Levada's Secret

As he prepares to be deposed in San Francisco next week, former S.F. Archbishop William Levada may have to come clean about a priestly child molester he protected in Portland.

During the conversation, a transcript of which was obtained by SF Weekly, Baccellieri said that Levada was "extremely compassionate" in allowing him to resume priestly duties with the proviso that he couldn't be around children and couldn't counsel adults or children, restrictions that he said were sometimes awkward.

He told his alleged victim, who is now in his 40s and lives in the Bay Area, that he had been helped by a sex addicts support group whose meetings he said he had attended continuously since 1992. Baccellieri referred to his time as a priest after Levada reinstated him as "the best years of my life, because I was sober."

Parishioners where he served after Levada reinstated him were never made aware of the sex allegations against him, although fellow priests with whom he lived did know and were "under seal" not to disclose it, Baccellieri said.

Apparently, it was a secret well kept.

In 1995, a warm and fuzzy feature article in the Oregonian, Portland's daily newspaper, extolled Baccellieri's talents as an accordionist -- including his once having formed a dance band with some former students called the Gemtones -- without any hint of the trouble he had been in.

At the time, Baccellieri was playing the instrument at fairs and festivals. He had become known by his stage name: the Swinging Priest.

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