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.

February 17, 2021

Northern Michigan priest temporarily steps down following sexual misconduct accusation

MICHIGAN
WPBN/WGTU

February 10, 2021

By Trevor Drew

A northern Michigan Priest has voluntarily stepped aside from his role for the time being after being accused of sexual misconduct involving an adult woman, according to the Diocese of Gaylord.

Father Eyob Merin, pastoral administrator of St. Mary Parish in Kinglsey, has denied the allegation.

The allegation was made public at a parish meeting, and subsequently made known to the diocese thereafter.

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.

Accused priest asserts innocence at Vatican seminary abuse hearing

VATICAN CITY
Catholic News Agency

February 10, 2021

By Hannah Brockhaus

At a hearing on Wednesday in a trial for alleged abuse and cover-up at a Vatican youth seminary, a defendant asserted his innocence, imputing abuse accusations to jealousy and divisions within the institution.

“These are unfounded accusations,” Fr. Gabriele Martinelli said during two hours of questioning in a Vatican courtroom on Feb. 10.

Martinelli, 28, has been charged with using violence and his position of authority to commit sexual abuse against a younger student at the Pius X pre-seminary in Vatican City.

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.

Gratitude from an Active Catholic and a Survivor

CHICAGO (IL)
Profiles in Catholicism (blog)

February 16, 2021

By Michael Hoffman

The VIRTUS Programs recognizes the great importance of listening to survivors of sexual abuse. Because people who have been abused have courageously come forward to share their stories, we now have a better understanding of how to help prevent sexual abuse from occurring as well as how to address it appropriately. We offer our sincere appreciation for all survivors who have come forward to share their stories and recognize their role in helping to foster healing and prevention in our church. This article was written by a survivor about his own experience and how caring adults can work together to prevent abuse.

Article:

My name is Michael Hoffman. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a member of the clergy. I am 55 years old and I remain an active Catholic, despite the abuse I endured when I was a young boy. My wife and I are active within our parish. We raised our children Catholic and we sent our kids to Catholic schools.

Given the sexual abuse imposed upon me from the ages of 12-16 years old by a Catholic priest at the time, it is possible you may not understand my decisions. Typically, it is easier for many people to understand or expect a clergy abuse survivor to walk away from the Church. My efforts to find healing and hope from underneath devastating pain and sadness involves many people. It is also intertwined with the same Church who allowed my abuser to remain in ministry at the time.

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.

Defrocked predator priest gets probation for molesting 2 boys at Harrisburg church

PENNSYLVANIA
PennLive.com

February 16, 2021

By Matt Miller

In a proceeding that took only a few minutes, a defrocked Catholic priest was sentenced to 5 years of probation Tuesday morning on his guilty pleas to charges that he molested two Dauphin County boys roughly two decades ago.

John Allen, 77, of York County, must also was deemed a sexually violent predator, the most dangerous type of sex offender. He will have to register with state police for life, undergo perpetual sex offender counseling and his neighbors will be told of his crimes.

County Judge Deborah E. Curcillo imposed the sentence under a plea agreement forged between the district attorney’s office and defense attorney Brian Perry. Allen pleaded guilty to multiple counts of indecent assault and corruption of minors filed against him by county detectives nearly two years ago.

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

Former priest sentenced to 5 years’ probation in abuse case

PENNSYLVANIA
Associated Press

February 16, 2021

A former Roman Catholic priest in Pennsylvania who pleaded guilty to assaulting two altar boys about two decades ago has been sentenced to five years’ probation.

John G. Allen, 77, of York had pleaded guilty in November to indecent assault and corruption of minors in the assaults at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook between 1997 and 2002. He acknowledged having touched the children over their clothes.

The York Daily Record reports that the probation sentence was imposed Tuesday as part of a plea agreement and fell within sentencing guidelines. Allen will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

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.

£6m paid out to survivors of institutional abuse

NORTHERN IRELAND
Belfast Telegraph

February 17, 2021

By Adrian Rutherford

Almost £6m has been paid out in compensation to survivors of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland.

A redress scheme opened to applications on March 31 last year, with the first payments made seven weeks later.

By the end of 2020, the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Redress Board had received 959 applications for compensation, made determinations totalling £7.38m and paid out £5.76m.

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.

Media says breaches in the Pell case were at ‘low’ end

AUSTRALIA
NCA NewsWire via Gold Coast Bulletin

February 17, 2021

By Melissa Iaria

A Supreme Court judge has reserved his decision on what penalties to impose on Australian news outlets that pleaded guilty to breaching suppression orders over George Pell’s child sex abuse conviction, of which he was later cleared.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice John Dixon on Wednesday adjourned a penalty hearing to a date to be fixed, after hearing submissions from prosecutors and news outlets on what action he should take.

Fourteen outlets, including entities owned by News Corp Australia and Nine, pleaded guilty earlier this month to contempt by breaching the order.

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.

Delayed Legion of Christ extortion trial goes ahead in Italy

ROME (ITALY)
Associated Press

February 17, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

A judge in Milan has ruled that trial can go ahead in a case in which priests and lawyers of the Legion of Christ Catholic religious order are accused of offering to pay the family of a sexual abuse victim to lie to prosecutors.

During a preliminary hearing Tuesday, which was delayed by nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Judge Patrizia Nobile confirmed the charges of attempted extortion and obstruction of justice and set a May 13 trial date for the five suspects, said Daniela Cultrera, the lawyer for the victim’s family.

The investigation is an offshoot of a case in which Italy’s highest court in July upheld the conviction and 6 1/2-year prison sentence for a defrocked Legion priest, Vladimir Resendiz, for sexually abusing boys at the Legion’s youth seminary in northern Italy.

That case was sparked in 2013 when one of Resendiz’s victims confided in his therapist about the abuse he suffered while he was a middle schooler at the seminary. As a mandated reporter, the therapist informed law enforcement authorities, who opened the probe.

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.

Aid to the Church in Need says late founder may have sexually assaulted woman in 1973

WASHINGTON D.C.
Christian Post

February 16, 2021

By Michael Gryboski

The Catholic human rights group Aid to the Church in Need recently confirmed an earlier report that the organization’s deceased founder may have sexually assaulted a woman who worked for the charity in 1973.

Born in the Netherlands in 1913, Father Werenfried van Straaten founded Aid to the Church in Need in 1947 and led the group until his passing in 2003.

ACN’s International Executive President Thomas Heine-Geldern released a statement last week in response to a report by “Christ & Welt,” a supplement of the German newspaper Die Zeit.

The supplement had published a 2010 letter by a woman claiming that she had been sexually assaulted in 1973 by van Straaten when she was 23 years old.

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.

Madrid archdiocese provided support for 85 abuse victims in 2020

MADRID (SPAIN)
Catholic News Agency

February 16, 2021

The Archdiocese of Madrid provided support services for 85 victims of abuse in 2020, 75 of them direct victims and 10 who were family members.

The 85 victims received free psychological care and listening sessions offered through the Repara Project for the prevention of abuse and care for victims, launched in January 2020.
Altogether, the Repara Project provided free 400 psychological care and listening sessions in its first year of operation.

“As it’s a project open to anyone who has been a victim of abuse, regardless of who the aggressor was and whether or not (those involved) belong to the Catholic Church, of the 75 likely cases of abuse that have come to the Repara Project, 35 involved domestic abuse,” the archdiocese stated.

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.

Church faces reckoning as new abuse cases emerge

UNITED KINGDOM
The Tablet

February 17, 2021

By Liz Dodd

The number of people accused of abuse in the Church in England and Wales jumped by 29 per cent between 2018 and 2019, the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission has disclosed, with the majority of alleged abusers – almost three quarters – being priests.

According to the NCSC Annual Report, which was released on 10 February, the jump in the number of individuals against whom allegations or concerns were raised is substantially higher than in previous years, rising from 125 people in 2018 to 162 people in 2019. By comparison, 118 people had allegations made against them in 2017, and 91 people in 2015.

Of those 162 people, 46 per cent were secular or diocesan priests and 28 per cent were religious priests. In both categories, most of the abuse alleged was sexual. Some cases were historic, but a significant number of cases – 18 – alleged that the abuse had commenced since 2001.

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.

Rhineland Protestants add to pressure on Cardinal Woelki

GERMANY
The Tablet

February 16, 2021

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

As the crisis in the archdiocese of Cologne continues, with pressure unabated on Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki to act decisively in the face of abuse allegations, Protestants are joining Catholics in walking away from the Church.

The number of Catholics leaving, centring on Cologne, has reached a record 1,000 a month. But the Cologne archdiocese’s “sluggish” efforts to clear up the abuse scandal were also driving Protestants out of the Church, President Manfred Rekowski of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland told the Protestant news service epdon 13 February.

“There is such a thing as a joint ecumenical liability. It is stressful and I hope things will be cleared up soon”, Renkowski said. “Anything that gives the impression of being obscure or that the Church has only little interest in clearing up abuse is fatal.”

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.

Churches, Barnardo’s and Executive ministers discuss apology, memorial and redress to historic institutional abuse survivors

NORTHERN IRELAND
Press Association

February 17, 2021

By Rebecca Black

https://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2021/02/16/news/churches-barnardo-s-and-executive-ministers-discuss-apology-memorial-and-redress-to-historic-institutional-abuse-survivors-2222775/

Discussions have been held over an apology to survivors of historic institutional abuse.

Compensation was paid last year following a public inquiry which examined allegations of child abuse at 22 residential institutions run by religious, charitable and state organisations across Northern Ireland over a 73-year period.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry also recommended memorialisation and an official apology.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Junior Minister Declan Kearney met the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, the Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell as well as representatives of the religious orders and Barnardo’s to discuss the remaining recommendations.

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.

Kerala HC dismisses rape convict Catholic priest’s outrageous plea to marry survivor

KERALA (INDIA)
The News Minute

February 17, 2021

Robin, the Catholic priest convicted of rape, had last year moved the High Court for bail so that he can marry the survivor and ‘take care of the child born to her.’

The Kerala High Court has dismissed the outrageous plea filed by rape convict Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery, who asked to be let out on bail so that he can “marry the survivor.” The court has dismissed the priest’s plea filed by the rape convict stating that there is no merit in the plea.

Dismissing the plea, Justice Sunil Thomas stated that granting the plea would be like giving judicial approval for the marriage, reports Mahir Haneef of the Times of India.

It was in last July that Catholic priest Robin, who has been convicted by a POCSO court for 20 years in prison for raping and impregnating a minor girl, had moved the Kerala High Court with an outrageous plea that he should be granted bail so that he may “marry the survivor” and “take care of the child born to her.”

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.

February 16, 2021

Ex-Roman Catholic priest who lives in York County is sentenced to probation for sex abuse

PENNSYLVANIA
York Daily Record

February 16, 2021

By Dylan Segelbaum

https://www.ydr.com/story/news/crime/2021/02/16/ex-roman-catholic-priest-sentenced-to-probation-for-sexually-abusing-two-altar-boys-dauphin-county/6736983

John Allen, 77, of West Manchester Township, was one of 301 “predator priests” named in a landmark grand jury report in Pennsylvania.

A former Roman Catholic priest named in a landmark investigating grand jury report about widespread sexual abuse and institutional cover-up was sentenced on Tuesday to five years’ probation for assaulting two altar boys in Dauphin County.

John Allen, 77, of West Manchester Township, had pleaded guilty to charges of indecent assault and corruption of minors for perpetrating the abuse at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook between 1997 and 2002. He admitted to touching the children over their clothes.

Common Pleas Judge Deborah E. Curcillo imposed the punishment, which was outlined in a plea agreement and fell within the sentencing guidelines. Allen will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after he did not contest a finding that he was a sexually violent predator.

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.

[Media Statement] Another Abuser Sentenced Thanks to Secular Investigations

ST. LOUIS (MO)
SNAP

February 16, 2021

A former Pennsylvania Catholic priest who was named as an abuser in the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury report has been sentenced to five years probation for his crimes. While we would have hoped for a stronger sentence to better protect children, we are happy that yet another perpetrator has been identified and convicted thanks to the work of secular law enforcement professionals.

A.G. Josh Shapiro uncovered the details about ex-priest John Allen’s crimes and published them in his bombshell grand jury investigation into clergy abuse and cover-up in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Most disturbingly, thanks to A.G. Shapiro and his team, we know that Catholic officials in Harrisburg had been aware of Allen’s abusive tendencies since at least the 1970s. Without the involvement of the attorney general’s office, Allen would have been able to go the rest of his life without facing justice due to the cover-up perpetrated by the Diocese of Harrisburg.

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.

