A Boston-area Catholic woman is accusing a social justice group of ignoring her warnings that a former employee, who is now jailed under prostitution-related charges, was a danger to women. She also claims that she was threatened with a lawsuit if she made her accusations public, an allegation the group denies.
Carol McKinley, a Boston-area mother and national pro-life activist, told CNA in a phone interview that she first contacted Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) during the first week of February, 2007 to warn them about harassing behavior by Eric McFadden.
McFadden, who was arrested January 14, 2009 on seven charges related to promoting prostitution, was in the midst of leaving CACG when McKinley first called to report the harassment.
Alexia Kelley, the Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, told CNA in an email that “Carol McKinley sent correspondence to our offices on February 5, 2007. By that date, Eric McFadden had already submitted his resignation. His last day as an employee with Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good was February 9, 2007.”
When CNA asked Kelley if McFadden exhibited any strange behavior that led to his resignation, she replied, “No he did not.”
According to McKinley, when she spoke with Kelley, she informed her of intimidating messages allegedly left by McFadden on her blog as well as emails sent from his personal email account.
There is no doubt in her mind, says McKinley, that the comments were left by McFadden because she would receive comments on her blog, and then on the same day, emails containing identical comments from McFadden’s personal email account.
Using tracking software on her website, McKinley was able to determine that she was receiving visits from the same IP address in Dublin, Ohio “nearly every five minutes.” On one particular day, she registered 82 visits from the Dublin address.
A copy of the email Carol McKinley sent to Kelley on February 5, 2007 detailed some of McFadden’s alleged rants and was obtained by CNA.
McFadden reportedly commented:
“Carol an other whack jobs come nowhere close to the message of love of Pope John Paul II. Do not soil his name by associating him with the heretic whack jobs. There is nothing Democratic here. It is the Republican Party that twists the life issue to fit its own sick agenda that is not in line with Church teaching. People like the witch Carol who aligned themselves with the Republican party have placed themselves in a state of excommunication and will be dealt with by Cannon law.”
“A law suit according to Cannon law has been filed. The heretic McKinley will be brought before the witches council for trial before the next full moon.”
Other messages, according to McKinley, accused her of being a “practicing lesbian” who donated to gay and lesbian groups and was not in accord with the Church’s teaching.
McKinley explained to CNA that, “I was extremely concerned that McFadden was victimizing other people, that his tone to me included strange sexual nuances and bizarre commentary that were the utterings of a very unbalanced man.”
However, McKinley claims that when she contacted Kelley, instead of addressing her concerns, Kelley retorted that Eric McFadden no longer worked for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and that if she made her allegations against McFadden public, she would be served with a lawsuit.
Kelley remembers the situation differently, saying she was alarmed to hear McKinley’s allegations, but that when she attempted to verify McKinley’s claims, she was unable to do so.
The Catholics in Alliance director also denied that anyone at her organization threatened to sue McKinley. “We said that we would refer the matter to our lawyer, one of whom she had already written on 2/5/07. We never threatened a lawsuit; and never said anything about her going public or not.”
Kelley also adds that, “at no time” did anyone associated with CACG “instruct Mr. McFadden to communicate with Ms. McKinley in any way” and that they “would never condone such actions.”
“In any event, it is extremely unfortunate that such vitriolic exchanges took place. As Catholics committed to promoting the common good, we emphasize the need for individuals to debate their differences with civility and respect,” Kelley said.
McKinley remains adamant that her phone conversation with Kelley transpired differently.
“If McFadden tendered his resignation prior to February 5th, why would she take a complaint on February 5th against a former employee? Typically, employers will say ‘so and so is no longer an employee.’ I stand by my testimony. Alexia was rude to me, said Eric did a great job for them, that I was trying to destroy the reputation of a ‘good man’ and that I should brace myself for litigation if I pursued these allegations,” she said.
“I stand by my testimony. CACG protected and enabled Mr. McFadden and threatened the complainant. Laity needs to be held to the same standard as we hold priests and Bishops,” McKinley affirmed to CNA in an email.
Chris Korzen, Executive Director of Catholics United, was also a part of the conversation with McKinley, since he was the Director of Communications for CACG at the time.
Mrs. McKinley, who is employed as a legal assistant, claimed that Korzen would not give her an email address or a physical address for CACG's corporate lawyer so that she could notify the lawyer of the danger posed by McFadden.
CNA contacted Korzen on Monday, but he said that he did not have any information that would be useful and would not speak on record about the allegations.
During the course of her correspondence with Korzen, McKinley said that she had explained how in the summer of 2006 she contacted the police department in Columbus, Ohio because she was afraid McFadden’s words would turn into physical retaliation.
The Columbus police, McKinley said, told her that she would have to deal with McFadden locally by taking out a restraining order against him at the Boston Police Department. McKinley did not file a restraining order, reasoning that since she believed McFadden to be “criminally insane,” and that it would only make him “all the more dangerous.”
As far as Catholics in Alliance is concerned, the allegations against McFadden were out of their court once McKinley called the police. Kelley explained to CNA in an email that, “we deferred to them as law enforcement authorities to conduct an investigation. However, Catholics in Alliance was never contacted by them.”
Following his stint at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Eric McFadden was hired by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland to head up his Office for Faith Based Initiatives.
Meanwhile, McKinley continued to receive harassing messages, leading her to email Strickland's office on October 10, 2007.
A little more than two weeks after McKinley made contact with the governor’s legal counsel Christine Thompson, McFadden had his pay cut and was transferred to the corrections department on Oct. 28, 2007, where he coordinated volunteer and outreach efforts for the prison system's faith-based services. McFadden held that position until March 2008 when his position was eliminated as a part of budget cuts.
Keith Dailey, Gov. Strickland’s spokesman, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that McFadden’s departure from the position was due to his struggle with the job. "This was a leadership position and after some time it became clear it wasn't a good fit and it wasn't working out." "It was a mutually agreed decision," Dailey said.
McKinley explains her motivation for trying to expose McFadden’s past actions is not personal payback for the continual harassment she and her children endured. “I want these organizations to be held accountable for covering up McFadden’s behavior,” she said, charging that his previous employers are acting like some Catholic bishops did when priests were accused of sexual abuse.