ABUSE TRACKER

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

March 4, 2020

Attorneys give insight on PA Supreme Court reviewing child sex abuse time limits decision

HARRISBURG (PA)
Local 21 News

March 3, 2020

By Brian Sheehan

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court says it will consider whether some victims of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church have a right to file lawsuits.

The announcement comes nearly two weeks after the Diocese of Harrisburg filed for bankruptcy.

The high court plans to consider whether survivors can sue Pennsylvania diocese’s for allegedly covering up sex abuse, even though statute of limitations in their cases ran out several years ago.

“I totally understand why they’re hearing it. This is an important case,” Rice’s Attorney, Richard Serbin, 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.

4 Mexican bishops referred to superiors in sex abuse cases

MEXICO CITY (MEXICO)
Associated Press

March 4, 2020

By Maria Verza

The Vatican’s representative in Mexico said Tuesday that four Catholic bishops had been referred to their superiors for alleged connections to cases of sexual abuse as part of the church’s efforts to gather information about the possible cover up of abuse.

Nuncio Franco Coppola did not provide details on the bishops’ possible roles, but noted that in January and December an email address opened to receive abuse allegations took in dozens of allegations, mostly accounts of cover ups.

Coppola made the comments at a news conference to announce that the Vatican would send its top sex abuse investigators to Mexico later in March. He acknowledged that the magnitude of the problem “eludes” them because while the Mexican Episcopal Conference says 217 priests are being investigated there are cases in which the religious order sent the complaint directly to Rome, meaning the number could be higher.

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.

Sexual abuse lawyer: ‘It’s not too late to come forward’

ROCHESTER (NY)
WROC-TV, Ch. 8

March 3, 2020

[VIDEO]

A call to victims of sexual abuse Tuesday in Rochester, from a lawyer who says “It’s not too late to come forward.”

Attorneys announced two new legal claims against several churches in our area.

A priest who worked for the Diocese of Rochester in the 1980s was named in legal claims, as were the churches where he presided.

Father Joseph Larabee, who worked at Saint John the Evangelist in Greece, and Church of Good Shepherd in Henrietta, was named in the latest sexual abuse case filed under the Child Victims Act.

Since the alleged incidents took place, one of the churches has been converted into a school. Still, attorney Mitchell Garabedian says he hopes to see this go to trial.

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.

Editorial: Just as the McCarrick saga seemed at its worst, more scandal and stonewalling

WASHINGTON D.C.
Washington Post

March 3, 2020

JUST WHEN it seems there can be nothing more to learn about how former cardinal Theodore McCarrick misused his position and violated the public trust, another rock gets turned over. The latest disclosure: He funneled large sums from a charity account to a controversial religious community whose founder was found guilty by the Vatican of sexual misconduct. In keeping with the sorry way it has handled the decades-long clergy sexual-abuse scandal, the Catholic Church has decided to stonewall rather than be forthcoming.

Only because of reporting by The Post’s Shawn Boburg and Robert O’Harrow Jr. have we learned that Mr. McCarrick, who served as archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006 and last year was defrocked for sexual abuse of minors and misconduct with adults, gave nearly $1 million to the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) from 2004 to 2017. The religious community was founded in Argentina in 1984 by priest Carlos Buela, who the Vatican in 2016 determined had committed sexual improprieties with adult seminarians. Mr. McCarrick had helped the order as it expanded into the United States in the early 2000s, giving it control of a church-owned property in suburban Maryland to launch a small seminary, but the extent of the ties and flow of money between the two clerics was not known.

What exactly was the purpose of these gifts — some as large as $50,000 — from a charitable account Mr. McCarrick controlled at the Washington Archdiocese? Who or what was the source of the money? A spokeswoman for the archdiocese, Paula Gwynn Grant, told Post reporters that Mr. McCarrick himself raised the money for the special fund and spent it as he chose. “Therefore, any information needed about these donations, including the specific amount, must be asked of Mr. McCarrick,” she said. Never mind that Mr. McCarrick has been squirrelled away to live at some undisclosed location. When we pressed for more information, Ms. Grant emailed that the money was used by IVE and its sister branch “to support their mission to educate, house, care for and serve many of the most disadvantaged members of our community.” She directed further questions to those religious orders.

It is likely that Mr. McCarrick raised the money under the auspices of his church position (the fund was titled “Archbishop’s Special Fund”), so it is disingenuous for the church to act as if it had nothing to do with these donations. And since the church has a religious exemption from having to file tax forms required of other nonprofits detailing their finances (called Form 990s and available to the public), people who gave money have no way of knowing what it was used for.

Time and time again, as scandals have besmirched the church’s reputation and mission, Catholic officials have said they have learned their lesson and will do better and be transparent with information. Time and time again, they fall short. The refusal to get to the bottom of — and explain — these questionable transactions is another sad sign of the church’s failure to come to grips with the harm it has caused and its disdain for parishioners whom it looks to for financial support.

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

Commentary: An oft-accused priest, one victim’s story and the true meaning of bankruptcy

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

March 3, 2020

By Sean Kirst

Bankrupt.

The word has a new imperative for the Buffalo Diocese, which last week sought protection in federal court after 260 men and women went to court over the past six months under the state’s Child Victims Act, alleging they were abused by Catholic clergy or staff in Western New York.

Yet Michael Eames, 60, has his own definition of bankruptcy.

He learned it at 15, through the behavior of a priest Eames describes as “a wolf.”

Eames is one of 15 men who have filed Child Victims Act lawsuits maintaining they were abused as youths by Donald Becker, who is now 77 and living in retirement in Florida. The sheer number of CVA allegations against Becker, who has never faced criminal charges, dwarfs those of any other priest from greater Buffalo, living or dead.

Diocesan officials say they removed Becker from active ministry in 2003 because of credible evidence of abuse. They reached a settlement with another Becker accuser even before the Child Victims Act process began. According to court documents, the diocese is not providing Becker with any legal help against his accusers.

Becker, for his part, has publicly denied sexually abusing children.

“No, I did not,” Becker told Dan Herbeck of The News, two years ago this month. “Certainly not sexual. … This is quite shocking.”

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.

Lawmakers Hear Testimony on Ending the Statute of Limitations on Sex Assault

CONCORD (NH)
InDepthNH.org

March 3, 2020

By Gerry Rayno

Victims of childhood sexual abuse urged lawmakers Tuesday to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual abuse.

Children with that traumatic experience need time to heal before disclosing what happened and that is often longer than the current time limit for prosecution of 22 years, said Catherine Devine, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney.

“Closing the courthouse door on an arbitrary time limit does not change prosecution,” Devine told the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. “A victim should always be heard.”

House Bill 1586 would eliminate any time limit for prosecuting sexual assault cases while the current limits vary depending on the crime and circumstances.

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.

Leading clergy-abuse expert addresses impact of the crisis on global Catholic Church

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Catholic

March 3, 2020

By Michelle Martin

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, one of the world’s leading experts on safeguarding minors, said that the church is suffering “institutional trauma” from clerical sexual abuse, trauma that it must learn to integrate into its theology and understanding of salvation if it is to overcome it.

Zollner, a German, is a licensed psychologist and psychotherapist with a doctorate in theology, the president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and a consultor to the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy. He was one of four leaders appointed by Pope Francis to organize the February 2019 Summit on Abuse for the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences.

He visited the Archdiocese of Chicago March 1-3 to speak with seminarians, clergy and members of religious congregations on the same topic as his March 2 DePaul University talk, “The Present Status of Safeguarding in the Church.”

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.

Lawsuit alleges abuse by order priest who led middle school

ROCHESTER (NY)
Catholic Courier

March 3, 2020

By Mike Latona

A lawsuit was filed Feb. 19 charging Father Joseph Grasso, CPPS, with sexual abuse of a student in the early 2000s while the priest was principal of Brighton’s Siena Catholic Academy, a diocesan junior high school.

The suit against Father Grasso, a member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, was filed in Monroe County Supreme Court by the Buffalo law firm of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria.

