Bishop's accuser omits old arrests
By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- Bill Urbanski, the former Catholic diocese spokesman who has accused Bishop Robert Lynch of sexual harassment, lost a job Wednesday because his prospective employer said Urbanski lied on his job application.
Executives at the St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation rescinded a job offer to Urbanski after they found out he falsely answered a question on his application about his criminal record.
Urbanski didn't disclose that he had pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, which occurred when Urbanski, 42, was in his early 20s.
"Our concern is that there was falsified information on the application," said hospital foundation spokeswoman Lisa Patterson said. "That's especially important in the field of health care."
She said the action had nothing to do with the controversy caused by Urbanski's accusation that Lynch sexually harassed him during a three-year period.
St. Joseph's, which was founded in 1934 by an order of Franciscan nuns, is affiliated with the Catholic Church. But the nonprofit hospital, which is run by a board of community leaders, operates separately from the church, Patterson said.
Church and hospital spokeswomen said neither Lynch nor the diocese contacted St. Joseph's Hospital in any way about Urbanski's job.
Urbanski said he has no reason to think there was a link.
"Knowing the people at St. Joseph's, I would have to believe this has nothing to do with it," he said.
The Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg paid Urbanski more than $100,000 as part of a severance agreement. Church officials said the payment was not a settlement of Urbanski's allegations.
Urbanski said Lynch forced him to share a hotel room when the two traveled on business and that Lynch grabbed his thigh as the two drove in a car. He claims Lynch took pictures of him in his Speedo bathing suit, making Urbanski uncomfortable. On a trip to Sante Fe, N.M., Urbanski says, Lynch came out of the shower nude to show Urbanski how much weight he had lost.
At a news conference and during church services, Lynch has strongly denied the allegations, and hundreds of Catholics have come out to support him. Lynch said his only mistake was letting his "collar" down with Urbanski, a close friend, and blurring the line between employer and employee.
After Urbanski left the diocese last year, Lynch gave him a job recommendation for a position at a national triathlon organization, a diocese spokeswoman said.
It's not clear if Urbanski got the job, or if he has been employed since leaving the diocese.
Urbanski was supposed to start his job as manager of corporate giving at the fundraising arm of St. Joseph's on Monday. He would have helped the foundation raise funds from companies.
Hospital officials wouldn't say how much the job paid. It was a new position.
Urbanski was offered the job as long as nothing turned up on the hospital's standard background check, which includes a drug screening, a check of educational and employment credentials and a criminal history search.
The application warns applicants that they can be fired at any time without notice for giving false information or leaving information out of an application.
Urbanski said he didn't disclose the criminal cases from 1979 and 1982 because he thought the question only referred to cases from the last 10 years.
The question on the application doesn't limit an answer to any time period.
Records show that Urbanski, then 19, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in 1979 and paid a $27 fine for failing to leave a bar on Madeira Beach after police told him to leave. He also pleaded guilty in 1982 to disorderly conduct in a Jacksonville bar.
"It was my mistake. I didn't think it was relevant. It was 20 years ago," Urbanski said. "St. Joseph's was following procedures, and I have to respect them for it."
Urbanski said he was planning to rescind his acceptance of the job when hospital officials called to discuss the problems with his application.
"They are a classy organization, and they don't need to be in the middle of a firestorm when they are trying to raise money," he said.
-- Staff writer Sharon Tubbs contributed to this report. Times staff writer David Karp is at 226-3376 or email@example.com.
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