The Diocese of Jefferson City

A Case Study of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Childproof 18: Manus Daly and Absolute Trust

Page 18

Editorial Update:  14 June 2014

Dear Bishop Gaydos:

  Rev. Manus P. Daly

The Rev. Manus P. Daly occupies a peculiar
space in the clergy abuse scandal timeline
and the harm sexual predators inflicted on children, young people, and vulnerable adult
I say this because of my personal relationship
with the man. 

The moment I learned the specifics of the
scandal that engulfed St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary is etched in memory.  The phone
call.  The New York Times pop-up on my
computer monitor with photographs of
Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell and Daly.  The
first full disclosure
of the secrets, subterfuge,
and cover-up of affliction that has affected
so many lives, exposed for all to see. 

Daly was never perceived as a rogue priest or pederast by the students in his care.  He was a rough-and-tumble creature, earthy, playful, direct:  the St. Thomas version of Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts’ gamekeeper of Harry Potter fame.

Daly (dean of students, 1970-1989; rector, 1989-1997) was a
confidante to many and a spiritual director to a few:
a guiding
force to be sure.  He mended fences in broken friendships and
dysfunctional families.  He demanded rigorous academic standards.
He instilled the concept of self-respect.  He taught the value of
inner-strength and personal stamina to waylay difficult times.

O’Connell legitimized Daly’s behavior by photographing the priest’s
compromising behavior with students. A decade later after Daly’s arrival
at St. Thomas as dean of students, O’Connell’s handiwork continued to
be published in the high school seminary yearbook. Daly succeeded
O’Connell as rector in 1989 when the later was named bishop of
Knoxville, Tenn.  Source: The Anchor, 1970-1982.

Daly’s adult critics, on the other hand, considered the man boorish and a brute.  As we have learned, they were appalled by his fraternization and physical interaction with students.  They deplored the way he manhandled young boys, noting that he relished the rough treatment and body contact he orchestrated as public wrestling matches with particular individuals and that extended far beyond of the boundaries of Kabuki rough-housing.

O’Connell sanctioned Daly’s behavior.  O’Connell also photographed Daly in these compromising situations for publication in the St. Thomas yearbook, The Anchor.  Legitimizing Daly’s loutish behavior, O’Connell, as rector, lulled students and parents so that they accepted hooliganism as a mere Irish frolic.

Daly’s critics deplored the way he manhandled St. Thomas students.
Again, O’Connell’s St. Thomas yearbook photographs illustrate the public
scuffles that Daly orchestrated.  Source:  The Anchor, 1972, 1982.

What is puzzling about the Daly matter is that you, Bishop Gaydos, and Bishop McAuliffe, crafted a safe haven for this man, even after one of his St. Thomas victims reported the abuse as an adult.  The two of you deliberately misled students, parents, and church members by rewarding Daly with a cushy job and perfect hide-away at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church in Marceline, Mo. 

You and McAuliffe allowed Daly to return to St. Thomas as respected elder and honorable educator, even though you were forced into a settlement and six-figure compensation package.  You broadcast you seal of approval in The Voice, masking the hypocrisy in the student-alumni newsletter, while hoping to quell any curiosity as to Daly’s unexpected career move. 

This tragedy is further compounded by the fact that Daly’s victim is not only a STAS alumnus, but he also was ordained and assigned to the faculty to work with Daly. In addition, you have acknowledged that Daly shared the victim with Anthony J. O’Connell and the Rev. John H. Fischer.

O’Connell documented his 1978
appointment of the Rev. John H. Fischer
as seminary choir director In the
St. Thomas yearbook.  O’Connell
Fischer direct access to his
victim, who was chapel organist.
Throughout O’Connell’s tenure as
St. Thomas rector, 33 percent or more
of the ordained faculty were known to
church authorities as child predators.
Source: The Anchor, 1978, p. 83.
This aspect of the pedophile priest scandal is well-documented.

We know, for example, that the
Rev. Kevin Clohessy and the Rev. Gary Pool shared a victim at a Jefferson City parish, according to court documents and media reports. We also know that the Rev. Carmine Sita (known in the Jefferson City diocese as the Rev. Gerald Howard) shared
some of his victims with
other priests.

In the Daly case, we have read
your expert’s evaluation. Using
a classic defense strategy, you attribute the crime to the family-of-origin concept. In other words,
you blamed the victim’s mother and father, you blamed the victim’s childhood environment,
you blamed the victim’s youth and innocence. And, then, you ostracized the victim.

A bit of the Daly case is documented in the 1978 St. Thomas yearbook on page 83 of The Anchor. The caption for the photograph notes that Fischer, the third member of this predatory pack, was brought on board by O’Connell to direct the STAS choir and liturgical program. Fischer supervised their shared victim, who was chapel organist.