According to the complaint — which was amended Feb. 25 to correct the dates and locations of the alleged abuse — Father Grasso “sexually assaulted and committed battery” against an unidentified male student between early January 2002 and sometime in 2003. The suit charges that the abuse took place at Siena Catholic Academy and/or St. Thomas More Church, which are on the same campus. It states that the alleged victim was born in 1990, making him approximately 12 or 13 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.

The complaint was filed only against Father Grasso and not the Diocese of Rochester, St. Thomas More Parish or Siena Catholic Academy. Doug Mandelaro, diocesan director of communications, told the Catholic Courier that the diocese has never received a complaint against Father Grasso for sexual abuse of a minor.

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.

Cupich on new Catholic Church abuse protection task force: ‘Regaining trust has to begin with a profound sense of responsibility’

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Tribune

March 3, 2020

By Javonte Anderson

In their first interview since Pope Francis named them among the leaders of a new worldwide task force on sexual abuse protections, Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Rev. Hans Zollner this week sketched out how they plan to help Catholic leaders across the world comply with new protection guidelines.

The task force was created by Francis to help bishops write new local guidelines to adhere to universal church rules issued last year.

Zollner, who heads the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, called the latest move by Francis “unprecedented,” as it is the first time the pope has taken measures to ensure rules to protect children are quickly adopted and practiced around the world.

“This is the first time the (pope) has taken into his own hands the speeding up of the process,” Zollner said in an interview he and Cupich gave Monday to the Tribune.

Zollner was in Chicago for his first appearances following the creation of the task force: a talk with Chicago priests and a lecture at DePaul University.

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.

Cardinal on new task force: Regaining Catholics’ trust begins with ‘a profound sense of responsibility’

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Tribune via GazetteXtra

March 3, 2020

By Javonte Anderson, Chicago Tribune

In their first interview since Pope Francis named them among the leaders of a new worldwide task force on sexual abuse protections, Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Rev. Hans Zollner this week sketched out how they plan to help Catholic leaders across the world comply with new protection guidelines.

The task force was created by Francis to help bishops write new local guidelines to adhere to universal church rules issued last year.

Zollner, who heads the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, called the latest move by Francis “unprecedented,” as it is the first time the pope has taken measures to ensure rules to protect children are quickly adopted and practiced around the world.

“This is the first time the (pope) has taken into his own hands the speeding up of the process,” Zollner said in an interview he and Cupich gave Monday to the Tribune.

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.

Supernatural bankruptcy

PENNSYLVANIA
Gettysburg Times

March 4, 2020

Out of the eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, the Harrisburg diocese is the first to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11.

They won’t be the last.

Due to widespread sex-abuse lawsuits, 20 other Catholic diocese have also filed, nationwide.

It has been less than two years since the Pennsylvania state attorney general’s office released a grand-jury report of over a 1,000 allegations of sex abuse against 300 clergy dating back decades that now includes a growing number of lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Some states have relaxed their statutes of limitations allowing additional litigations. Pennsylvania isn’t there – yet. However, in 2019, a state appeals court ruled that a case accusing the Altoona-Johnstown diocese of a conspiracy to cover up abuse could continue. Similar cases have been filed statewide.

In an effort to assuage the pain, if such a thing is possible, the diocese’s Survivor Compensation Program formed last year has dished out more than $12 million to 111 victims. Those who accepted settlements are excluded from suing the church.

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

Vatican acknowledges some countries still lack guidelines on preventing abuse

VATICAN CITY
Reuters

February 29, 2020

By Philip Pullella

Vatican officials acknowledged on Friday that bishops in about 10 countries still have no guidelines for dealing with sexual abuse cases, as it unveiled a new “task force” to help them and others.

The group of experts in preventing sexual abuse will assist bishops conferences in those countries put them into place and help revise guidelines in countries where they exist so they adhere to recent changes in Church law.

At a news conference presenting the task force, the officials said countries still lacking no guidelines are in that situation because of wars, political upheaval or lack of resources resulting from extreme poverty.

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.

March 3, 2020

‘I keep asking why,’ victim tells court during Barry McGrory sentencing hearing

CANADA
Ottawa Citizen

March 3, 2020

By Andrew Duffy

The victim of a Catholic priest’s sexual abuse says the incident caused him to lose his desire to be a priest, his faith in God, and his trust in the church.

In a victim impact statement read at the sentencing hearing of defrocked priest Barry McGrory, the man, now an adult, said the betrayal has affected every aspect of his life.

“The worst thing is I lost my faith for a long time: I felt so terrible without God in my life,” he said in the written statement, read in court.

The victim, whose identity is protected by court order, said McGrory became a trusted mentor after his father died. “You are told you can always talk to your priest,” he said. “To be betrayed was devastating to me. It has been a daily struggle. Alcohol, drugs, nothing helped the pain I was in. I keep asking why?”

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.

MinistrySafe to Lead ‘Church Safety Workshop’ to Reduce Risk of Sexual Abuse in Ministry Contexts

LOUISVILLE (KY)
PRNewswire

March 3, 2020

MinistrySafe, a leading organization that helps ministries meet legal standards of care and reduce the risk of sexual abuse, will lead a “Church Safety Workshop,” March 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville in partnership with Philadelphia Insurance Companies and the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

MinistrySafe Founder, Gregory Love, is a leading sexual abuse trial attorney and expert in training churches and ministries to prevent child sexual abuse. Love will lead sessions to equip leaders to establish safe-guards in their places of ministry by focusing on topics such as:

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

Vatican sends abuse experts to Mexico to help church in safeguarding

VATICAN CITY
Catholic News Service

March 3, 2020

By Carol Glatz

After receiving a request from Mexico’s bishops for assistance in handling cases of the abuse of minors, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is sending its top abuse investigator to Mexico.

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the doctrinal congregation, will be accompanied by Spanish Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos, a congregation official, on a visit to Mexico City March 20-27 to help church leaders with safeguarding and to listen to victims.

Pope Francis had sent Archbishop Scicluna and Father Bertomeu to Chile in 2018 to listen to survivors and investigate charges of abuse and its subsequent cover-up. Their report and supporting documentation — totaling more than 2,300 pages — helped correct the pope’s belief that abuse accusations were exaggerated; after a later meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, every bishop in Chile offered his resignation.

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

Vatican sends sex crime investigators to assist Mexican church

MEXICO
Al Jazeera

March 3, 2020

Mexico is dealing with decades of clerical sexual abuse of children.

The Vatican is sending its top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico on a fact-finding and assistance mission as the Catholic hierarchy in the world’s second-largest Catholic country begins to reckon with decades of clergy sex abuse and cover-up.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu teamed up in 2018 to investigate the Chilean church and its wretched record of protecting paedophile priests – a bombshell expose that resulted in every active Chilean bishop offering to resign.

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.

Legion of Christ Seeks Forgiveness, Change with New Norms

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Agency

March 2, 2020

Father Connor decried the failures brought under the community but expressed hope that reconciliation and healing will take place.

Following the conclusion of the Legionaries of Christ’s general chapter, the religious order’s new leader has vowed to instill ideals for protection and transparency in the face of the sexual abuse crisis.

Father John Connor, the first U.S. leader of the order, announced Feb. 28 the release of two documents containing the reflections of the 2020 General Chapter in Rome, which included over 66 representatives from the order around the world.

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

Vatican dismisses Indian priest jailed for rape

KOCHI (INDIA)
UCA News

March 2, 2020

Completion of laicization takes away all the rights and responsibilities of priesthood from the jailed priest

A diocese in southern India has announced completion of the process of laicization of a priest who is serving a 20-year jail term for raping and impregnating a minor girl three years ago.
The laicization of Father Robin Vadakkumcherry has been completed with his acceptance of the Vatican’s dismissal decree and by informing the Vatican of his acceptance, Mananthavady Diocese in Kerala state said in a press release on March 1.
Police arrested Vadakkumcherry, now 51, in 2017 on charges of raping a 17-year-old girl and fathering her child. Sex with a girl under 18, a minor under Indian law, is considered a crime.
Vadakkumcherry was then parish priest of St. Sebastian’s Parish in Kottiyoor under Mananthavady Diocese and manager of the school in which the girl studied.

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.

Cardinal Zen says Pope Francis being ‘manipulated’ on China

CHINA
Crux

March 2, 2020

In a new letter, retired Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen says Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin is “manipulating” Pope Francis on the issue of China.

