ABUSE TRACKER

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

January 9, 2020

New lawsuit against Diocese of San Diego claims sex abuse by Rialto priest

SAN DIEGO (CA)
KGTV

January 8, 2020

By: Marie Coronel

A 68-year-old woman has filed a lawsuit claiming she was sexually abused decades ago by a priest in Rialto, the latest in a wave of litigation targeting the Diocese of San Diego.

The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, claims she was abused by Father Efren Neri while he served at Christ the King, a San Bernardino County parish that was then part of the Diocese of San Diego.

“For many years, I just lived with it,” the woman said in an interview. “A lot of shame, anxiety all my life.”

Father Neri died in 1982, according to the Diocese. In a statement, the Diocese said there are no reports Neri was ever accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. “None in San Diego, none in San Bernardino and none in Fresno,” the statement said.

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

Ex-seminarians charged with harassing official outside diocese offices

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

January 7, 2020

By Jay Tokasz and Mike McAndrew

Two former seminarians were charged Monday with harassing an employee of the Buffalo Diocese, a sign of the ongoing tension between diocese officials and those protesting over the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

Matthew Bojanowski, 38, of West Seneca and Stephen Parisi, 46, of Williamsville were arraigned before Buffalo City Court Judge Kevin J. Keane on one count of second-degree harassment, a violation, and released on their own recognizance, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced.

*

The two former seminarians said they left Christ the King Seminary after becoming disenchanted with how the diocese handles complaints of clerical abuse and harassment. Bojanowski accused the Rev. Jeffrey Nowak of violating the Catholic church’s seal of confession, sexual harassment and attempted blackmail, and has alleged that former Bishop Richard J. Malone ignored the complaints for months. Nowak, who was put on leave in August, has denied the allegations through his attorney. The Erie County District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into the allegations against Nowak in September, and a spokeswoman said Tuesday the probe found that no crimes had been committed.

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

‘House of evil’: Law firm expects to file hundreds of lawsuits against California Catholic dioceses in coming weeks

SACRAMENTO (CA)
Sacramento News & Review

January 9, 2020

By Raheem F. Hosseini

Standing in a hotel near the Oakland waterfront, James Brogan didn’t quite know where to begin, so he did something most sexual assault survivors don’t do—he gave his name.

“It’s wrecked my entire life, every aspect of my life,” he said, not looking past the lectern behind which he stood. “Where do you go?”

Because of a new California law, Brogan and countless other survivors of rapists masquerading as holy men can go to court.

Brogan is a plaintiff in one of a dozen new lawsuits against eight California Catholic dioceses that a law firm filed in concert with a new state law. Jeff Anderson & Associates, a national law firm that represents survivors of clergy sexual abuse, announced the lawsuits in a series of wrenching press conferences designed to spread awareness of Assembly Bill 218, also known as the California Child Victims Act.

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

Priest included on list of accused was exonerated

AGOURA HILLS (CA)
Thousand Oaks Acorn

Jan. 9, 2019

Concerning the front-page story which ran in the Dec. 19 Thousand Oaks Acorn, a highly respected local Catholic priest is listed as an “accused area priest” in a box on Page 8 of said Acorn.

The Acorn failed to clarify this priest’s standing in the archdiocese, and the priest’s inclusion in these articles is a gross injustice to his reputation that needs to be rectified.

Fr. Michael Roebert was investigated and exonerated of allegations made by a single accuser many years ago.

A careful study of the website cited in the Acorn as the source for the list, bishop-accountability.org, has a notation from Sept. 16, 2004, stating: “As a result of the investigation and considering the matter in accord with Archdiocesan policy and the requirements of the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, the Archdiocese concludes the allegations against Fr. Roebert are unfounded.”

Since none of this information is available in your article, please clarify this for your readers. Guilty priests need to be held accountable, and good priests who are falsely accused need to be given the respect and support they deserve.

Bonnie Bates
Newbury Park

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

Ramona priest named in Diocese sexual abuse lawsuit

RAMONA (CA)
San Diego Union Tribune / Ramona Sentinel

January 9, 2020

Multiple lawsuits were filed Thursday against the Catholic Diocese of San Diego and numerous local parishes on behalf of alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse, with recently enacted legislation allowing such legal action even if the alleged abuse occurred outside of the statute of limitations.

The suits allege abuse in the 1960s and 70s by now-deceased priests who operated throughout San Diego County, including in Ramona. The victims were previously unable to pursue legal action against the Diocese, but recently enacted AB 218 expands the statute of limitations and opened a three-year window starting this year for victims to file suit.

Attorney Irwin Zalkin said that each time abuse was discovered, priests were simply moved to other parishes where they could continue their behavior, with free access to new victims.

According to Zalkin, the Diocese routinely dealt with the problem of “bad priests” by sending them to desert communities, “where they thought they could hide, where they thought that the people there – mostly Hispanic – would not speak up, and they would be out of the limelight, so to speak.”

Zalkin’s office filed six lawsuits Thursday, Jan. 2, on behalf of 20 victims, but he said around 60 additional lawsuits are still being prepared and will be filed within the next 60 to 90 days.

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

January 8, 2020

‘Uncle Ted’ McCarrick is on the move again: Is this a major Catholic news story or not?

Get Religion blog

Jan. 8, 2019

By Terry Mattingly

So, let’s say that there is a major piece of news that breaks concerning the life and times of the man previously known as Cardinal Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick.

This is something that happens quite frequently, even though the disgraced former cardinal moved into the wide open spaces of West Kansas, living as a guest in a Capuchin friary.

Ah, but is he still there?

That leads us to this simple, but important, headline at the Catholic News Agency: “Theodore McCarrick has moved from Kansas friary.” As I write this, I am not seeing follow-up coverage of this development at any mainstream media websites. Here’s some of the key CNA material:

A spokesman for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad told CNA Jan. 7 that McCarrick left St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas, just days ago. He has moved to a residential community of priests who have been removed from ministry, senior Church officials told CNA.

The former cardinal made the decision to leave the Kansas friary himself over the Christmas period, sources say, adding that his continued presence in the friary had become a strain on the Franciscan community that was hosting him.

The story notes that McCarrick’s new home remains unknown or a secret and that he is paying his own rent. So why move now?

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

A chance to listen to victim-survivors

ARLINGTON (VA)
Catholic Herald

Jan. 8, 2020

By Zoey Maraist

Angela Boggs was sitting in a small group when her fellow parishioner uttered those words. They were at a listening session at St. John Neumann Church in Reston in the immediate aftermath of the 2018 clergy sexual abuse crisis, and it would’ve been easy to feel dirty after hearing about the terrible crimes committed. But this woman said she was disgusted by her own complicity as a member of the Catholic Church.

“That really touched me,” said Boggs. “(Victim-survivors) have been harmed terribly by our church and we’re accountable. We may not be legally accountable but we are accountable to God for that. We have a responsibility to support people who’ve been damaged by our church.”

Boggs and her fellow parishioners felt angry, hurt and discouraged, but they decided they weren’t powerless. A month later, they gathered to form the Action Committee, an acronym for advocacy, change, transparency, inclusion and ongoing reform regarding clergy sexual abuse.

Of the many facets of the crisis, they decided to focus on the victim-survivors. They read as much as they could and invited speakers to educate them, such as Frank Moncher, the victims assistance coordinator for the diocese, and the victims assistance coordinator of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the religious order that staffs St. John Neumann.

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

Oregon woman sues Mormon church over husband’s abuse disclosure

PORTLAND (OR)
Associated Press

Jan. 8, 2020

An Oregon woman is suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for $9.54 million after her husband’s confession to church leaders led to his arrest, conviction and imprisonment on child sexual abuse charges.

The lawsuit, filed in Marion County Circuit Court, involves a Turner man convicted of abuse after he confessed to Stayton clergy that he had repeated sexual contact with a minor.

Church officials did not respond to the Statesman Journal for comment.

The man’s confession was meant to be confidential, said the family’s attorney Bill Brandt.

Timothy Samuel Johnson and his wife Kristine Johnson were members of a Stayton, Oregon, Mormon ward when his wife learned he had “engaged in inappropriate conduct” with a minor known to him, according to the lawsuit.

After learning of the sexual abuse, the couple followed church doctrine by having Johnson confess and repent his sins before church clergy and the official church court.

Brandt also said church leaders represented “that whatever the scope of Mr. Johnson’s evil transgressions, the Church and its clergy will spiritually counsel Mr. Johnson to bring peace within his life and family.”

Johnson confessed to local leaders and members of the church court that he had sexually abused a minor.

But what leaders failed to advise Johnson of is that if he confessed to the abuse, they would report his actions to local law enforcement, according to the lawsuit.

Johnson, 47, was arrested in 2017 on charges of first-degree sodomy, sexual abuse and unlawful sexual penetration for sexually abusing a girl under the age of 16.

He later pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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

Former Student Accuses Nun Of Sex Abuse At Holy Cross School

RUMSON (NJ)
Patch

Jan. 8, 2020

By Tom Davis

A former student of a Catholic school in New Jersey says she was sexually abused by a nun while she was in first grade, according to a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court.

Holy Cross School in Rumson, Holy Cross Parish and the Diocese of Trenton were named as defendants.

The woman, a Cliffside Park resident, she was abused by Sister Mary Nazareen while she was a teacher at Holy Cross School during the 1960s, according to the lawsuit.

The student was enrolled at Holy Cross from kindergarten until seventh grade, during which Nazareen used her position as a teacher to gain her confidence, according to the lawsuit.

Nazareen ultimately engaged in improper sexual sexual contact with the student while she was in first grade.

The teacher engaged in improper sex acts, sexual assault, sexual contact and sexual abuse of the student, causing the woman to experience severe and permanent personal and emotional injuries, the lawsuit says.

The school, parish and diocese failed to exercise care in supervising the sister in her role and failed to take any action to investigate, the lawsuit states.

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

Why is the Vatican keeping Bishop Scharfenberger in the dark?

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald

Jan. 8, 2020

By Christopher Altieri

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, is in a tough spot. Appointed apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo after the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone, Bishop Scharfenberger is the public face of the Church in a place riddled with scandal and in dire need of urgent repair. But he apparently has little power to effect reform and little information with which to work.

Bishop Malone resigned after 18 months of intense public scrutiny of his leadership, which produced significant evidence of serious mismanagement and attracted the attention of state and federal prosecutors.

“I didn’t know quite what to expect,” Bishop Scharfenberger told Charlie Specht of ABC local affiliate WKBW in a wide-ranging interview that aired earlier this week, “because I really hadn’t been briefed at all.”

The bishop continued: “All I knew is what I read in the papers, to tell you the truth.”

He would have read enough, then, to know that there is a great deal amiss in the diocese, but not always enough to take informed and prudent steps toward remedy.

Observers – the faithful and clergy of Buffalo and beyond, as well as reporters – were surprised to hear Bishop Scharfenberger say that he had not received a copy of the report, which Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn prepared after conducting a fact-finding mission to the diocese late last year.

“I was not given that,” Bishop Scharfenberger told WKBW, “I don’t know what it contains.

“I was not given any documentation or any marching orders that ‘you’re here to clean things up,’ or anything. I was just told to be the administrator of the diocese.”

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

Anglican priest accused of sexual abuse charges dies in hospital

TORONTO {CANADA)
Anglican Journal

Jan. 8, 2020

By Joelle Kidd

The Rev. Gordon William Dominey, pictured in 1980 (left) and 2016 (right), was awaiting trial for multiple sexual abuse charges at the time of his death. Photo: Edmonton Police Service
An Anglican priest awaiting trial for multiple sexual abuse charges died Nov. 7.

The Rev. Gordon William Dominey, a priest in the diocese of New Westminster, was alleged to have committed sexual abuses against boys who were inmates at the Edmonton correctional facility where Dominey worked as a prison chaplain in the 1980s. He was charged with 18 sexual assault charges and nine gross indecency charges.

According to the CBC, the Dominey’s two trials, originally scheduled to take place in 2020, were to be adjourned because he was too ill to travel.

Defense lawyer Kent Teskey told the CBC that Dominey was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and had been undergoing chemotherapy since that time.

A lawsuit has been filed in Court of Queen’s Bench that also names the province of Alberta and the diocese of Edmonton. The group behind the suit is seeking to have the case certified as a class-action lawsuit.

Dominey worked at the Edmonton Youth Development Centre, a youth jail, from 1985-1989.

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

How Michelle Simpson Tuegel Fought the Good Fight Against USA Gymnastics

DALLAS (TX)
D Magazine

Jan. 2020

By Kathy Wise

Michelle Simpson Tuegel was a key player in the largest settlement ever reached in a sexual abuse case involving an American university. She is also a world-champion water skier and a former capital defense attorney, having represented clients on death row. Those three things are all related, more so than you might imagine.

The eldest daughter of a trial attorney father and dental hygienist mother, Tuegel grew up in Bridgeport, Texas, a small town north of Fort Worth with a sizable lake where she spent her childhood on skis. When I met the 36-year-old attorney in the law office she opened last January, in an exposed brick loft building in Deep Ellum, she was fresh out of a four-hour ESPN interview with some of her gymnast clients. Wearing a stylish floral-print dress and heels, her fingernails painted black, she still exuded athleticism. It was easy to imagine that even at a young age she was taller than average and had that fearlessness that comes from physical confidence, thriving on speed and the challenge of staying upright on a fluid surface.

