ABUSE TRACKER

A digest of links to media coverage of clergy abuse. For recent coverage listed in this blog, read the full article in the newspaper or other media source by clicking “Read original article.” For earlier coverage, click the title to read the original article.

May 2, 2016

Former NSW priest sentenced to 29 years for child abuse

AUSTRALIA
7 News

Samantha Brett and AAP – Yahoo7 on May 2, 2016

A former Catholic priest has been sentenced to 29 years in jail for sexually abusing children more than 30 years ago.

John Joseph Farrell’s 12 victims were boys and girls that he attacked in his Moree church, at public pools and sometimes in their own homes.

The 62 year old often committed the crimes after gaining the trust of the victim’s family. Many of the children were altar servers.

Farrell refused to meet the eyes of his many victims in court on Monday, as a judge outlined the horrific crimes he committed in the 1970s and 80s.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

May 1, 2016

The illusion of justice for sexual abuse victims

UNITED STATES
Washington Post

By Paul Mones
May 1

Paul Mones is a Los Angeles lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse.

After decades of representing victims of sexual abuse, I was convinced that Jerry Sandusky’s arrest at Penn State in 2011 would put to rest the belief that child molesters are slovenly, leering guys wearing dirty raincoats and lurking outside playgrounds. But when word leaked last year that former Republican House speaker J. Dennis Hastert had paid hush money to a high school student he had allegedly sexually abused decades earlier, while he was a high school wrestling coach, the reaction by many in his home town of Yorkville, Ill., in Congress and elsewhere proved that the myth was alive and well. Not Denny Hastert, the beloved coach. Impossible!

The enduring fantasy that nice guys don’t molest children provides dangerous cover to perpetrators and engenders abject hopelessness in victims. Hiding behind a facade of kindheartedness, child molesters know they are committing the perfect crime, one that silences most of its victims forever. For those few able to muster the strength to come forward years later, it is not their perpetrator but the law itself that denies them justice. Maryland is a case in point: It gives victims just seven years after their 18th birthdays to file civil lawsuits — a period when few victims are yet able to acknowledge the horrific violation they experienced. …

Child molesters are a patient lot. A 2015 study on offenders in youth organizations found that more than half joined specifically to gain access to children. In no rush to achieve their goal, they are willing to spend months working their way into the fabric of a child’s life. Constantly proving “nice-guyness” is essential to abusers. They exploit the child’s inherent lack of life experience by lavishing him or her with gifts and adulation. The molester then manipulates the child’s reality — soon making an “innocent” rub of the shoulder, or a casual tussle of the hair, a normal part of his relationship with the child. Then the more invasive forms of abuse begin, and the child’s fate is sealed.

If you need a primer on how these molesters operate, read the U.S. attorney’s sentencing brief detailing not just the way Hastert allegedly went about sexually abusing the victim to whom he was paying the hush money, but also the tactics he used on other teenagers on his team. One victim, who was 14 at the time, alleged that Hastert told him to get up on a table so he could “loosen him up,” then in the process molested him.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Spotlight viewing party & discussion with IowaWatch

IOWA
Eventbrite

Thursday, May 5, 2016 from 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM (CDT)

C.S.P.S. Hall
1103 3rd Street Southeast
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

2016 Best Picture “Spotlight” shines a light on the impact of investigative journalism and a real news team at the Boston Globe. Join us for an evening celebrating IowaWatch, a statewide non-profit news organization, as we talk live via Skype with a member of the Spotlight team before we watch the film.

Doors open at 6:30. Guests can enjoy a cash bar and complimentary desserts. The program will begin at 7 p.m.

Matt Carroll, who describes himself as a data geek, was one of the four people on the Boston Globe’s original Spotlight team that won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for exposing clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church. In the movie “Spotlight”, Carroll is played by Brian d’Arcy James. Although Carroll left the Boston Globe in 2014, he is probing the future of journalism at the MIT Media Lab. He writes the popular blog “3 for the week” that highlights a trio of stories, videos and data visualizations about the news media. Carroll also leads Hacks/Hackers Boston, a 1,300-person meet-up “which educates journalists about digital and technologists about media,” according to MIT.

