Giuliani Pressured To Drop Clergy Pal

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani speaks to members of the Republican Party of Virginia in Vienna, Va. ,Monday, Feb. 26, 2007. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
The ties between Rudy Giuliani and Msgr. Alan Placa are both personal and professional. They have been friends since high school, and Placa works for the GOP presidential candidate's security consulting business.

But Giuliani now faces pressure to fire his longtime friend. Advocates for victims of priest sexual abuse called on the former New York City mayor Friday to ax Placa, who was suspended from the clergy amid allegations he abused children and helped cover up others' offenses.

A spokeswoman for Giuliani said the firm had no plans to fire Placa.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement there was "ample evidence showing that Placa consistently protected predators, shrewdly deceived victims, and covered up horrific clergy sex crimes." SNAP also contends that Placa abused children.

Placa has defended himself for years over allegations in a 2003 Suffolk County grand jury report that detailed decades-old abuses by priests in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. None of the priests were ever prosecuted or even identified by name because statutes of limitations had expired long before the district attorney's investigation.

Days after the release of the report, Placa acknowledged in an interview with The New York Times that he was implicated in the grand jury report, but he denied that he had ever abused children.

Placa was not available to comment Friday, said Giuliani Partners spokeswoman Sunny Mindel. She said Giuliani was standing by his childhood friend.

"The former mayor believes that Alan Placa has been unjustly accused," she said.

Placa was suspended from his duties as a priest in June 2002 after abuse allegations surfaced. A lawyer, he currently works as a consultant for Giuliani's firm.

SNAP called for Giuliani to fire Placa following the publication Friday of a Salon profile of the cleric. In the story, the online magazine quotes Richard Tollner, who testified before the Suffolk County grand jury and claimed he had been abused by Placa. Tollner told the magazine Placa molested him and at least two others, but school authorities did nothing when they were told about it.

"I told another priest while I was on a retreat, and he said he would explore it, and he never did," Tollner said.

Placa and Giuliani have been friends since their days together at Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn. After he was suspended, Placa received special permission to officiate at the funeral of the former mayor's mother, Helen, in 2002. He also baptized both of Giuliani's children.