She made the junior U.S. water ski team and went pro at 15, competing around the world on the national team for six years. It’s still not an Olympic sport, but if it were, it’s a good bet she would have medaled. As it was, the U.S. Olympic Committee paid for her training and she won the collegiate national championship and the World Cup championship as an undergrad at Rollins College, in Winter Park, Florida.

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

A Victim’s Account Fuels a Reckoning Over Abuse of Children in France

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times

January 7, 2020

By Norimitsu Onishi

A French author wrote for years about his predilection for children and continued to win acclaim. Now one of them has spoken out.

Paris – The French writer Gabriel Matzneff never hid the fact that he engaged in sex with girls and boys in their early teens or even younger. He wrote countless books detailing his insatiable pursuits and appeared on television boasting about them. “Under 16 Years Old,” was the title of an early book that left no ambiguity.

Still, he never spent a day in jail for his actions or suffered any repercussion. Instead, he won acclaim again and again. Much of France’s literary and journalism elite celebrated him and his work for decades. Now 83, Mr. Matzneff was awarded a major literary prize in 2013 and, just two months ago, one of France’s most prestigious publishing houses published his latest work.

But the publication, last Thursday, of an account by one of his victims, Vanessa Springora, has suddenly fueled an intense debate in France over its historically lax attitude toward sex with minors. It has also shone a particularly harsh light on a period during which some of France’s leading literary figures and newspapers — names as big as Foucault, Sartre, Libération and Le Monde — aggressively promoted the practice as a form of human liberation, or at least defended it.

A day after the publication of Ms. Springora’s book, “Le Consentement,” or “Consent,” which sold out quickly at many Paris bookstores, the fallout continued. Prosecutors in Paris announced that after “analyzing” its contents, they had opened an investigation into the case and would also look for other victims in and out of France.

In France, it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor under the age of 15. But it is not automatically considered rape, unlike in countries with statutory rape laws where people who are underage are considered incapable of giving consent.

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

Bishop Scharfenberger says he was given no ‘particular mission’ in Buffalo

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald from Catholic News Agency

January 8, 2020

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo, has said he was not given the results of a Vatican-ordered investigation into the scandal-hit diocese.

“I was not given that,” Bishop Edward Scharfenberger told local news station WKBW in an interview on Monday, regarding the Vatican’s report of the investigation. “I don’t know what it contains,” he said.

Scharfenberger also told WKBW that he was not given a clear mandate by the Vatican when he was appointed as apostolic administrator of the Buffalo diocese in December after the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone.

“I was not sent with a particular mission,” Scharfenberger said of his temporary appointment to Buffalo, emphasizing that Malone resigned and was not “forced out.”

“I was not given any documentation or any marching orders that ‘you’re here to clean things up,’ or anything. I was just told to be the administrator of the diocese.”

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

Testimony underway in former Ord priest trial

BROKEN BOW (NE)
Sandhills Express and KSNB

January 7, 2020

Ord NE – The trial for a priest accused of sexually assaulting an Ord woman last year is underway.

Fr. John Kakkuzhiyil, former pastor in Ord, is charged with first-degree sexual assault.

14 people, including two alternates, were chosen Monday to serve on the jury for the trial. The 14 include three men and 11 women.

Testimony began late Monday after jury selection.

Kakkuzhiyil was arrested in early January 2019 after a month-long investigation by the state patrol into a claim by an Ord woman who said the priest raped her at his home in late November. Court records indicate that the woman also claims Kakkuzhiyil gave her a couple of drinks beforehand, that she blacked out, and when she awoke she was naked and the priest was performing a sex act.

Kakkuzhiyil pled not guilty in Valley County District Court in Ord on February 18, 2019.

If found guilty on the felony sexual assault charge, Kakkuzhiyil could get up to 50 years in prison.

Up until late 2018, Kakkuzhiyil was a parish priest in Ord and Burwell.

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

Accuser takes stand in Ord priest sexual assault trial

AXTELL (NE)
NTV News

January 7, 2020

Ord NE – A woman who said she was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest took the stand Tuesday in Day 2 of the anticipated four-day trial in Ord.

Rev. John Kakkuzhiyil is facing one count of forcible sexual assault in Valley County District Court from a November 2018 incident, and he has maintained a not guilty plea. Kakkuzhiyil was placed on leave in December 2018.

The woman claimed she visited him at his home on professional business, saying she was interviewing him for a project she was working on. She told the court that Kakkuzhiyil asked her to wear a red dress to his home for the interview and asked her to pack a bag.

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

Update: Jury hears opening statements in priest sexual assault case

AXTELL (NE)
NTV News

January 6, 2020

Ord NE – A woman confronts the man many trust as a spiritual adviser, a man she accuses of sexual assault.

Now a Catholic priest defends himself as he faces a felony trial in Valley County.

Father John Kakkuzhiyil is accused of violating the trust others placed in him, while his attorney paints a picture of two adults who made a mistake that became regret.

“I had no intention of taking advantage of you my dear,” Kakkuzhiyil is heard on a recording made by Sheriff Casey Hurlburt, as he listened to his accuser call the priests.

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

The Catholic Church’s Strategy to Limit Payouts to Abuse Victims

NEW YORK (NY)
Bloomberg Businessweek

January 8, 2020

By Josh Saul

In the past 15 years, the church has shielded more than $2 billion in assets by aggressively moving and reclassifying them before declaring bankruptcy.

For most of the 20th century, the Catholic Church in the U.S. minimized the damage wrought by pedophile priests by covering up the abuse. When the bishop of the Davenport, Iowa, diocese was told in the mid-1950s that one of his priests was sexually abusing boys at a local YMCA, he kept it secret. “It is consoling to know that no general notoriety has arisen, and I pray none may result,” he wrote to a priest, capturing the strategy of the era.

Cover-ups worked when victims and their families could be intimidated or shamed into silence. But in the 1980s and ’90s, victims started filing civil lawsuits against the dioceses where the alleged incidents took place. Church leaders across the country kept these suits quiet by settling out of court and demanding nondisclosure agreements in return. Church leaders paid out about $750 million from the early ’80s through 2002, according to BishopAccountability.org, a nonprofit that tracks clergy sex abuse.

The veil of secrecy on these transactions was pierced when the Boston Globe published its investigations into church sex abuse in 2002, sparking public outrage at how clergy had protected their own. From 1950 to 2002, 4,392 priests were accused of abuse, according to a study by John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

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

Parties other than archdiocese have settled with many clergy sex abuse claimants

GUAM
Pacific Daily News

January 8, 2020

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

With the exception of the Archdiocese of Agana, defendants in Guam’s approximately 280 clergy sex abuse cases have either settled with abuse claimants or they are actively negotiating settlements.

While each sex abuse lawsuit has more than one defendant, almost all have the archdiocese in common as a defendant.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy a year ago and has not reached any settlement yet.

The Boy Scouts of America and Capuchin Franciscans have settled with many of the claimants, based on reports of settlement status filed in federal court by attorneys representing defendants and plaintiffs.

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

Bishops and Bribes

MANASSAS (VA)
CatholicCulture.org

January 7, 2020

By Phil Lawler

As a minor public official in the little town where we live, I am required each January to re-read a summary of conflict-of-interest laws in Massachusetts, and sign a statement indicating that I understand them. So every year I am officially reminded that I cannot participate in a zoning decision involving property that abuts my own, and I cannot accept employment with a firm that needs my board’s approval for a development project. Above all—first and foremost—I am reminded that I cannot solicit or accept gifts because of my official position.

Maybe you have great confidence in my integrity. Maybe you believe that I could render a fair and impartial judgment, even after having been handed an envelope full of cash. But some people are suspicious, and the government of Massachusetts drives home the message that the appearance of impropriety is itself impropriety. So I don’t accept cash gifts (not that any have been offered).

But in recent weeks we have learned about Catholic bishops who lavished gifts on Church officials whose decisions could influence their ecclesiastical careers. Former cardinal Ted McCarrick gave $600,000 to ranking prelates. Bishop Michael Bransfield spread around another $350,000. That’s nearly $1 million in gifts—cash gifts—provided by two prelates who are now living in disgrace, to other prelates who remain in good standing.

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

Pope’s early 2020 likely to be dominated by documents rather than deeds

DENVER (CO)
Crux

January 7, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome – Normally when one looks ahead at a pope’s new year, it’s either things the pope is expected to do over the coming 12 months that loom largest – foreign trips, for instance, and bishops’ appointments – or things he’s likely to say, such as milestone speeches or sensational media interviews.

There will be all of that for Pope Francis in 2020, but at least for the early part of the year, it seems more likely the biggest papal bombshells will instead come in things the pope is expected to publish, especially two keenly awaited texts: Francis’s conclusions to last October’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, and the Vatican’s report on the case of former cardinal and former priest Theodore McCarrick.

Also on that list probably should be Praedicate Evangelium, Francis’s long-awaited overhaul of the Roman Curia, though it’s probably not destined to be the thunderclap the other two texts will represent. Many of its main conclusions have already been made public, including the pope’s plan to make evangelization and mission the engine driving the Vatican’s train.

Both the synod conclusions and the McCarrick report could be out within the first third of the year, and both are likely to fuel debate and controversy for some time to come.

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

A Utah bill would require clergy to report child abuse confessed to them

SALT LAKE CITY (UT)
Salt Lake City Tribune

January 7, 2020

By Kathy Stephenson
·
Utah clergy would be required to report all allegations of child abuse — even those gathered in a religious confessional — under a bill proposed for the 2020 legislative session.

HB90, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would, if passed, remove the exemption that clergy now have in certain circumstances for reporting abuse.

Romero said many survivors of sexual abuse — as well as relatives of those who have been victimized — have contacted her to say they support such a change to state law.

“Their perpetrators went to confession, confided in a religious leader, and nothing ever happened,” she said. “The purpose is to get rid of the exemption and hold religious leaders to the same standard as teachers and doctors.”

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

January 7, 2020

Judge issues $150,000 bond for Strongsville priest facing new child porn charges

CHARDON (OH)
WKYC TV

Jan. 8, 2020

A Strongsville priest who is already facing charges stemming from a child pornography investigation in Cuyahoga County was arraigned on new charges in Geauga County Wednesday morning.

Rev. Bob McWilliams, 39, faces charges of pandering obscenities on accusations he solicited photos from a minor. He was transferred to the Geauga County Jail after posting bail for similar charges in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court last week.

Prosecutors on Wednesday requested a $150,000 bond, which Judge Terri Stupica ordered.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 15.

The investigation started with allegations the priest sent an inappropriate text to a teenager at St. Helen’s Church in Newbury, where McWilliams led the church’s youth program.

In the text exchange, McWilliams posed online as a teen girl and asked a teen boy to send him photos, authorities said.

Once Geauga County officials learned of the texts, they obtained a search warrant for electronics belonging to McWilliams, including a laptop, iPad and cell phone.

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

Scicluna hails abolition of pontifical secret in clerical sex crimes

SAN GWANN (MALTA)
Malta Today

Jan. 7, 2020

By Matthew Vella

Malta’s archbishop Charles Scicluna has hailed the abolition of the pontifical secret in cases of sexual violence and clerical abuse of minors, as an important step in working for justice for victims.

Scicluna, whom Pope Francis appointed as the Holy See’s prosecutor on clerical sex abuse cases, said the abolition will mean certain jurisdictions cannot be excused from not collaborating with authorities on such cases.

The abolition of the pontifical secret applies on the reporting, trials and decisions on cases of violence and sexual acts committed under threat or abuse of authority, sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons, cases of child pornography, as well as the lack of reporting and the cover-up of the abusers on the part of bishops and superiors general of religious institutes.

“Certain jurisdiction would have easily quoted the pontifical secret because that was the state of the law, in order to say that they could not, and that they were not, authorised to share information with either state authorities or the victim,” Scicluna told Vatican News.

“Now that impediment, we might call it that way, has been lifted, and the pontifical secret is no more an excuse.

“However, the law goes further… information is of the essence if we really want to work for justice. And so, the freedom of information to statutory authorities and to victims is something that is being facilitated by this new law.”

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Priest charged with child porn moved to Geauga County Jail

CHARDON (OH)
WJW FOX 8

Jan. 7, 2020

A local priest accused on child porn charges was moved to a new location.

Father Robert McWilliams is now locked up in the Geauga County Jail.

Court documents said the priest posed as a teen girl to solicit nude photos from a teen boy. The incident happened in May 2017 and was reported in Munson Township.

McWilliams was arrested last month at Saint Joseph Parish in Strongsville. He faces charges in Cuyahoga County, including illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. He pleaded not guilty.

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A bill in the Utah State Legislature removes ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to child abuse

SALT LAKE CITY (UT)
Fox 13 News

Jan. 7, 2020

By Ben Winslow

A bill made public ahead of the 2020 legislative session would remove the “priest-penitent” privilege when it comes to reporting abuse cases.