Zen, a fierce critic of a 2018 Vatican-China deal on the appointment of bishops in the communist country, was responding to the contents of a letter by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the new dean of the College of Cardinals.

In a Jan. 26 letter to the rest of the cardinals obtained by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Re defended the China deal, which is an attempt to unite the Catholic Church in mainland China, which has been divided between a state-sponsored “Patriotic” Church not under the authority of the pope, and an “underground” Church pledging allegiance to Rome.

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 Long Do Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse Have to Take Legal Action?

MINNEAPOLIS (MN)
Legal Examiner

March 3, 2020

By Mike Bryant

If you were abused by a member of the Catholic Church, you may have only a limited amount of time to sue for damages. While revisiting such a traumatic experience will undoubtedly be challenging, putting off your legal action could prevent you from obtaining fair compensation and the sense of justice that comes with it.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go up against the Catholic Church alone. A personal injury attorney can gather evidence, estimate a fair settlement figure, and help you fight for the highest possible compensation. Your lawyer can also help you avoid missing critical deadlines.

In the state of Minnesota, the statute of limitations for civil suits involving sex abuse is six years, but only if the victim was at least 18 years old when the incident occurred. If the victim was younger than 18, there is no filing deadline—unless he or she wants to sue for vicarious liability.

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.

Msgr. Zapfel, host of controversial Mass, knew of priest’s abuse in 1987

BUFFALO (NY)
WKBW

March 3, 2020

Decision on Gatto also questioned

Msgr. Robert Zapfel, pastor of St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Amherst, allowed his parish to be used last week for the controversial Mass Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger celebrated with priests with substantiated child sexual abuse claims.

At that Mass, Fr. Thomas Gresock was invited to bring up the gifts — bread and wine, to be consecrated into what Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ — even though Zapfel himself investigated child sexual abuse claims against Gresock in 1987 and determined them to be credible, internal documents obtained by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team show.

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.

State Supreme Court to review Altoona-Johnstown child sex abuse time limits decision

HARRISBURG (PA)
The Associated Press

March 2, 2020

By Mark Scolforo

A mid-level appeals court decision issued last summer that allowed some victims of childhood sexual abuse a way to pursue lawsuits despite time limits will be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the justices announced Monday.

The high court granted a request to hear the case that was made by the defendants, three priests and the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese.

The Superior Court ruled in June that Renee Rice could pursue claims that church officials’ silence about a priest who she says molested her amounted to fraudulent concealment.

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.

Witness testifies, third allegation presented against retired Catholic priest

MISSOURI
Southeast Missourian

March 3, 2020

By Ben Matthews

One witness took the stand and publicly testified to his allegations of being sexually assaulted by retired Catholic priest Fred Lutz at a bond hearing Monday.

The retired priest was arrested Feb. 19 at his home in Springfield, Missouri, and charged with the unclassified felony of forcible sodomy, two class C felony counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and one class C felony count of sexual abuse.

Lutz’s case was referred to Stoddard County prosecutors after a yearlong investigation by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office into allegations of sexual abuses committed in Missouri by clergy members in the Roman Catholic Church.

In August 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation showed more than 300 priests were accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children in six Roman Catholic dioceses, and inspired multiple investigations in other 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.

Q & A with Sr. Bernardine Pemii, protecting children from abuse in Ghana

GHANA
Global Sisters Report in National Catholic Reporter

March 3, 2020

by Doreen Ajiambo

Sr. Bernardine Pemii is known for being a devoted mother to the large brood of children she has rescued from violence, exploitation and abuse.

The African nun, who recently completed a course on child protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, is committed to protecting children from abuse at home, at school, at church, in the community and during humanitarian emergencies.

Kids are victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation, physical and humiliating punishment, and harmful traditional practices, she said, and they can be recruited into armed forces.

Does your community minister to those who are homeless or lack adequate shelter? Tell us about it.

“Parents should protect their children, from home to the school and to the church,” Pemii told Global Sisters Report. “Children are being exploited every day in ways that are shocking to their well-being.”

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.

L’Arche founder’s printed legacy damaged in sex-abuse report fallout

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA (CANADA)
Winnipeg Free Press

March 3, 2020

By John Longhurst

A report last month revealed that L’Arche founder Jean Vanier, a respected Canadian religious figure, sexually abused at least six women.

Revelations that Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, sexually abused at least six women continues to reverberate throughout the Roman Catholic and wider church world.

Vanier, who died in 2019 at age 90, wrote 30 books. Christian bookstores and publishers are among those dealing with the fallout of last month’s report on Vanier’s “manipulative sexual relationships.”

In Winnipeg, Stephanchew’s Church Goods took the only book by Vanier in the store off its shelves.

“The news shocked and horrified me,” said owner Gilles Urquhart. “I expected more of him. What he did was unacceptable. I will not sell his books anymore.”

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.

Monsignor William Lynn Back In Court, Prepping For Retrial For Allegedly Covering Up Clergy Sex Abuse Reports

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
CBS3 TV

March 2, 2020

Monsignor William Lynn was back before a Philadelphia judge on Monday. The former archdiocesan official is prepping for his retrial in two weeks.

Lynn and lawyers won’t comment because of a gag order.

Prosecutors are arguing pretrial motions to get certain evidence admitted, including grand jury testimony and testimony from his first trial.

Lynn was the first highest ranking church official convicted of covering up reports of clergy sex abuse.

An appellate court overturned the conviction, ruling the jury may have been prejudiced.

Lynn spent almost three years in jail on a three- to six-year sentence.

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.

Ethnos360 and Child Safety

SANFORD (FL)
Ethnos360, formerly New Tribes Mission

February 2020

Forward
While this document is written primarily to our members, our first apology is rightly to the
MKs [Missionary Kids] who were victims of abuse and to their families.

To those who have been impacted by abuse as a result of the failures of individuals and our
organization, we want to express our deepest sorrow. The things we have learned through
the investigative reports, and those things we still may not know about, should never have
happened to you or to any child or family. May we never forget the cost of these failures to
our children, our members, and the God we endeavor to represent

Introduction
The stories of the Missionary Kids (MKs) who suffered the atrocities of abuse are a grim
reminder of the ongoing consequences of the sins committed against them. Sadly, abuse and
mistreatment of children is part of the history of New Tribes Mission. There is no excuse for
the wrongs that occurred. Nothing can justify the actions of those individuals who harmed
children or protected abusers. In writing this document, we do not want to forget or
minimize the consequences of these actions. We believe it is appropriate and right that the
MKs have come forward with their stories, and we thank them for their bravery and
tenacity. We believe it is appropriate to make known this history. Additionally, we hope
that anyone reading this will learn from our mistakes. We do not want to see this history
repeated. The damage is long lasting. The cost is too high. We implore any reader to
remain vigilant in your ministry, your life, and the opportunities you have to care for and
protect children.

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.

Retired New Orleans priest likened in court docs to notorious Boston clerical abuser

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Nola.com

March 2, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

A trove of still-hidden church documents show a retired New Orleans priest was “a serial pedophile” who abused children for decades and was never reported to all relevant law enforcement authorities by Archdiocese of New Orleans officials, according to allegations in a court filing Monday by attorneys representing a person claiming to be one of the priest’s victims.

The filing in Orleans Parish Civil District Court is aimed at unsealing the documents as part of a lawsuit against the church and the Rev. Lawrence Hecker, who worked at more than a dozen churches across the area over four decades, including St. Frances Cabrini in New Orleans, St. Francis Xavier in Metairie and Christ the King in Terrytown.

Though the attorneys represent only one person claiming to have been abused by Hecker, the 14-page motion alleges that the documents in question — which the lawyers already have — show Hecker to be “a serial pedophile who has sexually abused countless children.”

While church leaders removed Hecker from ministry in 2002, the motion says the allegations against him weren’t publicly acknowledged until 2018 and have yet to be fully disclosed to law enforcement.

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.

Víctimas del Próvolo: el Papa todavía no responde si los recibirá

[Victims of the Próvolo: the Pope still does not respond if he will receive them]

GENEVA (SWITZERLAND)
MDZol.com

February 17, 2020

Los sobrevivientes de los abusos en el Instituto de Luján acompañados por abogados de Xumek están en Ginebra para presentar un informe contra el Vaticano por encubrimiento. El próximo destino será Roma, donde entre otras actividades pretenden ver a Francisco, al cual ya le pidieron audiencia formal.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATE: Survivors of the abuses at the Lujan Institute accompanied by Xumek lawyers are in Geneva to present a report against the Vatican for cover-up. The next destination will be Rome, where among other activities they intend to see Francisco, who was already asked for a formal audience.]

Sobrevivientes del Instituto Próvolo y los abogados de la ONG Xumek, Lucas Lecour y Sergio Salinas, ya se encuentran en Ginebra, Suiza. Como parte de su agenda ante los organismos internacionales, tuvieron una reunión con miembros de Ending Clergy Abuse, una organización que lucha por el fin del abuso eclesiástico en el mundo y pieza clave junto a Bishop Accountability de las gestiones que actualmente desarrollan los mendocinos en Europa.

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Supreme Court to review child sex abuse time limits decision

HARRISBURG (PA)
Associated Press

March 3, 2020

By Mark Scolforo

A mid-level appeals court decision issued last summer that allowed some victims of childhood sexual abuse a way to pursue lawsuits despite time limits will be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the justices announced Monday.

The high court granted a request to hear the case that was made by the defendants, three priests and the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese.

The Superior Court ruled in June that Renee Rice could pursue claims that church officials’ silence about a priest who she says molested her amounted to fraudulent concealment.

The Rice case has since been cited by other litigants to support their own claims, Rice’s lawyer, Richard Serbin, said Monday.

“Of course I’m disappointed that they’re taking the appeal. But I understand the reason why,” Serbin said in a phone interview. “Because issues were decided which there’s not much case law on. And therefore, while I think the Superior Court decision is sound and will be upheld, the Supreme Court may very well want to put its stamp on it. Because we’re talking about a lot of cases.”

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Oakland diocese, ex-priest sued over alleged 1985 assault on 5-year-old in closet

OAKLAND (CA)
San Francisco Chronicle

By Matthias Gafni

March 3, 2020

As a future pope and officials from the Catholic Diocese of Oakland weighed the fate of a convicted child molester priest more than three decades ago, the Rev. Stephen Kiesle took a 5-year-old boy into a closet of a Pinole church and sexually assaulted him, according to a claim filed Monday in Alameda County Superior Court.

The boy, now a 39-year-old man living in Del Norte County, sued Kiesle, the diocese and retired Bishop John Cummins, claiming that they knew the priest was a danger to children but allowed him to continue working with children. It has previously been reported that internal church letters found that Cummins had been communicating about Kiesle’s behavior with then-Vatican official Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Pope Benedict XVI, in 1985, the same year the plaintiff alleges he was assaulted.

“What makes this case unique is literally everybody in the chain of command knows and yet they allow this guy to go back to the parish,” said the plaintiff’s attorney John Manly. “They put him in his target population. To me, that’s not a mistake or reckless, it’s malicious.”

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March 2, 2020

Vatican sends top 2 sex crimes investigators to Mexico

VATICAN CITY
Associated Press

March 2, 2020

By Nicole Winfield and Maria Verza

The Vatican is sending its top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico on a fact-finding and assistance mission as the Catholic hierarchy in the world’s second-largest Catholic country begins to reckon with decades of clergy sex abuse and cover-up.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu teamed up in 2018 to investigate the Chilean church and its wretched record of protecting pedophile priests — a bombshell expose that resulted in every active Chilean bishop offering to resign.

Their new mission to Mexico, due to take place March 20-27, was announced Monday in Mexico and at the Vatican. Officials stressed it was not an investigation per se but an assistance mission to help the Mexican church combat abuse.

Nevertheless, the Vatican embassy in Mexico City expressly asked victims to come forward to speak with the two prelates, offering victims an email address to arrange meetings or send their testimony, a phone number to call and total privacy and confidentiality. It stressed that Scicluna and Bertomeu would be “at the disposition of all those who want to share their experiences or to receive direction or assistance.”

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‘I keep asking why,’ priest’s victim tells court

OTTAWA (CANADA)
Ottawa Citizen

March 2, 2020

By Andrew Duffy

The victim of a Catholic priest’s sexual abuse says the incident caused him to lose his desire to be a priest, his faith in God, and his trust in the church.

In a victim impact statement read at the sentencing hearing of defrocked priest Barry McGrory, the man, now an adult, said the betrayal has affected every aspect of his life.

“The worst thing is I lost my faith for a long time: I felt so terrible without God in my life,” he said in the written statement, read in court.

The victim, whose identity is protected by court order, said McGrory became a trusted mentor after his father died. “You are told you can always talk to your priest,” he said. “To be betrayed was devastating to me. It has been a daily struggle. Alcohol, drugs, nothing helped the pain I was in. I keep asking why?”

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Call to defrock Catholic priest accused of sex abuse on Guam

GUAM
RNZ Pacific

March 2, 2020

A support group for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests on Guam has backed moves to laicize a priest.

Father Adrian Cristobal is named in several lawsuits accusing him of sexual abuse against several minors between 1995 and 2013.

An investigation by the Archdiocese of Agaña recommended that Mr Cristobal be defrocked, although he has taken an appeal to the Vatican.

The Pacific Daily News reports that when allegations against him were first made in 2018, Mr Cristobal was off island and he never returned, defying archdiocese orders for him to do so.

The support group, Concerned Catholics of Guam, has described him as a fugitive, who would probably face a criminal trial if he returned to Guam.

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Strongsville priest awaiting indictment by federal grand jury

STRONGSVILLE (OH)
The News-Herald

March 2, 2020

By Andrew Cass

Strongsville priest Robert McWilliams is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals as he waits indictment from a federal grand jury on child sex crime charges.

McWilliams, 39, who was previously a seminarian at St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Newbury Township appeared in federal court Feb. 27 where court records show he waived a preliminary hearing on charges of child pornography, child exploitation and juvenile sex trafficking.

Federal court records show that McWilliams also waived his right to a detention hearing and is being held without bail.

McWilliams was previously being held in the Geauga County Jail before being moved into federal custody.

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Savage murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl by a twisted priest, Father Gerald Robinson, profiled on ID

OHIO
MonstersandCritics.com

March 1, 2020

By Jerry Brown

This week, The Lake Erie Murders examines the death of a nun in a hospital chapel in Toledo, Ohio, in 1980. Sister Margaret Ann Pahl’s body was found on the floor of the vestibule of the former Mercy Hospital on Holy Saturday, a day before Easter. It was also a day before her 72nd birthday.

Her killer was a priest, Father Gerald Robinson, who was the chaplain at the hospital. Church historians have said this is the only recorded case of a priest murdering a nun.

A particularly gruesome murder

An autopsy revealed that Sister Margaret Ann had been choked to the edge of death before being stabbed in the head, neck, and face. She had been draped with an altar cloth, and nine of her stab wounds were in the shape of an upside-down cross. There was a smear of blood across her forehead as if she had been anointed in the last rites.

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Stars Walk Out Of French Award Show In Protest After Roman Polanski Wins

FRANCE
HuffPost

March 1, 2020

By Cole Delbyck

Numerous actors walked out of France’s César Awards, the country’s equivalent to the Oscars, after convicted rapist and disgraced director Roman Polanski took home one of the top prizes at the ceremony.

Nominated for 12 awards, Polanski’s “An Officer And A Spy” had already garnered plenty of controversy before the award show even kicked off in Paris on Friday night, as the 21-person board that oversees the event abruptly resigned en masse earlier this month in protest of his nominations and the organization’s “opaque decision-making process.”

Though Polanski — who pleaded guilty in 1977 for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl — refused to attend the award show for fear of a “public lynching,” he won best director for the film, which prompted multiple attendees to storm out of the ceremony.

Actor Adèle Haenel, who was nominated for her performance in Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” stood up and exited the Salle Pleyel after Polanski won the award, appearing to yell “shame” as she left the hall.

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Aly Raisman insulted by USA Gymnastics’ Nassar settlement, accuses them of ‘cover-up’

NEW YORK (NY)
Yahoo Sports

March 2, 2020,

By Liz Roscher

Former gymnast and three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman is speaking out about USA Gymnastics’ proposed settlement to the survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse, and she’s not just unhappy about it — she’s angry. In an interview with NBC’s “TODAY” on Monday, Raisman slammed the proposal and accused USA Gymnastics of covering up who knew about the abuse and when they knew.

Raisman offended by USA Gymnastics settlement offer
The settlement has two main prongs. The first is financial: $215 million would be divided among Nassar’s 150-plus victims in a four-tiered system based on how far they progressed in their gymnastics career and where the abuse happened. The second is legal: the settlement would release former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny, former coaches Martha and Béla Károlyi, and other officials and gymnastics leaders from any liability. They would not be able to be sued or prosecuted for ignoring or enabling Nassar’s decades-long abuse, which as a doctor he was able to disguise as “medical treatment.”

Raisman, who was sexually abused by Nassar, didn’t mince words when discussing the settlement.

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Pope Francis accepts resignation of Buffalo’s Bishop Edward Grosz

VATICAN CITY
CNA

March 2, 2020

By Courtney Mares

Pope Francis Monday accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward Grosz, the auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, who has been accused of mishandling a sex abuse allegation.

Grosz, who turned 75 on February 16, offered his resignation at the age required by canon law. The Vatican’s March 2 announcement accepting Grosz’s resignation did not indicate whether it will conduct any investigation into the allegation against the bishop.

His retirement comes following a year of allegations of a cover-up of clergy sex abuse made against the leadership of the Diocese of Buffalo, including an allegation of negligence on the part of Grosz himself.

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Catholic school sues parents for not paying tuition after daughter went to different school

HARTFORD (CT)
Hartford Courant

March 1, 2020

By Dave Altimari

An all-girls Catholic school in Milford has taken the rare step of filing a civil lawsuit against a New Canaan family, seeking payment of more than $20,000 in tuition even though their daughter never went there and instead decided to attend a different Catholic school.

The lawsuit by Lauralton Hall is seeking to recover the money from the Gervolino family, who in 2018 visited the well-known school and agreed to pay a $1,000 non-refundable deposit to have their daughter become a member of the 2019 freshman class. The family also looked at other Catholic schools and applied to one in the Bridgeport area, eventually deciding to attend that school.

The contract that the family signed with Lauralton said they had until June 30, 2018, to inform the school their daughter would not attend, but Kelly Gervolino said she missed that deadline because she was in the hospital for several weeks recovering from viral meningitis. She said she notified Lauralton officials on Aug. 13, 2018, that her daughter wouldn’t be attending the school.

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Charlotte Diocese Adds 2 New Names To List Of Clergy ‘Credibly Accused’ Of Abuse

CHARLOTTE (NC)
WFAE

March 2, 2020

By Sarah Delia

The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte has made additions to a list of clergy it considers credibly accused of sexual abuse.

The diocese initally published a list in late December that included 14 former clergy members and 23 clergy members who were assigned here but were accused elsewhere.

The update, noted on the diocese’s website, includes two new names. The first is Harold Johnson, a Boston priest who served at St. Patrick in Charlotte in the late 1950s. Johnson was listed on the Archdiocese of Boston’s list of credibly accused clergy members, first published in 2011.

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Likely mediator named; claim deadline, forms set in bankruptcy

ROCHESTER (NY)
Catholic Courier

March 2, 2020

By Mike Latona

In late February, U.S Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren tentatively approved a mediator in the Diocese of Rochester’s Chapter 11 case, approved a form for filing victim claims, and set an Aug. 13, 2020, deadline for such claims to be filed.

These actions came two weeks after Warren ruled that an attorney for sexual-abuse victims could question Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark under oath about his knowledge of sexual abuse during his tenure as bishop.

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ND Forum examines Catholic laity’s role in responding to sex abuse crisis

NOTRE DAME (IN)
University of Notre Dame

March 2, 2020

By Anna Bradley

The 2019-20 Notre Dame Forum series, “‘Rebuild My Church: Crisis and Response,” continues March 4-6 with a look at the relationship between clergy and laity in addressing the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis. Called & Co-responsible will be an academic and pastoral conference hosted by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.

Drawing upon Pope Benedict’s 2012 speech, the conference will address questions about the nature of leadership in the Church, and how lay people are not to be merely collaborators with the clergy, but are rather truly co-responsible for the Church’s being and activity.

“Pope Francis says that all of us are asked to obey the Lord’s call to go forth, and that this will involve leaving the comfort zones we have all established for ourselves and for the Church,” said John Cavadini, professor of theology and McGrath-Cavadini director of the McGrath Institute. “How do we form the laity to become co-responsible for the Church’s mission? How do we form priests to nurture co-responsibility, in themselves and in the laity?”

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Letter from Rome: Sexual abuse is not about sex

VATICAN CITY
UCA NEWS

March 2, 2020

By Robert Mickens

Jean Vanier violated the Second Commandment, not the Sixth

We continue to hear of incidents that more than suggest that Catholics — and, in particular, their bishops — have learned very little from the clergy sex abuse crisis.

This is quite alarming and depressing because the Church in North America has been dealing with issues regarding priests who abuse children and teenagers for at least 30, if not 40, years.

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ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson on making Revelation and coming face to face with two of the Catholic Church’s worst serial paedophiles

AUSTRALIA
ABC News

March 1, 2020

By Natasha Johnson

Sarah Ferguson spends her working life wading through murky waters, tackling difficult, confronting and harrowing stories but none has tested her like the project that consumed her for the past year: Revelation — a three-part documentary investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, in which she comes face to face with two of Australia’s most notorious serial paedophiles.

“I’m used to intense projects but this one has been more intense and more challenging than anything I have ever done,” says Ferguson.

“Throughout the long-running scandal of clerical abuse in Australia, there was one voice we hadn’t heard and that was the perpetrators.

“I wanted to ask them how they led their double lives and how the church enabled them, but how do you interview men whose crimes are so vile and disturbing, who’ve committed crimes against vulnerable children?

“It was a struggle not to let my revulsion at their crimes drag me off course.”

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‘A fugitive from justice’: Concerned Catholics backs move to laicize priest over abuse

GUAM
Pacific Daily News

March 2, 2020

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

Concerned Catholics of Guam, which helped lead efforts to expose Guam’s clergy sex abuse of minors, backs the Archdiocese of Agana’s move to laicize Father Adrian Cristobal over alleged sexual abuse of multiple minors.

“Father Adrian is a fugitive from justice, living outside of Guam, in an unknown location. Obviously, he is afraid to face his accusers for the alleged sexual abuse of children,” Concerned Catholics of Guam President David Sablan said.

The archdiocese held an administrative penal process, or investigation, on Cristobal after four men alleged that Cristobal sexually abused them when they were minors. Cristobal also faces four civil lawsuits over sexual abuse of minors, from 1995 to 2013.

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Beth Moore says memorising Scripture helped her to heal from sexual abuse

ENGLAND
Christian Today

March 2, 2020

Christian author and speaker Beth Moore has opened up about the emotional trauma she suffered after being sexually abused as a child.

The evangelist was asked about her experience and her subsequent journey to recovery on a recent episode of Ainsley’s Bible Study on Fox and Friends.

Moore has never named her abuser and, in the show, only described them as someone who should have been a protector in her life.

She spoke candidly about how she fell victim to childhood sexual abuse despite being part of a committed churchgoing family.

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Papal task force to help revise local abuse guidelines

VATICAN CITY
The Tablet/CNS

March 2, 2020

By Carol Glatz

Pope Francis has set up a task force of qualified experts and canon lawyers to help bishops’ conferences and congregations of men and women religious to draw up or revise guidelines for the protection of minors.

The Vatican will also be releasing, at an “imminent” but unspecified date, a handbook or vademecum prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to help bishops and religious superiors clearly understand their responsibilities and the procedures for handling allegations of abuse.

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Jacksonville realtor accused of sexual battery with child

JACKSONVILLE (FL)
News4Jax

March 2, 2020

Police say sexual abuse on a boy

Officers investigating a report of ongoing sexual abuse of a child went to arrest a 41-year-old man Thursday at his real estate office and he did not go quietly, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives with the Special Assault Unit had obtained an arrest warrant charging Michael Linkenauger with sexual battery, lewd or lascivious exhibition, and lewd or lascivious conduct involving a child. When they went to his office on Bartram Park Boulevard, he resisted arrest. He was treated at the scene by paramedics before being booked into the Duval County jail.

According to the arrest report, church members had alerted police that Linkenauger had forced sex on the boy numerous times between August 2017 and June 2019. Officers said Linkenauger befriended the boy and his mother at the church and that he had taken the boy out of town on golf trips and invited the victim to spend nights at his home.

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Redress: Has the State delivered for abuse survivors?

IRELAND
RTÉ

March 2, 2020

Twenty-one years ago, the RTÉ television documentary series States Of Fear, profoundly changed the conversation about residential institutions in Ireland and caused a national outcry.

Now, using the personal testimonies of survivors of residential abuse who sought redress, a new two-part RTÉ series examines the Irish State’s response to those survivors.

Here, reporter Mick Peelo introduces Redress: Breaking The Silence.

I thought I was sensitive to the sufferings of survivors of childhood abuse. I’ve made television documentaries on the subject for years, so when it came to survivors of abuse in residential institutions, I thought we had addressed the mistakes of the past, made amends and helped them find healing and closure as best they could. I thought redress was done and dusted. I was wrong.

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Sex abuse victims frustrated over diocese bankruptcy

BUFFALO (NY)
WBEN

March 2, 2020

By Mike Baggerman

Bankruptcy will have notable impact on evidence about a case

Victims of clergy sex abuse are concerned that the bankruptcy filing by the Diocese of Buffalo will not give them the right level of justice, despite an expected financial settlement to be determined through the bankruptcy courts.

“It’s very frustrating (not being able) to delve into the files and the particulars of a case,” Gary Astridge said. “Bishop Scharfenberger had put on record that he was going to be transparent and make the files open to survivors. I called January 14 and 15 asking what the process was and just got a voicemail and not a return response. As a survivor, it was extremely insulting not getting any kind of word back.”

Astridge, a victim of sex abuse from the ages of 7 to 11 allegedly by Father Edward Townsend at Cardinal Dougherty High School, said he feels nothing has changed in the process despite new leadership in Buffalo and said Catholics should be screaming to the Vatican over this instance.

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Vanier abuse revelations prompt Catholic soul-searching

ROME
Crux Now

March 2, 2020

By Elise Ann Allen

When news went public last week that Jean Vanier, the renowned Canadian theologian who transformed the way the world views the disabled, had sexually abused several women seeking his spiritual counsel, the revelations provoked not just shock, but also serious reflection.

Given that the news was so unexpected from a figure such as Vanier, many Catholic experts and admirers pondered deep questions, such as just how widespread this form of manipulative abuse of adults is within the Catholic Church; the speed at which such towering figures as Vanier are popularly declared as saints; as well as the complex intersection of sin and virtue, as Vanier is someone who clearly exhibited both deviance and inspiration.

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Would your church offerings be used to settle sex-abuse claims in Harrisburg Diocese?

HARRISBURG (PA)
York Daily Record

March 2, 2020

By Sam Ruland

As the sun began to go down and the shadows of the church vanished from the sidewalk, Shannon Bailey hustled up the steps of St. Patrick’s Church of York, eager to get a good seat before a recent service started.

A lifelong Catholic, Bailey, 54, attends Mass weekly, praying for everyone she knows — her dozens of nieces and nephews, the neighbors in the house next door, her daughter’s volleyball team, the feral cats that infiltrate her backyard.

She hasn’t let her faith be dissuaded by the sex-abuse crisis that has engulfed the Catholic Church.

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Holland Public Schools, local church sued over sex abuse allegations

GRAND RAPIDS (MI)
Holland Sentinel

March 1, 2020

By Carolyn Muyskens

Victims of a former youth group leader and middle school lunchroom worker are suing Holland Public Schools, saying a principal and vice principal didn’t follow up on a student’s complaint that the man was molesting her friends.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court, claims a middle school student told school leadership in 2006 about Jonathan Meyer’s alleged abuse, and the school didn’t investigate beyond asking Meyer if the allegations were true. Meyer denied them.

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Guest editorial | Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg should fully reckon with the harm caused to victims of childhood sexual abuse

JOHNSTOWN (PA)
The Tribune Democrat

March 2, 2020

The following editorial appeared in LNP. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Tribune-Democrat.

The Catholic prayer known as the “Act of Contrition” is prayed when seeking forgiveness.

The prayer says nothing about shielding oneself from the consequences of one’s sins. It’s a simple and penitential plea, an acceptance of responsibility and a resolution to do better.

If only that had been the guiding principle of the Roman Catholic Church in its handling of priestly sexual abuse of children.

Instead, church officials – in the Diocese of Harrisburg and around the world – sought to cover up the sins of their priests and the horrific harm they had done to vulnerable children.

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Why aren’t Ohio officials investigating Catholic sex abuse cases?

COLUMBUS (OH)
Columbus Dispatch

March 2, 2020

By Danae King

Though only county prosecutors in Ohio can call a grand jury, victims advocates say there are things the attorney general could do — actions that officials in several other home rule states have taken to investigate sex abuse cases against Catholic priests.

A year after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus released its list of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse, some survivors and advocates still are pressing Ohio officials to take action.

The list, one of many released by dioceses across the country, was spurred in part by a state grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, released in August 2018.

But when asked why Ohio doesn’t investigate the issue, state officials point to a home-rule law stating that county prosecutors must request such an investigation before the attorney general can initiate it.

Home rule isn’t a reason not to investigate the issue on a state level, said Marci Hamilton, founder and CEO of CHILD USA, a Philadelphia-based think tank tracking state efforts on child abuse.

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Victimas de abuso reclamarán al Papa la destitución permanente de sacerdotes pederastas, Como así también de los obispos encubridores

[Victims of abuse will call on the Pope for the permanent removal of pedophile priests, as well as the bishops who cover up]

ROME (ITALY)
Ellitoral

February 18, 2020

Varias asociaciones de víctimas de abusos en el seno de la Iglesia están en Roma para reclamar al Papa reformas canónicas que permitan la destitución permanente de sacerdotes pederastas y obispos encubridores cuando se cumple año de la Cumbre de Protección de Menores en la Iglesia católica, que reunió en el Vaticano a la mayoría de los episcopados del mundo.

“Lo que más echamos de menos son las reformas canónicas, indispensables para combatir el problema. Una para eliminar permanentemente a los sacerdotes que han cometido abusos y otra para despedir a los obispos o superiores que no han finiquitado a los abusadores”, apunta la directora de Bishopaccountability.org, Anne Barret Doyle, una asociación de EEUU dedicada a denunciar el encubrimiento de la Iglesia católica en ese país.

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Talley’s call for repentence in Lenten season comes with list of accused priests

MEMPHIS (TN)
The Daily Memphian

February 29, 2020

By Bill Dries

The weekend before he released a list of priests “credibly accused” of child sexual abuse, Catholic Bishop David Talley marked the coming season of Lent with a video on the Diocesan website.

Talley, who became bishop of the Memphis Diocese last April, quoted the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark.

“What we want to do during this holy season of Lent is to focus on that last line of verse 15 — ‘repent and believe in the Gospel,’” Talley said. “It means a conversion of all that you are, turning away from everything that is destructive in yourself, within your family, within society. While turning at the same time toward the light — the light that lightens up your heart, your family, society.”

The Diocesan Review Board report that followed largely repeats the names of priests made public a decade ago when The Daily News filed suit in Circuit Court for more than 6,000 pages of internal church documents and depositions taken of every Diocesan leader at the time.

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Clergy sexual abuse survivor calls for Scharfenberger’s removal

BUFFALO (NY)
WBFO radio (NPR affiliate)

March 2, 2020

By Mike Desmond

More fallout about Apostolic Administrator Bishop Edward Schargenberger’s decision to hold a meeting with Catholic Diocese priests, including some suspended as credibly accused of sexual abuse.

