Sins of the Father

Father Charles Newman, once head of the largest Catholic high school in Philadelphia, sits in jail after stealing nearly a million dollars. But as one family knows, he committed acts of evil far more chilling than that

WHILE THE FAITHFUL and holy gather in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Art Baselice stands outside, bearing witness in his own way. He isn’t interested in prayers for Bishop Joseph Cistone, who is leaving Philadelphia to run a diocese in Michigan. He isn’t hoping to shake hands with the cardinal and all of the archbishops, who have come together on this summer afternoon for Cistone’s farewell benediction.

Surrounded by a handful of priest abuse victims and their advocates, he holds a sandwich-board sign bearing photos of his son, Arthur Baselice III, and two clerics, Brother Regis Howitz and Father Charles Newman. As a pair of clergymen head into the service, Baselice raises up his billboard. They look over for a moment, then move on. “See what I get?” Art says. “There’s a man of God. He turns his head.”

Back home in South Jersey, the ashes of Art Baselice’s son sit in a marble urn, surrounded by trinkets and photographs, as if part of a funeral that never ends. The man Art holds responsible is Father Charles, the former president of Archbishop Ryan, the largest Catholic high school in the city. With his wife and two children, Art would attend Saturday mass, and walk up the aisle to Father Charles, who would place the Holy Eucharist in their outstretched hands or on their tongues. Art is mostly bald now, and stocky, with the meaty hands of a prizefighter. He rarely smiles, and when he speaks, there’s an edge to his words, like he’s spitting them out — partly the South Philadelphia Italian in him, partly the ex-city cop. But his sharp cadence is mostly a reflection of what he can’t stop thinking about. “He started grooming Arthur the day he met him,” Art says of Father Charles. “Not only Arthur. He groomed us.”

That Father Charles was sent to prison in May for stealing more than $900,000 from his religious order and high school gives Art little comfort. In his mind, there are crimes for which the priest, and the Philadelphia archdiocese, haven’t been punished. His son is dead. So is his faith. As Bishop Cistone and his holy brethren worship inside the cathedral, Art tightens his grip on his sign, trying to make sense of how he — the ex-cop, the devout Catholic, the father — ended up here, and when his healing will begin.

This isn’t a story like so many that have surfaced since 2002, when the Boston Globe’s reports on Catholic clergy abuse tore apart that city’s archdiocese. Since then, tales of pedophile priests have been told by the hundreds, as other cities, including Philadelphia, began to examine the church in a way they once dared not. In 2005, a grand jury investigation launched by district attorney Lynne Abraham culminated in a 418-page report. The revelations it contained were horrifying. One priest molested a fifth-grader inside a confessional booth. Another raped an 11-year-old, then took her to a clinic for an abortion. Sixty-three priests were named in all, and the scores of children they violated would grow up battling addiction, suicidal thoughts and mental illness. But there is another group of victims and survivors — the families whose lives were ruined by depraved men cloaked in priests’ vestments.

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  • steven

    My heart goes out to the Baselice Family.
    This creep goes to jail for stealing money from the church, but church has done nothing to seek justice for the murder of Arthur. money+drugs=dead newman supplied the money&drugs = murder
    Shame on you Rigali!

  • Lori

    My deepest thanks to the Baselice Family for telling their son’s story and fighting against the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. The story is maddening, and horribly, one of many. I learned in Catholic School that anyone who gives a poor example to a child should have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the depths of the sea. In my opinion, that would be too lenient a sentence for this poor excuse for a man. Keep fighting, Baselices. You are what is true and good and right and just in this world.

  • Peggy

    I wish one day there will be peace for this family.

  • Dana

    Charles is a demon who stole my friend’s childhood,heart,&soul. He took full advantage of his “holy authority” and destroyed a beautiful family, but he could not take their strength,determination& love.
    This month Arthur will be gone 3yrs…I think how fast it’s gone by,and yet that is the only amount of time Charles will serve for what he has done! What kind of justice is that?
    This is not the end of Arthur’s story. His bravery will NEVER be forgotten!