House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would demand that a priest, a bishop or any other clergy who receives a disclosure of abuse turn around and report that to law enforcement to investigate. If that clergy member doesn’t, they could face a misdemeanor charge. It also allows for the possibility of civil litigation by a victim, she told FOX 13.

“We’re not attacking their religion. We’re looking to protect children from being harmed,” Rep. Romero said Tuesday.

FOX 13 first reported on Rep. Romero’s proposed legislation back in July. It has garnered the support of the Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). But now that the bill has been made public, Rep. Romero said she is expecting that some faith groups will weigh in.

“We are still reviewing the legislation and its constitutionality,” said Jean Hill, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace.

A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told FOX 13 it would need to “review the bill and its implications before taking a position.”

Rep. Romero said her legislation is trying to combat cover-ups involving clergy who either do not report abuse, or move abusers around.

“We’ve seen this in the Catholic church. We’ve seen this in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we’ve seen this in a variety of religions,” she said. “People get shuffled around, they get moved around.”

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Theodore McCarrick has moved from Kansas friary

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

Jan 7, 2020

By JD Flynn and Ed Condon

The disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living since 2018.

A spokesman for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad told CNA Jan. 7 that McCarrick left St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas, just days ago.

He has moved to a residential community of priests who have been removed from ministry, senior Church officials told CNA.

The former cardinal made the decision to leave the Kansas friary himself over the Christmas period, sources say, adding that his continued presence in the friary had become a strain on the Franciscan community that was hosting him.

McCarrick moved to the friary shortly after he was accused in 2018 of sexually abusing minors, seminarians, and young priests.

McCarrick’s new location remains undisclosed. Sources told CNA that the former cardinal arranged his new accommodation for himself, adding that the residence to which he has moved is “rather secluded and away from public attention.”

“McCarrick remains a guest at his new accommodation, but he is funding his own stay and is there by his own choice – no one can make him stay if he does not wish to,” a Church official told CNA.

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All Bets Are Off as Harvey Weinstein’s Sexual Assault Trial Opens Today

NEW YORK (NY)
The New York Times

Published January 5, 2020; Updated Jan. 7, 2020

By Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor and Jan Ransom

[Follow The Times’s coverage of Day 1 and Day 2 of the Weinstein trial.]

Since the Harvey Weinstein story broke more than two years ago, everything about it has been outsize: the scope of the allegations of sexual harassment and assault, stretching back decades; the number of his accusers, who total more than 80; and the global scale of the reckoning their stories have inspired.

Now, as the Hollywood producer’s criminal trial begins Monday in Manhattan, the outcome already is anticipated as a verdict on much more than one man’s alleged wrongdoing.

Many supporters of the #MeToo movement that Mr. Weinstein’s accusers helped ignite are looking to see whether the legal system can deliver justice for victims. Lawyers for Mr. Weinstein, who lost his company, his reputation and his marriage, are arguing that the case is proof that #MeToo has gone too far. At the courthouse, media from around the world, demonstrators outside and spectators in packed galleries will be watching.

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Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial in New York begins as new charges are filed in Los Angeles: What we know

NEW YORK (NY)
Yahoo Celebrity

January 6, 2020

By Taryn Ryder

Harvey Weinstein’s rape and sexual assault trial began Monday in New York City where the disgraced producer faces a possibility of life in prison. There was no shortage of drama both outside and inside the courtroom — and in Los Angeles. It was also announced Monday he will face sexual assault and rape charges stemming from encounters with two women in 2013.

Weinstein, who was once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, hobbled into a Manhattan court on a walker passing by a group of accusers — including actresses Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette — who call themselves the “Silence Breakers.” They said in a release they were “representing the more than 90 women who bravely came forward to report Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct.”

“He doesn’t realize what he’s done at all and I don’t think he ever will,” McGowan told the crowd on Monday. “He has something sick in his head like many serial rapists.”

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Lawsuit claims Trautman, former Buffalo diocesan leader and Erie bishop, covered up clergy abuse case

BUFFALO (NY)
WIVB

January 2, 2020

By Chris Horvatits

A new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Thursday details the lengths the accuser says Church officials took to cover up clergy abuse in the Diocese of Buffalo. It specifically blames Donald Trautman, who served as vicar general and auxiliary bishop in Buffalo before becoming the Bishop of Erie in 1990.

“In the lawsuit, we state that Bishop Trautman covered this abuse up,” said Paul Barr, who represents the alleged victim.

The abuse in question is alleged to have been committed in the early-to-mid 1980s, while Trautman was still in Buffalo, by Rev. Gerald Smyczynski. Smyczynski’s name appears on the list of clergy who are credibly accused of abuse against a minor in the Diocese of Buffalo. He died in 1999.

The lawsuit alleges, “Bishop Trautman expedited an annulment for a member of the plaintiff’s family with the hope of ensuring their silence about the abuses perpetrated by Smyczynski.”

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Priest who served in Brighton during 1970s pleads guilty to child sex crimes

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

January 6, 2020

By Danny McDonald

A Catholic priest who served in a Brighton parish decades ago has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two children during the 1970s in Suffolk County, according to prosecutors.

James Randall Gillette, 77, pleaded guilty during a Jan. 2 appearance in Suffolk Superior Court to two counts of unnatural and lascivious acts on a child, according to the Suffolk district attorney’s office.

Gillette was sentenced to five years under house arrest, during which time he must wear a GPS monitoring bracelet. Additionally, he must register as a sex offender, undergo sex offender treatment as ordered by the probation department, stay away and have no contact with the survivors or any witnesses in the case, and have no one-on-one contact with any child under the age of 18 unless the minor’s parents are present, according to the district attorney’s office.

He did not receive any prison time.

Messages left with Gillette’s attorneys were not immediately returned Monday evening. It was not immediately clear where he was living or whether he had been defrocked by the Roman Catholic Church.

According to attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented one of the case’s two victims in a separate civil case against Gillette, the priest was ordained in 1971 and was assigned to St. Michael’s in Union City, N.J. between 1972 and 1974. He was then assigned to St. Gabriel’s in Brighton from 1975 to 1978. After that, he had assignments in Mexico City, Honduras, and Pittsburgh. He also lived in New York.

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BREAKING: 100s of Southern Baptist Churches subpoenaed in sex abuse lawsuit

TUSCALOOSA (AL)
Capstone Report

Jan. 6, 2020

The very future of the Southern Baptist Convention could be in the balance as a lawsuit threatens to undermine church autonomy—a key feature of Southern Baptist polity. Making the situation even more dire, one Southern Baptist entity, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) has in a separate case advanced a legal theory that undermines claims of church autonomy. Now lawyers for sex abuse victims are set to attack this vulnerable area.

Hundreds of Virginia Southern Baptist Churches were subpoenaed in a $82 million sex abuse lawsuit. There are at least 2,000 pages of subpoenas to SBC churches, according to Will McRaney. McRaney revealed the startling information during a Facebook live broadcast Monday evening. McRaney’s sourced included a subpoena recipient and a search of courthouse records. McRaney said he was provided copies of a couple of the subpoenas. The lawsuit was
filed over the summer now includes the local church Immanuel Baptist Church, the Petersburg Baptist Association—the local association, the Baptist Convention of Virginia and the Southern Baptist Convention. The lawsuit was filed in Chesterfield County.

According to Baptist News Global, the lawsuit “involves Jeffrey Dale Clark, a former youth group leader at Immanuel Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, Virginia, serving a 25-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to three counts of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of indecent acts with child by a custodian in 2016. Eight individuals with ages now ranging from 14 to 24 allege they were sexually molested by Clark while he worked as an assistant and leader of the youth group between 2008 and 2015.”

Lawyers expanded the case to assert the Southern Baptist Convention’s failure to do anything about sex abuse among its congregations made it liable for the abuse of children.

McRaney is embroiled in his own lawsuit against the alleged illegal activity of the North American Mission. McRaney claims NAMB and its director Kevin Ezell forced his termination. The evidence made public supports McRaney’s claims, but so far that evidence hasn’t been considered in court. His lawsuit was dismissed and is now on appeal before the federal appellate court.

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Revised law paves way for new lawsuit alleging Reedley priest abused women

FRESNO (CA)
ABC 30 KFSN

January 6, 2020

By Corin Hoggard

A new state law has paved the way for a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Fresno.

It claims a priest active in Reedley right now sexually abused at least two girls decades ago.

One of the women came forward last June about alleged abuse by Monsignor John Esquivel in 1983. The other one is still anonymous, but she says he abused her in 1971. And a new law means there’s no statute of limitations right now.

The memories feel fresh for Sylvia Gomez Ray.

“It was inappropriate touching, groping, massages that were inappropriate that led to groping my butt,” she said.

Six months ago, she accused Esquivel of sexual abuse in 1983 when as a 17-year-old, she worked as a secretary at St. Joseph’s in Bakersfield.

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Bakersfield church, Fresno Diocese, accused of covering up child sexual abuse claims

BAKERSFIELD (CA)
KBAK / KBFX

January 2, 2020

By Emma Goss

The Diocese of Fresno and St. Philip the Apostle church in Bakersfield are being sued. They’re accused of covering up sexual misconduct by a pastor for decades.

Fr. Anthony Moreno, who served as priest at St. Philip the Apostle from July 1979 to December 1980, is being accused of molesting multiple children, according to a law suit filed in Fresno court this week.

“As a 12 year old, I was confused, and I thought I had done something wrong,” Toni Moreland, a Fresno woman who filed the law suit, said at a press conference Thursday morning. She claims she was molested by Moreno while he was serving as priest in Bakersfield between 1979 and 1980. Her father reported the sexual abuse to the church soon after Moreland claims it happened. By December of 1980 he was moved to serve at Church of the Sacred Heart, in Fresno.

“I think that was the most troubling of all things, was to realize that they just moved Anthony to another parish. I thought that was what just happened to me.” Moreland said.

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‘We call them out for their failure to respond.’ Diocese of Fresno sued under new abuse law

MERCED (CA)
Merced Sun-Star

January 2, 2020

By Yesenia Amaro

A child sexual abuse lawsuit was filed against the Catholic Diocese of Fresno on Thursday, accusing another one of its priests.

Father Anthony Moreno joined the growing list of priests in the Diocese of Fresno who have been accused of sexual misconduct.

The lawsuit was filed under the state’s new Child Victims Act, also knows as Assembly Bill 218, which lawmakers passed last year. St. Philip the Apostle in Bakersfield is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

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Lawsuits filed in Oakland, SF allege child sexual abuse by priests

SAN FRANCISCO (CA)
San Francisco Chronicle and Bay City News Service

January 1, 2020

An expected wave of lawsuits made possible by a new state law continued Tuesday as attorneys announced new filings in Oakland and San Francisco by victims of alleged childhood sexual abuse by priests.

The lawsuit are permitted by California’s Assembly Bill 218 of 2019, which opened a three-year window for childhood sexual abuse survivors to file lawsuits regardless of when the molestation occurred.

The statute also allows a tripling of financial damages compensation in cases where an effort to hide evidence of child sexual abuse is proved.

On Tuesday, two men in their 50s sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland in Alameda County Superior Court, alleging they were sexually abused by priests at Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City.

James Brogan, 56, who grew up in Hayward, alleges he was sexually assaulted by Father George Crespin beginning when he was 11 years old.

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Attorney bares his past as child sex abuse victim in ad seeking clients

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

January 6, 2020

By Dan Herbeck

Five months ago, Niagara Falls attorney Paul K. Barr had a tough decision to make as he prepared to record a radio advertisement inviting clients to file lawsuits against molesters under the state’s Child Victims Act.

Barr kept asking himself if the commercial should mention that he, too, was allegedly molested by a priest in 1980.

He decided that it should.

“I was 16, a budding athlete. Father Mike took notice,” Barr’s commercial begins.

The ad goes on to tell the story of how the Rev. Michael R. Freeman allegedly molested him at a Niagara Falls church. “I was a victim,” the ad continues. “I know what it’s like and I will take your call.”

Now that the commercial has been running for three months in Buffalo, New York City and in several other states, Barr said he is at peace with his decision to let radio listeners in on one of the most traumatic incidents of his life.

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Fargo and Bismarck Catholic Diocese Release List of Known Clergy Who Sexually Abused Minors

FARGO (ND)
Legal Examiner – O’Keefe, O’Brien, Lyson, Foss Law

January 6, 2020

By Timothy O’Keefe

Nearly six months after publicly calling for the release of a list of known offending priests in the diocese, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fargo released the names of 31 leaders in the church connected to the sexual abuse of minors. The Bismarck Diocese also released a list of 22 clergy members who likely sexually abused a minor on January 2, 2020.

Notably, the list only includes those involving “substantiated allegations” of minor sexual abuse. The Fargo Diocese has explained its definition of substantiated allegation as “one for which sufficient corroborating evidence establishes reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged abuse in fact occurred.”
The lists include only the clergy member’s name, year of ordination, year of death, and basic status in the church. Twenty-two of the 31 clergy are deceased from the Fargo Diocese’s list, while 20 of the 22 on the Bismarck Diocese’s list are deceased. The Bismarck Diocese also notes there have been no substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in the dioceses since 1989.

