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 3, 2021

[Opinion] Why the case for mandatory reporting is now beyond doubt

ENGLAND
The Tablet

February 2, 2021

By Richard Scorer

Last Friday Joseph Quigley, Catholic priest and former religious education advisor, was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in prison for serious offences against children. The police investigation which resulted in his conviction began in 2017, following a complaint from one of Quigley’s victims, who was encouraged to go the police by his therapist. As The Tablet reports today, this same victim alleges that several years earlier he had discussed the possibility of reporting his allegations about Quigley to the police with Jane Jones, the then Archdiocese of Birmingham Safeguarding Advisor. He says she actively discouraged him from taking his allegations to the police, telling him: “You won’t win.”

If this victim’s story is true – and his account of what Jane Jones said to him is corroborated by another family member present at the same meeting – then this is appalling. However it is not surprising. After 25 years of representing victims and survivors of clerical sex abuse, I have heard countless examples of victims being discouraged, subtly or not, from taking their allegations to the authorities.

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] Disturbing Details Revealed in Case Against UK Catholic Priest

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 1, 2021

A priest has been jailed in the UK for physically and sexually torturing a young student for years, enabled by Catholic officials. We are glad that these allegations came to light and that this dangerous abuser has been identified and removed. We now call on law enforcement to investigate the disturbing decisions that allowed this perpetrator to go unchecked and untethered for so long.

The abuse that this young boy suffered at the hands of Fr. Joseph Quigley has been termed a “gothic horror.” Our hearts break for the victim and we hope that he is getting the help and support he needs. In addition to the appalling tortures this youth experienced, we are outraged at the indifference shown by UK Catholic officials to the allegations against Fr. Quigley. Accusations of abuse by the priest first came to light in 2008, and in response, Church leaders shipped him off to St. Luke’s for six months, a “treatment center” for abusive priests.

We are not sure what is worse – that Catholic officials truly believed that six months was enough time to treat someone with violent abusive tendencies, or that Church leaders allowed Fr. Quigley to routinely visit schools following his return to the UK. Catholic officials had been made aware of allegations against Fr. Quigley more than once and still saw fit to send him as a representative of their institution to schools full of vulnerable children. Hundreds of children were exposed to unnecessary risk due to these decisions and we hope that law enforcement officials are investigating to determine whether any other laws were broken.

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 2, 2021

The Boston Archdiocese’s list of priests accused of abuse does not include cases settled with alleged victims

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

February 2, 2021

By Shelley Murphy

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has paid alleged victims millions of dollars in recent years to resolve claims that they were sexually abused by priests working in local parishes. Yet, the names of many of those priests are missing from the Archdiocese’s public roster of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, an accounting that began a decade ago under pressure from victims.

Their exclusion has angered survivors of abuse, particularly in light of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s longstanding pledge to be transparent about clergy sexual abuse after decades of secrecy.

“It just seems like they’re trying to cover up,” said David, who in November received a settlement in “the high five figures,” from the archdiocese, according to his attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. It was awarded after David underwent painful questioning from church lawyers and an arbitrator tasked with corroborating his claims against John H. Curley, who died in 1999.

David, who asked to be identified only by his first name, said he was frustrated by Curley’s absence from the Archdiocese’s list because the priest ruined his life by sexually assaulting him in 1981 when he was 12 and living at a home for troubled boys in Braintree.

“They’re trying to hide that the person is a pedophile,” he said.

Curley routinely brought groups of boys from the Pilgrim Center on trips to the park or to play basketball that ended with an overnight stay at his home, David said. While the group watched television, Curley would “bring kids up to his bedroom one at a time,” he said.

He said he was sleeping one night when Curley awakened him and told him “we had to do penance.” He said the priest told him to pray as he sexually assaulted him. He said he refused to go on any more trips with Curley.

