Inside the Unholy Sex Scandal Rocking Trump’s Ex-Adviser

Inside the Unholy Sex Scandal Rocking Trump’s Ex-Adviser
Inside the Unholy Sex Scandal Rocking Trump’s Ex-Adviser

Picture Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Every day Beast/Reuters

Frank Pavone, a defrocked priest who was previously a Catholic adviser to Donald Trump, is engulfed in a intercourse scandal that’s rocking the anti-abortion motion.

Pavone, 64, is the director of Priests for Life, a non-profit that funnels thousands and thousands of {dollars} a yr into the anti-abortion motion.

He’s additionally an outspoken activist whose political actions have introduced him into repeated battle with the Catholic Church. In December 2022, he was defrocked by the Vatican after repeated clashes together with his bishop over his use of social media to advocate conservative political causes.

Now, at the very least 4 totally different girls have accused Pavone of sexual misconduct in accordance with reporting by The Pillar. Pavone and Clergymen for Life have strongly denied the accusations.

The ladies, a few of whom gave their accounts anonymously, accuse Pavone of inappropriate conduct in the office, starting from undesirable sexual advances, non-consensual touching, grooming and lewd options.

The allegations span a interval of just about twenty years, from the late Nineteen Nineties till 2018.

Two former members of Clergymen for Life have made public statements condemning Pavone’s alleged actions and calling for him to step down.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Rev. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, leads a prayer during the March for Life anti-abortion rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, January 22, 2009. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Reuters</div>

Rev. Frank Pavone, Nationwide Director of Clergymen for Life, leads a prayer throughout the March for Life anti-abortion rally in entrance of the U.S. Supreme Courtroom constructing in Washington, January 22, 2009.


One is Father Stephen Imbarrato, who served as pastoral workforce member at Clergymen for Life from 2015 to 2019.

Imbarrato informed The Every day Beast that in 2017 he was approached by a lady who stated she had skilled sexual harassment from Pavone whereas working at the group. He endorsed her till she give up at the finish of 2018.

“I solely had direct data of 1 sufferer, the lady I endorsed over an extended time frame,” Imbarrato informed The Every day Beast by way of e-mail. “That there have been different victims over the years, had been to me, suspicions that I couldn’t confirm, however I do consider these girls who got here ahead and they’re now proof of these suspicions.”

Imbarrato stated he was sure by priestly confidentiality to the lady, however that he reported Pavone’s actions to Anthony DeStefano and Priest for Life’s board of administrators.

“Clergymen for Life had a superb sexual harassment coverage on the books. However they’d no human useful resource division and their sexual-harassment committee reported to, and was headed by, Frank Pavone. So it was neither secure nor impartial,” Imbarrato says. “I went on to the board and demanded a secure and confidential, impartial sexual harassment committee that reported to the board instantly.”

After the board of Clergymen for Life instituted a committee to sort out sexual harassment in 2018, Imbaratto says he resigned his submit. He had misplaced religion in Pavone and his group, he informed The Every day Beast. Imbarrato is now calling on Pavone to resign and for an impartial investigation into his actions.

“We’ve got been enormously saddened by current efforts of some to revisit outdated accusations that include quite a few inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and mistruths, which have already been addressed,” Clergymen for Life stated in an announcement to The Every day Beast. “Father Pavone’s bishop investigated these claims over a decade in the past and subsequently confirmed him to be in good standing and totally appropriate for ministry. Father Pavone faithfully served the priesthood throughout his 34 years of service.”

The group additionally dismissed the allegations made by Imbarrato, describing them as “additional falsehoods.”

“Sadly, this former member was sad together with his assigned duties throughout the few years he spent with us, and he has been very vocal about his disdain for our nationwide director. His accusations are intentionally spiteful,” a spokesperson for Clergymen for Life informed The Every day Beast.

Andrew Smith, who served on the board of Clergymen for Life from 2014 to 2021, additionally believes Pavone ought to step down.

“I’ve been very stunned to see the response from Clergymen for Life has been solely certainly one of victimization and self-aggrandizement,” Smith wrote in an announcement printed on Church Militant. “I frankly anticipated higher. I’ve seen no public expression of sorrow or remorse at these occasions, in interview after interview, all that has been claimed is victimhood.”

The allegations

The earliest identified accusation towards Pavone dates from 1999, when a lady in her early 20s working at Clergymen for Life stated was focused by Pavone, in accordance with an account given anonymously to The Pillar.