Popular Catholic priest to be paroled after serving 2 years in prison for sexual assault

MICHIGAN
MLive.com

February 13, 2021

By Cole Waterman

Less than two years after being sent to prison for sexually assaulting a teen, a prominent Roman Catholic priest is about to be paroled.

A Michigan Department of Corrections parole board on Dec. 29 decided to parole Robert J. “Father Bob” DeLand Jr., said MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz. DeLand, now 73, is currently incarcerated at the Marquette Branch Prison in the Upper Peninsula.

DeLand will be released around April 23, Gautz said. Conditions and restrictions DeLand will have while on parole are still being determined. DeLand’s parole term is expected to last two years, Gautz said.

DeLand must register as a sex offender until Oct. 13, 2045, at which time he will be 98.

Saginaw County Circuit Judge Darnell Jackson in April 2019 sentenced DeLand to two to 15 years in prison.

Police began investigating DeLand in November 2017 after receiving a complaint that the priest had inappropriate contact with a minor. At the time, DeLand was pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Tittabawassee Township, volunteered as a greeter at Freeland High School, and was so popular a local road was named after him.

Police arrested DeLand in February 2018 and he subsequently faced seven charges related to the alleged sexual assaults of two teens and one young man.

DeLand in September 2018 pleaded no contest to all charges. He later withdrew his pleas and went to trial on a few of the counts in March 2019 and was found not guilty by a jury. Some of those charges stemmed from allegations that DeLand had attempted to sexually assault a teen in the coatroom of St. Agnes Church during a May 2017 memorial service for classmate who had died by suicide.

The day after the acquittal, and with two more trials looming, DeLand pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct, gross indecency between two males, and manufacturing or distributing an imitation controlled substance.

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.

Suspended priest Robert DeLand granted parole

SAGINAW (MI)
WJRT-TV (ABC12)

February 12, 2021

By Terry Camp

DeLand could be released from prison in late April

A suspended Saginaw-area priest who has spent nearly two years in prison after pleading no-contest to sex crimes has been granted parole on his first attempt.

Robert DeLand was sent to prison for the alleged sexual assault of a teen in 2019. But as early as April, he’ll most likely be free.

He was known as Father Bob, a popular Catholic priest in the Saginaw Diocese. That changed when DeLand was arrested in February 2018 and charged with several counts of criminal sexual misconduct.

There were three victims in three separate cases — two 17-year-old males and a 21-year-old man.

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

Diocese issues statement ahead of former priest’s parole

SAGINAW (MICHIGAN)
WNEM-TV

February 15, 2021

By James Felton and Brianna Owczarzak

A former priest imprisoned for sex crimes against children is now preparing for parole.

Robert DeLand was sentenced to prison on several charges in 2019 after three young men accused the former priest of sexual assault. DeLand pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury. He also entered a no contest plea to gross indecency between two males, and delivery of an imitation controlled substance.

He was sentenced to two to 15 years in prison.

On Feb. 15, the Diocese of Saginaw issued the following statement:

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

Former Saginaw Priest May See Early Release From Prison

MICHIGAN
WSGW-TV

February 15, 2021

By Ric Antonio

An imprisoned former priest from Saginaw may be released early.

Robert DeLand was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2019 on several charges after three men accused him of sexual assault.

DeLand pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury, gross indecency between two males, and delivery of an imitation controlled substance.

After serving what will be 24 months, he may be released as soon as April.

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.

[Media Statement] Fr. Robert DeLand to be Released Early, SNAP Responds

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

February 15, 2021

A Catholic priest who was sentenced to prison in Michigan after multiple men came forward to accuse him of sexual assault and grooming is being released early from prison. Given this man’s apparent pattern of criminal sexual conduct, we hope that Church officials will keep tabs on him and inform the communities where he will live and work about the danger he represents.

Fr. Robert DeLand was first accused of abuse decades ago. Diocesan officials in Saginaw were aware of claims against him as early as 1992 and even “investigated” allegations against him in 2005. The priest was finally taken off the streets in 2018 thanks to the work of police and prosecutors in Michigan.

Based on media coverage of his history, it appears to us that Fr. DeLand is a serial abuser. He has been the subject of abuse allegations over the course of three decades and was abusing vulnerable young men as recently as 2017. Given this background, we are concerned that he will once again find, groom, and prey on young men now that he is being released.

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After state blunder, Pa. abuse victims ask: ‘Who the hell are we supposed to trust?’

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
WHYY

February 16, 2021

By Laura Benshoff

The news that Pennsylvania had screwed up the process for putting a constitutional amendment before voters that would allow victims of decades-old sexual abuse to sue hit Jay Sefton hard.

He had let himself hope that things were finally about to change.

“[It] was a real dark wave that came over,” said Sefton, now a therapist in Massachusetts, who says he was abused by a priest in Havertown in 1985.

When the Pennsylvania Department of State failed to advertise the proposed constitutional amendment that had been passed by the legislature, it halted a march toward justice for thousands of victims abused in the commonwealth. The constitutional amendment process takes two years, and unless an emergency provision passes by mid-April, it would be 2023 before victims would be given a window to sue over decades-old sexual abuse claims.

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.

Archives: Diocese wanted Rev. Holley out. Personal letters detailing priest’s situation obtained by T&G

WORCESTER (MA)
Telegram & Gazette

February 15, 2021

This story was originally published on Sept. 20, 2004.

https://www.telegram.com/story/news/history/2021/02/15/diocese-wanted-rev-holley-out-personal-letters-detailing-priests-situation-obtained-t-g/6753617002/

Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan in 1971 decided that one reason the Rev. David A. Holley should go into the care of Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico or some other location operated by the order was because they would be able to find a placement for him after he completed treatment, the bishop said in a letter written at the time.

Rev. Holley, denied parole last week, is now serving a 55- to 275-year prison sentence in New Mexico for sexually abusing and raping eight boys there. Although Rev. Holley was taken in as a priest of the Worcester Diocese in 1962 and incardinated in 1967, which means he became a priest of the diocese, he proved to be problematic because of his history of sexually molesting boys.

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

[Opinion] Bishops blame everyone but themselves

UNITED STATES
Church Militant (blog)

February 15, 2021

By Rodney Pelletier

Over the last 50 years, the majority of U.S. bishops have rendered impotent the authority of the Church in worldly matters, making flailing and often embarrassing attempts to play nice with the world.

The bishops claim they are being “transparent” regarding sex abuse, but time and time again, they are outed by secular sources. After the massive 2002 Boston Globe exposure of clerical sex abuse, the bishops addressed it as a thing of the past.

One of America’s top prelates, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, met with other American bishops in Dallas, to establish the norms by which the U.S. Church would investigate sex abuse — this became known as the “Dallas Charter.”

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Responding to the Ravi Zacharias scandal: Three biblical steps every Christian must take now

UNITED STATES
Denison Forum (blog)

February 15, 2021

By Dr. Jim Denison

Responding to the Ravi Zacharias scandal: Three biblical steps every Christian must take now

Witnessing the fall of someone we greatly admire elicits deep, painful emotions. We feel betrayed by them and embarrassed that we trusted them. The more public our faith in them, the more public our shame and the deeper our anger. We wonder if there is anyone we can truly trust. If they were part of a larger movement, that movement’s reputation is disgraced along with them.

These emotions describe the way many of us have felt since allegations of sexual abuse first began surfacing against Ravi Zacharias, one of the best-known and most admired evangelicals of our generation. I wrote at his death of my gratitude for his life and legacy. Then horrendously sinful personal stories began to surface.

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.

Cologne Catholic sex abuse probe seen as cover-up

GERMANY
Deutsche Welle

February 16, 2021

Germany’s secular panel on sexualized violence against children says Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese has “severely damaged” moves to own up to its abusive past.

Cologne’s archbishopric “severely damaged” the process of owning up to decades of sexualized violence against children in its ranks as demanded by victims and lay Catholics, a top secular German panel found on Monday.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse — a commission mandated by parliament since 2016 to probe cases across German society — decried the diocese’s own internal review, saying this must be done instead by outsiders.

Its statement coincided Monday with Munich lawyers refuting a claim by Cologne Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki that their report, delivered to him last year but kept secret, only examined 15 selected cases out of “all 236 available cases.”

All cases were examined, insisted the Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW), but to protect victims from being re-traumatized the report focused on 15 anonymized examples.

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] Archdiocese of Montreal enters new stage in its pursuit of Truth, Transparency and Transformation

MONTREAL
Archdiocese of Montreal

February 15, 2021

https://www.diocesemontreal.org/en/news-and-info/latest-news/archdiocese-montreal-enters-new-stage-its-pursuit-truth-transparency-and

Review of Clergy and Pastoral files underway and Capriolo Report Implementation Committee launched

The Archdiocese of Montreal announces two major developments in its ongoing pursuit of truth, transparency and transformation, based on the work of both the Honourable André Denis and the committee implementing the recommendations of the Capriolo Report.

“We are continuing to seek the truth so that every person feels safe and secure within the Catholic Church, in all circumstances. We are very grateful to the Honourable André Denis and to the members of the committee implementing the recommendations of the Capriolo Report, who, through their diligent work, will help us to do our part to protect the faithful and the community,” said Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal.

The Archbishop has appointed the Honourable André Denis, a retired judge of the Superior Court of Quebec, to undertake two mandates.

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Montreal archdiocese hires retired judge to review church files, identify abuse cases

MONTREAL
The Canadian Press

February 16, 2021

Montreal’s archdiocese has mandated a retired Quebec Superior Court justice to review its files and identify any information tied to sexual abuse against minors or vulnerable people.

The archdiocese said Monday in a statement that André Denis began his work in December 2020 and will complete his task by this summer.

Archbishop Christian Lépine says anyone suspected of abuses will be suspended for the time it takes to complete an investigation.

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.

In Lenten message, Chilean bishops apologize for abuse

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

February 15, 2021

By Inés San Martín

Still struggling to overcome one of the world’s most anguished clerical abuse crises, Chile’s bishops in their Lenten message once again apologized to those abused and mistreated by members of the clergy.

Lent, the bishops write in a message released Monday, is a time of conversion, during which the Church issues an invitation to renew faith and hope, welcoming God’s love and mercy.

“It is also a time of purification and penance for the pain we have caused for our faults and sins,” they wrote. “The pastors of the Church ask forgiveness once again from God and our brothers and sisters who have been abused, mistreated, excluded or ignored by some of their ministers. A sincere conversion only springs from a heart that is repentant and willing to heal the damage caused, accompany the wounded on their way, and start over from Christ.”

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DPP seeks convictions in Pell media contempt case

AUSTRALIA
News.com.au

February 16, 2021

By Melissa Iaria

Prosecutors say heavy fines and convictions should be given to media outlets that breached court orders in Cardinal George Pell’s sex abuse case.

Media companies that breached court suppression orders in Cardinal George Pell’s child sex abuse case should all receive heavy fines and convictions, prosecutors say.

Roslyn Kaye, acting for Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that even though the outlets obtained legal advice, they still took a risk by publishing and broadcasting reports about Cardinal Pell’s case in the days after his guilty conviction.

The high-ranking Catholic, a former adviser to Pope Francis, was eventually acquitted on appeal.

A non-publication order prevented any reporting on Cardinal Pell’s 2018 trial because it could have affected the jury in his forthcoming second trial, which was later dropped.

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Police probe mysterious death of Indian nun

INDIA
UCA News

February 15, 2021

India has witnessed more than 20 mysterious deaths of Catholic nuns in the past three decades

Police are investigating the death of a Catholic nun whose body was found in an abandoned quarry filled with water in southern India’s Kerala state.

The body of Sister Jaseena Thomas, a member of the Missionary Congregation of the Daughters of St Thomas, was found floating in the quarry in the Vazhakkala area of Ernakulum district on Feb. 14.

The body was taken for a post-mortem examination and will be buried on Feb. 15. The autopsy report has not been released to the media.

The 45-year-old nun was under medication for a mental illness that she developed 10 years ago, according to her congregation.

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.

Historical institutional abuse victims to receive official apology

NORTHERN IRELAND
Belfast Telegraph

February 16, 2021

Victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland are to receive an official apology.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of Executive and church leaders.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Junior Minister Declan Kearney met with the Catholic Church’s Archbishop Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell, and representatives from Barnardo’s and the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland (AMRI) to discuss the remaining recommendations from the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry.

The Inquiry, chaired by the late judge Sir Anthony Hart, called for compensation, a memorial to the victims and a formal apology.

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Discussions held over an apology to survivors of historic institutional abuse

NORTHERN IRELAND
ITV

February 16, 2021

Discussions have been held over an apology to survivors of historic institutional abuse.