Garabedian, a longtime advocate for sexual abuse victims who has settled claims involving more than 340 clergy and church personnel, has identified 20 priests whom the Boston Archdiocese does not list as accused child molesters although it has paid settlements totaling more than $1.2 million to their victims since 2011. In that time, the archdiocese also paid about $1.3 million to the victims of nine clergy members listed as accused of “unsubstantiated” claims of child sexual abuse, according to Garabedian. Several of those priests were accused of sexual abuse by multiple victims, he said.

“Why would they pay us a settlement if the priest didn’t do it?” Garabedian asked. “They’re hoping the clergy sexual abuse crisis is going away when it isn’t. You’re dealing with an entity that has engaged in coverup, so they’re not changing their stripes now.”

Attorney Tyler Fox said two of his clients who were sexually abused by priests decades ago while working as altar boys at churches in the Boston Archdiocese were paid settlements of $85,000 and $99,000 last year, yet both priests are absent from the church’s roster of accused abusers.

Terrence Donilon, an Archdiocese spokesman, declined to comment on specific cases and would not disclose how many settlements involved claims against priests who are omitted from the Archdiocese’s roster or listed as being accused of “unsubstantiated” allegations.

He said archdiocesan leadership has been actively considering whether its criteria for identifying accused clerics should be updated.

“In many situations, choosing to resolve an allegation by reaching a settlement is often the best decision financially for all the parties involved,” Donilon said. “In many ways we are acknowledging the harm that was done by offering compensation and counseling services.”

He said the Archdiocese immediately reports allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement and publicly discloses when a clergy member is removed from active ministry after a conviction or during an investigation into an allegation of child abuse.

The Boston Archdiocese’s website lists 132 clerics in various categories, including those convicted of child sexual abuse in criminal or church proceedings, those who left or were suspended from the church pending investigations, and those who died before victims came forward. Another 38 priests are listed as “unsubstantiated cases” because a review board concluded the allegations were unfounded or the priest was cleared of wrongdoing during church proceedings.

The Boston Archdiocese settled agreements with 33 people for $2.3 million in the last fiscal year to resolve sexual abuse claims, Donilon said. The year before, it settled 20 allegations totaling $1.2million, he said. It also paid $2.4 million in each of those years for “abuse-related prevention, outreach, healing, and reconciliation efforts as a whole to both new and ongoing survivors,” he said.

In 2011, O’Malley released the first list of clerics who were accused of sexually abusing children, saying the Archdiocese’s “commitment and responsibility is to protect children and to ensure that the tragedy of sexual abuse is never repeated in the Church.”

At the time, he said some names were excluded to balance “the critically important need to assure the protection of children” with “the due process rights and reputations of those accused clergy whose cases have not been fully adjudicated.”

He omitted the names of many deceased priests because they were unable to respond to the allegations. He also excluded the names of dozens of priests from religious orders and other dioceses who were accused of abusing children while assigned to the Boston Archdiocese. It was the responsibility of the priest’s order or diocese, he said, to investigate allegations against them.

Those guidelines remain in place today. O’Malley has been urging religious orders to identify accused priests, Donilon said.

Fox represents a man who was awarded $85,000 last year to settle a sexual abuse claim against Lawrence Buckley, a Redemptorist priest who worked for the Boston Archdiocese and was described in his 2008 obituary as a champion for social justice.

The man, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Chris, said he was a 7-year-old altar boy at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Roxbury in 1987 when Buckley first sexually assaulted him in the sacristy, where priests change into their robes before Mass. He said the abuse continued for four years, even on the day that Buckley came to his home to deliver the news that his father had died.

He said he never told anyone until he became a father himself, fiercely protective of his two little girls. Two years ago, he disclosed the abuse to the Boston Archdiocese.

“It’s frustrating,” Chris said of the Archdiocese’s omission of Buckley’s name from its list of accused priests because he belonged to a religious order. “It was a Catholic church and I was a Catholic altar boy. I just wish they owned up to something that happened here.”

The Redemptorists have not released a list of clergy accused of molesting children and did not respond to inquiries regarding Buckley.

