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.

March 1, 2017

Why survivor’s exit from papal panel may be a blessing in disguise

ROME
Crux

John L. Allen Jr. March 1, 2017
EDITOR

Although the optics of the exit of the lone survivor serving as an active member of Pope Francis’s anti-sex abuse commission aren’t good, the reality is that naming survivors as members puts them in an extremely awkward spot, trapped between their loyalties to the Vatican and to fellow survivors.

In terms of the optics of the situation, there’s just no way in which the departure of Marie Collins, the only abuse survivor who was also an active member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, looks good for Pope Francis.

Citing frustrations with resistance to the commission’s work from within the Roman Curia, Collins announced today that she’s stepping down, though she’ll continue to work with the group in delivering anti-abuse training to clergy. Her exit comes at a time when Francis’s standing with survivors was already taking hits, in part because of revelations that he’s lightened the punishments imposed on several abuser priests in what the pontiff sees as a spirit of mercy, but what critics regard as a breakdown in accountability.

Certainly, the bureaucratic inertia and power games described by Collins raise legitimate questions about how serious the Vatican may be in terms of its commitment to reform. However, if one looks at the situation dispassionately, there’s also a case to be made that Collins’s resignation, along with the inactive status of the only other survivor on the commission, Peter Saunders of the UK, was both inevitable and arguably for the best.

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.

Hillsboro pastor, Truett Seminary student arrested on charges of sexual assault of a chi

TEXAS
Waco Tribune

By PHILLIP ERICKSEN pericksen@wacotrib.com and KRISTIN Hoppa khoppa@wacotrib.com

A Hillsboro pastor and student at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary was arrested Monday, accused of sexually assaulting a child after a mother allegedly caught him with her daughter in a car.

Benjamin Nelson, 27, was booked into Hill County Jail after Whitney police found him at his home in Waco.

Nelson was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one charge of deadly conduct, which came because Nelson allegedly drove recklessly near the child’s mother while leaving the scene in a Whitney shopping center, according to Whitney police.

According to his Facebook page, Nelson is pastor of Peoria Baptist Church and a student at Truett Seminary.

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.

Six-year-old boy ‘killed by nun at orphanage in 1960s’

SCOTLAND
STV

[with video]

David Cowan

Police said they found no evidence of foul play in Sammy Carr’s death.

A boy was killed by a nun at a Scottish orphanage, a former resident has claimed.

Sammy Carr died in 1964 while under the care of the Smyllum Park in Lanark, South Lanarkshire.

Police Scotland investigated the claims made by a former resident and said they found no evidence of criminality.

But the sisters of six-year-old Sammy are now convinced he was attacked before he died.

Symllum Park has long been the subject of allegations that some of its young residents suffered physical and psychological abuse. The orphanage was run by the Poor Sisters of Charity, now known as the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is investigating the facility and four other residential care establishments run by the same order.

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.

New Factsheet – Disclosing allegations

SCOTLAND
Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

A new factsheet has been added to the website, providing clarification on when the Inquiry may share an applicant’s name with the organisation or person named as an abuser or their legal representatives.

The Inquiry must be fair to everyone involved with the Inquiry. This is a legal requirement. Sometimes the need for fairness will mean that the Inquiry must share the applicant’s name with the organisation or person named as an abuser. Not every organisation or person named as an abuser will be told the name of the applicant. This will only happen when the Inquiry must do so to be fair.

You can read more about this in the new factsheet. A link to the factsheet is at the bottom of this page.

Related documents
Factsheet – Disclosing allegations

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.

Herald View: The case for clarity at inquiry on abuse

SCOTLAND
Herald Scotland

YOU might think it would be axiomatic that the identities of abuse survivors, testifying at a judge-led inquiry about personal suffering, would be given the utmost protection.

Many will have borne their burden for years, alone: it takes considerable courage to even think about giving evidence to a senior judge, far more to actually do so.