  • Patricia

    I want to let the Baselice Family know that by telling their story they are helping so many others. Arthur will live forever in our thoughts. You are keeping him alive by sharing his story so he can now help others who are in similar situations. We can trust no one with our kids and must always follow our gut feelings. Thank you for keeping my eyes open.

  • K

    So many betrayals are within this story of heartbreak and loss, yet the betrayals continue. I would ask the priests that walk by Artie holding the picture of Arthur to stop ignoring the pain that presents as bitter accusation. What would Jesus do? He would walk to this family and take full responsibility himself by simply saying “I am so very sorry we have done this to you. We were wrong and entirely at fault. Arthur and your family did nothing wrong. I am so sorry for your pain.” With love pouring forth, Jesus would simply receive whatever accusation came forth before repeating these words. Would he ask for forgiveness? Eventually, on behalf of his brethren, yet only after his love flowed endlessly forth to open the hearts. Can you imagine Jesus averting his eyes or explaining away the actions of these priests? Can the priests who walk by Artie now step into the Divinity of Jesus and look Artie in the eye as say they are so very sorry for everything lost? Can they stand in f

  • vicky

    My heart extends to you on so many levels. I am a survivor also of priest abuse in the philadelphia archdiocese. I feel for you and your son. I am so very sorry for this horrible loss. I do believe that the Devine will shell out true justice for these so called men of God.

  • Lou

    It is hard to believe that someone supposed to guide “the flock” can be such a scum. What is worse is that church leaders, who are supposed to follow Christ can hide behind old paternalistic ideas and not admit the tragedy they helped foster. They should step out from behind the ropes and admit the wrongs that continue to perpetrate. Artie and Elaine know they have my support and friendship. They should have gotten that same consideration from their church

  • Jo Anne

    I pray that Charles Newman is punished for the crime that he has committed. He has taken a family that has been so spirtual and believed in the church in which they prayed and the church his his awful crimes and left a family devostated. I hope they find peace, we will continue to keep the family in our prayers…..The article made me sick to my stomach….Just knowing the dispicable and awful things that this sick man did is inexcusible…
    I pray that trhis family will heal and find peace.
    Jo Anne

  • Anonymous

    Another example of how evil disguises itself as good.

  • Megan

    I was a student at Archbishop Ryan High School when Father Charles was the principle and teacher. My older brother was in Arthur’s class at school and I am ashamed that Father Charles was ever associated with our school. The Baselice family is in my thoughts during this terrible time of their lives.

  • Blythe

    My deepest sympathies to the Baselice family. This monster will get his, someday. I was born and raised Catholic and am deeply ashamed that my Church would not have the courage to take responsibility for these monsters out there, robbing children and their families of their souls. Instead, they just move these monsters around the country, essentially putting even more children at risk. Cardinal Rigali, the Archdiocese and The Vatican need to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! The sad part is that it my be a case of pedophiles protecting other pedophiles. I no longer associate myself with this hypocritical, disgusting corporation known as the Catholic Church. May Newman rot in hell, and all others like him. RIP Arthur.

  • Noelle

    For all those who might not know me, My Name is Noelle and I am the mother of Arts only child! It is and was my job to have “our only son”.Art was my only world till our son came along!We made the greatist gift, our son, the only thing I have left of Art!I treasure him everyday!Art only wanted the best for us, both of us!He kept all this a secret so he could protect us and I really hate the God DAMN BASTARD for tearing my family apart!He wanted all of us together and MY only regret is that I didn’t know what he went through sooner!At one time it was Me&Art aganist the world! Those were his words, He said Noelle I Love you thank You for loving me!Did’nt realize what that meant till now he just wanted me to love him w/out ant conditions& no motive involved, just LOVE HIM! I did, I do still..want him back so much so I can tell him that,I alway’s will Love him and I am so thankful for”OUR BOY”He’s not here to help me w/ any decision and anything for our son I have to make these for both of

  • Noelle

    us! You took away everything the day Art died! Nov 30 2006 I will never forget! Hope You can live w/ that YOU F***ING SON OF A-BITCH! You totally destroyed MY FAMILY!!!!YOU BETTER BURN or else I have lost all faith……………..