IowaWatch, also known as the Iowa Center For Public Affairs Journalism, is a non-profit news organization. Its mission is to maintain an independent, non-partisan journalistic program dedicated to producing and encouraging explanatory and investigative journalism in Iowa, engaging in collaborative reporting efforts with Iowa news organizations and educating journalism students.

Proceeds from the event will benefit IowaWatch. To learn more about the organization and how you can support investigative journalism in Iowa, visit http://www.iowawatch.org.

The $15 ticket price includes $5 for the movie and $10 for the discussion, desserts and support for IowaWatch. Please reserve your seats now. Additional tickets may be available at the door.

This event is sponsored by Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C., of Cedar Rapids.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Dennis Hastert Case Renews Calls To Change Child Sex Abuse Reporting Laws

UNITED STATES
Huffington Post

Kim Bellware
Reporter, The Huffington Post

For nearly 40 years, Scott Cross hid from everybody what he called his “darkest secret.” And in a federal courtroom, the 53-year-old revealed it to the world.

“Coach Hastert sexually abused me in 1979, my senior year in high school,” Cross said at former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s Wednesday sentencing hearing on bank fraud charges.

Hastert reluctantly admitted to abusing multiple students back when he was a high school wrestling coach — a fact federal investigators inadvertently learned while probing him on banking violations he committed while paying hush money to one of his victims.

But a standard loophole in the justice system meant that Hastert would technically go unpunished for his admitted sexual abuse, while his victims would get nothing.

Like Cross — and hundreds of victims from the Catholic church’s priest sex abuse scandal — many child sex abuse survivors come forward later in life only to learn the statute of limitations has locked them out of the courtroom.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Vatican–SNAP blasts “another few distracting papal words on abuse”

UNITED STATES
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Sunday, May 1, 2016

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)

In a purportedly “forceful” tone, Pope Francis said child molesters must be “severely punished” but “did not specifically mention the church or its response to abuse.”

So what? When will a few papal sentences about how bad abuse is stop being news?

Just this week, a convicted priest who assaulted a California teenager was promoted to head an Oklahoma parish with a parochial school, until parishioners protects and their archbishop backed down.

[SNAP]

Just this week, a second young adult publicly reported being sexually abused as a child by Fr. Greg Yacyshyn who remains on the job in a Long Island parish.

[SNAP]

Just this week, we begged victims of Fr. Emmerich Vogt to come forward, because he’s being sued for child sex crimes yet still working as a priest.

[KATU]

[court document]

[BishopAccountability.org]

[SNAP]

Just this week, we drew attention to Fr. Bruce Wellems of Chicago who admits molesting a child yet violates the restrictions put on him by church officials and continues to be around kids.

[SNAP]

And all this is in the US, the nation where the abuse and cover up crisis first grabbed national headlines more than 30 years ago.

When we pretend that papal pronouncements about abusers mean something, we do a disservice to kids. When we applaud words but ignore inaction, we hurt children.

We strongly question the claim by the National Catholic Reporter that Francis “has come under some criticism for not speaking out on the subject more strongly …” Very few want Francis to talk more often or strongly about clergy sex crimes and cover ups. Most want him to DO something to stop clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

No matter how many times Catholic officials talk about child sex crimes and cover ups, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered them to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Bookkeeper denies theft as U.S. church struggles with money controls

UNITED STATES
Crux

By Associated Press
May 1, 2016

ALBERT LEA, Minn. — A bookkeeper has pleaded not guilty to charges that she stole nearly $200,000 from a Catholic church and school in Albert Lea, marking the latest incident suggesting to some observers a problem with lax financial controls in American Catholicism.

