This piece of paper is important to keep in mind, as it becomes the basis for ostracizing a whistleblower trying to bring attention to an important community issue.
In February of 2014, Philip Briganti was charged with “criminal sexual contact” in Paterson New Jersey. At the time the charges were announced, Briganti was a priest working at St. Joseph’s Parish at Fort Bliss. According to a KTSM report on February 21, 2014 by Adrienne Alvarez, Briganti was living in El Paso when the charges were made public.
On February 26, 2014, the El Paso Times published a letter to the editor by Sandra Villaseñor where she wrote that she had “presented proof” to Armando Ochoa, then El Paso Catholic Diocese Bishop, that they had a “sexual predator” at the local church.
Villaseñor wrote in her letter to the editor that she “was ignored, shunned” and threatened with a one million dollar lawsuit for trying to expose Briganti.
In a letter dated November 27, 2011, Robert McEnroe, a member of the St. Raphael’s Men’s Association, wrote to Sandra Villaseñor that her “actions could be considered libel and result in legal actions with severe social and financial consequences.” McEnroe adds; “Unless you have very ‘deep pockets’ or two (2) million dollar [sic] ‘ALL Peril’ umbrella insurance policy I say again: DROP THIS MATTER.”
Let me point you the most troubling aspect of McEnroe’s response to Villaseñor. Notice the line where McEnroe wrote “severe social and financial consequences?”
Normally a civil disagreement includes threats of lawsuits and sometimes may even include threats of personal harm but this is the first time I see a written threat that includes a threat of “social” consequence.
As I have been pointing out, those that attempt to shed the light on corruption are ostracized by those trying to keep the corruption hidden from the public.
Sandra Villaseñor had been trying to bring attention to Philip Briganti’s previous issues with sexual abuse. Instead of taking Villaseñor’s material to investigate the serious allegations against Briganti, the El Paso Diocese responded by threatening to ostracize Villaseñor.
There is no other way to read the “social” consequences comment especially for a Catholic parishioner where communion with other parishioners is important not only for the individual but for Villaseñor’s family as well.
The Church was threatening to separate her from her important social connections should she persist in trying to bring the matter to the attention of the authorities.
As a matter of fact, conspirators’ levee volleys to remind the whistleblower of the power they have over them.
About two weeks after Villaseñor had her letter to the editor printed in the local newspaper reminding everyone that years earlier, she had presented information to Diocese officials, another letter was published in the paper.
On March 16, 2014, Dennis Devine had the El Paso Times publish a letter to the editor he wrote. In that letter, Devine wrote that he was “appalled” when he read Villaseñor’s February 26, 2015 letter. Devine added that he had found Briganti to be “a warm, caring and compassionate man.” He closed the letter to the newspaper by writing “I will always consider Father Phil a priestly man.”
Demonizing the messenger is the most obvious form of silencing those that try to shine light on corruption.
But what about the police department’s memorandum stating that Briganti was the victim rather than the accused?
Apparently, the information that Sandra Villaseñor was providing to the church officials was about a 2005 incident in New Jersey in which Philip Briganti was involved. Anyone producing the police department’s memorandum can rightfully proclaim that in that incident Briganti was the victim and the incident did not involve minors.
On its face, the memorandum discredits anything Villaseñor may want to expose if you ignore the context of the incident.
This is another tool used by corruptors producing “official” documents that create incomplete official records to discredit the whistleblower.
The case in question involved Philip Briganti receiving “harassing e-mails.” On the surface, it seems to be a clear case of Briganti being blackmailed into paying an unknown sum of money in order to keep “nude photos” of him from being disseminated to church officials.
Note: Caution the next paragraph should be skipped by those who may be bothered by language of a sexual nature.
According to the police investigation, the blackmailer was a previous friend of Philip Briganti. Briganti, a Catholic priest, admitted to the police detective that he had sent three pictures of himself to the blackmailer previously. One of the pictures was of Philip Briganti “in his pajamas from the stomach down with his pajamas pulled down and his genitalia exposed.” The report adds that “several pictures of naked male adults” were found on a church computer routinely used by Briganti. [4, Supplemental Investigative Report 2005/02786 dated February 25, 2005 (erroneously dated 2004) by Lt. Taylor] Another report added that “pictures of naked adult males” were also found on Briganti’s laptop.
Let that digest for a moment. A public record establishes that a priest sent nude pictures of himself to another individual and that he has nude pictures on his computer and the response from the Diocese of El Paso is to ostracize the person questioning whether Philip Briganti should be conducting church services.
Having nude adult nude pictures on his computer may not be illegal but it is morally repugnant under Church doctrine, yet the response by Church officials is not to deal with the facts but to cover up the corruption. That is the clear message the Church sent its flock not only in the cover up but also by knowingly allowing Briganti to “teach” morality to parishioners.
Philip Briganti was charged on February 21, 2014 with criminal sexual contact in New Jersey.