Priest accused of theft surrenders

December 24, 2007 3:58:07 PM PST
The priest accused of stealing $900k from Archdiocesan and Franciscan funds has turned himself into Philadlephia Police.Father Charles Newman surrendered at the district attorney's office at 8 a.m Monday morning. He was then transferred to police headquarters where he will be processed and arraigned.

The 57-year-old Newman is being slapped with numerous charges, including theft and forgery. He is also facing accusations of molesting several teenage boys while residing as principle and president of Archbishop Ryan High School in the Northeast.

"Instead of living a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, he lived a life-style of sexual debauchery, lechery, lying, stealing, and deception," said District Attorney Lynn Abraham.

They would seem hardly the words to describe Franciscan Friar Father Charles Newman. He's a charismatic man, according to his subjects, who spent 13 years as a teacher at Archbishop Ryan, another 9 as principal and later two as the school's president. But a lengthy grand jury investigation uncovered another life Newman was allegedly living.

The district attorney says he led, "A life filled with drugs and alcohol and the sexual abuse of young men."

Newman is accused of paying one of the students he allegedly abused almost $54,000 in hush money - a student who at the time was heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol, he claimed Newman introduced him too. That student, Arthur Baselice who graduated in 1996 filed a lawsuit against Newman.

"What do I think of him? I think he should step up and take responsibility for what he has done to me and if there's others out there," Baselice told Action News. Two years after that interview with Action News in 2004, Baselice died of a drug overdose. D.A. Abraham called it a suicide. Father Newman resigned in 2003 and has been living in a Franciscan retirement home in Wisconsin. This after his lawsuit was tossed out because the statute of limitations had run out. Newman is now living at a Franciscan retirement home in Wisconsin.

Abraham says, "We don't concern ourselves with why he hasn't been defrocked. We are only going to be answerable for the fact that we're charging him criminally for stealing over 900 thousand dollars."

Father Newman remains in police custody at this time.