Thirty-seven-year-old Ryan Mae McFarland of Austin entered her plea Thursday in Freeborn County District Court.

McFarland is charged with nine felony counts of theft by swindle. She was in charge of payroll and church contributions. A criminal complaint says McFarland transferred funds from St. Theodore Catholic Church and its school to her personal accounts

The Albert Lea Tribune reports the alleged theft reportedly took place from August 2013 through Feb. 5, 2014.

Judge Steven Schwab ordered McFarland to have no contact with church personnel or staff and to stay away from the church. McFarland is due back in court on Aug. 4 for a settlement conference.

The latest charge of shoddy financial controls comes against the backdrop of a 2006 study by Villanova University, which found that 85 percent of dioceses in the United States had experienced some form of embezzlement within the previous five years, mostly at the parish level. …

A retired U.S. Postal Service inspector and lifelong Catholic named Michael W. Ryan has examined money management in the Church in the United States. His estimate is that Catholic parishes in the the country may lose as much as $90 million annually due to inadequate controls over the collection plate.

Other experts find that estimate difficult to support with hard data, but most observers agree that money management remains a challenge for the Church, especially at the parish level where most funds are collected and disbursed.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

USA–Catholic church loses $90 million a year from theft?

UNITED STATES
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Sunday, May 1, 2016

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home, davidgclohessy@gmail.com)

A new Associated Press story cites “lax financial controls” in the Catholic church, quotes one source as saying that the US church may lose $90 million annually from theft and cites an independent survey that shows that 85% of US dioceses have experienced recent embezzlement.

[Crux]

“American Catholics drop roughly $150 million into the Sunday collection plate every week,” the AP reports.

We urge citizens and Catholics to keep all this in mind the next time a bishop claims “poverty” and cities poor finances as an excuse to not better protect kids or help victims.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Pope condemns child abuse, urges peace in Syria

VATICAN CITY
Crux

By Crux Staff
May 1, 2016

ROME— Pope Francis on Sunday condemned every form of child abuse, calling it a “tragedy” that can’t be tolerated, and also asked all the parties involved in the Syrian conflict to respect the cease fire.

“[Abuse of minors] is a tragedy,” Francis said as he led the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly Regina Coeli prayer.

“We mustn’t tolerate abuse against children,” the pope said. “We must defend them, and we must punish the abusers severely.”

The pontiff was speaking off-the-cuff after thanking the Italian Association Meter for the work they do in the fight against pedophilia. The institution was founded in 1989 by Father Fortunato Di Noto in the northern region of Sicilia, and has since then fought child abuse and also on-line child pornography.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Nisga’a receive Anglican apology for residential schools

CANADA
Terrace Standard

by Cecile Favron – Terrace Standard
posted May 1, 2016

SENIOR OFFICIALS from the Anglican Church of Canada gathered in the Nisga’a community of Laxgalts’ap in the Nass Valley, north of Terrace, on April 27 to apologize to residential school survivors for its role in the federal government’s aboriginal residential school program.

The event followed a Nisga’a Lisims Government request sent to Archbishop Fred Hiltz who is the Primate and senior-most official in the county, citing that many of the Nass Valley’s former students of Anglican-run schools were not included in the church’s 1993 blanket apology to aboriginal peoples across Canada.

Church officials said they were unaware, even years later, that the earlier apology was not well-known among Nisga’a peoples.

“[This] is a historic event,” remarked hereditary chief and Laxgalts’ap village councillor Willard Martin, Sim’oogit Ni’is Yuus, referring to the event on Nisga’a lands.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Pope condemns pedophilia as details of girl’s death shock Italy

VATICAN CITY
Reuters

VATICAN CITY | BY PHILIP PULLELLA

Pope Francis called for “severe punishment” for pedophiles on Sunday after new details emerged in Italy of the 2014 death of a six-year-old girl who is alleged to have been thrown from an eighth-storey balcony by her abuser.

