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 7, 2021

Catholic community reacts to sexual abuse allegations levied against Father Pfleger

CHICAGO (IL)
Fox 32 Chicago

January 6, 2021

[VIDEO]

Heidi Schlumpf, executive editor of the National Catholic Reporter, talks about the Catholic community’s reaction to the temporary removal of Father Pfleger from St. Sabina’s Church in lieu of sexual abuse allegations.

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

Chicago priest stepping aside after sex-abuse allegation

CHICAGO (IL)
Associated Press

January 6, 2021

By Don Babwin

Activist Chicago priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger has been asked to step aside due to an allegation of sexual abuse

Nationally known activist Chicago priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger has been asked to step aside due to an allegation of sexual abuse that occurred decades ago, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced.

The archdiocese said Tuesday that its Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review received an allegation that the 70-year-old Pfleger sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago. Cardinal Blase Cupich in a letter to members of the South Side church Faith Community of Saint Sabina, which is pastored by Pfleger, noted the allegation hasn’t been proven as true or false and guilt or innocence should not be assumed.

Pfleger, who has garnered attention for taking on everyone from drug dealers to Jerry Springer, responded to the allegation Wednesday by asking for prayers for himself and the person making the accusation.

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.

Texas Diocese Asks Court to Toss Libel Suit Over List of Accused Abusers

TEXAS
Courthouse News Service

January 6, 2021

By Cameron Langford

The Catholic Diocese of Lubbock urged the Texas Supreme Court on Wednesday to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by a former deacon who claims it falsely outed him as a child molester.

Texas Catholic bishops say the case threatens to uproot tenants of church autonomy enshrined in the First Amendment and open churches up to crippling liability simply for following their principles.

Jesus Guerrero said he was “shocked, confused, hurt and I knew that it wasn’t true” when the diocese published a list of clergy it said had been “credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor” in January 2019 and his name was on it, according to his brief with the state high court.

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 6, 2021

Priest accused of sexually assaulting parishioner denies claims but admits to having affair

NEW JERSEY
NJ Advance Media

January 5, 2021

By Matt Gray

A New Jersey priest has acknowledged he had an affair with a woman who recently filed a lawsuit alleging he sexually assaulted her.

The Rev. Robert L. Sinatra, of St. Padre Pio Parish in Vineland, admitted the affair in a Jan. 2 letter to parishioners, but denied that he assaulted the woman.

“With a deep sense of embarrassment and shame, I write to let you know that in late 2018 I had a two-month affair with an unmarried woman,” Sinatra wrote.

The letter and the woman’s lawsuit do not identify her by name. The suit describes her as a parishioner who participated in church activities.

Sinatra remains at his post with the parish and the Camden Diocese has no plans to remove him at this time, a spokesman said.

Sinatra met with Bishop Dennis Sullivan, head of the Camden Diocese, to report the transgression and ended the affair, according to the letter, which notes that the woman also met with Sullivan in July 2019.

Sullivan allowed Sinatra to continue serving as a priest while he “agreed to seek spiritual direction and counseling to prevent any future lapses.”

Sinatra, who was named pastor of the St. Padre Pio Parish in 2015, said he paid for a year of counseling to help the woman deal with the situation and Sullivan agreed that the diocese would pay for additional counseling.

“Although ending this relationship was difficult for me, it was obviously very difficult for her as well,” Sinatra wrote.

Though Sinatra said he blocked the woman’s phone number and severed any known social media connections with her, “she still found occasions to be in my presence,” he wrote.

She filed the civil suit in state Superior Court on Dec. 18.

It names the parish as defendant and accuses supervisors of failing to recognize that Sinatra posed a danger to others.

“Fr. Sinatra exploited his position of authority over Plaintiff as a priest, counselor and spiritual director,” the suit states. “Defendant and the Diocese knew or should have known that Fr. Sinatra was a danger to parishioners before Fr. Sinatra sexually assaulted Plaintiff.”

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.

Pfleger removed from parish after sexual abuse allegation

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times via Daily Herald

January 5, 2021

Father Michael Pfleger, the longtime pastor at St. Sabina Church and an outspoken anti-gun violence advocate, has been removed from the Auburn Gresham parish following revelations of a decades-old sexual abuse allegation against a minor.

Cardinal Blase Cupich announced “the difficult news” in a letter to the St. Sabina community Tuesday, saying he has “asked Father Pfleger to step aside from ministry following receipt by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago.”

Cupich said Pfleger agreed to his request and will live away from the parish during the course of the archdiocese’s investigation. The allegation has also been reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, Cupich 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.

Pfleger Asked to Step Aside From Ministry After Child Abuse Allegation, Chicago Archdiocese Says

CHICAGO (IL)
NBC-TV Chicago / Channel 5

January 5, 2021

[VIDEO]

The Archdiocese of Chicago has asked Father Michael Pfleger to step aside from his ministry following an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor that was received by the Archdiocese’s Office of Child Abuse Investigations and Review.

According to a letter from Cardinal Blase Cupich, the allegation stems from an incident that occurred more than 40 years ago.

“Father Pfleger has agreed to cooperate fully with my request and will live away from the parish while this matter is investigated,” Cupich said in the letter.

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.

Father Michael Pfleger accused of sexually abusing child decades ago, steps away from ministry: archdiocese

CHICAGO (IL)
WLS-TV / ABC7

By Eric Horng

January 5, 2021

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich sent a letter to the St. Sabina parish Tuesday informing them Father Michael Pfleger will be stepping away from his ministry after being accused of sexually abusing a child.

In the letter, Cupich said the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review received an allegation of sexual abuse of a child that happened more than 40 years ago.

Cupich said Pfleger agreed to step aside from his ministry and will live away from the parish during the investigation. Father Thulani Magwaza will temporarily serve as administrator of St. Sabina parish, and will attend to the church and the school.

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.

Chicago archdiocese removes longtime pastor after sex abuse allegation from 40 years ago is reported

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Tribune via The Southern

January 6, 2021

The longtime pastor of the city’s largest Black Roman Catholic parish has agreed to step away from ministry after a 40-year-old sex abuse allegation surfaced, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Tuesday.

In a statement, the archdiocese gave no details about the allegation other than it involved a minor more than 40 years ago. “Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false. Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed,” the statement read.

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.

Father Michael Pfleger, activist Chicago priest, faces claim of abusing minor

CHICAGO (IL)
Catholic News Agency

January 5, 2021

By Kevin Jones

The outspoken activist Chicago priest Father Michael Pfleger faces an allegation that he sexually abused a minor over 40 years ago, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago has said, adding that the claims have not been proven true or false and are under investigation.

Cardinal Cupich shared what he said was “difficult news” in a Jan. 5 message to members of Saint Sabina Church and the Saint Sabina Academy. Pfleger has served as a priest at the southside Chicago church since 1983 and is presently described as its senior pastor.

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.

Letter from Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on Father Michael Pfleger

CHICAGO (IL)
Archdiocese of Chicago

January 5, 2021

By Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

The Archdiocese of Chicago Distributed the Letter Today to The Faith Community of Saint Sabina and Saint Sabina Academy Community. Parishioners ask for prayers, patience and privacy at this time.

Dear members of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina and the Saint Sabina Academy Community,

I write to share some difficult news about your senior pastor, Father Michael Pfleger. In keeping with our child protection policies, I have asked Father Pfleger to step aside from ministry following receipt by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago. Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false. Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed.

