Abuse Tracker
A Blog by Kathy Shaw

BishopAccountability.org – Documenting the Abuse Crisis

August 18, 2019

Priest who starred in 'The Exorcist' accused of sexually abusing student in the 1980s

USA TODAY and Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

August 16, 2019

By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Father Bill O’Malley, an outgoing Jesuit teacher who became a Rochester, New York, celebrity after a star turn in the supernatural film "The Exorcist," has been accused of sexually abusing one of his students at McQuaid Jesuit High School three decades ago.

The Rev. William J. O’Malley S.J. joined the McQuaid faculty in 1965. By the time he left the Brighton school in the mid-1980s, he was one of the best-known clergy members in town.

He now lives, at age 87, in the Jesuit community at Fordham University in the Bronx. He is widely known not only for his Hollywood stint, but as the author of more than three dozen books and as a lively ambassador for the Jesuit order and Catholic faith.

Until last week, his reputation had been sullied only by his abrupt dismissal in 2012 from Fordham Prep, whose authorities told the New York Post that O’Malley’s old-school teaching style was too "abrasive."

Recovering and Recreating the Institutions We Need

The Catholic Thing (blog)

August 18, 2019

By Adam A.J. DeVille

Catholics today are caught between two understandable but equally incomplete approaches to the sex-abuse crisis. On the more “liberal” side, Massimo Faggioli has recently rightly written that in an age of profound corruption in the Church, we must resist the temptation of “institutional iconoclasm,” the mentality that leads some people to say “burn the whole thing down.” No serious Catholic can support that.

On the more “conservative” side, Bishop Robert Barron says something similar in Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis, which seems incapable of considering any sort of institutional change. This, too, is unworthy of support from Catholics who are truly serious about major and lasting reform.

What is good in both Faggioli and Barron is the awareness, as Faggioli acknowledges, that “we keep institutions because institutions keep us. On the other hand, institutions need change.” But which institutions? What changes? What if those institutions, even dramatically reformed, prove insufficient to our present moment? Surely there is room in the Church today to contemplate the recovery of institutions that were once common but have, often for no good reason, fallen into desuetude?

OKC man shares story about priest's abuse

The Oklahoman

August 18, 2019

By Carla Hinton

The "monster" that haunted Nick Yascavage for decades didn't come creeping out from under his childhood bed.

It wasn't some faceless stranger that his parents had warned him about.

The Oklahoma City man's nightmare walked into his parents' Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, home one afternoon as a revered guest of honor.

The "monster" came wearing a clerical collar and eventually asked his mother and father if 12-year-old Nicky wanted to go with him to get ice cream

This was no troll or bogeyman. The nightmare was real.

It was the new priest in town.

Yascavage, 53, has spent more than 40 years trying to repress the memories of his encounters with the man who started out as his youth pastor only to turn into his abuser.

The U.S. Army veteran and one-time restaurateur told only one person, a spouse, about the experiences that tainted his childhood.

Opinion: Why my heart and soul remain Catholic

Arizona Daily Star via Tucson.com

August 18, 2019

By Renée Schafer Horton

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

Last August in this space, I wrote about the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing Catholic clergy abuse against more than 1,000 children. The report, which covered a 70-year period ending in the early 2000s, provided evidence that bishops had hid the abuse over decades and that some recently retired bishops knew about this duplicity.

Nearly 17 years after Catholics had been assured our house was swept clean, we discovered that the system that hid abuse hadn’t actually changed. It was a come-to-Jesus moment for many Catholics and I wrote that the only way to prod the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops to get their act together was to hold back donations.

Defrocked Irish American bishop named in ground-breaking child abuse lawsuits

Irish Central

August 18, 2019

An Irish American bishop defrocked for sexual abuse has been named in several suits on the first day of a ground-breaking new child sex abuse law in New York.

August 15 was the first day of a one-year window which will allow victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits, regardless of age, including those victims whose cases had expired under the old statute of limitations. Over 400 lawsuits were filed in the state on the first day, reports the Catholic News Agency.

Sexual abuse victims in New York were previously required to file civil lawsuits by their 23rd birthdays. Under the Child Victims Act, which was approved in January, individuals now have until age 55, and for this first year of the law, they can be any age.

Former archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, who was defrocked earlier this year for sexual abuse, was named in a number of the suits.

The 89-year-old former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, was expelled from the priesthood in February this year, marking the first time a bishop has ever been defrocked in the history of the church.

McCarrick, who in 1990 was awarded the Ellis Island Hall of Fame membership in honor of his Irish immigrant roots, was defrocked, or laicized, from the Roman Catholic Church after being found guilty of decades of sexual abuse of minors and adult seminarians. According to Susan Gibbe, his former spokeswoman, McCarrick is currently living in a friary in Kansas.

A year later, Pa. Senate still dodging grand jury findings on clergy abuse | Editorial

The Express-Times

August 18, 2019

One year after an investigating grand jury gave Pennsylvania legislators all the evidence they needed to update laws on child sexual abuse — in fact, Pennsylvania’s groundbreaking work led to reforms in other states, including New Jersey — the response in Harrisburg has been little more than “we’ll get to it.”


The grand jury report identified more than 300 priests as sexual predators and thousands of victims. It spawned investigations by other states’ attorneys general and a probe by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Instead of acting to extend the legal redress of survivors who suffered at the hands of Catholic Church clergy throughout the state, as painstakingly detailed by the Pennsylvania grand jury, state Senate Republican leaders have balked at proposals to set up retroactive “windows,” which would allow long-ago victims to file civil claims in court.

Your View by Allentown Catholic bishop: ‘We can never forget the victims, we can never erase the past’

The Morning Call

August 18, 2019

By Bishop Alfred A. Schlert

The one-year anniversary of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse provides an opportunity for me to report on what the Diocese of Allentown has done, and what we will continue to do, to prevent abuse and to keep children safe.

On this issue, we can never forget the victims, we can never erase the past, and we can never let down our guard.

We have taken many concrete actions during the past year, in addition to the robust prevention and safety programs we already have in place. My first priority is keeping our children safe.

The grand jury acknowledged in its report that much had changed for the better in the Catholic Church in the previous 15 years. Here’s a look at what we have done in the Diocese of Allentown over the past 12 months:

St. Louis County priest already deemed sexually violent sentenced again

Associated Press via KSDK-TV (Channel 5)

August 18, 2019

Fred Lenczycki pleaded guilty in May to two counts of sodomy for abuse that occurred at a St. Louis County parish in Bridgeton.

The first U.S. Catholic priest to be labeled sexually violent when he was convicted in Illinois has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing two boys in Missouri in the 1990s.

Fred Lenczycki pleaded guilty in May to two counts of sodomy for abuse that occurred at a St. Louis County parish in Bridgeton. Lenczycki is 75.

Lenczycki was removed from the ministry in 2002, when he was charged with abusing three boys in the 1980s in Illinois. He pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

In 2008, he was labeled sexually violent under Illinois' Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act. Church and court files show that Lenczycki has admitted abusing up to 30 boys in Illinois, Missouri and California over 25 years.

All San Diego diocesan employees meet to hear new steps in abuse fight

Catholic News Service via Crux

August 18, 2019

By Aida Bustos

Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego gathered all 2,500-plus diocesan employees for the first time in its history to announce an expansion of the fight against the sexual abuse of children not just within the local church but in the greater society.

U.S. Church reforms adopted in the early 2000s have contributed to a dramatic decline in cases of child abuse by clergy. The San Diego Diocese has not had a confirmed incident of sexual abuse of a minor by any of its priests in the past 20 years, records show.

