Larry Nassar will be back in court to face 57 more victims in Michigan

EAST LANSING (MI)
CNN

January 30, 2018

By Eric Levenson

(CNN)The legal reckoning with Larry Nassar’s years of sexual abuse isn’t over.

Nassar, the longtime former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and faculty member at Michigan State University, will return to court Wednesday morning for sentencing in Eaton County, Michigan, where he has pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal sexual conduct.

The Michigan attorney general’s office said 57 victims are expected to speak out in court about Nassar’s abuse, according to Eaton County Court Administrator Beryl Frenger.

The court has already set aside three days for victim impact statements, and the hearing is expected to go into next week to give each victim time to speak, Frenger said.

The sentencing in Eaton County is likely to be similar to the remarkable victim impact statements in nearby Ingham County over the past two weeks.

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‘He took a part of me that I’ll never get back’: Simone Biles tears up as she talks about pedophile Larry Nassar and reveals that Olympics Committee STILL has not contacted her about the sickening abuse

UNITED STATES
Daily Mail

January 31, 2018

By Jennifer Smith

– Biles appeared on NBC to give interviews to both Hoda Kotb and Megyn Kelly
– She cried as she spoke to Kotb on Today and said she was ‘very happy’ with Nassar’s 175-year sentencing
– To Kelly, the 20-year-old told how he stole her trust by sexually abusing her
– Biles bemoaned how she has still not been given an apology from either USA Gymnastics or the US Olympics Committee
– Aly Raisman, her fellow Olympic gold medalist and teammate, has described their silence as ‘disgusting’
– Despite the ordeal, Biles is back in the gym preparing for the 2020 Olympics
– Nassar will face more victims in a separate Michigan courtroom for another case on Wednesday

Simone Biles cried as she spoke about pedophile Dr. Larry Nassar on Wednesday morning during a tour of Today.

The 20-year-old spoke first to Hoda Kotb and reduced her to tears as she lamented how Nassar, who has been sentenced to 175 years in jail and counting for his abhorrent abuse of countless girls, assaulted her.

‘It’s very hard for someone to go through what I’ve gone through recently and it’s very hard to talk about,’ Biles, a five-time Olympic medalist, said.

She praised Judge Rosemarie Aquilina who sentenced to Nassar to 175 years imprisonment last week after a lengthy and highly publicized sentencing phase, reiterating her earlier comment that she was her ‘hero’.

‘The judge is my hero because she gave it to him straight and didn’t let him get any power over any of the girls and letting the girls speak was very powerful,’ she said.

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Vatican to probe Chile clergy abuse

VATICAN CITY
The Telegraph India

January 31, 2018

Vatican City: Pope Francis is sending the Catholic Church’s top investigator into sexual abuse by clergy to Chile to probe a bishop accused of covering up crimes against minors, in a remarkable turnaround only days after the pope defended him.

A Vatican statement on Tuesday said new information had emerged about Bishop Juan Barros and that Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta would go to “listen to those who want to submit elements in their possession”.

The statement, which gave no details, was a stunning U-turn for the pope, who on January 21 told reporters aboard his plane returning from Latin America he was sure Barros was innocent and that the Vatican had received no concrete evidence against him. It was Scicluna who doggedly uncovered evidence of sexual abuse that led to the removal of the late Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, in 2005.

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Communities That Protect Abusers

ISRAEL
Times of Israel

By Dr. Michael Salamon

January 31, 2018

Can an entire town come together to protect a childhood sexual abuser – actually protect the abuser – not the child?

This question may seem foolish or rhetorical at best but one look at some recent events tends to highlight the extent to which some communities go to protect the abusers in their midst.
Rachael Denhollander, the first to come forward and accuse Dr. Larry Nassar of abuse while he allegedly cared for gymnasts, swimmers and Olympic athletes over many years had to, in her words, build an army to take on this abuser and his supporters.

Ultimately, over 150 women athletes, many of them Olympians, confronted Nassar in court. Denhollander was not believed initially. It took some time, Olympic effort and commitment to bring him to justice but the persistence paid off.

The bravery that Denhollander and her “army” displayed caused the United States Olympic Committee to force the entire U.S. Gymnastics Committee to resign, and the President of Michigan State University to step down. A special prosecutor has been appointed to look into the possibility that the sports departments at University of Michigan had been covering for Nassar and also for several accusations against their football and basketball teams.

This is not an unheard of situation. There have been other cases where communities protect abusers at the expense of children who are victims. Recall the Jerry Sandusky Penn State scandal. Sandusky, the assistant Football coach, was known to have been abusing young boys for years. He was even reported to his Head coach, Joe Paterno and University administration but for years the entire community at Penn State looked away or worse, rationalized that he was a charitable fellow; after all, he organized and ran The Second Mile charity organization. Still for at least 15 years he was sexually abusing young boys using his football connections and his charity to groom and abuse. He has some protectors still even though he is in jail.

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WATCH: Protesters take on church leader accused of sexual harassment

SOUTH AFRICA
IOL News

January 30, 2018

By Khanyisile Ngcobo

Johannesburg – The Pretoria City Mission Methodist Church on Tuesday confirmed it was investigating events relating to a sexual harassment protest held at the church on Monday.

This comes after videos emerged on social media showing a group of women disrupting what appears to be a service by walking up to the pulpit with placards in hand.

The small group of women are seen standing in front of the pulpit in protest and at one point, church leaders appear to try and stop them and in the end, get into an argument with a few of them.

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Sexual harassment claims at Pta church

TSHWANE (SOUTH AFRICA)
Pretoria East Rekord

January 31, 2018

By Thato Mahlangu

“We are disturbed and saddened by what gave rise to such action.”

A Pretoria church could be facing sexual abuse claims.

A steward from the Central Methodist Church in Pretoria has been accused by a group of young women of sexual harassment.

The aggrieved group took to the church’s altar to stage a silent protest, disrupting last Sunday’s church service.

The group of women could be seen in a video doing the rounds on social media, staging a silent protest followed by an altercation with some of the church leaders.

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#Trending: Video showing Women allegedly protesting Sexual Abuse from Church Leader

TSHWANE (SOUTH AFRICA)
BellaNaija.com

January 31, 2018

A video showing 2 young women in Wesley Methodist Church in Tshwane, South Africa, disrupting church service to protest alleged sexual abuse is trending on social media.

In the video posted by @AthiGeleba, 2 young women are seen standing before the church holding up sheets of paper.

One of the women is seen arguing while elders speak to her.

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Mother testifies in suit against Mormon Church

MARTINSBURG (WV)
The Journal

January 31, 2018

By Kelsie LeRose

MARTINSBURG — The civil case alleging members of the Mormon Church had covered up sexual abuse by the son of church leaders continued its second full week Tuesday with Sandra Lee Jensen taking the stand as a witness for the plaintiffs.

Sandra Lee Jensen is the mother of the Christopher Michael Jensen–who is serving 35 to 75 years in prison for sexually abusing two minors at the ages of 4 and 3.

The lawsuit, filed in 2013, accuses the church and its leaders of actively covering up the abuse and assisting Michael Jensen in committing further acts by enabling him to babysit for and live with other church families with young children.

Nine families are involved in the lawsuit against the church, Jensen’s parents Chris and Sandra Lee Jensen, and church officials Steven Grow and Don Fishel.

Michael Jensen was initially accused of sexual abuse in 2004 in Provo, Utah, where he was arrested at his middle school and charged with two felony counts of sexual abuse for allegedly pinning two 12-and 13-year-old females against a wall and fondling them inappropriately without consent. A plea agreement was reached in the case, which resulted in the charges being reduced to two misdemeanor counts of lewdness.

In 2007, Jensen was accused of fondling a 14-year-old girl outside of a movie theater in Martinsburg. According to court records, Jensen’s mother allegedly knew about the theater incident and asked the girl if she was OK and if there was “a problem.” No criminal charges were filed.

The victim testified in court last week that she did not consent during the incident, according to Carl Kravitz, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

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INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEX ABUSE OUTLINES CHURCH OF ENGLAND INVESTIGATION

ENGLAND
The Tablet

January 30, 2018

By Megan Cornwell

Among several themes to be explored is what impact ‘clericalism’ had on child sexual abuse investigations

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse has outlined the areas it will be focusing on with regards to the Church of England. Public hearings into the Church will begin in March.

The hearings will focus on the Diocese of Chichester, where several clergymen were found to have abused young boys. The inquiry will also look at the disgraced former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, who was imprisoned in 2015 after admitting the abuse of 18 young men over a period of 15 years. It will then examine how well the Church’s current safeguarding practices are working, Fiona Scolding QC, the lead lawyer for the Anglican strand of the inquiry, explained today at a preliminary hearing in Southwark.

Scolding said that among the areas under investigation by the panel was the question: “How far does the Church’s attitude towards same-sex relationships, sexual orientation and gender contribute to difficulties with cultural change necessary to promote effective safeguarding?” Another question will be to what extent to which the culture within the Church “inhibited the proper investigation, exposure and prevention of child sexual abuse”.

The hearing into Bishop Ball will cover a number of topics, Scolding said. These will include why the Church failed to take steps during the 1990s to refer further information to police, whether the culture of the Church had an impact on the investigation at the time, why the Crown Prosecution Service decided to give Ball a caution rather than prosecute him and what was known about Ball’s case during an archiepiscopal visitation that took place 2011/12. Scolding also said the inquiry would review “why Peter Ball was granted an informal permission to officiate, even given his offending…”.

The hearing for Chichester Diocese will focus on the findings of past investigations and the steps taken by the Church of England to implement recommendations. It will look at the values and behaviour of the Church and whether they “inhibited or continue to inhibit the investigation, exposure and prevention of child sexual abuse”, and whether the response to victims was appropriate.

However, the inquiry will not be investigating the case of the late Bishop George Bell, former Bishop of Chichester, who was posthumously accused of assaulting a young girl in the 1940s and 1950s. In December a separate inquiry criticised the Church’s “deficient” handling of the allegations made against him, after several proponents of Bell spoke out in his defence. Scolding said the hearings will not consider “the truth or substance of the allegations made concerning Bishop George Bell”.

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Opinion: Zero tolerance? The facts don’t support the pope’s claims on child abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
The Guardian

January 31, 2018

By Kieran Tapsell

Pope Francis says there’s no leniency for clergy accused of child sex abuse. It’s not true

On his return flight from Lima to Rome in January, Pope Francis claimed, as he has so often before, that he has zero tolerance for clergy who sexually abuse children: “I continue with the policy of zero tolerance initiated by Benedict XVI, and in five years I have not signed a single request for leniency. If the appeal court confirms the decision of the lower court, the only other avenue is to ask the pope for leniency. In my time as pope, I have received some 25 requests, and have signed none of them.”

On hearing Francis’s claims, an ordinary person might believe that the Catholic church insists on dismissing priests who sexually abuse children – but that is not what usually happens.

There are three ways under canon law by which a priest can be dismissed: 1) by a canonical court, with the priest having the right of appeal to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which is the Vatican department in charge of child sexual abuse allegations against clergy; 2) a bishop can ask the CDF to dismiss a priest directly; 3) the CDF can refer the matter to the pope with a request that he dismiss the priest.

Francis’s claim that he has never exercised leniency after a canonical trial and appeal may well be true, but it is not true where he has been requested by the CDF to dismiss a priest, and it is not true of the CDF when it exercises its own powers.

In 2010, the Holy See issued a guide to understanding CDF procedures for sexual abuse allegations. Where the accused has admitted his crimes, the guide says that the CDF can require him to “live a life of prayer and penance”, with restrictions on his public ministry.

In cases under the third procedure, Francis has granted leniency by refusing to accept CDF dismissal recommendations for some of the worst offenders, and instead, required them to live a “life of prayer and penance” with restrictions on their public ministry.

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Church of England’s ‘culture of secrecy’ under the spotlight in abuse inquiry

ENGLAND
Christian Today

January 31, 2018

A public inquiry into sex abuse in the Church of England will focus on the institution’s culture of secrecy.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, will focus on how the Diocese of Chichester handled sex abuse allegations and its failure to protect survivors.

Fiona Scolding QC, the lead lawyer for the Anglican strand of the inquiry, said the inquiry would not focus on the late Bishop George Bell, former Bishop of Chichester, who was posthumously accused of assaulting a young girl in the 1940s and 1950s. However it will focus on the former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, who was imprisoned in 2015 after admitting he abused 18 young men over 15 years.

In a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, according to The Tablet, Scolding said the investigation would also ask: ‘How far does the Church’s attitude towards same-sex relationships, sexual orientation and gender contribute to difficulties with cultural change necessary to promote effective safeguarding?’

The public inquiry on the Diocese of Chichester will begin on March 5 and the hearing on Peter Ball on July 23.

The Church’s lead on safeguarding, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, said: ‘IICSA has announced today further details of the investigation into the Anglican Church in England and Wales, focusing on the Chichester case study, with the first public hearing in March.

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Priest accused of having child porn free on $250,000 bond

BELLEVILLE (IL)
The Associated Press via WLS-AM

January 31, 2018

A Catholic priest who was arrested in southern Illinois on child pornography charges is now free on bond.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports the sister of the Rev. Gerald R. Hechenberger posted his bond over the weekend after a judge reduced bail from $2 million to $250,000.

Hechenberger was arrested Jan. 9 after detectives found images and videos of child pornography and drug paraphernalia at Holy Childhood Church and school in Mascoutah where Hechenberger is associate pastor.

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Failures offer opportunity to improve protection efforts, expert says

ROME
National Catholic Reporter

January 30, 2018

by Carol Glatz

ROME — Failure and disappointment in the Catholic Church’s response to abuse should be an impetus to reassess, refocus and rededicate oneself to improving and expanding efforts in healing and prevention, said a researcher at Rome’s Center for Child Protection.

