ago it was acceptable for a priest, teacher, etc. to be alone with a minor,
    invite minors to the shore, cookouts, etc.
    It is not OK today. These 37 priests will
    never have a trial. They will never recover their reputations. We are seeing
    “bad law” enacted that will have a very
    substanial chilling effect in the Church and society. The presumption of innocense is lost, and is being replaced with a virulent anti-clerical $$ McCarthyism.

  4. It’s harmful to the victims when you use a specific priests name….Its harmful to the victims when you say ” I don’t believe Father Dave would harm a minor” or “I have followed up in every way I can to clear his name” It is harmful to protest his innocence when you really don’t know all the facts.

  5. I can certainly appreciate your argument. And I do see your point. However, the news called him an alleged child sex abuser in a segment in which I appeared. It made it seem as if I was condemning him before due process. I do feel conflict knowing his allegation could be boundary issues. I don’t know all the facts. Here’s what I do know – the Archdiocese has left families in the dark by not designating the type of allegations and the whereabouts of those accused of sex abuse.

    One priest’s innocence (if proven) of (possible) boundary issues should in no way diminish the horror that so many other priests have sexually abused children and their supervisors covered it up. But I know what you mean about public perception.

    Moving past this situation, when a priest I personally know is put on leave (and sadly it may happen again), it will be “no comment.” When this situation happened, I thought it would be hypocritical for me not to comment. But now I see how complicated the issue is. I’m new at this and doing the best I can to give Catholics a voice.

    1. I personally know Father Dave and while I was saddened to hear his name was on a list, he has been a family friend for decades. My family having only known the caring, giving, and selfless David decided not to jump to conclusions until we knew why. It was bad enough that his name was released without any clarification but you without having even speaking to him, released his photos to the media. There is a difference between justice and a witch hunt. I truly hope that your quick judgement and poor decision making has not put him in danger… especially since clarifications have been made. We have a huge problem in the church and I am not making excuses for any of it. But allowing the media to make up stories/accusations without ANY facts is irresponsible. It is NEVER reported when people are cleared.

  6. The Catholic church is a disgrace. My son attends St. Elizabeth before that we were at St. Max where Father Givey (as we knew him) said two masses every Sunday as a visiting priest. He married my sister and was a family friend. I am disgusted and just distraught in an institution that is based on wickedness and coverups. I think that Susan is great writer and I am glad that someone is talking about this!!! We need to up the CCD program because people are leaving the school.

  7. A true test of Faith is occurring for Catholics in Philadelphia. Three Grand Jury Reports and no one is excommunicated from the Church? The Cardinal has not resigned despite his failure to protect children. Innocent Priest are not commenting. We see the Church struggle with it’s definition of “sexual abuse“. Canon Law verses Criminal Law. The Church has a long history of attacking the victims and those who report sexual abuse by the clergy.

    Some of us long to see Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua, Justin Rigali and William Lynn wearing handcuffs while being escorted by Philadelphia Police to the Special Victims Unit for their part in “black collar” crime.

    And on the other side, the others. They see no evil and heard no evil against the Church. Maybe in whispers, or silently in their head. They want to “pray” for anyone who questions the Church. As they tell you that they will pray for you. You feel like someone just slapped your face–for being a bold brazen article.

    Stanley Gana, ordained in 1970, who sexually abused countless boys in a succession of Philadelphia Archdiocese parishes was assigned to my parish. In 1997, (Msgr) William Lynn assigned Stanley Gana to Immaculate Conception Parish. My former pastor, Fr. William Dombrow testified before the 2005 Grand Jury. Fr. Dombrow said he was never told that Gana had sexually abused minors. However, (Msgr) William Lynn emphasized to Fr. Dombrow the need for Gana to act “low key” in the diocese.

    In my parish, we had five priest assigned who were noted in the 2005 Grand Jury Report for inappropriate behaviors with a minor, and, one priest in the 2011 Grand Jury Report. At the time, my church was located in a low income type of area. No lawyers or physicians attending our church. Only, the poor and faithful types–not the types that would file a lawsuit. A total of seven priests from my parish are noted on the web site of:

    So the question is–do Catholics need to act “low key” in this diocese? Is Susan Matthews wrong? Or does Susan Matthews share something in common with Mary Mackillop also know as Saint Mary of the Cross. Sister Mary MacKillop, became Australia’s first ever saint in 2010. Sister Mary, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1871 after exposing a pedophile Irish priest.