She was employed on the spot, regardless of having no {qualifications} for the job, the lady says, and requested by Pavone to relocate to New York Metropolis, the place the group was based mostly. She remembers that Pavone requested “if I preferred curler coasters, and if I ate seafood,” the lady stated.

Whereas she labored in the group’s workplace in Staten Island, Pavone would often contact her hair and put his arms round her whereas she typed at the laptop, she says. He referred to her as his “religious daughter” and informed her to name him “Dad,” the lady alleges. On a number of events, she seen that her bra was unhooked after Pavone had been rubbing her again, she says.

“He was this pro-life celebrity. He was this superstar, this wonderful determine who wished to present me all these alternatives… and I look again on it now, and it was all manipulation. It was creating a bit paramour,” the lady informed the outlet. “I feel that he deliberate to have his method with me.”

As soon as, whereas touring with Pavone to Washington D.C. for a conference, the two stayed in separate rooms in a lodge, in accordance with a report the lady later filed with the diocese which was obtained by The Pillar. In the early hours of the morning, Pavone knocked on her door and requested to come back in, she alleges. As soon as inside, Pavone requested her if she wish to “slip into one thing a bit extra comfy.”

“She doesn’t recall a lot of what occurred subsequent or how he finally left her room,” the lady’s report back to the diocese reads, in accordance with The Pillar. “She stored repeating that she was very drained and wished to go to mattress. Finally he left, and he or she dismissed it that Father was form of bizarre.”

Quickly after, the lady says, she reported Pavone’s conduct to Father Peter West, then Clergymen for Life’s affiliate director, however no motion was taken. West informed the Pillar he had no recollection of the dialog.

The girl, who had as soon as deliberate to enter spiritual life as a nun, informed The Pillar that her religious life was irreparably broken by her experiences with Pavone.

“My relationship with God, that one’s nonetheless exhausting. It was dramatically affected, and has not recovered, and my relationship with the Church was profoundly affected,” she informed the outlet.

After making her report back to the archdiocese, the lady informed the outlet she was by no means made conscious of any particulars of an investigation. She had just one 20-minute name with Pavone’s bishop, Patrick Zurek.

“I don’t consider that the Diocese of Amarillo’s response was complete or compassionate,” the lady informed The Pillar.

And he or she was not the final lady to allege that Pavone crossed the line.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>(L-R) Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, Father Tom Euteneuer and Father Frank Pavone in 2005. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">REUTERS</div>

(L-R) Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, Father Tom Euteneuer and Father Frank Pavone in 2005.


Jenn Morson, a contract journalist who has written for The Every day Beast, additionally labored at Clergymen for Life at round the identical time. She stated she additionally skilled Pavone’s boundary-crossing conduct.

Morson labored as an outreach assistant at Clergymen for Life shortly after graduating from school in 1999.

She was 22-years-old when she first met Pavone, then a towering determine in the anti-abortion motion.

“I didn’t have the identical expertise as the different younger lady so far as severity,” Morson informed The Every day Beast. “However there have been positively crimson flags, and boundary-crossing.”

Pavone would put his arms on Morson’s shoulders as she labored at the workplace laptop after hours, she says, and sometimes took her out to dinner alone, or invited her into his non-public dwelling quarters.

At the time, she says, she thought of Pavone a trusted father-figure, a priest who was laser-focused on his work in the motion. She defined away his inappropriate conduct as “socially-awkward.”

“It was thought of a giant honor. Right here is that this tremendous vital particular person, should you’re from that subculture,” she says, of working at Clergymen for Life.

Morson, who has herself reported extensively on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, says it took years for her to appreciate that she too had been groomed by Pavone.

“I’ve listened to girls discuss all the stuff that they obtained confused by, once they had been being groomed by their abusers,” she says. “I suppose till these girls got here ahead [about Pavone] I by no means actually considered all of the stuff that made me uncomfortable.”

Morson additionally says Anthony DeStefano, then Clergymen for Life’s govt director, acknowledged to her that conferences held in non-public quarters had been inappropriate, however she doesn’t consider any motion was taken.

For Morson, the breaking level got here on a Sunday night in 2000, at a diner in Staten Island. Pavone had taken her out to eat, and informed her about an thrilling new challenge.