For example, “Pope Francis’ infelicitous words — experienced as a ‘slap’ by those who have suffered abuse — during his recent visit to Chile” raises the question, “is there hope for real change in the church?” wrote Sara Boehk, a member of the center’s research team. Her article appeared on the center’s blog — childprotection.unigre.it — Jan. 26.

The center, which is part of the Pontifical Gregorian University, provides training, formation and educational resources in the field of safeguarding minors. Its president is Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, who had been a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Boehk’s commentary — titled “Is there hope for real change in the church?” — was published after Pope Francis’ visit to Chile, where he told reporters that he would not take action against a Chilean bishop unless accusations that he covered up abuse could be supported with proof; otherwise, he said, any claims Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno knew or witnessed abuses committed by his former mentor amounted to “calumny.” The pope later apologized, saying he only realized later that his words erroneously implied that victims’ accusations are credible only with concrete evidence.

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Pope sends sex abuse envoy to Chile after deeming allegations a “calumny”

VATICAN CITY
Associated Press

January 31.2018

VATICAN CITY (AP) — After coming under excoriating public criticism, Pope Francis decided Tuesday to send the Vatican’s most respected sex crimes expert to Chile to investigate a bishop accused by victims of covering up for the country’s most notorious pedophile priest.

The Vatican said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna would travel to Chile “to listen to those who have expressed the desire to provide elements” about the case of Bishop Juan Barros.

The move marks the first known time the Vatican has launched a full-blown investigation into allegations of sex abuse cover-up, and it comes after Francis was harshly criticized by the media, survivors of abuse, his fellow Jesuits and some of his top advisers for his unwavering defense of Barros.

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Former Delaware Catholic priest charged in 25-year-old child sex case

WILMINGTON (DE)
The News Journal

January 31, 2018

By Xerxes Wilson

In what appears to be a first, Delaware is prosecuting a former Catholic priest for “sexual intercourse” with a child more than 25 years ago.

John A. Sarro, 76, a former priest with the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, was indicted this week by a New Castle County grand jury on charges of first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse and second-degree unlawful sexual contact, according to court records.

Sarro was a priest in Bear and Bellefonte through much of the ’80s and ’90s. He was identified by diocese officials in 2006 as one of 20 local priests with “admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated” allegations of sexual abuse of minors against them.

But the conduct that landed Sarro in that group is said to be separate from the current charge.

His Monday indictment accuses him in the early 1990s of having “sexual intercourse” with a girl under the age of 16. Those crimes would have taken place when Sarro’s was serving at St. Helena Parish in Bellefonte, though specifics of his relationship with the alleged victim, or her identity, are not detailed in court documents.

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After Defending Controversial Bishop, Pope To Send Sex Abuse Investigator To Chile

CHILE
National Public Radio

January 30, 2018

By Sylvia Poggioli

When Pope Francis visited Chile earlier this month, he lashed out at victims of sexual abuse and accused them of “calumny” regarding a bishop who is suspected of covering up abuse they endured by a pedophile priest.

The pope said there was “not a shred of evidence” against Chilean Bishop Juan Barros. “The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros,” he said, “I’ll speak.”

Now the pope is sending a top envoy on a mission to Chile to look into survivors’ claims.

A Vatican statement said Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna, the Church’s most respected sex crimes expert, will “listen to those who have expressed the desire to provide elements” about the case of Barros. It said new information had emerged.

The pope’s remarks in Chile had highlighted some Vatican-watchers’ concerns about his commitment to combating sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy — an issue that has undermined the Catholic Church’s moral authority in much of the world.

There were high expectations in 2014 when the pope created the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, headed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

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Choir director Hodgman resigns Adrian College position

ADRIAN (MI)
Daily Telegram News

January 30, 2018

By David Panian

ADRIAN — A long-time Adrian College choir director who has been dogged by allegations he had a sexual relationship with a student when he was a high school teacher in the 1980s has resigned from the college.

Adrian College said Tuesday that Thomas Hodgman has resigned.

“The college will make no further comment regarding this matter,” Frank Hribar, vice president for enrollment and student affairs, said in an email.

Hodgman did not immediately return a call from The Daily Telegram seeking comment.

For years, the woman who claims Hodgman abused her when she was a 15-year-old student at a Catholic high school in Southern California has tried to get the college to cut ties with Hodgman.

“The college didn’t want students to know what Hodgman did to me,” Joelle Casteix said Tuesday in an email. “When students found out, (current college President) Jeffrey Docking, (former college President) Stanley Caine, and Hodgman himself did everything in their power to discredit me. Even when the courts said that I was in the right. Even when I had documents to prove every word I said was true.”

Casteix sued Hodgman, the Diocese of Orange, California, and Mater Dei High School in 2003. The lawsuit, which was grouped with others regarding sexual abuse by priests, was settled in 2005. The file in her case was supposed to have been sealed but became public for a short time and was made available to some media outlets. Casteix has since posted what she says are those documents on her website.

“After the college finally conceded that what I said was true, Docking and Hodgman still thought that things could be ‘business as usual,’ ” Casteix wrote in her email. “They thought that Hodgman could go on tour with high school students. They believed that the public, the student body and that Carnegie Hall would turn a blind eye. They believed that the world was as callous as they were.”

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Michigan State Scandal Makes It Clear: Reports of Sexual Assault Need To Go To One Place

EAST LANSING (MI)
Forbes

January 29, 2018

By Jerry Barca

The victims kept mentioning the same regret.

These were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests. I had spoken to them during my newspaper reporting days when the scandal became national news in 2002. I spoke to more victims years later as part of background research for another project.

Damage had been done to them, their innocence stripped away as hammer strikes of abuse pounded into their self worth. Of course any and everybody wished it never happened. The victims had another wish, too. If they couldn’t change the fact that they had been abused, they wish they would’ve gone straight to the police, instead of the Church. They would’ve reported the abuse to legal authorities, not the institution.

That lesson has to be reiterated after what has gone on at Michigan State. Larry Nassar, a team doctor at Michigan State and with USA Gymnastics, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after more than 160 women and girls made statements in court that he had abused them during the last 20 years. Days after Nassar’s sentencing, ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported that Michigan State mishandled sexual assault complaints. The investigative report “found a pattern of widespread denial, inaction and information suppression of such allegations by officials ranging from campus police to the Spartan athletic department.”

To make it clear, to shout it from the rooftops into a megaphone: Victims that come forward must go to the police. And in Michigan State’s case not the campus police. You have to find a law enforcement agency willing to hear the claim for what it is: an allegation of criminal behavior.

There is still cultural tone-deafness with regard to these issues. Even at Michigan State, as the Nassar situation played out in court, university staffers undergoing training for the school’s relationship violence and sexual misconduct policy dropped comments such as “snitches get stitches” with regard to reporting incidents.

Don’t think it’s just at Michigan State either. Too often institutions, be it churches, schools, community groups, or athletic programs, respond to victims by looking out for its own self-preservation. Victims need an independent investigation. Institutions respond with: how can we make this go away quickly and quietly.

Institutions sell this idea to the victim and the victim’s family. They present the line of thinking that handling this quietly is in the victim’s self interest. They will talk about how the process of reporting the incident publicly will re-traumatize the victim. Then they’ll ask questions like “Do you really want to do this?”

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Abuse survivor sues council and Catholic church sect

SCOTLAND
The Herald

January 30, 2018

An abuse survivor is suing a Catholic Church sect and a local authority after he was assaulted by a monk at a residential school.

Michael Murphy, known as Brother Benedict or Brother Ben, abused children in the 1970s and 1980s when he worked at St Joseph’s School in Tranent, East Lothian.

He was jailed for seven years in April 2016 at the High Court in Edinburgh after being found guilty of physically and sexually abusing eight boys.

The physical abuse he carried out included habitual and sustained physical punishment as well as the administration of electric shocks, the Crown Office said at the conclusion of the case.

The anonymous survivor, now in his 50s, is suing East Lothian Council and De La Salle Brothers and is seeking damages estimated at a six-figure sum for the pain caused by the former schoolmaster.

He said Brother Benedict “ruined not just my childhood but my adult life”.

He added: “He abused his position while working alongside the Council and the Church to fulfil his own sick desires.

“I hope now to be able to find the means to help me rebuild my life.”

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Victim abused and beaten by notorious monster monk set to sue Catholic sect and council

SCOTLAND
Daily Record

January 30, 2018

By Sarah Vesty

An abuse survivor is seeking a six-figure sum in damages from De Dalle Brothers and the council.

An abuse survivor is suing a Catholic sect and a council after being beaten and assaulted by a notorious monk.

Brother Benedict – real name Michael Murphy – subjected eight schoolboys to a string of attacks at St Joseph’s List D School in Tranent, East Lothian, during the 70s.

He electrocuted pupils, locked them in cupboards, beat them with canes and sexually assaulted them.

Murphy, part of the De La Salle Brothers, was jailed for seven years in 2016 after being found guilty on 15 charges at the High Court in Edinburgh.

One of his victims is now seeking a six-figure sum in damages from East Lothian Council and the De La Salle Brothers.

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Catholic, education groups oppose child abuse reporting bill

AURORA (CO)
9 News

January 29, 2018

By Ryan Haarer

Educators, along with a list of other professionals, are required by law to report child abuse allegations to police. But the statute of limitations for failure to report ends 18 months after the fact.

Prosecutors may face challenges in convicting three Cherry Creek School District administrators who failed to report an alleged sexual assault of a student in 2013.

They never called police after they heard that teacher Brian Vasquez, 34, was allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student. It wasn’t until 2017 that Aurora Police arrested Vasquez for a total of five sexual assault claims.

These educators, along with a list of other professionals, are required by law to report child abuse allegations to police. But the statute of limitations for failure to report ends 18 months after the fact.

“When it’s not reported, what happens, it emboldens that adult who is harming a child to continue that behavior,” said State Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.

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The Pandora’s Box of Spiritual Abuse is out: Here’s what the Church must do

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Christian Today

January 29, 2018

By Rev’d Canon Anna Norman-Walker

This is a blog post by the Revd Canon Anna Norman-Walker, rector of St Leonard’s, Streatham. It first appeared on ViaMedia.News and is reproduced with permission.

In Greek mythology Pandora is created by Zeus and given as a wedding gift to the brother of his enemy Prometheus along with a jar containing the many evils of the world. Pandora opens the jar and on realising what she had done she tries to close it in haste; the anguish of the moment is captured in a painting by FS Church in which the young bride kneels helplessly on the box – as one might an over filled suitcase – in an effort to contain the escaping forces of evil.

Over the past few weeks the call has gone out for the church to address the issue of spiritual abuse. This was triggered in part by a recent report carried out by Bournemouth University on behalf of the churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) in which 62 per cent of respondents to the study’s research survey believed they had been subject to spiritual abuse. Within a few days of the report’s release, news broke of the Oxford priest Revd Timothy Davis’ suspension from duties for the spiritual abuse of a teenager he had been mentoring following an investigation under the Clergy Discipline Measure.

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Church sexual abuse survivors call for firing of Pastor Andy Savage

MEMPHIS (TN)
WREG Memphis News Channel 3

January 29, 2018

By Stacy Jacobson

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Protesters held up a smattering of signs in an attempt to push forward what they called “Justice for Jules” outside Highpoint Church Monday.

“It’s time to stop being so concerned about the abuser and be more concerned about the abused,” said Kenny Stubblefield, a survivor of church sexual abuse and local activist.

It’s been three weeks since Jules Woodson wrote a narrative of her encounter with Pastor Andy Savage 20 years ago at their Texas church. She said the current Highpoint pastor was then her youth pastor. She said he offered her a ride home and forced her to perform oral sex.

“I was in shock. I didn’t understand what was happening,” Woodson said in an interview with CBS News.

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Priest banned from ministry to defend George Bell at Church of England’s headquarters

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Christian Today

January 30, 2018

By Harry Farley

A priest barred from ministry after being accused of abusing colleagues and making malicious allegations against his superiors is to speak at the Church of England’s headquarters in London on Thursday.

Jules Gomes, formerly a priest at St Mary’s on the Harbour on the Isle of Man, is an outspoken defender of George Bell, a former Bishop of Chichester who has been accused of historical sex abuse. He will address a group of Bell’s supporters in Church House, Westminster, on February 1.

Church House is the building used as the CofE’s main London base. The National Church Institutions (NCIs) which govern the Church’s daily running, do not own the building nor control its bookings and the CofE appeared to distance itself from the event.

A Church of England spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of an event due to take place at Church House Conference Centre Limited, in Westminster, on Feb 1 at which we understand Jules Gomes, a former Church of England parish priest prohibited from ministry for 10 years by a Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal, has been invited to speak.

‘The National Church Institutions are tenants at Church House. Church House Conference Centre Limited, who manage bookings from clients and operate the conference spaces, is an independent conference centre located at Church House.’

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VATICAN DEFROCKS ABUSIVE MASSACHUSETTS EX-PRIEST

WORCESTER (MA)
ChurchMilitant

January 29, 2018

By David Nussman

Now-laicized former priest abused a teenage male in 1985

WORCESTER, Mass. (ChurchMilitant.com) – Pope Francis has now defrocked a Massachusetts priest who was accused of sexually abusing a teenage male.

Peter Inzerillo was a priest in the diocese of Worcester. He has now been laicized at his own request, according to an announcement the diocese made on Thursday. The diocese stated, “As a result of the laicization, he may not function in any capacity as a priest or be referred to as a priest or as ‘Father’ in writing such as in event announcements or obituaries.”

Inzerillo sexually abused a 19-year-old male in 1985. He was not criminally charged. But in 1999, he was named in a sex-abuse lawsuit against the diocese of Worcester. The suit ended in the diocese’s largest-ever priest sex abuse settlement of about $300,000. Inzerillo was removed from public ministry in 2002 and has remained without public faculties ever since.