As noted in the New York Times by Tim Lennon, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, without additional details like “work history, photographs, when the allegations against each clergy member were received and what actions were taken in response,” the release of the list comes off as a “public relations ploy to appease the public.” The Fargo list does not provide where any timeline of when the church learned of the substantiated allegation or took action against these individuals. Further, neither the Fargo nor Bismarck lists provide information about where the living clergy are currently residing.

Media outlets and other organizations tracking public accusations of clergy abuse have also noted some names appear to be missing from the dioceses’ lists. BishopAccountability.org is an organization which maintains a database of publicly accused priests based upon dioceses’ published lists, publicly-filed court records, and news articles. Between the dioceses’ lists and the database, there are at least five clergy members who have allegedly abused individuals but are not on the lists publicly released by the dioceses yesterday. For example, as of August 2019, at least two priests not named on the dioceses’ lists were under investigation for sexual abuse.

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The church must face its own role in violence against women

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

January 7, 2020

By Jamie Manson

Of all of the religious instruction classes that my mother took as a girl, one lesson in particular always seemed to stay with her: the day that the nun explained the church’s teaching on divorce.

A girl in the class asked the sister whether it would be okay to leave her husband if he hit her.

“No,” the nun replied. “Even if he beats you, you have to stay with him.”

When she got home from class, my mother told my grandparents about the lesson. Horrified, they vehemently disagreed with the nun and told her she would have to divorce any man who put his hands on her.

My mother has recounted this story many times throughout my life, and what strikes me most about it is that she, in fact, did stay with a man who hit her. He was my stepfather, and I was 4 years old when I witnessed him punch her. I was never the same again.

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Meeting of Church heavy-hitters calls for ‘adjustments’ to priestly formation

DENVER (CO)
Crux

January 7, 2020

By Christopher White

New York – A major gathering of ecclesial heavy hitters focusing on the future of the priesthood concluded with a call for a reimagining of priestly formation – one that incorporates the laity and women in the process and better reflects the racial and cultural diversity within the U.S. Church.

The two-day symposium at Boston College took place January 2-3 and was organized around “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” a document first published in December 2018, which was the result of a series of seminars sponsored by the college’s Department of Theology and School of Theology and Ministry.

*
Both Hanlon Rubio and Groome noted that the abuse crisis was “always in the room,” but the aim of the conference was forward thinking and meant to challenge all parties present.

Citing Pope Francis and his condemnation of clericalism, Groome said that the conference sought to consider what causes it, but more importantly, how to avoid it going forward.

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Church hires third-party counselor for abuse victims

SAINT ALBANS MESSENGER
Saint Albans Messenger

January 6, 2020

Burlington – In response to a recent report detailing past sexual abuses by members of the clergy, Vermont’s Catholic Church has hired an independent victim assistance coordinator to support abuse survivors and their families.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington announced last week they had contracted with Sheila Conroy, a licensed mental health counselor, to help victims and their families in “bringing about healing, justice and peace” after cases of abuse by church employees and clergy.

As the victim assistance coordinator, Conroy would provide a confidential listening services and work as a liaison for victims to communicate their needs with the Catholic Church, while also promoting support groups, workshops and other healing services for abuse survivors and members of their family.

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Priest Gets Probation for ‘Unnatural Acts’ on a Minor

BOSTON (MA)
Associated Press via NBC 10 Boston

January 7, 2020

The defendant has not been defrocked but has been on restrictions that ban him from identifying as a priest or serving in church functions since the 1990s

A Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to two counts of “unnatural acts” with a minor for accusations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s.

James Randall Gillette was sentenced to five years of probation in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Jan. 2, according to court records.

More serious charges of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a minor were dismissed, but he still has to register as a sex offender.

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January 6, 2020

State must take action on statute of limitations Senate bill

MARIETTA (OH)
Marietta Tiimes

Jan. 2, 2020

As victims in Marietta are interviewed about encounters with a possible serial rapist when they were children, a bill that would have extended their ability to seek justice for those crimes seems to be dormant in Ohio.

Senate Bill 162, which would have eliminated the statute of limitations for rape, was introduced in 2019 and had hearings late in the year. Now, there is no word about its future. We hope it can be reintroduced in this new year and put into law. Seven other states have already removed the statue of limitations for felony sex crimes, including West Virginia, and it’s time for Ohio to do the same.

The case in Marietta is a perfect example of why. Richard Decker, 62, has been charged with rape in a case where he apparently started raping the victim when she was 5, with the assaults continuing on until she was 18. She’s now in her 30s. Police and prosecutors believe Decker had multiple other child victims and have already interviewed as many as 10.

What if some of these instances they dig up in this investigation reveal crimes that occurred more than 25 years ago, the current statute of limitations for rape? Should there be no chance for justice because the victims were too young, too scared, too traumatized to speak out when they were only children? Should Decker no longer be considered a threat to society because an arbitrary amount of time has passed?

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Clergy abuse conviction shows more needs to be down by church, lawyer

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Herald

Jan. 6, 2020

By Erin Tiernan

The sentencing last week of a still-ordained priest who admitted to abusing children while he served in Brighton shows church leaders have taken “no substantive action” to stop abuse, said sex abuse lawyer Mitchell Garabedian.

“Bishops have spoken. Cardinals have spoken. Cardinal (Sean) O’Malley has spoken. They’ve all said words but taken no substantive action. It’s time to take action,” Garabedian said Monday.

The Rev. James R. Gillette pleaded guilty to two counts of unnatural acts with a child under the age of 16 in Suffolk Superior Court on Jan. 2 in a plea deal with prosecutors. The charges stemmed from abuse that occurred between 1972-1975.

Judge Beverly J. Cannone sentenced him to five years of probation with GPS monitoring, ordered him to register as a sex offender and complete a sex offender treatment program.

Standing beside Garabedian at a press conference on Monday was Anthony Sgherza, who said he was an altar boy at a New Jersey church from age 10 to 13 when Gillette abused him in the early 1970s.

Gillette transferred to St. Gabriel’s in Brighton in 1975 where he tricked Sgherza into visiting to attend a Boston Red Sox game and again abused the boy, Garabedian said.

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Were you sexually abused as a child?

PLATTSBURG (NY)
Press Republican

Jan. 7, 2020

By Penny Clute

Have you thought about suing the abuser, or reporting what happened to the police? Maybe you didn’t even know you could do this, since it was decades ago? Or, you did try to, but were told it was too late? New York has changed the law, giving victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to bring abusers to court. If you were victimized before you turned 18, this law applies to you.

When you were a child, probably no one talked about this. You thought you were alone; you likely thought it was your fault, but it was not. Perhaps the abuser made you keep it a secret, threatening to harm you or your family if you told. You felt ashamed and afraid. You thought no one would believe you, that everyone liked the person who abused you. You didn’t know it was happening to other kids, too. As a child, even a teenager, you couldn’t imagine standing up and saying out loud what he or she did to you. Or maybe you didn’t even realize until later that it was abuse; and that you are not responsible for it.

If the abuse has haunted your life, this big change in the law may help you.

The Statutes of Limitations are the time periods for bringing civil lawsuits and criminal charges in particular cases. Earlier this year, the state legislature passed changes that the governor signed into law on August 14. These new time limits apply to sexual crimes against children that occurred in New York State.

Criminal charges can now be brought by prosecutors until the victim turns 28 for felonies, or 25 for misdemeanors. The period of time available depends upon the victim’s age now, not on when the crime occurred.

In civil cases, where victims can sue abusers for money damages, the time period has been greatly extended.

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Houston Islamic Religious Leader Arrested For Alleged Sexual Assault And Indecency With Children

HOUSTON (TX)
Houston Public Media

Jan. 6, 2020

By Elizabeth Troval

A Muslim religious leader is accused of indecency and sexual assault of children in Fort Bend County.

Imam Mohamed Omar Ali is charged with three counts of indecency with a child and one count of sexual assault of a child, according to Fort Bend County officials.

Ali, who immigrated to the U.S. from Somalia, was arrested on January 3, 2020.

“We do believe that he’s been in several of the victim’s homes,” said Michael Alexander, lead detective of the case for the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s part of what he does, he goes to people’s homes and teaches Quran lessons and that’s how he comes into contact with a lot of people is through some of the mosques and then he eventually goes to their homes.”

Assaults allegedly started in 2013 and officials believe there are more victims who are afraid to come forward because of the stigma.

“The investigation originally started off a little bit slow due to a lack of cooperation from some of the victims, because of that stigma, moving forward we did find that there are some people willing to come forward, which is why we are here,” said Alexander.

Ali spent time as a religious leader in multiple mosques in Houston and Fort Bend County, although officials wouldn’t specify which locations.

The 59-year-old is being held at a Fort Bend County jail and also faces deportation.

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Church doesn’t seem serious about abuse

FAIRMONT (MN)
The Sentinel

January 6, 2020

By Gary Andersen and Lee Smith, Editorial Board

Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church in reaction to a worldwide scandal, The Associated Press found.

In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe?

AP investigators examined lists released by Catholic dioceses across the country, of clergy “credibly accused” of child sexual abuse. “An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from the lists,” the news agency reported.

One former priest in Iowa, who had served time in prison for sex offenses, was placed on that diocese’s list only after the AP asked why his name had been missing. A church official blamed the omission on “an oversight.”

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Lawsuit Filed Against Diocese, Randolph Church

JAMESTOWN (NY)
The Post-Journal

January 6, 2020

By John Whittaker

An unnamed woman has filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Randolph.

The four-page court filing was received Dec. 30 in state Supreme Court in Erie County, where the headquarters for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is located. A woman accuses Father Joseph P. Friel of sexually abusing and sexually assaulting her while Friel was serving as priest at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church while the woman was a child taking religious instruction at the church.

“Father Joseph P. Friel threatened the minor plaintiff not to tell anyone about the sexual abuse and if she did ‘the devil would get her,’” the woman’s lawsuit filing states.

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Our view: Diocese falls short with its list

GRAND FORKS (ND)
Grand Forks Herald

January 6, 2020

By the Herald Editorial Board

The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children. In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said “even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all.”

We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names, since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds.

And while we appreciate the church’s list – accompanied by pre-written comments from Folda and answers to a list of frequently asked questions – we believe the effort still falls short.

For example: The list shows the names of the clergymen accused via substantial allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Included is the year of ordination and also a “status” section; most of the accused are dead, although those still alive have been removed from the ministry.

What’s missing is where those clergymen served. And that’s important, because the people of Pembina, for instance, deserve a reminder that Jules Belleau possibly served there for a time between 1925 and 1973. And people in Grand Forks deserve to know Richard Sinner apparently was pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at UND and also a chaplain at St. Michael’s Hospital at times in the 1950s. And that Julius Binder possibly served in Grand Forks at times between 1939 and 1991.

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Fargo Diocese releases list of 31 church officials accused of sexually abusing children

FARGO (ND)
Fargo Forum via Grand Forks Herald

January 2, 2020

By April Baumgarten

The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of 31 clergy and religious members who have been accused of sexually abusing children.

The list, which only includes allegations the diocese believes are credible, was sent to news media Thursday, Jan. 2. It comes after the diocese reviewed its files dating back to 1950. It includes clergy members — priests, deacons and bishops — as well as other non-ordained religious figures.

“It is my hope that this release of names will open the way to a purification of our Church, especially in our own diocese,” Bishop John Folda said in a statement. “We all know the experience of grace that comes with the confession of sins, and I pray that our diocese will experience a similar outpouring of grace through acknowledgement of these sinful acts by those in positions of authority.”

Over the years, many dioceses around the country have released similar lists. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead has previously pressed the Fargo Diocese on if and when it would release its own list. The Diocese of Bismarck also released its list of 22 clergy members Tuesday.

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NJ dioceses extend deadline for victims fund

TRENTON (NJ)
Associated Press via Fox29 Philadelphia

January 5, 2020

By Mike Catalini

New Jersey’s Roman Catholic dioceses have given a six-week extension to childhood victims of sexual assault considering applying for compensation from a fund the church set up, the account’s co-administrator said Thursday.

Camille Biros, the co-administrator of the fund covering all five dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a phone interview that so far more than $9 million in 76 different cases has been paid out.

The new deadline for claims to be filed is Feb. 15. It had been Dec. 31.

The deadline was pushed back so the dioceses could be “as inclusive as possible,” Biros said.

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Former North Dakota governor’s brother on list of clergy accused of sexually abusing children

GRAND FORKS (ND)
Grand Forks Herald and Forum News Service

January 3, 2020

By April Baumgarten

https://www.grandforksherald.com/news/crime-and-courts/4848169-Former-North-Dakota-governors-brother-on-list-of-clergy-accused-of-sexually-abusing-children

Fargo – The brother of former North Dakota Gov. George A. Sinner has been named in a list of Fargo Diocese officials who were accused of sexually abusing children — a revelation that “absolutely stunned” his family, one relative said.

Catholic leaders released on Thursday, Jan. 2, the Fargo Diocese’s list of 31 clergy and religious brothers who the diocese believes were credibly accused. On that list was the late Rev. Richard W. Sinner, who was ordained in 1952 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo. He was 78 years old when he died Jan. 28, 2004.

