George Neville Rucker, Accused Predator Priest, Allowed Aboard Voyages of Discovery Cruise to South America

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A defrocked Los Angeles priest accused of sexually molesting 33 girls shipped off yesterday from the Bahamas for a three-month tour of South America on a South Florida based cruise line.

Voyages of Discovery, a Fort Lauderdale-based cruise company, says there is nothing it can do to prevent George Neville Rucker from embarking on the expensive, seniors-only trip since he was never convicted of a crime. But, ironically, Rucker was defrocked when the U.S. Coast Guard nabbed him fleeing on a cruise to Russia to escape criminal charges back in 2002.

Voyages of Discovery chairman Roger Allard responded in late December to a letter sent by an individual concerned about Rucker's plan to leave the country. Allard wrote:
We note the contents of your letter and your concerns but regret that due to Data Protection Laws we are unable to confirm or deny that Mr. Rucker is a passenger on board Discovery.... We would be unable to prevent any passenger boarding our vessel unless their behaviour at the time of boarding causes concern.
Records obtained by Riptide show that Rucker did, in fact, pay for the $12,000 trip in advance. According to the cruise line's website, "Discovery will leave Barbados on a voyage all the way around South America, calling at exciting places such as the Amazon, Rio, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, the Falklands and then through the majestic Chilean Fjords and round into the Pacific side, calling in at further exciting ports such as Valparaiso, Manta and up through the great Panama Canal... the sort of voyage that dreams are made of."

Advocates for sexual abuse victims say the company is being irresponsible by letting an accused sexual predator aboard a cruise. Rucker was charged with molesting 12 girls in 2002 and was caught by Alaskan state troopers aboard a cruise ship bound for Russia. But the charges were dropped the following year after a U.S. Supreme Court struck down California's attempt to prosecute older molestation cases. The statute of limitations applied in such cases, the court ruled.

"It's like they're saying, 'Welcome aboard criminals. Just make sure your coat tails are tucked in and say please and thank you,'" says David Clohessy, a spokesman for the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Clohessy also criticizes the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for not keeping tabs on Rucker after his defrocking. "Rucker really is one of the very worst and for church officials to claim that they are monitoring them, watching them like a hawk, is ridiculous."

Steve Novello, President of All Discovery Cruising (which owns Voyages of Discovery), says his company went beyond normal protocol to investigate the complaint against Rucker.

"I can fully understand their concerns," he says. "I'm not sitting here and saying that we'll just take anyone's money. But as a cruise line we can't discriminate against anyone who's been accused of something and never convicted."

He adds that all of the passengers are more than 50 years old. "Just for the record, I don't think there is anyone on our cruise who was in kindergarten in the last 50 years," he says.

But Novello also said he would have his lawyers call Riptide if we reported on Rucker's Voyages of Discovery cruise.

"You'd better mention in that article every other cruise line that takes passengers aboard," he says. "Some of them take people on board who I'm pretty sure have been convicted of things."

"It sheds a bad light on us in a situation where... our competitors are doing the same thing," he says.

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23 comments
JudyP
JudyP

The photo in this article is not Fr. Rucker. I attended St. Anthony's School in El Segundo, CA when Fr. Rucker was removed from our parish after his child molesting was discovered by a parent. He may have never been convicted of this crime, but that is only due to the statute of limitations as I know first hand this Priest is a monster. I had the misfortune of running into Fr. Rucker when we were both sailing on a luxury cruise line in 2001. He was easily recognizable as he had not changed that much. After all of his horrible betrayal of children, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles rewarded him with a retirement job as the primary contact to the cruise lines for onboard Chaplains! He was able to cruise around the world at will or assign another Priest as his schedule permitted. After I came home, I notified the cruise line of Fr. Rucker's past (or present?) and they contacted him with my accusations. He admitted to them that he had been removed from St. Anthony's, accused of child molesting and that they settled out of court. I contacted the Archdiocese to ask how they could possibly have this man put on a cruise ship with children, let alone reward a career predator with such a plumb job. I have a written commitment letter in response from Monsignor Craig A. Cos, Vicar for Clergy, advising he no longer had that job, was monitored at a priest's retirement home and "directed to have no contact with minors, other than his own blood relatives". Just when I think the LA Archdiocese cannot get any worse, they top themselves. They have protected this creep since at least the early 1960's and continue up to today. It is not the cruise lines' fault that Fr. Rucker is allowed to travel the world, as long as he is not onboard as the ship's Chaplain, in which case he should be set adrift immediately. It is the fault of the LA Archdiocese, under the direction of Cardinal Roger Mahoney that allow the most heinous & evil excuses for human beings continue to thrive. I talked to Fr. Rucker when I saw him and this is a man that could only talk about how he'd had it with parish's as the kids are out of control and the parents basically only whine about it. He couldn't take it anymore. This is not a man contrite over his actions. This is not a man with empathy for his congregation. He is a sociopath that has been sheltered by the Catholic Church as without their protection, this man would have been in jail over 40 years ago.