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French women and #MeToo: It’s complicated

FRANCE
Yahoo Lifestyle

January 29, 2018

By Alexandra Mondalek

There are almost as many online guides to achieving that mysterious French-dame coolness as there are people in France: There’s the French girl’s guide to winter beauty, the French girl’s guide to eating, the French girl’s guide to bangs, the French girl’s guide to Halloween, and even the French girl’s guide to hating French girl guides, just for starters.

But in this moment of reckoning for sexual assaulters, there is no French girl’s guide to the movement known as #MeToo (with the exception of this New Yorker spoof). There is a French hashtag equivalent — #BalanceTonPorc or “expose your pig” — but beyond that, it’s complicated.

That’s ultimately because many French women disagree about the validity of the movement itself, and whether its American counterpart is even contextually relevant to French culture.

On one side, there are French women like Sandra Muller, a journalist who coined the hashtag #BalanceTonPorc in mid-October 2017, just before American actress Alyssa Milano tweeted #MeToo. Muller — whose sexual harasser is suing her for defamation, despite admitting to what she’d accused him of — has created a GoFundMe for her own legal expenses, and also plans to create a victim relief fund, similar to the Legal Defense Fund the #TimesUp organizers in the U.S. started, she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

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Pope sends sex crimes expert to Chile to investigate bishop

VATICAN CITY
Associated Press

January 30, 2018

By Nicole Winfield

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is sending the Vatican’s most respected sex crimes expert to Chile to investigate a bishop accused by victims of covering up for the country’s most notorious pedophile priest.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Maltese Bishop Charles Scicluna would travel to Chile “to listen to those who have expressed the desire to provide elements” about the case of Bishop Juan Barros.

The Barros controversy dominated Francis’ just-ended trip to Chile and exposed Francis’ blind spot as far as clerical sex abuse is concerned. Even one of his closest advisers, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, publicly rebuked him for his treatment of victims and tried to set him straight.

Barros was a protege of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a charismatic and politically powerful priest who was sanctioned by the Vatican for sexually abusing minors in 2011. His victims testified to Chilean prosecutors that Barros and other priests in the El Bosque community saw Karadima kissing youngsters and were aware of his perversions, but did nothing.

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Pope sends Maltese archbishop to investigate Chilean bishop in abuse cover up case

CHILE
National Catholic Reporter

January 30, 2018

By Dennis Coday

Pope Francis is sending Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to Chile to take testimony about Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid of Osorno, Chile, who is accused of covering up allegations of abuse by a Chilean priest who was found guilty of abuse.

The Vatican announced Scicluna’s trip to Chile in a statement this morning.

Scicluna was in charge of sexual abuse cases in the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith from 2002 until 2010. Francis appointed him to lead a commission in the doctrinal congregation to hear appeals of priests accused of sexual abuse.

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Archbishop Scicluna sent to Chile to investigate bishop accused of child abuse cover up

CHILE
Times of Malta

January 30, 2018

Pope Francis sends Malta’s top cleric on special mission

Archbishop Charles Scicluna has been dispatched to Chile by Pope Francis to look into allegations against a bishop accused of covering up clergy crimes against minors there, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

A statement said Archbishop Scicluna was being dispatched after “new information” had emerged about Bishop Juan Barros of the Chilean city of Osorno.

Archbishop Scicluna is the Vatican’s top investigator on child abuse, having previously served as Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

He doggedly uncovered evidence of sexual abuse against the late founder of the conservative religious order the Legionaries of Christ during the papacy of Benedict XVI, and has a formidable reputation within the Church.

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Pope Sends Envoy to Chile to Investigate Bishop Accused of Abuse Cover Up

VATICAN CITY
Reuters

January 30, 2018

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis is sending the Church’s top investigator on sexual abuse to Chile to look into allegations against a bishop accused of covering up clergy crimes against minors there, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

A statement said the envoy, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, was being dispatched after “new information” had emerged about Bishop Juan Barros of the Chilean city of Osorno.

Controversy over Barros, whom the pope has repeatedly defended, dominated Francis’s recent trip to the South American country.

It was a remarkable turnaround for the pope, who just last week told reporters aboard the plane returning from Latin America that he was sure Barros was innocent and that the Vatican had received no concrete evidence against him.

Barros has been accused of protecting his former mentor, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing teenage boys over many years. Karadima denies the allegations, and Barros said he was unaware of any wrongdoing.

Scicluna doggedly uncovered evidence of sexual abuse against the late founder of the conservative religious order the Legionaries of Christ during the papacy of Benedict XVI and has a formidable reputation within the Church.

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Catholic Church group fights Colorado bill to reform system of reporting child abuse

DENVER (CO)
The Denver Channel

January 29, 2018

By Robert Garrison

DENVER — Legislation that would reform a mandatory system of reporting child abuse in Colorado is not getting support from the Catholic Church.

Senate Bill 18-058 would extend the statute of limitations in cases where a person is required by law to report child abuse but fails to do so.

Currently, the statute of limitations for failing to report child abuse or neglect in Colorado is 18 months, which could result in dropped charges in the recent indictment against three Cherry Creek school leaders accused of hiding allegations made by a specific student in 2013.

The measure, sponsored by state lawmakers Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) and Terri Carver (R-Colorado Springs), comes on the heels of the Cherry Creek case and indefinitely extends the period of time mandatory reporters could be prosecuted for not contacting authorities in child abuse cases.

A mandatory reporter is someone in a specific occupation that must report suspected child abuse. In Colorado, 40 categories of professions are covered under the law, including all public and private school employees.

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An iconic rock on Michigan State’s campus is covered with the names of Larry Nassar’s victims

EAST LANSING (MI)
CNN

January 29, 2018

By Mercedes Leguizamon and Saeed Ahmed

(CNN)The boulder is known simply as “The Rock” and it’s a fixture on the campus of Michigan State University.

It’s a constantly changing billboard. Students leave everything from birthday greetings to political messages, one layer of paint at a time.

Since late last week, when doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 175 years for sexually abusing girls and young women for decades, the Rock has sported a powerful new look.

Students painted the boulder white, along with the words “THANK YOU” in teal, and a heart.

They also hand-painted the names of more than 150 women who accused Nassar of abusing them.

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MSU critic faces allegation of inappropriate relationship from former student

EAST LANSING (MI)
Detroit Free Press

January 29, 2018

By Gina Kaufman and Jim Schaefer

Just days after Sue Carter resigned her position as chair of Michigan State University’s Athletic Council, in protest over the institution’s handling of its sexual abuse scandal, a former student has filed a complaint claiming Carter drew her into an inappropriate relationship more than two decades ago.

Ellen Fedon-Keyt, now a Dearborn psychologist, e-mailed the members of the athletic council on Saturday saying she was about 19 years old and an undergraduate student at Wayne State University when Carter, who was at one time her professor, befriended her and manipulated her into a sexual relationship that felt “wrong and distorted.” Fedon-Keyt said this occurred around the time her father was killed in a plane crash — a period when shewas vulnerable.

Two members of the MSU Athletic Council — professor Martin Crimp and secretary Scott Westerman, executive director of the Alumni Association — confirmed over the weekend to the Free Press that the complaint was forwarded to the university’s Office of Institutional Equity. Fedon-Keyt, who spoke to the Free Press and agreed to let her name be published, said Monday an investigator from the office already has requested an interview with her.

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Child sexual abuse: Pakistan breaks the silence

ASIA/PAKISTAN
Agenzia Fides

January 25, 2018

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – “Pakistan has finally broken a taboo, at least for now. This comes after the denunciation of sexual abuse, violence, rape and murder against thousands of minors. Here there is a culture of silence and shame which are deeply rooted”, says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Mushtaq Anjum, a Pakistani Camillian missionary. “However – continues the priest – the recent case of young Zenaib Ansari, a girl from Kasur, in Punjab, has literally shocked the country. And in civil society, processions and demonstrations have multiplied to demand justice and to put an end to impunity”.

Many famous Pakistani women took part in this campaign against child abuse, and shared their stories on social media using the hashtag #justiceforZainab. The other hashtag #MeToo raised the veil on many other cases of violence: actress Nadia Jamil revealed to have suffered sexual abuse for the first time when she was four years old. “I was told not to talk about it out of respect for the honor of my family, but now I am not ashamed for myself or for my children. I am a proud, strong, loving, survivor”, said Jamil. Maheen Khan, a Pakistani high fashion designer, said she was abused by the mullah who came to teach her the Qur’an: “I froze in fear day after day”.
Frieha Altaf, actress and model, wrote that she was sexually abused by the family cook from the tender age of 6 and added that “the only shame in these cases is keeping silent”.

Fr. Mushtaq explains to Agenzia Fides: “Pakistani society protects honor at the expense of justice. Shame and humiliation prevent people from exposing themselves and denouncing these inhuman illnesses”.

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Sister posts bond for priest accused of having child porn after judge reduces bail

MASCOUTAH (IL)
Belleville News-Democrat

January 29, 2018

By Dana Rieck

The sister of a Mascoutah priest accused of possessing child pornography posted his $25,000 bond Friday after a judge significantly reduced the man’s $2 million bail last week.

The Rev. Gerald Hechenberger, associate pastor of Holy Childhood Church in Mascoutah, was booked into jail Jan. 9 on 16 charges of child pornography and one charge of possession of methamphetamine.

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Pope apologizes for comments, defends bishop

CHILE
Associated Press

January 26, 2018

By Nicole Winfield

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — Pope Francis apologized for insisting that victims of pedophile priests show “proof” to be believed, saying he realized it was a “slap in the face” to victims that he never intended.

But he doubled down on defending a Chilean bishop accused by victims of covering up for the country’s most notorious pedophile priest, and he repeated that anyone who makes such accusations without providing evidence is guilty of slander.

Francis issued the partial mea culpa in an airborne press conference late Sunday as he returned home from Chile and Peru, where the clergy abuse scandal and his own comments plunged the Chilean church into renewed crisis and revived questions about whether Francis “gets it” about abuse.

Francis insisted that to date no one had provided him with evidence that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in keeping quiet about the perversions of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, the charismatic Chilean priest who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for molesting and fondling minors in his Santiago parish.

Flying home from the most contested trip of his papacy, Francis said Barros would remain bishop of Osorno, Chile as long as there’s no evidence implicating him in the cover-up.

“I can’t condemn him because I don’t have evidence,” Francis said. “But I’m also convinced that he’s innocent.”

Karadima was removed from ministry and sentenced by the Vatican in 2011 to a lifetime of penance and prayer based on the testimony of his victims, who said they were all molested by him in the swank parish he headed in the El Bosque area of Santiago. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking.

Three of the victims testified before Chilean prosecutors and others have also said publicly for years that Barros, one of Karadima’s proteges, witnessed the abuse and did nothing to stop it.

Barros denies the accusations.

“The best thing is for those who believe this to bring the evidence forward,” Francis said. “In this moment I don’t think it’s this way, because I don’t have it, but I have an open heart to receive them.”

Juan Carlos Cruz, the most vocal of the accusers against Karadima and Barros who testified in court about the cover-up, responded with a statement to The Associated Press: “If he wanted evidence, why didn’t he reach out to us when we were willing to reaffirm the testimony that not only us, but so many witnesses, have been providing for more than 15 years?”

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Catholic Bishop trying to stop the deportation of paedophile priest Finian Egan

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA)
Herald Sun

January 28, 2018

By Keith Moor

TWO senior Catholics joined forces to try to save paedophile priest Finian Egan from deportation to Ireland.

Egan, 83, convicted of raping a child and molesting two other young girls, was freed last month after serving half of an eight-year jail term.

But a 2016 decision by then immigration minister Peter Dutton to cancel Egan’s Australian citizenship was recently overturned by Administrative Appeals Tribunal deputy president Justice Janine Stevenson, who ruled that “the correct and preferable decision” was to allow Egan to retain his citizenship.

Mr Dutton, now the Home Affairs Minister, is lodging a Federal Court appeal against that ruling.

Justice Stevenson said Egan had been offered support by Bishop Peter Comensoli and Father Vincent Casey, and this church support and supervision of Egan and “consequently, the existence of mechanisms for the protection of children” had been “a significant consideration” in her decision.

One of Egan’s victims, Kellie Roche, told the Herald Sun on Sunday she was outraged the church had stepped in to try to stop Egan’s deportation.

“The Catholic Church in Australia has a very good record of covering up the activities of paedophile priests but a very poor record of protecting children from them. So why would you have any faith in it being able to stop Egan offending again?” she said.

“He should be deported so no more Australian children are in danger from him.”

In a submission to the AAT, Bishop Comensoli wrote that the risk of reoffending increased when a person was isolated, and that if Egan were returned to Ireland “he would be very isolated”.

“I can retain some supervisory control over his whereabouts and living circum-stances. However if (he) were returned to Ireland, the diocese (of Broken Bay, in NSW) would not be able to supervise him in any way,” he wrote.

Fr Casey, who described Egan as his “friend and mentor”, wrote in his submission that he believed “children would be safer” if Egan were allowed to remain in Australia.

“Here he would be living in a secure location decided by the bishop … under the bishop’s supervision and with people around him who know him and his story. In Ireland he would be anonymous, isolated, sick, and with no supervision.”

Mr Dutton told the Herald Sun his decision to cancel Egan’s citizenship had been the right thing to do.

“Our first responsibility is to protect children,” he said.

“Sexually brutalising a child is the most heinous act a person of trust can commit.”

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Bishop Gerard Hanna: The bishop, the priest, and the sins of omission

GRIFFITH (NSW, AUSTRALIA)
The Area News

January 29, 2018

By Farrah Tomazin

On a winter evening in 2016, dozens of churchgoers gathered at a local primary school in the NSW Riverina to bid farewell to the town’s most-senior religious figure.