  • Noelle

    I REALLY HATE THIS MAN! He ruined all our lives! He makes me so sick!!!!!!!!!!!Hope You never rest in Hell………….You don’t even deserve that!!

  • Joan
  • joan

    I hope Cardinal Bevilaqua receives this months copy of Philly mag at his condo in Florida. He along with Krol allowed this to continue for years. In my parish, a priest molested young boys at a parish run camp. This monster was transferred time after time. I hope to God this family finds some peace.

  • Kaki

    The whirlwind of destruction in Philadelphia began with His Emminence John Cardinal Krol, the bishops were his soldiers and the priests his torture chambers. All these acts under the name of God. Martyrs, I believe any one who has been or continues to be sexually abused by clergy are true Martyrs. These children suffered and some still suffer at the hands of their spiritual leaders. None of these children would have been sexually abused by priests if they were not following their faith and trying to be good Catholics. They were taught to believe in their religion and to not question the spiritual leaders who were to guide them in the direction of Christianity and Spirituality. Instead these priests raped them not only physically but emotionally, Cardinal Krol and his bishops and priests stole their souls from them.
    Arthur Baselice, Jr. is a true martyr in heaven. His family will never heal, and they will never stop fighting for what is right. We need to join them and speak

  • Kaki

    Arthur Baselice, Jr. is a true martyr in heaven. His family will never heal,
    and they will never stop fighting for what is right. We need to join
    them and speak out to our Legislaters to change the Statue of
    Limitations on sexual abuse. They only way to protect our children is
    to fight for them together, to demand the law be changed. Megan’s Law
    does not apply to priests, think about that for a minute. Who is moving
    in the neighborhood? Accused priest are permitted to live in society
    without question.
    Kaki Reilly

  • Victoria

    When, as a little girl, I was being sexually victimized by a Catholic Priest, I used to watch him steal from the Sunday collection basket. And as he stuffed the bills into his pocket, he would speak under his breath about how “Cheap those people” were. I am just amazed that Catholics should be so shocked about priests stealing, when they are so cavalier about priests raping children.

  • steven

    I am a victim of sexual abuse by several priest here in Philadelphia, So I understand how Arthur felt, But let me tell you he help save my life. There is a day that I don’t think about him or his parents. Some days are very tearful and other days I am out to make things right.Just as Jesus carried the cross, Arthur has carried me.
    Mr.& Mrs. B Thank you for all the love and support you have shown to me through my tears I can see the rainbow that surrounds Arthur.
    Thank You so much

  • Greg

    Until Cardinal Rigali and his minions stop turning their heads away, this abuse will go on. They continue to indulge themselves and make it all about them. It isn’t. It’s about the survivors and the victims.

  • Dominic

    It is almost impossible to believe, that bishops and priests can continue to remain silent after what they have done to screw up the Catholic church. Their vows of obedience and silence to protect each other at the expense of God’s children is unforgivable. Maybe, Dec 1st., will be the stroke of lightning that will expose tem.

  • al

    this is ridiculous. my heart goes out to all of the families affected here. although money can never allow all of these families to heal, i’d like to know where the archideose is spending their money? the truth is they just forked over $50,000 to the Archideose of Portland (to contribute to protect the “traditional” marriage acts in Maine). Disgusting, yet typical of Catholicism. they money should have gone to families who have had their lives ripped apart by the catholic church of phila.

  • Lorraine

    I cannot express in words the pain I feel for you and your family. You keep fighting,people my tell you to stop but this is your beloved son.