Former North Dakota Sen. George B. Sinner, a Fargo Democrat who is the late Gov. Sinner’s son and the Rev. Sinner’s nephew, said he first heard about his uncle’s inclusion on the list through news reports.

“I’ve talked to several of my family members, and it’s all the same way. Nobody knew anything,” George B. Sinner said. “We were never told anything about any accusations whatsoever.”

A Fargo Diocese spokesperson did not return messages for questions regarding the Rev. Sinner. The list doesn’t disclose the details of the allegations against the Rev. Sinner or other clergy.

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Bismarck Diocese releases list of priests with substantiated claims

DICKINSON (ND)
The Dickinson Press

January 2, 2020

By Kayla Henson

Bismarck – The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has called forth greater accountability and transparency of bishops and dioceses in the resolution of cases of substantiated claims.

Bishop David Kagan stated, “In the interest of transparency and accountability, I have chosen, as part of our ongoing process of reaching out to the diocesan community, to publicly identify those priests who have carried out ministry in the Diocese of Bismarck, and against whom there is a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of a minor.”

The list of priests who have substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor was published on the website today at www.bismarckdiocese.com, as well as in the January issue of the diocesan publication, the Dakota Catholic Action, which was scheduled to be delivered to Catholic households the week of Dec. 30.

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Suit claims more abuse by late Goshen priest

MIDDLETOWN (NY)
Times Herald-Record

January 3, 2020

By Heather Yakin

Goshen – A man who attended St. John Catholic School and the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Goshen during the tenure of notorious pedophile priest the Rev. Edward Pipala has filed suit against the Archdiocese of New York, the church and the school.

The lawsuit charges that Pipala victimized the plaintiff, John Figliaccone, during his seventh- and eighth-grade years. The suit, filed in Supreme Court in New York County on Figliaccone’s behalf by lawyer James Monroe of Dupee & Monroe, charges that Pipala sexually assaulted and molested more than 50 boys during his time at St. John, spanning from July 2, 1988, through July 10, 1992.

Pipala’s abuses came to light when a family came forward, leading to Pipala’s prosecution and conviction on state and federal charges for raping, sodomizing and otherwise abusing boys he had plied with alcohol, pills, cigarettes and pornography as part of a secret “club” he called “the Hole.” He ran the same “club” during his time as an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Monroe from 1981-1988.

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January 5, 2020

Vermont diocese hires counselor for sex abuse survivors

BURLINGTON (VT)
Associated Press via Crux

January 3, 2020

In response to concerns raised by survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families, the Catholic Diocese of Burlington and Vermont Catholic Charities have contracted with a mental health counselor to assist them, the organizations said Thursday.

“In many conversations and communications with survivors, Bishop Christopher Coyne and other church leaders have been told that it is often difficult for survivors to approach the church directly, especially since it was an agent of the church that was responsible for their abuse,” the groups said in a news release. “Many felt that there needed to be another way to get the help and support they need.”

The counselor, Sheila Conroy, will serve as a victim assistance coordinator “to assist in bringing about healing, justice and peace for those suffering from sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and others employed by the church in years past,” the news release said.

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12 major religious newsmakers — and stories — from the past decade

UNITED STATES
The Washington Post

January 3, 2020

By Yonat Shimron

The decade that ended Tuesday saw the rise and fall of many newsmakers who stood out, in part or in full, because of their beliefs or religious traditions. This list is far from comprehensive and mostly U.S.-based. Still, it offers a one-time retrospective on the personalities (and issues) that dominated the religious scene:

They rose

Pope Francis: The first Jesuit to become pope, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Buenos Aires was elected in 2013.

He has welcomed open debate in the church, often incurring the wrath of the Roman Curia, unrelenting in its desire to hold the line on traditional doctrine. He has become a premier spokesman on climate change, inveighed against the mistreatment of migrants, declared the death penalty “inadmissible” in all cases and the use and possession of atomic weapons as “immoral.”

Francis has not always dealt well with the sexual abuse crisis. In 2018, he defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering for a notorious priest. His critics say much more needs to be done. And there are signs of discontent with Francis among Catholics on the political right.

But the vast majority of U.S. Catholics, while critical of his handling of the sex abuse crisis, have a favorable opinion of the pontiff.

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Lawsuit charges Bishop Trautman, Buffalo diocese with abuse cover-up in 1980s

BUFFALO (NY)
Catholic News Agency

January 3, 2020

By Kevin J. Jones

A lawsuit against the Diocese of Buffalo and retired Bishop Donald Trautman claim they covered up a New York priest’s sex abuse of a 10-year-old boy in the mid-1980s, though the bishop has previously denied accusations he has ever covered up abuse.

Trautman, now 83, retired as Bishop of Erie in 2012. He served in various roles in the Buffalo diocese under Bishop Edward Head, including chancellor and vicar general. He was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the diocese in 1985. He had been Bishop of Erie since 1990.

Trautman told the Erie Times-News Jan. 2 that he had not been served with the lawsuit.

As regards the alleged abuser, Fr. Gerard A. Smyczynski, the former bishop said, “I don’t recall the case at all,” adding, “I don’t recall the name.”

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Former Sarasota bishop accused of sexually assaulting children over four decades

SARASOTA (FL)
Herald-Tribune

January 3, 2020

By Michael Moore Jr.

A former bishop and founder of the Westcoast Center for Human Development was arrested Thursday by Sarasota Police after multiple investigations “demonstrated more than four decades of children and adults suffering sexual abuse by Henry Lee Porter Sr.,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Although there are eight victims listed in court documents, Porter, 72, was arrested Thursday by Sarasota Police for one count of alleged sexual battery of a child under 12 years of age — a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Porter founded the Westcoast Gospel Chorus and was pastor of the church he incorporated in 1971 for 45 years before stepping down in June 2016 and allowing his son, Henry Porter II, to take over.

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Walnutport priest removed from ministry after taking ‘disturbing’ photos of wrestlers, diocese says

BETHLEHEM (PA)
Morning Call

January 5, 2020

By Riley Yates

A Catholic priest in Walnutport was removed from ministry after he was seen taking “disturbing” photographs of wrestlers at a high school tournament last month, the Diocese of Allentown announced Sunday.

The Rev. Thomas A. Derzack, 70, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish, took the photos Dec. 27 without the wrestlers’ knowledge during the event at the Bethlehem Catholic High School gym, the diocese said. Using his phone, Derzack photographed the wrestlers from behind as they were waiting to compete, leading to a complaint by a concerned spectator, the diocese said.

In a prepared statement, Bishop Alfred Schlert said Derzack’s actions violated church standards for acceptable behavior. Derzack was suspended as a precaution while the diocese investigates, and he is also barred from school events and property, the statement said.

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Newcastle child sex survivor Peter Creigh says a confidential report’s findings about archbishop are a ‘vindication’

AUSTRALIA
Newcastle Herald

January 6, 2020

By Joanne McCarthy

ARCHBISHOP Philip Wilson is being treated for bowel cancer only months after release of a highly critical report about his handling of child sex allegations about Hunter priests Jim Fletcher and Denis McAlinden.

The retired Catholic archbishop and former Maitland-Newcastle priest will not be responding to the report, which Fletcher victim Peter Creigh described as a “vindication”, after the archbishop in 2018 successfully appealed his landmark conviction for concealing Fletcher’s crimes.

Commissioner Margaret Cunneen’s findings that Philip Wilson’s evidence was “improbable”, “implausible” and “unsatisfactory”, and that he should have reported serious allegations about McAlinden to police in 1987, showed Philip Wilson had “failed as a moral leader”, Mr Creigh said.

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10 scandals that rocked the church in the last decade

KENYA
SDE – The Standard

January 5, 2020

By Mercy Adhiambo

In the last decade, a new wave of evangelism swept the country.

Self-proclaimed prophets sprouted in different parts and they all had one message: “God had sent them to relieve many people from the suffering …”

We examine some of the scandals that rocked the church:

Kanyari and his fake miracles

From the moment he first appeared on TV, his message was consistent. God was a loving and forgiving being who could heal all diseases and transgressions.

All God needed, Kanyari said, was tithes. “Send Sh310 to my number and get your blessings”. It was dance and jubilation, always live on TV, until an investigation led to the truth.

Everything was scripted, including the miracles. He has since rebranded and now calls himself Pastor Mwangi. He still seeks for donations to pray for believers.

Leadership wrangles in churches

It has been a season of blows, abuses, locked churches, splinter groups and boycotts, all in the name of fighting for leadership.

The Nairobi Central branch of the SDA church dominated news last year. But before that, African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) had fought for decades forcing President Uhuru Kenyatta to broker peace.

At Got Kweru in Migori where the remains of the founder of the Legio Maria church Simeon Ondetto lies, many endless leadership battles have been fought.

Pastor Ng’ang’a and his vile mouth

Pastor Ng’ang’a of the Neno Evangelist church, has transitioned from the young man whose opening line was the Sindano song about the metaphorical “injection” that Jesus gave him and taken a path where he liberally abuses his followers, threatens his bishops, excommunicates those who disagree with him, and goes on social media to spew abuses.

“I am two in one. Ng’ang’a the man, and Ng’ang’a the spirit,” has been his style of explaining his ways.

Sex and the church

Catholic priests have made headlines for going against the celibacy oath.

Pope Francis’s recent lifting of pontifical secret rule where victims of sexual abuse and the priests who were involved were kept under lock was received positively.

There have also been many cases of defilement in other churches, including the recent case where a pastor in Kitui allegedly impregnated more than 20 girls.

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Lawsuit: Pastor’s abuse of boy allowed by convention

ARKANSAS
Arkansas Democrat Gazette

January 5, 2020

By Bill Bowden

Lawyer: Leaders failed to report it

A former pastor at Millcreek Baptist Church in Garland County sexually abused a minor in his care from 2014 to 2018, according to a lawsuit filed last month in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Also, the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and its executive director didn’t report the abuse after being told about it, according to the lawsuit filed Dec. 16 by Joshua Gillispie, a North Little Rock attorney.

Teddy Leon Hill Jr., former senior pastor at Millcreek, met the boy, identified in the lawsuit as John Doe, when the boy was 13 years old, wrote Gillispie, who is with the law firm of Green and Gillispie.

“Doe was drawn to Millcreek at a time when his troubled home life led him to seek comfort in the church,” according to the lawsuit.

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Editorial: Protect children, ensure accountability, lift statutory limits

CONNECTICUT
The Day

January 4, 2020

By The Day Editorial Board

Removing statutory limits on the age at which adult survivors of child sexual abuse may sue for damages is simply justice, given what we now know about the lasting effects of psychological trauma. It also will signal that complicity in shielding perpetrators from accountability is over, and that Connecticut will put the protection of children before the interests of institutions.

The state’s legislative task force on the statute of limitations regarding sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and sexual assault is nearing the deadline for its assignment. By Jan. 15 it is to recommend whether and how much to extend the age limit for victims to sue their alleged abusers; whether to open a “look-back window” for those already past the current age limit of 51; or both. The most recent session extended the age limit by three years and created the task force to study further action. Experts have testified that 52 is the average age for a person to be ready to come forward.

The task force’s mandate applies not only to accusations against clergy. However, the Roman Catholic dioceses in Connecticut are getting much of the committee’s attention because of the church’s lobbying against extending the limits, and because the victims who testified at a recent hearing focused on abuse by priests.

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Mum beaten and abused by nuns’ abuse sues for £750k

SCOTLAND
The Herald

January 5, 2020

A mum from Renfrewshire who claims she was beaten and abused at an orphanage has launched a £750,000 legal action bid against the Catholic order.

Annemarie McGuigan said she was beaten with a stick and locked in cupboards during her five-year stay at the Nazareth House children’s home in Aberdeen.

The 59-year-old was ‘force-fed’ her own vomit and is now taking legal action against the Sisters of Nazareth.

Sisters Alphonso and Hildegard have now been exposed in criminal courts and the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) for their parts in the sickening attacks on children in the 1960s-70s.

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More than 1,300 lawsuits filed since NY allowed old sex abuse claims

NEW YORK
Newsday

January 5, 2020

By Yancey Roy

Albany – By New Year’s Day, more than 1,300 lawsuits had been filed during a special “look back” period during which New York is allowing molestation lawsuits previously blocked by time limits, according to court records.

The Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and even the late Jeffrey Epstein have been sued under the “Child Victims Act,” enacted by state lawmakers in 2019. An even greater number of lawsuits is expected this year.

One Catholic diocese has filed for bankruptcy and another has asked the courts to declare the law unconstitutional.

And, according to one attorney, the community of survivors of childhood sexual assaults has been “transformed.”

“There has been striking impact every single day,” Jeff Anderson, a lawyer whose firm already has filed 300 claims, said.

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Dad of man whose wife left him for pastor hits out at church over scandal

BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND)
Belfast Telegraph

Jan. 6, 2020

By Brett Campbell

The father of a man whose wife was caught having an affair with her pastor 18 months after he married the couple has criticised a Co Down church for its “shameful” response to the scandal.

Pastor Gareth Mills (41) was sacked from the super-church he helped found in Newtownards after details of his affair came to light last Thursday.

The betrayed husband’s dad said he believed the church was more concerned about protecting itself and “paying the mortgage on their big new building than they are with helping my son who is completely and utterly devastated by this”.