Gerard Hanna had been the bishop of Wagga for 14 years, a servant of God who led a diocese of 66,000 Catholics in 31 parishes.

But here, in the refurbished sports stadium at Henschke Primary School, Bishop Hanna was set to step down sooner than expected, citing “continuous ill health” as the reason for his early retirement.

It was about two weeks before he was due to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

As the tributes flowed, few in the room would have known that this church leader was harbouring a secret.

Decades earlier, while working as the administrator of a parish in Tamworth East, Hanna had been embroiled in a cover-up involving John Joseph Farrell – the notorious paedophile now serving a maximum 29-year jail term for a decade-long reign of abuse against children. At least two of those victims ended up taking their own lives.

Hanna accepted the priest into his parish after he was kicked out of another, used church money to help pay for his legal defence, and turned a blind eye to what Farrell was: a dangerous predator.

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First Larry Nassar Accuser Says Going Public Cost Her Friends, Her Church and ‘Every Shred of Privacy’

UNITED STATES
TIME Magazine

January 26, 2018

By Samantha Cooney

Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse, said that coming forward with her allegations cost her friends, her church and “every shred of privacy.”

In a New York Times op-ed published on Jan. 26, Denhollander wrote that “absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the pain of being the first to go public with my accusations.” The Indianapolis Star first reported allegations against Nassar made by Denhollander and an unnamed woman in September 2016. Denhollander, a former club gymnast, said that she began seeing Nassar when she was 15 after sustaining a back injury.

Since the story was published, over 150 women — including Olympians Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney — have said they were also abused by Nassar. On Jan. 24, Nassar was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison.

In her op-ed, Denhollander, now an attorney, detailed how difficult it was to come forward. She said she sometimes avoided grocery stores so her children wouldn’t have to see her allegations on newspapers and was asked questions “about things no one should know when I least wanted to talk.”

“Yet all of it served as a reminder: These were the very cultural dynamics that had allowed Larry Nassar to remain in power,” she wrote. “I knew that the farthest I could run from my abuser, and the people that let him prey on children for decades, was to choose the opposite of what that man, and his enablers, had become. To choose to find and speak the truth, no matter what it cost.”

In order to protect other women, Denhollander said we need to hold institutions that enable abusers accountable and support and encourage victims to speak out.

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Church offering program for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

SEYMOUR (IN)
Seymour Tribune

January 29, 2018

A 12-week study for adult women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse is being offered by Central Christian Church in Seymour.

The program from Survivors of Abuse Restored is entitled “Shelter from the Storm: Hope for Survivors of Sexual Abuse.”

There will be open sessions the next few Thursdays to allow women to come check the group out, ask questions and learn about a topic that relates to what they are going through.

Women who would benefit from this support group are asked to contact Robin Everhart at 812-521-1122 or robin@centralseymour.org for meeting times, location and details.

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Four men allege sex abuse by NM priests

ALBUQUERQUE (NM)
Albuquerque Journal

January 28, 2018

By Katy Barnitz

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In lawsuits filed this month against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, four more men allege that they were sexually abused as children by priests in New Mexico.
The suits, filed in state District Court in Albuquerque, name two priests as perpetrators: Sabine Griego and the late Wilfred Bombardier.

Both men were included on a list released by Archbishop John C. Wester of clergy who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Griego, who was removed from the priesthood in 2005, still lives in northern New Mexico. He could not be reached for comment.

Celine Radigan, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said she could not comment on pending lawsuits. But she said the archdiocese prays “for all who have been victims of the sad reality of sexual abuse.”

The complaints are the latest of approximately 74 lawsuits filed by attorneys Brad Hall and Levi Monagle in recent years. Monagle said roughly two-thirds of those lawsuits have been settled.

Three of the latest group of plaintiffs were abused as altar boys, while the fourth was abused while he was being recruited to serve as an altar boy, according to the lawsuits.

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Dianne Williamson: Some lessons still to learn for church

WORCESTER (MA)
Telegram & Gazette

January 27, 2018

By Dianne Williamson

For 25 years, Peter Inzerillo has been quietly directing a community chorale of “high-quality music” in Leominster. In the mid-’90s, however, he was singing a different tune.

Back then, as the Rev. Peter, he was busy denying claims that he sexually abused a 19-year-old teen who had turned to him for help after being abused by another priest. Those denials would ring false, however, when in 1999 the diocese paid Inzerillo’s accuser $300,000, one of the largest settlements reached by the Diocese of Worcester, which then promptly reassigned the disgraced priest to another parish.

When I learned last week that Peter Inzerillo had finally been defrocked, more than two decades after his alleged acts opened a window to the church’s systemic failure to shield children from abuse, I was flooded by memories of a church that for decades had covered up the grave crimes committed by its priests. I was also filled with admiration for the brave people who confronted the church years before it was acceptable to do so, years before The Boston Globe’s Spotlight series blew the scandal wide open, back when victims were at the mercy of strident church lawyers and doubtful, defensive Catholics.

One of those victims was Ed Gagne, a soft-spoken Spencer man who aspired to the priesthood himself when he met Peter Inzerillo, then the diocese’s vocational director. He told the priest he had been abused six years earlier by another priest, and Inzerillo offered to counsel him.

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Opinion: Pope Francis’ blind spot on sexual abuse

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

January 25, 2018

By Thomas Reese

The overwhelming consensus in the media is that Pope Francis has a blind spot when it comes to sexual abuse.

He may be on the side of refugees, migrants, the sick, the poor, the indigenous and other marginalized peoples, but he just doesn’t get it when it comes to victims of abuse.

The evidence for this assertion is the pope’s unwavering support for Juan Barros, whom he appointed bishop of Osorno, Chile, despite accusations from victims that he witnessed and covered up abuse by the Fr. Fernando Karadima, the charismatic priest who in 2011 was found guilty by the Vatican of abusing minors in his upscale Santiago parish.

In a leaked letter to the Chilean bishops, Francis defended his January 2015 appointment of Barros to Osorno. Francis acknowledged that the Vatican was so concerned about the crisis in Chile that it planned to ask Barros, who was the bishop for the military, and two other bishops to resign and take a sabbatical. Despite these concerns, Francis appointed Barros anyway.

Francis’ defense of Barros has been excessive, accusing his detractors of calumny and being leftist agitators. He said he would not believe the accusations until he was given proof.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley publicly corrected the pope’s words:

“It is understandable that Pope Francis’ statements yesterday in Santiago, Chile, were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator. Words that convey the message “if you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed” abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile.”

Francis accepted O’Malley’s criticism and apologized for saying the victims need to show “proof” to be believed. But he continued to say that anyone who made accusations against the bishop without providing evidence was guilty of slander.

“I can’t condemn him because I don’t have evidence,” Francis said. “But I’m also convinced that he’s innocent.”

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Opinion: Catholics’ faith in Francis is misplaced

UNITED STATES
The Boston Globe

January 29, 2018

By Margery Eagan

HERE’S A SAFE BET: Even if a day arrives when the Catholic Church is pure, none of us will live to see it. So maybe Catholics should stop looking for saints among its leaders.

On Jan. 18, Francis took a sledgehammer to millions who’d misplaced saintly hope in him. He went to Chile and called priestly sex abuse survivors liars.

What happened?

This was the Francis who ditched the papal apartment, rode around in a tiny Fiat, kissed prisoners’ feet, focused on the poor, refugees, the planet, forgiveness, mercy — not the typical Catholic focus on anything to do with sex.

Wowed, we talked of “The Francis Effect.” Jaded Catholics returned to Mass, risking uninspired preaching because, well, Francis inspired. Plus, to paraphrase Hebrews, there is ever that yearning to find proof of things unseen.

There had long been signs that Francis didn’t really “get” the sex abuse mess. But nothing confirmed it like Chile, when he said he needed proof that Bishop Juan Barros had covered up crimes. Otherwise, multiple survivors’ claims were “calumny.”

For Americans, the timing was ghastly: in the midst of the #MeToo moment and of 156 gymnasts detailing in court gross abuse by a trusted physician. At least one was only six when her horror began. So was the little boy whom priest Paul Shanley, protected by Cardinal Bernard Law, repeatedly plucked from Sunday school to take to a bathroom and then rape.

So we are back to the dark days, asking, again, how to remain a Catholic?

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Editorial: Pope Francis missteps

UNITED STATES
Toledo Blade

January 29, 2018

Revelation upon revelation of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, and cover ups by bishops, has crippled faith in the Catholic Church over the last two decades. Since the start of his tenure in 2013, Pope Francis has labored to address this great sin, this stain upon the Roman Catholic church, and restore faith in the institution.

But on on a recent trip to Chile, the Pope lost both focus and credibility. He said that he was “pained and ashamed” by the conduct of priests who sexually abused children in the country. And yet, the Pope refused to meet with victims of these crimes and even accused victims of slandering a bishop who allegedly turned a blind eye to the behavior of Chile’s most infamous abuser.

After his comments drew sharp criticism from around the globe, the Pope issued an apology. But even his apology was couched in a defense of the bishop.

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Foss: Too many people enabled Larry Nassar’s abuse

UNITED STATES
Daily Gazette (Schenectady NY)

January 27, 2018

By Sara Foss

Case is disgustingly similar to pedophilia scandals that rocked Catholic Church, Penn State

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year.

For whatever reason, Jan. 1 came and went without a lot of introspection on my part — without any real consideration of my goals and hopes for the next 12 months.

Of course, it’s possible to make a resolution at any time of year, and that’s what I found myself doing last week while reading one horrifying story after another about Larry Nassar, the former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and sports medicine physician at Michigan State University.

Nassar, we now know, sexually abused more than 150 young athletes in his care.

That’s appalling, but what really gets my blood boiling are the ongoing revelations about all the people who turned a blind eye to Nassar’s predatory behavior.

If not for powerful enablers, it’s unlikely Nassar’s regime of terror would have lasted so long. Unfortunately, too many people decided protecting the institutions they served was more important than responding to credible complaints of abuse from powerless girls.

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Opinion: Roll on, presses, roll on

UNITED STATES
Concord Monitor (NH)

January 28, 2018

By Katy Burns

In the end it’s all about the power of the press. Or, literally, the power of the presses. They’ve been the stars of two recent critically acclaimed newspaper movies. Along with, of course, the wonderful First Amendment.

One of the final – and triumphant – moments in The Post, the current Stephen Spielberg film dramatizing the 1971 publication by the Washington Post of the Pentagon Papers, is when the newspaper’s history-making exposé is set in hot type and the powerful stories-high presses rumble to life.

A similar scene was a climactic high point at the end of Spotlight, the 2015 movie celebrating the Boston Globe’s revelatory 2003 series chronicling the clerical sexual abuse of children presided over by the Boston Roman Catholic archdiocese.

In both films, bundles of freshly printed newspapers are swiftly loaded onto trucks and delivered throughout the respective cities. In both films, truth triumphed over those who would stifle it.

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Editorial: Government’s proposed abuse inquiry doesn’t go far enough

NEW ZEALAND
The Press [Wellington, New Zealand]

January 29, 2018

The Catholic Church in New Zealand and abuse survivors are upset the goverment may not be expanding an inquiry into abuse of children in state care to include faith-based institutions.

It is disappointing that a government inquiry into past abuse of children will be limited to those cases which originated in state care. An opportunity to address systemic abuse in non-government institutions, and particularly religious organisations, is likely to be lost.

The inquiry is one of the Government’s pledges for its first 100 days in office and will be announced shortly. However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has already said that inquiries will begin with “the harm that we (the State) had direct responsibility for”.

Victims’ groups have called on the Government to follow Australia’s example and include non-governmental organisations such as churches, charities, community groups and sports clubs in the inquiry. For now, at least, the Government appears to be ruling this out.

Ardern has said that the independent chair of the inquiry will have a remit to investigate beyond state institutions, but suggested this would happen when a child had been placed with other organisations as a result of decisions made in state care.

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Homosexual Ex-Bishop Declared Innocent Of Sex Crimes

CHILE
The Daily Caller

January 27, 2018

By Joshua Gill

A Chilean court declared Friday that a former bishop who had a homosexual relationship with an altar boy was innocent of committing sexual abuse.

The appeals court concluded that there was no evidence that Rev. Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez, formerly the bishop of Iquique, abused his eventual lover when the boy was underage, according to the Associated Press. Ordenes admitted to committing an “imprudent act” with the boy, and Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation from the position of bishop in 2012.

Rodrigo Pino, Ordenes’ lover, alleged that the then-bishop forced him into sexual acts when he was 15 and served as an altar boy, but that he and Ordenes later developed a consensual relationship. Ordenes, in contrast, asserted that he met the boy in 1999 when he was 17 and that while did engage in a homosexual relationship, the boy was no longer underage at that point.

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Actress Tina Alexis Allen uncovers life of lies, childhood abuse in memoir

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Daily News

January 28, 2018

By Jacqueline Cutler

Tina Alexis Allen was good at keeping secrets.

The older brothers who molested her, starting when she was 9? She wouldn’t tell. The teacher who took over a couple of years later? Something else to keep locked away.

Perhaps it was a family trait. After all, no one kept secrets better than her father —until he started sharing them with her.

Allen earned an MBA in marketing and worked in fashion until opting for a career in acting. She appeared on television in “Outsiders” and films such as “Moving Mountains,” and starred in her own one-woman stage show, “Secrets of a Holy Father.”

Her book “Hiding Out: A Memoir of Drugs, Deception, and Double Lives” hits stores Feb. 22, exposing the long-hidden tale of a tumultuous youth in which her desperately damaged family life turned ever darker.

