Church Paid Bills for Priests, Accusers
Diocese Didn't Do Much Else to Deal with Abuse, Records Show
Monterey Herald [Los Angeles CA]
May 25, 2005
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange paid thousands of dollars for medical treatment for priests accused of abuse and for their traumatized accusers and accusers' relatives, but did little else to deal with clergy abuse, according to hundreds of pages of priest personnel files released late Tuesday.
The nearly 1,000 pages of confidential documents from the files of nine accused Orange County priests mark the second mass release of such papers in a week.
Tuesday's documents include bills for medical and psychological treatment for priests, alleged victims and their relatives that were submitted to the diocese for payment.
The files also include evaluations of accused clergy by psychologists, letters between bishops and, in one case, a petition for laicization to Pope John Paul II written by the accused priest himself.
The first batch of some 10,000 pages of files was released on May 17 as part of a record-breaking, $100 million settlement between the diocese and 87 plaintiffs. The second batch was released Tuesday night after the diocese handed them over to plaintiffs' attorneys under court order.
The files reveal that the diocese paid thousands of dollars in medical bills for priests -- and also for their alleged victims and the victims' parents.
The diocese paid for $100 psychotherapy sessions twice a month for the Rev. Franklin Buckman in the early 1980s, for example, and also shelled out hundreds of dollars for the medical bills of a woman who claimed Buckman molested her son in 1979.
In a letter the mother's doctor wrote to the diocese in 1990, the doctor reveals that the woman confronted her son's abuser in 1979 and he confessed to the molestation. The letter says the woman then went to the bishop about the matter but "was told not to discuss it and to stop bothering the authorities of the diocese."
As a result, the doctor wrote, the mother suffered from a sleep disorder, severe headaches and "obsessive ruminations... particularly a sense of guilt that she did not protect the child."
Buckman, 67, was transferred to a tiny, remote diocese in Baker, Ore., in 1984 after an accuser came forward and threatened to sue.
Msgr. Michael Driscoll -- now the Bishop of Boise, Idaho -- told the Oregon bishop in a letter that Buckman had successfully completed therapy and that the accuser's family did not plan to sue.
Buckman now lives in Mesa, Ariz. He declined to comment to The Associated Press when reached by phone late Tuesday.
Driscoll posted an apology on the Boise diocese's Web site earlier this month for his role in the Orange County cases and has declined further comment.
In another instance, the diocese paid more than $300 in counseling fees for the Rev. Gary Pacheco in one month -- and $726 for counseling for the priest and another unidentified patient on one day in July 1986.
In a letter that same year, Driscoll suggests that Pacheco consider paying $10 per doctor's visit to alleviate pressure on the Priests' Relief Fund and facilitate his own healing.
The psychological reports in the files also reveal another common thread among the accused clergy: young men struggling with severe depression, alcoholism, childhood trauma and profound loneliness.
A psychological summary for Rev. Christian Anderson, for example, indicates that Anderson was verbally and physically abused as a child and had his first sexual experience at age 12 with an 18-year-old man. He tells psychologists he felt rootless and unloved as a child.
In 1994, after spending three years in a California prison for child molestation, Anderson wrote the late Pope John Paul II to ask for laicization. In a candid and revealing letter, Anderson says he would prefer to remain in ministry, but he agreed to be defrocked to protect the church from future legal claims and preserve its reputation.
He also reveals that Driscoll knew of an abuse allegation against him as early as 1983 and ordered him into therapy. The church or the church-paid therapist never reported the allegation to police or child protective services, as required by law.
Anderson also writes that Bishop Norman McFarland "has been consistently generous and patient with me over the years as I struggled with profoundly upsetting personal issues."
McFarland, 83, retired in 1998. His phone was consistently busy late Tuesday and he could not be reached for comment. The whereabouts of Anderson, now 53, are unknown.