Terry McKiernan, founder of Bishop-Accountability.org, a volunteer group that tracks clergy sexual abuse, said it’s a “glaring peculiarity” that some of the worst offenders have been left off the Boston Archdiocese list. Recent high-profile investigations into clergy sexual abuse and court settlements have prompted more dioceses and religious orders to release lists identifying abusers. Currently, 152 of the nation’s 178 Roman Catholic dioceses and 24 religious orders have done so, he said.

David O’Regan, Massachusetts leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said identifying abusive priests helps their victims heal and often gives those who have suffered in silence the courage to come forward because they realize “that happened to somebody else. It wasn’t just me.”

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

The Boston Archdiocese’s list of priests accused of abuse does not include cases settled with alleged victims

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

February 2, 2021

By Shelley Murphy

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has paid alleged victims millions of dollars in recent years to resolve claims that they were sexually abused by priests working in local parishes. Yet, the names of many of those priests are missing from the Archdiocese’s public roster of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, an accounting that began a decade ago under pressure from victims.

Their exclusion has angered survivors of abuse, particularly in light of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s longstanding pledge to be transparent about clergy sexual abuse after decades of secrecy.

“It just seems like they’re trying to cover up,” said David, who in November received a settlement in “the high five figures,” from the archdiocese, according to his attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. It was awarded after David underwent painful questioning from church lawyers and an arbitrator tasked with corroborating his claims against John H. Curley, who died in 1999.

David, who asked to be identified only by his first name, said he was frustrated by Curley’s absence from the Archdiocese’s list because the priest ruined his life by sexually assaulting him in 1981 when he was 12 and living at a home for troubled boys in Braintree.

“They’re trying to hide that the person is a pedophile,” he said.

Curley routinely brought groups of boys from the Pilgrim Center on trips to the park or to play basketball that ended with an overnight stay at his home, David said. While the group watched television, Curley would “bring kids up to his bedroom one at a time,” he said.

He said he was sleeping one night when Curley awakened him and told him “we had to do penance.” He said the priest told him to pray as he sexually assaulted him. He said he refused to go on any more trips with Curley.

Garabedian, a longtime advocate for sexual abuse victims who has settled claims involving more than 340 clergy and church personnel, has identified 20 priests whom the Boston Archdiocese does not list as accused child molesters although it has paid settlements totaling more than $1.2 million to their victims since 2011. In that time, the archdiocese also paid about $1.3 million to the victims of nine clergy members listed as accused of “unsubstantiated” claims of child sexual abuse, according to Garabedian. Several of those priests were accused of sexual abuse by multiple victims, he said.

“Why would they pay us a settlement if the priest didn’t do it?” Garabedian asked. “They’re hoping the clergy sexual abuse crisis is going away when it isn’t. You’re dealing with an entity that has engaged in coverup, so they’re not changing their stripes now.”

Attorney Tyler Fox said two of his clients who were sexually abused by priests decades ago while working as altar boys at churches in the Boston Archdiocese were paid settlements of $85,000 and $99,000 last year, yet both priests are absent from the church’s roster of accused abusers.

Terrence Donilon, an Archdiocese spokesman, declined to comment on specific cases and would not disclose how many settlements involved claims against priests who are omitted from the Archdiocese’s roster or listed as being accused of “unsubstantiated” allegations.

He said archdiocesan leadership has been actively considering whether its criteria for identifying accused clerics should be updated.

“In many situations, choosing to resolve an allegation by reaching a settlement is often the best decision financially for all the parties involved,” Donilon said. “In many ways we are acknowledging the harm that was done by offering compensation and counseling services.”

He said the Archdiocese immediately reports allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement and publicly discloses when a clergy member is removed from active ministry after a conviction or during an investigation into an allegation of child abuse.

The Boston Archdiocese’s website lists 132 clerics in various categories, including those convicted of child sexual abuse in criminal or church proceedings, those who left or were suspended from the church pending investigations, and those who died before victims came forward. Another 38 priests are listed as “unsubstantiated cases” because a review board concluded the allegations were unfounded or the priest was cleared of wrongdoing during church proceedings.