“This is a tragedy. We should not tolerate the abuse of minors,” Francis said, departing from prepared remarks at his weekly Sunday message and blessing to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

“We must protect minors and severely punish abusers,” he said.

Though the Catholic Church itself has been rocked by its own abuse scandals, he did not mention them on Sunday as he has in the past.

Italians have been shocked as details emerged in the case of six-year-old Fortuna who died in June 2014 after a fall from an eighth-storey balcony in Naples.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Pope Francis insists pedophile criminals be ‘severely’ punished

VATICAN CITY
Manila Bulletin

by AP
May 1, 2016

Pope Francis is insisting that pedophiles who abuse children be severely punished.

Speaking to faithful in St. Peter’s Square Sunday (May 1, 2016), he greeted an Italian organization dedicated to fighting child abuse.

Calling pedophilia a “tragedy,” Pope Francis said “we mustn’t tolerate abuses on minors.”

He adds “we must defend minors and severely punish the abusers.”

Pope Francis didn’t mention pedophile scandals in the Catholic church in which bishops systematically transferred pedophile priests around parishes instead of reporting them to police. Victims’ groups have demanded Pope Francis punish such bishops.

Italians were recently shocked by the death of a 6-year-old near Naples thrown from the roof of an eight-story building after trying to resist her rapist.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

‘This is a scandal’ – Pope calls for ‘severe punishment’ after new details emerge of death of girl (6) thrown from eighth-storey balcony

VATICAN CITY
Irish Independent

Pope Francis called for “severe punishment” for paedophiles on Sunday after new details emerged in Italy of the 2014 death of a six-year-old girl who is alleged to have been thrown from an eighth-storey balcony by her abuser.

“This is a tragedy. We should not tolerate the abuse of minors,” Francis said, departing from prepared remarks at his weekly Sunday message and blessing to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

“We must protect minors and severely punish abusers,” he said.

Though the Catholic Church itself has been rocked by its own abuse scandals, he did not mention them on Sunday as he has in the past.

Italians have been shocked as details emerged in the case of six-year-old Fortuna who died in June 2014 after a fall from an eighth-storey balcony in Naples.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

The Imperfect Victim

UNITED STATES
Slate

Galen Baughman seemed like an ideal spokesman for sex offenders’ civil rights. Then he got arrested for texting a teenage boy.

By Leon Neyfakh

Galen Baughman had been out of prison for about three years when he came to Queens last spring to meet a friendly crowd of reporters, activists, and academics over lox and bagels. Baughman, then 31 years old, had been invited to tell the story of how he came to be incarcerated and labeled a sex offender. His goal for the day was to educate his audience about how the legal system mistreats people like him, and to convince any skeptics in attendance that he was not the dangerous monster that his criminal record might suggest.

Lenore Skenazy, the New York journalist who hosted the meet and greet, billed the event as a “sex offender brunch.” Skenazy had met Baughman while reporting out her parenting book, Free-Range Kids, about the virtues of letting children take risks and the perils of trying to protect them from every conceivable danger. In the course of her research, Skenazy came to believe that American sex offenders were being oppressed by the criminal justice system—that in the name of protecting children, lawmakers had turned hundreds of thousands of people into helpless pariahs while doing next to nothing to make kids safer.

Baughman, who grew up in the D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia, and attended Indiana University to study opera, arrived at the brunch wearing a blue collared shirt and a bright, friendly smile.* As he told his story, he spoke with the deliberate diction of a former theater kid.

“When I was 19, I went to prison for what was supposed to be 6½ years for having a consensual relationship with a high-school–age kid,” he said. “He was 14½. He was someone I’d known for a while and was really close to.”

After he completed his prison sentence, Baughman said, the state of Virginia refused to let him out. Instead, he was kept behind bars for more than two additional years because prosecutors believed he might fit the profile of a sexually violent predator. That meant Baughman could be held against his will under what’s known as “civil commitment,” a form of long-term psychiatric treatment that in practice amounts to indefinite detention. (Civil commitment is legal at the federal level and in 20 states. According to the New York Times, roughly 5,000 people convicted of sex crimes are now being held under civil commitment laws around the country.)