The bishop met with most of the diocese’s priests a week ago today in St. Leo the Great Church to talk about probable bankruptcy and participate in Mass. “He doesn’t get it” was the response Sunday from former priest and sexual abuse victim Robert Hoatson. Hoatson is now calling for New York City Cardinal Archbishop Timothy Dolan to remove Scharfenberger as apostolic administrator.

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After Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy, lawyers change strategy for abuse claims

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo Times

March 2, 2020

By Jay Tokasz

South Buffalo resident Dennis Archilla filed a childhood sex abuse lawsuit in September to expose the Buffalo Diocese for protecting a pedophile priest.

“I wanted the public to know just how deep the deception is in the Catholic Church,” Archilla said.

Archilla believes that deception continued when the diocese on Friday filed for bankruptcy – effectively bringing his and more than 250 other Child Victims Act lawsuits to a grinding halt.

“It will bury the discovery process,” said Archilla. “I think it’s a strategy on their part not just to protect their resources, but also to not get that information out to the public.”

Archilla, 45, alleges the Rev. William F.J. White molested him in 1987 when he was sixth grade student at Queen of Heaven elementary school in West Seneca.

Despite the bankruptcy, J. Michael Hayes, Archilla’s lawyer, said he thinks Archilla’s case will continue to trial.

That’s because Hayes filed two lawsuits on behalf of Archilla in State Supreme Court.

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Germany’s under-fire Catholic Church seeks new leader

BERLIN (GERMANY)
Agence France Presse via France 24

March 2, 2020

German bishops gather for key talks from Monday where they will choose a new leader to help steer the country’s Catholic Church through a controversial reforms process and settle compensation demands from sexual abuse victims.

The four-day episcopal gathering in the western city of Mainz comes at a time of fierce debate about how to modernise Germany’s Catholic Church, pitting conservative bishops against more progressive ones.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a driving force behind efforts to renew the under-fire Church, last month unexpectedly announced he would not seek another six-year term as head of the German Bishops’ Conference, saying he was too old at 66.

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March 1, 2020

Statement of Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger

BUFFALO (NY)
Western New York Catholic

March 1, 2020

“It is clear that my efforts to address the disappointment and anger voiced by some over my decision to allow certain priests of the Diocese of Buffalo who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse to participate last week in a private Mass for priests have not been sufficient.

“First, I wish to reiterate that I deeply regret the pain and further disillusionment that this private gathering of priests – which included those not in good-standing with the Diocese – has caused to victim-survivors who rightly demand justice and accountability for the horrific and lasting harm they have experienced.

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Bishop Scharfenberger explains why he believes abusive priests are part of church “family”

BUFFALO (NY)
WKBW-TV

February 28, 2020

By Charlie Specht

Survivors say bankruptcy hides truth

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger on Friday first apologized for — and then doubled down on — his support of abusive priests, saying they are still part of what he calls the “family” of the church.

BISHOP SCHARFENBERGER: “I really consider every single person, including our priests who may have abused people, as part of our family that I’m responsible to take care of in some way.”

REPORTER:
“I’m sorry, did you just say that the abusive priests are part of the family, as you call it?”

SCHARFENBERGER: “That’s correct.”

REPORTER: “So why would a survivor want to be a part of a family where the father figure of the family invites child molesters to be part of the family?”

SCHARFENBERGER: “Well, first of all, Charlie, I assume you’re referring to what happened last Monday.”

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SNAP calls Catholic Diocese of Memphis ‘credibly accused’ list incomplete, “insult to victims”

MEMPHIS (TN)
LocalMemphis.com

February 28, 2020

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests claim many more names are missing.

By Rebecca Butcher

There are twenty Mid-South priests, most of them no longer alive, that the church now admits had credible claims against them of sexually abusing children.

Although the list is out, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests claim many more names are missing. One victim called a director in tears because their abuser wasn’t named.

David Brown with SNAP claims most of the names were already known, and the list is missing many others.

“To me it was woefully shameful,” said Brown, a SNAP. “It’s lacking names that it should be naming, it’s many, many more.”

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Is Vatican anti-abuse task force ‘Tale of Two Cities’ or ‘Remembrance of Things Past’?

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

February 29, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr

Anyone watching the Vatican under Pope Francis try to come to grips with the clerical sexual abuse crisis could be forgiven for feeling themselves trapped in A Tale of Two Cities, constantly oscillating between the best and worst of times.

Friday brought another chapter in that long-running drama, as the Vatican presented a new high-level task force intended to help national and regional bishops’ conferences around the world, as well as religious orders, to develop and update guidelines on child protection and the fight against abuse.

From a glass-half-full perspective, this is a further sign, one year after an historic summit to discuss the abuse crisis with the presidents of all the bishops’ conferences of the world, that Francis is serious about reform. This task force is designed to harness the entire resources of the Roman Curia, and it’s a signal that Francis wants episcopal conferences and religious orders to be in earnest about having policies.

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Opinion: Outlier South Dakota Legislature Again Fails to Protect Children

UNITED STATES
Legal Examiner (law firm blog)

March 1, 2020

By Mike Bryant

The South Dakota Legislature has again had the chance to vote to open the statue of limitation for survivors of child sexual abuse. The politicians again have voted it down, unlike 14 other states in the country.

This is nothing new. They went so far in 2010 as to pass one of the most restrictive laws for survivors in the country. They do this despite examples of ongoing abuse such as at the St Paul’s Mission School. When will the South Dakota Legislature start protecting the children, not the predators?

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Editorial: Finally, serious research into sexual harassment in Jamaica

JAMAICA
Jamaica Observer

March 1, 2020

Amidst the understandable preoccupation with the novel coronavirus, news related to another virus of sorts — pernicious sexual harassment — has been somewhat overshadowed.

On Friday, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport signed a memorandum of understanding with The University of the West Indies (UWI) to commence research on sexual harassment in Jamaica.

We welcome this development. The twinned institutions will be the core of a consortium including the Ministry of Labour, Hugh Shearer Labour Studies Institute and The UWI Institute for Gender and Development Studies.

Sexual harassment is, by definition, behaviour characterised by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social setting. It is widely accepted as a major problem in Jamaica and indeed worldwide.

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Scourge of child sexual exploitation takes on added deviance online

WASHINGTON D.C.
Catholic News Service via Crux

March 1, 2020

It is bad enough there are adults who sexually abuse children and minors. What makes it worse is that the abusers take video and still images of the abuse and share them online with their fellow abusers.

Just one case in point: Police in the Maryland suburbs of Washington arrested a 37-year-old man Feb. 20 and charged him with having sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy and taking photos of the incident in January. Using a search warrant of the suspect’s home, they found photos involving the victim among 1,000 exploitative images and videos that date back to September 2016.

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When Is A Girl Ready For Marriage? After Her First Period Says High Court In Pakistan

PAKISTAN
Forbes

March 1, 2020

By Ewelina U. Ochab

What qualifies a girl to be ready to marry? According to the High Court of Sindh in Karachi, Pakistan, a girl is ready to marry after she has had her first period. The ruling, which appears to rely entirely on the Court’s restrictive interpretation of Shari’a law, was released on February 3, 2020. The case involved the alleged abduction, forced conversion, forced marriage, enslavement, and ongoing rape and sexual abuse of a Catholic girl, Huma Younus.

It was alleged that Huma Younus was abducted from her parents’ home in Karachi on October 10, 2019, by a man named Abdul Jabbar of Dera Ghazi Khan, Punjab Province. Younus, born on May 22, 2005, was 14 years of age at the time of the alleged abduction. A text message was allegedly sent to Younus parents stating that she had converted to Islam and had married Jabbar “of her free will.” (Even if true, it is also questionable whether her marriage was conducted in compliance with Islam. Marriage contract in Islam requires (1) a clear proposal, (2) clear acceptance or consent (although silence is just as acceptable), (3) at least two competent witnesses and (4) a marriage gift, little or more, by the bridegroom to the bride.)

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Media Statement: Notice Regarding Rev. Msgr. Raymond A. Barton, Retired

RICHMOND (VA)
Diocese of Richmond

February 14, 2020

A representative of a deceased victim has come forward with a report sharing allegations of child sexual abuse by Rev. Msgr. Raymond Barton. The report identified the victim and described details of the abuse. The incident is alleged to have occurred in the early-1970’s. The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has reported the allegations to civil authorities.