The Boston Archdiocese settled agreements with 33 people for $2.3 million in the last fiscal year to resolve sexual abuse claims, Donilon said. The year before, it settled 20 allegations totaling $1.2million, he said. It also paid $2.4 million in each of those years for “abuse-related prevention, outreach, healing, and reconciliation efforts as a whole to both new and ongoing survivors,” he said.

In 2011, O’Malley released the first list of clerics who were accused of sexually abusing children, saying the Archdiocese’s “commitment and responsibility is to protect children and to ensure that the tragedy of sexual abuse is never repeated in the Church.”

At the time, he said some names were excluded to balance “the critically important need to assure the protection of children” with “the due process rights and reputations of those accused clergy whose cases have not been fully adjudicated.”

He omitted the names of many deceased priests because they were unable to respond to the allegations. He also excluded the names of dozens of priests from religious orders and other dioceses who were accused of abusing children while assigned to the Boston Archdiocese. It was the responsibility of the priest’s order or diocese, he said, to investigate allegations against them.

Those guidelines remain in place today. O’Malley has been urging religious orders to identify accused priests, Donilon said.

Fox represents a man who was awarded $85,000 last year to settle a sexual abuse claim against Lawrence Buckley, a Redemptorist priest who worked for the Boston Archdiocese and was described in his 2008 obituary as a champion for social justice.

The man, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Chris, said he was a 7-year-old altar boy at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Roxbury in 1987 when Buckley first sexually assaulted him in the sacristy, where priests change into their robes before Mass. He said the abuse continued for four years, even on the day that Buckley came to his home to deliver the news that his father had died.

He said he never told anyone until he became a father himself, fiercely protective of his two little girls. Two years ago, he disclosed the abuse to the Boston Archdiocese.

“It’s frustrating,” Chris said of the Archdiocese’s omission of Buckley’s name from its list of accused priests because he belonged to a religious order. “It was a Catholic church and I was a Catholic altar boy. I just wish they owned up to something that happened here.”

The Redemptorists have not released a list of clergy accused of molesting children and did not respond to inquiries regarding Buckley.

Terry McKiernan, founder of Bishop-Accountability.org, a volunteer group that tracks clergy sexual abuse, said it’s a “glaring peculiarity” that some of the worst offenders have been left off the Boston Archdiocese list. Recent high-profile investigations into clergy sexual abuse and court settlements have prompted more dioceses and religious orders to release lists identifying abusers. Currently, 152 of the nation’s 178 Roman Catholic dioceses and 24 religious orders have done so, he said.

David O’Regan, Massachusetts leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said identifying abusive priests helps their victims heal and often gives those who have suffered in silence the courage to come forward because they realize “that happened to somebody else. It wasn’t just me.”

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.

NOPD confirms rape investigation involving Catholic priest named in lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS
WDSU-TV

February 1, 2021

By Greg LaRose

The probe follows a November complaint against Rev. John Asare-Dankwah

The New Orleans Police Department confirmed Monday that it is investigating claims that a local priest raped a 10-year-old boy in 2008.

The probe follows a complaint this past November from the accuser against the Rev. John Asare-Dankwah, who the NOPD mentioned by name in response to questions about the case.

The priest was named in a lawsuit filed last week that details allegations involving a religious retreat in Montgomery, Alabama. Asare led the retreat and approached the boy during the sacrament of confession, according to the suit.

“This will be over soon,” the priest told the boy before raping him, court documents allege. The lawsuit says Asare pulled the boy out of bed that night and took him to another location alone. The lawsuit alleges that Asare accused the boy of being gay, calling him a sinner, then prayed over the boy and beat him.

Asare, who is currently out of the country in Ghana, denied the allegations in a statement to reporters last week.

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.

NOPD confirms rape investigation involving Catholic priest named in lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS
WDSU-TV

February 1, 2021

By Greg LaRose

The probe follows a November complaint against Rev. John Asare-Dankwah

The New Orleans Police Department confirmed Monday that it is investigating claims that a local priest raped a 10-year-old boy in 2008.