Compensation was paid last year following a public inquiry which examined allegations of child abuse at 22 residential institutions run by religious, charitable and state organisations across Northern Ireland over a 73-year period.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry also recommended memorialisation and an official apology.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Junior Minister Declan Kearney met with the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, the Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell as well as representatives of the religious orders and Barnardo’s to discuss the remaining recommendations.

The discussions included progress on redress payments and provision of services for victims and survivors and the centrality of the views of victims to an official apology.

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February 15, 2021

Salem Film Fest to premiere Richard Sipe documentary

SALEM (MA)
Wicked Local

February 15, 2021

As part of its winter series preceding its festival dates, Salem Film Fest will present the world premiere of the documentary “Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood.”

Streaming of the film will be available starting at 4 p.m. Feb. 20 on Salem Film Fest’s streaming channel. The one-hour film is produced by Zingerplatz Pictures and BishopAccountability.org.

A free live panel with the wife, friends, and scholars of the subject, Richard Sipe, will take place at 8 p.m. Feb. 20, with a live chat function. The film and discussions will then be available via Salem Film Fest’s video-on-demand channel through March 4.

The documentary, directed by Joe Cultrera, explores the life and work of the late A.W. Richard Sipe, the scholar of sex, celibacy and clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Sipe’s key role in the Boston abuse crisis was dramatized in the Academy Award-winning movie “Spotlight.”

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Questions & Answers regarding the article “Gut und Böse” in the ZEIT supplement “Christ & Welt”

KÖNIGSTEIN (GERMANY)
ACN International

February 10, 2021

[See also: Statement of the International Aid Agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on the article “Gut und Böse” in the ZEIT supplement “Christ&Welt”]

1. How did the newspaper come into possession of the letter?

We do not know. The letter is from 2010. It was addressed to the Vatican and several German dioceses.

2. Was the letter known to ACN?

The letter was in the archives of the organisation.

3. In which context was the letter written?

From 2009 to 20011 Auxiliary Bishop Mandred Grothe carried out a visitation of “Kirche in Not“. Fr. Werenfried, who had already died in 2003, was not the object of the visitation. Rather it solely focussed on the organisational modernisation of the organisation with a modernization of the charity. This was carried out on behalf of the Congregation for the Clergy that was responsible for the charity. During this time a number of people tried to start a beatification process for Fr. van Straaten. It was in this context that Auxiliary Bishop Grohe learned of the serious allegations against Fr. van Straaten. He wanted with his letter to immediately put a stop to any possible beatification process.

4. What is ACN’s opinion of the allegations?

Aid to the Church in Need deeply regrets the grave allegations that have been made. The organisation completely condemns the kind of behaviour of which Father van Straaten is accused in the article. ACN is committed to an unreserved clarification. We have examined the allegations from the sources currently available and have taken a position on the following points raised

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[Commentary] A Whistleblower “Minister” Loses in the Illinois Supreme Court

UNITED STATES
Verdict.Justia.com

February 15, 2021

By Leslie C. Griffin

Whistleblowers do good things. They report illegal conduct to the police in order to protect others from harm. The Illinois Whistleblower Act protects them from retaliation when they report their employer’s or another person’s misconduct to the police.

Unless the court and the employer call the whistleblower a minister. If the court rules a person is a minister, she completely loses her day in court, as Mary Rehfield did recently in Mary Rehfield v. Diocese of Joliet.

I think Rehfield’s case should go to court, where either she or Joliet may win, based on the facts. That is a better rule than dismissing all the ministers’ cases because someone wants to call them a minister in court.

Lay Principal Mary Rehfield

Mary Rehfield had more than 43 years in education, including 18 years as a “lay principal” in a Catholic school. She also called herself a “lay individual,” which reflects her position in the Catholic church. She “describes her job duties as primarily secular in nature. She alleges that one of the main reasons she was hired as principal was ‘bringing order to the school administration.’” She improved the students’ education experience, gave them a new science curriculum and other better educational items, and promoted “an anti-bullying campaign.” In the church’s business, she is a lay Catholic; that means she is not a minister, or priest, the term that is usually used for Catholicism’s all-male clergy.

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Three sisters sue Tenino, Prosser churches, saying they failed to protect them from abuse

OLYMPIA (WASHINGTON)
The Olympian

February 14, 2021

By Martin Bilbao

Three sisters are suing two independent Baptist churches in Washington, alleging they failed to protect them from a pastor they say sexually abused them.

The two churches are Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Tenino and Calvary Baptist Church in Prosser. The lawsuit was filed in Thurston County Superior Court on Feb. 4 on behalf of Jessica Evans Dudley, Ashleigh Evans Burchard and Shannon Evans, all of Idaho.

The suit alleges David Bosley, who served as pastor at both churches, manipulated the women into his custody, groomed them and sexually abused them while they were children. The abuse allegedly started while Bosley worked at First Bible Baptist Church in Lacey, which was renamed and relocated to Tenino.

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[Opinion] Salonen: Port’s misfire, euthanasia push merit review

FARGO (NORTH DAKOTA)
Jamestown Sun

February 15, 2021

By Roxane Salonen

Salonen shares her concerns about media coverage of bills concerning religion in the North Dakota Legislature.

Several issues have emerged in this year’s North Dakota legislative session that have many faithful concerned, and others plain confused.

Though I don’t often revisit a topic so soon, Rob Port’s response to my column regarding the withdrawal of SB2180 — which would have virtually eliminated the sacrament of confession — compels another look. The bill’s ramifications continue, despite its withdrawal, including with the erroneous headline: “Catholics win the ‘liberty’ to keep silent about child abuse.”

I realize the world is in a tough state, but I hope there’s still a semblance of fairness left in humanity; that deep down, most people don’t believe the average Catholic delights in the thought of harboring child abusers.

I certainly don’t. As a mother, dark deeds that mar the innocent make me especially grieved. It’s why I pray at our state’s abortion facility. I don’t celebrate abuse, I abhor it. And it’s irresponsible to say that withdrawal of this bill signals a desire by Catholics to hide child abuse; it’s simply not true.

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North Dakota House rejects expanding statute of limitations for child sex abuse

BISMARCK (NORTH DAKOTA)
InForum

February 15, 2021

By C.S. Hagen

“These bills were all about giving victims of child abuse hope. Hope after a life of hell,” said the bills’ main sponsor, Rep. Austen Schauer, R-West Fargo, before Friday’s House vote.

North Dakota lawmakers rejected three bills that would expand the statute of limitations for civil and criminal actions in childhood sexual abuse cases.

On Wednesday, Feb. 10, the House Judiciary Committee gave all the bills “do not pass” recommendations, and on Friday, Feb. 12, the bills failed to pass on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Opponents said they worried the legislation would open private organizations to a potentially overwhelming flood of decades-old abuse claims, but advocates say survivors have limited options for pursuing justice.

“These bills were all about giving victims of child abuse hope. Hope after a life of hell,” said the bills’ main sponsor, Rep. Austen Schauer, R-West Fargo, before Friday’s House vote. “Despite today’s votes, we want survivors of childhood sexual abuse to know that we will always fight for them, fight for justice.”

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Aid to the Church in Need admits its founder was accused of assault

EUROPE
The Catholic Universe

February 15, 2021

The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need said it found “very plausible” the claim of a former employee that the late Norbertine Fr Werenfried van Straaten, founder of the charity, had sexually assaulted her in the 1970s.

The charity, which supports Christians suffering under persecution or extreme poverty, confirmed in a statement on 10th February that the victim came forward with the allegation in 2010 and that preparations for a sainthood cause for Fr van Straaten stopped at the time.

“The leadership of the charity took the accusation very seriously. It immediately sought out the person concerned and, in a personal meeting, listened to her. Her portrayal of the incident seemed very plausible,” Aid to the Church in Need said in the statement published after Christ und Welt, a supplement of the newspaper Die Zeit, reported the charity had paid the woman 16,000 euros.

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Acting principal placed on special leave after his sex pest past resurfaces

JOHANNESBURG (SOUTH AFRICA)
IOL.com (Independent Online)

February 15, 2021

By Chulumanco Mahamba

Accused “sex pest” acting principal of John Martin Catholic School in Kagiso has been placed on precautionary special leave amid the revelation that the educator had a valid teaching certificate when he was appointed.

There was an outcry last week over the appointment of Motsamai Molete, a former educator from Phahama Secondary School in Mohlakeng, who was dismissed by the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) for misconduct, after he had sexually assaulted a learner and for improper and disgraceful conduct of a sexual nature towards learners in 2014.

The Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) also upheld his dismissal in 2015. Following a social media post that went viral, the Catholic Institute of Education resolved to put the educator on precautionary special leave while resolving the matter, the GDE confirmed.

“We are monitoring this matter with interest,” GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona told The Star.

The episcopal vicar for schools of the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg,

Solly Mphela, said on Saturday that the archdiocese emphasised that the protection of children in church schools was paramount and, through a child safeguarding policy, set standard employment procedures for Catholic schools.

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Ampleforth College head says a fence has been erected between the school and the abbey and that the college has ‘no assets’

YORKSHIRE (ENGLAND)
The Yorkshire Post

February 13, 2021

By Grace Newton

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/education/ampleforth-college-head-says-fence-has-been-erected-between-school-and-abbey-and-college-has-no-assets-3134014

The headteacher of Ampleforth College has spoken about measures that have been taken to improve safeguarding at the North Yorkshire public school after it was banned from taking on new pupils.

Robin Dyer gave an interview to The Times today in which he outlined how the Roman Catholic school had acted following allegations of historic sexual abuse that span decades and the recent conviction of a former monk who taught there for indecency.

He revealed that a fence has been erected between the school site and Ampleforth Abbey, and that the majority of the monks of the Benedictine order are no longer allowed to work with pupils, with only two teachers and two chaplains from the abbey remaining in employment.

However, he also revealed that separation of the abbey and school as legal entities has proved complicated because Ampleforth Abbey owns the land on which the campus is built and the buildings themselves, meaning the school has no assets of its own.

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Sex abuse cases hit church-run boys school

KENYA
Standard Media

February 15, 2021

By Stephen Nzioka

Shocking revelations of young boys becoming victims of sexual abuse while they are at home has rocked a church-sponsored primary school in Makueni County.

Pupils opened up about their ordeals in their neighbourhoods after teachers at the school noticed signs of sexual exploitation in one boy.

On pursuing the issue, 27 boys at the school, which has 800 pupils, said they had been sodomised by people known to them. However, only eight have recorded statements, with police and Ministry of Education officials in Kibwezi asking other victims to report the assault.

The incidents are reported to have occurred at Riverside village, a shanty where cases of drug abuse are common. The abuse has been running rampant for close to three years, according to the victims, who have previously been too scared and ashamed to speak out.

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[Opinion] The long shadow of clerical abuse

MALTA
Times of Malta

February 15, 2021

The Church has always been a key focal point in Maltese life and culture. Precisely because of its importance and dominance, and not just in Malta, the issue of clerical sex abuse has only begun to fully surface in recent decades. Evidence from countries which have had extensive experience of clerical abuse suggests that it is far more widespread than formal reporting would suggest.

Experience to date indicates that victims are extremely slow to come forward while Church and state are notoriously slow to acknowledge the issue and society at large is significantly reluctant to even discuss it. Most of us find the horrors of sexual abuse and its consequences just too painful to contemplate and, as a result, much clerical sex misconduct and abuse is kept silent.

Church power and society’s loyalty and protectiveness towards the Church has inhibited effective reporting, investigation and sanctioning of abusers with often devastating consequences.

The obsession of Church authorities with protecting image, status and power, often at the expense of victims, has compounded the problem further. At a deeper level, sexual abuse within the Church references the fact that such abuse is far more common in society than we like to imagine.

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‘Malta needs a minister for children’

MALTA
Times of Malta

February 14, 2021

Safeguarding Commission head calls for revamp of child protection mechanisms

The head of the Church Safeguarding Commission, which handles abuse allegations, has proposed that all organisations working with children or vulnerable adults should by law have similar structures in proportion to their size.

The commission was set up in 2015 by the Archdiocese of Malta to prevent all types of abuse, support victims and create a safe environment.

In an opinion piece for Times of Malta published on Sunday, its head, Andrew Azzopardi, says child abuse is hugely underreported. He cites a figure from the UK saying that only four per cent of child abuse cases are reported to the police.

In Malta, a register lists people who, following a conviction, are not allowed to work with children. But this system does not provide the necessary safeguards for children, parents and organisations, Azzopardi argues.

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Law firm details sexual misconduct by global ministry leader

NEW YORK (NY)
Associated Press

February 12, 2021

By David Crary

Ravi Zacharias, who died in May after a high-profile career leading a global Christian ministry, engaged in sexual misconduct with massage therapists and carried on many amorous extramarital relationships via text message and email, according to a scathing, in-depth report from a law firm hired by the ministry.

