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Street Talk

No Trouble Here, Diocese Says; Full Speed Ahead for Stony Point Mall; For Third Year, Pounds Avoid Fines; Dresses Come Out for Wedding Party; Sculptor Remakes Richmond in Leather

No priest currently serving in

the diocese, which covers three-fifths of the state, has any

confirmed incidents of sexual misconduct with minors in his

past, says Father Pasquale J. Apuzzo, director of

communications for the diocese and secretary to the bishop.

It's not just by chance that Richmond has avoided the

fate of diocesees in Boston, New Hampshire, Maine and

Pennsylvania, all of which have divulged pedophilia cases in

recent days, Apuzzo says. Unlike the Archdiocese of Boston,

which kept accusations quiet for 40 years before they came to

light, he says, "we've been addressing this issue publicly for

a long, long time."

The diocese's first written policy

on conduct by employees working with children was authored in

1988, Apuzzo says, and a detailed policy on sexual abuse of

minors followed in 1993.

"We let our people know we

want to know if our priest is involved in anything like this,"

Apuzzo says. The policy on the "Response to Claims of Sexual

Abuse of Minors," which was last revised in 1998, states that

"any cleric, employee or volunteer serving the Diocese who

receives such an allegation [of sexual abuse of a minor] or

has reason to suspect that abuse has occurred must report it

to the Bishop unless the matter is protected by the

priest/penitent relationship."

The regulations are not

meant to relieve people of reporting such instances to the

authorities, it states. The policy of the Boston archdiocese,

on the other hand, which was also written in 1993, allowed

church leaders to deal with abuse allegations internally.

The last time it was revealed publicly that a priest

in the Richmond Diocese had sexually molested minors was eight

years ago, after a priest committed suicide. Father John R.

Hesch, 37, shot himself on June 5, 1994, shortly after Bishop

Walter F. Sullivan confronted Hesch about allegations that

he'd abused young boys and told him to get treatment.

The meeting followed a family's claim that Hesch's

molestation of their son in the mid-1980s had contributed to

the 21-year-old's suicide in April 1994. After Hesch's

suicide, several other young men who had been touched or

kissed by Hesch came forward.

Apuzzo says he does not

know how many times in the past allegations of sexual abuse

have been proven against priests. But, he says, since 1994

"there are none that have been brought to our attention."

Because of the church's policy of openness, he says, few

parishioners have called with worries after the recent

revelations elsewhere. "Perhaps we're more concerned about it

than they are," he says. — Melissa Scott Sinclair

Full Speed Ahead for Stony Point Mall

With the first shovel biting ground on-site last

Thursday, city officials say last-minute questions about

environmental issues and financing of the Stony Point Fashion

Park mall are now irrelevant.

One potential roadblock

to the mall project proved to be short-lived. In early

February, an environmental-impact report arrived in city

offices, claiming the city's investigators had missed three

sensitive wetlands zones in mapping out the mall site. But

after scientists reinvestigated, the report proved to be

wrong, says Scott Crafton, the acting executive director of

the state Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department.

"I guess we would say politely that we disagree with

their findings," Crafton says of the report produced by

Raleigh, N.C.-based firm Landis Inc. Crafton says that in his

experience the city has been responsible about environmental

regulations. "There's a lot of eyes on them," he says of the

people behind the massive project.

As for doubts that

mall tax revenues will refund Richmond's $13.5 million

investment, city officials dismiss them. Originally, council

members had requested a letter of credit from developer

Taubman Centers Inc., to be delivered as soon as the city

forked over its contribution. The letter is a legal guarantee

that would allow the city to claim from Taubman's bank the

amount of any shortfall on its investment, plus interest.

However, the deal negotiated by City Manager Calvin

Jamison provided for the letter to be issued only if needed,

after five years had elapsed. Getting the letter ahead of time

would have been an unnecessary precaution, he says — "this is

probably the best deal the city has put together for quite

some time."

Council members likewise say they have no

qualms about the success of the Stony Point center, which is

scheduled to open on Sept. 18, 2003. "I don't believe there's

any question in anybody's mind that it will do well," says

Councilman Manoli Loupassi.

Loupassi adds that if the

$120 million mall goes under, with all the money and years of

research that Taubman has invested in it, "we're gonna be in a

lot worse shape than out 13 million bucks."


officials also say they're not worried about Stony Point's

predicted competition with the Short Pump Town Center, a

similar mall under construction just west of Richmond (despite

a lawsuit from Taubman regarding its financing practices) and

also scheduled to open in September 2003.

Is there a

race to open first? "Oh no, it won't have any effect on when

we open," says Thomas E. Pruitt, a partner in Short Pump Town

Center. "Well, naturally, we won't pick September 18." —

Melissa Scott Sinclair

For Third Year,

Pounds Avoid Fines

Jeanne Bridgforth may have

received a commendation from Richmond City Council last week

for her work on animal-welfare issues, but two days later the

General Assembly shot her down.

Bridgforth is

president of Save Our Shelters, the Richmond-based humane

society that fights to clean up animal shelters and pounds.

S.O.S. helped turn around dire conditions in the Richmond

pound several years ago.