Despite Virginia’s best efforts, Baughman won his freedom in 2012, at which point he was placed on probation and added to the state’s sex offender registry. Upon his release, he set about becoming an activist on behalf of the population he would later start calling “my people.” He co-founded a nonprofit called the Center for Sexual Justice, dedicated to changing “the cultural beliefs leading to unjust sex laws that effectively target sexual minorities.” He got a job as communications director for Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, or CURE, a criminal justice reform group. He started attending conferences, showing up at important court hearings, and networking with other people in the movement. …

About two months ago, Baughman’s work was abruptly interrupted when he found out that his probation officer suspected him of violating the terms of his release. There were allegations that Baughman had exchanged inappropriate text messages with a 16-year-old boy. On March 3, Baughman was ordered to hand over his cellphone and his laptop. A month later, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

* * *

The official violation report, compiled by Baughman’s probation officer at the Virginia Department of Corrections, accused him of carrying on a monthslong correspondence with a boy in Minnesota whom he’d met at a mutual friend’s funeral. In late 2015, the boy’s mother had found text messages on her son’s phone that disturbed her, saved some of them, and alerted the Virginia State Police. Later, in an email to Baughman’s probation officer, she stated that she considered him a threat and expressed concern that he was “contacting other underage boys” he had met at the funeral.

The violation report, which I obtained from someone who received it directly from Baughman, noted that the terms of Baughman’s probation forbade him from having verbal or written contact with anyone younger than 18. The report included pages upon pages of text messages between Baughman and the unnamed 16-year-old.

In one of the messages, Baughman invites the teenager to come visit him in D.C. In another, he advises him to use Kik or Snapchat for “conversations you don’t want to be seen” by police or parents. Elsewhere, Baughman flirts (“Are you the best looking boy you know?”), shares wisdom (“If you’re magnetic, you can draw people into you and hold them there—they buy into you, believe you, love you”), and boasts (“My work is helping people and winning ever-increasing support!”).

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Francis rails against child sexual abuse, saying abusers must be ‘severely’ punished

VATICAN CITY
National Catholic Reporter

Joshua J. McElwee | May. 1, 2016

ROME
Pope Francis railed against the sexual abuse of children in a weekly address in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, calling any such abuse a “tragedy” and saying the church cannot tolerate the matter and “must severely punish the abusers.”

Greeting members of an Italian association that has worked to raise awareness against pedophilia and to report sexual abuse crimes, who were present in the Square for the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer, the pontiff thanked them for their work before departing from his prepared text.

“This is a tragedy,” said Francis off the cuff, his voice raised and his arm extended from the window of the Vatican’s apostolic palace above the Square. “We must not tolerate the abuse of minors. We must defend minors. And we must severely punish the abusers.”

The Catholic church around the world has been embroiled in scandals over its handling of sexually abusive clergy for decades, with survivors, advocates, law enforcement agencies, and some local jurisdictions saying members of the hierarchy covered up crimes in order to protect the institution at the risk of children’s well-being.

While Francis did not specifically mention the church or its response to abuse on Sunday, he spoke in the plural using a remarkably forceful tone.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Mike Clark: Why the movie “Spotlight” hit the mark on several levels

FLORIDA
Florida Times-Union

I choked up the first time I watched the movie “Spotlight.”

And the second and the third.

The Oscar-winning movie hit home in three areas.

First, it’s about journalism. That’s been my only career since realizing in high school that this is what I wanted. I’ve been a lucky guy to love my work.

Second, it’s about the Roman Catholic faith. I am a cradle Catholic. I would ascribe any success in life to intense loyalty to faith and family — the two are intertwined. I spent 12 years in Catholic schools, including one year in a Franciscan seminary. My faith keeps me centered.