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.

Chicago’s Fr. Pfleger removed over sex abuse allegation

UNITED STATES
National Catholc Reporter

January 5, 2021

By Christopher White

A popular Chicago priest has stepped aside from ministry following allegations that he sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago.

In a Jan. 5 letter to St. Sabina Parish and Academy, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich informed the historic parish on the city’s south side that senior pastor Fr. Michael Pfleger had agreed to step aside and cooperate while the allegation is investigated.

Pfleger, age 71, is a long-time social activist and has led the historically African American parish since 1981. He has become known throughout the country as a prominent crusader for racial justice, gun control and against drugs. He has previously adopted two children and one foster child. In 2011, he was previously temporarily suspended by Cardinal Francis George after refusing to take another assignment as the head of a local high school.

“Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false,” wrote Cupich. “Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed.”

Cupich’s letter also stated that the allegation was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney.

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.

Event series’ proposals aim to raise women’s voices in San Diego Diocese

SAN DIEGO (CA)
National Catholic Reporter

January 6, 2021

By Sophie Vodvarka

The 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse sent shock waves through the U.S. Catholic Church. For Bridget Gramme, the moment felt like a “call to women” to improve the church.

“I’m a cradle Catholic, it’s my community and my identity and my kids go to Catholic schools,” Gramme said. “It’s something we really believe in and the community is so important to us. Maybe it’s time we step it up and not just sit around and let these things happen.”

Gramme is an attorney and member of the advisory board of the Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of San Diego.

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.

North Dakota concludes investigation of clerical sex abuse

WASHINGTON D.C.
Catholic News Agency

January 5, 2021

By Christine Rousselle

An 18-month-long investigation into child sexual abuse in North Dakota’s two dioceses has concluded, the state’s attorney general announced Monday.

The investigation focused on a list of 53 men who had previously been identified by the dioceses of Bismarck and Fargo as being accused of sexual abuse. The dioceses considered the allegations against these 53 priests “substantiated.”

The state identified one person, Fr. Odo Muggli, a priest of the Order of St. Benedict, whom they suspect abused at least one child. Muggli was not on the list of initial 53 names as he is not a diocesan priest. Muggli is accused of abusing a child in the 1970s.

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.

Poland: Church cancels lease of liberal Catholic magazine

WARSAW (POLAND)
Associated Press

January 6, 2021

A liberal Roman Catholic magazine in Poland that recently criticized some high-ranking church officials says local church authorities in Krakow have terminated the publication’s office lease after almost 76 years.

The Tygodnik Powszechny (General Weekly) said on Facebook and on its website that a letter from the Krakow Curia delivered Monday gave the magazine three months’ notice to move out. The curia owns the building at 12 Wislna St. that has housed the magazine since 1945.

The publication did not say if it was given an explanation. But it said that moving from the old downtown building to a new location would be an opportunity for a technological upgrade.

The curia did not respond to an email seeking comment.

In its editorials and articles, Tygodnik Powszechny recently criticized anti-LGBT comments by the head of the Krakow diocese, Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski. It also criticized some prominent church leaders, including Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the former secretary to the late pope St. John Paul II, for having taken an evasive approach to the issue of pedophile priests in Poland and elsewhere in 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.

Polícia e Vaticano investigam acusação de assédio e abuso sexual contra arcebispo de Belém

[Police and Vatican investigate allegation of harassment and sexual abuse against archbishop of Bethlehem]

BRAZIL
EL PAÍS

January 4, 2021

By Aiuri Rebello

https://brasil.elpais.com/brasil/2020-12-20/policia-e-vaticano-investigam-acusacao-de-assedio-e-abuso-sexual-contra-arcebispo-de-belem.html

Investigação contra Arcebispo Metropolitano de Belém

[Investigation Against Metropolitan Archbishop of Belém]

Quatro ex-integrantes do Seminário São Pio X formalizaram denúncia ao Ministério Público em agosto deste ano acusando Dom Alberto Taveira Corrêa de usar suposta terapia para ‘curar’ a homossexualidade como pretexto para tocar seus corpos nus e promover abusos como testes à ‘tentação’ do sexo

[Google Translation: Four former members of the São Pio X Seminar filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor in August this year accusing Dom Alberto Taveira Corrêa of using alleged therapy to ‘cure’ homosexuality as a pretext to touch their naked bodies and promote sex abuse as tests of ‘temptation’.]

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.

Brazilian archbishop faces accusations of abuse of seminarians

SÃO PAULO (BRAZIL)
Crux

January 6, 2021

By Eduardo Campos Lima

Archbishop Alberto Taveira Corrêa of Belém, an archdiocese with more than 2 million residents in the Amazon region in Brazil, faces criminal and ecclesial investigations after being accused of sexual harassment and abuse by four former seminarians.

The accusations were disclosed by the Brazilian edition of the Spanish newspaper El País at the end of December and became a high-profile scandal on January 3, when TV Globo’s weekly news show Fantástico aired a report on the story.

The names of the former seminarians have not been revealed. All of them studied at the Saint Pius X seminary in Ananindeua, in Belém’s metropolitan area, and were between 15 and 20 years old when the alleged abuse happened.

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.

Australian bishops puzzled by reported money transfers from Vatican

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

January 5, 2021

By Inés San Martín

Australia’s bishops are seeking answers after the country’s financial watchdog reported that there have been over 47,000 separate transfers from the Vatican or affiliates worth $1.8 billion in the past seven years.

Both the Vatican and the Australian church have denied knowledge of the transfers, made public in December by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC), in response to a parliamentary question by Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. The amount of the transactions was first reported by the local newspaper The Australian.

The transfers from the Vatican to Australia rose rapidly from $71.6 million in 2014 to $137.1 million in 2015 before doubling again to $ 295 million in 2016 and peaking at $581.3 million in 2017, according to Austrac disclosures in response to Fierravantti-Well’s questions during Senate estimation hearings.

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January 5, 2021

Father Marcelo Rossi and Fabio de Mela defend archbishop accused of sexual assault

BRAZIL
VerietyInfo.com

January 4, 2021

In Fantasy (3) this Sunday, it was revealed that 4 former seminarians were accusing the House of Albert Taveira Correa, Archbishop of Belen do Par, of sexual violence.

The archbishop was defended by the religious.

Among them are Father Marcello Rossi and Fabio de Mello.

“At this hour of battle we are together in prayer,” Father Marcelo Rossi said.

“Don Alberta has supported me many times. I would like my prayers and my commitment to do the same for him right now, ”Melo 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.

Brazil archbishop investigated for sex abuse

RIO DE JANEIRO (BRAZIL)
Agence France-Presse

January 5, 2021

Police in Brazil said on Monday they were investigating the archbishop of the city of Belem for alleged sexual abuse against underage seminary students.

Confirmation of the investigation came after four alleged victims of Archbishop Alberto Taveira Correa accused him of years of abuse in a sweeping investigative report aired Sunday night on Brazil’s biggest broadcaster, TV Globo.

The alleged victims, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused the 70-year-old archbishop of abusing them from 2014 to 2018, when they were between 15 and 18 years old.

The former seminarians recounted a pattern of abuse by the archbishop of the northern city.

He would invite them to his home, bring them to his bedroom, ask them questions about sexuality and masturbation, then have them remove their clothes and begin touching and fondling them, sometimes while praying, they 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.