But much more remains to be done to confront abuse, McElroy told the employees at the Aug. 13 meeting at the University of San Diego.

Local bishop stepping back from public appearances during sexual abuse lawsuit

WCIV-TV (ABC affiliate)

August 18, 2019

The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston will be staying out of the public eye as a sexual abuse lawsuit is ongoing.

ABC News 4 has learned that Bishop Robert Guglielmone said in a letter to Diocese of Charleston churches that he will step back from public appearances until the lawsuit is settled.

More: Lawsuit accuses Charleston Catholic bishop of sex abuse in 1970s

In a letter to @DioceseChas churches, Bishop Robert Guglielmone says he’ll step back from public appearances until a lawsuit against him is settled. He’s accused of sexual abuse of a minor in NY. The bishop denies wrongdoing. @FOX24Charleston #chsnews

The lawsuit alleges that Guglielmone sexually abused a minor in the late 70s while he was a priest at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Amityville, New York, according to the diocese.

He has denied what he calls "baseless" allegations, and is cooperating with an investigation requested by the Vatican, according to Charleston Diocese spokesperson Maria Aselage.

Retired Albany Bishop Hubbard says he has ‘never sexually abused anyone’

Catholic News Service via Crux

August 17, 2019

Retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany said in a statement Aug. 16 he “never sexually abused anyone” and is taking a voluntary leave of absence from the Diocese of Albany to deal with the allegations.

The Evangelist, Albany’s diocesan newspaper, reported that a lawsuit filed Aug. 14 accuses Hubbard of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old in the late 1990s. The suit was filed the day New York state’s Child Victims Act went into effect.

The new law opens a yearlong “window” in the statute of limitations, allowing suits to be filed by victims alleging abuse by priests, church workers and employees of public schools, hospitals and other institutions no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.

Before victims filed claims, some targets of abuse lawsuits moved to shield assets

Albany Times-Union

August 17, 2019

By Brendan J. Lyons

It could take years, and protracted legal battles, for victims of rape and sexual abuse to receive any compensation from the hundreds of lawsuits they began filing across the state last week against their alleged childhood predators or the organizations that employed them.

The lawsuits were among the first round of what are expected to be thousands of claims that will be filed in the coming year, after New York lifted its civil statute of limitations on sexual crimes and opened a one-year window for victims to sue those responsible.

The one-year period was enabled by the Child Victims Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in February. Its ratification suddenly became a reality last November — after more than a decade of political gridlock in the state Legislature — when Democrats who long supported the measure seized control of the Senate chamber from Republicans.

That political shift also provided a months-long warning to abusers and the institutions that harbored them that the Democratic-controlled state Legislature may pass the measure, lowering a shield that had long protected the abusers from being sued for allegations dating back decades.

Religious leaders set to face punishment if they cover up child abuse

1 News, TVNZ, New Zealand

August 18, 2019

Victoria's premier says the culture of covering up child sexual abuse must end after Melbourne's most senior Catholic said he'd rather go to jail than reveal if someone confessed to him.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli also said priests who hear confessions have a similar privileged relationship to journalists and their sources, or lawyers and their clients.

Victoria is introducing new laws making it mandatory for religious leaders to report allegations of child abuse, including if they're made during confession.

Abuse survivor Richard Jabara lashes Archbishop Peter Comensoli

The Australian

August 18, 2019

By Rachel Baxendale

Child sex abuse survivor Richard Jabara was among 52 Catholic Church abuse survivors who lit up the In Good Faith Foundation’s switchboard with phone calls expressing their disgust earlier this month, after The Australian reported the Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli had bought himself a country retreat with an indoor pool as the Church sacks dozens of people as part of his reform agenda.

The charity, which provides case management, advocacy and support services to those affected by institutional sexual abuse, received another flood of calls last week when Archbishop Comensoli told ABC radio he would sooner go to jail than comply with the Andrews government’s proposed law compelling priests to report evidence of abuse revealed in the confessional.

Archbishop Comensoli meanwhile maintains that he does not believe mandatory reporting of abuse and preservation of the sanctity of confession are mutually exclusive, and that he was “deeply hurt” by the reaction to his private purchase of the country property with money left to him by his parents.

Mr Jabara, who was raped as a 13-year-old by Catholic priest and serial child abuse Terrence Pidoto, said he was deeply disappointed in Archbishop Comensoli, who commenced his role just over a year ago.

August 17, 2019

Priest Guilty Of Sex Abuse; List Of DC, Baltimore Accused Priests


August 17, 2019

By Deb Belt

A Catholic priest who served in both Maryland and Washington, D.C., was convicted Thursday of four counts of child sexual abuse against two children that happened on the grounds of his parish, Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish in Northwest Washington. The Rev. Urbano Vazquez, 47, of Washington, D.C., committed the abuse from 2015 to 2017, prosecutors said. He was arrested in November 2018.

Father Vazquez served his diaconate internship at Our Lady of the Mountains Parish (Western Maryland) from 2013-2014 and later celebrated Mass there on a few occasions. He was on a list of Catholic priests credibly accused of sexual abuse against children that was released in late 2018, including the Baltimore archdiocese. (See below for a list of priests in both the Baltimore and Washington archdioceses who have been accused.)

The guilty verdicts were returned after a nine-day trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Vazquez will be sentenced on Nov. 22. The Archdiocese of Washington said Vasquez will have no authority to serve as a priest in the archdiocese; what happens to his ministry will be decided by his religious the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

Prosecutors said that between April 1, 2015 and May 31, 2015, Vazquez molested a 13-year-old girl while speaking with her in a parish office. In addition, between June 2016 and August 2017, Vazquez kissed and molested a second girl of 9 to 10 years old in various places on church grounds, including near the church confessionals. The jury also heard testimony from another teenage girl who Vazquez kissed in a church conference room.

Why victims of clergy sex abuse embrace hope for justice even if lawmakers should fail to enact reforms

Patroit News

August 16, 2019

By Ivey DeJesus

A peculiar setting is shaping up in Pennsylvania that could pave the way for scores of people who were sexually abused as children to face their abuser in court even though their legal right has run out.

This week the state Superior Court denied a Catholic dioceses its petition seeking to have the court reverse a decision that allows a woman who was sexually abused by a priest more than 40 years ago the right to bring the alleged predator to court, even though the statute of limitations has long expired for her.

That decision comes ahead of what is expected to be a rancorous debate in the Legislature over several measures that would overhaul the statute of limitations.

Put in simple terms: Even if lawmakers fail to enact reforms (something it has done several times in recent years) victims locked out of the legal system could still have a pathway to justice under the Superior Court’s ruling.

“For the first time in a long time, we have an overwhelming sense of hope,” said Shaun Dougherty, who was sexually abused as a child by his priest in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

“We’ve had the door shut in our faces so many times, we’ve had the court door, the Senate door shut in our faces but we’ve been persistent. We never went away. It looks like the court door just opened up for us and it looks like the Senate door could be cracking.”

Why victims of clergy sex abuse embrace hope for justice even if lawmakers should fail to enact reforms

Patroit News

August 16, 2019

By Ivey DeJesus

A peculiar setting is shaping up in Pennsylvania that could pave the way for scores of people who were sexually abused as children to face their abuser in court even though their legal right has run out.

This week the state Superior Court denied a Catholic dioceses its petition seeking to have the court reverse a decision that allows a woman who was sexually abused by a priest more than 40 years ago the right to bring the alleged predator to court, even though the statute of limitations has long expired for her.