Morson says Pavone informed her that he and Greg Cunnginham, an anti-abortion activist and govt director of the Middle for BioEthical Reform, had come into possession of specific footage of unlawful abortion procedures filmed in the creating world, in nations the place the remedy was unlawful. (Cunningham’s group is understood for displaying giant, graphic posters of abortion procedures and fetal stays in school campuses and buying malls.)

Pavone was thrilled, Morson says, at how graphic the movies had been. When Morson requested how the movies had been made, she says Pavone informed her a videographer had been paid to movie covertly.

“The extra that this dialog went, he was genuinely shocked that I used to be not enthusiastic about this,” Morson says. She was shocked that, as a so-called “pro-lifer,” Pavone didn’t see the hypocrisy in filming girls who had been present process unlawful procedures that might probably be life-threatening.

“They paid folks to be there however not provide assist to folks whose lives had been at risk,” Morson says. “I used to be actually uncomfortable.”

That week, Morson resigned her submit. She by no means heard from Frank Pavone once more, she says.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Father Frank Pavone (L) and Reverend Patrick Mahoney pray at the steps of the Supreme Court in 2014 as arguments begin to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide coverage for contraception.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Reuters</div>

Father Frank Pavone (L) and Reverend Patrick Mahoney pray at the steps of the Supreme Courtroom in 2014 as arguments start to problem the Inexpensive Care Act’s requirement that employers present protection for contraception.


Clergymen for Life didn’t reply to questions on these movies, or how they had been obtained.

Cunningham informed The Every day Beast that his group obtains footage of abortions from “whistleblowers” whose identities are protected by non-disclosure agreements.

Cunningham stated he nonetheless helps Pavone, who has served on the board of Middle For Bio-Moral Reform for greater than 25 years.

“I proceed to induce him to go to courtroom and file complaints for defamation,” Cunningham informed The Every day Beast by way of e-mail. “It’s troubling to me that Fr. Pavone’s accusers waited for years to come back ahead after which provided nothing greater than imprecise, ambiguous allegations.”

A kind of who has come ahead is Mary Worthington.

In 2004, she was a current school graduate, had simply began working at the group as an intern, she informed The Pillar.

“[Pavone] began on the flirty-flirty touching, paying method an excessive amount of consideration to me, touching my hair, or stroking my again,” Worthington informed the outlet. “He would simply stroll as much as me in the workplace, and maintain his hand on my arm, stroke my hair at my desk, or put his hand on the small of my again, the place it was additionally midway on my backside.”

Worthington says the office setting at Clergymen for Life was inappropriate, and he or she was often requested to do issues that felt uncomfortable, like submitting paperwork in Pavone’s bed room. When she drove Pavone to the airport, he would contact her legs. He nicknamed her his ‘‘favourite school scholar,” she says.

She described the harassment as “fixed,” saying it made her “dread” to go to work.

“I at all times simply sat there cringing, considering ‘Don’t contact me. Simply please don’t contact me,’” Worthington informed The Pillar.

Lastly, after an incident through which Pavone backed her up towards the wall, stroking her hair and shoulder, Worthington says, she give up.

Worthington says she then confided in her father, who known as Angelo DeStefano, Clergymen for Life’s govt director, to complain.

“DeStefano informed my dad that I didn’t perceive, and that [Pavone] was simply very affectionate,” Worthington informed The Pillar.

A historical past of scandal

For greater than 20 years, Pavone has been a star of the anti-abortion world, touring the nation as a “pro-life” superstar and inserting himself into the motion’s causes célèbres.

In 1988, aged 29, when Pavone was ordained as a priest he was already a devoted anti-abortion activist who attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. yearly. He has described his dedication to the anti-abortion motion as a “vocation inside a vocation.” By 1993, Pavone had left parish ministry to dedicate himself to working Clergymen for Life.

Pavone’s political outspokenness has lengthy put him at odds with the Catholic Church. Canon regulation states that clergymen “are to not have an energetic half in political events,” a restriction that Pavone has continuously chafed at.

In the early 2000s, Pavone turned concerned in the Terri Schiavo case, delivering the homily at her funeral mass. He was additionally near Norma McCorvey, the actual title of “Jane Roe,” the lead plaintiff in the authentic Roe v. Wade Supreme Courtroom that legalized abortion.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Father Frank Pavone gives the Homily at Terri Schiavo’s funeral in Gulfport, Florida April 5, 2005. Schiavo died after the brain-damaged woman’s feeding tube was removed under a court order granted to her husband Michael Schiavo. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">REUTERS</div>

Father Frank Pavone provides the Homily at Terri Schiavo’s funeral in Gulfport, Florida April 5, 2005. Schiavo died after the brain-damaged lady’s feeding tube was eliminated underneath a courtroom order granted to her husband Michael Schiavo.