Allen grew up in Chevy Chase, Md., the youngest of 13 children born to a conservative Catholic family. She was a great athlete, earning a gold medal for basketball in the U.S. Youth Games at age 12.

It seemed like an idyllic suburban childhood as her travel agent father peddled pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

Yet as an 11-year-old Catholic schoolgirl, she had her first liaison — with a teacher. For three years, she and the female teacher 15 years her senior “were having sex on Saturdays while the rest of Chevy Chase was pruning azalea bushes around their stately homes or attending Georgetown Prep lacrosse games.”

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Interview with Spotlight’s Michael Rezendes

JAIPUR (INDIA)
Financial Express

January 28, 2018

By Smitha Verma

“At a time when power regimes have become hostile to the media and when a vast section of the public which consumes media has become sceptical of it, the onus comes on news organisations to tell the truth,” feels Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Michael Rezendes, who, as part of The Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team, uncovered sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church. The story also inspired the Oscar-winning film Spotlight.

In Jaipur for the ongoing literature festival, he urged big media organisations to spend money and resources on investigative journalism, saying they can “take risks and defend themselves”.

“Big media houses have a special responsibility, which is questioning the government, large corporations and all other organisations that play an important role in society,” he told FE in an interview.

Commenting on US President Donald Trump’s stance against the media, he said, “Trump has inspired investigative reporters all over America to do their best work. He has picked up a fight of his life. But my concern is when his peers in other parts of the world, like Turkey or Cambodia, feel it’s an open season and start putting journalists in jail or shutting media houses. Trump’s anti-media effect is having a more pernicious effect overseas.”

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Diocese lacks transparency in finances, report says

FORT WAYNE (IN)
The Journal Gazette

January 28, 2018

By Rosa Salter Rodriguez

‘More susceptible’ to fraud

A new study of the finances of America’s Roman Catholic dioceses finds that, when it comes to openness, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend lands in the bottom half of the ecclesiastical units.

The ranking, the study’s authors say, should be “certainly cause for concern” by people in the pews, according to “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency” done by Voice of the Faithful, a laity-led church reform group.

“Absent clear and accessible financial reports … the donated funds are more susceptible to fraudulent diversions,” the study concludes. “Every Catholic shares in the responsibility to ensure that funds donated for church work actually go toward those purposes.”

But a spokeswoman for the local diocese said the study’s concerns may be misplaced because of steps the diocese takes to provide financial information to members.

Conducted last summer and published last month, the study comes at a time when the handling of finances by churches is under increased scrutiny from those within and outside sanctuary walls.

Prompting concern are reports of embezzlement and lavish lifestyles by leaders and changing expectations about openness from church members, according to The Church Transparency Project website at www.churchtransparency.org.

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Meet the 71-year-old Catholic priest who wants his church to repeal the celibacy rule

SCOTLAND
The Sunday Herald

January 27, 2018

By Peter Swindon

A controversial Catholic priest has claimed the vow of celibacy is one of the causes of clerical child abuse and called on the church to repeal the ancient law.

Father Tony Flannery will deliver a lecture at the University of Edinburgh next month entitled “Celibacy, sexuality and the crisis in the priesthood” when he will also demand the ordination of women.

The Catholic Church forbids women from joining the priesthood and men who are ordained must promise not to have sex, a rule which Flannery claims is deterring young men.

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Chile controversy contrasts with image of Pope Francis as a leveler

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Reporter

January 23, 2018

by Ken Briggs

Pope Francis is suddenly in the midst of a crisis that could damage his papacy irreparably. It swirls around his handling of an issue millions of his admirers believed he was especially equipped to resolve — clergy sex abuse. His personal touch, marked by modesty, candor, compassion, social justice and humor raised hopes that he could stanch the scandalous bleeding. Such optimism arguably became decisive in his election to the papacy.

But that potential is being questioned by his testy reactions this past week to criticism that Bishop Juan Barros, a Chilean bishop he appointed in 2015, had covered up many sexual crimes by a high-profile priest, Fr. Fernando Karadima, a close associate of Barros’. The Vatican found Karadima guilty in 2011.

Francis’ open, charming demeanor faded as he angrily chided critics, including those claiming to have been victims of the priest, who contend Barros buried evidence.

Francis bluntly dismissed that charge as hollow “slander.”

“It is calumny,” he snapped. “Is that clear?” Denying any evidence against the bishop, he added, “The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak.”

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Inside the Trial of Former Priest Charged with 1960 Murder of Texas Schoolteacher

McALLEN (TX)
48 Hours – CBS News

January 27, 2018

Produced by Lourdes Aguiar, Josh Gaynor and Ruth Chenetz

[Includes links to videos]

After 57 years, a former priest is on trial for murdering a young woman who had gone to him for confession — did the church conspire with authorities to cover it up?

It was April 1960 in McAllen, Texas, when Irene Garza, 25, told her family she was going to church for confession. She never returned. Five days later, her body was found dumped in a canal. Police say she was beaten, sexually assaulted and suffocated. Investigators kept turning to one person – Father John Feit, then 27, who admitted hearing Garza’s last confession in the church rectory. Investigators grew more suspicious when they learned that three weeks before Irene’s murder, another young woman had been attacked in a nearby church. That woman later identified Feit as her attacker.

Feit would eventually plead no contest to aggravated assault in that case and was fined $500, but the investigation in the Irene Garza murder eventually stopped and the case went cold. For decades, rumors swirled that there had been a conspiracy between the authorities and the Church to cover up the crime. The case was reopened in 2002 when the McAllen Police Department asked the Texas Rangers’ cold case unit to re-examine the murder. The investigation took a turn when a former monk, Dale Tacheny, told police that back in 1963 when he was counseling novice monks at a monastery, Feit had admitted to killing a young woman on Easter weekend. Another priest also came forward saying Feit had made a similar admission to him as well. Yet the former district attorney at the time, Rene Guerra, didn’t find the new witnesses credible and the case would go nowhere. Irene Garza’s family felt they had been denied justice again. In 2014, when confronted by “48Hours” about the allegations, Feit told “48 Hours” correspondent Richard Schlesinger he didn’t kill Garza and did not know who did.

Shortly after “The Last Confession” –“48 Hours”‘ first broadcast on the case — aired 2014, a new district attorney was elected who promised to look into the case. On Feb. 9, 2016, Feit was arrested in Scottsdale, Ariz. and charged with murder.

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Opinion: Larry Nassar Is a Familiar Monster

UNITED STATES
The New York Times

January 27, 2018

By Frank Bruni

When Judge Rosemarie Aquilina handed down her sentence on Larry Nassar last week, she spoke to and of him as a kind of monster we rarely see. She was wrong.

I know this because I remember Penn State, where an assistant football coach named Jerry Sandusky worked his way through boy after boy across year after year.

I know this because I haven’t forgotten what happened in the Boy Scouts of America decades ago.

And I know this from the extensive time that I once spent studying and even interviewing men who, like Nassar, were serial child molesters, except that none of them had the lofty title — “Dr.” — that he did.

No, they had loftier ones.

The honorific “Rev.” came before their written names. People addressed them as “Father.” They were Roman Catholic priests.

In researching and publishing a book about them, I learned a great deal about child sexual abuse — enough to recognize that as horrifying as Nassar’s violation of young female athletes was, he and his crime spree weren’t anomalous. They snugly fit a pattern. And taking full and proper note of that is the best way — the only way — to protect children from the other Nassars out there.

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Chile court clears ex-Catholic bishop of sex crime charges

CHILE
Santiago Times

January 27, 2018

A Chilean appeals court has ratified the dismissal of sex crime charges against a former Roman Catholic bishop, a week after Pope Francis visited the Latin American nation.

The court ruled Friday there wasn’t enough evidence against the Rev. Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez, who resigned as bishop of Iquique in 2012 while under Vatican investigation.

Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Ordenes as the church investigated the allegations against him.

He was accused of abusing an altar boy and acknowledged “an imprudent act,” but said the youth was 17 when they met and that their relationship began when the man was no longer underage.

His accuser said the abuse began when he was 15. He said at first it was forced, but they later became lovers.

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WHY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH NEEDS A #METOO MOMENT

UNITED STATES
World Religion News

By Corey Barnett

January 27, 2018

The recent news that Casey Affleck has withdrawn as an Academy Awards presenter over accusations that he has engaged in sexual violence is yet another example of the power of #metoo movement. The movement has been called a “silence breaker” and was awarded the 2017 TIME Magazine Person of the Year.

As we see the changes the campaign has brought to the entertainment and business industry we should be looking to religion as the next social institute that needs to reflect and modify their stance in order to espouse the morality that is dictated in their theology.

The Catholic Church began to take measures in 2002 as a reaction to the global scandals that were occurring because of widespread abuse and subsequent cover-up of perpetrators. Dialogue and openness were promoted, including the creation of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” to give clear guidelines to parishes and officials.

Yet that is not enough. Pope Francis recently visited South America, where he did not speak out about the appointment of a bishop who had close ties to a famous abuser. He also implied that the accusers could be lying before a large-scale backlash possibility caused him to change his stance and ask for forgiveness.

But the Catholic Church needs to be more consistent. There are two levels of the potential of abuse in the Catholic Church. First, is the well-documented history of abuse, mostly toward younger people, that have been conducted by priests and church officials. Instead of asking forgiveness, the Catholic Church should be excommunicating anyone that has been found to be guilty of sexual abuse. This sends a clear message. Abusing the body made in God’s image is like an abuse on God Himself and will not be tolerated.

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Southern Baptist Convention Added to Sexual Abuse Suit Against Former Judge Paul Pressler

UNITED STATES
Christian Post

January 26, 2018

By Leonardo Blair

The Southern Baptist Convention has been added as a defendant in a lawsuit alleging that former Texas state judge and lawmaker Paul Pressler sexually abused a former Bible study student he hired as a home office assistant for decades, starting when he was just 14 years old.

The 15-million member organization was added to the lawsuit on Jan. 12 after it was initially filed in a Texas court on Oct. 18, according to the Tennessean.

Gareld D. Rollins Jr., the plaintiff who is now in his 50s, accuses the SBC and seven other defendants, including Pressler and his wife, Nancy, of fraudulently misrepresenting to the public “that Pressler was a Godlike, sexually safe, moral, and great person of the earth who, as a magistrate, worked God’s wisdom and thus would not be sexually dangerous to minors.”

The lawsuit also names the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, its president, Paige Patterson, and Houston’s First Baptist Church as defendants, alleging they are liable for their professional, personal or denominational connections with Pressler.

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The bishop, the priest, and the sins of omission

AUSTRALIA
The Age

January 28, 2018

By Farrah Tomazin

On a Winter evening in 2016, dozens of churchgoers gathered at a local primary school in the NSW Riverina to bid farewell to the town’s most-senior religious figure.

Gerard Hanna had been the bishop of Wagga Wagga for 14 years, a servant of God who led a diocese of 66,000 Catholics in 31 parishes.

But here, in the refurbished sports stadium at Henschke Primary School, Bishop Hanna was set to step down sooner than expected, citing “continuous ill health” as the reason for his early retirement.

It was about two weeks before he was due to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

As the tributes flowed, few in the room would have known that this church leader was harbouring a secret.

Decades earlier, while working as the administrator of a parish in Tamworth East, Hanna had been embroiled in a cover-up involving John Joseph Farrell – the notorious paedophile now serving a maximum 29-year jail term for a decade-long reign of abuse against children. At least two of those victims ended up taking their own lives.

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Editorial: Church Must Keep Clergy Sex-Abuse Reforms on Track

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Register

January 26, 2018

EDITORIAL: What is needed is a sensitive, transparent and systematic response to credible allegations.

Pope Francis’ pledge to protect the Church from sexual predators and hold negligent bishops accountable rightly earned him praise early in his pontificate. He inherited a foundation of reforms first crafted under Pope Benedict XVI, including the Church’s stern zero-tolerance policy against abusers, clear legal processes for handling abuse cases, and a powerful willingness to meet with victims around the world.

But recent events suggest that Francis is on a steep learning curve in furthering these efforts. Victims’ advocates have been alarmed by his failure to secure his own reform initiatives, including a proposed tribunal for bishops accused of abuse or negligence that was scrapped in 2017. Critics have also pointed to the Pope’s decision to intervene in some high-profile cases and his inconsistent response to Church leaders accused of covering up abuse.

In January, public scrutiny of the Pope’s handling of abuse cases came to a head during his apostolic visit to Chile. On the eve of his arrival, a 2015 papal letter to the Chilean bishops’ conference was leaked to the media.

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Former Catholic priest who served parishes in Fitchburg and Leominster is defrocked by Pope Francis

WORCESTER (MA)
Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel & Enterprise

January 27, 2018

A former priest who served Catholic Churches in Fitchburg and Leominster in the late 1990s and early 2000s and accused of sexually abusing a teenager in 1993 has been laicized, or defrocked, according to the diocese.

It was announced by diocese Bishop Robert J. McManus that Peter J. Inzerillo had been defrocked on Thursday at his request.

Inzerillo, according to the diocese, was “dispensed” from the clerical state by Pope Francis and as a result he cannot function in any capacity as a priest or be referred to as a priest or as a “Father” in writing in any announcements or obituaries.

“It is my fervent prayer that Christ may bring healing and hope to anyone who has been abused by a priest or by anyone in the Catholic Church,” said Bishop McManus.

Inzerillo, now 74, was vocational director for the diocese until 1994 — beginning in 1983 — when a decade-old allegation made by Spencer man led to the diocese temporarily suspending him from his duties as priest.

The Spencer man, who was 19-years-old at the time, said Inzerillo took advantage of him and abused him in the mid-1990s when he was a 13-year-old altar boy and filed a lawsuit in 1999 that was settled out of court for $300,000.