‘Ele me tocou’, diz ex-seminarista que acusa arcebispo de Belém de abuso sexual

[‘He touched me’, says ex-seminarian who accuses archbishop of Belém of sexual abuse]

BRAZIL
Globo.com

January 3, 2021

Quatro ex-seminaristas denunciam Dom Alberto Taveira Corrêa de usar seu poder para investidas sexuais não consentidas em encontros privados. A Polícia Civil e o Vaticano investigam o caso.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: Four former seminarians denounce Dom Alberto Taveira Corrêa of using his power for sexual advances not allowed in private meetings. The Civil Police and the Vatican are investigating the case.]

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.

Catholic Diocese of Charleston facing new lawsuit

CHARLESTON (SC)
WCSC

January 4, 2021

By Nick Reagan

The Catholic Diocese of Charleston is facing a new lawsuit. Court documents filed late Monday afternoon accuse a member of the church of sexual abuse and a systematic cover up of that abuse.

The charges were filed by a woman referred to as Mary Roe 1818. She alleges one of the priests, Frederick Austin McLean, repeatedly abused her and her sister when they were kids.

According to the suit, the abuse took place during the victim’s formative years as a child between 1961 and 1966.

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 seek to extend North Dakota statutes of limitation in child sex abuse cases

NORTH DAKOTA
The Forum

January 5, 2021

By C. S. Hagen

“The effort behind this is to send a message of hope to survivors. It’s really sending a message of hope and that we care,” said Rep. Austin Schauer, R-West Fargo.

Three state legislators, a Republican and two Democrats, aim to revise North Dakota’s statute of limitation laws this legislative session to open up windows of time for survivors of child sex abuse to pursue legal avenues in civil courts.

Planning on the bills began before North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem released a report Monday, Jan. 4, stating that because of current statute of limitation laws, criminal charges won’t be filed against any of the 53 priests named in the Fargo and Bismarck dioceses lists of priests who faced substantiated allegations of child sex abuse.

Much of the abuse occurred from the 1950s to the 1980s, and many of the priests named on the lists are dead. Current state law stipulates that the statute of limitations for child sex abuse is 21 years. Failure to report child abuse, a misdemeanor, has a statute of limitation of two years.

Rep. Austin Schauer, R-West Fargo, Sen. Kathy Hogan, D-Fargo, and Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, are working together on bills that would create an “open window” of two years for sexual abuse victims to file a civil lawsuit, and would extend the statute of limitations from three to 10 years for sexual abuse of a minor, Schauer 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.

Lawmakers seek to extend North Dakota statutes of limitation in child sex abuse cases

NORTH DAKOTA
The Forum

January 5, 2021

By C. S. Hagen

“The effort behind this is to send a message of hope to survivors. It’s really sending a message of hope and that we care,” said Rep. Austin Schauer, R-West Fargo.

Three state legislators, a Republican and two Democrats, aim to revise North Dakota’s statute of limitation laws this legislative session to open up windows of time for survivors of child sex abuse to pursue legal avenues in civil courts.

Planning on the bills began before North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem released a report Monday, Jan. 4, stating that because of current statute of limitation laws, criminal charges won’t be filed against any of the 53 priests named in the Fargo and Bismarck dioceses lists of priests who faced substantiated allegations of child sex abuse.

Much of the abuse occurred from the 1950s to the 1980s, and many of the priests named on the lists are dead. Current state law stipulates that the statute of limitations for child sex abuse is 21 years. Failure to report child abuse, a misdemeanor, has a statute of limitation of two years.

Rep. Austin Schauer, R-West Fargo, Sen. Kathy Hogan, D-Fargo, and Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, are working together on bills that would create an “open window” of two years for sexual abuse victims to file a civil lawsuit, and would extend the statute of limitations from three to 10 years for sexual abuse of a minor, Schauer 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.

[News Release] Investigation of Catholic Dioceses Concludes

BISMARCK (ND)
Office of the Attorney General

January 4, 2021

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem today announced that the investigation by his office into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses has concluded.

The eighteen month long criminal investigation commenced around the time the two North Dakota Catholic Dioceses, headquartered in Fargo and Bismarck, compiled and released a list of 53 individuals for whom they felt allegations of child sexual abuse had been substantiated. Stenehjem met with Bishops David Kagan and John Folda in June of 2019, and requested access to inspect all the records of the church relating to clergy abuse, and the Bishops agreed.

Stenehjem assigned four seasoned agents from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to the cases. The Dioceses cooperated with the Attorney General’s office in allowing the agents to review all complaints, records and files, including allegations for those not previously designated as “substantiated” by the Dioceses.

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.

No charges possible for priests after child sex abuse investigation, North Dakota AG says

BISMARCK (ND)
Grand Forks Herald

January 4, 2021

By April Baumgarten

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the Fargo and Bismarck dioceses releasing their lists of 53 priests and other Catholic officials who faced substantiated allegations of child sex abuse.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says that after a lengthy investigation, criminal charges won’t be filed against any priests or other Catholic officials accused of sexually abusing children in the state.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation found that two living priests could have faced criminal charges for allegedly abusing children. However, the statute of limitations has run out, Stenehjem said Monday, Jan. 4.

“I regret it will not be possible to have these men face their victims at a trial and face the potential consequences, but I hope it brings a measure of comfort to the victims that these crimes were eventually investigated,” Stenehjem said in a statement.

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ND Attorney General – Catholic Abuse Investigation

NORTH DAKAOTA
Knox Radio

January 4, 2021

By Pat Sweeney

North Dakota’s attorney general says his office’s 18-month investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the state’s two Roman Catholic dioceses will not result in any charges.

Wayne Stenehjem says too much time has passed to prosecute the two lone living clergy members. The investigation began when the Fargo and Bismarck dioceses provided the state a list of 53 clergy members who have had substantiated allegations of 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.

ND Attorney General announces end of investigation into sexual abuse by clergy

NORTH DAKOTA
Williston Herald

January 4, 2021

https://www.willistonherald.com/news/public_safety/nd-attorney-general-announces-end-of-investigation-into-sexual-abuse-by-clergy/article_4224ead6-4eba-11eb-8cad-93476a8fe62c.html

Issues with the statute of limitations on allegations mean no criminal charges will come from the state’s investigation into decades-old allegation of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

The investigation started about 18 months ago, when the Catholic Dioceses of Fargo and Bismarck released a list of 53 people who had been accused of sexual abuse in cases the diocese believed were substantiated.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem met with Bishops David Kagan and John Folda in June 2019, and asked to inspect all the records of the church relating to clergy abuse.

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.

Stenehjem: Deaths, statute of limitations preclude any prosecution of sex abuse crimes committed by ND Catholic Dioceses clergy

NORTH DAKOTA
KXNet.com

January 4, 2021

By Keith Darnay

Stenehjem: Deaths, statute of limitations preclude any prosecution of sex abuse crimes committed by ND Catholic Dioceses clergy

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem today released the results of an investigation by his office into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses.

The bottom line: Of the 53 people named by the Dioceses, and an additional person identified by the state during its investigation, all but two have died.

And the allegations against the remaining two date back to the 1970s, meaning the statute of limitations in effect at the time had run out, precluding any current prosecutions.

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Investigation into clergy members accused of child sex abuse runs out of time

BISMARCK (ND)
KFYR

January 4, 2021

An investigation conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Investigations into the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses found two clergy members accused of child sex abuse cannot be charged because the statue of limitations has run out.