That decision comes ahead of what is expected to be a rancorous debate in the Legislature over several measures that would overhaul the statute of limitations.

Put in simple terms: Even if lawmakers fail to enact reforms (something it has done several times in recent years) victims locked out of the legal system could still have a pathway to justice under the Superior Court’s ruling.

“For the first time in a long time, we have an overwhelming sense of hope,” said Shaun Dougherty, who was sexually abused as a child by his priest in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

“We’ve had the door shut in our faces so many times, we’ve had the court door, the Senate door shut in our faces but we’ve been persistent. We never went away. It looks like the court door just opened up for us and it looks like the Senate door could be cracking.”

Corey Feldman Calls for Hollywood Sexual Abuse Victims to Support Bill to Change CA Statute Laws

Hollywood Reporter

August 14, 2019

Corey Feldman is hoping to use his voice and celebrity status to help fellow victims of sexual abuse.

The actor, who serves as Child USA’s ambassador and has spoken out extensively about the alleged abuse he suffered as a child actor, is urging abuse victims in Hollywood to sign a letter that he will be sending on Thursday to the California Senate in relation to current laws about the state’s statute of limitations.

“I’m beyond elated that we have moved the needle to the point that this dream can finally become a reality,” Feldman, 48, says in a statement. “I’m so grateful to all the survivors who are working with Child USA and myself to bring closure and justice to so many lives that have been branded and tarnished at the hands of abusers. I know there is great power in numbers and with this bill, our voices can finally be heard as a unified force for justice.”

In January, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez reintroduced a bill “that would give victims more time to report an assault and create another tool in identifying sexual predators before they harm more children in the future,” according to a press release.

“Assembly Bill 218 would expand both the statute of limitations for the time given to victims of childhood sexual assault, from age 26 to age 40, and the period for delayed reasonable discovery from three to five years,” the press release states. “After enactment, the measure would also allow for a window of three years for the revival of past claims that might have expired due to the statute of limitations.”

Currently, the status of the bill is “In committee: Referred to APPR,” which is the Committee on Appropriations.

The Diaconate and the Abuse Crisis

National Catholic Register

August 17, 2019

By Robert Klesko

I have been thumbing through Dr. Adam DeVille’s book Everything Hidden Shall be Revealed about his proposed reforms for the Church in the face of the current abuse crisis. My perusal, and my recent experience at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius as a deacon formation student, has led me to see the vital importance for the Latin Church to quickly and thoroughly expand its understanding of the role of the diaconate in the hierarchy.

The recent resurfacing of the problem of clerical sexual abuse has two main elements — predatory abuse committed by priests and bishops and the failure of bishops to expose and eradicate such sinful conduct. In the midst of this disastrous formula, we need to consider the role of the deacon as an important “check and balance” within the Church’s hierarchy.

The West, if I may paint in broad strokes, has lost its bearings as to the role of the deacon in the Church. Many view his ministry as superfluous liturgically, as he has only a few functions at Mass. As such, he is a kind of glorified altar boy. Many parishes see a deacon only when one is assigned there temporarily on his way to the priesthood. Subsequently, the diaconate is seen as a “steppingstone” to the more exalted priesthood. The deacon in the West is assigned tasks that he historically never fulfilled, such as witnessing at weddings outside of the Mass and conducting baptisms. Such a view of the role of the deacon has led to many orthodox-minded priests and bishops to question if we need deacons at all. But the role of the deacon, handed down to us from Scripture and Apostolic tradition, is absolutely vital to the governance of the Church.

Diocese of Scranton launches investigation into national shrine rector Rossi

Catholic News Agency

August 16, 2019

By Ed Condon

The Diocese of Scranton has begun an investigation into allegations of misconduct on the part of the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

“Bishop Joseph Bambera, Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, has commenced the process of launching a full forensic investigation into the concerns that have been raised,” about Msgr. Walter Rossi, the diocese told CNA Aug. 14.

“Approximately one year ago, concerns were raised in the public sector regarding Monsignor Walter Rossi, a priest who was incardinated in the Diocese of Scranton but who has served more than 20 years at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.”

“The Diocese of Scranton referred those initial concerns to the Archdiocese of Washington, which investigated certain specific allegations and determined them to be unfounded,” the diocese added.

“Additional concerns have now surfaced, however, requiring a broadened investigation.”

“Bishop Bambera has spoken with Archbishop Wilton Gregory and they have agreed that the Diocese of Scranton and Archdiocese of Washington will work jointly and cooperatively on undertaking a comprehensive investigation,” the statement concluded.

Concerns were raised about Rossi to Archbishop Gregory Tuesday night, during a question-and-answer session at a Theology on Tap, held at the Public Bar Live in the Dupont area of Washington. The event was broadcast live on Facebook.

During that session, Gregory called for an independent, forensic investigation of some allegations against Rossi.

In the first question from the floor at the Aug. 13 event, Gregory was asked about Rossi, who has been the subject of media reports and public speculation in the last year.

SC bishop pushes back against sex abuse allegations in NY lawsuit

Courier Post

August 15, 2019

By Glenn Smith and Stephen Hobbs

Attorneys for South Carolina’s highest-ranking Catholic continued to push back Thursday against allegations that Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone sexually abused a young parishioner in New York in the 1970s, saying the accusations were fabricated in an attempt to squeeze money from the church.

But questions remained as to when the allegations contained in a lawsuit against Guglielmone first surfaced and how they were handled at that time. Also unclear is the scope of an ongoing investigation requested by the Vatican. Church officials in New York declined to answer those and other questions when contacted by The Post and Courier.

The New York lawsuit was filed Wednesday, the same day another suit against Guglielmone was dismissed in federal court in Charleston. That action concerned allegations that Guglielmone improperly retaliated against a priest for reporting sexual abuse the priest had suffered at the hands of clergy in Greenville as a boy. Guglielmone has denied the allegations leveled against him in both suits.

The bishop denies the allegation of repeatedly sexually abusing a young boy beginning in 1978 while serving as a pastor in New York.

The New York case accuses Guglielmone of molesting and performing sex acts on a young boy while serving as a priest at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Amityville, N.Y. The suit alleges the abuse began in 1978, when the child was 8 years old, and that Guglielmone told the boy that it was “God’s will.”

Does Catholic Church have bigger sex abuse problem than other religions?

Buffalo News

August 16, 2019

By Dan Herbeck

There were 105 Child Victims Act lawsuits against religious organizations in Western New York in the first two days those cases could be filed.

But only two of them targeted religious organizations that are not Catholic.

One lawsuit was filed against a Lutheran organization and a former Lutheran religion teacher who allegedly raped and molested a 13-year-old girl at First Trinity Lutheran Church in the Town of Tonawanda from 1978 until 1981. The other was filed against Buffalo’s Temple Beth Zion, alleging that a Hebrew tutor there repeatedly molested a 12-year-old female student during a nine-month period in 1970.

Ninety-eight percent of the 105 lawsuits against religious organizations in five Western New York counties named as defendants the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, priests and other individuals and institutions associated with the diocese.

Despite that, Nora Kovach, 54, who accused her former Lutheran religious education teacher, Bruce Arlen Connolly, in her lawsuit, said her case shows that child sexual abuse is not just a problem in the Catholic Church.

Let the handlers of predatory priests pay in full

Register Star

August 16, 2019

Priests are supposed to offer spiritual comfort to adults and counsel young people on the values they will need later in life. They are not supposed to be sexual predators taking advantage of children.