“So are we, his mother is absolutely distraught too. It is shameful,” he said.

Members of Thriving Life Church (TLC) yesterday wiped away tears as they were told that the “unrepentant” father-of-one has no intention of ending the illicit relationship with the 22-year-old family friend who began attending the church around four years ago.

It was there she met her husband and the pair were both baptised by Pastor Mills.

The Belfast Telegraph has seen pictures of the young woman posing alongside the heartbroken wife of her new lover before the affair was uncovered.

Her father-in-law said there had been suspicion for the past six months, although it is not known for certain how long the affair has been going on.

“It’s all on the phone, there are pictures of them out on dates and up the Mourne Mountains together,” he said.

“It’s obviously been going on for a while and now they’ve just tripped themselves up. My son works night shift, so it was easy for the pastor.”

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‘When my uncle died, I found out he was a paedophile. Then I remembered my childhood differently.’

NEW SOUTH WALES (AUSTRALIA)
Mamamia

Jan. 5, 2019

Uncle Dinny had always been around, he was part of the fabric of my family. He was the local parish priest where my mum grew up on the NSW Mid North Coast. I don’t remember life without him. According to an urban myth within my family, Uncle Dinny had even taught me to crawl as a toddler.

Once I had started school, Uncle Dinny would drop around and stay at our house.

Mostly unannounced he would pop in 3-4 times a year and stay a few days before he moved on to his next parish. At this stage, he was a supplementary priest. When another priest was moving or went on holidays Uncle Dinny would fill in, so he was always on the road and travelling.

He also did stints of mission work overseas. He would share with us around the dinner table, his stories of helping in PNG, The Philippines, New Zealand and his Aboriginal mission work within remote communities in Western Australia.

Whenever he came to stay we would find lollies suddenly popping up everywhere in our house. We all loved it when he came to stay. He was like a kind and wise old grandfather. He was always asking about our welfare and he was always raising money or working on programs for disadvantaged youth.

Out of all of my siblings, I was the closest to him. While I was at school and he was travelling we would write to each other. I would tell him about school and boys and what was happening day to day in my family.

He would tell me about his mission work here or overseas or just where ever he was going to be posted next. It was a tradition that we started when I was 10 years old and we kept writing to each other after I got married and had children of my own.

When I would visit my grandparents up on the Mid North Coast, and Uncle Dinny was around we would spend time together going for walks or just chatting. I remember when I was about eight or nine, he picked me up from my grandparents’ house and I spent the whole day with him at the local church, while he worked on church admin, I was free to muck around exploring the church and playing on the organ.

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Diocese faces new decade to right itself

ALTOONA (PA)
Altoona Mirror

Jan. 5, 2019

Debate will continue about whether the decade of the 2020s really began on Jan. 1 of this year or whether that actually will occur on Jan. 1, 2021.

Either way, the period of time has been traumatic for the Roman Catholic Church here, across Pennsylvania, across the nation and, indeed, around the world.

The reason is the ongoing horrific, unconscionable child-sexual-abuse scandal.

That scandal of mind-shattering proportion — one that has challenged even the most devout Catholics’ beliefs, attitudes and trust — is destined to span the decade of the 2020s and perhaps beyond.

News reports during the final days of 2019 showed why.

On Dec. 27, the Mirror published a front-page Associated Press article “Pa. dioceses pay $84M to abuse victims,” which reported on the status of victim compensation involving seven of the eight Pennsylvania Roman Catholic dioceses.

The Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, which previously paid out $15.7 million on an earlier program of compensating clergy-abuse victims, was not at the center of last month’s article. Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that allegations leveled against several Altoona-Johnstown priests in 2019 could, if proven, result in additional compensation being paid to alleged victims.

A statewide grand jury report released in March 2016 revealed hundreds of children had been sexually assaulted by approximately 50 Altoona-Johnstown Diocese priests over 40 years.

The $84 million total payout by the seven dioceses in question was not troubling from the perspective of having compensated victims; actually, those victims probably were entitled to more, considering the physical horror and emotional damage the victims endured.

But, what is tragic is that the money paid out limited positive diocesan efforts that those payouts otherwise could have financed.

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January 4, 2020

Jury selection underway in trial of priest accused in sexual assault

KEARNEY (NEBRASKA)
KHGI TV

Jan. 6, 2020

Jury selection began Monday in Valley County District Court as the trial of an Ord priest got underway.

John Kakkuzhiyil is charged with forcible sexual assault, according to court records.

They say an Ord woman claims the priest poured her a drink that caused her to black out and she woke up to find Kakkuzhiyil assaulting her.

A jury of 12 and two alternates will be picked out of a pool of 75.

Many in that pool admitted they knew either Kakkuzhiyil or the alleged victim.

Opening statements could begin as early as Monday afternoon.

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Church doesn’t track minority survivors of clerical abuse

UNITED STATES
Associated Press

January 4, 2020

By Gary Fields, Juliet Linderman and Wong Maye-e

The Samples were a black Chicago family, with six children and few resources. The priest helped them with tuition, clothes, bills. He offered the promise of opportunities — a better life.

He also abused all the children.

They told no one. They were afraid of not being believed and of losing what little they had, said one son, Terrence Sample. And nobody asked, until a lawyer investigating alleged abuses by the same priest prompted him to break his then 33-year silence.

“Somebody had to make the effort,” Sample said. “Why wasn’t it the church?”

Even as it has pledged to go after predators in its ranks and provide support to those harmed by clergy, the church has done little to identify and reach sexual abuse victims. For survivors of color, who often face additional social and cultural barriers to coming forward on their own, the lack of concerted outreach on behalf of the church means less public exposure — and potentially, more opportunities for abuse to go on, undetected.

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Ballarat survivor memorial momentum builds

BALLARAT (AUSTRALIA)
The Courier

January 5, 2020

By Alex Ford

Since before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, survivors and their supporters have called for a public, permanent acknowledgement and memorial to the people affected in Ballarat.

Several efforts have been made, and have stalled – it’s a complex issue, as while some survivors of clerical abuse want a prominent memorial, for others, it would bring back too many awful memories.

The colourful Loud Fence ribbons attached to many Ballarat institutions across town – from fire stations to primary schools to St Patrick’s Cathedral – remember the people affected by the abuse, including people who have since died.

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Clergy abuse survivors closer to compensation

NEW ULM (MN)
Marshall Independent

Jan. 3, 2020

By Clay Schuldt

Survivors from the clergy sexual abuse are a step closer to receiving compensation from the New Ulm Diocese.

On Dec. 20, the U.S. bankruptcy court approved the disclosure statement and joint Chapter 11 plan of reorganization filed by the Diocese of New Ulm and the Committee of Unsecured Creditors.

The reorganization plan provides the means for settling and paying all claims against the diocese related to sexual abuse and misconduct by establishing a trust.

This trust will be funded by contributions from the diocese, parishes and settling insurers. The trustee will liquidate the trust assets and fairly distribute the proceeds to the survivors.

In May 2013, the Minnesota Legislature enacted the Minnesota Child Victims’ Act (CVA). CVA altered, expanded and eliminated certain statutes of limitation to civil cases involving sexual abuse. The CVA allowed victims who were sexually abused when they were younger than 18 to bring a civil lawsuit for damages regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

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In ‘Broken Silence,’ a composer brings a note of hope to the church’s sex abuse crisis

NEW YORK (NY)
America Magazine

Jan. 3, 2020

By Maggi Van Dorn

Craig Shepard and I have something in common: We have been laboring with the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church and have made it the focal point of our creative work. Craig since 2014, me since 2018. He’s a composer, I’m a podcast producer. I first heard about Mr. Shepard’s musical meditation “Broken Silence” in the oppressive heat of August, but now, on a cold, dark and blustery afternoon in December, we finally meet in a coffee shop in Brooklyn to discuss this project, five years in the making.

“Broken Silence” is a 75-minute musical contemplation that “support[s] listeners to engage with text drawn from court testimony connected with the ongoing scandal in the Catholic Church.” More specifically, the steel-string acoustic guitar and saxophone ensemble is composed around Margaret Gallant’s 1982 letter to Cardinal Humberto Medeiros.

“Broken Silence” is a 75-minute musical contemplation on a infamous letter directed at Catholic leaders in Boston for failing to take action against Father John Geoghan.
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In that four-page, handwritten letter, we hear Ms. Gallant reprimanding the cardinal for failing to take action against Father John Geoghan, the priest who molested seven boys in Ms. Gallant’s extended family and, as The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team later uncovered, 150 children in total.

The letter is galvanizing; I remember it well from my own research. Ms. Gallant writes as a devout Catholic, struggling to balance her love for the church with the personal agony her family has experienced and an obligation to protect other children. Even of the molesting priest himself, she writes: “Truly, my heart aches for him and I pray for him, because I know this must tear him apart too; but I cannot allow my compassion for him to cloud my judgment on acting for the people of God, and the children in the church.”

The sense of betrayal, anger and heartbreak in this letter is palpable. And the problems Ms. Gallant underscores remain with us today: the damage of remaining silent, the failure of some church leadership to take clear and decisive action, the persistence of clericalism and the need for co-responsibility in the church.

Ms. Gallant’s letter has been used in investigative reporting and court testimonies, but it is also written with the moral force of St. Catherine of Siena or St. Thomas More, rebuking those in power for “sitting on their fannies” and admonishing them to protect the Mystical Body of Christ.

Now Mr. Shepard presents the letter as a sacred text for us to contemplate: “The text on its own is gorgeous. I think it’s an inspired text.”

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Amid clergy abuse, survivors of color remain in shadows

CHICAGO (IL)
Associated Press

Jan. 4, 2020

By Gary Fields, Juliet Linderman and Wong Maye-E

The Samples were a black Chicago family, with six children and few resources. The priest helped them with tuition, clothes, bills. He offered the promise of opportunities — a better life.

He also abused all the children.

They told no one. They were afraid of not being believed and of losing what little they had, said one son, Terrence Sample. And nobody asked until a lawyer investigating alleged abuses by the same priest prompted him to break his then 33-year silence.

“Somebody had to make the effort,” Sample said. “Why wasn’t it the church?”

Even as it has pledged to go after predators in its ranks and provide support to those harmed by clergy, the church has done little to identify and reach sexual abuse victims. For survivors of color, who often face additional social and cultural barriers to coming forward on their own, the lack of concerted outreach on behalf of the church means less public exposure — and potentially, more opportunities for abuse to go on, undetected.

Of 88 dioceses that responded to an Associated Press inquiry, seven knew the ethnicities of victims. While it was clear at least three had records of some sort, only one stated it purposely collected such data as part of the reporting process. Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders and Hawaiians make up nearly 46% of the faithful in the U.S., according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, an authoritative source of Catholic-related data. But the Catholic Church has made almost no effort to track the victims among them.

“The church has to come into the shadows, into the trenches to find the people who were victimized, especially the people of color,” Sample said. “There are other people like me and my family, who won’t come forward unless someone comes to them.”

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Former St. Viator Coach Arrested, SNAP Calls for Outreach

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Jan. 3, 2020

Charges are now pending against a former coach at a Chicagoland Catholic school, and we are calling on church officials from the Archdiocese of Chicago to spread this news among their parishioners and to do outreach to other potential victims, witnesses, and whistle-blowers.

Joe Majkowski was arrested on Dec. 27 regarding allegations made in May that he sexually abused a minor. The coach is also accused of sending inappropriate messages to four 15 year old students.

While we have no firsthand information about this case, studies have shown that false allegations of child sexual abuse are extremely rare. Cardinal Blase Cupich and school officials at St. Viator in Arlington Heights should now make every effort to seek other victims and widely publicize these accusations. Additionally, steps should be taken to fully vet Majkowski’s work history and ensure that parents and alumni at every school where he worked are informed of this charge.

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January 3, 2020

More Accusations of Clergy Sex Abuse and Cover-up After 2 More CVA Lawsuits Filed

BUFFALO (NY)
Spectrum News

January 2, 2020

By Mark Goshgarian

Clergy abuse survivor and advocate turned investigator James Faluszczak and Niagara Falls attorney Paul Barr filed two Child Victims Act lawsuits Thursday.

“Two separate clients, two separate instances of abuse,” said Faluszczak.

The first suit against the Diocese of Buffalo alleges the late Father Gerard Smyczynski abused their client in the early ‘80s.

It states now-former auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, Donald Trautman, covered up the abuse, paid off the victim, and expedited an annulment for his parents.

“Bishop Trautman never called the police. He never called the district attorney. As a result, this priest was permitted to go on and abuse at least another child,” said Barr.

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Tennessee Catholic diocese settles priest abuse lawsuit

KNOXVILLE (TN)
Associated Press

January 2, 2020

A Catholic Diocese in Tennessee has settled a lawsuit out of court with a man who alleged two priests sexually abused him as a child.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed by the Knoxville diocese on Tuesday, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

While admitting no wrongdoing, “the diocese also recognizes that further pursuing this matter through the legal system would be time-consuming, costly, and detrimental to its mission of service,” diocese spokesman Jim Wogan said in a statement.