According to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, an 18-month investigation looked into 53 individuals with the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses accused of child sex abuse.

Of the 53 names, only two were alive at the time the investigation began, Norman Dukart of Dickinson and another clergy member who moved to Minnesota.

BCI agents say during the course of the investigation another clergy member, Odo Muggli of the Assumption Abbey in Richardton, was identified as another suspect.

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Attorney general concludes child sex abuse investigation in Fargo, Bismarck dioceses

BISMARCK (ND)
KVRR

January 4, 2021

By Jim Monk

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says an 18-month investigation by his office into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the North Dakota Catholic dioceses has concluded.

Stenehjem says the investigation began around the time when the Diocese of Fargo and the Diocese of Bismarck released a list of 53 people whom they believed that allegations of child sexual abuse had been substantiated.

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STENEHJEM: INVESTIGATION INTO CATHOLIC DIOCESES CONCLUDES

NORTH DAKOTA
AM 1100

January 4, 2021

By Chris Larson

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem today announced that the investigation by his office into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses has concluded.

The eighteen month long criminal investigation commenced around the time the two North Dakota Catholic Dioceses, headquartered in Fargo and Bismarck, compiled and released a list of 53 individuals for whom they felt allegations of child sexual abuse had been substantiated. Stenehjem met with Bishops David Kagan and John Folda in June of 2019, and requested access to inspect all the records of the church relating to clergy abuse, and the Bishops agreed.

Stenehjem assigned four seasoned agents from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to the cases. The Dioceses cooperated with the Attorney General’s office in allowing the agents to review all complaints, records and files, including allegations for those not previously designated as “substantiated” by the Dioceses.

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.

Investigation into clergy sex abuse in Catholic Church concludes in North Dakota

FARGO (ND)
KEGO

January 4, 2021

By Paul Jurgens

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Monday that the investigation by his office into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the two catholic dioceses in the state has concluded.

The 18-month criminal investigation began around the time the two North Dakota Catholic Dioceses, in Fargo and Bismarck, released a list of 53 people for whom they felt allegations of child sexual abuse had been substantiated. Stenehjem met with Bishops David Kagan and John Folda in June of 2019, and requested access to inspect all the records of the church relating to clergy abuse.

Stenehjem assigned four agents from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to the cases. The Dioceses cooperated with the Attorney General’s office in allowing the agents to review all complaints, records and files, including allegations for those not previously designated as “substantiated” by the Dioceses.

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January 4, 2021

[Commentary] The Credibility Deficit of Victoria’s Courts

AUSTRALIA
Quadrant Online

January 3, 2021

By David Ward

State institutions have good and bad pandemics like war correspondents have good and bad wars. The lockdown came at a convenient time for Victoria’s criminal courts, where jury trials quietly resumed last month. It allowed the unresolved questions about the state’s judicial leadership to be shuffled down the priority line, south of the interim settings and subject to operational requirements. The problem for the courts is that applying the law correctly is generally regarded as an operational requirement. It’s a problem because the courts are operating again and the questions are still unresolved.

You wouldn’t necessarily have known it from the analysis but George Pell’s High Court appeal was decided on the facts, law and “judicial method”. That’s extraordinary, and the divergence between the state and national court on all three was clear-cut and irreconcilable. There was no disputing which authority prevailed, nor where the corrections had to be made, and seen to be made. That was in April.

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[Commentary] The Credibility Deficit of Victoria’s Courts

AUSTRALIA
Quadrant Online

January 3, 2021

By David Ward

State institutions have good and bad pandemics like war correspondents have good and bad wars. The lockdown came at a convenient time for Victoria’s criminal courts, where jury trials quietly resumed last month. It allowed the unresolved questions about the state’s judicial leadership to be shuffled down the priority line, south of the interim settings and subject to operational requirements. The problem for the courts is that applying the law correctly is generally regarded as an operational requirement. It’s a problem because the courts are operating again and the questions are still unresolved.

You wouldn’t necessarily have known it from the analysis but George Pell’s High Court appeal was decided on the facts, law and “judicial method”. That’s extraordinary, and the divergence between the state and national court on all three was clear-cut and irreconcilable. There was no disputing which authority prevailed, nor where the corrections had to be made, and seen to be made. That was in April.

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[Commentary] The Next Pope

Open Tabernacle (blog)

January 4, 2021

By Betty Clermont

Plans for the election of the next pope are well under way. In the last quarter of 2020, there have been indications as to what the next pontiff will say and do. He will continue to make meaningless policies and procedures about child sex abuse. So thousands upon thousands of children around the world will remain at risk of being sexually tortured. All will be severely traumatized for life. Many will die.

The next pope will maintain his predecessors’ opposition to women’s and LGBTQ person’s human rights while appearing to be liberal on issues pleasing to the American mainstream media.

In contrast to the major portion of Pope Francis’ pontificate, leaders of the Catholic rightwing are uniting behind the pope and will continue in the future, doing whatever is necessary to bolster the prestige and importance of the head of the Church.

As has been true since the 1978 election of Pope John Paul II, the pontiff will reign, but Opus Dei* will govern.

Signs of the Time

A report on the former archbishop of Washington D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was released on Nov. 10. It had been started more than two years earlier. Pope Francis had ordered this account be made only after the New York Archdiocese found that an allegation of sex abuse of a minor by Cardinal McCarrick was “credible and substantiated” in June 2018. After the announcement, two other accusations of sexual abuse of minors by McCarrick were revealed.

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Trial of former St. Helen’s seminarian now scheduled for May

OHIO
News-Herald

January 3, 2021

By Andrew Cass

https://www.news-herald.com/news/trial-of-former-st-helens-seminarian-now-scheduled-for-may/article_70baadfe-4dd4-11eb-8bb2-278c4bf471e5.html

The trial of a Strongsville priest with Geauga County ties is now scheduled for late May, federal court records show.

The priest, Robert McWilliams, 40, is facing charges of two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of transportation of child pornography, one count of receipt and distribution of visual depictions of real minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of possession of child pornography.

McWilliams is a former seminarian at St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Newbury Township.

A trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio was previously scheduled for Feb. 18, but in December defense attorney Robert A. Dixon asked for the case to be continued, citing ongoing challenges stemming from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Dixon’s motion was unopposed by federal prosecutors. Northern District of Ohio Judge Sara Lioi set a new jury trial date of May 24. The new deadline for a plea deal in the case is set for April 9, court records show.

McWilliams was arrested Dec. 5, 2019, at St. Joseph in Strongsville after the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force raided his office and living space. He was facing criminal charges in Cuyahoga and Geauga counties, but prosecutors in both ultimately dropped their cases after a federal complaint was filed Feb. 21 in the The Northern District of Ohio U.S. Court.

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Swimming, tennis join redress scheme but Jehovah’s Witnesses stay out

AUSTRALIA
The Courier

January 4, 2021

By Paul Osborne

Hundreds of applications by abuse survivors for redress will start to flow through in the wake of more institutions joining the support scheme.

But Families Minister Anne Ruston said she remained concerned three organisations had still not signed, meaning 77 applications from abuse survivors could not be progressed.

About 450 institutions have signed up to the national redress scheme covering more than 60,650 sites including churches, children’s homes, schools, swimming centres and sports clubs.

Having named and shamed a number of institutions in July, more than 100 bodies signed up before December 31.