Third, I am a former movie reviewer, so I appreciated the difficulty of putting the unglamorous work of investigative journalism onto a big screen. Digging through dusty old rosters of priests is real life.

So please allow me to offer a few thoughts about the movie and the issues it raised.

Accuracy: The issues involved in newsgathering were illustrated honestly, warts and all. The Boston Globe had an earlier opportunity to investigate the sex abuse within the church and simply missed it. But as long as that investigative team existed, there remained an opportunity to follow up.

The movie also revealed the difficult decisions involved in when to publish.

All towns are small towns: Within the power elite, at least, all towns are led by a relative few. Every city has its sacred cows. A good newspaper must be willing to take on a local institution, even if it is beloved, when it’s called for.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

The Many Faces of Dennis Hastert

UNITED STATES
New York Times

Frank Bruni
APRIL 30, 2016

FOR a lesson on the riddles of human nature, look no further than Dennis Hastert.

Go back to early 1999, when he became the speaker of the House of Representatives. Revisit the reason he got that job. His Republican colleagues were sick of provocateurs, had been burned by scandal and wanted a reprieve — an antidote, even. Hastert fit the bill. In their view he wasn’t merely above reproach. He was too frumpy and flat-out boring to be acquainted with reproach.

“Like an old shoe” was how one prominent Republican described him to a reporter at the time.

In the closet with that old shoe were skeletons, but no one around him knew it or could have guessed which kind. …

Hastert described himself as a born-again Christian and had a diploma from Wheaton College in Illinois, which advertises itself as “explicitly Christian” and is an alma mater of Billy Graham’s. This was a factor in his colleagues’ assessments of him as safe, uncontroversial. This was a drum still being beaten by authors of letters urging the judge to treat Hastert leniently.

Tom DeLay, who served as the House majority whip and then the House majority leader under Hastert, was one of those writers. He told the judge that he, Hastert and a pastor would routinely read and discuss the Bible together in lunchtime sessions on Capitol Hill.

“We held each other accountable and we studied God’s word,” wrote DeLay, later adding: “He is a good man that loves the Lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through.”

Doesn’t deserve it because he prays in what DeLay, also a born-again Christian, considers the right way, to the right divinity? Perhaps that will earn Hastert the most important forgiveness of all. But it’s no free pass for bringing pain into the lives of children he was paid to instruct and inspire.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

The Franciscan affair: Who knew? When?

PENNSYLVANIA
Tribune-Review

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Three Franciscan friars will have the opportunity to defend their judgment as it pertained to the reprehensible appointments of a peer who is accused of molesting more than 100 children, primarily at a Johnstown Catholic high school.

A district judge last week ordered the trio to stand trial on charges of child endangerment and conspiracy.

Among his various appointments, Brother Stephen Baker was named “vocations director” — which put him in contact with teenagers — after he was removed from Bishop McCort Catholic High School in 2000, The Associated Press reported. His removal was based on a “credible” sexual-abuse allegation dating back 20 years.

More than 90 former high-schoolers settled lawsuits totaling more than $8 million, which claimed the Rev. Baker molested them. And that occurred after 11 students from a high school in Ohio settled similar claims against Baker, who committed suicide.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Best journalism involves digging

NEW MEXICO
Clovis New Journal

April 30, 2016

Wendel Sloan

While attending the recent New Mexico Press Women Convention (open to everyone) in Albuquerque, I heard several panelists discuss the state of journalism.

With so many competing news sources, staff sizes have been sliced. Thousands of veteran journalists have lost their jobs, with newspapers and broadcast media often retaining less experienced and lower paid reporters.

Editors and news directors no longer have the luxury of assigning seasoned reporters to stories requiring in-depth research. …

Webber said we “spend too much time thinking about success and not significance.”

The media play an absolutely critical role in rooting out unfairness, corruption and the abuse of power, Webber says.

He used the movie “Spotlight” about pedophile priests as an example.

