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Previous scandals

Friday's news conference was not the first time Bishop Robert Lynch has had to discuss sexual allegations in the diocese. Two months after Lynch became bishop, a priest admitted abusing four boys. Here's a recap of some of the scandals during Lynch's tenure:

JAN. 26, 1996: More than a year after Bishop John C. Favalora became archbishop of Miami, the Most Rev. Robert Lynch is installed as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

MARCH 27, 1996: Kevin Sidaway files a lawsuit against the Rev. Rocco Charles D'Angelo, accusing D'Angelo of assaulting him in 1967. D'Angelo admitted abusing Sidaway and three other boys but was never charged. Sidaway's suit contends that after his admission, D'Angelo promised to not lead a church or work with children. However, he spent 23 years in the Tampa Bay area at three different churches.

JUNE 1996: The Rev. William Lau of Blessed Trinity resigns after Lynch learned that Lau engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor several years earlier.

AUG. 22, 1996: The Rev. Simeon Gardner, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lutz, resigns after it is discovered that he diverted at least $200,000 in church money to a man with whom he had been sexually involved. He was sentenced to two years house arrest, 1,000 hours of community service and 15 years probation, and ordered to repay the money.

OCT. 1, 1996: Lynch reveals that the Rev. Patrick J. Clarke, pastor of Espiritu Santo Catholic Church in Safety Harbor, is on paid leave until he decides to continue as a priest or leave the priesthood for the wife he has been secretly married to for 15 years. Clarke eventually left the priesthood.

JANUARY 1997: The Rev. James E. Russo resigns as pastor of St. Michael's the Archangel Catholic Church in Clearwater after an "episode of misconduct" involving a minor was revealed.

_ Compiled by Times researcher Cathy Wos from Times files and the Diocese of St. Petersburg Web site.

In his words

In October 1996, after he had removed Tampa Bay area priests for sexual misconduct, Bishop Robert Lynch spoke extensively to the St. Petersburg Times on the subjects of celibacy, sexual impropriety and accountability:

"In the sexual sphere, I just hope and pray every day of my life for the integrity and honesty of our ministers. They have promised something publicly. They have promised that they would live their life celibately. And it's probably harder in the living than the anticipation of it at the time of the promise.

"I mean, I think that's very, very true that as you get into it, as you get older, as the life gets lonelier, the temptations grow greater. But I hope that they're doing everything they can to live that promise honestly."

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"We certainly get more front page attention than if something happens to a minister of another faith. I mean, they're buried in the back. But we're on the front page. And why is that? . . . First of all we shouldn't be (breaking vows) in the first place. And I'm the first to admit that _ that we ought to be living as far as we humanly can the purity of the life we promised.

"Secondly, I think we're there because of the teaching about human sexuality that's largely disregarded in today's society. It's not very much at home in today's society. People have made up their own minds about their sexual behavior and they basically don't want somebody else standing in judgment on that. So when the judge fails then the jury begins to have its day."

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"I didn't want to duck any of these situations. That's not my nature _ to give bad news and go hide. I wanted to be with them. . . . I wanted to say that the church is bigger than me, it's bigger than Pope John Paul, it's basically about the Lord. And if we put our trust in princes _ whether they're cardinals or bishops _ and we don't put our trust in the Lord, then we are inevitably heading for this kind of tragedy and sorrow because we're defining our relationship and faith in personal terms to people we know. It's got to be bigger than that."

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"You have to trust me by getting to know how I live, what priorities I place in my life. My life kind of has to be an open book. That is to say, there can't be any secret part to it."

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