Tammy
Tammy

This man has been cruising and molesting children all over the world for fiftyyears or more, so to say that none of your passengers, I guess is what you are saying. could be one of his victims. That is just ridiculous, His victims range in age from 30;s to 70;s. Anyway these off the beaten paths that your ship promisses is right up a sexual predators road. He will put a collar on and these families will think he was sent to them by God and there will be plenty of little children served up to him. The wron answer is that we can do nothing. That is why these crimes of horror continue ruining lives!!

Adam
Adam

While I can understand why people would be upset with this, I think there's something wrong when we're harrassing people who haven't been convicted of shit. This is America, and someone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. What if it wasn't for somebody accused to be a predator? What if it was something like drug possession? You can argue that the statue of limitations should be removed, but this priest wasn't convicted and that means he has the right to live his life as anyone else.

Cboh1
Cboh1

First I am a survivor of sexual clergy abuse and will forever suffer from my molestations at the hands of a now registered sex offender, a pedophile priest.

A priest who has admitted in open court to sexually molesting at least 13 boys. He was briefly arrested for one of his acts due to the statute of limitations, was released and has since retired. He now collects a retirement check from the Church that Sunday collections help fund.

If you truly believe the Church is wrong and must be taught a lesson about Gods wrath stop filling that collection basket until they come clean and stop allowing some pedophile priest to go unpunished.

I have come to the end of my rope regarding the lies the Catholic Church continues to spew along with its band of high paid lawyers. There is one lawyer that is now reopening these deep wounds by his following actions, with the full blessing of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with the following disturbing information.Two weeks ago, prominent LA lawyer Donald H. Steier filed a little-noticed; ten page declaration in LA County Superior Court. In it, he claims there has been “a high level of false allegations” against California predator priests and that an unnamed FBI agent told him that half of the nearly 1,000 clergy lawsuits against California pedophile priests were “either entirely false” or “greatly exaggerated.”

I intend on seeking legal direction in his slanderous comments about me by continuing to in an attempt to shame sexual molestation victims back into hiding.

This entire situation has been the drive behind my very personal and Explicit tell all book of my life at the hands of the Catholic Church and its actions of my sexual molesters.

My life has been forever damaged and it is my hope we can band together to once and for all banish all pedophiles and their enablers to hell here on earth and beyond.

Cubaricua515
Cubaricua515

It's sad to hear about this sexual predetor being able to go on with his live like nothing ever happened.What about his victims, will they be able to have a normal life again? I do not think so.This priest,as well as others accused of crimes against children should be put away, and throw away the keys, and not be allowed to cruise around,free to abuse other innocent children.....

RRGrain
RRGrain

While Rucker may be laicized, it was probably in exchange for a fat annuity from the Catholic Church to keep his mouth shut about his long history of abuses. After all, even priests who molest are still princes of the Church. Who is paying the bills at his Catholic retirement community in LA? Who is paying for his expensive cruises? I didn't realize priest salaries could cover the costs of luxury travel. This man escaped justice on a technicality and now he can roam free--a risk to children at every port of call. This is a travesty that could easily have been prevented if the cruise line had done the right thing and acted in the best interest of its passengers, crew and the people of the countries where they visit. To abdicate and throw up your hands, then say your competitors are doing it and we only cater to seniors on the ship, is not a reasonable response.