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As Sicily abuse trial nears, it’s a case of whom to believe

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

January 24, 2018

By Claire Giangravè

Pope Francis faced no small amount of blowback in Chile last week over a sexual abuse controversy that boils down to whom you chose to believe – victims of a pedophile priest accusing a bishop of knowing about the abuse and covering it up, or the bishop himself, who’s vigorously denied those charges.

The pope made it as clear as possible that he believes the bishop, which has, in turn, infuriated the accusers and sparked wide commentary around the world.

Now there’s another “Who do you believe?” dilemma waiting for him in his own back yard, in the Southern Italian region of Sicily, as another high-profile sexual abuse case heads to trial.

The drama pivots on the charismatic lay leader of the Catholic Culture and Environment Association (ACCA), Piero Alfio Capuana – called ‘Archangel’ by the group’s members – who was arrested in early August of last year for the sexual abuse of at least six underage girls and possibly more over the span of 25 years.

The group is listed as a ‘civil association’ and has up to 5,000 followers, who still meet in the little-known municipality of Aci Bonacorsi, located inside the Diocese of Acireale on the Italian island of Sicily.

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Editorial: Sexual abuse claims must be acted upon

UNITED STATES
The Copper Era (Greenlee County AZ)

January 23, 2018

We’re big, big fans of Pope Francis.

We love the fact that the pope condemns those who would turn away the poor and those in need in order to bolster profits, saying such an act is not Christian.

He’s been critical of the actions of the church, saying the church, in recent years, wasn’t following the teachings of Christ, specifically Christ’s commandments to love one another without caveat (yes, that means having respect for the LGBTQ community).

He has eschewed much of the glitz that goes along with the job of pontiff, opting to live in plain, almost barren quarters.

In other words, he doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. And that’s why we like him.

He was on his home continent of South America last week and, once again, did something we really like — he apologized for the child abuse scandal that rocked the church in the ‘90s and 2000s.

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Op-Ed: The Price I Paid for Taking On Larry Nassar

UNITED STATES
The New York Times

January 26, 2018

By Rachel Denhollander

On Jan. 16, women and girls from across the country began congregating in a courtroom in Lansing, Mich. Some of us were athletes; some of us were not. Some of us were white; some of us were black. Some of us were married; some of us were still in high school. Many of us had never met.

But we shared one core, unifying experience: sexual assault at the hands of Larry Nassar. And we had one core, unifying goal: facing our abuser and confronting the culture that allowed him to prey on us without fear or punishment.

It felt surreal at first — finally putting names and faces to the numbered “Jane Doe” designations I had wanted for so long to protect. But the pain we shared knit us together instantly. We knew what to do when someone began to weep or shake in court, because each of us had cried those tears before. We knew what to say when a grieving survivor expressed guilt or doubt, because we had experienced that same shame.

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Editorial: Sexual abuse, sports and a betrayal of trust

UNITED STATES
Newsday

January 27, 2018

By the Editorial Board

The voices of the women abused for two decades by Larry Nassar should force all of us to ask and answer: At what price success? At what cost silence?

The latest chapter in the nation’s overdue examination of the abusive power and control men exercise over women came to a conclusion in a Michigan courtroom last week when former U.S. women’s gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.

The repudiation of his repulsive behavior followed harrowing accounts by more than 150 girls and women who were sexually abused by Nassar. But putting Nassar away for the rest of his life, however satisfying, does not solve this festering problem.

It’s not just Nassar, it’s not just gymnastics, and it’s not just sports.

Sexual abuse scandals have shaken the arts, the media, government, business, the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts. But the problem in sports is particularly instructive.

Nearly 300 coaches and officials associated with the organizations that govern Olympic sports have been publicly accused of sex crimes since the early 1980s. More than 175 individuals have been convicted. More cases have likely gone unreported.

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Child safety center says Pope’s ‘failure’ in Chile also an opportunity

VATICAN CITY
Crux

January 27, 2018

A writer for a Rome-based center with close Vatican ties said Saturday that Pope Francis’s “infelicitous” words on the Church’s sexual abuse scandals in Chile amounted to a “failure,” by “inflicting an unintended wound” on victims, and may raise the hard question, “Is there hope for real change in the Church?”

“As hard as it is to acknowledge, it seems inevitable that those from whom we expect more will sometimes fail us,” wrote Sara Boehk, a member of the research team at the Centre for Child Protection, located at Rome’s Jesuit-run Gregorian University.

“In the face of disheartening news, how can we move forward?” she asked in a brief post on the centre’s web site. “How can we work for institutional change?”

Her answer was that in failure lies opportunity.

“Failure is also an opportunity to reassess where we are in our safeguarding efforts, to re-focus our energies, and to recommit to our goals,” Boehk wrote. “The alternative is to abandon hope and give up.”

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Opinion: In Church, Confessing To Sexual Abuse Can Win You A Standing Ovation

UNITED STATES
HuffPost

January 27, 2018

By Neil J. Young

The congregation at Highpoint Church gave pastor Andy Savage a standing ovation after he confessed to a “sexual incident” with a member of the church where he worked in 1998.

On a Sunday morning earlier this month, Andy Savage, a pastor on staff at an evangelical megachurch in Memphis, confessed to the congregation that back in 1998, as a 21-year-old man, he had been involved in a “sexual incident” with a 17-year-old young woman. Savage had met the teenager when he was in college and serving as an intern at a Baptist church near Houston. After offering her a ride home from a youth group event at church one evening, Savage parked his car in the dark woods near her home and sexually assaulted her.

Given our current #MeToo moment and also the usually strong prohibitions evangelicals hold against unwed sexual activity, Savage might have feared harsh judgment for his admission that Sunday morning. Instead, the congregation at Highpoint Church gave their pastor a long standing ovation.

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Opinion: On one issue in particular, Pope Francis is far from infallible

CANADA
The Globe and Mail

January 27, 2018

By Michael Coren

Columnist and broadcaster Michael Coren’s most recent book is Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart & Mind Over Same-Sex Marriage.

We are living in the age of the Teflon Pope. Francis has many positive qualities and has said and done wonderful things, but he also has caused pain and concern more times than we might think. Yet on each occasion, he seems to escape almost unscathed. Whereas media loathed Benedict, they positively adore his successor. But now, perhaps, he has gone too far.

Francis was in Chile last week, where the clergy sex-abuse crisis has – as in so many places – ripped through the nation’s religious sensibilities. It’s made worse, however, due to still-open wounds concerning the Pinochet dictatorship and the part played in those dark days by the extraordinarily powerful Roman Catholic Church. The general view is that the church didn’t do enough to oppose the dictatorship and that some clerics were positively supportive.

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Attorneys for Catholic church abuse victims say diocese has funds for settlement

BILLINGS (MT)
Billings Gazette

January 27, 2018

By Rob Rogers

[See also: Lawsuit: More of a Montana Catholic diocese’s assets should be on the table for abuse victims, Billings Gazette, December 20, 2017]

The attorneys representing the Montana victims of sex abuse by Catholic priests say more money exists for settlements after the Great Falls-Billings Diocese declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy last March.

In December, the victims group alleged that $70 million in Catholic real estate assets and an additional $16 million in funds transferred out of the Great Falls-Billings Diocese should be considered fair game for victims’ settlements.

In a move to streamline the complaints, the judge overseeing the case ordered the victims group to separate out the two claims. The judge will now make one ruling on the whether the $70 million is available and a separate ruling on whether the $16 million is also fair game.

In a recent supplemental filing, attorneys for the victims group made their argument for the $16 million.

In their claim, the attorneys argue the diocese transferred more than $16 million in assets from its deposit and loan fund to an entity known as the Capital Assets Support Corp. The attorneys alleged in their court filing that the funds transfer was an attempt by the diocese to “hinder, delay or defraud” its creditor

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Priest pleads guilty to sexual assault of Minnesota woman during private mass

DAKOTA COUNTY (MN)
KMSP-TV (Fox 9)

January 24, 2018

A Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct for an incident involving a Mendota Heights woman in the summer of 2010.

According to the charges, the woman came forward in 2016 to report she had sexual contact with Jacob Andrew Bertrand during a private mass held at her home in Mendota Heights. After the act, he told her they had “fulfilled the second holiest sacrifice next to Jesus and Mary on Calvary.”

Bertrand is currently on leave from the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, California.

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Priest pleads guilty to sexual misconduct during private Mass in Mendota Heights

MINNESOTA
St. Paul Pioneer Press

January 24, 2018

By S. M. Chavey

A San Diego priest has admitted to sexual misconduct while celebrating a private Mass eight years ago in a woman’s Mendota Heights home.

He is an ordained Catholic priest currently on a leave of absence from the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, according to the Dakota County attorney’s office.

Jacob Andrew Bertrand, 35, pleaded guilty Monday to one charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. The second count was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

In the summer of 2010, Bertrand “wore his stole, and had candles burning,” and the victim “straddled Bertrand while he performed the Sacrifice of the Mass,” according to the revised criminal complaint.

The two had previously kissed and Bertrand had “mystically proposed” to her, according to the criminal complaint.

The woman reported the conduct to Catholic Church officials in 2012 and 2014, and Bertrand was charged in 2016.

Clergy members can be charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with persons they’re not married to while being asked for or providing religious spiritual advice, even if the sex is consensual, according to Minnesota law.

His sentencing has been set for May.

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Carver priest removed from ministry, investigated for alleged misconduct

ST. PAUL (MN)
Minneapolis Star Tribune

January 24, 2018

By Jean Hopfensperger

He is removed from ministry pending inquiry.

A Carver priest has been removed from ministry following allegations of misconduct, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said Wednesday.

The Rev. Thomas Joseph, parochial administrator at the Church of St. Nicholas in Carver, will be removed from ministry pending the outcome of a police investigation.

The archdiocese said it was contacted by an adult who alleged that Joseph had engaged in inappropriate conduct. It reported the claim to law enforcement.

No details of the alleged victim or misconduct were provided.

Joseph issued a statement on the archdiocese’s website, expressing “surprise and dismay” at the allegations.

“While I am prepared to cooperate with this investigation to clear my good name and the name of the Church, I wish to emphasize my innocence,” he wrote.

The move comes a day after a Catholic priest pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in Dakota County. The Rev. Jacob Andrew Bertrand, from California, pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact with a young woman while saying mass in the basement of her parents’ home in 2010.

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Statement Regarding Rev. Thomas Joseph

ST. PAUL (MN)
Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis

January 23, 2018

From Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda

The Archdiocese’s Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment was contacted by an adult alleging inappropriate conduct on the part of Father Thomas Joseph, Parochial Administrator of the Church of Saint Nicholas in Carver. Following our protocols, that Office immediately contacted law enforcement. Director Tim O’Malley provided them with the information we received, offered our assistance and described our procedures for handling such matters, including our commitment to not taking any action that would interfere with their investigation. We indicated to them that it was our policy that clergy under criminal investigation are removed from ministry for the duration of the investigation.

Yesterday, the investigating law enforcement agency notified us that our removal of Father Joseph from ministry would not interfere with an investigation they have begun of an allegation against Father Joseph of criminal conduct involving an adult. With that clarification, Father Joseph was removed temporarily from ministry, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Father’s removal from ministry should not be considered an indication or presumption of guilt.

Anyone with additional information regarding this matter is encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agency.

Father Thomas Joseph requested that, with this announcement, I include a statement that he has issued:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to express my surprise and dismay at these allegations. It is paramount that we as Catholics come together in God’s Light to seek the truth. I believe in our system of justice and I understand the need to fully investigate any accusations. While I am prepared to cooperate with this investigation to clear my good name and the name of the Church, I wish to emphasize my innocence. I ask all of you to pray for me and be assured of my prayers for you.

In Christ Jesus

Father Thomas Joseph

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Judge slashes priest’s $2 million bail in child-porn, meth case

BELLEVILLE(IL)
Belleville News-Democrat

January 26, 2018

By Dana Rieck

A Mascoutah priest accused of possessing child pornography remained in jail Friday afternoon, even after a St. Clair County judge significantly reduced the man’s $2 million bail.

The Rev. Gerald Hechenberger, associate pastor of Holy Childhood Church and school in Mascoutah, now could be released on bond if he posts $25,000.

Hechenberger was booked into jail Jan. 9 on 16 charges of child pornography and one charge of possession of methamphetamine.

He appeared before Judge Randall Kelley with his attorney, James A. Gomeric of Belleville, on Wednesday, where court records indicate his bail was lowered to $250,000. That means Hechenberger would need to post 10 percent in cash — $25,000 — to be released from jail.

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Obituary: Rev. William L. Butler, Archdiocese of Boston

WINTHROP (MA)
Legacy.com

BUTLER, Rev. William L. Of West Palm Beach, Florida and Dennis, Mass., formerly of Winthrop, passed away unexpectedly and suddenly while on a vacation cruise in the Caribbean, December 17th, 2017.

Fr. Butler was born in Boston on October 29th, 1934 to his beloved Parents, Edward I. and Margaret (Peggie) Lindsey Butler. He was the oldest of four siblings, a late brother Edward F. (Buddy) of P.E. lsland, Canada two surviving Sisters, Helen E. Gibbs of Salem N.H. and Linda M. McGeorge and partner Richard Perrier of Winthrop.

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Opinion: Larry Nassar shouldn’t be the only one going to jail

UNITED STATES
The Guardian

January 26, 2018

By Michael Dolce

Survivors reported Nassar’s abuse to coaches, trainers, parents, therapists, a training facility owner, and even law enforcement officials – but all in vain

It is tragically ironic that in the same month we applauded the courageous young survivors confronting Larry Nassar in court for his horrific abuse, we also celebrated the wisdom and legacy of the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. One of King’s great lessons was that justice can be hindered by “the appalling silence of the good people”.

Indeed, so many survivors of Larry Nassar’s atrocious acts asked one question time and time again: why was he not stopped sooner by the good people who had reason to know of his crimes?

