No Trouble Here, Diocese Says; Full Speed Ahead for Stony Point Mall; For Third Year, Pounds Avoid Fines; Dresses Come Out for Wedding Party; Sculptor Remakes Richmond in Leather
No priest currently serving in
the diocese, which covers three-fifths of the state, has any
confirmed incidents of sexual misconduct with minors in his
past, says Father Pasquale J. Apuzzo, director of
communications for the diocese and secretary to the bishop.
It's not just by chance that Richmond has avoided the
fate of diocesees in Boston, New Hampshire, Maine and
Pennsylvania, all of which have divulged pedophilia cases in
recent days, Apuzzo says. Unlike the Archdiocese of Boston,
which kept accusations quiet for 40 years before they came to
light, he says, "we've been addressing this issue publicly for
a long, long time."
The diocese's first written policy
on conduct by employees working with children was authored in
1988, Apuzzo says, and a detailed policy on sexual abuse of
minors followed in 1993.
"We let our people know we
want to know if our priest is involved in anything like this,"
Apuzzo says. The policy on the "Response to Claims of Sexual
Abuse of Minors," which was last revised in 1998, states that
"any cleric, employee or volunteer serving the Diocese who
receives such an allegation [of sexual abuse of a minor] or
has reason to suspect that abuse has occurred must report it
to the Bishop unless the matter is protected by the
The regulations are not
meant to relieve people of reporting such instances to the
authorities, it states. The policy of the Boston archdiocese,
on the other hand, which was also written in 1993, allowed
church leaders to deal with abuse allegations internally.
The last time it was revealed publicly that a priest
in the Richmond Diocese had sexually molested minors was eight
years ago, after a priest committed suicide. Father John R.
Hesch, 37, shot himself on June 5, 1994, shortly after Bishop
Walter F. Sullivan confronted Hesch about allegations that
he'd abused young boys and told him to get treatment.
The meeting followed a family's claim that Hesch's
molestation of their son in the mid-1980s had contributed to
the 21-year-old's suicide in April 1994. After Hesch's
suicide, several other young men who had been touched or
kissed by Hesch came forward.
Apuzzo says he does not
know how many times in the past allegations of sexual abuse
have been proven against priests. But, he says, since 1994
"there are none that have been brought to our attention."
Because of the church's policy of openness, he says, few
parishioners have called with worries after the recent
revelations elsewhere. "Perhaps we're more concerned about it
than they are," he says. Melissa Scott Sinclair
Full Speed Ahead for Stony Point Mall
With the first shovel biting ground on-site last
Thursday, city officials say last-minute questions about
environmental issues and financing of the Stony Point Fashion
Park mall are now irrelevant.
One potential roadblock
to the mall project proved to be short-lived. In early
February, an environmental-impact report arrived in city
offices, claiming the city's investigators had missed three
sensitive wetlands zones in mapping out the mall site. But
after scientists reinvestigated, the report proved to be
wrong, says Scott Crafton, the acting executive director of
the state Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department.
"I guess we would say politely that we disagree with
their findings," Crafton says of the report produced by
Raleigh, N.C.-based firm Landis Inc. Crafton says that in his
experience the city has been responsible about environmental
regulations. "There's a lot of eyes on them," he says of the
people behind the massive project.
As for doubts that
mall tax revenues will refund Richmond's $13.5 million
investment, city officials dismiss them. Originally, council
members had requested a letter of credit from developer
Taubman Centers Inc., to be delivered as soon as the city
forked over its contribution. The letter is a legal guarantee
that would allow the city to claim from Taubman's bank the
amount of any shortfall on its investment, plus interest.
However, the deal negotiated by City Manager Calvin
Jamison provided for the letter to be issued only if needed,
after five years had elapsed. Getting the letter ahead of time
would have been an unnecessary precaution, he says "this is
probably the best deal the city has put together for quite
Council members likewise say they have no
qualms about the success of the Stony Point center, which is
scheduled to open on Sept. 18, 2003. "I don't believe there's
any question in anybody's mind that it will do well," says
Councilman Manoli Loupassi.
Loupassi adds that if the
$120 million mall goes under, with all the money and years of
research that Taubman has invested in it, "we're gonna be in a
lot worse shape than out 13 million bucks."
officials also say they're not worried about Stony Point's
predicted competition with the Short Pump Town Center, a
similar mall under construction just west of Richmond (despite
a lawsuit from Taubman regarding its financing practices) and
also scheduled to open in September 2003.
Is there a
race to open first? "Oh no, it won't have any effect on when
we open," says Thomas E. Pruitt, a partner in Short Pump Town
Center. "Well, naturally, we won't pick September 18."
Melissa Scott Sinclair
For Third Year,
Pounds Avoid Fines
Jeanne Bridgforth may have
received a commendation from Richmond City Council last week
for her work on animal-welfare issues, but two days later the
General Assembly shot her down.
president of Save Our Shelters, the Richmond-based humane
society that fights to clean up animal shelters and pounds.
S.O.S. helped turn around dire conditions in the Richmond
pound several years ago.