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Cardinal Marx says failure to publish German abuse report is a disaster

GERMANY
La Croix International

December 21, 2020

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Top papal advisor criticizes fellow German cardinal, saying refusal to disclose independent findings on abuse will hurt everyone

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, who is one of Pope Francis’ closest advisors, has criticized fellow German Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki for refusing to publish an independent report on clerical abuse in the latter’s Archdiocese of Cologne.

“What the public now perceives is lawyers squabbling about quibbles on the backs of the (abuse) victims,” Marx told the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung in a long interview on December 15.

“That is disastrous for all of us,” said the 67-year-old Bavarian, a member of the pope’s Council of Cardinals and coordinator of the Holy See’s Council for the Economy.

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PURE EVIL: ‘Paedo priest’ arrested for ‘filming sick sex attacks on 53 children after recruiting vulnerable kids into church’

UNITED KINGDOM
The Sun

January 1, 2021

By Will Stewart and Imogen Braddick

A Russian priest has reportedly been arrested after allegedly filming sick sex attacks on more than 50 children.

Yury Abramov, 39, a former activist in the pro-Putin political party United Russia, faces multiple charges of abuse from the last decade.

Known as Father Spiridon, the alleged paedophile is accused of molesting children aged 12 to 16, and making pornographic videos of his victims.

The now-suspended priest is also a computer sciences teacher at a school in Amurzet, eastern Russia.

A church bell ringer named Sergey Moos, 27, is suspected of acting as an accomplice.

A total of 53 children are suspected to be victims of Abramov, state media outlet RIA Novosti reported, citing a law enforcement source.

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Controversial new French archbishop wants to bring healing

FRANCE
La Croix International

December 21, 2020

By Mélinée Le Priol

Exclusive interview with Archbishop Olivier de Germay of Lyon, successor to Cardinal Philippe Barbarin

Archbishop Olivier de Germay has officially taken over as the head of the Archdiocese of Lyon, one of France’s oldest and most important local Churches.

The 60-year-old native of Tours, whom Pope Francis appointed last October to succeed the scandal-damaged Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, was formally installed last Sunday in Saint Jean Cathedral.

He served the last eight years as Bishop of Ajaccio on the island of Corsica. He now takes up the reins in Lyon, which, since 2016, has been seen as the epicenter for the clergy sex abuse crisis in France.

Archbishop de Germay spoke with La Croix’s Mélinée Le Priol about his desire to work for the unity of his new archdiocese.

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Former Capuchin priest Yurgel accused of abuse in new lawsuit

NORTH CAROLINA
Catholic News Herald

December 29, 2020

Former Capuchin Franciscan priest Robert Yurgel, who was dismissed from his religious order and removed from the priesthood in 2010, has been accused by a second man of child sexual abuse in the late 1990s while Yurgel served as a parochial vicar in the Diocese of Charlotte.

A California man, now 28, alleges in a civil lawsuit that Yurgel abused him at St. Matthew Church in Charlotte when the man was about 5 to 7 years old. Yurgel was assigned by his New Jersey-based religious order to work in the Charlotte diocese from 1997 to 1999.

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 14, 2020, in Mecklenburg County Superior Court against Yurgel, the Diocese of Charlotte, and Yurgel’s former religious order, the Capuchin Franciscans’ Province of the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis in Union City, N.J.

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Survivors reflect on Australia sex abuse inquiry, three years on

AUSTRALIA
Al Jazeera

December 15, 2020

By Ali MC

The landmark inquiry gave survivors a chance to talk, while legal changes have allowed them to seek redress.

Kym Krasa was just eight years old when she was first sexually abused by a member of the Catholic Church.

A so-called “part” Aboriginal child, she had been taken from her impoverished family and placed in an orphanage.

But instead of being cared for, she was abused, and the abuse would continue for the next decade at the hands of a priest and church parishioners, and as a teenager, by a man for whom she was forced to work as a domestic servant.

It was not until the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established in 2012 that Krasa, now 67, could finally talk about her experiences. It is now three years since the commission completed its work.

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January 3, 2021

Nearly 40 years later, a former Boy Scout remains haunted by alleged assault

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

January 1, 2021

By Brian MacQuarrie

After nearly 40 years, a middle-age man with five children remains haunted by the memory of a Boy Scout camping trip to New Hampshire.

Kevin Hannon had been sleeping during a rainy night in 1981, sheltering in a tent near Adams Pond in Barnstead. He woke suddenly to a hand groping his genitals, he recalled recently. Shocked and confused, he did not say a word as the perpetrator withdrew and walked away.

The 14-year-old recognized the man who had touched him, someone Hannon had trusted, a respected member of the West Roxbury neighborhood where they both lived, and the scoutmaster of his troop.

“I was afraid to tell anybody, afraid to be ridiculed, and afraid of how people would think of me,” Hannon said in an interview at his kitchen table. “When I came home from camp, I felt a little lost. I contemplated hurting myself.”

This autumn, Hannon finally came forward with the allegation, becoming one of more than 95,000 people to file sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America before a Nov. 16 deadline set by US Bankruptcy Court. The 110-year-old organization had asked for bankruptcy protection in February as the rising cascade of allegations posed a potentially crippling blow to its finances.

The bankruptcy proceedings, which have paused previous lawsuits, are expected to cause a dramatic restructuring of the Boy Scouts, which has reported more than $1 billion in assets but is beset by dwindling membership and revenues.

Hannon is among 105 former Boy Scouts represented by Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who filed suit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston during the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the church.

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New sex abuse and ‘grooming’ allegations target former Staten Island priest

STATEN ISLAND (NY)
Staten Island Avance

January 2, 2021

By Kyle Lawson

Former priest Ralph LaBelle has again been accused of sexually abusing a young male parishioner on Staten Island.

According to a civil complaint filed last week in Richmond County state Supreme Court, St. George, the victim was “groomed” and sexually abused between the ages of 13 and 16-years-old.

At the time, LaBelle was assigned to St. Clare’s R.C. Church in Great Kills. He was there from 1979 to 1985.

The plaintiff, Donald O’Brien, is seeking damages from the Archdiocese of New York and St. Clare’s for “severe and permanent” injuries that have included “pain, suffering, emotional trauma and humiliation.”

LaBelle already was included on a list of clergy credibly accused of abuse unveiled in April 2019 by the Archdiocese of New York. He was laicized in 2005, after several victims had come forward.

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Obituary for Bishop Geoff Robinson

AUSTRALIA
Pearls and Irritations (blog)

January 3, 2021

By Michael Kelly

[For more about the impact of Bishop Robinson, see: Case Study 31: Retired Catholic Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; Australian bishop testifies on prevalence of child sex abuse in the church, by Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter, September 10, 2015; and ‘I was abused too’: The bishop who fought for sex abuse victims, by Anne Lim, Eternity News, December 15, 2017.]

Saying farewell to Bishop Geoff Robinson as we did when he died on December 29, 2020, is saying goodbye to one of the few Australian Catholic bishops with his integrity and reputation for honesty and championing the defence of the weak and the abused still intact.

He was outstandingly intelligent and compassionate. He lent his considerable knowledge of Church law to ease the burden of those who suffered the effects of failed marriages. He focused on what is essential in Christianity by his very accessible, popular commentaries on the Synoptic Gospels. His commentaries were well appreciated by preachers and believers of all denominational allegiance

While our paths overlapped from time to time, it is what he will be best remembered for most – caring for and promoting the rights of children abused by Catholic officials, including priests – that brought about a very significant intersection of our paths in 1997.

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Bishop Robinson returns to the Father at 83

AUSTRALIA
Catholic Weekly

December 30, 2020

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, a former auxiliary bishop of Sydney, died on 29 December after a long battle with terminal illness. He was 83.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP paid tribute to the late Bishop, who recently marked 60 years of priesthood and had been a bishop for 36 years.

“I saw Bishop Robinson before his death and he was impressively peaceful, prayerful and looking forward to going to the Father,” Archbishop Fisher said in a statement issued after Bishop Robinson’s death.

“In this life he served in parishes, as a canon lawyer and law lecturer, and as an auxiliary bishop of Sydney. In the latter role he was very helpful to me when I was first appointed as an auxiliary bishop alongside him. He long contributed to the governance of Catholic education in NSW and, again, graciously helped with the ‘handover’ to me of the Catholic schools portfolio in Sydney and statewide.

An outspoken voice

“Bishop Robinson was an outspoken voice for the victims of child sexual abuse within the Church and the need for just redress and effective child protection going forward. He was undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in moving the Church forward on these matters,” the Archbishop said.

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After abuse, addiction, and recovery, Mike McDonnell works to help others

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
Philadelphia Inquirer

January 3, 2021

By Isabella Simonetti

Mike McDonnell understands how victims can lose their way.

He was abused by two Catholic priests, one of whom was later convicted, a dark secret that traumatized him so much he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, two of his three marriages failed, and he stole about $100,000 from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia — a crime for which he served nearly a year in jail.

But through recovery, and maintaining his Catholic faith, McDonnell, 52, has rebuilt himself as a victims advocate as he tries to help others. He’s now a local leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

“He’ll take phone calls at all hours of the day and night,” said Shaun Dougherty, a board member of SNAP and a fellow advocate. “He’ll talk victims through any problem that they have. He’ll find resources for them if they need it. He’ll help guide them in any way that he can.”

Many of the victims McDonnell supports have suffered unemployment, divorce, the loss of a home, or addiction.

“I’m able to validate what they are sharing with me,” McDonnell said. “They’re getting an understanding that someone else has walked the same path.”

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[Opinion] The Dawn Patrol: Frank J. Hanna’s Strange Secret

UNITED STATES
The Dawn Patrol (blog)

December 31, 2020

By Dawn Eden Goldstein, S.Th.D.

EWTN’s firing of radio host Gloria Purvis this week further exposed what many observers have already known about the international Catholic media network: partisan politics plays an outsize role in determining which voices are heard there and which ones are silenced. In the words of Christopher Lamb, “it is Fox News under a Catholic cover.”

To better understand what has happened to EWTN and, by extension, to the mainstream of the pro-life Catholic nonprofit world—a world I was part of for many years as an employee of the Cardinal Newman Society and Americans United for Life, and as a frequent EWTN guest—I did a deep-dive into the finances of one of its major donors, Frank J. Hanna III. What I discovered should concern every Catholic and particularly those who, like myself, are appalled by how the Catholic pro-life movement—whose goal of ending abortion I fully support—has been hijacked by people who elevate Trump while deriding the Holy Father.

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Seattle archbishop is stonewalling push for more transparency of church sex-abuse cases, group contends

SEATTLE (WA)
Seattle Times

January 2, 2021

By Lewis Kamb

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-archbishop-is-stonewalling-push-for-more-transparency-of-church-sex-abuse-cases-group-contends/

Their ranks include ex-federal prosecutors, a retired judge, a one-time assistant police chief, even a former priest. But a group of prominent Catholics say they still can’t get an audience with Seattle’s new archbishop in their push to address the fallout of a lingering scandal.

Members of Heal Our Church, a Seattle-based alliance of practicing Catholics who seek a public review of how the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide sexual abuse scandal secretly festered within the parishes of Western Washington, contend they’re being stonewalled by Archbishop Paul Etienne.

Since requesting a meeting with Etienne in January, group members said the archbishop has refused to discuss their call for a citizen-led review of the Seattle Archdiocese’s private records on clergy abuse. Group members contend only full disclosure of the secret files — with a public airing about the archdiocese’s known pedophile clergy members and how the church dealt with them — can ultimately heal the church and rebuild trust within the broader community.

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Child abuse allegations against Troy church divide family, friends, community

ALBANY (NY)
Albany Times-Union

January 3, 2021

By Edward McKinley

“No matter what people say negatively, it’s painful, it’s hurtful, it’s discouraging, it’s angering and it can defame the Lord’s bride, the church, most of all,” Pastor Phil Smith, of Victorious Life Christian Church, said in an early August sermon. “The enemy seeks to defame our Lord and give Him a bad name.”

His message — only God is the source of ultimate judgment and forgiveness — was typical for a sermon. But the apparent inspiration for the message on that Sunday was atypical, and it was not the enemy harming the church’s reputation, but a young woman suing them for allegedly abetting and harboring a Sunday school teacher who she says sexually abused her as a girl.

Abigail Barker, 27, recently filed a lawsuit against Mark Rhodes, a member of the church who was her Sunday School teacher and deacon. The civil complaint alleges Rhodes took off the 5-year-old’s pants and underwear while he was babysitting her and put his face against her vagina, leaving her traumatized from the incident.

The defendants in the lawsuit are the church, Rhodes and Dominick Brignola, leader of the church. Brignola was a former close friend of Barker’s father, she said, and a contentious email exchange between them is included as an exhibit in the lawsuit.

The church, located on Fifth Avenue in the heart of downtown Troy, is like many churches: an interwoven community of tight-knit families. Barker’s family was active in the church, she said. The children in the church were friends. Their parents were also close, with relationships forged beginning when they were kids attending the church themselves. Officials with the church, including Rhodes, who is still an active member, declined to to be interviewed for this story, contending they are precluded from discussing a pending lawsuit.

Barker’s story of abuse is far from unique. The lawsuit was filed under New York’s Child Victims Act, signed into law in 2019, which opened a look-back window for people who say they were abused as children to file lawsuits outside the statute of limitations. Nearly 5,000 cases have been filed across the state, and the window is open until August. Thousands of claimants have identified religious organizations of all denominations as the settings of their trauma and church leaders as the perpetrators.

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Rush to join child sex abuse redress

AUSTRALIA
The Australian

January 3, 2021

By Richard Ferguson

Swimming Australia and Football NSW are among groups to have signed up to the federal redress scheme for victims of institutional child sexual abuse, giving hope to nearly 440 abuse survivors that their com­pensation claims may soon be addressed.

Tennis NSW, Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Presbyterian Church WA, ­Seventh-Day Adventists, Football NSW and Missionaries of God’s Love, Swimming Australia and Football NSW are among 135 institutions to sign up to the redress scheme before a December 31 deadline that Scott Morrison set if groups did not want to be punished.

The likes of Jehovah’s Witnesses have still failed to sign up to the scheme, created in the aftermath of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse, designed to support victims of child abusers in churches, schools, sporting codes and other institutions.

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Bishops want answers from Austrac

AUSTRALIA
The Australian

January 3, 2021

By Dennis Shanahan

Catholic bishops are considering asking Australia’s international fin­ancial watchdog to reveal whether any of the $2.3bn sent from the Vatican City since 2014 went to Catholic organisations in Australia.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, told The Australian that asking Austrac if any of the recipients were designated as Catholic dioceses, charities or religious ­orders was an option.

