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EXCLUSIVE
U.S. news

Defrocked Catholic priest accused of molesting a boy still runs charity for kids

John J. Voglio frequently mingles with children and teenagers at events, said a board member for Mary F. Clancy Charities in New York City.

A defrocked New York priest “credibly accused” of sexually abusing a minor runs a charity that provides scholarships to Catholic schools for underprivileged children, according to public records.

John J. Voglio, 65, is president of Mary F. Clancy Charities, which was founded in 2000 by another former priest, John Harrington, who was also accused of sexually abusing a minor, according to the Archdiocese of New York.

Voglio frequently mingles with children and teenagers who attend charity events, a member of the organization’s board of directors told NBC News.

“He’s very good with the kids,” Madelaine Cavegn said. “They like him very much.”

Voglio does not mention on the charity’s website that he is a former priest, and he did not return several phone calls seeking comment about his activities.

Voglio has never been charged with a crime so was never required to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts, New York or New Hampshire, all places where he once worked as a priest or brother.

Cavegn, however, acknowledged that she and some of the other board members are aware Voglio used to be a priest.

“I can’t divulge any of that,” Cavegn, 88, responded when asked whether she knew why Voglio had been laicized. “But do you know that he never had a chance to defend himself?”

Cavegn described Voglio as a devoted leader of the charity.

“He’s like a missionary,” Cavegn said. “He is very involved. Before we give out any grants, he conducts all the interviews with the schools.”

Another director on the board, John Crapanzano, said “the charity is very active” and Voglio “is very much involved in the day-to-day operations.”

“We’ve diversified our activities in recent years to include a food pantry in the Bronx to help needy families,” Crapanzano, 77, said. “We also helped build a playground for the kids at a Bronx school.”

David Clohessy, a sex abuse victims advocate at the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said someone like Voglio should not be running this kind of charity.

“Credibly accused child molesting clerics, especially if they’ve been defrocked, belong in no position of power or leadership, especially one that is connected in any way with children,” Clohessy said. 

Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer whose pursuit of pedophile priests was dramatized in the Oscar-winning movie “Spotlight,” said it does not surprise him that Voglio continues to be involved in activities that could allow him to remain close to children.

“Experience has taught me that it is common for credibly accused priests and religious brothers to continue to work at organizations, for instance, schools, camps, churches, hospitals, boy scouts and clubs,” Garabedian said in an email. 

The Archdiocese of New York provided no explanation for his removal from the priesthood in its “List of Archdiocesan Clergy Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse,” which was first published in 2019 and updated at least once in recent years. He had been ordained in 1987.

In 2002, a Massachusetts man told New Hampshire investigators that Voglio had seduced him 20 years earlier at a Salesian Brothers summer camp in that state, according to a report prepared by Paul Brodeur, a former investigator with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. The accuser said he was 12 when the abuse occurred in 1982. 

Voglio was a Salesian Brother at the time and working as a camp counselor, the report states.

“The fondling and oral sex went on beginning within a few days of arriving and continued to the end of two weeks,” the accuser, whose name was blacked out, said in the report.

The accuser “advised that he had not seen VOGLIO again but did received a Xmas card from him the Xmas of 1982 postmarked Ohio,” the report states. “VOGLIO spoke about going on to to become a priest with the Selesian’s (sic).”

NBC News has reached out for comment to the Salesians of Don Bosco, an international Roman Catholic religious congregation of men based locally in New Rochelle, New York. No one from the group responded.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said it does not keep track of laicized priests or closely monitor donations from charitable organizations to its individual schools.

“To the best of our knowledge, Voglio has not visited any of the schools,” Zwilling said.

Voglio has also moonlighted as a “Catholic priest on call,” advertising to perform weddings through a business called “John Voglio Weddings,” according to his LinkedIn and Facebook pages. 

Zwilling, after being made aware of Voglio’s side job, said the former reverend is not allowed to perform Catholic weddings.

“He is no longer a Catholic priest,” he said. 

Voglio also claimed on the charity’s website that he is a “member of a local branch of the Kiwanis Club in the Bronx” and has organized “yearly fundraisers” for an organization that helps disadvantaged children around the world and is involved in youth activities.

Ben Hendricks, a spokesman for Kiwanis International, said “a thorough review of our current and past membership shows that Mr. Voglio is not, and has never been a member of Kiwanis International.”

Voglio was still a priest when he took over the leadership of Mary F. Clancy Charities, Inc., which bears the name of a New York City-area social worker who provided the “initial funds” to start the organization, according to its website.

Harrington, like Voglio, also landed on the New York archdiocese’s 2019 list of credibly accused clergy.

Voglio was paid a little over $31,000 in salary and compensation by the charity, according to the latest available 990 report for the fiscal year ending in May 2020. A 990 Form is a tax document nonprofits are required to file with the IRS.

The charity, which Voglio appears to be running out of a Yonkers, New York, apartment just north of the Bronx, has nearly $700,000 in assets, the report shows. Records indicate Voglio lived at the Yonkers address and also has a home in Garnerville, a small town about 30 miles north of New York City.

Mary F. Clancy Charities claims on its website that it supports other groups that work with troubled families, but the 990 filing in 2020 does not indicate the organization gave out any grants in 2019, which it would have been required to report if it had done so.

The charity reported it held a “golf outing” and a “cigar night” that raised $39,222. But the cost of putting those together was exactly $39,222, making the net income from the two events zero.

Voglio took over the reins of the charity in 2006 from Harrington, who died three years later, according to the website. In 2011, Voglio took the private charity public “in order to be able to actively raise money to expand the scope of the foundation,” the website states.

On the website, Voglio named five groups that have received funds from his charity: Catholic Home Bureau Maternity Services; the STEPS Program of Edwin Gould; Incarcerated Mothers and their Children; Catholic Community Services of Rockland Inc.; and Rosalie Hall.

Before the Gould organization became part of another charity called Rising Ground in 2018, it received a $15,000 gift from Mary Clancy Charities in 2011 and a $5,000 gift in 2015, said Rising Ground spokesman Adam Brill.

“Since then, we’ve had no contact from Mary Clancy Charities,” Brill said in an email.

Catholic Community Services of Rockland Inc., whose actual name is Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland, did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Rosalie Hall, a home for teen parents in the Bronx, is part of a New York City organization called Catholic Guardian Services, which did not respond to requests for comment.

The entity identified on the 990 report as Catholic Home Bureau Maternity Services also appears to be run by Catholic Guardian Services.

NBC News could not locate an organization in New York called Incarcerated Mothers and their Children.