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December 1st 2022 Press Release:
According to the Modern Catholic Dictionary, “Seven is the symbolic number of charity, grace, and the Holy Spirit.” It is at once fitting and a shame, then, that Father David Rosenberg finds himself accused of seven felonies. It’s a shame because, well, he’s innocent. It’s fitting because the worst version of these allegations involves Father David embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars—not for his own benefit, but for charity.
Father David is effectively accused of swindling other priests to donate their money to charity before they die. So what’s more reasonable: the Attorney General’s story of a mastermind manipulator who doesn’t even personally benefit from the crimes or the possibility that clergy wanted to be charitable with their earthly treasures as they contemplated the eternal? We think the latter is far more reasonable.
The upside of this case is that each of the allegations will be easy for Father David to overcome.
Counts 1 & 2 will easily be overcome by testimony of the witnesses who knew Father Ben Werner in the weeks and months before his death. Yes, Father Ben suffered a stroke. But he also recovered quite well and was perfectly competent at the times relevant to this case. There’s also the nagging fact the AG’s office has neglected to mention in the criminal complaint or in its press release: that these claims have already been decided in Father David’s favor in a separate civil mediation. But Father Ben’s heir has decided that any money not directed towards her must have been stolen, so here we are.
Counts 3 & 4, which involve Father Joseph Aubin, center around Father Joseph and Father David’s mutual decision to open a joint bank account and Father Joseph issuing a check to himself. The timing of Father Joseph’s death is unfortunate, but it doesn’t negate the fact that he knew what he was doing in his last days and that he made his own decisions.
Count 5 is, well, a head-scratcher. Our best guess is that the AG’s office meant to charge Father David with larceny between $1,000 and $20,000 based on the allegations contained in Count 6. But the details don’t exactly seem to matter to the Attorney General.
Count 6 centers around a typographical error Father David made when seeking reimbursement for funeral expenses. Let that be a lesson to those who don’t proofread well.
And finally, Count 7 is the most bizarre of them all. Because the “victim” here, Father Ken McDonald, is still alive, still quite lucid and competent, and actively disputes the Attorney General’s characterization of what happened here.
It seems to us that the Attorney General—who encourages the reporting of Catholic priests by way of hotline—received a juicy tip. This particular time, it was for financial misdeeds. But the AG’s office has still leapt at the opportunity to prosecute. Unfortunately, that means Father David has a rough road ahead in the short term.
Fortunately, he’s innocent of these allegations and will be vindicated in the end.
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