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Former Bishop Trautman, Erie Diocese Named in Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Accused of Maintaining a Coverup

ERIE (PA)
Erie News Now

January 2, 2020

Bishop Trautman allegedly knew about the abuse, and the Buffalo Diocese is accused of paying a small sum of money in a legal settlement and fast-tracking an annulment to keep it under wraps.

A clergy sex abuse survivor who testified before a Pennsylvania grand jury and attorney who is an abuse survivor announced the Diocese of Erie and former Bishop Donald Trautman are being sued in a child sex abuse case in New York.

James Faluszczak, abuse survivor, former priest and whistleblower before the 40th Pennsylvania Grand Jury, and Paul Barr who has represented injured victims on the Niagara Frontier and is an abuse survivor himself, detailed the case Thursday morning in front of St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo.

Father Gerard Smyczynski reportedly abused a child in 1980s while Bishop Trautman was Vicar General of the Buffalo Diocese.

Bishop Trautman allegedly knew about the abuse, and the Buffalo Diocese is accused of paying a small sum of money in a legal settlement and fast-tracking an annulment to keep it under wraps.

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Man alleging abuse by clergy at San Jose’s Bellarmine Prep files lawsuit under new law

SAN JOSE (CA)
KRON4

January 1, 2020

By Rob Fladeboe

“It’s time because we’re coming at you. We’re coming at you with the survivors and their truth. We’re armed not just with the law, but with their truth.”

Attorneys for a man who claims he was sexually abused by a member of the clergy at San Jose’s Bellarmine Prep have filed a lawsuit against the school.

The lawsuit is the first of an expected wave of legal action made possible by a new state law.

“We’re talking about three decades of this guy being allowed to be in and around kids and in schools as a teacher, as a coach, under the supervision of the Catholic bishops,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents the plaintiff.

Anderson pointed the finger at a picture of Brother William Farrington at a news conference Wednesday announcing a lawsuit against Farrington’s former employer, Bellarmine Prep School and the Diocese of San Jose.

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Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse at San Jose Bellarmine College Preparatory

SAN JOSE (CA)
NBC

January 1, 2020

By Marianne Favro

A San Jose man claims he was sexually assaulted as a teenager by Jesuit Brother William Farrington while attending Bellarmine College Preparatory in the 1960s.

The alleged victim is now pursuing a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of San Jose and Bellarmine. He is able to pursue legal action decades later because of a new California law.

“The law says no matter how long ago the abuse happened you can come forward today with civil action and expose the offender, expose the institution that concealed the abuse and hold them accountable,” Attorney Jeff Anderson said.

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Motivated by #MeToo? Vetting jurors in Weinstein case will be a challenge, experts say

NEW YORK (NY)
Reuters

January 2, 2020

By Gabriella Borter

As former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein goes to trial on rape charges next week in Manhattan, lawyers will need to keep an eye out for jurors who want to use the case to make a statement about sexual abuse following the rise of the #MeToo movement, legal experts said.

Once one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting two women in New York, one in 2006 and the other in 2013.

In all, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct dating back decades.

Those accusations helped fuel the #MeToo movement, in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, politics, the news media and entertainment of sexual harassment or assault. Weinstein has denied the allegations and said any sexual encounters were consensual.

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PHOTOS: #MenToo: The hidden tragedy of male sexual abuse in the military

UNITED STATES
Yahoo News

December 31, 2019

Award-winning photojournalist Mary F. Calvert has spent six years documenting the prevalence of rape in the military and the effects on victims. She began with a focus on female victims but more recently has examined the underreported incidence of sexual assaults on men and the lifelong trauma it can inflict.

_____

Last March, Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a retired Air Force combat pilot, disclosed that she had been the victim of multiple sexual assaults by fellow officers, putting the issue of sexual assault in the military on the national agenda. Two months later, a required biannual Department of Defense report found that sexual assault within the ranks had increased by 38 percent over two years. Much less attention has been given to the problem of sexual assault against men in uniform. The report estimated that “20,500 Service members, representing about 13,000 women and 7,500 men, experienced some kind of contact or penetrative sexual assault in 2018, up from approximately 14,900 in 2016.”

Although the military has made efforts to encourage victims to come forward, most assaults are still not reported, and victims who do make reports sometimes still face retaliation. Although men are less likely to be victimized than women, the stigma and psychological trauma can be equally devastating. A DOD report released on Nov. 5 determined that military sexual assault might be more likely to cause PTSD than combat.

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The Catholic rosary got a digital upgrade — but it’s a mixed blessing

VATICAN CITY
NBC News

December 31, 2019

By Melanie Ehrenkranz

Members of the Catholic Church who spoke to NBC News acknowledged that while not the most traditional offering, it did provide a new way for people to connect with God.

At the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in New Jersey, there’s a continuing conversation around technology, life and religion. Sister Mary Catharine hears a lot about it, particularly from younger women who join the fold.

“I think the biggest change was smartphones, because most of us don’t need to have one, and we don’t live off of it,” she said. “Meanwhile, the rest of the world does.”

But even those younger, more smartphone-friendly sisters were puzzled by the Vatican’s newest effort to engage people: a rosary that can be paired with a smartphone to track everything from prayers offered to steps taken.

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Lawsuit alleges sexual abuse at Catholic church in Hemet

SAN BERNARDINO (CA)
Orange County Register

December 30, 2019

By Sean Emery

A former altar server and youth group member has filed a lawsuit alleging he was abused while underage at a Catholic church in Hemet, marking the latest civil case to be filed on the eve of a new state law that gives alleged victims of childhood sexual assault more time to come forward.

In a lawsuit filed last week in San Bernardino Superior Court, attorneys with the Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm allege that their client, during his early teens, was sexually abused over a period of several years in the early 1990s by former Fr. Louis G. Perreault.

The law firm, which specializes in representing childhood abuse survivors, late last week announced similar lawsuits alleging abuse and systematic cover-ups at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana and St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge.

The lawsuits were made possible by Assembly Bill 218, which extends the time that victims of childhood sexual abuse can sue, and provides those for whom the previous statute of limitations had run out a three year window to bring claims.

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Lawsuit: Famed Jesuit abused boy 1,000 times around world

CHICAGO (IL)
Associated Press

December 30, 2019

By Michael Rezendes

A globe-trotting Jesuit priest with ties to Mother Teresa sexually abused an American boy “more than 1,000 times, in multiple states and countries,” a lawsuit filed Monday in California state court in San Francisco alleges.

In the lawsuit and in interviews with The Associated Press, Robert J. Goldberg, now 61, describes years of psychological control and sexual abuse he suffered from age 11 into adulthood while working as a valet for the late Rev. Donald J. McGuire.

McGuire died in federal prison in 2017 while serving a 25-year sentence for molesting other boys who came under his sway.

Goldberg says he remained in the Jesuit’s thrall for nearly 40 years, even volunteering to testify in McGuire’s defense during criminal trials in Wisconsin and Illinois.

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As window for sex-abuse lawsuits opens, alleged victims begin filing against Catholic Church and Boy Scouts

SAN DIEGO (CA)
Los Angeles Times

January 2, 2020

By Greg Moran

Half a dozen lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego accusing now-deceased clergy of sexually abusing 20 men and women decades ago were filed in Superior Court on Thursday, one day after a new state law lifting the legal time limit on when such lawsuits can be filed went into effect.

The lawsuits are the first of what will likely become a swarm of legal action in the coming months against churches and other institutions such as the Boy Scouts of America over long-ago sexual abuse of minors. Irwin Zalkin, the San Diego lawyer who filed the six lawsuits Thursday, said at a news conference that he plans to file another 60 cases over the next several months against the diocese.

“This is only the beginning,” said Zalkin, the lawyer who spearheaded a $198-million settlement of sexual abuse claims against the diocese in 2007. Those lawsuits, filed under a previous state law that opened a one-year window for claims against institutions for abuse that had occurred years earlier, drove the diocese to declare bankruptcy.

The new wave of litigation is made possible by AB 218, sponsored by San Diego Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. The law expands the maximum age at which someone can bring a claim for sexual abuse from 26 years old to 40. It also opened a three-year window for those of any age to revive past claims that may have been prohibited from being filed as lawsuits because the legal time limit to bring such claims, known as the statute of limitations, had run out.

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Pope Francis Struggles to Escape Scandals of 2019

ROME (ITALY)
Wall Street Journal

January 3, 2020

By Francis X. Rocca

Pope Francis ended 2019 in embarrassment when he angrily slapped the hand of a woman who had pulled on his own while he was greeting pilgrims on New Year’s Eve. He began 2020 with a public apology for losing his patience and setting a “bad example.”

It was a fitting coda to a year in which the pope addressed one scandal—the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse crisis—only to become embroiled in another, over the Vatican’s murky finances.

Pope Francis entered last year near the low point of his pontificate. In 2018, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston chided him for insensitivity to sex-abuse victims, the pope admitted to “grave errors” in handling clerical sex abuse in Chile, and his former envoy to the U.S. accused him of ignoring sexual misconduct by then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington. The year 2018 ended with an Australian court convicting the pope’s finance chief, Cardinal George Pell, of sexual abuse of children.

During 2019, Pope Francis responded by rolling out high-profile initiatives on combating sexual abuse, beginning with the defrocking of Cardinal McCarrick, the first cardinal to receive such a punishment in modern times.

Over succeeding months, the pope convened a global summit on sex abuse, tightened the laws against abuse within Vatican City State and unveiled new legislation making it easier to discipline bishops who abuse or cover up abuse. In December, he relaxed the secrecy rules for church documents relating to abuse, which advocates for victims said could make it easier for church officials to cooperate with police and prosecutors.

The new rules for bishops and the lifting of the so-called pontifical secret were “very good moves toward greater accountability and transparency, but it’s the application that matters,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, senior analyst for Religion News Service and author of “Inside the Vatican.”

“The church has thousands of bishops all over the world,” who will require vigilance “to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do,” he said.

Some important issues regarding sex abuse remain unresolved.

The Vatican still hasn’t released a long-promised report explaining how Mr. McCarrick rose to power despite widespread rumors of his misconduct going back years. Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a longtime protégé of Pope Francis, is facing charges of sexual harassment in their native Argentina. He denies the charges. And if Australia’s high court declines to overturn Cardinal Pell’s conviction on his final appeal—after he has already begun serving a six-year sentence—the pope will have to decide whether to discipline a prelate who was one of his most important aides.

Meanwhile, a new shadow has fallen over the pope, who was elected in 2013 with a mandate to overhaul the Vatican’s finances and administration.

“We are seeing the practically complete failure of the attempts at cleansing, reform and transparency with regard to Vatican finances,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert who writes for Italy’s L’Espresso magazine. Last year “brought the fall of the myth of Francis as the purifying pope.”

The Wall Street Journal revealed in September a gaping budget deficit at the Holy See. The pope had instructed Vatican officials to address the deficit as an urgent problem that imperiled the future of the Holy See, which consists of the Catholic Church’s central administration and the papal diplomatic network abroad.

The Journal also revealed in December that the bulk of the pope’s world-wide annual charity collection wasn’t going to the poor but being used to plug the Vatican’s budget deficit.

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Impending bishop appointments set to put a stamp on US church in 2020

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Reporter

January 3, 2020

By Michael Sean Winters

What should we be looking for in the life of the church in 2020? What issues and personalities will likely change the trajectory of ecclesial history?

In December, Pope Francis named Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle to become prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, historically known as the “red pope.” He will be responsible for creating the ternas from which the pope will select bishops for missionary dioceses.

I am told that this appointment was the first of several and we can expect a new prefect at the Congregation for Bishops sooner rather than later as the incumbent, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, has asked to be replaced. Ouellet’s congregation has often dragged its heels, frustrating the appointment of more pastoral prelates, and a new, dynamic leader might shake things up.

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January 2, 2020

Buffalo lawsuit claims Erie’s Trautman covered up abuse

BUFFALO (NY)
GoErie.com

January 2, 2020

By Ed Palattella

Suit cites Trautman’s tenure as official in Catholic Diocese of Buffalo but also names Erie diocese, which he later led.

Retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit that claims he covered up clergy sexual abuse when he was auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, a post he held before he was named head of the Erie diocese in 1990.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Erie County Supreme Court in Buffalo, New York, claims the abuse occurred in the Diocese of Buffalo in the mid-1980s and not in the Catholic Diocese of Erie.

But an amended version of the suit, filed on Thursday, adds the Catholic Diocese of Erie as a defendant, claiming that Trautman continued to cover up abuse allegations while he was bishop of the Erie diocese through his retirement in 2012.

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North Dakota dioceses release list of accused clergy members

FARGO (ND)
Associated Press

January 2, 2020

By Dave Kolpack

North Dakota’s Roman Catholic dioceses on Thursday released a list of 53 clergy members who have had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

Bishop John Folda of the Fargo Diocese said in a statement that the list is the result of a “thorough review” of files dating back to 1950. Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck said there have been no substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor that have occurred after 1989.

The list includes 31 people in the Fargo Diocese and 22 in Bismarck. Some of them were not ordained in North Dakota but served in the state at some point.

