It now appears that justice will come at last to Barbara Samide, the Catholic school principal who got the bum's rush from the Brooklyn Diocese when she reported that the pastor at St. Elizabeth's Parish Church School in Ozone Park was misusing parish funds.
A judge has ordered the diocese to pay Samide $50,000 in the first phase of her civil suit. That may well be just the beginning. Samide's attorney is looking for $5 million in damages and the principal has a strong case. The conduct of the Diocese bureaucrats has been outrageous. For reasons that have never been clear, the church officials took the side of disgraced priest and punished the whistleblower.
Rev. John Thompson pleaded guilty on Oct. 29 to stealing $95,940 in parish funds. According to the district attorney, Thompson used the money to purchase an Infiniti car lease, trips with a gay lover to Mexico and Florida and other personal expenses.
The diocese continued to support the purloining prelate while putting the popular principal on leave without pay. Even to this day, the diocese is unwilling to take responsibility for its actions. (Doesn't this sound familiar?) A spokesman for the diocese said its lawyers are considering an appeal of the judges decision.
Shame on Thompson and shame on the people who punished the whistleblower. The diocese's failure to do the right thing may well wind up costing millions of dollars that could have been used to hire teachers and make improvements in the parochial schools.
More seriously, the diocese has shown that it has one standard for the behavior of priests and quite another for the behavior of the laity. It's time to tell the lawyers to take a powder and for the diocese to do the right thing. Better late than never.
©2003 Community News Group
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