That’s what makes the release of a list of alleged pedophile priests from this area, including one formerly of the Sacred Heart Church in Cairo, a tragedy and a disgrace. The priests were named in lawsuits filed against the Albany Diocese by alleged sexual abuse victims under the Child Victims Act.

It’s an offensive litany of accusations, both legally and morally. Father Sean McMahon, a priest from Ireland, was assigned to the Sacred Heart Church in Cairo. In 1984, according to the lawsuit against him, McMahon engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with an alleged victim who was 16 at the time. Details of the alleged sexual contact were not outlined in the court papers.

McMahon is the second priest from the Cairo area to be accused of sexually abusing a minor. Father Jeremiah Nunan was the former pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Cairo and Our Lady of Knock Mission in East Durham. Nunan was permanently barred from ministry June 30, 2018 by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger after the Albany Diocese Review Board ruled that he had sexually abused a minor in the early 1990s.

It’s horrifying to note that Nunan, McMahon and nearly two dozen other suspected priests in this region were continually moved from one parish assignment to another, always one step ahead of civil litigation or criminal prosecution or both.

Sudden resignation of seminarian at Christ the King Seminary blindsides Buffalo Diocese


August 16, 2019

In the wake of more than 100 child sex abuse lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act, a sudden departure is now blindsiding a Diocese already in crisis.

Stephen Parisi, a seminarian, is announcing his "immediate withdrawal" over what he calls, "alarming and problematic governance" of the Buffalo Diocese and Christ the King Seminary. Parisi served as Dean of Seminarians at Christ the King Seminary, a leadership role among the young men pursuing a vocation in the priesthood.

Parisi wrote a six page letter to Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone explaining why he left the seminary. While speaking to 7Eyewitness News, Parisi described an "unhealthy, hostile environemtn" at Christ the King in East Aurora since he began there in January 2018.

"If you don't go by what they tell you to do, or suggest that you do, you're told that you can be dismissed. You're reminded you can be dismissed for any reason at any time," Parisi said.

The "difficult year," as Parisi calls it, started last September when Father Joe Gatto was placed on leave last September from the seminary after three allegations of sexual misconduct.

"People were trying to climb to the top...there was really no clear organization chart for the Seminary. It was very chaotic."

Not only did he call for Bishop Richard Malone to resign: "We need change. We need somebody to come in and clean house. We need what the church terms as an apostolic investigation of this diocese."

But he also is asking parishioners to take action. "This culture of blackmail and hypocrisy within the clergy and the hierarchy is so deep, it is so entrenched. The only way for the church to survive is for good and honest lay people to reclaim their church and the first step is to stop putting money in the collection basket."

Court allows lawsuit against diocese

Altoona Mirror

AUG 16, 2019

By Russ O'Reilly

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has denied the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown’s application for re-argument in the lawsuit of a woman who claims a pedophile priest consistently molested her in the 1970s and ’80s in Blair County.

Wednesday’s ruling reaffirming that Renee A. Rice can pursue her lawsuit against officials in the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese reflects an evolving legal landscape, according to Rice’s attorney, Richard Serbin of the Janet, Janet & Suggs law firm.

“This decision confirms my position that the lawsuits I have recently filed in Dauphin and Centre counties will be able to go forward with the litigation process, allowing a jury to decide the factual questions raised,” Serbin stated in an email. “This is good news for many child sex abuse survivors.”

A day before the Superior Court’s decision on Rice’s case, Serbin filed two new lawsuits in Centre County against defendants including the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese stemming from the alleged abuse of two boys by a Jesuit seminarian decades ago.

Those lawsuits are filed on behalf of two accusers who attended the Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, where the seminarian repeatedly sexually assaulted both boys and raped one of them in the early 1970s. One of the two took his own life when he was 32.

In another lawsuit Serbin filed in Dauphin County against the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and some of its officials, a man, 67, claims he was raped by two priests from the Diocese of Harrisburg decades ago beginning when he was 9. The statute of limitations has long expired for him.

Those lawsuits, with Rice’s at the forefront, focus not so much on the sexual abuse but rather the failure on the part of the dioceses to fulfill obligations to active members of parish churches.

Rice’s case was previously dismissed by a Blair County judge on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired.

But on June 11, a state Superior Court panel reinstated the lawsuit against the diocese.

The Pa. grand jury report on Catholic abuse inspired new laws nationwide. So why didn’t it happen in Pennsylvania?

The Washington Post

August 14, 2019

By Julie Zauzmer

A year ago, Pennsylvania’s grand jury report on sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy landed with 800 pages of devastating detail and a worldwide impact.

The report led to arrests of priests in Michigan, protests in Maryland, the ouster of a cardinal in Washington, sweeping new legislation in New York, and even new policies at the Vatican.

Yet what did not happen was the one thing that the grand jurors actually called for: legislative action in Pennsylvania.

“It’s just one of the ugliest situations I have ever seen,” said Frances Unglo-Samber, an activist for survivors of clergy abuse. She attended rallies and pleaded with state lawmakers to pass legislation after the grand jury report, which documented abuse of more than 1,000 children by 300 named priests, was released last August.

And then, at the last minute, the reform effort fell apart. The state wouldn’t take the actions recommended by the grand jury. Pennsylvania wouldn’t get rid of the criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse or open a window so that victims could bring civil suits against past abusers and the institutions that protected them.

“It’s changed in other states,” said Unglo-Samber, whose brother killed himself after finally disclosing that he had been raped by their childhood priest. “How could it not change in Pennsylvania?”

Marci Hamilton, who tracks legislation at the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Child USA, called the past year “an absolutely banner year for statute-of-limitation reform” nationwide, largely propelled by the Pennsylvania grand jury report. “We had a tipping point. … The way that the world and the other states responded was, finally, almost purely pro-victim,” Hamilton said.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia passed laws extending or eliminating their statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse or allowing prior victims to sue, Hamilton said. In New York, the legislature granted a window for lawsuits that opens Wednesday; the state expects a flood of litigation.

Meanwhile, change in Pennsylvania sputtered — a cautionary tale that what works in some states may fail in others. The difference, advocates maintain, often comes down to which party dominates the state legislature.

“In states that are controlled by Republicans, it’s very hard to get around the bishops and the insurance industry,” Hamilton said. “No one knows more about [child sexual abuse] than law enforcement in the state of Pennsylvania, and quite amazingly, that has not moved the staunch Catholic lawmakers who simply are not going to stop protecting their church against lawsuits.”

That’s not to say that Republican-controlled legislatures won’t take action on child sexual abuse. Of the 21 jurisdictions that passed bills changing their statutes of limitations in 2019, nine have Republican-controlled legislatures, and eight have Democratic-controlled legislatures, according to information from Child USA and the National Conference of State Legislatures. (The rest have split legislatures or, in the case of Nebraska, nonpartisan lawmakers.)

But the Democratic-led legislatures tended to take more sweeping steps. New Jersey opened a two-year window for any victim to sue and extended the civil statute for future cases to age 55 or seven years after the victim comes forward, whichever is later. Rhode Island made its new, lengthy statute of limitations apply retroactively to old claims against abusers. Vermont went even further, reviving all expired claims against abusers and institutions such as churches. Vermont also got rid of its criminal statute of limitations entirely for many child sexual abuse crimes, as did Washington state, the District and Republican-led Montana.

The steps taken in some Republican-controlled states were more modest: Alabama gave victims up to age 25 to sue, and Montana up to 27; Arizona gave them up to 30 as well as a 19-month window for old cases; Tennessee gave them up to 33.