Later in her life, McCorvey stated she had come to remorse her involvement in the case, changing to Catholicism and changing into concerned in the anti-abortion motion. For a time, Pavone was her religious adviser. (Shortly earlier than her loss of life, McCorvey appeared to alter tact once more, saying she had been paid to talk out by the anti-abortion motion, and that she nonetheless supported the right to choose an abortion.)

Pavone’s private and political energy peaked when he turned a part of an internal circle of Catholic advisers to Donald Trump’s 2016 election marketing campaign. Pavone was the co-chair of Trump’s pro-life coalition that yr, and a member of the “Catholics for Trump” advisory board.

The day earlier than the 2016 election, Pavone appeared in a Fb video holding what he claimed had been the stays of an aborted fetus, which he laid on an altar desk whereas encouraging viewers to vote for Donald Trump.

“I’m displaying him to you as a result of on this election we’ve got to determine if we are going to permit this little one killing to proceed in America or not,” Pavone stated in the video (which has now been deleted) in accordance with Salon. “Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform says sure, let the little one killing proceed —and also you pay for it. Donald Trump and the Republican platform says no; the little one needs to be protected.”

The ugly stunt was condemned by Catholic officers and others in the anti-abortion motion.

“A human being has been sacrificed and the altar of God has been desecrated, all for politics,” Ed Mechmann, of Archdiocese of New York wrote in a blog post at the time.

The Diocese of Amarillo in Texas, the place Pavone was incardinated, opened an investigation into Pavone.

“We consider that nobody who’s pro-life can exploit a human physique for any motive, particularly the physique of a fetus,” the Diocese wrote in an announcement.

Pavone later issued an apology, claiming the desk was not a consecrated altar and due to this fact not a “sacred area.”

The next yr, Bishop Zurek wrote a letter to Pavone recommending that Pavone be defrocked and eliminated as a priest “due to your scandalous conduct, your involvement in partisan politics, your persistent disobedience, your lack of respect for reliable ecclesiastical authority.”

Pavone remained unrepentant about his political actions.

“It’s like, ‘Hey the home is on fireplace!’ I’m not going to ask anyone’s permission to go scream that the home is on fireplace,” the priest informed the Catholic News Agency.

And he didn’t cease preaching on behalf of Trump and the Republican Occasion, or elevating cash for the anti-abortion motion. By 2018, Clergymen for Life was bringing in $10.5 million a yr, in accordance with tax paperwork considered by The Every day Beast.

When Donald Trump arrange his reelection marketing campaign in 2020, Pavone was promoted to co-chair of the Professional-Life Voices for the Trump marketing campaign and a member of the Catholics for Trump advisory board. That July, nevertheless, Pavone was compelled to resign from his roles in the Trump marketing campaign at the course of Church authorities.

In February of final yr, Pavone gave mass at the Conservative Political Motion Coalition (CPAC) convention in Orlando, strolling on stage in a crimson MAGA baseball cap. He requested that God ship the Holy Spirit to assist attendees “drive out a nasty political social gathering” and “proceed the work of creating America nice once more.”

Lastly, in December 2022, the Vatican introduced it had defrocked Pavone for “blasphemous communications on social media” in addition to “persistent disobedience” of his bishop.

In a prolonged screed printed on his web site, Pavone stated he was the sufferer of “cancel tradition” in the Catholic Church.

Regardless of uproar in the Catholic press about the newest sexual misconduct allegations towards Pavone, he has maintained a gentle stream of social media output. On February 23, Pavone shared an image of himself with Kari Lake, a far-right Trump-backed Republican who misplaced the Arizona governor’s race final yr.

In an announcement to The Every day Beast, a spokesperson for Clergymen for Life instructed the girls talking out about Pavone could be a part of an try and undermine his political work.

“The allegations and vitriol are really unlucky, and the timing appears maybe designed indirectly to dismantle the unimaginable progress we’ve got made to guard the present of life,” Pavone’s group informed The Every day Beast. “We’re protecting give attention to our important mission.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast’s biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast’s unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *