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 2, 2020

Code of silence reigns amid scandals, misbehavior at all-boys Catholic schools

DETROIT (MI)
Detroit Free Press

January 2, 2020

By Tresa Baldas

When word got out that a football player at De La Salle High School was sexually hazed in the locker room, about a dozen athletes clammed up, including the victim, who police said doesn’t want charges.

The same thing happened after a brawl broke out in December between students from Birmingham Brother Rice and Catholic Central: The case has gone nowhere because one victim doesn’t want charges, police said, and no one else is talking.

Students at U-D Jesuit in Detroit were equally quiet in 2014 after a former teacher was charged with videotaping hockey players changing in a locker room. Students vented privately but refused to speak publicly.

This is the culture of silence that for years has reigned at metro Detroit’s all-boys Catholic schools, where scandals involving misbehavior of all sorts put students, alumni and families on high alert as many are all too aware that reputation rules the day — and sports is king.

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 1, 2020

RNS reporters look ahead at 2020

WASHINGTON (DC)
Religion News Service

Jan. 1, 2020

The past year on the religion beat began with a prayer meeting and weeklong retreat by U.S. Catholic bishops, hoping that by fasting and prayer they might find a way forward in response to the ongoing abuse scandal in the church. It ended with a pair of attacks on faith groups: five people stabbed while attending a Hanukkah party and three people killed during a church service in Texas.

In between were moments of grief and scandal, hope and resilience.

As we enter the new year, we asked Religion News Service’s reporters to give us a glimpse into the stories they’ll be following in 2020.

Adelle M. Banks
Southern Baptists have started the journey of addressing sexual abuse within their ranks but they have a long way to go. They focused on the issue and held a time of prayer and lament at their 2019 annual meeting and have offered new resources. It will be worth watching to see what happens next, including how a new committee handles accusations of abuse against local churches and what role a new president, who will be elected in June, will play in the denomination’s next steps.

African American voters of faith are bound to have an influence on the coming election year. Many may be in Joe Biden’s corner and few seem to support Pete Buttegieg. How will this group, which has organized “Souls to the Polls” events in past elections, work toward Election Day 2020? Will they be successful in achieving voter turnout?

Religious freedom issues will remain a focus of the Trump administration. What shape its actions take in the next year and how much difference the administration makes in reducing religious oppression across the globe remains to be seen.

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 Tale of Two Cardinals — One Past, One Present

DENVER (CO)
National Catholic Register

Jan. 1, 2020

By Father Raymond J. de Souza

At year-end, two cardinals were confined to quarters, unable to celebrate Holy Mass. The stories of Cardinal George Pell and now Mr. Theodore McCarrick are the dominant Catholic news stories of 2019, at least in the English-speaking world, but with universal implications.

Cardinal Pell is incarcerated in a Melbourne jail, having been sentenced in March to a six-year term after being convicted of sexual assaults in the Melbourne cathedral in 1996. His appeal at Australia’s highest court will be heard in March 2020.

Cardinal McCarrick was laicized in February after being found guilty in a Church trial of sexual abuse of minors, abuse of power and solicitation in the sacrament of confession. He lives in seclusion in a Kansas friary with no public contact. No longer a cleric, McCarrick cannot celebrate Mass or exercise any priestly ministry.

Both situations are astonishing, both in their own ways unprecedented. And both raise questions about the course of justice, both civil and canonical, and how the two coincide, or come into conflict.

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.

Archdiocese plugs budget hole as revenue gains, land sales add to coffers and stave off default

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Times Picayune

Jan. 1, 2020

By Jerry DiColo

The Archdiocese of New Orleans has plugged a multimillion-dollar hole in its budget through land sales, a jump in fee revenue for church services and higher payments from parishes, even as sexual abuse claims and other costs continue to weigh on its financial outlook.

The local Catholic church, which had an operating deficit of more than $14 million for 2018, shrank the deficit to under $1 million in its 2019 fiscal year, which ended in June, according to financial documents filed last week. It was the smallest operating deficit since 2011.

Investment income from its endowment fund provided a boost that helped the archdiocese finish the year with $78.8 million in net assets, up $3.4 million from 2018.

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.

Vulnerability as strength: Keenan’s key to dismantling clericalism

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Reporter

December 31, 2019

By Tom Roberts

Jesuit Fr. James Keenan really wants to turn the whole deal on its head. The highly regarded theologian, taking in the endless discussion of the priest sex abuse crisis, had one of those moments of recognition — of seeing the thing right in front of us that everyone else has been looking past in search of answers.

And here’s what I perceive to be the bottom line, the ultimate question he raises out of that awareness: “Is the God we worship vulnerable?”

If that is the case, and he believes so, then he asks: “Why couldn’t we develop an ecclesiology based on the risk-taking vulnerability of God?”

If that were to happen, we’d have a church that would look and act quite differently from the one we know today. Imagine the seminary recruitment brochure that highlighted vulnerability as a quality the institution treasured and hoped to develop in the men who applied.

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 priest with ties to McDowell is on church’s list of abusers

McDOWELL (NC)
McDowell News

December 30, 2019

A former Catholic priest with ties to Marion and Morganton in the 1980s was credibly accused of abuse in Ohio, according to a review by the Diocese of Charlotte, which looked at decades of records.

In October of 2018, Richard C. Evrit was named on the Diocese of Youngstown (Ohio) list of clergy for credible allegations of sexual abuse from the early 1970s in that state.

Evrit served in the Diocese of Charlotte in the late 1980s until his home diocese placed him on indefinite medical leave in 1989. No local allegations of abuse were documented here, the diocese 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.

Appeals court lowers bond for Strongsville priest accused of possessing child pornography

CLEVELAND (OH)
Cleveland.com

December 31, 2019

By Cory Shaffer

An appeals court on Tuesday reduced the bond for a Strongsville Catholic priest accused of sending and receiving child pornography.

A three-judge panel at the 8th District Court of Appeals unanimously agreed to grant the Rev. Robert McWilliams’ writ of habeas corpus and lowered his bond to 10 percent of $50,000.

The decision by Judges Sean C. Gallagher, Mary Eileen Kilbane and Kathleen Ann Keough means McWilliams will have to pay $5,000 plus fees to secure release from the Cuyahoga County Jail. He will have to wear a GPS ankle monitor if he leaves jail.

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.

Read list of 14 priests accused of child sex abuse since Charlotte Diocese was established

CHARLOTTE (NC)
WSOC-TV

December 30, 2019 – 6:56 PM

Donald Philip Baker
Baker was ordained in 1980 and left the ministry in 1994. In 2017, a man reported that Baker had sexually abused him when he was a teenager in his Lenoir parish from 1986 to 1989. The diocese said it contacted Caldwell County DSS and Lenoir police but no charges were filed. Baker was living in Arizona at the time of the allegation and worked in the Diocese of Phoenix. In 2019, the Charlotte Diocese’s Lay Review Board deemed the allegation was credible.

Charles Jeffries “Jeff” Burton
Burton was ordained in 1967, removed in 2007 and died in 2011. In 1994, a man reported that Burton made advances and inappropriately touched him when he was a teenager in 1982 at a youth ministry center in Flat Rock. Burton had been assigned by the Maryland Province of Jesuits to work in the Charlotte Diocese. The diocese said it reported the allegation to his supervising religious order, which sent Burton for treatment and returned him to ministry in New Jersey. The Jesuits said Burton was removed from ministry in 2007 after the Flat Rock allegation resurfaced and he acknowledged the incident.

Eugene D. Corbesero
Corbesero was ordained in 1962, dismissed in 1983 and died in 2016. In 1995, a man reported that he had been abused by Corbesero when he was a teenager at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Charlotte sometime between 1973 and 1975. The diocese said it alerted his Corbesero’s order at the time of the allegation to verify he was no longer in ministry. In 2007, the former priest pleaded guilty and served five years in prison for sexually assaulting a child in New Jersey in 2006, according to reports.

[cont’d]

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.

Two lawsuits filed against Oakland Diocese allege child abuse at Union City church in the 1970s

OAKLAND (CA)
Bay Area News Group via the Mercury News

December 31, 2019

By Thomas Peele

One of the priests named in the suits was not on a list of abusive priests the diocese released in February

OAKLAND — Two people who say they were sexually abused as children by a pair of Catholic priests at a Union City church in the 1970s sued the Diocese of Oakland on Tuesday alleging it helped cover up their exploitation.

“This has wrecked my entire life, every aspect of my life” one of the victims, James Brogen, said at a press conference announcing the suits. “It’s hard to feel like a survivor when you’re still suffering.”

The suits allege that diocese officials worked to hide abuse at Our Lady of the Rosary church in Union City in the 1970s involving two priests, Stephen Kiesle and George E. Crespin.

Brogen, who grew up in what his suit described as a devout Catholic family in Hayward, called Our Lady of the Rosary a “house of evil.”

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

Diocese of Providence challenges RI statute of limitations expansion

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Catholic News Agency

December 31, 2019

In July, a bill was signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) extending the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases from seven to 35 years in Rhode Island. The 35-year window would commence from the victim’s 18th birthday. The law also includes a “seven year discovery” provision allowing victims to file lawsuits up to seven years after they have re-discovered childhood abuse as an adult, such as through therapy sessions.

Several months later, in September, a lawsuit was filed by Philip Edwardo against the Diocese of Providence alleging that he was abused by a diocesan priest, Phillip Magaldi, hundreds of times in the 1970s and 1980s.

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.

#ChurchToo moment tops poll of religion news stories | Terry Mattingly

KNOXVILLE (TN)
Knoxville Sentinel

January 2, 2020

By Terry Mattingly

Protest rallies have been common during the #MeToo era, but many of the demonstrators outside the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention were quoting scripture.

As a teaching tool, they offered a large model of a millstone. That was a reference to the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus warns that for anyone who leads “little ones” astray, “it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Protesters come and go. Inside the convention center in Birmingham, Alabama, Rachael Denhollander warned SBC leaders that it was past time for them to focus on the faces and stories of sexual-abuse survivors in their own pews. Abuse survivors are trying to get church leaders to stop hiding abusers and the institutions that shelter them, she said.

Far too often, “we do this in the name of unity: ‘Don’t say anything negative. We need to be unified.’ But brothers and sisters … we are to be unified around the holiness of God. We are to be unified around our confrontation of sin and our confrontation of the darkness. We are to seek light.”

Headlines about sexual abuse among Southern Baptists are “not a surprise” to survivors, she added. “What you need to understand is these men and women have been pleading with the church to hear their voices for decades, and they have been shut out over and over and over again in the name of Christ. That’s what the SBC has done to these survivors. You need to understand the perspective that they have come from. You need to feel the grief and the betrayal and the harm and the hurt they have felt.”

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.

OPINION: Diocese of Orange healing and thriving here at 2020

ORANGE COUNTY (CA)
Orange County Register

January 1, 2020

By Timothy Freyer, Ron Lowenberg and Darlyne Pettinicchio

January 1 represents a new beginning, marked by hope and promise for the year ahead. The new year is a time for goal-setting and resolutions. It is a time for us to reflect upon our past with the spirit of heart and mind to make positive change in our own lives and for the benefit of others. We seek strength and wisdom to fortify us to be better and truer to the best versions of ourselves, and we seek courage to help us overcome our challenges.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange is in the midst of its own resolutions for the year that lies ahead, as it charts its continuous journey in care of the faithful.

As it does so, it gives special attention to those most vulnerable and precious among us – our children. And so, the Diocese of Orange reaffirms its long-standing commitment to promote a safe environment and eradicate sexual abuse of children; to ensure that the dark chapter of the Diocese’s past never recurs; and, to provide a voice to those who previously suffered in silence.

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.

Top Stories from the Vatican in 2019 (and what’s next in 2020)

VATICAN CITY
America Magazine

January 1, 2020

By Colleen Dulle

Happy New Year from Inside the Vatican!

For our New Year’s Day episode, Gerry and I are taking a look back at some of the biggest Vatican stories of 2019.

We start with February’s Vatican summit on the protection of minors, which Gerry and I covered together in Rome. We talk about the steps Pope Francis has taken to follow up on that meeting, including the elimination of the “pontifical secret” in December which paved the way for the long-awaited Vatican handbook that will establish universal norms for handling cases of clerical sexual abuse. Gerry also gives us a timeline on when to expect that document.

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

Diocese of Knoxville settles sexual abuse lawsuit out of court

KNOXVILLE (TN)
News Sentinel

Dec. 31, 2019

By Amy McRary

The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has reached an out-of-court settlement with a Blount County man whose lawsuit alleged he was sexually abused as a child by two priests.

The settlement means the July suit bought by attorneys for Michael Boyd of Blount County will not proceed in Knox County Circuit Court.

The terms and amount of the financial settlement were not disclosed in a seven-paragraph announcement issued today by the diocese. The diocese and church officials also admit no wrongdoing in the settlement.

The money paid to Boyd will be covered by the diocese’s insurance and won’t impact its budget or charity work.

“The diocese has throughout denied the validity of the claim. However, 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,” the statement issued by diocese’s spokesman Jim Wogan read in part.

Boyd’s attorney could not be immediately reached by USA Today Network-Tennessee. In the suit, attorneys asked for both compensatory and punitive damages but did not list a dollar amount.

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.