Republican-led Florida and Mississippi legislatures also considered bills and did not pass them, like Pennsylvania — and like Democratic-led Oregon.

In Pennsylvania, the lobbying effort against the bill was intense. While lobbying spending on specific issues is hard to track in the state, two law firms released a report showing the Catholic Church spent more than $700,000 in Pennsylvania in 2018, more in just one year than it spent in a seven-year period in New Jersey, Massachusetts and several other states.

“The church, every step of the way, has refused to reform and has taken the most cynical path each time,” said Josh Shapiro, the Democratic state attorney general whose office released the grand jury report.

Leaders of Pennsylvania dioceses have expressed their desire to cooperate with law enforcement but have also fought in court, including battling to keep some of the priests’ names in the grand jury report sealed.

Republican state senators said they worried lawsuits would bankrupt churches and raised questions about whether cases could be tried fairly after such a long time. With the clock ticking down to the end of the 2018 legislative session, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati proposed allowing suits against individuals but not against institutions. Democrats cried foul. The night ended, in the wee hours, with no bill at all.

Scarnati did not agree to an interview but said in a statement that he was “committed to working with my colleagues to address” this year’s new bills on child sexual abuse. He pointed out that Pennsylvania dioceses have been hearing victims’ cases and doling out payments through their own victim compensation funds, outside of the court system. “Financial assistance cannot change the past, but will aid victims as they attempt to move forward,” Scarnati wrote.

The New York Times reported that several of Scarnati’s former staff members and his chief of staff’s wife work for the lobbying firm representing the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

The grand jury report, which examined six of the eight dioceses in the state, wasn’t the first time that Pennsylvania scrutinized the Catholic Church. Both the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown were studied in earlier, similar grand jury reports. Philadelphia was the site of the first criminal trial in the nation holding a priest responsible for his oversight of other priests who abused children.

The nation had also known for at least 16 years, since the Boston Globe’s 2002 expose revealed the scandal to the country, that Catholic clergy had committed crimes against children.

But this time was different, sparking comprehensive investigations across the country. Attorneys general in 20 states and the District of Columbia started their own probes, by Hamilton’s count. They set about obtaining secret archives in dioceses’ offices that they had never pursued before. They set up hotlines for victims to call and assigned staff to focus on cases.

Shapiro says he and his staff became consultants to prosecutors nationwide on how to investigate the Catholic Church — they talked to prosecutors from almost every state.

Catholic lay people, too, reacted differently. They threw together protests in at least half a dozen cities, calling for bishops to submit to similar civil investigations or resign. Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl came under scrutiny for his prior actions in Pittsburgh described in the document and eventually stepped down.

The moment was right, for any number of reasons. The influence of the Catholic Church itself has declined precipitously since the 2002 scandal, as have the church’s membership numbers. And months after the Me Too movement began, the nation was ready to listen to victims.

Along with the revelation of sexual abuse committed by the now-defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Pennsylvania report was a major factor pushing the Vatican to address the issue of sexual abuse in this past year. More than 15 years after the Boston Globe exposé, Pope Francis convened the first worldwide summit to address abuse. In the United States, bishops voted on a new plan to police themselves — which, like the Vatican’s actions, has been received by advocates with some skepticism. Many within the church continue to clamor for more-vigorous reforms.

But in Pennsylvania, lawmakers haven’t budged.

Shapiro said he still hopes that a bill can pass when lawmakers return to Harrisburg this fall. A similar version has been reintroduced to eliminate the criminal statute of limitations, which currently blocks cases in the state after the victim turns 50, younger than many victims who have come forward. Some lawmakers are also pursuing a constitutional amendment to allow for a window for victims to sue, which Shapiro said is unnecessary because he thinks it is already constitutional. Some Republicans said the window for old suits might violate the state’s constitution.

Between his meetings with state legislators, Shapiro has even more difficult conversations.

Last week, a man came in, scheduled for 15 minutes with the state’s attorney general. He sat at the wide wood conference table, gazing out at the children playing in the fountain by Philadelphia’s famous LOVE sculpture.

Sitting by the memorabilia in Shapiro’s office commemorating the state’s greatest joys and sorrows — a towel from the Eagles Super Bowl win right beside a memorial bracelet for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting — the man spoke of his abuse. He talked of his drug use and his newfound sobriety, his criminal past and his determination to be a good husband and father.

He stayed more than an hour, just wanting to be heard.

In Harrisburg, state Rep. Mark Rozzi (D) knows something about how that man feels. His own abuse by a priest, when he was a child, has driven him to get statute-of-limitation reform passed. When Francis gathered bishops from across the globe to talk about abuse this year, Rozzi went, too, to speak to the Italian Parliament and U.S. Ambassador Callista Gingrich and the protesters in St. Peter’s Square.

“When we look back at Pennsylvania, is this going to be the grand jury report that finally gets victims on the path to justice?” he asks.

He lists the perpetrators who have victimized people in Pennsylvania: not just those 300 priests in the report and untold numbers more, but Amish and Mennonite abusers, schoolteachers, pediatricians, Boy Scout leaders, Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky, Bill Cosby. “We’ve been through so many of these infamous cases right here," he says. "When is enough going to be enough?”

August 16, 2019

Natrona County DA would handle clergy abuse prosecutions, sources say


August 16, 2019

By Shane Sanderson and Seth Klamann

Any criminal prosecution resulting from a Cheyenne police investigation of decades-old clergy sex abuse would be handled by Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen, two people close to the case told the Star-Tribune.

The Cheyenne Police Department earlier this week announced it has recommended the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office charge two men, one of whom was a clergy member in the 1970s and ‘80s, when police say they sexually abused boys. Instead of making prosecuting decisions on the case, Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove has recused herself and asked Itzen to handle it, the Star-Tribune’s sources said.

The prosecutor has already started working the case, they said.

Itzen on Thursday said he had not been appointed special prosecutor in any jurisdiction outside Natrona County but declined to say if Manlove had asked him to take the case. Appointment of special prosecutor is done by a judge upon a district or county attorney’s request, and state statute allows for such appointment when a district attorney is “interested or refuses to act in a prosecution.”

Itzen on Friday morning declined to comment further. He noted that prosecutors in Wyoming are prohibited from releasing in advance of district court arraignments information that would identify victims or alleged perpetrators of sexual assault or abuse.

Manlove did not respond to messages left Thursday on voicemail accounts associated with her desk and cell phones requesting comment regarding the decision. She did not respond to a Friday morning voicemail left on her desk and cell phone stating the contents of this story and its anticipated publication time.

A Cheyenne police spokesman said Thursday prosecution of the case was outside his purview. Kevin Malatesta, the spokesman, declined to comment further.

The potential prosecution of the two men — one a clergyman, the other identified as an “altar server” at the time of the alleged abuse — comes after a 16-month investigation by Cheyenne police. While authorities have declined to name the two suspects, citing state statute, the lengthy inquiry that precipitated the affidavits being filed was an investigation into former Bishop Joseph Hart, who oversaw the Catholic church in Wyoming for 25 years.

CVA lawsuits bring spotlight back to St. Colman's Home

Albany Times Union

August 15, 2019

By Steve Hughes

Susanne Robertson was one of seven children. When their mother had a nervous breakdown in 1957, the children were sent to St. Colman’s Home, under the eyes of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

There, Robertson and two of her sisters say, one nun sexually abused them, and the order’s leaders permitted other adults to sexually abuse them and failed to notify authorities of the crimes.