The bishops are already working on a direct request to the Pope to investigate and explain how $2.3bn was transferred from the Vatican City to Australia over six years without their knowledge, amid a global financial scandal engulfing the Holy See.

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Springfield Diocese plans continued reforms in handling of clergy sexual abuse claims

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
The Republican

January 3, 2021

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield will move forward in 2021 with a new bishop at the helm and building on reforms implemented under former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski to better address how it handles allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

A task force report is expected in the coming months to recommend restructuring the diocesan review board that hears allegations of abuse and expand its ranks to include non-Catholics.

Reforms initiated under Rozanski came after national attention was paid to a Pennsylvania grand jury report in fall 2018 that cited a church cover up that protected more than 300 “predator priests,” as well as a scandal closer to home. A subsequent survivor-driven investigation found credible sexual abuse allegations against deceased Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.

In May — two months before the results of the year-long Weldon investigation were released — the diocese created an Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse to make recommendations on how it could improve that response.

The task force, headed by retired Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford, expects to issue its recommendations this spring with input from survivor focus groups and others.

“There are a number of stakeholders in this process and one of the most important ones, if not the most important, are the survivors of sex abuse — the victims who were victimized by priests or by other employees of the diocese,” Ford said.

In addition, the diocese has entered into an agreement with Western Massachusetts district attorneys. The diocese agreed to notify their offices of any allegations involving a minor or vulnerable person before conducting its own internal investigation.

“The Church and the diocese have a responsibility to ensure that we are reporting allegations of crime to law enforcement. Once we conduct the intake, we refer it to law enforcement and are hands off,” said Jeffrey J. Trant, director of the diocesan Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance. “The last thing we would ever want to do is unintentionally have an impact or interfere with a law enforcement investigation.”

Trant was hired in June 2019, around the time the allegations against Weldon became public. The claimant told the Berkshire Eagle he had appeared before the diocesan review board in June 2018 with those allegations, as well as similar claims against two other priests. Three months later, he received a letter from the board saying it found his testimony “compelling and credible” and that Rozanski would be advised.

However, the complainant questioned why Weldon’s name was never added to the diocesan website list of credibly accused clergy. The diocese responded by saying that it did not list clergy accused after their deaths, but also became immersed in controversy when it said that the claimant did not make allegations against Weldon to the board.

Allegations of a cover-up resulted in Rozanski meeting with the claimant, referring a report on the Weldon allegations to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office, and asking retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis to investigate the allegations.

Velis issued the results of his year-long investigation in June. He concluded in part that “the allegations of the Complainant of sexual molestation committed upon him by Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ that included anal rape, indecent assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress are unequivocally credible.”

He determined the complainant, who first met with diocesan officials in 2014, had been poorly served by lack of documentation, communication and commitment in addressing his allegations. The retired judge recommended a number of steps for better oversight, including the services of an Administrative Supervisor of Investigations to ensure procedure compliance.

Recently installed Springfield Bishop William D. Byrne said he appreciates “hearing from victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their advocates.”

He met remotely with victim-survivors prior his Dec. 21 ordination, where he praised their courage and honesty — though some reportedly had hoped for more specifics on diocesan reforms.

Byrne called the process “ongoing,” adding he is looking “forward to receiving the report from the task force and hearing their recommendations.” He said he expects the “updated list of credibly accused clergy, including the names of all diocesan and religious order clerics even those who were accused after they were deceased” to be completed in the coming months.

Trant’s work over the last 19 months has won praise from the victim-survivor community with one member saying Trant is “out there, actively meeting with survivors and not just listening, he is hearing them because we have begun to see change happening for the that first time in three administrations.”

He added, the new bishop “will have our support if we can see through his actions that his motives are serious.’

A central focus of the Velis report was the diocese’s reliance on a single investigator, and the importance of an investigator’s confidentiality and objectivity. It recommended sanctions for violations of those mandates.

Trant was instrumental in the diocese’s hiring of three investigators for sexual abuse claims and the assigning of two to each claim.

“At the end of the diocesan process, we had failed an individual because of the significant amount of time when that person first came forward, how we responded, when we responded and how we conducted fact finding and ultimately the ambiguity and lack of specificity around ultimate response to that individual was unacceptable,” Trant said.

He added, “We have a responsibility to report to civil authorities any reports of abuse whether it happened yesterday, 10 years ago or 50 years ago.”

Trant briefs the bishop on abuse allegations, a departure from past practices.

“When I was hired, one of the changes made was that I report directly to the bishop,” Trant said. “In the past, my predecessor had reported to the vicar general.”

Once the diocese is notified by the district attorney’s office that it can begin its process, the investigation is presented to the diocesan review board, Trant said.

The current practice has been for the chair of the review board to write a letter to the bishop of its findings and recommendations. Trant said he delivers it by hand to the bishop for his review.

This most recently has been Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester who served as apostolic administrator between Rozanski’s Aug. 25 installation as archbishop of St. Louis and the Dec. 21 installation of Byrne as bishop here.

“With respect to Bishop McManus, he would receive the recommendation and, in every instance, he accepted it and then directed me to write a letter on his behalf to the survivor or to their legal counsel informing them of his acceptance of the review board’s recommendation and offering his sincere apologies,” Trant said.

“So, we have instituted a process to make sure at every step of the way it is documented and that it is timely and they we are helping to close the loop because we have a responsibility to provide survivors who come forward with an answer,” Trant said.

Judge Ford, who was involved with Trant in meetings with Western Massachusetts district attorneys, said the diocesan task force is also focused on input from victims of clergy sexual abuse. It has contracted with an area organization to organize focus groups.

“We have entered into a contract with an organization in Northampton called Stop It Now! They are a professional independent group and we have contracted with them to organize a series of focus groups with people who identify as survivors of clergy sexual abuse in the Springfield Diocese,” Ford said. “They tell us the work will take three months to identify and recruit people to participate, to formulate the type of questions they want to ask and then to review them and do a report.”

Ford said the meetings will take place in a “safe, trauma-informed setting” and the groups are viewed by the task force as “the best way to allow these people who have been victimized to have a voice in what we eventually recommend.”

The task force has also been “engaged in rewriting the bylaws of the diocesan review board,” he said.

“There is going to be a recommendation that the review board be reconstituted in some way,” Ford said. “One of the things bylaws will call for, if approved by the bishops, is that there will be nine members on the board and that there be non-Catholics on the board. This I think will go a long way to boosting public confidence in the review board.”

The task force has also reviewing 500 responses to an online survey that asked Catholics for their thoughts on how the diocese has handled allegations of clergy abuse.

“We wanted to get some input from the people in the pews,” Ford said. “The people are the backbone of the Church and we wanted to find out what they think.”

The task force is also considering outreach to clergy and religious. “The priests, deacons, nuns are important stakeholders and we want to get input from them as well,” Ford said.

He anticipates completing the report three or four months into the new year.

“It will be out sometime in late winter or early spring and I will hand deliver it to the bishop and give him as much time as he needs to go through it and reasons for the recommendations,” Ford said. “It will incorporate everything we have done and what we think ought to be done.”

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 2, 2021

Vatican denies knowledge of $1.8 billion transferred to Australia

VATICAN CITY
Reuters

January 1, 2021

By Philip Pullella

The Vatican and the Australian Catholic Church have both denied knowledge of transfers worth US$1.8 billion which Australia’s financial watchdog says have been sent from Rome to Australia in the past seven years.

