More accusations against former Minturn priest
ASPEN ” A former priest who is being investigated over allegations that he molested minors in various Colorado parishes has been accused of molesting at least one boy in Aspen.
That alter boy, who is an adult working in Aspen today and asked not to be identified, alleged the Rev. Harold Robert White came to his house one day while working as pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church in Aspen and “inappropriate behavior” took place.
“I’d rather leave the details out of it,” said the man, who was in his late teens at the time the incident took place.
The victim, who still is a Catholic, said he told his parents immediately and that his parents talked with other parishioners about the matter then contacted the Denver Archdiocese to report the incident.
“He was gone within the week,” the man said of White. “I never saw him again. For me, it’s never been a big deal. I’m not going to sue the church for millions.”
He said he has not suffered the kind of mental trauma reported by other alleged victims of such incidents and that he has never undergone counseling about it.
White, who served as a priest for about three decades, was in Aspen from 1978 to 1981, according to a timeline published in The Denver Post last week.
When told that White came to Aspen from a church in Minturn, and that his behavior there being investigated, the Aspen man said, “The thing that bothers me the most is … was he moved out of Minturn because of this?”
Still, he said, he believes the church as an organization is working on the problem of priest misconduct and is “straightening it out.”
The Archdiocese, contacted several times by The Aspen Times, refused to comment on whether complaints had ever been lodged against White during his time here, or on any other aspect of the investigation against the former pastor.
Two recent articles in The Denver Post detailed accusations against White by former parishioners from such diverse Colorado parishes as Minturn, Sterling and Colorado Springs.
The accusations came from adult men who accuse White of fondling them when they were boys attending churches where he was either assistant pastor or pastor. He has worked in parishes in eastern Colorado, Colorado Springs and Minturn, according to the Post.
One man, Brandon Trask ” he grew up under the name of Jesse Gonzales but changed it a few years ago ” said that while he was a boy in Minturn, White lived across the street. One day, he said, White invited Trask to go to the hot springs pool in Glenwood Springs.
According to Trask, he expected it to be a group outing but it turned out to be “just the two of us.”
At the pool, while the two were in the water, Trask told a reporter, White allegedly reached into his swimming trunks and fondled him. When Trask struggled to get away, according to the story, White held him close.
When contacted at the Denver assisted living complex where he now lives, White reportedly denied knowing Trask or recalling anything about the incident.
White reportedly worked at 11 parishes over the course of 33 years with the church, according to the article. He was a priest until 1993, when he was “reduced to laity” by an order from the Vatican, meaning he was forced out of the priesthood, according to the Post.
Trask, who told the Post he had been traumatized by the experience and was only now able to talk about it with others, has submitted his allegations to the Denver Archdiocese for investigation.
The Denver Post reported that seven other men in various parishes around the state have come forward with similar tales of molestation by White following publication of the story about Trask. The men all are in their late 40s or 50s, according to the reports.
The Post also reported that the Denver Archdiocese was told “at least three times” of similar allegations against White, starting in the 1960s.
Once such report was confirmed by the Rev. James E. Kane, White’s supervisor when he was assistant pastor at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. Kane said a family came to him to complain that their son had been molested by White in the “middle to late 1960s.”
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