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Longtime St. John the Baptist pastor accused of abusing teen in ’70s

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

January 2, 2020

By Barbara O’Brien and Lou Michel

A new lawsuit alleges that a retired Buffalo priest and pastor at two parishes abused a 15-year-old parishioner at Holy Cross Catholic Church on the Lower West Side in the early 1970s.

The Rev. Richard Reina and the Buffalo Catholic Diocese are named as defendants in the suit, which was filed Thursday under the Child Victims Act.

“When I was approximately 15 years old, approximately 1972, Richard Reina (Fr. Reina) abused me on the premises of Holy Cross Church. The sexual abuse included inappropriate touching,” the unnamed plaintiff said in court papers.

Reina denied the allegations in a telephone interview with The Buffalo News on Thursday morning and said he has contacted an attorney to defend him.

“The first I’ve heard of it was this morning. I positively, absolutely deny any and all charges,” Reina said. “This person maybe was molested by someone and I feel sorry for the person, but it wasn’t me.”

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First lawsuit filed against Diocese of Fresno under new law

FRESNO (CA)
Fox26 TV

January 2, 2020

[VIDEO]

The first lawsuit has been filed against the Diocese of Fresno under the new Child Victims Act (AB 218).

A lawsuit has been filed against Fr. Anthony Moreno alleging child sexual abuse.

The Diocese of Fresno and St. Philip the Apostle in Bakersfield are both named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the diocese refuses to release a promised list of accused clergy while attempting to settle cases without notifying the public.

Jeff Anderson & Associates is representing Toni Moreland, the plaintiff, who says she was sexually abused by Moreno in approximately 1979-1980 at St. Philip the Apostle in Bakersfield.

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San Diego law firm to file multiple lawsuits against Catholic dioceses across California

SAN DIEGO (CA)
Channel 8, CBS-TV affiliate

January 2, 2020

The lawsuits allege that six priests sexually abused the victims while they were serving as altar boys or during other church activities.

A local law firm is expected to announce the filing of over 100 new sexual abuse lawsuits against the San Diego Catholic Diocese and other California Dioceses on Thursday.

One of the lawsuits will be filed on behalf of four men who claim they were sexually abused by Father Anthony Rodrigue. Rodrigue was assigned to 10 parishes across San Diego, Imperial, San Bernadino and Riverside Counties over his 29-year career. During that time, attorney Irwin Zalkin said Rodrigue molested more than 150 boys and was routinely moved from one parish to another without punishment from church officials.

Following his removal from the priesthood, Rodrigue pleaded guilty in 1998 to molesting an 11-year-old developmentally disabled boy and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Rodrigue died in 2009.

The lawsuit alleges that despite numerous complaints against him, Father Rodrigue was shuffled around parishes instead of being turned in to authorities.

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Advocates of new R.I. child sex-abuse law defend their work after Roman Catholic Diocese calls it unconstitutional

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Providence Journal

Jan. 2, 2020

By Brian Amaral

The lawmakers and advocates behind a new state law giving people more time to sue over child sexual abuse, even though time had run out under the old law, are defending their efforts after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence described the effort in legal papers as unconstitutional.

“Why would a court essentially want to give defendants a get out of jail free card when thousands of helpless victims would lose?” said state Sen. Donna Nesselbush, a Pawtucket Democrat who pushed for the legislation.

The diocese’s legal position came in response to a lawsuit filed by a Florida man who said he was abused while a child in Rhode Island. Philip Edwardo, 53, sued Bishop Thomas Tobin, former Bishop Louis Gelineau, the diocese and a North Providence parish over his abuse at the hands of the Rev. Philip Magaldi. Magaldi is now dead, but the diocese itself is to blame for enabling and abetting his abuser, Edwardo argued.

Edwardo sued after the General Assembly passed a law this summer extending the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits to 35 years after a victim’s 18th birthday.

For lawsuits against “perpetrators,” the law said victims still had until 35 years after their 18th birthday, even if the statute had already run out under the older versions of the law. But the new, longer statute of limitations doesn’t apply for suits based on conduct that “caused or contributed to” child sexual abuse if the statute had already expired under the old law. Those would stay expired.

Much of the legal wrangling that will follow in the next few months, and perhaps years, is about whether the church can be held liable as a “perpetrator.” The diocese, in a widely anticipated move, argued that it could not. The perpetrator was the person who actually engaged in the abuse, not an institution accused of concealing it, the diocese said.

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The Rochester diocese’s unique case

ROCHESTER (NY)
Rochester Beacon

Jan. 2, 2020

By Will Astor

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester’s bankruptcy—the 20th diocesan Chapter 11 to be filed in the United States—is unlike its predecessors, parties in the case say.

Where the previous U.S. church settlements came only after protracted battles, the Rochester case could shape up differently, Ilan Scharf, attorney for the Creditors Committee, said during a November court hearing.

A bankruptcy lawyer with Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl & Jones LLP in New York City, Scharf has represented abuse survivors as a creditors committee attorney in Chapter 11s filed by the North American branch of the Ireland-based Christian Brothers Catholic teaching order and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings in Montana.

“This case is unique,” Scharf said to the court in November. “It was not filed after years of litigation. The difference is the (Child Victims Act).”

Opening a floodgate

Signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February, the CVA has unleashed a torrent of sex-abuse claims, many aimed at the Catholic church.

The act temporarily lifts a statute of limitations that would have barred most of the roughly 1,000 sex-abuse claims the Rochester Diocese believes it will see this year. The statute of limitations previously required individuals claiming to have been sexually abused as children to file claims by their 23rd birthday. When the CVA kicked in last August, it raised the upper age limit to 55. The new limit remains in effect for one year.

Speaking at an October meeting with the diocese’s creditors, a group overwhelmingly made up of abuse survivors, Bishop Salvatore Matano explained the Rochester diocese’s decision to ask for court protection as driven by “the number of claims that have come forward and our resources to satisfy those claims.” The costs of adjudicating those claims in state court would exhaust the diocese’s resources, leaving virtually no funds to compensate the survivors, he said.

In an earlier court filing that month, made some three weeks into the case, the diocese tallied its CVA-claim debt at $22 million and estimated that additional claims totaling $90 million would be submitted. The filing states the diocese’s assets including real estate and legally restricted donations at $67.95 million.

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The McCarrick report – and other things to expect in 2020

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald

Jan. 2, 2020

By Christopher Altieri

As the year 2020 opens, the Church appears to have entered into the slogging phase of its leadership crisis. Part of that is due to what one might call “scandal fatigue” – the sense that no wickedness, incompetence or rot has the power to surprise once discovered. It is also partly due to the nature of protracted crises, which periodically flare up or explode in scandal and then fall into a gruesome routine.

Here are three things likely to happen in 2020, followed by three that could happen – by “could” I mean something in between “possible” and “likely as not”.

Things that are likely to happen in 2020:

1) The Vatican will release its report on former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. It will be brief. Rumours put it at about 250 pages, which is light for a dossier supposed to be an exhaustive treatment of the Vatican’s engagement with a churchman who had a 60-year career, especially when the report is produced by an organisation that writes everything down and never throws anything away.

The report is likely to make things worse for the Vatican, at least in the short term.

It will answer some questions, keep the commentariat talking and give reporters solid leads. But it will not add to the picture of the last six decades as much as (or in the ways) people expect.

2) There will be more bad news on both the financial and abuse cover-up fronts.

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. There is little hope that the higher-ups in the Vatican will either experience a change of heart or learn good crisis communications practice, so expect news of this sort to come piecemeal. Some things that are very big deals will make very little noise (given our crisis fatigue), and others of relatively minor scale will generate a good deal of noise, especially if they contain all three elements of the scandal trifecta: sex, money and power.

3) Francis will promulgate the new apostolic constitution reforming the Roman Curia.

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Lawsuit: Buffalo diocese official fast-tracked annulment to cover priest’s abuse

BUFFALO {NY)
Buffalo News

January 2, 2020

By Jay Tokasz and Barbara O’Brien

An unnamed plaintiff alleged in a lawsuit that a former Buffalo Diocese administrator, who later became bishop of the Erie Diocese, fast-tracked an annulment in the 1980s to make sure that a family kept quiet about a priest’s abuse.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday claimed that the Rev. Donald W. Trautman, during his time as chancellor and vicar general of the Buffalo Diocese, expedited an annulment for a member of the plaintiff’s family “with the hope of ensuring their silence about the abuses perpetrated by Fr. Smyczynski and covering up those abuses.”

Catholic Church doctrine stipulates that divorced Catholics must receive an annulment, or “declaration of nullity,” if they want to remarry and continue to receive Communion, a central practice of the faith. But applying for an annulment was an often intimidating, mysterious and slow church court process.

The plaintiff said the Rev. Gerard A. Smyczynski abused him multiple times when he was a 10-year-old student and altar boy at Infant of Prague Church and school in Cheektowaga in the mid-1980s. The alleged abuse lasted about a year, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by Danielle George of Phillips & Paolicelli law firm in New York City and Paul K. Barr of Fanizzi & Barr in Niagara Falls.

Trautman, 83, was second-in-command of the Buffalo Diocese for several years under Bishop Edward D. Head, until he was installed as bishop of the Erie Diocese in 1990. He retired in 2012.

He did not respond to an email seeking his response to the allegations in the lawsuit.

Trautman told The News last June that he didn’t cover up any sexual abuse when he was chancellor in the Buffalo Diocese.

Trautman also has disputed a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report that criticized him for allowing Erie priests who had been accused of abuse to continue in the priesthood.

The plaintiff still lives in Erie County and is now 45. Smyczynski died in 1999.

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Clergy Abuse Survivor, Attorney to Detail Allegations of a Coverup by Former Erie Bishop Trautman

ERIE (PA)
Erie News Now

Jan. 2, 2020

James Faluszczak, abuse survivor, former priest and whistleblower before the 40th Pennsylvania Grand Jury, and Paul Barr who has represented injured victims on the Niagara Frontier and is an abuse survivor himself, will address the two new court filings at 11:30 a.m. in front of St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo.

They will detail allegations of coverup by defendant Bishop Donald Trautman, former Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo and now retired Erie Bishop, who they said maintained the coverup from the Erie Diocese. Faluszczak and Barr will also identify active Buffalo priest Fr. Richard Reina as an alleged abuser for the first time.

When the Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop Richard Malone published an incomplete list of abuser priests in March 2018, they left out the timing and nature of alleged abuse, preventing the community from knowing about Fr. Gerard Smyczynski’s propensity to abuse children, according to Faluszczak and Barr.

Bishop Donald Trautman is alleged for have concealed this information by two specific actions in his capacity as Vicar General of the Buffalo Diocese, causing harm to an innocent child. They say it established a pattern of coverup that Trautman carried across state lines when he later became Bishop of Erie.

Reina is alleged to have sexually abused a minor child while he was a priest at Holy Cross Church in Buffalo. Reina then spend multiple years forming future priests in seminary work and is presently serving Christ the King Church in Snyder, NY.

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Perspective: The promise and peril of the Catholic Church

UNITED STATES
The Washington Post

January 2, 2020

By William Schultz

The conflict between obedience and hierarchy and social justice.

James Fulton Engstrom was delivered stillborn on Sept. 16, 2010. Sixty-one minutes later, his heartbeat resumed. His mother credited his recovery to prayers she said to Fulton Sheen, the Roman Catholic bishop who today is best remembered as the host of the 1950s television program “Life Is Worth Living.” Investigators from the Vatican concluded that the recovery was a miracle, placing Sheen one step closer to sainthood.

Media coverage of Sheen’s beatification has focused on his television career — not surprising, given “Life Is Worth Living” attracted tens of millions of viewers and made Sheen as recognizable a television personality as Ed Sullivan. The show symbolized the hopes of the American Catholic Church in the 1950s: It seemed proof one could engage in the modern world while remaining authentically Catholic.

Recently, however, the Vatican took the unusual step of delaying Sheen’s beatification (originally scheduled for Dec. 21) as officials investigate a once-forgotten chapter of Sheen’s life: his three years as bishop of Rochester, N.Y. Officials are focused on the assignment of priests in Rochester during Sheen’s tenure, an investigation tied to the ongoing issue of priestly sexual abuse.

What role, if any, Sheen played in the assignment of sexually abusive priests remains unclear. But Sheen’s time in Rochester is worth examining for reasons that go beyond the crisis of sexual abuse. His tumultuous career as Rochester’s bishop reveals how the Catholic Church’s attempt to reconcile social justice with a commitment to authority and hierarchy has at times led to disaster.

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The ironic moral career of Cardinal Law

DUBLIN (IRELAND)
The Irish Catholic

January 2, 2020

State Papers: Echoes of the past from the archives

The annual release of files often reveal historical ironies in the private papers of the state that how perspectives on events and individuals in public life change constantly.

In the summer of 1989 Cardinal Bernard Law made a pilgrimage to Ireland to visit the shrines at Knock with a party of 100 from Boston. Though that was their main objective, the Cardinal also took the opportunity to visit the North with Dr Cathal Daly, then still Bishop of Down and Connor to guide him and to gain his own impressions of what was happening there from a nationalist point of view.

Bishop Daly had famously declared in the context of Irish affairs that “evil must be rejected totally and unequivocally. There must be no ambivalence, no double standards, no selective indignation.”

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