Five of the therapists said Zacharias touched them inappropriately, and one said she was raped, according to the report. It said investigators searching Zacharias’ mobile devices found more than 200 photographs of younger women, including nude images of a salon employee in Malaysia.

In blunt terms, the report by Atlanta-based Miller & Martin said Zacharias had lied in claiming in 2017 that “I have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind.”

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Evangelist Ravi Zacharias taught his followers to ask tough questions — just not about his sexual conduct

WASHINGTON D.C.
Washington Post

February 9, 2021

By Michelle Boorstein

As a boy growing up in Canada, Daniel Gilman loved church and what he saw as compassion from the God of the Bible for those who suffer. As a college philosophy student, a question began to chip away: Is God just an inspiring fairy tale character, or does he exist? It was a celebrity evangelist named Ravi Zacharias who filled Gilman with confidence that it was possible to be an intellectual believer in a God who is real.

“He was hugely helpful in my becoming convinced I could be intellectually honest and really believe,” said Gilman, now 32, who became a minister with Zacharias’s global, $36-million-a-year ministry, built around a truth-seeking, evidence-exploring, Q-and-A-style of evangelism called apologetics. “He said: ‘If evil is a category, there must be good. If there is good and evil, there must be a moral law. If there is a moral law there must be a moral lawgiver.’”

Now GiIman and millions of others are left with deep questions about good and evil as independent investigators hired by Zacharias’s Atlanta-based ministry are set Wednesday to release a report detailing serious sexual misconduct by the iconic apologist. Until his death of cancer at 74 in May, Zacharias had been one of the best-known figures of American Christian radio and TV for decades.

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Evangelist Ravi Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct, report says

WASHINGTON D.C.
Washington Post

February 11, 2021

By Michelle Boorstein

Ravi Zacharias, a towering Indian American evangelist who helped legions worldwide believe in Christianity through a ministry focused on open questioning and truth-seeking, led a double life, pressuring multiple massage therapists for sexual attention — including women who accused him of sexual aggression and one who accused him of rape, according to an independent report released Thursday.

The report, commissioned by the global Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, is a shameful coda to the career of the late minister, whose books and radio programs have been a staple of evangelical Christian media for decades. Zacharias died in May of cancer at age 74, after aggressively denying sexual misconduct allegations made in 2017 by Lori Anne Thompson, a former follower, and her husband and portraying the couple as extortionists. The report referred to the Thompsons’ case but said investigators did not have enough data to fully assess it.

Evangelist Ravi Zacharias taught his followers to ask tough questions — just not about his sexual conduct

The RZIM board, which is accountable for a ministry operating in 15 countries and with nearly 300 staffers, issued a four-page response to the report that was dramatically contrite. The board apologized to staff who had questioned Zacharias and were rebuffed or punished, and to the Thompsons for the years that “they were slandered … and their suffering was greatly prolonged and intensified.” As recently as the fall, the board had issued statements minimizing new allegations that Zacharias sexually harassed spa workers.

While the report by Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin said it “did not find evidence that anyone within RZIM or on its Board knew that Mr. Zacharias had engaged in sexual misconduct,” details in the document showed multiple red flags. It said several staffers were punished after raising questions about Zacharias traveling with a masseuse or spending weeks alone in Asia. It said RZIM didn’t investigate the 2017 allegations — despite the case making worldwide news.

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February 14, 2021

Bombshell lawsuit alleges Catholic seminary forced S.I. man out because he’s heterosexual

STATEN ISLAND (NY)
Staten Island Advance

February 14, 2021

By Frank Donnelly

Photo caption: Anthony Gorgia, seen in this photo with Pope Francis, alleges he was discriminated against because he knew of homosexual activity by superiors at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

From an early age, Anthony Gorgia dreamed of becoming a priest.

And the 2011 valedictorian of his St. Joseph by-the-Sea class seemed well on his way to achieving that goal just a few years ago.

In 2017, Cardinal Timothy Dolan nominated Gorgia, then a seminarian, to attend the prestigious Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome to continue his preparation for the priesthood and his ordination.

But just over a year later it all came crashing down on the 27-year-old Huguenot resident, alleges a blockbuster $125 million lawsuit against Dolan, the Archdiocese of New York, NAC and others.

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Founders with feet of clay another challenge for Pope’s reform campaign

DENVER (CO)
Crux

February 14, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome – This week the name of the late Father Werenfried van Straaten, a Dutch priest who founded “Aid to the Church in Need” in 1952 to aid persecuted Christians, was added to the distressingly long list of founders of new entities in the Catholic Church who’ve turned out to have feet of clay.

The German newspaper Die Zeit published an article on Wednesday indicating that a Vatican-sponsored review of Aid to the Church in Need in 2009 concluded that serious concerns surrounded van Straaten in several areas, including a charge of attempted rape in 1973 against a 20-year-old employee of the organization.

Other concerns included “excesses in lifestyle,” meaning abuse of alcohol and an overly indulgent zeal for food, as well as “considerable deficits in personnel management.”

After the piece appeared in Die Zeit, Aid to the Church in Need acknowledged the charges and confirmed that it had paid almost $20,000 to the alleged victim of the 1973 assault to compensate her for both her suffering and also lost pension contributions from her time as an employee.

The report further indicated that the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy at the time, Italian Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, ordered that the charges against van Straaten not be made public, on the grounds that the good name of Aid to the Church in Need shouldn’t be sullied by the failures of its founder.

Also this week, famed Italian Father Enzio Bianchi, founder of the ecumenical community of Bose, was ordered out of the monastery and sent to another property owned by the community after a Vatican-sponsored investigation found a “series of concerns” regarding Bianchi, including alleged abuses of authority inside Bose.

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Vigano warns of ‘doctrinal abuse’ undermining Catholic Church teachings, Robert Moynihan says

WASHINGTON (DC)
Christian Post

February 13, 2021

By Ryan Foley

The author of a new book about Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a whistleblower on the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, contends that in addition to the sex abuse scandal, a “doctrinal abuse” scandal also plagues the 2,000-year-old institution.

Robert Moynihan, the editor of Inside the Vaticanmagazine, wrote a book last year titled, Finding Vigano: In Search of the Man Whose Testimony Shook the Church and the World. The book is based on conversations Moynihan had with Vigano, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, who has gone into hiding after publishing a letter accusing Pope Francis of covering for former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite the fact that he knew of the credible allegations of sexual abuse against him.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Moynihan spoke about the state of the Catholic Church in the United States as well as his conversations with Vigano. When asked what part of his conversation with Vigano surprised him the most, Moynihan responded that it was “the … torment that he felt” about “whether or not to come forward with allegations.”

“Instead of just speaking about abuse in the [Catholic] Church, the abuse of young people by clerics, he started to realize that there was another abuse occurring, which was the abuse of doctrine. A doctrinal abuse that is not teaching the Catholic faith but teaching a kind of secular faith, changing the teaching on life issues, on moral issues, on the sacramental issues, and even on the divinity of Christ,” he remarked.

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Judge: Sex abuse lawsuits can proceed against Church

SANTA FE (NM)
Santa Fe New Mexican

February 6, 2021

By Dillon Mullan

A federal judge has rejected an attempt by the bankrupt Archdiocese of Santa Fe to block three lawsuits accusing it of transferring millions of dollars in property to individual parishes to shield the assets from settlements in sexual abuse cases.

Last week’s ruling allows lawsuits for hundreds of victims to proceed, while the archdiocese says it will file another appeal.

“The gist of the proposed actions was that [the archdiocese] allegedly transferred to its 93 parishes most of [its] property, without consideration, and with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud its creditors (almost entirely sex abuse claimants),” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma wrote in his ruling.

The real estate assets the Church is accused of attempting to shield could be worth more than $150 million, according to the ruling. The assets include churches, schools and money raised from parishioners.

If the lawsuits brought against the archdiocese are successful, the assets could be sold to pay settlements to survivors of clergy sex abuse.

Attorneys said the overwhelming majority of 340 claims filed against the archdiocese by a June 2019 deadline alleged sexual molestation and assault, but the actual number of survivors is closer to 2,000. The archdiocese said at the time at least 78 clergy members had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

A committee of lawyers filed complaints arguing the archdiocese created trusts for real estate and assets, and made individual parishes the beneficiaries before transferring millions of dollars in land and other assets to the trusts in 2013 to protect them from creditors.

The plaintiffs also argued that prior to 2013, the parishes did not exist as separate legal entities and could not hold legal or beneficial interests in the property.

The archdiocese argued that the shifting of assets was part of a reorganization effort and not fraudulent.

According to the ruling, the archdiocese intends to appeal the decision in a process that could last several years.

“One of the things [the archdiocese] said is that the First Amendment — religious freedom — a federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Church’s canon law says that Judge Thuma cannot do anything about these transfers,” said James Stang, a Los Angeles attorney representing the claimants.

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Ravi Zacharias, Influential Evangelist, Is Accused of Sexual Abuse in Scathing Report

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times

February 11, 2021

By Ruth Graham

[See also the report.]

An investigation found credible evidence of sexual misconduct spanning many years. Several massage therapists made accusations against Mr. Zacharias, who died last spring.

The influential evangelist Ravi Zacharias, who died last spring, engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape,” according to a report released on Thursday by the global evangelical organization he founded.

After initially denying accounts of his misconduct, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries announced that an investigation had found credible evidence of sexual misconduct spanning many years and multiple continents.

The announcement was the result of an investigation by a Southeastern law firm, Miller & Martin, which RZIM hired in October to investigate accounts of sexual misconduct by Mr. Zacharias.

“We believe not only the women who made their allegations public but also additional women who had not previously made public allegations against Ravi but whose identities and stories were uncovered during the investigation,” the ministry’s board of directors said in a statement accompanying the report. “We are devastated by what the investigation has shown and are filled with sorrow for the women who were hurt by this terrible abuse.”

When Mr. Zacharias died of cancer in May at age 74, he was one of the most revered evangelists in the United States. Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service in Atlanta, calling him “a man of faith who could rightly handle the word of truth like few others in our time” and comparing him to Billy Graham and C.S. Lewis.

Though the report adds shocking new details, accounts of Mr. Zacharias’s sexual misconduct had arisen in recent years. In 2017, he settled a lawsuit with a Canadian couple whom he had accused of attempting to extort him over intimate text messages he had exchanged with the wife.

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Not much time to party as CNS turns 100, but Pope Francis reinforces need for ‘a clear and unbiased’ news

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

February 9, 2021

By Greg Erlandson

http://thedialog.org/international-news/not-much-time-to-party-as-cns-turns-100-but-pope-francis-reinforces-need-for-a-clear-and-unbiased-news-greg-erlandson/

It’s not often you get the pope to celebrate your birthday, even if it’s your 100th.

Catholic News Service turned 100 in the midst of the pandemic, so it took us a little while to get our party hats on. Recently, Pope Francis met with our Rome bureau to acknowledge the anniversary while talking about the importance of our work and our service to the church.

“In an age when news can be easily manipulated and misinformation spread, you seek to make the truth known in a way that is, in the words of your motto, ‘fair, faithful and informed,’” he told our staff.

It was a rare encounter between a U.S. Catholic news organization and our prime newsmaker. The pope’s kind words paid tribute not just to the current employees of Catholic News Service, but to the hundreds of journalists and editors who have worked here over the decades.

Catholic News Service was founded in the shadow of World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic. Yet it was a time of great hope, as the church was experiencing a rapid growth of Catholic periodicals and diocesan newspapers. From its founding, CNS aimed to provide this growing market with national and international news of interest to Catholics.

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Owner of Missouri reform schools faces sex abuse allegations in Washington lawsuit

KANSAS CITY (MO)
Kansas City Star

February 10, 2021

By Laura Bauer and Judy L. Thomas

A man who runs three Christian reform schools in Missouri is the subject of a lawsuit in Washington that accuses two churches where he was the pastor of failing to protect sisters who say he molested them.

The civil suit, filed in the Superior Court of the State of Washington, alleges that the churches knew their pastor, David Bosley, was grooming and then sexually abusing the three sisters for several years beginning as early as 1996 but did nothing to stop it or protect future victims.

“Each defendant had a duty to warn or protect foreseeable victims including plaintiffs,” the lawsuit says. “Each defendant breached both the statutorily prescribed duty and the common law duty of reasonable care by failing to report its knowledge of Bosley’s sexual abuse of children to authorities.”

Bosley, 57, came to Missouri from Washington and opened his first boarding school for boys in 2007, according to corporation documents. He now operates three Master’s Ranch Christian Academy sites in Oregon County in far southern Missouri, including one he opened last September in Thayer for girls ages 9 to 17.

Bosley said he was “appalled” and “shocked” after reading the lawsuit on Tuesday.

“I categorically deny the truth of those things,” he said.

The Washington lawsuit comes as Missouri legislators consider implementing state oversight of unlicensed schools like Bosley’s. The Show-Me State is one of just two — South Carolina is the other — that allows a religious exemption from licensing without any further regulations.

On Wednesday, members of the House Children and Families Committee will hear testimony in Jefferson City on bills that would, for the first time, require these facilities to adhere to certain safety and fire codes, conduct background checks on employees and notify the state of Missouri of their existence.

The hearing — and the legislation — follows reporting by The Star over the past several months that showed the unlicensed schools have flourished in Missouri because of its lack of oversight. The state’s failure to track or regulate these schools has allowed decades of abuse and neglect to stay hidden, child advocates, former students and parents have said.

Bosley also operated a Master’s Ranch West boarding school in Prescott, Washington, but it was closed last May after state child welfare workers investigated allegations of child abuse and neglect.

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New York Catholic Diocese Bankruptcies Put Abuse Claims in Limbo

ARLINGTON (VA)
Bloomberg Law

February 12, 2021

By Alex Wolf

– Bankruptcy courts must reckon with state-law claim window

– Clergy sex abuse victims’ options vary depending on location

New York-based Roman Catholic dioceses that filed Chapter 11 to address child sex abuse lawsuits are fueling tensions by asking bankruptcy courts for a victims’ claim filing window that’s shorter than what survivors were given under a recently enacted state law.

New York’s Child Victims Act, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in 2019, has spurred a flood of abuse lawsuits against the church and other organizations. Victims have filed more than 4,800 lawsuits against alleged abusers and institutions that harbored or concealed them, state court records show.

Four of New York’s eight local dioceses—Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Long Island’s Rockville Centre—have filed Chapter 11, allowing them to ease the burden of litigation by consolidating victims’ lawsuits against them and negotiating with claimants as a single class.

That means child sex abuse victims with claims against those dioceses could face a filing window shorter than the state law intended. Dealing with shortened deadlines could cause stress for victims and suppress their legal rights in emotionally charged, controversial cases, victims’ proponents say.

“It’s hard to put what happened to them in writing, sometimes for the first time,” said Ilan Scharf of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones, an attorney representing claimants in the Rochester Diocese case.

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Ex-altar boy alleges church covered up his abuse by bishop

PITTSFIELD (MA)
Associated Press

February 11, 2021

A former altar boy who says he was sexually abused by a now deceased Roman Catholic bishop has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the suffering he alleges was made worse by a church coverup.

The now grown man from Chicopee identified in court papers as John Doe alleges in the suit filed in Hampden Superior Court that Diocese of Springfield officials, including former Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, engaged in a coverup to protect the reputation of Bishop Christopher Weldon, The Berkshire Eagle reported Tuesday.

Weldon served as bishop from 1950 until 1977. He died in 1982.

Rozanski is now Archbishop of St. Louis.

Carolee McGrath, a diocese spokesperson, said the church does not comment on pending litigation.

An independent investigation found last year that allegations of child sexual abuse against Weldon were “unequivocally credible.”

The suit alleges that people who work or worked for the diocese played various roles in suppressing the man’s initial reports of abuse by Weldon and two other members of the clergy in the 1960s, starting when the child was 9. The coverup continued as late as 2019, the suit alleged.

The suit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

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New speaker’s bureau highlights Catholics of color

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

February 12, 2021

By Stephen G. Adubato

Leticia Ochoa Adams’ project helps conference organizers diversify voices

After learning about her own family’s intergenerational wounds from racism, Leticia Ochoa Adams began to see the Catholic Church’s complicity in racism and set out to change the church’s narrative when it comes to issues of race and social justice.

Last October, the writer and mother founded the new website, Catholic Speakers of Color, which aims to help conference organizers find a more diverse array of Catholic speakers. The online platform features 53 speakers, including Adams, who represent a variety of ethnicities and skin tones.

*

Although baptized Catholic as a baby, in junior high school she became a devout, “Bible-thumping” missionary. “I’m a natural radical. When I see truth in something, I jump all the way into it,” Adams said. She remembers collecting tracts and carrying around her Bible at her junior high school so she could quote Scripture to her peers during lunch.

But a series of tumultuous events led her away from her missionary impulse. She faced repeated emotional and sexual abuse during her teen years, gave birth to her first child at 16 and got married for the first time at 19 to a man she barely knew. After having three more children and miscarrying one, her husband’s drug addiction drove them apart. They were divorced after eight years of marriage. After her second marriage, she wanted to settle down so she moved to the suburbs with her family.

She describes her reversion to Catholicism (what her former church community told her was the “whore of Babylon”) in 2010 as a “joke of God,” attributing it to the omnipresence of Marian images in her family members’ homes. “There’s something about being in a house with 40,000 Mary statues … she tilled the soil for me.”

She describes how she found healing from her sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, namely in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of Catholics like Edith Stein, John Paul II and Teresa of Avila. It was reading the saints that changed her “us versus them” mentality. The saints showed her that we are all sinners, all broken and wounded, and in need of Christ’s healing love.

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Diocese of Winona-Rochester reaches $21.5 million settlement with abuse survivors

ST. PAUL (MN)
Catholic Spirit – Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

February 12, 2021

By Joe Ruff

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has reached a $21.5 million settlement with a creditors’ committee representing 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse, the diocese said in a Feb. 10 statement.
“It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years,” said Bishop John Quinn. “We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority.”

The settlement includes resolution of claims against parishes, schools and other Catholic entities in the diocese. It will allow the diocese to submit a plan of reorganization under its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval.

The agreement provides for additional proceeds from certain insurance companies, and future action against certain insurance carriers that provided coverage for the diocese in the 1960s and 1970s, the diocese said in its statement. Claims stemming from that time with those insurance carriers have not been resolved and additional compensation to the survivors may be recovered, the diocese said.

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Letter to the Editor: The Catholic Church must look deep into abuse

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Post

February 11, 2021

By Barbara Francisco

I hope that Candida Moss did not mean to play down in her Feb. 7 Outlook essay, “Five Myths: Catholicism,” the damage done to individuals and families by pedophiles in the Catholic Church.

Though most people who have been sexually abused do not abuse others, those who abuse others have been disproportionately abused themselves. Convicted abusers should be interviewed as to their past trauma to discover how prevalent this problem is. Many priests and bishops do, apparently, break their vow of celibacy and involve themselves with consenting adults. Secrecy means that priests who abuse children may not be reported because of the information on vow-breaking that they hold on others in their ranks.

The damage must stop, and Ms. Moss and others must lay out what steps the Catholic Church and law enforcement must take to make that happen. Dismissing celibacy and homosexuality as causes for this serious problem is not enough.

Barbara Francisco, Silver Spring

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Priesthood — ordained and baptized — is a call to serve God and others, presenter says

ST. PAUL (MN)
Catholic Spirit – Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

February 12, 2021

By Joe Ruff

Priest, prophet and king. All the baptized share in these qualities, which Christ fully lived and which some, such as ordained priests, are called to live in particular ways, said Sister Esther Mary Nickel of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan.

In a Feb. 9 online presentation on “The Priesthood, (Both Baptized and Ordained),” offered by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Sister Nickel said God intends everyone to cooperate and serve one another as members of the body of Christ, united in a special way by baptism, the Eucharist and other sacraments.

Priests are called to a particular and difficult task: to serve their flocks. “The ordained priesthood is at the service of the priesthood of the baptized,” Sister Nickel said.

*

Clericalism, on the other hand, is an abuse of the ministerial priesthood, Sister Nickel said.

“Clericalism comes when the ordained minister usurps his role as servant and expects to be served,” she said. “Whenever a cleric exercises the power of his ministry for his own good and not the good of the Church and the salvation of souls, that is clericalism. The worst abuse of this has been seen in the abuse of children, but it can also be seen in other abuses of power.”

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Two abuse victims came forward in 2020

LUXEMBOURG
RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg from Agence France-Presse

February 14, 2021

The archdiocese’s department for abuse victims has been operating for a number of years and recently published its 2020 report.

In 2017, the archdiocese launched a prevention programme as well as mandatory training courses. In 2020, those classes could not be held due to the pandemic.

Last year, two people came forward to report having been sexually abused while they were still minors. Both cases date back to the 1960s. The alleged perpetrators are three pastors and one further person. There were also incidents of physical and emotional violence, which have been linked to a woman working for the church. All cases were forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.

Another case was declared closed, a pastor being barred from practicing his job. He is furthermore no longer allowed to be alone in the company of minors.

Two cases dating back to 2018 and 2019 were closed with the church paying compensation fees. The sum of theses fines was not revealed in the annual report.

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RIB Arrests Catholic Priest over Sexual Abuse of 17 Year Houseboy

KIGALI (RWANDA)
KT Press

February 13, 2021

By Daniel Sabiiti

Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has confirmed arrest of a catholic priest for allegedly sexually abusing a 17 year old boy in his parish community.

Father Habimfura Jean Baptiste, the parish priest of Ntarabana parish in Kabgayi diocese was arrested Thursday February 11, 2021 at Rusumo border post as he allegedly tried to escape into neighboring Tanzania.

Dr Thierry B Murangira, the RIB spokesman confirmed the developments to Kigali Today website and said the alleged crime was committed in 2020.

“He was arrested at Rusomo border as he tried to evade justice, for a crime he committed of sexually abusing a boy who worked for him as a housemaid,” Dr Murangira said.

RIB also said that the victim was able to come out and provide this information of the alleged sexual abuse, which is currently under investigation as the suspect is held at Nyamabuye Police Station in Muhanga district.

If convicted, the priest could get to serve a prison sentence from 20 to 25 years in jail.

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February 13, 2021

Cathedral High School graduate finds validation after Springfield diocese hears her sexual abuse claim against late Rev. Karl Huller

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
The Republican via Mass Live

February 12, 2021

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

https://www.masslive.com/news/2021/02/cathedral-high-school-graduate-finds-validation-after-springfield-diocese-hears-her-sexual-abuse-claim-against-late-rev-karl-huller.html

Sixteen years after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield reached settlements with two men who alleged they were sexually abused by the late Rev. Karl Huller as students at Cathedral High School in the 1960s, the diocese accepted as credible a third survivor’s claim she was sexually assaulted by Huller at the school during that same time period.

The diocese, which had reached financial settlements with two men in 2004, accepted as credible in December a third survivor’s claim that she was assaulted by Huller at Cathedral High School in the 1960s.

The finding that “there is reasonable cause to believe” her allegations against Huller, who once served as the diocese’s superintendent of schools, continues an ongoing narrative that many of the accused in the Springfield diocese held high positions that allowed the abuse to be covered up. Survivors coming forward continue to say their allegations are not being handled in a timely and transparent fashion.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian of Boston is negotiating with diocesan lawyer Kevin D. Withers of Egan, Flanagan & Cohen for financial compensation on the woman’s behalf, but was critical of the fact the allegation was reported to the diocese in November 2019 and that it has yet to release all the names of priests credibly accused.

Not to do so “continues the secrecy which prevents much needed validation for clergy sexual abuse victims and places children in danger,” Garabedian said.

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Church dossier helped us snare paedophile priest, police officer tells LBC

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Leading Britain’s Conversation

February 12, 2021

By Lindsey Alder

A police officer has told LBC a priest convicted of child sex abuse was only caught when information held by the Catholic church was eventually brought to them by his victim.

Joseph Quigley was jailed for more than 11 years in January for abusing a teenage boy whilst working in the clergy in the West Midlands.

He was a priest in Warwick and working as a private tutor when he carried out the attacks between 2006 and 2009.

The victim, who was under 16 when it happened, reported it to the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 2012 but the full details were not passed onto police – despite an earlier allegation about him to the church in 2008.

It took him another 6 years before he had the courage to come forward to the police himself.

Lead investigator DS Abigail Simpson from Warwickshire Police said examining the church’s safeguarding file on Quigley was eye-opening.

“Certainly for us it was a pivotal point in the investigation as there was a lot of evidence found within those files that really…supported that these offences had occurred and that Mr Quigley did have an unhealthy sexual interest in young people”.

“I think if the police had been notified at the time these offences were reported (2012), then absolutely we could have investigated earlier.

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Known Sexual Abusers from Mount Cashel Sent to Teach in Vancouver Schools, Lawsuit Reveals

VANCOUVER (BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA)
CFM Lawyers Press Release

February 8, 2021

Following years of systemic child abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage, senior members of the Christian Brothers Congregation shuffled six known abusers to teach at two Catholic schools in Vancouver where some of them continued to abuse the boys in their care, according to a class action lawsuit filed today by one of the survivors.

“The abuses at the hands of the Christian Brothers at Mount Cashel are well-known,” said Joe Fiorante, QC a partner at CFM Lawyers, the law firm bringing the lawsuit. “But the abuse continued in Vancouver because rather than dealing with the perpetrators, the Christian Brothers simply moved them across the country to teach at schools in Vancouver.”

Between 1976 and 1983, six known abusers were transferred from the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland to Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate with the knowledge and approval of senior officials in the Christian Brothers, who were also directors at the schools.

An RCMP investigation into alleged child abuse at Mount Cashel began in 1975 and led to confessions from two Brothers, including one who was later sent to teach in Vancouver. In the 1980s and 1990s, criminal charges for abuse at Mount Cashel were brought against all six Brothers transferred to the Vancouver area. All six were convicted of sexually or physically abusing orphans in their care at Mount Cashel.

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Class-action suit filed over alleged orphanage abuse

TORONTO (ONTARIO, CANADA)
Canadian Press via Canadian Underwriter

February 10, 2021

By Laura Dhillon Kane

Vancouver – A Catholic order shuffled known abusers from a notorious Newfoundland orphanage to two schools in the Vancouver area where more boys were victimized, a lawsuit alleges.

A proposed class-action suit filed Monday in British Columbia Supreme Court says between 1976 and 1983, an order called the Christian Brothers transferred six abusive members from Mount Cashel Orphanage to Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate.

The lawsuit says one of the six men, Brother Edward English, confessed to abusing children at Mount Cashel before he was transferred, and all six were later convicted of sexually or physically abusing orphans at the Newfoundland facility.

“Following incidents of abuse, the (Christian Brothers) did not act to protect the children in their care, but to protect their abusers from criminal charges by moving them out of Newfoundland to teach at schools owned and operated by the (Christian Brothers),” the lawsuit says.

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Legal loopholes allow abuse to go undetected at religious boarding schools, advocates say

NEW YORK (NY)
NBC News

February 12, 2021

By Tyler Kingkade, Liz Brown, and Keith Morrison

At a Missouri Christian school for troubled teens, alumni say a gap in state law prevented inspections, enabling abuse to continue for decades.

Colton Schrag remembers the night at the Agapé Boarding School when, he says, a staff member punched him in the face.

It was late on April 20, 2007, he said, and the staff at the all-boys boarding school in southwestern Missouri wanted him to confess that he and two other boys were going to try to run away. After Schrag, then 14, refused to answer their questions, he said, one of the employees knocked him to the ground, and then others held him facedown, pressing a knee into his back and head.

Once they were done, staff members took away Schrag’s clothes and bedding, he said, and made him wear only a bathrobe and his boxers for two months.

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‘Nobody Tells Daddy No’: A Housing Boss’s Many Abuse Cases

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times

February 7, 2021

By Amy Julia Harris

Victor Rivera gained power and profit as New York’s homeless crisis worsened. Accused of sexual and financial misconduct, he has largely escaped consequences.

At first, the offer seemed generous. Erica Sklar was in a homeless shelter and needed a more stable place to live. Victor Rivera, who oversaw a network of shelters, including the one where she was staying, said he had a solution: a spare apartment for her at his home in the Bronx.

But after Ms. Sklar moved in, she said, she realized that Mr. Rivera, whose nonprofit organization is one of the largest operators of homeless shelters in New York, had other intentions. In December 2016, he asked to see a leaking ceiling in her bedroom, then turned off the lights, pushed her against a wall and began fondling her, according to Ms. Sklar and two friends in whom she confided.

He demanded she give him oral sex, suggesting he would evict her if she refused, she said. Desperate to hold on to her apartment, she complied.

Ms. Sklar is one of 10 women who said they had endured assault or unwanted sexual attention from Mr. Rivera, The New York Times found. Even as some women have sounded warnings about Mr. Rivera — including two who were given payments by his organization that ensured their silence — his power and influence have only grown during New York’s worst homeless crisis in decades.

His organization, the Bronx Parent Housing Network, has received more than $274 million from the city to run homeless shelters and provide services just since 2017. The pandemic has intensified Mr. Rivera’s importance: As the coronavirus swept through the homeless population, the city gave his group $10 million to provide rooms where infected people could isolate and recover.

Women reported Mr. Rivera’s behavior to a state agency, a city hotline and, in one instance, the police. But he maintained his perch atop the organization.

One employee of the Bronx Parent Housing Network said that Mr. Rivera, the chief executive, forced her to give him oral sex in 2016 and then fired her, according to police records, interviews and other documents. In 2018, another employee accused Mr. Rivera of groping her and whispering sexual comments in her ear. After both women separately complained to a state human rights agency, the Bronx Parent Housing Network paid them a total of $175,000 in settlements that prohibited them from speaking publicly about their allegations, according to interviews and records reviewed by The Times.

Five of the women were living in Mr. Rivera’s homeless shelters, or had recently left, when Mr. Rivera approached them for sex, they said.

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Top court says abuse victim can reopen claim against London diocese

TORONTO (ONTARIO, CANADA)
Canadian Catholic News

February 12, 2021

A victim of former priest and notorious sexual abuser Charles Sylvestre can reopen her civil suit against the Diocese of London, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Feb. 11.

For more than a decade Irene Deschenes of London, Ont., has been trying to have the suit — settled in 2000 — reopened after finding documents that proved diocesan officials knew of the late Sylvestre’s predatory behaviour dating back to the 1960s.

Deschenes suffered abuse at his hands in the 1970s. The ruling means the diocese and Deschenes can begin renegotiating her claim. Deschenes is seeking $4.83 million in damages, CBC reported.

The diocese expressed disappointment with the ruling in a statement released Feb. 11, saying “we felt strongly that the facts of the case deserved to be presented in court.”

“Our appeals were motivated by this belief, as well as our obligation to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us,” said the statement.

Earlier court rulings (the Ontario Superior Court in 2018, upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2020) found the discovery of a 1962 police report on Sylvester could have affected the amount of the settlement Deschenes received. The diocese disagreed.

“We believe that report would not have made a material difference in the final settlement,” the statement said, adding, “We also note that the court held that this was an ‘innocent misrepresentation’ on the part of the diocese.”

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Accused priest William Wheeler

WICHITA (S)
KSN

February 12, 2021

By Bret Buganski

In the past year, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita has added seven names to the list of priests with “substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.” It brings the total to 22 priests who served the diocese, with either substantiation from the diocese or whose name appears on another diocese or order’s list.

There also is an ongoing Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) investigation into alleged clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. The KBI opened 120 cases since the investigation began in 2018.

One family’s story

Three brothers are opening up to KSN about the abuse they say they endured at the hands of one now deceased Catholic priest. We found out the diocese gave different answers about this very same priest nearly 25 years apart.

The court took the Albert children away from their parents in the 1940s and placed them at St. Joseph Children’s Home in El Dorado, Kansas.

“Some of the nuns were good to us,” Dean Albert said.

“But the big thing is you didn’t have your parents,” Ray Albert said.

KSN first told you about the brothers in 1996. They were suing the Diocese of Wichita, claiming clergy abuse. One of the priests they named was Father William Wheeler.

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Editorial: Optimism, disappointment, then new hope for abuse victims

JOHNSTOWN (PA)
Tribune-Democrat

February 13, 2021

Adult victims of child sexual abuse have been riding a roller-coaster of emotions in recent weeks – joy over long-awaited news that a Constitutional amendment might go to voters this spring, then deep disappointment when they learned that the Department of State had failed to advertise that move early enough to get it on the ballot.

Now, just maybe, a renewed glimmer of hope that they won’t have to wait two more years for a chance at justice.

After the state department of state fumbled its opportunity to put a Constitutional amendment that would open a window for child sexual abuse lawsuits before the voters, the state House is picking up the ball.

Led by state Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat, the House is expected to vote soon on an emergency measure to get the abuse amendment back onto the ballot in May.

Otherwise, the proposal would need to pass legislative approval on consecutive years for a second time – in 2021 and 2022 – and then go before voters in 2023.

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Catholic charity confirms allegations of assault against founder

DENVER (CO)
Crux

February 11, 2021

By Elise Ann Allen

Rome – On Wednesday well-known Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, known for its support of persecuted Christians, confirmed reports that the organization’s founder has been credibly accused of sexual assault.

A Feb. 10 article in a supplement for German newspaper Die Zeit reported that an apostolic visitation into Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), took place in 2009, finding that the organization’s founder, Belgian Father Werenfried van Straaten, was found guilty of “serious violations” in four areas of Catholic moral and social teaching.

The executive president of ACN International, Thomas Heine-Geldern, confirmed the allegations to Crux.

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Lawsuit highlights abuse cover-up allegations against St. Louis archbishop

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

February 12, 2021

[See also the complaint.]

Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski of St. Louis is accused in a new lawsuit of covering up abuse allegations in his former diocese of Springfield, MA, which he led from 2014 until last year.

The plaintiff claims he suffered trauma as a result of the diocese’s mishandling of an abuse allegation he brought against Christopher J. Weldon, bishop of Springfield from 1950-1977.

Rozanski has admitted that the diocese mishandled the abuse case, which the plaintiff says he first brought to the diocese’s attention in November 2014.

Pope Francis named Rozanski Archbishop of St. Louis in early June 2020, and he was installed as archbishop that August.

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Man subjected to ‘unfathomably cruel’ sexual abuse by priest awarded £170,000

BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND)
Irish News

February 13, 2021

A man subjected to “unfathomably cruel” sexual abuse by a priest hearing his childhood confessions is to be awarded £170,000 in damages, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice McAlinden held that the victim was preyed on by the late Fr Seamus Reid at a Co Down school in the mid 1970s.

The total payout also covers separate claims that Hugh McNamara, a former principal of St Mark’s High School in Warrenpoint, caned the victim so hard that he wet himself, and then made him clean up the pool of blood and urine.

The Diocese of Dromore was held liable for the alleged episodes of sexual and physical abuse which resulted in the victim developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I find it difficult to imagine a more horrific perversion of the true purpose and meaning of a Christian sacrament by an ordained member of the clergy of a Christian church,” the judge said.

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Statement of the International Aid Agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on the article “Gut und Böse” in the ZEIT supplement “Christ&Welt”

KÖNIGSTEIN (GERMANY)
ACN International

February 10, 2021

By Thomas Heine-Geldern

ACN is dismayed by the serious accusations published in the ZEIT supplement “Christ&Welt” on 10.02.2021 in connection with the founder of the organisation, Father Werenfried van Straaten. The organisation completely condemns the kind of behaviour of which Father van Straaten is accused in the article. In its commitment to an open and complete clarification ACN states the following, relying on all information to hand:

– In 2010, a woman made an accusation of sexual assault against Father van Straaten, which allegedly took place in 1973. The person was 23 years old at the time. Father van Straaten had already died in 2003.

– The account was pausible, even if the question of guilt remains open as by the time the allegation was made the accused was deceased.

– Those responsible at ACN followed the procedure recommended for the ecclesiastical sector in Germany regarding cases of abuse. In line with these protocols, the affected person was awarded financial aid of 16,000 EUR in recognition of the suffering.

– Those responsible at ACN immediately informed the proper ecclesiastical authorities.

– The filing of civil action, which had been considered at the same time, proved to be impossible because the accused had already died.

– The woman concerned expressed the wish for confidentiality. ACN respected this wish.

– The charity is unaware of any other allegations of sexual violence involving Father van Straaten.

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News Analysis: Abuse case at Vatican pre-seminary captures risk, reward of transparency

DENVER (CO)
Crux

February 12, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome – A Vatican tribunal Wednesday heard testimony from the accused party in an unusual sexual abuse case, one involving a charge that one minor abused another during their time at a pre-seminary on Vatican grounds that provides altar boys for liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and that’s produced roughly 200 priestly vocations over three-quarters of a century.

Father Gabrielle Martinelli, who’s now 28, was ordained to the priesthood in 2017, and who’s now in service as chaplain in a health care facility for the elderly, is accused of having sexually abused a slightly younger pre-seminarian, identified only as “L.G.”, between 2007 and 2012, at a time when both were still minors. (Martinelli entered the pre-seminary in 2005 and remained there until 2013.)

Also charged in the case is Father Enrico Radice, who was the rector of the facility at the time the alleged abuse occurred, and who’s accused of hampering the investigation – what, in American parlance, would be known as “obstruction of justice.”

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SNAP New Orleans Leader to Resign

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

February 12, 2021

By Zach Hiner

The volunteer leader of SNAP New Orleans has agreed to resign his position as SNAP leader after developments with the Archdiocese of New Orleans created a conflict of interest through a paid consultation.

As an independent self-help and advocacy group for survivors of religious and institutional abuse, it is important that there be clear separations between SNAP leaders and church officials. The conflict of interest in this case is enough to warrant a change in New Orleans and as such Kevin Bourgeois will no longer be acting as a volunteer SNAP leader. We are grateful to the work that Kevin has done in advocating for and supporting survivors in New Orleans and hope that his work will continue in Louisiana.

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Leader of New Orleans clergy abuse victims group ousted over work for archdiocese

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WWL-TV and New Orleans Advocate

February 12, 2021

By David Hammer and Ramon Antonio Vargas

https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/investigations/david-hammer/leader-of-new-orleans-clergy-abuse-victims-group-ousted-over-work-for-archdiocese/289-bd6de8c7-c5c3-4256-b35e-c87e4f8246de

The local leader of a national group of survivors of molestation by Catholic clergy parted ways with the organization Friday, a day after the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced it would pay him to train and consult with a new counseling team the church is forming.

Kevin Bourgeois, who had been leading the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests’ New Orleans chapter, said he had accepted a contract from the archdiocese to provide in-service training to a team of victims assistance counselors so that he could have a direct hand in improving the local church’s treatment of abuse claimants.

Bourgeois said he had cleared the arrangement with national SNAP leadership. But SNAP President Zach Hiner issued a statement Friday saying the paid arrangement with the archdiocese created a conflict of interest, and that Bourgeois had resigned from his volunteer post with the survivors group.

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Supreme Court sides with London, Ont., woman suing Catholic church

OTTAWA (ONTARIO, CANADA)
CBC

February 11, 2021

By Kate Dubinski

Irene Deschenes, who survived childhood sexual abuse by a local priest, says she is standing strong for herself and for all other survivors. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)
The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with Irene Deschenes, the London, Ont., woman trying to reopen her civil suit against the Diocese of London, which has tried to legally stop her for more than a decade.

Thursday’s dismissal of the diocese’s appeal application marks the end of the legal road for the church, at least for now, and it means Deschenes and the church can begin renegotiating her claim.

“It’s in the hands of the church so we will see what will happen next. If they have any compassion for the victims they created, they’d be on the phone to us by the end of the day,” said Deschenes at a virtual media conference after the ruling.

Diocese spokesperson Matthew Clarke said Bishop Ronald Fabbro will not be granting interviews about the matter, but in a statement said the organization is disappointed by the high court’s decision.

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Supreme Court dismisses church appeal in historic sex abuse case

LONDON (ONTARIO, CANADA)
Blackburn Radio

February 11, 2021

By Maureen Revait

A woman sexually abused by a priest in Chatham decades ago says she’s hopeful the Diocese of London will show some compassion after the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the church’s appeal to reopen a settlement reached in 2000.

Irene Deschenes was sexually abused by Father Charles Sylvestre between 1971 and 1973 at St. Ursula School in Chatham. She was just 10-years-old when the abuse started. She filed a lawsuit against the Diocese in 1996 and, in 2000, reached a settlement after the Diocese said it was unaware of concerns about Sylvestre until the 1980s.

Deschenes filed a lawsuit to reopen the settlement after it came to light the Diocese was made aware of accusations against Sylvestre in 1962, 10 years before she was abused.

A lower court ruled the earlier settlement should be thrown out in light of the misrepresentation by the Diocese. The Diocese of London then attempted to appeal that decision and it was finally brought before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of Canada announced Thursday morning that it was dismissing the appeal.

“I feel pretty optimistic that this is their last line of redress sort of speak, there are no more appeals,” said Deschenes. “It’s my hope that they will finally say ‘OK this is as far as we can go in litigating this poor woman so it’s time for mediation.’”

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Denied final appeal, London Catholic diocese doesn’t seem ready to resettle abuse case

LONDON (ONTARIO, CANADA)
London Free Press

February 12, 2021

By Jane Sims

It wasn’t long after her Supreme Court of Canada victory that Irene Deschenes found out her battle with the Roman Catholic Church is far from over.

On Thursday, the country’s highest court dismissed the church’s application for leave to appeal the reopening of Deschenes’ settled civil suit for the sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of pedophile priest Charles Sylvestre.

The decision was the church’s last chance at stopping the re-litigation of a case that was settled for $100,000 and pushed Deschenes to uncover evidence of Sylvestre’s rampant abuses over four decades when he was a priest in Windsor, London, Sarnia, Chatham and Pain Court.

Within hours of the court’s decision, the Roman Catholic Diocese of London issued a statement that said it was “disappointed” with the ruling, but that the church’s rediscovery of a 1962 Sarnia police report implicating Sylvestre after his sentencing for 47 counts of indecent assault “would not have made a material difference to the final settlement.”

“While there is no financial commitment that can erase the damage posed by sexual abuse, the settlement that was offered to Ms. Deschenes was fair and in line with the limited case law that existed at the time,” the church said.

That was a signal this is far from over. Deschenes’ original settlement has been set aside and she’s suing the church for $4.83 million.

“Whatever I say or ask for, they’ll do the opposite, just to continue interrupting my healing, re-victimize and re-traumatize me,” Deschenes, 59, said after the church statement was released.

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Buffalo Diocese lawyer refers to AG’s lawsuit as ‘publicity stunt’

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

February 11, 2021

By Jay Tokasz

A Buffalo Diocese lawyer suggested that Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the diocese over its handling of priests accused of sexual abuse was a “publicity stunt” and may have violated bankruptcy court rules designed to protect bankrupt entities.

Stephen A. Donato, who represents the diocese in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, told Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki that the diocese was seeking to settle the lawsuit filed in November. He also said that the diocese already was doing much of what the Attorney General’s Office requested it do to protect children from sexual predators.

“With the utmost respect, I don’t even understand why this lawsuit was commenced, other than maybe a publicity stunt,” Donato said in a court hearing this week.

The lawsuit accused diocese leaders of not sufficiently investigating abuse allegations and of protecting more than two dozen priests accused of abuse by not referring their cases to the Vatican for potential removal from the priesthood. While not seeking monetary damages, the lawsuit seeks a court injunction that forces the diocese to investigate all abuse accusations, inform the public of credible allegations and enact and enforce policies to prevent a culture of protecting abusers, among other measures.

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Vatican charity in spotlight over old sex assault allegation

ROME (ITALY)
Associated Press

February 11, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

A pontifical foundation has admitted that its late founder was credibly accused of sexually assaulting a female employee, who came forward in 2010 after learning the deceased priest was being considered for possible beatification.

Aid to the Church in Need, which raises money to build and rebuild churches and train priests in poor countries, said it “deeply regrets” and condemns the alleged behavior of the Rev. Werenfried van Straaten, who died in 2003.

The Koenigstein, Germany-based charity posted a statement and a 26-point question and answer note on its website Wednesday after German newspaper Die Zeit reported on the allegations, which are the latest in a string of sexual misconduct claims against charismatic founders of Vatican-sanctioned religious orders, movements and Catholic charities.

Aid to the Church in Need said it paid the woman 10,000 euros ($12,000) for her suffering, plus 6,000 euros ($,7269) for her pension, after determining that her allegations about the 1973 assault “seemed very plausible.” She was 23 years old at the time.

The charity, which van Straaten founded in 1947, said the claims were reported to the Vatican, which found no other similar claims against the priest and that no criminal prosecution occurred because he had died.

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‘Finally’: France seeks to establish age of consent, at 15

PARIS (FRANCE)
France 24

February 12, 2021

France’s government wants to set the age of sexual consent at 15 and make it easier to punish long-ago child sexual abuse, amid growing public pressure and a wave of online testimonies about rape and other sexual violence by parents and authority figures.

“Finally!” was the refrain Wednesday from victims and child protection activists who have long pushed for tougher laws and greater societal recognition of the problem.

France’s lack of an age of consent — along with statutes of limitations — have complicated efforts to prosecute alleged perpetrators, including a prominent modeling agent, a predatory priest, a surgeon and a group of firefighters accused of systematic sexual abuse.

Calling such treatment of children “intolerable,” the Justice Ministry said “the government is determined to act quickly to implement the changes that our society expects.”

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February 12, 2021

Former Terenure College rugby coach admitted sexual abuse to senior priest in the school 25 years ago, court hears

DUBLIN (IRELAND)
Independent

February 11, 2021

By Robin Schiller

https://www.independent.ie/news/former-terenure-college-rugby-coach-admitted-sexual-abuse-to-senior-priest-in-the-school-25-years-ago-court-hears-40080607.html

A former rugby coach who indecently assaulted 23 boys at Terenure College admitted the sexual abuse to a senior priest in the school 25 years ago, a court has heard.

John McClean (76) is being sentenced in relation to 27 counts of indecent assault of the schoolboys, aged between 11 and 17, at Terenure College from 1973 to 1990.

At the time McClean worked at the Carmelite Order-run school and was an English teacher while also coaching rugby.

This afternoon the court heard that a father of one of the victims brought his son’s abuse allegation to the attention of a senior member of the Carmelite community in 1996 while McClean was still working at the school.

The court heard the then Prior Provincial of the Irish Provence of Carmelites Fr Robert Kelly, who held the role between 1994 and 2000, told the father that the matter should be reported to gardaí. This complaint was made but never prosecuted, Insp Jason Miley said.

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Survivor of sexual abuse by Chatham priest calls on church to peacefully settle case

CHATHAM (ONTARIO, CANADA)
Chatham Voice

February 11, 2021

By Jenna Cocullo

A London woman now has the right to sue the church for the damage that she suffered as a result of being sexually abused by a priest in Chatham, but she is hoping they will immediately settle instead of dragging her through more court processes.

A ruling by the lower courts of Ontario allowing Irene Deschenes to reopen her case against the Roman Catholic Diocese of London stands after the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear its appeal.

The Supreme Court of Canada, by convention, gave no reason for declining to intervene in the case.

“Despite the Supreme Court of Canada ruling (Thursday) the reality is that I’m still involved in litigation with the Roman Catholic Church,” Deschenes said.

Between 1971 and 1973 Deschenes was sexually abused by Father Charles Sylvestre at St. Ursula School, Chatham. She was 10 years old at the time.

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New Orleans archdiocese announces changes to how it responds to priest abuse claims

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WWL-TV and New Orleans Advocate

February 11, 2021

By David Hammer and Ramon Antonio Vargas

https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/investigations/new-orleans-archdiocese-announces-changes-to-how-it-responds-to-priest-abuse-claims/289-80f97c67-4a31-4619-a46a-db3904c78c71

Archbishop says changes are borne from dialogue with local SNAP leader.

Weeks after pledging to collaborate with a clerical abuse survivors’ group, the Archdiocese of New Orleans on Thursday announced several changes to the way it plans to respond to people who claim they were molested by priests and deacons.

Most significantly, Archbishop Gregory Aymond has agreed to appoint an abuse survivor to his Independent Review Board, which reviews molestation claims and advises whether a clergyman should be added to a public list of clerics who are suspected of sexually abusing minors.

He also replaced the archdiocese’s victims assistance coordinator, who has been roundly criticized by survivors as ineffectual.

The announcement comes a little more than two weeks before a March 1 legal deadline for new victims of sexual abuse to come forward with claims for compensation against the local church, which filed for bankruptcy last year.

The archdiocese has not disclosed exactly who sits on the Independent Review Board, which is primarily made up of lay professionals. But the archdiocese’s statement said Aymond will invite a survivor to join the board for the first time on the recommendation of victims’ advocates, including Kevin Bourgeois, the head of the local chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Previously one of the archbishop’s harshest critics, Bourgeois started a dialogue with Aymond in December aimed at improving the local Catholic Church’s treatment of people who disclose clerical abuse, especially those coming forward after years of silence.

Bourgeois, who settled with the church on claims that he was sexually abused by a New Orleans priest as a teen, had particularly harsh words for the archdiocese’s victims assistance coordinator, Marist Brother Stephen Synan, a pastoral counseling instructor at Notre Dame Seminary.

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Supreme Court of Canada dismisses Roman Catholic diocese’s appeal in sex abuse case

TORONTO (ONTARIO, CANADA)
Global News

February 11, 2021

By Jacquelyn LeBel

The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed a Roman Catholic diocese’s appeal of a May 2020 decision from Ontario’s top court that allowed a woman who was sexually abused by a priest as a child to sue the church for a second time.

The court’s decision on Thursday means that Irene Deschenes can now go ahead with her $4.83-million civil suit.

“It’s not too late for the Roman Catholic Church to do the right thing and support my healing process,” Deschenes said at a virtual event following the decision.