  • Rich

    I often wonder how many victims of clergy abuse have taken their own lives, overdosed on drugs, or died of liver disease from chronic alcohol abuse. As a victim of clergy abuse, I can relate to the guilt associated with my own victimization, often searching for an answer in the bottom of too many empty bottles. Instead of reaching out, the Catholic Church abandones us to this cold dark place I call agony, shame, and eternal loneliness. The emptiness I feel is the highlight of my life, and what the abuse took away is far more significant than what it’s left behind.
    I became forver changed after the abuse I endured as a child. Instead of the abusive priest being punished for abusing me (and others), we are the ones suffering the verdict of self-guilt.

  • Rich

    In order for there to change in the Catholic Church, the parishoners must change first. Please, please demand change. There are too many Arthur Baselice’s roaming the streets of Heaven. There are too many victims living Hell on Earth!

    Please consider your own children and how you might feel if they were abused? Please save them before they become like me and so many others.

    One child abuse victim is a tragedy.
    Two abuse victims is a problem.
    Three is a crisis.
    And yet, there are thousands, upon thousands of victims.

  • Anonymous

    Watching the news today I was complety shocked! How dare the pope to announce that he’s considering to allow priest to marry!There are more important issues to be dealth with first, like all the lost victims out there does he really care about thier souls? Someone needs to tell him a pedophile is a pedophile married or single, & letting the priest marry is not going to stop the problems the church already faces. Never been so let down as I have with my catholic upbringing. Needless to say these days I only beleive in God all these people who claim to represent him are wolves in sheeps clothing & I lost all my trust & faith!

  • Lisa

    Franciscan priests are a poor example of the Catholic faith. “Brother” Regis and “Brother” Charles are everyday pedophiles who seek the Catholic faith to hide their perversions. My husband went to Ryan in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. “Brother” Regis had a praticular fondness for young boys even then. He actually hand painted a 4 foot beer stein and delivered to my husbands home after he graduated. Somebody needs to heavily scrutinize these monsters before they are allowed to educate our children religiously or otherwise. Hopefully parents of today’s perverted society are not so naive to believe that people even within their own churches are not above molesting their kids. The first line of defense is at home. It is never wrong to question anyone when it comes to the safety of your kids.

  • Anonymous

    Not only are the Franciscan priest a poor example of the Catholic church, but so are the Roman Cath. priest. Sounds like the last person to comment is picking up for all others except the Franciscans. No matter what order these men choose, they all claim to represent god, when in reality thier nothing more than soul seekers praying on the innocent children. My heart goes out to the Baselice family for thier horrific lost, & all the unknown victims trying to survive the demonds that they live with every day of thier lives.

  • Bob

    I didn’t have the honor of knowing Art, but have come to know his story through his father. My heart breaks for their loss, and I hope Art’s death is not in vain.
    The church representatives need to take responsibility for permitting the devastation they promoted by allowing it to continue.

  • Anonymous

    You have hidden these priests, transferred them to rape and sodimize again and again!! They should have been arrested instead they were transferred to another parish over and over again. If there are any so-called good priests why aren’t they standing up for the children instead of remaining silent!! Shame on you!! Readers check the website and see how many priests have abused children, you will be shocked! This must stop or your child might be next!!

  • Anonymous

    Today is “Thanksgiving Day”. Lets see who we should give thanks to. Mybe we should be thankfull to the two so-called priest who abused our son or the pope for sweeping these devils under thier robes, or the arch. of Phila.for telling us they couldn’t help us because they were Francicans & not Roman Cath. priest. I’ll bet all these people who had something to do with my son’s death are all going to sit down with family today to enjoy a wonderful holiday feast. Maybe they would like to know what my family going to do today? Not celebrate thanksgiving for there’s nothing to be thankfull for. Instead I’ll make sure the candles are lit at my son’s urn never to go out, as our love for him will never deminish or fade.I don’t beleive for one minute that any of these people will even think of my son or our family today. None of them will ever know the pain ever. My wish for all those who ever doubt my son’s story from the arch. office to the pope may at one time this horrific abuse affect one

  • Anonymous

    of thier love one’s, & maybe then they”ll all know what “true heart break” feels like! May god have murcy on thier souls.

