Rudy Giuliani's consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, has for years employed a Catholic priest who was accused by a grand jury of orchestrating the over-up of nearly 60 separate molestations allegations -- a priest who allegedly partook of the activities himself. The priest, Alan Placa, is one of Giuliani's oldest friends; in turn, Giuliani has become Placa's highest-profile defender.

This is a remarkable story about how, for Giuliani, the bonds of friendship can survive even the highest levels of moral radioactivity. If the court documents are accurate, if the allegations are true, even in part, it's also the story of a very troubled priest who abused the trust of his young charges.

I first learned about this story earlier this year, when Giuliani opponents circulated a Newsday article at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Today, Salon fills in some of the blanks.

The basic facts are as follows.

At the height of the molestation scandal that damaged the Catholic Church in 2002, Monsignor Placa was accused by two former students of having touched them inappropriately while serving as Dean of Students at a Long Island seminary school in the 1970s. One student alleged that Placa fondled him while the two were creating banners for a Nat'l Right To Life event. Placa denied the charges. Shortly there after, a second former student alleged that Placa repeatedly groped him while the two would read the New York Times.

Placa grew up with Rudy Giuliani, was " the best man for his first marriage, baptized his children, helped him annul his first marriage and buried his mother," according to Newsday. And after the diocese forced Placa to temporarily resign his position until the charges against him were resolved, Giuliani gave him a plum assignment at Giuliani Partners, where he remains employed.

If that's where it ended, Giuliani could say that he was simply standing by an old friend who was innocent.

But in 2003, a grand jury concluded that Placa was at the center of a diocese-wide effort to cover up nearly 60 allegations of sexual abuse by its priests. Here's the grand jury report -- you can read it for yourself. Placa is "Priest F," according to numerous published reports.

Per the National Catholic Reporter:

The report documents allegations of the rape of cheerleaders and altar boys, of acts of molestation and seductions in churches, rectories, on camping trips, and in the homes of the minors who were abused. It tells of instances in which priests provided minors with pornography and alcohol, and of cases in which the diocese received allegations and didn’t report them to police, but instead transferred the accused priests to other parishes.

Newsday elaborated:

Routinely, the report said, Placa dragged out cases to make legal redress difficult. Victims were often ‘ignored, belittled and revictimized. In some cases, the grand jury finds that the diocese procrastinated for the sole purpose of making sure that the civil and criminal statutes of limitation were no longer applicable.’ In one case … Placa reportedly told a nun who had brought together victims and their families that the meeting was a waste of time because the statute of limitations had expired

Additionally, the grand jury found two other boys who alleged that "Priest F" -- Placa, although he was not named -- had molested them. The grand jury found that Placa was "cautious but relentless" in "pursuing his victims."

Giuliani stood by Placa after the grand jury issued its report, and he stands by him now.

Placa was never charged; the statute of limitations had run out.

Again, Giuliani defended Placa against the sexual abuse allegations.

Salon has a more complete history of this case today, and it includes a confirmation from Giuliani Partners spokeswoman Sunny Mindel that Placa is still aboard and that Giuliani believes Placa to be innocent.