Gymnast Larissa Boyce, runner Christine Achenbach and softball player Tiffany Lopez all recounted their complaints to otherwise “good” people at Michigan State University about Nassar between 1997 and 2000, many years before his relentless abuse of children was stopped.

[Play Video 2:14: Judge tells Larry Nassar ‘I just signed your death warrant’]

They and many other survivors reported Nassar’s abuse for many years to coaches, trainers, parents, therapists, a training facility owner and even law enforcement officials – but all in vain. Common among the complaints of these survivors is that they were not believed and were silenced, while Nassar continued to attack child after child after child. These survivors’ stories are all too common – in cases that make the news and those that do not.

I have represented child sex abuse victims as a lawyer for many years and in virtually every case the survivor takes a huge risk in speaking up at all. I repeatedly see child sex abuse survivors, just like most adult sex crime victims, disbelieved by numerous people – especially those who were in positions of power to stop the abuse in the first place.

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Nearly 80 clergy accused of child sex abuse in Chile: NGO

CHILE
Agence France Presse

January 10, 2018

US-based organization Bishop Accountability published a database naming nearly 80 priests and clergymen on Wednesday who have been accused of sexually abusing minors.

[Link to video]

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Vatican defrocks Peter J. Inzerillo, priest accused in sex assaults in Massachusetts dating back decades

WORCESTER (MA)
MassLive.com

January 26, 2018

By Phil Demers

At his own request, Peter J. Inzerillo, a Worcester priest accused of sex abuse, has been defrocked by the Vatican and Pope Francis, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester.

“It is my fervent prayer that Christ may bring healing and hope to anyone who has been abused by a priest or by anyone in the Catholic Church,” Bishop Robert McManus, the leader of Worcester’s Roman Catholic diocese, said in a statement on the development released this week.

Added the statement, “As a result of the laicization, (Inzerillo) may not function in any capacity as a priest or be referred to as a priest or as “Father” in writing such as in event announcements or obituaries.”

Now 74 and ordained in 1970, Inzerillo formerly served as headmaster of St. Peter-Marian High School in Worcester from 1979 to 1985, also coaching hockey there and at St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School in Fitchburg during the time.

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Opinion: Shame on Pope Francis for casting doubt on clergy-abuse victims

UNITED STATES
Seattle Times

January 26, 2018

By Mary Dispenza

It’s time, Pope Francis, to stand up for survivors, take their stories to heart and take the right action.

In scripture we find the lines, “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Survivors of clerical sex abuse are tired of turning the other cheek — tired of lies and promises, especially by popes, who through the ages have formed commission after commission, held conference after conference, issued report after report, and made promise after promise.

Church leadership has repeatedly sought forgiveness for what Pope Francis recently described as the “irreparable damage” caused by priests. In the midst of Francis’ tears and apologies, the systemic evil of clergy sex abuse remains alive and largely undercover within the ranks of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis is no different from popes who came before him. When it comes to his brother priests, Francis protects them at the cost of heaping pain and shame upon victims as was the case last week when he visited Chile. Francis did not receive a completely warm welcome there. Nor did he deserve one.

In 2015, Pope Francis appointed Chilean Bishop Juan Barros to head the diocese of Osorno in southern Chile. The pope knew that Barros had been accused of covering up the crimes of Father Fernando Karadima, a former Santiago priest accused of raping and molesting children.

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Pope Francis asks forgiveness from sexual abuse victims but reaffirms support for Bishop Barros

UNITED STATES
America

January 22, 2018

By Gerard O’Connell

In an hour-long press conference on the plane from Lima to Rome, Jan. 21, Pope Francis asked pardon from the victims of sexual abuse by priests or religious for his use of words that offended them in his remarks about Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Chile. But he also reaffirmed his support for Bishop Barros, saying he has not received any evidence against him.

On Thursday Jan. 18, the pope told reporters on a plane flight in Chile, “The day they bring me proof against the bishop, then I will speak. There is not a single proof against him. This is calumny! Is that clear?” Francis stated.

Responding to a question from a Chilean journalist today, Pope Francis spoke of “what the abused feel” regarding his remark.

“I must ask pardon [from them] because the word ‘proof’ has hurt many of the abused, and [what] I meant to ask for was ‘evidence.’ I ask forgiveness. It’s a hurt [caused] without wishing it,” Pope Francis said.

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Carver priest removed following allegation of inappropriate conduct

CARVER (MN)
Chaska Herald

January 24, 2018

By Alex Chhith

The Rev. Thomas Joseph has been removed from St. Nicholas Catholic Church amid an allegation by an adult of inappropriate conduct, according to a statement from the leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Joseph, who has served at the Carver church for nearly a decade, was due to leave the congregation on Feb. 1 to serve at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Tribunal Office. After that, the Rev. William Deziel, pastor of Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Chaska, and the Rev. Edison Galarza, new parochial vicar, will serve both Carver and Chaska churches, according to a letter from Archbishop Bernard Hebda.

The change prompted outcry from many parishioners at St. Nicholas, who asked the archdiocese to extend Joseph’s time to ensure a smooth transition. Many were upset with the lack of notice given to parishioners and questioned the hasty transition. The story ran in the Jan. 18 edition of the Chaska Herald and the archdiocese declined to comment on it.

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Archdiocese suspends west metro priest; sheriff investigating sexual misconduct allegation

ST. PAUL (MN)
Pioneer Press

January 25, 2018

By Nick Woltman

A west metro priest is under criminal investigation after he was accused of “inappropriate conduct” with an adult, according to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The Rev. Thomas Joseph, parochial administrator of the Church of St. Nicholas in Carver, has been suspended by the archdiocese for the duration of the investigation, Archbishop Bernard Hebda wrote in a Tuesday news release.

Joseph is being investigated by the Carver County Sheriff’s Office following an allegation of criminal sexual misconduct. A woman alleges Joseph had sexual contact with her several times over the span of 2½ years, according to the sheriff’s office.

Hebda cautioned that Joseph’s removal from ministry does not indicate a presumption of guilt, and he urged anyone with additional information about the matter to contact law enforcement officials.

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Minnesota Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct

CARVER (MN)
Associated Press via KAALtv.com

January 25, 2018

The Carver County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an allegation of criminal sexual misconduct against a priest in Carver.

Rev. Thomas Joseph said in a statement that he was surprised by the allegation and is prepared to fully cooperate with the investigation because he is innocent of the accusations.

The sheriff’s department says an adult female alleges Joseph had sexual contact with her several times over the course of 2½ years.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says Joseph has been removed from the ministry at Saint Nicholas while the allegation is investigated. The archdiocese says Joseph’s removal should not be considered an indication of guilt.

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Editorial: More heads should roll over gymnastics scandal

UNITED STATES
Miami Herald

January 26, 2018

The most enduring image from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta was gymnast Kerri Strug’s courageous second vault and perfect landing on a badly sprained ankle that sealed the all-around gold medal for Team USA.

As she was carried off the floor, she was turned over to the tender mercies of team doctor Larry Nassar, helping cement his fame as a healer. On Wednesday, Nassar, 54, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison on multiple counts of sexual assault involving young women he treated.

During seven days of victim-impact hearings in a Lansing, Mich., courtroom, 156 women testified that Nassar had abused them under the guise of providing medical care either as a team doctor for USA Gymnastics or at Michigan State University, where he was a faculty member. He also faces a 60-year federal sentence on child pornography charges.

As inspiring as it was to see so many young women bravely tell their stories, it is deeply troubling that, once again, institutions charged with protecting young people failed them instead.

As with the Catholic church’s ongoing clerical abuse scandals and the 2011 Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Penn State University, institutions looked the other way when confronted with the awful truth. Too much money was at stake. Reputations had to be protected at all costs.

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With Larry Nassar Sentenced, Focus Is on What Michigan State Knew

UNITED STATES
The New York Times

January 25, 2018

By Mitch Smith and Anemona Hartocollis

Michigan State University was propelled on Thursday to the center of the sexual abuse scandal involving Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, as state and federal agencies mounted investigations demanding to know what the college knew of his behavior and when.

Neither the sentencing of Dr. Nassar on Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison, nor the resignation of the university president a few hours later, quelled the furor. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said on Thursday that her department would investigate Michigan State’s role, while state legislators asked that the university provide unredacted records of its investigations of Dr. Nassar and threatened to issue subpoenas if the school did not swiftly comply.

At the same time, the state attorney general was preparing his own review of the university, a United States senator asked for congressional hearings, and the speaker of the Michigan House called for the resignations of the university’s trustees, who are elected by voters.

“This is one of the biggest scandals in the history of our state,” said the speaker, Tom Leonard, a Republican, who has asked House lawyers to review options for removing trustees if they did not quit. “We are dealing with a Big Ten university. We are dealing with a monster who was a serial child molester and rapist who may have violated more victims than any other rapist in the history of our state.”

The repercussions were not limited to Michigan State. The head of the United States Olympic Committee, Scott Blackmun, wrote an email to U.S.A. Gymnastics, threatening to decertify the federation if its entire board did not resign by next Wednesday. Several board members, including the chairman, Paul Parilla, have already resigned.

Responding to Mr. Blackmun late Thursday, U.S.A. Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, said it “completely embraces the requirements” outlined in the letter. The organization’s unsigned reply said U.S.A. Gymnastics would “work with the U.S.O.C. to accomplish change for the betterment of our organization, our athletes and our clubs.”

At Michigan State, university officials are already facing the prospect of legal judgments and fees from lawsuits filed by dozens of victims. At Penn State, where a former football coach was found to be a serial child molester, those costs have reached nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.

The lawsuits and the legislative inquiries center on what Michigan State knew about Dr. Nassar’s behavior during the two decades he worked there. Several victims have alleged that they had told Michigan State employees, as far back as the late 1990s, about being molested under the guise of treatment.

In 2014, after a complaint from a patient, the university conducted an internal investigation that cleared him, after which he continued to prey on more patients. On Thursday, ESPN reported that Michigan State had neglected to tell federal authorities, who were investigating the college’s handling of other sexual misconduct complaints, about the 2014 case until the accusations against Dr. Nassar became widely known in 2016.

**

Some of his patients said they complained to Michigan State employees, including the women’s gymnastics coach at the time, Kathie Klages, in the late 1990s, according to court papers, but were met with disbelief. A lawyer for Ms. Klages has not commented on the allegations.

In 2014, a recent graduate filed a complaint against Dr. Nassar under Title IX, the federal law governing sexual harassment and assault on campus. She said that she had sought out Dr. Nassar for hip pain, and that he molested her and became sexually aroused until she removed his hands from her body, according to court papers in the civil cases filed against him.

But after consulting with other medical professionals, including Dr. Nassar’s colleagues, the university’s investigation concluded that his treatment had been “medically appropriate,” the court papers said.

The abuse continued until 2016, when Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast, told her story to The Indianapolis Star, and a police investigation soon began.

On Thursday, ESPN reported that Michigan State had failed to turn over its file on Dr. Nassar in 2014, when the Education Department was investigating unrelated complaints about the way the university had handled sexual assault and harassment cases. The university began turning over records in late 2016, ESPN reported, saying that the failure had been an oversight.

On Thursday, the education secretary said her agency would review Michigan State’s handling of the complaints against Dr. Nassar. “What happened at Michigan State is abhorrent,” Ms. DeVos said. “Students must be safe and protected on our nation’s campuses. The department is investigating this matter and will hold M.S.U. accountable for any violations of federal law.”

But in a December letter to Mr. Schuette, the Michigan attorney general, the university’s lawyer, Patrick Fitzgerald, said he believed that evidence would show that no Michigan State official believed that Dr. Nassar committed sexual abuse before the newspaper reports in 2016. The university is also arguing that it cannot be held liable because of Michigan’s sovereign immunity law, which protects state agencies from lawsuits in most circumstances and “protects the state’s citizens by safeguarding its fiscal stability,” the school said in a court filing.

John Manly, a lawyer for some of the women in the civil cases, said the university’s response to the lawsuits reminded him of the way the Roman Catholic Church had responded to allegations of child sex abuse by priests. “It’s a page right out of the bishops’ playbooks,” he said.

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After stumble in South America, what does Pope Francis’ papacy mean for Catholics and the world?

DALLAS (TX)
Dallas News

January 25, 2018

By Sara Coello, Contributing Writer

After nearly five years of praise from both Catholic and secular voices for championing causes from environmental responsibility to hospitality for refugees, Pope Francis has taken what some critics see as the first major misstep of his papacy.

After a recent visit to Chile, the pope criticized accusers of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros of committing “calumny” for claiming that Barros covered up years of sexual abuse committed by a superior. The pope’s comment came as a surprise to many who saw him as an advocate for increased attention to social justice, particularly in the global South.

Pope Francis apologized for his language, but maintained his position amid roars of criticism.

Two leading Catholic journalists took to the stage at Dallas’s Moody Performance Hall Wednesday evening and called the pope’s recent comments a departure from his pattern of emphasizing merciful interpretation of the Catholic canon.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and Crux contributing editor Austen Ivereigh have followed Francis throughout his papacy, reporting on his political impact and on more general shifts in Catholic culture.

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Editorial: Stop private schools’ ability to ‘pass the trash’

NEW YORK
The Journal News

January 26, 2018

New York private school administrators should follow the same reporting rules as public school administrators when it comes to reports of abuse. Shockingly, they are not mandated, under current state law, to alert authorities to reports of child abuse in the educational setting, nor to report a worker’s resignation after such accusations.

State legislators are poised to vote on a bill that would align private school reporting rules with what’s expected of public school leaders. Passage of this legislation should have happened years ago.

Public schools have been mandated since 2000 to report suspicions of sex abuse by any staff, faculty or volunteer in the school environment, whether in a classroom, on a field trip or bus, or during extra-curricular activities. But private school administrators don’t fall under such regulations. It was a mistake then, and it’s a mistake now.

