Priest Abuse Allegations Should Be Taken Seriously, but Let's Not Jump to Conclusions
By Carol Kuruvilla
September 21, 2018
Sexual abuse of children by priests finally is being taken seriously in Pennsylvania, and hopefully elsewhere, since last monthís grand jury report exposed the enormity of the problem and the extent of the cover-up.
The change in attitude is long overdue. But letís be careful not to overdo it.
As new investigations are launched based on the flood of complaints made after the grand jury report, letís not forget that accused clergy are entitled to due process. They shouldnít be presumed guilty by association.
Last week, two priests who had been accused were cleared.
The Berks County district attorney cleared the Rev. David C. Gillis, an Allentown diocesan priest serving in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He had been suspended after a complaint to the stateís child abuse hotline by the father of a woman who said she had been sexually abused as a child. The woman told investigators she wasnít abused by Gillis. The church lifted his suspension last week and allowed him to return to church duties.
Also last week, the Dauphin County district attorney cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of a misconduct complaint that had been referred from the Harrisburg Diocese, where Rhoades served until 2010. He now is a bishop in Indiana.
Itís important that authorities investigate every complaint they receive. Itís also important that those complaints are handled case-by-case and arenít biased by the weight of the scandal.
Donít get me wrong. I have no sympathy for priests who prey on children. Plenty of them have done it and I hope theyíre burning in hell right now, or do when their time comes.
I also recognize that some in power, including law enforcement authorities, ignored the problem for decades. So I understand that questions remain about authoritiesí willingness to investigate complaints.
Until we learn otherwise, though, letís have faith that todayís law enforcement authorities have a different mindset than some of their predecessors and will do the right thing.
And letís not make this a witch hunt.