Speaking out on Abuse
Diocesan Target Says Board Didn't Get a Claim against Priest
By Rita Ciolli
Newsday [Long Island NY]
December 18, 2003
Lorraine Armet, the Lindenhurst nurse told to leave the diocesan review board for publicly siding with victims of sexual abuse, said yesterday that there was at least one written complaint of improper behavior by a priest toward minors that was not sent to the board.
"There were things that were with merit that we didn't see. I know we didn't see all the cases," Armet said at a news conference sponsored by Parents for Megan's Law in Stony Brook.
Joanne Novarro, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said on Tuesday she was unable to comment on Armet's charge because she was unfamiliar with the letter involved. She did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Bishop William Murphy asked Armet, who specializes in child birth, and her husband Ronald, a retired Suffolk County police officer, to serve on the 11-person civilian board last year. The group has met regularly for 18 months to advise the bishop on whether priests accused of sexually abusing minors should be returned to the ministry. It also reviews abuse prevention policies put in place by the diocese.
However, Armet, angered by the diocese's denial in legal papers that any sexual abuse by priests had occurred, joined with victims' groups demonstrating outside St. Agnes Cathedral earlier this month. In media interviews afterward, she said Murphy should follow the example of Archbishop Sean O'Malley in Boston and settle the cases filed this spring by 45 men who said they were molested.
Armet was then told by the Rev. Robert Batule, Murphy's delegate to the board, that she violated an agreement not to talk to the media. "We want you to step down," she said Batule told her in a telephone call on Dec. 5. The diocese confirmed the call. However, when Armet asked for her dismissal in writing, Murphy declined to do so, Novarro said. Armet said yesterday that most likely she would not return to the board because she believes the bishop does not want her to continue. "The attributes they hired me for, honesty, integrity and experience, are the attributes they are asking me to step down for," Armet said. She insists she never disclosed any confidential information, but was expressing her personal opinion.
David Cerulli, head of the New York chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), the clergy abuse victim's advocacy group, also criticized Murphy. "Ms. Armet was simply showing solidarity with victims ... ," he said. "For that, she's apparently been shunned by Murphy, which is shameful."
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