In summer 2019, Father Eduard Perrone, 71, parish-priest at Detroit Assumption Grotto Parish, was accused of having “molested” an altar boy, decades earlier, and was suspended.
Perrone’s accuser suffers from mental health issues. He changed his story multiple times saying first that he was “raped” and claiming later that there was “groping” and “fondling” only.
Two weeks later, a recovering drug addict, who did time in prison for theft, presented himself as another “former altar boy” of Perrone, accusing him of having “touched his genitalia.”
Perrone denied both allegations and passed two polygraph tests. He also denied knowing his second accuser.
His parish stands behind him. Twenty Assumption Grotto parishioners are now suing Detroite archdiocese for $20 million for causing them “emotional distress” by taking away their priest.
The parish has a daily Traditional Latin Masses, including on Sundays and holidays.
Perrone’s lawyer, Christopher A. Kolomjec, a parishioner, states in the lawsuit that Church officials manipulated the accuser into saying something salacious.
Interview transcripts, received by Detroit Free Press, show that this is true:
“You have to describe the act," an Archdiocesan detective told the accuser four days before Perrone's removal, “It has to be penis. It has to be hand. It has to be body parts, and you have to tell us that Eduard Perrone did this. That’s it. … And we’re going to be on our way to peace.”
Perrone’s accuser claimed that during a camping trip, he, Perrone (then 29), and another altar boy "slept in a very small tent, causing them to touch."
The other altar boy was James Fortenberry, then 17, a Huntsville/Alabama nurse who told the Free Press, “I was on the camping trip. There was no abuse there."
Fortenberry told the paper that a Church detective tracked him down and “tried to suggest that he, too, was abused by Perrone,” but Fortenberry is categorical, “I'd definitely know if I was abused. There was nothing remotely abusive about our relationship.”
He believes investigators have manipulated his friend into making such allegations, because they also tried to do this with him.
Fortenberry phoned the accuser who was his classmate, to inform him about the inquiry. The accuser told him that it was weird for Father Perrone “to take the two of us camping." But Fortenberry replied: “Nothing happened.”
The accuser answered: “Are you sure? People are telling me that things could have happened.” From this, Fortenberry concludes that Perrone was set up.
Investigators interviewed four other altar boys of Perrone who are the accuser's age. None disclosed any knowledge of Perrone “abusing minors.”
Perrone co-founded in 2002 the Opus Bono Sacerdotii, a nonprofit that supports priests facing sexual abuse allegations and other problems.
He called the accusations a “terrible insult to me” adding, “Why would I damn a soul, and my own, by committing a crime like that?”
The priest agrees with his parishioners that he was set up for being too Catholic, "The one causing my problem is the Archdiocese of Detroit.”
The parishioners at Assumption Grotto have been prohibited from having any contact with Father Perrone, who was ordered to dress as a layman.