David Price
David Price

Once again Tod Tamberg you amaze me with your need to comment on these articles. And you use your time & space to attack someone who has done more to expose the deceit by the Catholic church and especially the Archdiocese of L.A. David Clohessy has been an advocate for the many who have been sexually abused by priests and should be applauded for all of his and SNAP"s efforts. As I've stated before to you Tod; I understand your job requires you to protect the church at all costs, these personal attacks on articles really seem petty in the grand sceme of things. When are you and or your boss Roger going to admit that the Church has caused enormous harm to many and that "writing a check" changes nothing. I've quoted you in my book Altar Boy Altered Life from many years back and still find it hard to believe you are playing the same PR game. I hope in my lifetime, someone in the hierarchy of the Catholic church will admit that they screwed up.One can hope for miracles, right Tod?

David PriceAltar Boy Altered LifeAuthor/Advocate for Survivors

Tod Tamberg
Tod Tamberg

I applaud victims who alerted the public to Mr. Rucker's whereabouts. It is indeed frustrating that little more can be done, since Mr. Rucker has not been tried or convicted, and is no longer subject to church authority or jurisdiction (he was laicized in 2008). Essentially, Mr. Rucker answers to no one. As if this isn't bad enough, SNAP's David Clohessy potentially added to the grief of Mr. Rucker's victims by falsely claiming that the Archdiocese had pledged to place Mr. Rucker under "confinement" and monitor his movements. Yesterday, I challenged Mr. Clohessy to provide documents to back up his claims. He did not because he could not. My guess is that he simply got caught making them up. In his press release, he also completely ignored the fact that Mr. Rucker had been laicized, a well-reported fact. It would have been laudable had Mr. Clohessy simply applauded the fact that Mr. Rucker's whereabouts had been discovered and that he could no longer represent himself as a priest. That would at least have spared some victims the pain of wondering whether Mr. Rucker was a "cruise chaplain." My fear is that by omitting mention of Mr. Rucker's laicization and by making unsubstantiated statements, Mr. Clohessy may have increased the frustration and anguish of the victims of Mr. Rucker. Tod Tamberg, Spokesman, Los Angeles Archdiocese.

Ftbrgraider
Ftbrgraider

The picture of Rucker is not Rucker. The pictureat Bisop Acct. .org is much different and is in black and white, Mr. Miller needs to correct his mistake.

Mschettler
Mschettler

Sadly, this is not an isolated case of a child molester navigating through loopholes in our legal system. Rucker avoided accountability for his crimes for decades while church officials knowingly protected him. By the time criminal charges were filed, the statute of limitations had run out. Despite the fact that he was never tried and convicted, there seems little doubt of his guilt. The LA Archdiocese paid millions of dollars to settle with his victims, but Rucker himself is apparently still free and wealthy enough to enjoy a long luxury cruise. Since they have been warned, the cruise line is taking a big chance that they won't eventually be held liable for Rucker harming children when he is off the ship during the cruise, or later by gaining access to the grandchildren of new acquaintances he may make on the cruise ship.Statute of limitations laws must be changed so that they protect victims rather than predators.

SNAPMelanie
SNAPMelanie

To add to Judy Jones comment, who will be responsible if Rucker injures a child at any of the cruise lines ports of call?

Melanie Jula Sakoda, SNAP East Bay Director925-708-6175melanie@pokrov.orgSurvivors Network of those Abused by Priestshttp://www.snapnetwork.org/

Besher
Besher

Maybe he will be lost at sea?

Locolocal5000
Locolocal5000

Cruise ship to Russia? Cruise through South America? Guaranteed sex tourist. Pedophile sex tourist. Somebody push him overboard....feed him to the sharks

SNAPJudy
SNAPJudy

This is exactly WHY the “statute of limitations” should be removed for sex crimes against kids.

If Rucker , who is a known child predator, is allowed to exit that boat at any of these ports, who will be responsible if he skips, and does not return?

Child predators are very cunning, manipulative, and dangerous.

Yes, the statute of limitations needs to be removed, otherwise this vicious cycle will not end, and kids will be a risk, in any part of the world.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511snapjudy@gmail.com"Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests"http://www.snapnetwork.org/

rgerrick1
rgerrick1

Judy,

This is Renee. This is a long shot, but I went to St. Anthony's, too, and witnessed Fr. Rucker doing his thing to Margaret. I can't believe he got away with doing that for all of these years.

