Penthouse magazine has issued a statement admitting it published unsubstantiated claims in a 1996 story that led to the defrocking of one Brooklyn priest and the firing of another at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
“Penthouse has now had the opportunity to obtain information . . . that was not previously available and to read the diocesan report of the Episcopal Church of its investigation,” said a statement from the magazine’s editor. “Had this information been available to Penthouse, we would not have published the article that appeared in the December 1996 issue.”
The statement was issued in response to a lawsuit by the Rev. William Lloyd Andries, who was the primary focus of an expose that included charges that Episcopal priests from the Long Island diocese, which includes Brooklyn, performed same-sex marriage ceremonies and were involved in homosexual orgies with young men from Brazil.
A report issued last year after an investigation conducted on behalf of the diocese found that 22 of the 38 allegations in the Penthouse article were completely untrue or unproved and nine more were largely untrue, reported Episcopal News Service.
Andries, 61, has said he was never asked by the magazine or the article’s author, Rudy Maxa, to respond to allegations made by two Brazilian men who accused Andries and others of participating in orgies with them at a church and rectory in Brooklyn. He denied most of the charges and called the article “a tissue of lies.”
Andries agreed to renounce his orders and resign as rector of St. Gabriel’s Church in Brooklyn after the magazine article was published. Now unemployed, he continues to live in Brooklyn.
The lawsuit is concluded now that the letter from Penthouse has been issued. Lawyers for Andries said he settled for the retraction given the high cost of continuing a libel suit.