  • Anonymous

    There will be no real justice for the victims of sexual abuse by priests, bishops, nuns or seminarians until there is the accountability, transparency that was promised in 2002 at the USCCB’s conference. If the bishops of the United States, Ireland, Canada, Australia, etc., were more responsible they would be advocating for better laws to protect all God’s children. They are not and they have not done so.

    They need to be brought before the bar of world justice – the UN for the horrific violations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to which the Holy See is a signatory.

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Victims’ Advocate
    New Castle, Delaware

  • Anonymous

    It is astonishing at the lack of “OUTRAGE” shown by the public in general and the ‘pew catholics’ who attend church and donate to orginazation that engaged in the ‘SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN’ by ‘UNFAIRLY’ using their status , authority and supposed relations with “GOD” to accomplish this abuse. It is also remarkable given the “PHILADELPHIA GRAND JURY REPORT” that the “PA LEGISLATURE” has failed to take much needed action to adress this conduct, has anyone of the “PERPS” named in the GJR been held accountable? Rigali and his PR& LOBBYIST firm will continue to offer there ‘sorrow’ (TAX EXEMPT OF COURSE). I guess as long as it is ‘SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD’ this is acceptable behavior. It is time to provide an opportunity for the ‘VICTIMS’ to come forward and expose what the church knew and what it failed to do, I hope the legislatures in Harrisburg read this article !

  • chris

    As a graduate of Ryan, I can say unequivocally that most of the kids at that school knew there was something wrong with Newman…I would love to smack the silly ass smile right off his face. The surprising thing is that the other total wack job friar who hung himself while masturbating in the friary, Dave , didn’t set off some alarms at the Archdiocese office….? How sad it is that I end up winning the argument with my parertns about Catholic education.
    I would love to meet the Baselice family and offer them the love, support, and honesty they deserve…

  • Trish

    People wonder why the numbers are dropping in church and cathlic schools–this is a perfect example. This family deserves justice. I went to Ryan and knew both Priests, especially Regis. It makes me sick, I don’t trust any priests, thanks alot Father Charles & Regis!

  • Bella

    A horrible experience for Arthur Baselice and Family. And, I will pray for a family healing for them. Can we talk about the real issue here? These are perverted men who saw a ‘position’ where they would be trusted. As pedophiles do,they take their time. They ‘groom’ their vicitms and their families. So they figured , ‘It would be so easy’ to go into the seminary, put on that they were called to do God’s work and took their time to get what they wanted. Unlike the good men who entered the priesthood that were called by God. Pedophiles are sickly, patient individuals who will ‘groom’ and wait to get what they want. They are experts at fooling us and how easy it must have been for them to ‘play’ the part of a new seminarian. They are not priests, teachers, policemen, coaches, etc, they’re pedophiles. They’re individuals that are consumed with gross kinky sex. The guy in the article led a despicable life and took the life/soul of a wonderful young man. People wake up! Don’t you see it? Se

  • Anonymous

    I spent more than 10 years teaching at Archbishop Ryan and this article does not even scratch the surface of the depravity that these Franciscans participated in. The friary was like something out of Dante. I’m not talking about just pedophiles but also drunks, theives,idiots and sadists. Someday maybe I’ll write a book but people would mistake it for science fiction.

  • Michele

    I think they should burn the friary to the ground out of respect for all the victims that suffered in that awful place. I know when I drive by it, it disgusts me. I can’t imagine how it must make the victims and their families feel.

  • Patrick

    I am so sorry for your loss, Mr Baslice. Join others to fight against the Catholic church. If I can help from Boston, let me know at 617-PATRICK.

  • Patrick

    I don’t understand how a congregation of Catholics can read this and not do anything to overthrow the church.