O’Connell offered a wink and a nod to St. Thomas secret with
snapshots like these in the high school yearbook.  The Rev.
Manus P. Daly (right) helped shape the image of St. Thomas
and the character of generations of students. Respected and
admired, his reputation mirrored that of his friend and
colleague, Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell. We now know that
both men are serial predators, who were protected for more
than two decades by Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe and Bishop
John R. Gaydos. 
With O’Connell’s and Daly’s blessing, the
Rev. John H. Fischer (right) taught Gregorian Chant at
St. Thomas (1978-1981).  Each was aware of the other’s
predation, even sharing the same students.  Source:

The Anchor, 1979, p. 12; 1980, p. 21.
Remarkably, with Fischer on staff in 1978, ordained faculty
comprised child predators, a ratio of 42 percent. Throughout
O’Connell’s tenure as rector of St. Thomas that level remained
at one-third, or 33 percent, of the ordained faculty. O’Connell,
as a key member of the diocese’s Priest Personnel Board, was
able to hijack moral authority and keep like-minded comrades
close by his side.

Daly and the events that destroyed the seminary in Hannibal, Mo., bear the classic hallmarks of systematic predation in an all-male environment.  Unfortunately the prey happened to be children.

Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe celebrated the Rev. Manus Daly's
35th ordination anniversary at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary
seven years after Daly was removed as rector due to sexually
assaulting students. Source: St. Thomas Voice, Summer, 2000.

But the facts cannot be denied.  Daly, O’Connell, and others divided
the school into territories that could not be poached.  As a result, my relationship with Daly remained above board.  Other students were not as fortunate.

Daly and Gregory McClurg
The purpose of this disclosure is related to an event that transpired early in our association.  Daly agreed to be my spiritual director shortly after he arrived at St. Thomas as dean of students.

Our spiritual direction and guidance counseling sessions were routine and professional. The weekends spent at his cabin at the Lake of the Ozarks were carefree, a moment of escape from the doldrums of summers at home.

For nearly 25 years, O’Connell’s photography in the St. Thomas yearbook
promoted Daly’s coarse behavior as a mere Irish frolic.  Source: The Anchor,
1973, 1980, 1981, 1982.

We met in his office one evening to discuss matters and issues related to seminary education and teenage angst.  Our sessions also functioned as an escape from the rigors of evening study hall before Compline.  Daly’s his quarters were adjacent to the Junior-Senior dormitory.

One evening as we discussed the implications of being homesick, missing family and friends, and the like, Daly and I were caught
up in an encounter that has puzzled me for many years.

About 20 minutes into our one-on-one Daly’s voice broke. Sobbing, tears flowing, he laid his head on his desk in pure grief.  I did not know how to react or comfort him at the age of 16.  But to witness the total collapse of this so-called man of God was remarkable even unto this day.

O’Connell cast Daly as a rogue teacher at St. Thomas, using his camera to record
the dean of students’ horseplay masquerade.  The publication of these images
did not cease even though O’Connell was expanding the seminary’s sphere of
influence by attracting the attention of Bishop Joseph A. McNicholas of
Springfield, Ill., and Bishop Bernard F. Law of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

Source: The Anchor1979, p. 4 (left); 1976, p. 13 (center); and 1980, p. 56.

Daly regained his composure after about five minutes, apologizing
for his breach of  social decorum and professional etiquette.  He volunteered that he had received news earlier in the day of an 18-year-old  boy he knew in Jefferson City:  Gregory McClurg.  Daly told me that the boy had been found dead in a car with his girlfriend, Dorleah K. Gosney, Independenc, Mo. 
The pair died of carbon monoxide poisoning, death by mishap, he said. 

Daly confided that he and the boy had been exceptionally close.  With bitter sorrow, he intimated a father-son relationship with the youth. 

I mumbled a few artless words of comfort and sympathy, a moment of youthful naïveté.  Daly slowly regained his composure, embarrassed by  this breach of professionalism.  He apologized, expressing his gratitude.  Our conversation ended.  I returned to my books and homework in study hall, with no further mention of Gregory McClurg, ever again.

As for the boy who died, we should question the extent of his relationship with this priest. Why did Daly react so dramatically in the presence of a student in his care?  Was the boy’s death accidental or chosen?  Why did Daly seem to blame himself for this tragedy? 

Daly and Msgr. Gregory L. Higley
The circumstances of Daly’s meltdown are suspect today given the extent of the pedophile priest scandal that has infested the Roman Catholic Church.

We offer the following letter, written by a St. Thomas youth who is now Msgr. Gregory L. Higley, your vicar general. He describes a situation involving another whom boy Daly entertained one weekend in 1972. 

According to Msgr. Higley’s the Rev. David G. Buescher (STAS faculty, 1972-1977; English, Drama, Religion) joined Daly and this youngster on their weekend outing.  Higley’s description seems odd, based on what we know about Daly and Buescher today.

The Rev. Patrick Shortt continued Daly's rough-housing tradition and
O’Connell captured Shortt in other compromising situations. Shortt, for
example, clearly is inebriated (top, right) at the 1974 Priests Day party
(the image was good enough to republished on page 139 of the 1982
yearbook); and the Rev. Manus Daly seems to have taken advantage of
Shortt in a similar situation in 1971 (bottom, left).  Source: The Anchor,
1971, p. 54; 1974, p. 45; 1980, p. 7; and 1980, p. 12.