The efforts led to a task

force, established by the General Assembly, that sought to

improve pounds across the state. Bridgforth was a member,

along with such groups as the state veterinarian's office,

animal-control officials and the Virginia League of Cities.

One of the biggest problems, the task force found, was

that there was no consistent inspection and enforcement

authority to monitor pounds. Inspectors, Bridgforth says,

"were only visiting them on a complaint-driven basis."

In 1999, the office of the state veterinarian set a

goal for inspectors to visit each pound twice a year.

Problem solved? Not quite. Even if inspections are

done properly — and Bridgforth maintains they're not — it

seems that pounds not in compliance with the state's

animal-welfare laws face no punishment. No fines. Nothing.

The reason? The General Assembly keeps delaying the

imposition of fines for noncompliance.

"Unless you put

some consequences out there," says a frustrated Bridgforth,

"education is not enough."

Last week, the Assembly

passed legislation that postponed the fines for a year. That's

what happened last year, too. And the year before that.

Bridgforth says that the "excuse" this year was the

poor economy — the pounds apparently can't afford to fix

problems. "Well I'm sorry," she says, "but when is financial

hardship ever an excuse for breaking the law?"


S.O.S. is pressing on. It recently released its annual review

of state veterinarian inspection reports on the condition of

pounds in Virginia. Bridgforth says the Richmond pound is

doing extremely well. And, she says, pointing to newspaper

clippings, awareness is increasing in cities and counties

across the state. "It's a national problem," she says. "We're

not sleeping." — Jason Roop

Dresses Come Out

for Wedding Party

If you've ever been a

bridesmaid, chances are there's a not-so-stylish dress in the

attic that cost you more than it should have. And how often do

these expensive costumes ever get worn again? Most likely


Or maybe Friday.

Thank Alissa Poole and

the board of directors for the Association for the Support of

Children with Cancer (ASK). Their "Wedding Party," set for

Friday at the Jefferson Hotel, aims to give the dresses new

life for a good cause.

"Everybody knows you can't wear

bridesmaid's dresses again no matter how nice they are," Poole


ASK was started at the Medical College of

Virginia in 1975 to provide emotional and financial support to

the children with cancer and their families in Central

Virginia. The nonprofit throws parties for the kids, runs

support groups and even supports some salaried positions at


ASK hopes to introduce itself to a new age group

by attracting a younger audience to the Friday fund-raisers —

and not just former bridesmaids. Poole expects to see some

fancy ruffled tuxedo shirts and maybe even a couple of wedding


Clarissa Clarke, another ASK board member,

says she's happy to get another wearing out of one of her many

bridesmaid dresses. "I've got a closet full of them," she

says. "All of them added up; I've probably spent over $600."

Tickets are $50 and include food, drinks, music by

Johnny Hott's Piedmont Souprize and prizes in such categories

as "biggest butt bow," "tackiest tuxedo" and "garter


"This is an event where you don't have to

care what you look like," says Poole, who plans to wear a navy

bridesmaid's dress with a matching straw hat — "the uglier and

tackier the better!" — Carrie Nieman

Sculptor Remakes Richmond in Leather

"Have you ever been to the Carillon?" asks Paul

Beverly. "This'll knock your lights out." And behold: From a

cardboard box in the trunk of his Camry, he pulls an intricate

scale model of the Byrd Park landmark, crafted in leather down

to the bell ringer and every last brick.


story is even more remarkable than his art. Born in Richmond

in 1952, at age 12 he suffered severe head injuries in a car

crash that submerged him in a two-week coma and led doctors to

perform a partial lobotomy.

The effects on his brain

are permanent. Beverly's speech is rapid and eloquent, his

sense of humor wicked, but his memory's impaired, he says, and

his sense of smell is entirely gone. But after the accident,

he also became aware of a rare talent — creating intricate

models out of leather.

Now, after decades of waiting,

his work will be in the spotlight at last. Commissioned by the

Richmond chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, he

has created 31 intricately crafted replicas of Richmond

monuments as the centerpieces for the society's black-tie gala

on March 9.

There's a phrase Beverly uses repeatedly

to describe the most difficult parts of each piece: "This was

'how do I do it?'" he says of the dome of the Virginia Science

Museum, the Ionic columns on the State Capitol, the graceful

curve of the steps of the Carillon. It's the same question any

observer is tempted to ask. How does he do it?


Beverly says. He draws the building on paper, guided by

photographs, and then uses the sketch as a pattern to cut the

leather. A grinder angles the edges so Beverly can fit them

together precisely and glue them. Beverly then adds such

details as brickwork and trim.

"He has the most

incredible imagination," says his partner, Sandy Dyche, who

paints the completed buildings.

Longtime friend

Charles Baker works at Beverly Hills Jewelers, where a few of

Beverly's pieces are displayed this week. Customers are "very

fascinated with the stuff," he says. Without touching them, no

one can guess the models are leather.

Beverly and his

supporters hope the society's gala and auction (for which

tickets are still available) will bring him recognition, but

money isn't the point, he says. "The problem is, I don't want

to be out selling. I just want to make this stuff." —

Melissa Scott Sinclair

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