Unbelievable:(

Do u remember me?

Mcdispenza
Mcdispenza

I contacted the editor about this photo and it is now changed. I hope you are doing well.

Mary

Mcdispenza
Mcdispenza

I agree, I too was molested by Father Rucker and this photo bears no resemblance. It is terribly unfair to whomever is in the photo. It needs to be corrected.

Mary

Mcdispenza
Mcdispenza

Hi Tammy,

I remember you from FAther Rucker's deposition at the Sheraton. You were kind to me- you gave me a hug because I was afraid - you told me you were going to sit across from Rucker and "stare that bastard in the eyes." That broke the ice for me. Thank you. I hope you are doing well.

Mary

JudyP
JudyP

Adam - I was a child when Fr. Rucker served at St. Anthony's School in El Segundo, California. The only reason this monster wasn't convicted is because the Catholic Church bought off the victim's families and moved him from place to place. Now as adults in our 40's and 50's, the statue of limitations allows him to walk free. I agree with what you are saying in general, but not in this case. There are hundreds of adults walking around today with the emotional scars he inflicted. We will never be free of this. Why is he?

Pegusashler
Pegusashler

Rucker Raped me and my siblings in such a Horrific way our entire family was destroyed an it is the responsiblity of the Catholic Church to be accountable for those actions! However all I see is Tod Tamberg spewing out attacks again against survivors whom are tring to do our best to protect the Children of the future something I Do Not See Catholic doing on a Honest level. For instance Why is it that the Catholic Church is the Only one whom has hired law firm's to fight against changing the law " Statue of Limitations for child sex abuse"? HUMM Well There s your sign La Archdiocese Knowingly , and repeatedly moved pedophile priest from parish to parish Rucker was one of them I wonder who else was in the room while Rucker raped us as children Would you know anything about that Tamberg or are you gonna just pretend That you have done all you can do ? For whom ? For Those of us whom remain vigilant and seek justice We Know a Criminal like Rucker could not possibly have 12,000 for a cruise unless the Church perhaps may have some more of those Hidden assets to share with him to Kepp Quiet at least thats how it looks from where I sit

Supergrrl99
Supergrrl99

Mr. Tamberg:

You are the public relations rep for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles; your words about victims' pain are pretty meaningless considering all you and your organization have done to hurt them. Do us all a favor and stop insulting SURVIVORS of clergy sexual abuse who have done what Cardinal Mahony and his cronies were not human enough to do: act Christian.

One question (or "challenge") to you: Why is that Mr. Rucker was never convicted of molesting any kids considering the Archdiocese knew about him long before the 12 charges in the 1990s? Could it be because your organization covered up for him?

How dare you ask survivors and their advocates to show you documents when all you and the LA Archdiocese have done for YEARS is fight to keep yours secret? You need a Court Order before you'll turn your documents over- why should SNAP be any different? You're a hypocrite.

Thank you, David Clohessy, and the thousands of amazing and brave SNAP members who continually do what Church leaders should have done decades ago. You should be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Tamberg. Hope you remember that every time you cash your paycheck. Remember...everything done in the dark comes to light.

Pegusashler
Pegusashler

What I would like to see is this SNAP network people Come Clean as well NO More BS and start notifining the survivors of Known Catholic Priest Pedophiles as it happens . To Often you all call yourself s a Network for those abused by Priest and than You Do NOT include the survivors you all just stick to your tiny little click and forget to call those of us whom are willing to stand up and be accounable and do our part. I find this insulting that you even call yourselfs a Network FOR Suvivors Abused by priest it should be :"A network against pedophile priest" because there is NO support coming from your organization to assist or even call any of us whom has reached out on any type of regular basis... In Fact I think your Non Profit should be looked into . I do not get calls nor do many of the other survivors whom have asked for help so what is this help your giving us . If I needed someone to just give a C*&&*%^% I sure wont be getting any calls of concern from any of you people : ITs a good thing I am strong enough to network Real People Whom Give a C*&^^% about me and I got animials whom are better about Getting Back to me . I am Happier now that I realize Not to Look you up for help .....

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