But now, in what appears to be a startling volte face, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has said that anyone accused of abuse, or any institution alleged to have overseen abuse, will be told the name of the person making the allegations, unless their guilt has been confirmed.

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.

Victims threaten to abandon child abuse inquiry over anonymity fears

SCOTLAND
Herald Scotland

by Stephen Naysmith, Social affairs correspondent

ABUSE survivors are threatening to abandon a public inquiry into historic sexual crimes in the Scottish care system after it emerged their identities would be revealed to the alleged perpetrators.

Lady Smith, head of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, has said anyone accused of abuse, or any institution alleged to have overseen abuse, will be told the name of the person making the allegations “in the interests of fairness”.

Previously the inquiry’s rules appeared to suggest this was only a possibility and identification would only occur if it was in the interests of its work.

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.

News reports show impotence of papal sex-abuse commission

UNITED STATES
Catholic Culture

By Phil Lawler
Feb 28, 2017

Talk about burying the lede! Credit the indispensable Terry Mattingly with noticing that in yesterday’s story about the Pope’s willingness to ease penalties on pedophile priests, AP put the most remarkable information in the last paragraph. So the biggest news was trimmed out of the story by most of the media outlets that carried it (including, sad to say, the story to which CWN linked in our News Brief).

That stunning paragraph focuses on the Pope’s special commission on sexual abuse, the initiatives that it has taken, and the net results:

Francis scrapped the commission’s proposed tribunal for bishops who botch abuse cases following legal objections from the congregation. The commission’s other major initiative — a guideline template to help dioceses develop policies to fight abuse and safeguard children — is gathering dust. The Vatican never sent the template to bishops’ conferences, as the commission had sought, or even linked it to its main abuse-resource website.

We already knew that the papal commission was languishing, because of a lack of funding, shortage of staff, and failure to hold regular meetings. But this news—inexplicably buried in the AP report—is far more damaging. The commission has launched two important projects, and neither has been implemented.

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.

CPI (M) women’s wing demands probe against Priest for impregnating minor

INDIA
Web India 123

Member of Parliament and AIDWA national leader PK Sreemathy today demanded a probe against the arrested priest of St Sebastian Church for impregnating a 16-year-old girl, who gave recently birth to a baby.Ms Sreemathy visited the family of the girl at Kottiyoor in the morning and said the incident was a disgrace to Kerala. She demanded that the police examine the computer and laptop of the priest and take strong action against him. This is not an isolated incident related to Priest Robin, who was allegedly trafficking poor girls of Kannur in the name of job opportunities, to different parts of India and overseas.Talking to the newspersons at a press conference here, Ms Sreemathy said the allegations of human trafficking were reported after the arrest of Priest Robin. Around 600 teenage girls have been sent to Canada, Gujarat and Bangalore by the priest-led team, on the promise of job. He also regularly visited Canada and other parts of the country.

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.

Catholics remain concerned

PENNSYLVANIA
Altoona Mirror

Editorial

A year ago today — March 1, 2016 — Catholics of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese experienced a tidal wave of shock, sadness, anger and feelings of betrayal in response to a state grand jury report alleging that hundreds of children had been sexually abused by about 50 priests over more than 40 years in the local diocese.

The grand jury report, delivered in Altoona by then-Attorney General Kathleen Kane, also exposed the horrific finding that two former diocesan leaders — Bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec — had covered up priests’ wrongdoing or warded off inquiries about that wrongdoing.

While, 12 months later, the blockbuster revelations no longer are a topic of daily conversation and news reports, what the grand jury uncovered remains planted firmly in Catholics’ feelings and emotions, and many of those Catholics remain troubled about what might come next.

During her presentation, Kane described the report as providing a “day of reckoning” for those whose wrongdoing the report detailed. Looking ahead, the biggest question mark centers on whether similar days of reckoning might be forthcoming for the Dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.

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.

Lawyers back call for national child abuse inquiry to name perpetrators

UNITED KINGDOM
The Guardian

Sandra Laville
Wednesday 1 March 2017

Lawyers have called for more transparency from the national child abuse inquiry over the naming of the perpetrators after their identities were withheld from the public hearings.