Child Victims Act suit names priest previously convicted of child sex abuse

Buffalo News

August 14, 2019

By Aaron Besecker, Mary B. Pasciak, Matthew Spina, Dan Herbeck and Maki Becker

The only Buffalo Diocese priest in the past 50 years convicted of molesting a child in Western New York is named in a Child Victims Act lawsuit that accuses him of abusing a different child a decade before his arrest.

The Rev. Gerald Jasinski engaged in "unpermitted sexual contact" with an altar boy in the 1970s while he was a priest at St. John Gualbert Church in Cheektowaga, according to the lawsuit.

Jasinski was a priest at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster when Wyoming County sheriff's deputies arrested him June 7, 1986, on felony charges of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse and a charge of unlawfully dealing with a child. He was accused of having sexual contact with two boys, ages 15 and 18, at a cabin in the Town of Sheldon.

Jasinski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of attempted sexual abuse and was sentenced to five years' probation.

About 114 Child Victims Act lawsuits were filed Wednesday in five Western New York counties over old allegations of sexual abuse.

Nearly all of the people accused of molesting children were Catholic priests.

But the Boy Scouts of America, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the East Aurora School District, the Jesuits and other organizations are also named as defendants. At least 105 of the lawsuits are against the Diocese of Buffalo.

A one-year "look-back" window opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday under a new state law that gives abuse victims a year to file claims that previously were prohibited from moving forward in court. Below is a look at some of the lawsuits filed.

The News does not identify sexual abuse victims without their consent.

Four more allegations against former Cheyenne bishop made in past year

Casper Star-Tribune

August 16, 2019

By Seth Klamann

Four more allegations of sexual abuse have been made against former Bishop Joseph Hart in the past year, including accusations that span his time in Wyoming, an official with the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said Thursday.

“The (Kansas City) diocese has turned over all information we have about allegations pertaining to Bishop Hart to the Diocese of Cheyenne, which I understand they have shared with local law enforcement in Cheyenne,” said Jack Smith, a spokesman for the Missouri diocese.

The allegations are the latest against Hart, who has been dogged by claims that he serially sexually abused boys for decades. At least three Wyoming men have accused Hart, while the Kansas City diocese has settled lawsuits with 10 other alleged victims over the years, Smith told the Star-Tribune.

The true number of Hart’s alleged victims is likely unknown. In addition to the 10 men in Kansas City who have settled, the four who have accused Hart in the past year, and the three identified in Wyoming, there are others who attorneys say have not come forward publicly.

Hart has consistently denied any allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct at any point. An attorney for Hart has not responded to repeated phone and email messages seeking comment.

Smith said the four new allegations came from either the alleged victims themselves or from their relatives. He said the abuse detailed in those allegations span Hart’s entire career, including his 25 years as the leader of the Catholic flock in Wyoming, but Smith said none of the alleged abuse occurred in Cheyenne and that the victims were Missouri residents.

Conviction of DC predator priest leaves victim advocate hopeful


August 16, 2019

By Nick Iannelli

The conviction of a D.C. priest on charges of child sex abuse left a local advocate impressed by the victims and hopeful for the future.

Becky Ianni, who leads a local chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said that she was particularly struck by the fact that young children had the courage to face a courtroom full of people and talk about what happened to them.

One of those children is a 12-year-old girl, who said Urbano Vazquez abused her when she was 9.

“I was also abused at the age of 9, and I didn’t tell anyone until the age of 48,” Ianni said. “The fact that she told someone and was willing to testify kind of blew me away.”

A jury convicted Vazquez on Thursday of inappropriately touching two children — the 9-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl — at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Northwest D.C. between 2015 and 2017, when he was an assistant pastor at the parish.

Both victims took the stand and answered questions during the trial.

“The average victim doesn’t come forward for decades,” Ianni said. “That gave me a lot of encouragement and a lot of hope that maybe things are changing, and maybe victims are knowing that if they come forward, they will be believed.”

Vazquez is scheduled to be sentenced in late November.

“I hope it’s a very harsh sentence,” said Ianni. “Not only is that what he deserves for what he’s done, but that’s going to be a deterrent to anybody else out there who is going to be thinking about harming a child.”

Hundreds of New Child Sex Abuse Cases Are Flooding New York’s Courts

Mother Jones

August 16, 2019

By Madison Pauley

When 52-year-old Michael Whalen stood up in front of the St. Louis Roman Catholic Church in downtown Buffalo, New York, in February 2018, to tell his story of being sexually abused by a priest as a teenager, it set off a Spotlight-style chain reaction. The accused priest, the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits, told a news reporter who knocked on the door of his cottage that he had abused “probably dozens” of boys. Within weeks, the local Catholic bishop released a list of 42 clergy members from the Diocese of Buffalo who had been accused of abuse. Local journalists later identified 85. A federal grand jury reportedly started investigating a potential cover-up in the churches of western upstate New York.

But Whalen, who has spoken publicly about how the abuse had caused him to have problems with drugs, alcohol, and family relationships, could not sue the church for damages. New York state’s statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit had already expired. The church offered him less than $50,000 in a private settlement.

That changed yesterday, as New York’s Child Victims Act (CVA) went into effect, opening a one-year “lookback window” for survivors of child abuse across the state to file lawsuits against individuals and institutions, even if the statute of limitations had previously expired.

U.S. should probe clergy abusers


August 15, 2019

By John Salveson

I grew up attending St. Dominic Church in Oyster Bay, and beginning in 1969, at age 13, I was sexually abused by the Rev. Robert Huneke. He had befriended me and my family soon after arriving at the parish. My parents had no idea I was being abused. I was terrified, confused and paralyzed. I never told them of the abuse while it happened. He counted on my silence, as he did on the silence of the other children he abused.

I have been a survivor of clergy child sex abuse for nearly four decades, and an advocate for victims for 30 years. This summer marks an important anniversary for me: the first public disclosure of my abuse. Thirty years ago, I stood outside St. Patrick’s Church in Huntington after the 9 a.m. Mass. My father, brothers and I handed out copies of a letter to parishioners telling them I was abused by their parish priest, Huneke, and that I had told Bishop John McGann of the abuse nine years earlier. During those nine years, McGann moved the priest from parish to parish and school to school, giving him unfettered access to additional targets.

Our actions embarrassed the Diocese of Rockville Centre into removing my predator from active service as a priest. After he left the diocese, he had access to children as a school guidance counselor for more than 10 years.

Former St. Louis priest leaves Massachusetts state education post under scrutiny

Post Dispatch

August 16, 2019

By Jesse Bogan

One of 64 men recently named by the St. Louis Archdiocese for having at least one substantiated allegation of clergy sexual abuse of a minor, or possession of child porn, left his job last week as an education official for the state of Massachusetts.

Keith M. Westrich, 64, of Boston, was put on administrative leave from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shortly after the archdiocese here released its list of names July 26. Westrich was an associate commissioner who focused on preparing children for life after high school.

Westrich left the Massachusetts education department Aug. 9 with the intention to retire, said Jackie Reis, a spokeswoman for the state agency.

“He left after being placed on administrative leave and after being informed that we were looking into the circumstances of his name being on the St. Louis Archdiocese’s list,” Reis said.

Admitted serial predator priest to be sentenced

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

August 16, 2019

He’ll likely go back to prison for the second time

And another ‘just outed’ St. L cleric has quit his job

Archdiocese admits he’s ‘credibly accused’ of abuse

Still, he became a high-ranking state education official

SNAP blasts archbishop’s ‘accused’ list as “deceptive & incomplete”

Using chalk, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will write names of dozens of alleged predator priests – most deemed ‘credibly accused’ by church officials elsewhere – who have been left off Archbishop Robert Carlson’s official list of clerics with substantiated abuse reports (which he recently posted on his website).

