Herndon Warned of Accused Pedophile
Monday, December 4, 2006
An afternoon of football watching and holiday decorating took a strange detour yesterday for some Herndon residents when they opened their doors to find strangers confronting them with troubling information: One of their neighbors is an accused pedophile.
Members of two groups representing victims of abusive Catholic priests went door-to-door in the neighborhood, distributing packets of information accusing a former Catholic priest who has lived there for 10 years.
"Community notification: Protect your children from a credibly accused serial sex offender," the packet's cover reads.
The 38-page sheaf of material contained information about Edward F. Dudzinski, 56, who last month was among 20 former priests accused by the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Del., of sexually abusing children. He served in the priesthood in the 1970s and 1980s.
The diocese disclosed the names in its weekly newspaper, saying that it had found "credible or substantiated complaints of sexual abuse of minors" against the priests. It said eight, including Dudzinski, are living. Dudzinski has not been convicted of -- or charged in -- any sex-abuse crime.
In a letter accompanying the list, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of the Diocese of Wilmington said he released the names at the recommendation of a diocesan review board. A spokesman for the diocese did not return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Yesterday, Dudzinski did not return calls to numbers listed for his address. Two of his roommates, who said the former priest was not at home, defended him and denounced the groups' tactics.
"He's in recovery from his issue. He's not a danger to the community," said one roommate, who would identify himself only as Peter. "All they've done is create a hysteria in the neighborhood for no reason."
As the man spoke to journalists on the front lawn of the two-story, mint-green house where he said Dudzinski lives with several roommates, organizers of the leafleting campaign -- who said they were victims of other abusive priests -- interrupted.
"We are not talking about shoplifting here," called out Paul Steidler, a Reston consultant and a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "We are talking about the sexual abuse of children."
As Steidler spoke, a woman emerged from the house, carrying blue gift bags and frosted cupcakes to a worn station wagon at the curb.
"Do you see what they're doing?" she said to the roommate, brushing aside SNAP members and journalists. "They're putting these things in people's mailboxes in our neighborhood."