Aswini Weereratne QC, who represents the Child Migrant Trust, said she was unhappy about the ciphering of the names of abusers at the public hearing particularly as many of them are now dead.

“I want to put it on the record,” she said. “Really it is about the naming of abusers. It is really an issue of open justice that they should be heard.” Weereratne was speaking on the second day of the inquiry’s first public hearings. She indicated she may challenge the whole basis on which the redaction of abusers’ names was being applied.

She told the hearing that the trust was trying to help by providing information to the inquiry about which perpetrators might be dead. “We consider it a matter of the principle of open justice that there should be as much openness about the naming of the perpetrators,” she said.

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.

Derry child migrant Peggy Gibson: ‘I may not live to see justice done’

NORTHERN IRELAND
Derry Journal

A Derry woman who was just seven years old when she was sent to Australia as part of the controversial “child migrant scheme” says she’s worried she may not live long enough to see justice done.

Peggy Gibson, who is now aged 77, was separated from her family and transported to Australia in 1948 where, she says, she suffered horrific abuse.

Originally from Quarry Street in the Brandywell but now living in Melbourne, Peggy says it’s important that her abuse is acknowledged during her lifetime.

Her lawyers have written to the Northern Ireland Executive asking it to ensure that a redress scheme recommended recently by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) is implemented with “special priority” given to elderly claimants.

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.

Diocese to focus on protecting youth

PENNSYLVANIA
Altoona Mirror

MAR 1, 2017

RUSS O’REILLY
Staff Writer
roreilly@altoonamirror.com

A year after a statewide grand jury revealed the scope of child molestation among the ranks of Roman Catholic clergy in Altoona and stressed that allegations were mishandled by former church leadership, diocese spokesman Tony DeGol said Bishop Mark Bartchak will soon announce his plans for turning the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese into a leader in youth protection.

“Over the past year, Bishop Bartchak has devoted much of his time to collaborating with a diverse group of stakeholders to develop a new comprehensive approach that will help to make the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown a leader in the field of youth protection. We will be announcing the product of these efforts in the near future,” DeGol wrote in an email.

“The release of the grand jury report was heartbreaking for all Catholics, and it was especially painful for the survivors of sexual abuse and their loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are with them today and always,” DeGol wrote.

The report issued on this date last year named dozens of clergy who went virtually unpunished or uninvestigated by police.

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.

Sources: State attorney general investigating Catholic Church statewide

PENNSYLVANIA
Reading Eagle

Staff and wire reports

Several individuals who deal with the issue of child sexual abuse have said the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General is investigating the statewide Catholic Church.

The process is apparently similar to the grand jury probe that was convened against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown that concluded with a report released one year ago accusing the diocese of carrying out a decadeslong cover-up to protect pre-dator priests.

The AG’s office will neither confirm nor deny the existence of any grand jury.

State Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Muhlenberg Township Democrat, said he has talked to victims, nuns and priests who have testified before state investigators.

Rozzi does not know when the investigation will conclude, but, in his opinion, “This report is going to be one of the most damning grand jury reports.”

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.

Bravehearts founder calls on Canberra Catholic archbishop to resign

AUSTRALIA
Canberra Times

Katie Burgess

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnson has called for Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse to resign, after revelations he moved a priest he’d stood down over inappropriately touching a child, next to two Canberra primary schools.

“If this is the man we’re looking to in this region to protect children, then we’re looking in the wrong direction,” Ms Johnson said.

“No one should have any faith within that establishment with their children’s safety and wellbeing any longer. If that man was to live in that house for a nanosecond it would be too long, let alone two years. I think the archbishop needs to resign. He clearly doesn’t get it and he never will.”

Her call comes after Archbishop Prowse admitted it was a “mistake” not to tell the principal of a Canberra special needs school about the past of a retired priest he moved in next door.

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.