Msgr. Barton, retired since 2011, is not currently serving in ministry. Msgr. Barton will not be permitted to engage in active ministry until the allegations are investigated and resolved.

Msgr. Barton was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Richmond in 1966. He served as an associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond, and as a faculty member at St. John Vianney Seminary, Goochland. He was a pastor at the following parishes: Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Norfolk; Saint Nicholas Catholic Church in Virginia Beach; and Holy Comforter Catholic Church in Charlottesville. He also served as a co-pastor for Church of the Holy Apostles in Virginia Beach.

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Allentown Diocese says earlier accusation against now jailed priest was ‘unfounded.’ Prosecutors disagree

ALLENTOWN (PA)
Morning Call

March 1, 2020

By Peter Hall, Daniel Patrick Sheehan and Sarah M. Wojcik

In May 2016 a 15-year-old girl told someone that the Rev. Kevin Lonergan had touched her inappropriately.

The allegation triggered investigations by the Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Division, Forks Township police, and the district attorney’s office.

Lonergan was suspended during the investigation, and the Allentown Catholic Diocese said Monday that it reinstated him a few months later because Children and Youth determined the accusation was “unfounded.” But the Northampton County district attorney’s office didn’t classify the case that way. And neither did the diocese’s own private investigator, who called it “unsubstantiated.”

“It was never unfounded,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Tatum Wilson, who investigated the allegation with Forks police, said Thursday.

“It’s not that we made a determination one way or the other whether there was criminal activity,” she said. “It was closed because we didn’t have a victim who would be able to testify about any criminal activity.”

It would be more than two years, and only after a second girl accused Lonergan of inappropriate sexual contact, before the Catholic priest would be charged with a crime.

When Lonergan, 31, was sentenced to one to two years in prison Monday for groping a 17-year-old girl as she helped clean up after a confirmation Mass in 2018, Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos raised the earlier complaint of “hands-on molestation” and questioned whether the Allentown Diocese was still transferring priests to cover up abuse — a practice for which the church has drawn intense criticism and scrutiny.

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Don’t Fall for the Claim that Bishops Are Being More Open

UNITED STATES
Adam Horowitz Law (law firm blog)

February 22, 2020

More bishops are being more open about abuse, right?

Nope. Not really.

Consider these cases from Mississippi, Virginia and Missouri publicized just this week.

—–Case One: Fr. Paul Victor Canonici just died. He’s a credibly accused child molesting cleric who was ‘outed’ by Bishop Joseph Kopacz.

But according to the local newspaper in Jackson:

Over the course of his tenure, Fr. Canonici served as the diocesan superintendent of education, assistant principal and then principal of St. Joseph High School in Madison, as well as the priest for multiple parishes throughout the Jackson metro area.

He retired when he was in his mid 70s. Despite his five decades with the diocese, he’s not listed on the church’s website of retired priests.

What possible reason would Bishop Kopacz have for keeping Fr. Canonici OFF his ‘retired priests’ list?

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Other diocese bankruptcies offer clues for Catholics uncertain about future

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

March 1, 2020

By Jay Tokasz

The Buffalo Diocese’s plunge this week into federal bankruptcy court marked a new period of uncertainty for more than 500,000 Western New York Catholics concerned about the future of parishes, schools and diocese employees.

It could take years before it becomes clear what a reorganized Buffalo Diocese will look like but what happened in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in Wisconsin, which has roughly the same number of Catholics as in Buffalo, may provide some insight.

The Milwaukee archdiocese emerged from federal bankruptcy court in 2016 with a deal to pay $21 million to childhood victims of clergy sex abuse. Four years later, it appears to be better off financially than when it first filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011.

Its total revenues in 2019 were $6 million more than in 2011, according to its latest audited financial statements. Its net assets – after dipping to $50 million in the immediate aftermath of the reorganization – climbed back to $71 million last year, surpassing pre-bankruptcy levels.

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Priest accused of having child porn faces new charges

CLEVELAND (OH)
Associated Press

February 21, 2020

A Cleveland-area Roman Catholic priest arrested in December was accused of several new charges, including sex trafficking involving a minor, federal prosecutors said Friday.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court also charged the Rev. Robert McWilliams with receiving or distributing child pornography and sexual exploitation of children.

Federal investigators said in a court document that McWilliams, 39, would pretend to be a female on social media and entice boys to send sexually explicit photographs and videos. He also met with a boy on several occasions and paid him for sex, prosecutors said.

A message seeking comment on the new charges was left with his public defender.

Authorities arrested McWilliams in December at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville, where he was a parochial vicar at the church’s school. The church then placed him on administrative leave.

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Jandy’s Story: A Stunning Tale of One Woman’s Courage and Strength to Carry On After Serious Childhood Sex Abuse

UNITED STATES
The Wartburg Watch (blog)

February 24, 2020

“You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren’t alone.” ― Jeanne McElvaney, Healing Insights: Effects of Abuse for Adults Abused as Children

What I am about to present is merely a tiny portion of the pain and suffering that Jandy has suffered at the hands of David, as well as other men who lived with the family or were acquaintances of the family. I mean for this to be an overview. I have left so much of the story out and I feel bad about that. I hope to write more of her story in the coming weeks.

It is a difficult story to tell. Jandy suffered greatly as a child and teenager. However, in the end, there is some justice.

Jandy’s parents: Naiveté born of wanting to help others.
Jandy’s parents were well meaning but naive. They were young when they married and were committed Christians. They believed in caring for those less fortunate than they were. This resulted in allowing men, one who had schizophrenia, to move in with their family. Their unsuspecting nature caused them to overlook the possible danger of such actions. It also caused them to trust neighbors and friends.This would be a major factor in Jandy’s relationship with David.

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Pope Francis removes Kerala priest convicted for raping 16-year-old girl from priesthood

KERALA (INDIA)
Opindia.com

March 1, 2020

Pope Francis removes Kerala priest convicted for raping 16-year-old girl from priesthood
Last year, Priest Robin was convicted by the Thalassery POCSO court in February 2019 for raping and impregnating a 16-year-old girl back in 2016.

Father Robin Vadakkumchery of the Mananthavady diocese who was accused of raping and impregnating 16-year old girl three years ago has removed from the priesthood by Pope Francis.

According to the reports, Syro-Malabar Church priest Robin Vadakkumchery, who is currently serving a jail term for impregnating a 16-year-old girl in Mananthavady diocese, has been defrocked and dispensed from the exercise of priestly duties and rights. He has been reduced to the state of a layman, said a church official.

Last year, Priest Robin was convicted by the Thalassery POCSO court in February 2019 for raping and impregnating a 16-year-old girl back in 2016. Robin has been sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment and Rs 3 lakh fine by the court.

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Sexually abused gymnasts have ally in fight for accountability from US Olympic leader

UNITED STATES
USA TODAY

March 1, 2020

By Nancy Armour

Sexual abuse survivors have made it clear they will not accept a settlement offer from USA Gymnastics that releases the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) without it making a significant financial contribution.

They have a powerful ally: The judge overseeing the case.

During a Feb. 10 status call, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robyn Moberly took the USOPC to task, saying it needed to be “actively participating, particularly with their pocketbook.”

“It isn’t news to anybody on this phone call, nor is it news to me, that the U.S. Olympic Committee needs to be an active participant, and I mean beyond just throwing in their insurance coverage in this,” Moberly said, according to a transcript of the call that was obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

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Media Statement on Diocesan Bankruptcy and Abuse Claims

NEW YORK
Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga, Diocese of Rochester

March 1, 2020

On September 12, 2019, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This action was taken in order to ensure that the victims of abuse who are pursuing legal action against the Diocese under the Child Victims Act of NYS receive fair compensation for their pain and suffering, regardless of whether they present their cases earlier or later in the process.

Although we have a close working relationship with the Diocese, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester – of which Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga is a division- is an entirely separate corporation from the Diocese.

We want to reassure you that all financial contributions and grants to Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga go directly to support our agency’s work of serving thousands of low income and vulnerable people each year. Our services to our clients have not and will not be compromised by the bankruptcy.

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