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, they will also disclose that a just ‘outed’ St. Louis priest has quit his job as a high-ranking state education official in the wake of an abuse report against him surfacing publicly.

And they will urge:
---a judge to issue a long sentence to an admitted predator priest who goes to court Friday afternoon in Clayton, and
---the archbishop to add dozens more names to his ‘credibly accused’ clerics list.

Friday, August 16 at 11:15 a.m.

Fr. Urbano Vazquez Found Guilty, SNAP Responds

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

August 16, 2019

A priest who had been accused of abusing at least two young girls in Washington D.C. has been found guilty. We are grateful for this verdict and again applaud the two young victims who testified in open court last week.

The bravery and courage of these young survivors should not have been needed in the first place, but we are glad that their testimony helped secure a guilty verdict against Fr. Urbano Vazquez. We hope that this verdict will encourage anyone who may have seen or suspected crimes by Fr. Vazquez or any other priest, nun, deacon or bishop to stand up and speak out. As these two young survivors have shown, speaking out is hard but it can lead to justice and prevention.

We hope that when he is sentenced that Fr. Vazquez will be giving the maximum possible sentence. Being abused carries a life sentence of pain and trauma and so we hope that a harsh punishment given to Fr. Vazquez can deter other potential abusers from preying on children in the future.

Danny Masterson, Church of Scientology sued for alleged rape cover-up, stalking

Fox News

August 15, 2019

By Tyler McCarthy

Four women who previously accused actor Danny Masterson of rape have reportedly filed a lawsuit against him and also the Church of Scientology alleging that they were stalked and harassed by church members.

The women reported their cases to the LAPD in late 2016 and early 2017 regarding attacks that allegedly took place in the early 2000s. Masterson, who has denied the allegations several times and is a well-known Scientologist, is the subject of an ongoing investigation into the matter by police. However, his accusers are now taking legal action of their own.

RICO suit against Buffalo diocese alleges conspiracy in sexual abuse cases

Catholic News Agency

August 15, 2019

Twenty-two plaintiffs filed a lawsuit Aug. 14 against the Diocese of Buffalo, a province of the Society of Jesus, multiple priests, eight parishes, three high schools, a seminary, among others, alleging “a pattern of racketeering activity” that enabled and covered up clerical sexual abuse.

The lawsuit was filed on the first day of a legal “window” allowing for sexual abuse lawsuits to be filed in New York even after their civil statute of limitations had expired.

Among the plaintiffs, who are not named, are several alleged victims of clerical sexual abuse. The lawsuit alleges specific instances of sexual abuse by priests, and claims that the diocese failed in its duty of care towards children by allowing abusive priests to have contact with minors through parishes and schools.

The suit says that priests named in the lawsuit, “used their positions of authority and trust over Plaintiff(s) to sexually abuse and injure them.”

“All the Defendant(s) knew and/or reasonably should have known, and/or knowingly condoned, and/or covered up, the inappropriate and unlawful criminal conduct activities” of sexually abusing priests, the lawsuit says.

Calling the diocese and affiliated organizations an “association in fact” for the purposes of federal racketeering laws, the suit alleged “common purpose” in “harassing, threatening, extorting, and misleading victims of sexual abuse committed by priests” and of “misleading priests’ victims and the media” to prevent reporting or disclosure of sexual misconduct.

August 15, 2019

Hubbard's past defenses of abusive priests - and of himself

Albany Times Union

August 14, 2019

By Lauren Stanforth

Former Albany bishop believed some pedophiles could be rehabilitated

On the 10th anniversary of Howard Hubbard's 1977 installation as the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, the conversation about his leadership revolved around the topics of the day — from his hard-line stance against abortion to Hubbard's more progressive views on the death penalty and enhancing the role of laypeople in the church.

But only five years later, scandals involving clerical sexual abuse began to rock the Catholic church nationwide — and Hubbard started a journey that eventually saw him arguing that abusive priests could be rehabilitated. Hubbard was also forced to defend himself against accusations that he had been involved in sexual relationships with men, including a claims that he had paid for sex with a teenage boy.

A 2004 investigation paid for by the Albany diocese exonerated Hubbard. But a lawsuit filed Wednesday under the state's Child Victims Act alleges Hubbard and a Ballston Spa priest groomed and repeatedly sexually abused a 16-year-old boy in the 1990s. Hubbard's attorney denied the new allegations.

Diocese: One suspect in pending clergy sex abuse case was clergyman, one was 'altar server'

Casper News Tribune

August 15, 2019

By Seth Klamann

One of the two men Cheyenne police are recommending be charged related to clergy sex abuse decades ago was an "altar server," while the other was a member of the Catholic clergy in Wyoming, the Diocese of Cheyenne said in a statement that was confirmed by police.

The diocese declined to name either suspect, whom police said Wednesday they're recommending be charged in relation to sexual abuse of boys in the 1970s and 1980s. Police also have declined to name the men or provide any details about their identity, citing state statute.

Ex-seminarian tells sordid story of papal ally’s Argentine past


August 12, 2019

By Inés San Martín

For some months now, the scandal surrounding Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a friend of Pope Francis brought by the pontiff to Rome and given a key position in the Vatican’s financial colossus just as abuse charges were exploding back home, has taken center stage in terms of Vatican news.

Few, however, are likely to have the perspective on the story as “Lucas,” the chosen pseudonym of a former seminarian who spent four years in the Diocese of Oran once led by Zanchetta, where the ex-seminarian now claims he was manipulated and pressured into covering up concerns about the bishop.

Independent firm reviewing Charlotte Diocese’s priest files

Catholic News Service via Crux

August 15, 2019

By Patricia L. Guilfoyle and SueAnn Howell

An independent investigative firm is reviewing the Diocese of Charlotte’s priest personnel files as part of the diocese’s effort to release the names of all clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse, the diocese announced Aug. 12.

U.S. Investigative Security Services Agency of Charlotte is conducting a comprehensive review of all priest files since the diocese was established in 1972, searching for any indication of sexual abuse of a minor. Their task involves reviewing tens of thousands of pages in more than 1,000 files.

Any suggestion of abuse turned up will be forwarded to the diocese’s Lay Review Board to determine whether the allegations are credible, the diocese said in a statement.

Catholic priest found guilty of sexually abusing girls at his D.C. parish

Washington Post

August 15, 2019

By Keith L. Alexander

A Catholic priest was convicted Thursday of sexually abusing two girls at a D.C. church after an emotional trial during which prosecutors said he used his position of trust to victimize the young parishioners.

Urbano Vazquez, 47, showed no emotion as the jury foreman read the guilty verdicts in D.C. Superior Court.

The jurors found that Vazquez groped a 13-year-old girl in 2015 and kissed and groped a 9-year-old girl in 2016. The incidents happened while he was serving as an assistant pastor at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Columbia Heights.

“He took vows to act in a Godlike manner, to act like Jesus. But he did not act in a Godlike manner and forever changed the lives of these girls,” federal prosecutor Sharon Marcus-Kurn said in her closing argument as one juror nodded. “He wore priest’s clothes, but underneath was a devil to them, sexually assaulting them.”

Both victims took the witness stand during the nine-day trial in D.C. Superior Court. One told jurors she initially kept the incidents a secret from her mother because she feared “something worser would happen,” like “rape.” Another said she cried after Urbano slipped his hand under her bra as she was resting in a church office.