The efforts led to a task
force, established by the General Assembly, that sought to
improve pounds across the state. Bridgforth was a member,
along with such groups as the state veterinarian's office,
animal-control officials and the Virginia League of Cities.
One of the biggest problems, the task force found, was
that there was no consistent inspection and enforcement
authority to monitor pounds. Inspectors, Bridgforth says,
"were only visiting them on a complaint-driven basis."
In 1999, the office of the state veterinarian set a
goal for inspectors to visit each pound twice a year.
Problem solved? Not quite. Even if inspections are
done properly and Bridgforth maintains they're not it
seems that pounds not in compliance with the state's
animal-welfare laws face no punishment. No fines. Nothing.
The reason? The General Assembly keeps delaying the
imposition of fines for noncompliance.
"Unless you put
some consequences out there," says a frustrated Bridgforth,
"education is not enough."
Last week, the Assembly
passed legislation that postponed the fines for a year. That's
what happened last year, too. And the year before that.
Bridgforth says that the "excuse" this year was the
poor economy the pounds apparently can't afford to fix
problems. "Well I'm sorry," she says, "but when is financial
hardship ever an excuse for breaking the law?"
S.O.S. is pressing on. It recently released its annual review
of state veterinarian inspection reports on the condition of
pounds in Virginia. Bridgforth says the Richmond pound is
doing extremely well. And, she says, pointing to newspaper
clippings, awareness is increasing in cities and counties
across the state. "It's a national problem," she says. "We're
not sleeping." Jason Roop
Dresses Come Out
for Wedding Party
If you've ever been a
bridesmaid, chances are there's a not-so-stylish dress in the
attic that cost you more than it should have. And how often do
these expensive costumes ever get worn again? Most likely
Or maybe Friday.
Thank Alissa Poole and
the board of directors for the Association for the Support of
Children with Cancer (ASK). Their "Wedding Party," set for
Friday at the Jefferson Hotel, aims to give the dresses new
life for a good cause.
"Everybody knows you can't wear
bridesmaid's dresses again no matter how nice they are," Poole
ASK was started at the Medical College of
Virginia in 1975 to provide emotional and financial support to
the children with cancer and their families in Central
Virginia. The nonprofit throws parties for the kids, runs
support groups and even supports some salaried positions at
ASK hopes to introduce itself to a new age group
by attracting a younger audience to the Friday fund-raisers
and not just former bridesmaids. Poole expects to see some
fancy ruffled tuxedo shirts and maybe even a couple of wedding
Clarissa Clarke, another ASK board member,
says she's happy to get another wearing out of one of her many
bridesmaid dresses. "I've got a closet full of them," she
says. "All of them added up; I've probably spent over $600."
Tickets are $50 and include food, drinks, music by
Johnny Hott's Piedmont Souprize and prizes in such categories
as "biggest butt bow," "tackiest tuxedo" and "garter
"This is an event where you don't have to
care what you look like," says Poole, who plans to wear a navy
bridesmaid's dress with a matching straw hat "the uglier and
tackier the better!" Carrie Nieman
Sculptor Remakes Richmond in Leather
"Have you ever been to the Carillon?" asks Paul
Beverly. "This'll knock your lights out." And behold: From a
cardboard box in the trunk of his Camry, he pulls an intricate
scale model of the Byrd Park landmark, crafted in leather down
to the bell ringer and every last brick.
story is even more remarkable than his art. Born in Richmond
in 1952, at age 12 he suffered severe head injuries in a car
crash that submerged him in a two-week coma and led doctors to
perform a partial lobotomy.
The effects on his brain
are permanent. Beverly's speech is rapid and eloquent, his
sense of humor wicked, but his memory's impaired, he says, and
his sense of smell is entirely gone. But after the accident,
he also became aware of a rare talent creating intricate
models out of leather.
Now, after decades of waiting,
his work will be in the spotlight at last. Commissioned by the
Richmond chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, he
has created 31 intricately crafted replicas of Richmond
monuments as the centerpieces for the society's black-tie gala
on March 9.
There's a phrase Beverly uses repeatedly
to describe the most difficult parts of each piece: "This was
'how do I do it?'" he says of the dome of the Virginia Science
Museum, the Ionic columns on the State Capitol, the graceful
curve of the steps of the Carillon. It's the same question any
observer is tempted to ask. How does he do it?
Beverly says. He draws the building on paper, guided by
photographs, and then uses the sketch as a pattern to cut the
leather. A grinder angles the edges so Beverly can fit them
together precisely and glue them. Beverly then adds such
details as brickwork and trim.
"He has the most
incredible imagination," says his partner, Sandy Dyche, who
paints the completed buildings.
Charles Baker works at Beverly Hills Jewelers, where a few of
Beverly's pieces are displayed this week. Customers are "very
fascinated with the stuff," he says. Without touching them, no
one can guess the models are leather.
Beverly and his
supporters hope the society's gala and auction (for which
tickets are still available) will bring him recognition, but
money isn't the point, he says. "The problem is, I don't want
to be out selling. I just want to make this stuff."
Melissa Scott Sinclair