The personal histories of both Daly and Buescher prompt us to ask some questions as we look back at the past:  Why is this boy away from home on a school day?  Why did Buescher cancel his spiritual direction session with Higley at the last minute; and travel with Daly and the boy to St. Louis?
And why is Higley visiting Buescher in in his private quarters after midnight?  One would expect a student to be in his own bed, asleep, rather than being alone with a faculty member at that time of day?

Upon reflection, this tale illustrates myth-making and hero worship of a sort. He is not the Irishman who taught us how to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps.  He is not the rogue who offered up a a Gaelic curse or two, which some of us still use today.  It would seem that Manus P. Daly is a man misunerstood; someone who does not understand that his name is his virtue.

He is as Duncan assessed the Thane of Cawdor:

There's no art
To find the mind's construction in the face:
He was a gentleman
On whom I built an absolute trust. 

                 —  Duncan
Act I, Scene 4
Msgr. Higley's Letter

13 February 1972 My Eighteenth Birthday

Dear Wegos:

  Msgr. Gregory L. Higley
I'm awfully sorry that I've not written you for
a long time.  I've been spending a lot of time
on homework and basketball games.  I want
to just thank you for the birthday card you
sent me a month ago.  Yours was the first I received from anyone.  Thanks a lot.

This last weekend has probably been one
of the most dear to me in all four years up here.  Not the only but one of the most.  It started Saturday morning.   You remember [Dusty Anholt] – the guy that came down
to the lake while we were down there
during the summer.  Well anyway, he went
to St. Louis with Fr. Dave [and] Daly Friday
nite to see [Jesus Christ,] Super Star. 

I had made an appointment with Father Dave earlier for Friday nite but he called me up Friday morning and told me he couldn't make that nite because he had plans in St. Louis.  I didn't think much about it. Daly went away that nite also but no one knew where he was going. 

Anyway Saturday morning Tim told me where Father Daly went the nite before and that he brought [Dusty] back to the Seminary to spend the night.  Later we had study hall in place of English and Daly came and got me and said he wanted me to go talk to [Dusty] in the priest lounge and entertain him.  So I went in and gave him a soda and some candy bars and had a lot of fun talking. 

  “Dusty Anholt”
Later Tim and Andy . . . came in and they
talked for a while. Then for lunch Daly took us out to the Pizza Hut.  We had a ball.  [Dusty] came back and played basketball
and pool for
a while with us until 3:00 p.m.  Rev. Daly asked me to go down to Kingdom City with [Dusty] and him to meet his mom.  It was a lot of fun. 

We left at 1:00 p.m. and it turned out that we had to go all the way to Jeff.  We talked a lot
on the way down.  It was a nice trip except that
it was raining a little.  [Dusty] drove part of the way and we got there about 6:00.

[Dusty’s] parents or family wasn’t home so we didn’t stay there very long.  We said goodbye and then went over to the Irish nuns.  We couldn’t get away till 7:00 p.m., so then we headed back to Hannibal.

  Rev. David G. Buescher
à la Georges Querelle.
Source:  The Anchor, 1977
The drive to Mexico was pretty bad and slow because the fog made visibility very poor.  We honestly couldn’t see five feet in front of us till another car came and, thank
God, there wasn’t much traffic.
I drove from Mexico on and made time fly. 

Daly and I had a real good talk
about next year and I enjoyed the drive and the company and the
talk.  Most of the time when I’m
on the rode [sic] that long (four hours), I really get bored and
tired, but that nite I was very
happy going down to Jeff and
coming back.

We got back to Hannibal about 9:00 p.m. and I treated Daly to cup of coffee at Fern’s.  Saturday nite (same nite) when I got back from the trip I went into Buescher’s room till 12:00 [midnight] and had a real good talk.

I really felt good Sunday morning when I woke up.  In the first semester, Daly and I didn’t get along too well together but I hope our relationship is getting better.  Today (Sunday) he gave the Senior Class a steak dinner out at Brans to celebrate our birthday and then when we got back there was a surprise party.  Daly bought us [my twin brother Tim and I] a cake and we had a real good day. 

I sort of feel bad the way I’ve treated
Daly this year and then he goes and does this.  Anyway I guess by now you’re just bored to death do I’ll say just a few more things and cut off.

Our basketball team isn’t too good now.  We bombed out of the Troy Tourney and have two more games and the regionals
to go.  I’m glad it’s all over now.

O’C took three more seniors up to the Josephinum this past weekend so there’re
only ten of us here.

Buescher started practicing for the school play today.  It’s called Hadrian VII and supposed to be real good.  He hasn’t assigned any parts but he asked me to play another woman.  I said no cause I hadn’t signed up for a part this year.  He’s got a bunch of people
in it though.

We had six inches of snow last week, but it’s melting fast.  It already has snowed four times since second semester started.  That’s pretty good so far.

I think I’d better cut off now cause this letter is turning into a book.  Write me back soon, OK?  At least once a week.  I’ll do the same.  Good luck in the school year.


P.S.  I’ll get your year book to you.  Also I’ll send you one of my pictures.

  Msgr. Gregory L. Higley’s letter, dated 13 February 1972, describing
the Rev. Manus Daly’s relationship with a young boy.

Next Time:  Msgr. Louis Wellington McCorkle

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