Vazquez was convicted of three charges of second-degree sexual abuse of a child and one count of misdemeanor sex abuse of a child. The jury also agreed with the prosecution that based on the ages of the victims and Vazquez’s role of leadership at the church, his penalty should be enhanced. Vazquez faces a maximum of 45 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 22.

Vazquez denied the allegations, and members of the church came to court to support him. Other parishioners, some wearing green ribbons, came to support the victims.

“This is a relief for the victims. We are sad for the community. But this is some justice. We now hope for healing moving on,” Alex Taliadoros, 27, a member of the church, said outside the courtroom after the verdict was read.

Prosecutors said Vazquez would isolate the girls and assault them, sometimes during Sunday morning Mass services in rooms outside the sanctuary.

One victim, now a teenager, testified how in 2015 when she was 13, Vazquez cornered her in a church office and, reaching down her blouse, groped her breast as her brother was asleep on the floor nearby.

The youngest victim, now 12, testified that she sang in the church choir and was an altar girl. She said at the end of one service, Vazquez kissed her, put his tongue in her mouth and grabbed her genitalia and buttocks.

“He was brazen. He got a thrill out of doing that during the Mass services, behind closed doors,” Marcus-Kurn argued during closing arguments Wednesday.

Marcus-Kurn told the jury Vazquez, like the other priests in his order, wore a robe with a rope around it. The ropes have three knots that symbolize the priests’ vows of poverty, obedience and chastity.

Marcus-Kurn said Vazquez, a Mexican native and American citizen, betrayed those vows at a place Marcus-Kurn said was more than a church building, but was for many members of the predominantly Latino parish, an extension of their own homes. She said they gathered there for regular celebrations and dinners in addition to worship services.

Vazquez, who was assigned to Sacred Heart 2014, is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, a fellowship of priests, and was not ordained by the Archdiocese of Washington. The archdiocese grants some Capuchins permission to work in its churches.

Authorities criticized the former leadership of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart after they learned that as early as 2015, church leaders were told of allegations Vazquez may have sexually assaulted a teenage member of the parish. Vazquez was allowed to remain at the church. After Vazquez’s arrest in November, his supervising priest was removed as pastor, and the church’s child protection coordinator was placed on leave.

Since his arrest, Vazquez has repeatedly denied the accusations. During trial, Vazquez took the stand and denied any of the incidents happened. He described his duties at the church and various missionary trips to El Salvador. He said he was never alone with any of the alleged victims.

There were no eyewitnesses to the incidents. During his closing arguments, Vazquez’s attorney, Robert C. Bonsib, challenged the credibility of the girls’ accusations, pointing out what he identified as contradictions between what they told the jury and what they originally told authorities or said in a grand jury proceeding.

One of the victims at one point told authorities she had stopped going to Vazquez for private confession, but told the jury she continued to see him. One victim testified she told another pastor Vazquez had touched her breast. But the pastor testified she told him Vazquez attempted to touch her breast.

Bonsib also said the girls were not able to give specific dates of the alleged assaults.

The jury deliberated less than a day before returning their verdicts.

Outside the courtroom, Bonsib said his client was “disappointed” in the verdict, but that they plan to appeal. Bonsib said his client was unfairly prejudiced when Judge Juliet J. McKenna allowed the two victims, as well as another alleged victim who was not part of the case, testify. Bonsib said the allegations should have been considered at separate trials.

Vazquez faces another trial of misdemeanor sexual abuse involving a woman who was also a member of the parish in 2017. Prosecutors have also said they identified another potential victim, but the statute of limitations expired in that case.

The U.S. attorney’s office noted it has set up a clergy abuse hotline at 202-252-7008 or USADC.ReportClergyAbuse@usdoj.gov for anyone who wants to report alleged abuse.

DC Catholic priest found guilty on 3 counts second-degree child abuse, 1 count misdemeanor child abuse

Channel 9 (WUSA-TV)

August 15, 2019

By Madisson Haynes, Eliana Block, Samantha Kubota

Vazquez was found guilty of inappropriately touching two underage girls inside the church between 2015-17
WASHINGTON — Father Urbano Vazquez, a Catholic priest at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Northwest, D.C., was found guilty Thursday of three counts of second-degree child abuse and one count of misdemeanor child abuse, Vazquez’s lawyer Robert Bonsib confirmed to WUSA9.

Jury selection began August 5, and the trial wrapped up Thursday in D.C. Superior Court.

Vazquez was found guilty of inappropriately touching two underage girls inside the church between 2015 and 2017.

DC Priest Found Guilty for Sexually Abusing Two Young Girls

Channel 4 TV

August 15, 2019

The Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing two children of his Washington, D.C., parish has been found guilty.

Urbano Vazquez was convicted Thursday on four felony counts of child sexual abuse.

Vazquez groped a 9-year-old girl and 13-year-old girl in 2016, two years after he was ordained as a priest in the Capuchin Franciscan religious order.

He denied ever touching the girls, and his lawyer said the allegations were fabricated and lacked common sense.

SNAP to NY Victims: “Now go to the police”

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

August 15, 2019

[Media Statement]

Children in New York are much safer now because hundreds of abusers were publicly exposed yesterday by brave victims of sexual violence, thanks to the window opened by the Child Victims Act. Now, we urge those survivors to take the next crucial step: reporting to law enforcement.

Often, the quickest way to protect children is to 'out' perpetrators. Thanks to these courageous victims, that happened many times yesterday. But the very best way to protect the vulnerable is to jail those who would prey on them. That can only happen when survivors call law enforcement and make a report. We urge every single person who filed a suit yesterday to call the police today, if they have not already done so.

It is our moral and civic duty to share with police and prosecutors what we know and suspect about possible child sex crimes and cover ups. It is the duty of law enforcement to determine what information might help charge and convict these wrongdoers and keep them from repeating those offenses.

Lawsuit: Former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard sexually abused teen

Albany Times Union

August 15, 2019

By Steve Hughes, Rachel Silberstein and Mike Goodwin

Claim included among first lawsuits filed as Child Victims Act goes into effect

Former Bishop Howard Hubbard is accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy during the 1990s, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The suit was among 427 claims filed across the state Wednesday on the first day of the newly enacted Child Victims Act. They name as defendants individuals and organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, Catholic dioceses and other religious groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses, which has its world headquarters in Orange County.

The suit accusing Hubbard claims he and the Rev. Paul Bondi of St. Mary's Parish in Ballston Spa abused a boy identified only by the initials P.R.

Former Albany Bishop Accused of Abuse in New York Lawsuit

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

August 15, 2019

[Media statement]

A former Catholic bishop from Albany is being accused of child sexual abuse according to a newly filed New York lawsuit. We hope that this news will encourage others who saw or suspected abuse to come forward and make a report to police.

Bishop Howard Hubbard is alleged to have molested a child in the 1990s while he was working as the Bishop of Albany. According to the lawsuit, Bishop Hubbard and another priest, Fr. Paul Bondi, abused the boy while he and his family were members of St. Mary’s Parish in Ballston Spa, NY.

This accusation now places Bishop Hubbard among dozens of bishops world-wide who themselves have been accused of child sexual abuse. Bishop Hubbard was also not the only Catholic prelate named in an abuse suit in New York; Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, SC was also accused in a lawsuit yesterday. These allegations are shocking but not surprising, especially after the Boston Globe and Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out earlier this year that one-third of all sitting U.S. Bishops have been accused of concealing abuse, and at least 15 of committing abuse or harassment.