“Everybody knew about them, but nobody wrote about them until the ‘Boston Globe’ dared to investigate. The silence of acquiescence is not acceptable,” Webber said.

“It is journalists’ jobs to ask why things are the way they are.”

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Why Jewish leaders want abusers to pay: The Torah tells us it is never too late to pursue justice

NEW YORK
New York Daily News

BY RABBI ARI HART NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Sunday, May 1, 2016

The famous joke goes: two Jews, three opinions. Yet last week, more than 100 Jewish leaders from across the religious and ideological divides came together, with one voice, to declare their support for statute of limitations reform for child abuse victims in New York State.

Why statute of limitations reform, and why are Jewish leaders lining up behind this bill? Because it’s our obligation as men and women of faith who purport to help people heal. And it is, I believe, our obligation as followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

After decades of denial, cover-ups and darkness, the light is finally shining on the scourge of child sexual abuse. Today, we better understand the high rate of its prevalence, the lasting and far-reaching damage caused by abusers, and the extreme difficulty survivors face in coming forward and seek justice. Tragically, New York State’s regressive laws prevent many victims from getting the justice they deserve and from stopping abusers from causing more harm.

While mental health experts have shown that it can take decades for a victim of child sexual abuse to overcome the fear, shame and trauma of abuse and come forward, our statutes allow someone to pursue criminal or civil justice only until the victim turns 23.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Our view: Illinois should end statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases

ILLINOIS
Northwest Herald

Published: Sunday, May 1, 2016

Federal Judge Thomas M. Durkin did not mince words last week in sentencing former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert to a 15-month jail term in a sexual abuse-hush money case. Durkin described Hastert as a “serial child abuser” and described his attempt to accuse one of his victims of extortion as “unconscionable.”

In addition to jail time, Durkin ordered Hastert to undergo sex offender treatment, serve two years of supervised release after his release from prison, and pay $250,000 to a crime victims’ fund.

Hastert admitted in a statement he “mistreated” some of his Yorkville High School athletes when he was a teacher and wrestling coach at the school between 1965 and 1981, when he left YHS to begin his political career. He told the judge and courtroom, “I wanted to apologize for the boys I mistreated when I was their coach. What I did was wrong, and I regret it. They looked to me, and I took advantage of them.”

Fortunately, Durkin did not let Hastert off with a blanket apology. The judge asked Hastert, point-blank, if he had sexually abused three wrestlers. Hastert – after conferring with his lawyers – agreed to accept their statements accusing him of sexually abusing them.

We’re pleased Durkin refused to accept Hastert’s initial apology and instead pressed him to admit publicly to sexually abusing multiple victims. Hastert’s victims, their families and the public – whose trust he violated – needed to hear the former House Speaker confirm the heinous nature of his crimes. Hastert’s admission leaves no doubt – as stunning as it still may be to some of his friends and ardent political supporters – that he was, in fact, a predatory criminal during his years as teacher and coach at Yorkville High School.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

What’s wrong with the “sexual predation” resolution

UNITED STATES
Stop Baptist Predators

Christa Brown

In anticipation of the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 14-16 annual meeting in St. Louis, Pastor Bart Barber of Farmersville, Texas, has floated a proposed resolution “on sexual predation in the Southern Baptist Convention.” In explaining his reason, Barber wrote: “What drives me to submit this resolution is my concern that the worst days of church sexual misconduct may be ahead of us rather than behind us.”

I believe Barber is probably right that the worst days of clergy sex scandals may be ahead for Baptists — because they don’t yet seem to have learned the needed lessons from past scandals — and I applaud Barber for his apparent recognition that Baptists do indeed have a dire problem. However, I don’t think for one second that Barber’s resolution will actually bring about any significant change in how the Southern Baptist Convention deals with clergy sex abuse. Here’s why.