“It’s too late to take back the re-victimization I have endured over the decades, including having to go through appeal after appeal. But it’s not too late to move forward from here with actions that offer justice, compassion or the Christianity that the church purports is their practice.”

Deschenes initially filed a lawsuit in 1996, alleging she was sexually abused by Father Charles Sylvestre in the early 1970s in Chatham, Ont., and that the London diocese failed to prevent it.

She settled out of court after the diocese maintained it didn’t know of any concerns about the priest until the late 1980s, but it later came to light that the diocese received police statements in 1962, alleging the priest had assaulted three girls.

“The Supreme Court decision is final in terms of the issue of whether the previous settlement was binding. The court has implicitly affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, saying Irene should not be bound by a settlement based on a misrepresentation to her by the church,” Deschenes’ lawyer Loretta Merritt explained.

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Catholic priest sex abuse trial to begin in December 2021

ALAMOGORDO (NM)
Alamogordo Daily News

February 11, 2021

By Nicole Maxwell

A trial date was set in the case of the late Fr. David Holley, who allegedly sexually abused a victim in Alamogordo.

New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Daniel Ramczyk set the jury trial date for the case as Dec. 13.

The complainant, listed as John Doe, allegedly was one of several of Holley’s victims in Alamogordo in the 1970s, court records state.

Doe filed a tort against several parishes, dioceses and the Servants of the Paraclete about their alleged involvement in the events leading to Holley being moved to Alamogordo in the 1970s.

Holley was sent to the Servants of the Paraclete facility in 1971.

Servants of the Paraclete had two New Mexico locations at the time, one in Albuquerque and one in Jemez Springs.

Holley was sent to the Albuquerque Servants of the Paraclete location to get help for “pedophilic tendencies: following allegations in Holley’s home diocese in Worcester, Massachusetts, records show.

Holley was at the Albuquerque location for about a year, according to a 1993 affidavit submitted by Holley to the Second Judicial Court in 1993.

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February 11, 2021

Diocese Files Plan of Reorganization

WINONA (MN)
Diocese of Winona-Rochester

February 10, 2021

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has reached a settlement with the Creditors’ Committee representing 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse. “It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years. We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority. We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our Diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious, and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.” said the Most Reverend John M. Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.

This settlement, mutually agreed to by the Diocese and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, includes resolution of claims against the parishes, schools and other Catholic entities within the Diocese. The $21.5 million settlement will allow the Diocese to submit a Plan of Reorganization to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

In addition to fully satisfying the financial commitment of the Diocese, the settlement provides for additional proceeds from certain insurance companies. The agreement reached with the Committee also provides for future action against certain additional insurance carriers that provided coverage to the Diocese in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Claims stemming from that time period with those insurance carriers are still unresolved and additional compensation to the survivors may be recovered to the extent of the coverage provided by those insurance carriers. With the filing of the Plan of Reorganization, the Diocese will next pursue confirmation of the plan, a process that will include the filing of a disclosure statement and, after its approval, soliciting votes on the plan from survivors and other creditors, and ultimately a hearing at which the bankruptcy judge will decide whether to confirm the plan.

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Winona-Rochester Diocese reaches $21.5 million settlement with abuse victims

MINNEAPOLIS (MN)
Star Tribune

February 10, 2021

By Jean Hopfensperger

It’s the state’s last diocese to settle abuse claims.

The Winona-Rochester Diocese announced Wednesday that it had reached a $21.5 million settlement agreement with 145 individuals who were sexually abused by its clergy.

The diocese declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018, in response to the abuse claims.

The settlement allows it to submit a financial reorganization plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for final approval.

“We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority,” said Bishop John Quinn of Winona-Rochester. “We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.”

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented many of the survivors, said the settlement will include an additional $6.5 million from the diocese’s insurers.

The Winona-Rochester Diocese is the last Catholic diocese in Minnesota to settle its abuse claims, filed in response to the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act which temporarily extended the statute of limitations on abuse cases.

“This is an important day for the survivors,” said Anderson.

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Winona-Rochester Diocese to pay $21.5M for sexual abuse claims

MANKATO (MN)
Mankato Free Press

February 10, 2021

By Tim Krohn

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has agreed to a $21.5 million settlement to cover claims of sexual abuse as it goes through bankruptcy reorganization.

The settlement will provide compensation to 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The diocese stretches all across the southern Minnesota border with Iowa and includes Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Faribault, Martin, Waseca and Watonwan counties.

“It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years. We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority,” Bishop John M. Quinn said in a statement.

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Priest in Vatican youth seminary trial denies abuse claims

ROME (ITALY)
Associated Press

February 10, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

An Italian priest denied Wednesday that he sexually molested a fellow altar boy when both were teenagers at the Vatican’s youth seminary, taking the stand for the first time in a criminal trial over alleged abuse within the Vatican walls.

The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli told the Vatican tribunal that the allegations against him were unfounded and implausible. He said they were the fruit of divisions in the seminary as well as “jealousy” among former seminarians that he was eventually ordained a priest.

The St. Pius X seminary, located in a palazzo inside the Vatican gardens, houses boys aged 12-18 who serve as altar boys at papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica. The scandal erupted in 2017 when former altar boys went public with allegations of misconduct against Martinelli and cover-up by the seminary superiors.

Martinelli is accused of abusing his authority as a more senior seminarian to force a younger seminarian, identified as L.G., into “carnal acts” of sodomy and masturbation, using violence and threats, from 2007-2012.

Martinelli strongly denied the allegations Wednesday, telling the court that the abuse claims were physically impossible given the layout of the seminary and that the rector could enter the dorm rooms at any time. He denied having any power over the younger altar boys and said the claims were more about discrediting him and the seminary, fueled by people who prefer the old Latin rite liturgy over the Mass in vernacular.

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At Vatican trial, priest says abuse charges caused by jealousy

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service via Union of Catholic Asian News

February 11, 2021

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Father Gabriele Martinelli, 28, is accused of abusing a younger student from 2007 to 2012

A priest accused of abusing a younger student at a minor seminary located at the Vatican cited jealousy as the main reason behind the allegations against him.

Taking the stand Feb. 10, the fourth day of the Vatican criminal trial against him, Father Gabriele Martinelli also said the “unfounded” accusations also were meant to hurt the reputation of the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary, where the alleged abuse occurred.

“I got on many people’s nerves because of my character,” he testified, “because I try to do the best I can in everything.”

Father Martinelli, 28, is accused of abusing a younger student from 2007 to 2012. Although he and his alleged victim were under the age of 18 when the abuse allegedly began, the court accused him of continuing to abuse the younger student when Martinelli was already 20.

Msgr. Enrico Radice, the former rector of the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary, is also standing trial and is accused by the Vatican of hindering the investigation into the abuse allegations, including by lying to Vatican investigators in 2018 when he affirmed with absolute certainty that he had no knowledge of sexual acts ever taking place at the seminary while he was rector.

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New York’s Catholic church leaders control billions outside the reach of abuse survivors

ALBANY (NY)
Times-Union

February 11, 2021

By Edward McKinley

Bankruptcy filings and assets shifted to foundations have coincided with passage of Child Victims Act

The Catholic bishops of New York sold a lucrative insurance business they controlled and stored the proceeds in a foundation they also administer, keeping billions out of the reach of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

The move occurred in 2018, with the church selling its Fidelis Care insurance company and moving $4.3 billion of the proceeds into the new Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. At the same time, the Child Victims Act in New York was gaining momentum in the Legislature, a measure that the church had lobbied against for more than a decade. It was ultimately signed into law a year later; and it has exposed the church to thousands of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of children and, in some instances, the coverup of those incidents and shielding of predators.

It has been the church’s practice across the country for more than a decade to divert swarms of abuse claims into bankruptcy proceedings rather than handling each in individual court proceedings. That strategy allows the church to often avoid public trials or witness depositions, and to handle claims in one court proceeding that potentially will preserve more of their financial assets. Four of the eight dioceses in New York have already declared bankruptcy, as abuse lawsuits continuing to pour in across the state.

“This is certainly a transaction that is on our radar,” said Ilan D. Scharf, an attorney at Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones in New York City, which has specialized for years in representing abuse survivors in diocesan bankruptcy cases. “The fact that they are hiding behind what they claim are legal structures that protect these assets is no excuse for them to avoid using that money to help the victims of these dioceses.”

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February 10, 2021

Class action suit filed against pair of Metro Vancouver private schools over abuse allegations

TORONTO (ONTARIO, CANADA)
CTV News

February 9, 2021

By Ben Miljure

Vancouver – Two Metro Vancouver private schools have been named in a lawsuit brought by a man who claims an attempted cover up of abuse allegations in Newfoundland led to several dangerous predators being transferred to schools in the Lower Mainland.

Darren Liptrot alleges he was physically and sexually abused by Brother Edward English while attending Vancouver College between 1981 and 1983.

Multiple children accused Edwards of abuse during his time at Newfoundland’s Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1970s.

In 1991, a court convicted English of multiple charges related to physical and sexual abuse at Mount Cashel and he received a sentence of 10 years in prison.

Liptrot’s lawsuit alleges Christian Brothers in Canada, which ran the orphanage, learned of abuse allegations against six teachers, including English, and instead of taking disciplinary action, arranged for all of them to be transferred to British Columbia.

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French Government Seeks to Set Age For Sexual Consent at 15

PARIS (FRANCE)
Associated Press

February 10, 2021

By Angela Charlton

France’s government wants to set the age of sexual consent at 15 and make it easier to punish long-ago child sexual abuse, amid growing public pressure and a wave of online testimonies about rape and other sexual violence by parents and authority figures.

Calling such treatment of children “intolerable,” the justice ministry said in a statement that “the government is determined to act quickly to implement the changes that our society expects.”

“An act of sexual penetration by an adult on a minor under 15 will be considered a rape,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said Tuesday on France-2 television. Consent would no longer be able to be cited to diminish the charges, but exceptions would be made for teenagers having consensual sex, he said.

The change would still need to be enshrined in law, but the announcement is a major step after years of efforts to toughen French protection for children victims of rape and sexual violence.

A push to set France’s first age of consent three years ago in the wake of the global #MeToo movement failed amid legal complications. But the effort has gained new momentum since accusations emerged last month of incestuous sexual abuse involving a prominent French political expert, Olivier Duhamel. That unleashed an online #MeTooInceste movement in France that led to hundreds of similar testimonies.

The Justice Ministry says it is in discussions with victims’ groups about toughening punishment of incest and extending or abolishing the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse, which has prevented prosecution in several high-profile cases in France in recent years.

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Dilworth sexual abuse accused identity revealed

AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND)
New Zealand Herald

February 9, 2021

By Amy Wiggins

The man who died last year after being charged in relation to historical sexual offending at Dilworth school was an air traffic controller and long-serving volunteer and staff member of New Zealand’s gay, lesbian and transgender telephone counselling service.

Richard Charles Galloway was last year charged with indecent assault as part of Operation Beverley. He died on November 26 aged 69 after earlier being diagnosed with cancer.

The Herald can reveal his name for the first time today.

Last year Galloway was charged with indecently assaulting a boy under 16 between 1975 and 1976 as part of the Dilworth investigation.

He was already facing five unrelated charges, which were laid in 2019. Three were for supplying cannabis to a person under 18 and two for indecently assaulting a boy under 16. All allegedly occurred in 1980.

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Bishop Weldon accuser files lawsuit against Springfield diocese

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
The Republican via MassLive

February 9, 2021

By Ray Kelly

A former altar boy who accused the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of sexual assault — and whose claim was found to be “unequivocally credible” following a review ordered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield — has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the physical harm he suffered in the 1960s and continued emotional distress.

The plaintiff, identified as “John Doe” of Chicopee, says he was between 9 and 11 years old when he was raped multiple times at multiple locations by Weldon and two other members of the clergy.

In a 26-page lawsuit filed in Hampden Superior Court and first reported by The Berkshire Eagle, the plaintiff alleges that current and past church officials, including former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski and the diocese’s longtime attorney, John. J. Egan, engaged in a cover-up to protect Weldon’s legacy.

“In failing to take action and/or intentionally concealing plaintiff’s complaint over a period of four years, the RCBS (Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield) demonstrated a callous disregard toward plaintiff’s suffering, further victimizing plaintiff,” the suit alleges.

In addition to Egan and Rozanski, who is now archbishop of St. Louis, the complaint names as defendants the office of the Springfield bishop; Monsignor Christopher Connelly; Patricia McManamy, director of Counseling, Prevention and Victim Services; Jeffrey Trant, director of the office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance; John Hale, Review Board chairman; Kevin Murphy, diocesan investigator; and Mark Dupont, diocesan communications director.

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