    There is no patron saint for a clerical sex abuse victim. However, Saint Mary of the Cross could be nominated as the Patron Saint of Church Sex-Abuse Victims. In 1870, the Sisters of St Joseph (co-founded by Mary MacKillop) exposed a sexually-abusive priest (Father Ambrose Patrick Keating). The Sisters also exposed another priest (Father Charles Horan) who protected Keating. In 1871, Bishop Shiel excommunicated Sister Mary MacKillop. Ambrose Patrick Keating was sent back to Ireland, where he continued to serve as a priest. In 1872, Bishop Shiel had a change of heart on his deathbed and ordered that Mary Mackillop be absolved and restored.

    What do I say? I admire Susan Matthews’s courage. I am glad that she is not being a “low key”. We may never know how many children will remain safe from clerical sexual abuse because of Catholics 4 Change. This work has value.

    For more information on Saint Mary of the Cross, go to

    1. Father Bob Hoatson & Father Tom Doyle, and Patrick Wall are priests who have taken a stand against their own church. They have been speaking out and supporting victims, and because of this, the Catholic Church has placed or fired all three for defending victims and trying to protecting children. These 3 priests are heroes. Can’t forget Sister Maureen, who stands in protest to support victims and their families. Thank you to them for their courage, their spirit, and their unwillingness to remain silent.

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  9. I still do not know the details of Father Dave’s case. He has been a family friend for over 2 decades and married several of my siblings . He nourished and enriched our faith walk and for that we will always be grateful. He celebrated a mass on our deck in Avalon ,NJ , just before sunset ,and it is the memory we hold of him.

    1. Hi Julie, I’m not sure if you saw the follow up post – Father Dave was eventually permanently removed from ministry. The archdiocese never officially shared the details. I only know a little from archdiocesan memos obtained during the Msgr. Lynn trial. Based on my own heart and mind, I don’t believe he ever harmed a child. Beyond that, I won’t comment. His impact on my life and the life of my family was very positive. However, there is also great disappointment. But that comes from our love for him. I wish him peace.

        1. I actually just received some information on this case. While Father Dave was the director of the Newman Center at West Chester University in the mid 90s he violated the Archdiocese of Philadelphia policy for allowing minors (college kids) to drink on church property on the University and under his supervision. He was the Pi Kappa Phi faculty advisor and would host the fraternity dances and events at the Newman center and allow them to consume alcohol, however either arrange for safe rides home or “lock in” the kids that did not have a safe ride. He still does not think he did anything wrong. Cardinal Bevilaqua had every priest sign contracts to NOT do these types of thing due to “grooming” of minors. He violated the policy and was put on administration leave however still was allowed to practice in NJ. The Vatican cleared him of any criminal or Vatican policy violations and recommended he return to ministry but it is up to the regional Cardinal for reinstatement. In the years leading up to the Vatican exoneration, Father Dave had become very agitated and angry with the archdiocese and the Catholic Church due to his treatment “being painted with the same brush as a sexual deviant” and was deemed to no longer have the temperament for catholic ministry and should stay retired with full benefits. It is sad how the media and shorty reporting can destroy a good man. I don’t agree with what he did as a parent of college aged children, however, when I was in college, I would have loved to have that “safe place” to drink and have fun with an understanding adult to ensure that All his flock got home safely.

          1. James, your comment is factual. But there is more. During Msgr. Lynn’s trial, Lynn’s day planner and meeting notes were in evidence. More issues were detailed. I would like to stress that there was nothing indicating that Dave was a pedophile. Nor do I think that he is. In light of what I know now, Dave’s behavior was not unlike many priests, so I can understand his bitterness. I think he was targeted by Bevilacqua for lack of discretion more than the actual behavior. He did not live a so-called priestly life. Had he been a layperson, most would not question his behavior/choices. But he was a priest and presented a life that was a lie. I find that horribly sad. Not criminal, but certainly tragic for him and those who love and trusted him.

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