1. What’s being proposed is a “resolution.” Nothing more. It’s just talk. A resolution doesn’t actually do anything. It was almost 10 years ago that SNAP wrote its first letters to top SBC officials, requesting specific action, and action is still what’s needed. It is not enough — not nearly enough — to simply resolve that things should be better.

2. While the resolution generically expresses disapproval of churches that have acted in ways to prevent victims or others from reporting sexual abuse, the fact of the matter remains that the SBC provides no denominational mechanism by which survivors may safely report clergy abuse and church cover-ups with any realistic hope of being compassionately and objectively heard. By continuing to insist that clergy abuse survivors must go to the church of the accused pastor, the denomination itself institutionally discourages the reporting of clergy abuse, and assures that, most of the time, denominational officials will not even have to feel the discomfort of hearing about clergy abuse and cover-ups. Cases that make it into the media are the bare tip of the iceberg. If the SBC wants to express disapproval of churches that have acted in ways to prevent people from reporting instances of sexual abuse, then it must start by being willing to institutionally hear the voices of those who are trying to tell about such instances. And that would require a system by which survivors could make a report to a “safe place” office staffed by people with the training, experience, objectivity and professionalism to at least receive them with compassion and care.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Girl’s torment over Catholic priest dad whose church bosses tried to bully her mum into giving her away

UNITED KINGDOM
Mirror

1 MAY 2016

BY GERALDINE MCKELVIE , MONICA CAFFERKY

For most of her childhood, Hannah Robinson had no idea who her dad was.

The inquisitive schoolgirl kept asking her single mum questions about him, but all she was told was that he was a university lecturer.

It was only when she reached 12 that her mother revealed the bombshell truth – Hannah had been fathered by a Catholic priest.

And his church bosses had tried to bully her mum into hiding the explosive secret – with one even coldly suggesting Hannah should be put up for adoption.

Now, after nearly 30 years of failing to find acceptance and love from the man who fathered her, Hannah has received a groundbreaking apology from Britain’s most senior Catholic.

Yet her disgraced dad is still allowed to say Mass at a parish in the south of England.

For Hannah, 38, it is scant recompense for what she really wanted: a loving father.

And, instead, the married mum-of-three has been torn apart by her feelings over him. “Covering up the existence of your child and not being honest with your colleagues and congregation smacks of hypocrisy,” she says.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Ex-priest gets 20-40 years in prison for sexual assault

MICHIGAN
Crux

By Associated Press
April 30, 2016

JACKSON, Mich. — A former Roman Catholic priest has been sentenced to at least 20 years in prison for sexual abuse connected to his work at a Michigan high school in the 1980s.

At age 75, James Rapp likely will die in prison. He’s been in prison for similar crimes in Oklahoma, one of many stops as a priest.

Rapp’s victims from Lumen Christi High School spoke for more than two hours in a Jackson courtroom Friday. He pleaded no contest in February to criminal sexual conduct.

Defense attorney Alfred Brandt said Rapp coerced students into having sexual contact while working as a teacher and wrestling coach.

An investigation began three years ago when victims approached the sheriff’s department. Attorney General Bill Schuette says Rapp’s prison sentence “hopefully offers some solace” to victims.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Catholic priest sentenced for sexually abusing Michigan boys in 1980s: ‘His crime and position was a murder on my soul’

MICHIGAN
New York Daily News

BY MEG WAGNER NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Catholic priest is facing up to 40 years behind bars for sexually abusing Michigan high school boys three decades ago — and six of his victims confronted him in the courtroom before he was hauled off to prison.

James Rapp — a 75-year-old former priest who taught at Jackson Lumen Christi High School in south central Michigan in the 1980s — pleaded no contest to criminal sexual conduct for raping and molesting his students.

“His crime and position was a murder on my soul,” victim Andy Russell said in court Friday, according to the Citizen Patriot. “He’s a monster and his path of destruction extends far further than it ever should have.”

Rapp is already serving a 40-year prison sentence for lewd molestation in Oklahoma, where he worked after he left Michigan.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.