The legislation (A5371/S4342) has gained wide support.The New York State Catholic Conference has said it supports the legislation, which aligns with changes the American bishops made years ago in the wake of abuse reports. Agudath Israel, an umbrella organization for Orthodox Jewry, has remained publicly mum on the bill.

[CHILD VICTIMS ACT: Senate blocks access for New Yorkers abused as kids]

This is a separate issue from the Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations for both civil and criminal charges in reporting child sex abuse. That bill has been sentenced to death-by-committee year after year in the Senate; advocates report that Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan continues to ignore their requests to meet and discuss the legislation. It’s time for compassion and justice to prevail. The legislation should finally be passed as part of the upcoming state budget process, at the very latest.

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Church defrocks former St. Peter-Marian headmaster named in sex-abuse suit

WORCESTER (MA)
Worcester Telegram & Gazette

January 25, 2018

By Mark Sullivan

A Catholic priest named in one of the Worcester Diocese’s largest sex-abuse settlements has been laicized, or defrocked, the diocese announced Thursday.

Peter J. Inzerillo, at his own request, was “dispensed from the clerical state” by Pope Francis, the diocese said. As a result, Mr. Inzerillo “may not function in any capacity as a priest or be referred to as a priest or as ‘Father.’ ”

The former Rev. Inzerillo was headmaster at St. Peter-Marian High School in Worcester from 1979 to 1985 and coached hockey there and at St. Bernard’s in Fitchburg.

He was vocations director for the Worcester Diocese in 1985 when he allegedly sexually assaulted a 19-year-old from Spencer who was considering entering the seminary.

The younger man, Edward Gagne, said he disclosed during counseling sessions with the vocations director that he had been abused before, as a 13-year-old altar boy, by another priest – and he alleged that Rev. Inzerillo then abused him in turn.

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Stormont stalemate means abuse victims dying without justice – diocese

NORTHER IRELAND
The Irish Times

January 25, 2018

By Patsy McGarry

[See the website of the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse and the Report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which was published January 20, 2017.]

No action on abuse inquiry recommendations for victims until new executive set up

The largest Catholic diocese in Northern Ireland has described it as “deeply regrettable” that stalemate at Stormont has prevented implementation of recommendations by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI).

Following an investigation into the sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect and unacceptable practices imposed on children in 22 Catholic, Protestant and state run homes and institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995, a 2,300-page 12-volume report was published a year ago this month.

It recommended that a public apology be made to those who had been in the homes and institutions as children and that they be paid compensation.

In a statement Down and Connor diocese said it “unequivocally accepts” the HIAI recommendations in respect of those care institutions that were under its sole and/or joint management but that, a year on from the report’s publication, it was “deeply regrettable” these “haven’t been implemented due to the vacuum created by the current political impasse in Northern Ireland.”

It said “the legacy of abuse is compounded by the lack of a solution and compromise at the level of politics” and that “sadly, over the past year, some former residents of these homes have died and others have continued to suffer as they await support.”

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Opinion: Pope Francis’ blind spot on sexual abuse

UNITED STATES
Religion News Service via National Catholic Reporter

January 25, 2018

By Thomas Reese

The overwhelming consensus in the media is that Pope Francis has a blind spot when it comes to sexual abuse.

He may be on the side of refugees, migrants, the sick, the poor, the indigenous and other marginalized peoples, but he just doesn’t get it when it comes to victims of abuse.

The evidence for this assertion is the pope’s unwavering support for Juan Barros, whom he appointed bishop of Osorno, Chile, despite accusations from victims that he witnessed and covered up abuse by the Fr. Fernando Karadima, the charismatic priest who in 2011 was found guilty by the Vatican of abusing minors in his upscale Santiago parish.

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Sex abuse prevention to feature at Vatican’s family meeting

VATICAN CITY
Associated Press via The Republic [Columbus IN]

January 25, 2018

By Nicole Winfield

The Vatican’s upcoming conference on families in Ireland will feature a seminar on child protection, after the church’s sex abuse scandal devastated the credibility of the Catholic Church in the country.

Pope Francis’ top adviser on protecting children from pedophiles, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, will head the seminar and survivors are expected to participate, said Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s laity and family office.

He told a Vatican press conference that details would be announced later this month.

Francis is widely expected to travel to Dublin to attend the final days of the Aug. 21-26 World Meeting of Families, where the sex abuse scandal is likely to play out given the scale of abuse and cover-up in the country.

The Vatican refused to cooperate with three Irish government-ordered investigations from 2005 to 2009 which documented the rapes, molestations and other abuse suffered by thousands of Irish children by priests in their parishes and by nuns and brothers in boarding schools and orphanages.

Irish bishops did not report a single case to police until 1996 after victims began to sue the church.

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Amid #MeToo, Evangelicals Grapple With Misconduct In Their Own Churches

UNITED STATES
National Public Radio

January 24, 2018

By Tom Gjelten

[Includes link to audio]

The #MeToo movement, having exposed alleged sexual misconduct from Hollywood to Capitol Hill and in board rooms and news rooms, has now reached into evangelical Christian circles, raising questions unique to that faith culture.

Christians focus deeply on a narrative of sin and redemption, but that theme can complicate how church leaders respond to sexual misconduct within their own ranks. Heartfelt confessions and a celebration of divine forgiveness may not be enough.

That challenge was made clear for some evangelicals earlier this month when a young Tennessee pastor, Andy Savage, stood before his congregation and emotionally confessed to what he called “a sexual incident” in 1998 with a 17-year-old girl, Jules Woodson.

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Column: What would you do if you had a chance to protect young girls?

UNITED STATES
Bangor Daily News

January 24, 2018

By Matthew Gagnon

I’d like to think I’d be different, though I hope I never find out.

I think virtually everyone in this country likes to think they would be different, too.

Yet it seems, despite that desire and belief in our own good intentions, truly horrendous things continue to happen in this country that were made possible by the complicit silence or cover up of people. People who at one point in their life thought to themselves, “if I was in that situation, I never would have let that happen.”

We are quick to judge our own nobility. When we learn that a woman was the victim of domestic abuse, people often declare that they would never let themselves or their children stay in a situation like that. Others tell themselves that if they knew, or even suspected, that someone they knew was being abused, they would say something and ensure that the abuse stopped.

When many of us – particularly everyday Catholics like myself – learned of the systematic abuse of children by clergy in the Catholic Church, and the subsequent cover up that protected the sexual predators who perpetrated the abuse, we were horrified. Not only by the abuse, but by the adults who knew that children were being victimized and did nothing, instead remaining silent and shuffling abusers to new locations where they could prey on others.

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Church bankruptcy mediator steps down

ST. PAUL (MN)
Minnesota Public Radio

January 24, 2018

By Martin Moylan

A plan to try once again to resolve the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis through mediation has hit a snag with the resignation of Arthur Boylan, the retired federal judge who was slated to lead mediation efforts.

Boylan stepped aside Tuesday, a day after scheduling a series of mediation sessions for early next month. His resignation letter did not provide an explanation for his decision and he did not respond to a request for comment.

Last month, U.S. District Court judge Robert Kressel ordered all parties into mediation after rejecting competing reorganization proposals.

The judge urged the archdiocese, abuse victims, parishes, insurance companies and their lawyers to “put aside their desire to win, and decide to put together a resolution that is fair to all of the people involved.”

Kressel said victims must forego any desire for retribution and the church must “put aside its desire to minimize pain, realizing that the personal pain its employees inflicted upon victims is inevitably going to result in financial pain being suffered by a new generation of parishioners and employees.”

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Pope wants journalism like the Catholic church wants child sex abuse probes: Slow, aimless…

UNITED STATES
The Register (UK-based online publication)

January 24, 2018

By Shaun Nichols

Easy with those exclusives and unfortunate facts, hacks

Take it easy with those hard-hitting exclusives and investigations, said the Pope this week, lumping inconvenient quality journalism with fake news and clickbait.

We can’t think why the head of a church mired in decades of globe-spanning child abuse scandals would have a problem with hacks doing their job and getting straight to the point.

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Keller @ Large: Why Do Institutions Protect Themselves Instead Of Us?

BOSTON (MA)
WBZ-TV Boston (CBS)

January 25, 2018

By Jon Keller

Before the horrendous saga of the USA Gymnastics doctor who molested dozens of women and girls begins to fade from the public eye, let’s take a moment to consider an important lesson the sordid case of Larry Nassar teaches us – we need our institutions to protect us and to prioritize that protection over all other considerations.

In the Nassar case, multiple victims have charged that officials with Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic Committee, which all had authority over Nassar, brushed off the victims and their families when they complained about this sexual predator.

And at Nassar’s sentencing Wednesday, the judge made it clear she hopes they will also have to face justice.

“There has to be a massive investigation as to why there was inaction, why there was violence. Justice requires more than what I can do on this bench,” said Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

This brought back bad memories of the way our politicians so often fail us by hiding the truth from us, the way the Catholic Church blamed the victims and protected the perpetrators of the priest sex abuse scandal, the way government watchdogs are too often leashed, or turned into lapdogs for the abusers of power instead of warriors for their victims.

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Pope Francis Offers Partial Apology To Clergy Sex Abuse Victims After Demand For ‘Proof’

UNITED STATES
HuffPost

January 23, 2018

By Carol Kuruvilla

But the pope didn’t waver in his support for a controversial Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse.

Pope Francis partially apologized for last week’s brusque attack on victims of sex abuse by the clergy ― but he continued supporting a controversial Chilean bishop accused of protecting an abusive priest.

On board a papal flight from Peru to Rome late Sunday, the pontiff acknowledged to journalists that his demand to see “proof” that Bishop Juan Barros Madrid had been complicit in the abuse of minors could have hit victims like a “slap in the face.” He said he realized that his words on Thursday implied that victims’ accusations of sexual abuse are only credible with concrete evidence.

“To hear that the pope says to their face, ‘Bring me a letter with proof,’ is a slap in the face” that he didn’t intend, Francis said, according to The Associated Press.

Although he apologized for asking for “proof,” he suggested the testimony of victims against Barros is still not enough.

“I can’t condemn [Barros] because I don’t have evidence. But I’m also convinced that he’s innocent,” the pope said, according to AP.

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The Women Who Were Abused By Larry Nassar Aren’t Done Sharing Their Stories

UNITED STATES
TIME magazine

January 25, 2018

By Alice Park

One of the many women sexually abused by disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar recalled feeling like a “shell of a child,” as three of Nassar’s victims took to the airwaves Thursday morning a day after he was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.

“I was a shell of a child, I thought I had no way out,” elite gymnast Mattie Larson said on the Today show, appearing alongside Kyle Stephens and Rachel Denhollander, who were also sexually abused by Nassar.

More than 150 women delivered statements at Nassar’s sentencing hearing, detailing years of abuse that began for some when they were as young as six years old. Nassar’s victims spanned gymnasts in Michigan, where he was on the faculty at Michigan State University before he was fired in 2016, a family friend, as well as Olympians Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber. Raisman and Wieber’s Olympic teammates Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney also said they were abused by Nassar.

“To watch all of these women who are able to come forward and speak the truth about the abuse that happened to them, and are able to put the shame and blame back where it belongs, is an incredibly powerful thing to witness,” Denhollander, the first woman to publicly reveal she was a victim of sexual assault by Nassar, said Thursday on the Today show. But while she first reported Nassar’s conduct to the people he worked for including USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University in 2004, she noted that other people had also reported him starting in the late 1990s. “The vast majority [of abuse]… did not have to happen,” Denhollander said.

Larson described intentionally hurting herself in order to avoid the national training camp where she knew Nassar would be, hitting her head against a tub the night before she was scheduled to leave for the camp.

The women echoed criticisms heard all week against the institutions that continued to support Nassar — USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and Twistars Gymnastics, where Nassar also worked as doctor. But it wasn’t until the publicly aired statements by the survivors that in recent days, that the board leadership of USA Gymnastics resigned, and MSU’s president resigned.

While Nassar abused gymnasts and athletes under the guise of medical treatment, with Kyle Stephens, whose parents were friends with Nassar, it was simply abuse. Only six years old when Nassar began exposing himself, masturbating and abusing her in his basement, Stephens said she did not realize she was abused until several years later, when she saw coverage of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

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The pope is defending a bishop accused of witnessing abuse. What do his words mean to survivors?

UNITED STATES
PBS Newshour

January 23, 2018

[Includes video]

Pope Francis came under fire during a trip to Chile for defending a bishop accused of directly witnessing and covering up sexual abuse by another church figure, dating back to the 1980s. While the pope apologized for his wording, he stands by the bishop. Lisa Desjardins talks with Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org about what the pontiff’s words mean to victims and other Catholics.

Judy Woodruff:

The pope just concluded a trip to Chile this weekend, aimed at healing some of the after-effects of sexual abuse committed there.

But his remarks during that trip, and on his return from it, about the role of a bishop in a scandal there have raised questions.

Lisa Desjardins looks at the pope’s pledges to change the church’s actions and attitude.

Lisa Desjardins:

The cases in Chile date back to the 1980s and a well-connected priest found to be a pedophile, the Reverend Fernando Karadima.

Both the Vatican and a Chilean judge concluded those accusations were credible. The church defrocked him.

Why this matters now? Karadima was a longtime mentor to a current bishop, Juan Barros Madrid. He is accused of covering up and witnessing the abuse.

While in Chile to apologize for abuse by other priests, Pope Francis defended this bishop, saying there is not one shred of evidence against him.

That set off a firestorm. The pope apologized for his wording yesterday, but he also stood by the bishop.

Anne Barrett Doyle is the co-director of the watchdog group and web site BishopAccountability.org. And she joins me now.

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