“That amount of money and that number of transfers did not leave the Vatican City,” a senior Vatican official with knowledge of the city-state’s finances said on Wednesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Vatican would be seeking details from Australian authorities on the specific origin and destination of the money.

“It’s not our money because we don’t have that kind of money,” he said. “I am absolutely stunned.”

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.

[Letter to Editor] Archbishop Martin’s legacy

DUBLIN (IRELAND)
Irish Times

January 2, 2021

Sir,- While I would like to wish Dermot Farrell well, as he takes up his challenging role as Archbishop of Dublin in 2011, it is important to acknowledge the 16 years of service that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has given to his archdiocese.

The scandal of child abuse by a minority of those in ministry is one that will never be forgotten but today our parishes across the Dublin archdiocese have robust child protection polices and procedures in place, there is a zero-tolerance approach to child abuse and, as far as possible, the church is once again a safe place for children in Dublin.

Above all else, this is a legacy of which Archbishop Martin should be proud. – Yours, etc,

FRANK BROWNE,
Templeogue,
Dublin 16.

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Catholic Archbishop-elect of Dublin prepares for major reorganisation

DUBLIN (IRELAND)
Irish Times

January 2, 2021

By Patsy McGarry

Dermot Farrell assures change will follow consultation with priests and parishioners

With half of Dublin’s priests over 70 and due to retire within the next five years and congregations ageing and declining, the Archbishop-elect Dermot Farrell of Dublin faces the job of managing decline.

These problems are now exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, not least financially, with income down by up to 80 per cent in Dublin during the first lockdown last spring and priests’ income cut by 25 per cent.

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January 1, 2021

Here’s what we uncovered this year about Cardinal McCarrick, beach houses and sex abuse

NEW JERSEY
NorthJersey.com

December 30, 2020

By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin

A series of investigations by The Record and NorthJersey.com this year exposed new information about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s rise to power through the church hierarchy despite abuse allegations that surfaced as early as the 1980s.

The Record and NorthJersey.com also reported this year that church officials tried to curtail McCarrick’s use of a Jersey Shore beach house, where he allegedly abused seminarians, as far back as the 1980s.

His time as archbishop of Newark included the purchase of at least two beach homes, including one tied to a mysterious debt, and a pattern of ignoring abuse allegations against priests under his control — in one case when the claim was bolstered by a letter from the therapist of a deceased victim.

The investigations also found that a still-secret church inquiry uncovered new evidence related to allegations that a priest stole $1 million from two parishes in New York and used the money to pay for lavish vacations along with sex and bondage sessions at a Jersey Shore home he bought for cash.

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Insurance company sues Diocese of Brooklyn over sex abuse cases alleging it knew of prolific abuser

NEW YORK
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

December 29, 2020

By Sean Lahman

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2020/12/29/diocese-brooklyn-insurance-company-sues-priest-sex-abuse-cases-child-victims-act/4070827001/

An insurance company representing the Diocese of Brooklyn says it should not be responsible for paying settlements to victims who say they were sexually abused by the Diocese’s priests.

In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, Arrowood Indemnity Company asks the court to rule that it should not be obligated to defend or indemnify the Diocese because of “allegations of the Diocese’s long-standing specific knowledge of individual instances of abuse and its decades-long culture of coverup.”

Arrowood also alleges that the Diocese has failed to provide copies of internal documents that would shed light on what it knew about allegations of abuse and what steps it took in response.

“The information the Diocese has provided… is inappropriately redacted, contains large chronological gaps, and is missing numerous pages without explanation,” court papers said.

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[Opinion] ‘An Open Invitation For Fraud’: Falsely Accused Priest Calls Out Shakedown Racket Against Catholic Church, Lack of Due Process

UNITED STATES
The Media Report (blog)

December 28, 2020

Kudos to Msgr. Joseph P. Kelly of the Diocese of Scranton (Pennsylvania) for fighting back!

After the Diocese of Scranton created a “Survivors Fund” to dole out free cash to anyone who says they were abused by a priest, no matter how long ago, a group of imprisoned felons came forward to claim that Kelly abused them some 45 years ago. Back then, a court had appointed the accusers as troubled teens to attend a school for boys that Kelly once directed.

The diocese somehow determined that the accusations were “credible” (whatever that means). But Kelly has not only vehemently declared his innocence, he has also issued a scathing statement denouncing the entire process leading to his removal from ministry.

A recent issue (pdf) of The Catholic Light, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Scanton, featured Kelly’s broadside against a system in which easy loot is handed out to convicted criminals while an accused priest is not even afforded the opportunity to defend himself.

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[Media Statement] Retired Priest from St. Augustine Accused of Abuse

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

December 30, 2020

A retired priest from the Diocese of St. Augustine in Florida has been accused of abuse. Now, parents and parishioners must demand answers from Catholic leaders on the history of this allegedly abusive cleric and demand steps be taken to protect children and prevent future cases of abuse.

The Diocese would not specify how many allegations Father David Terrence Morgan is facing or the nature of the accusations against him. However, we find it difficult to believe that the Church just learned of the charges against the priest given the 2018 announcement where Fr. Morgan announced he was going on “sabbatical” to work with a “spiritual advisor.” Vague announcements and postings are commonly used when a clergyman has been accused of abuse, and we suspect that these are the typical, sanitized explanations used to hide allegations.

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JSO: No criminal charges for retired priest following sexual abuse allegations

JACKSONVILLE (FL)
First Coast News TV

December 30, 2020

Days after the Diocese of St. Augustine confirmed abuse allegations against one of its retired priests, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says that it will not be pursuing criminal charges.

According to an incident report from JSO, criminal charges cannot be pursued against Father David Terrence Morgan due to statute of limitation restrictions.

First Coast News reached out to Morgan for comment, but have not yet heard back.

The 2020 report concerns an alleged incident happened in 1977. Morgan, now 71, was 27 years old.

On Sept. 24, 2020, an alleged victim told JSO that they had a sexual relationship with Morgan, who was a priest at the time, that lasted anywhere from two to three months.

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Retired priest of Diocese of St. Augustine under investigation

ST. AUGUSTINE (FL)
Action News Jax/CBS 47, Fox 30

By Christy Turner

December 29, 2020

A retired priest with ties to a historic church in the heart of downtown St. Augustine is under investigation for allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

The Diocese of St. Augustine confirmed the investigation into Father David Terrence Morgan, but wouldn’t share additional information to protect the integrity of the case.

Father Morgan was with the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine as recently as 2018 before he retired.

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Diocese of St. Augustine investigating abuse allegations against retired priest

ST. AUGUSTINE (FL)
First Coast News, WLTV

December 29, 2020

By Matthew Copeland and Haley Harrison

https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/local/diocese-of-st-augustine-investigating-allegations-against-retired-priest/77-2bd60b9e-f09c-4643-9441-07e56663f1d9

The diocese said the Church reached out to law enforcement to also investigate the allegations against Father David Terrence Morgan.

The Diocese of St. Augustine is investigating abuse allegations against retired priest Father David Terrence Morgan, according to a bulletin by the diocese to parishioners.

The diocese said the Church reached out to law enforcement to investigate the allegations, in addition to conducting its own investigation, which the bulletin states found “the allegations have a semblance of truth based on an initial review, but guilt has not been determined.”

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