The probe follows a complaint this past November from the accuser against the Rev. John Asare-Dankwah, who the NOPD mentioned by name in response to questions about the case.

The priest was named in a lawsuit filed last week that details allegations involving a religious retreat in Montgomery, Alabama. Asare led the retreat and approached the boy during the sacrament of confession, according to the suit.

“This will be over soon,” the priest told the boy before raping him, court documents allege. The lawsuit says Asare pulled the boy out of bed that night and took him to another location alone. The lawsuit alleges that Asare accused the boy of being gay, calling him a sinner, then prayed over the boy and beat him.

Asare, who is currently out of the country in Ghana, denied the allegations in a statement to reporters last week.

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] Father Merle Fisher – Marist Fathers

BOSTON (MA)
Law Offices of Mitchell Garabedian

February 1, 2021

[Includes Assignment Record]

Summary:

Father Merle Fisher, S.M. was accused of sexually abusing a male minor child on at least six occasions from approximately 1967 to 1970 when the boy was approximately 8 to 11 years old. During the period of sexual abuse, Father Fisher was assigned to Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo, Hawaii.

The sexual abuse by Father Fisher occurred in the rectory affiliated with Holy Cross Church and included the following: Father Fisher smacked and squeezed the boy’s buttocks, skin-on-skin, and Father Fisher fondled the boy’s penis and testicles, skin-on-skin.
The claim settled in 2020 in the low six figures.

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] Father Merle Fisher – Marist Fathers

BOSTON (MA)
Law Offices of Mitchell Garabedian

February 1, 2021

[Includes Assignment Record]

Summary:

Father Merle Fisher, S.M. was accused of sexually abusing a male minor child on at least six occasions from approximately 1967 to 1970 when the boy was approximately 8 to 11 years old. During the period of sexual abuse, Father Fisher was assigned to Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo, Hawaii.

The sexual abuse by Father Fisher occurred in the rectory affiliated with Holy Cross Church and included the following: Father Fisher smacked and squeezed the boy’s buttocks, skin-on-skin, and Father Fisher fondled the boy’s penis and testicles, skin-on-skin.
The claim settled in 2020 in the low six figures.

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] The Copper Valley School’s legacy continues

ANCHORAGE (AK)
Anchorage Daily News

February 1, 2021

By Elizabeth Klemm, Stephen Gemmell and Brandon Boylan

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Copper Valley School, the first integrated boarding school in Alaska. Located near Glennallen, “Copper,” as many referred to it, aimed to prepare its students to become the next generation of leaders in Alaska.

In a time when Alaska village schools were understaffed and high school availability was limited, many parents chose to send their children away from home for a high-quality education. Both Native and non-Native, Catholic and non-Catholic, village and city students attended Copper. While schools throughout the country were still grappling with integration, Copper welcomed Aleut, Athabascan, Iñupiaq, Yup’ik and white students, as well as several students from Africa. To this day, several alumni claim that the merging of cultures was a success of the school, allowing students to learn to appreciate other backgrounds and cultures and work with one another in collaborative ways. One former student recently described the school as a “mini-United Nations.” Many students made lifelong friendships, and the school’s alumni organization, the Copper Valley Student Association (CVSA), continues to connect former students.

The school had a remarkable beginning. In the 1940s, Father Buchanan, a young Jesuit priest, began serving in western Alaska. As he traveled throughout his 74,000-square-mile parish, he realized the need for a Catholic school in the area and dreamt of opening a school that would prepare Alaska Natives for leadership positions. As his vision attracted attention, the U.S. Congress provided a land grant of 460 acres at the junction of the Copper and Tazlina Rivers, south of Glennallen, for educational purposes. A Jewish architect provided plans for the school without charge. To help with the school’s construction, a variety of businesses donated materials or provided them at cost. Donations came from throughout the country. Even Bing Crosby donated a truck to the school.

On Oct. 13, 1956, Alaska Airlines launched Operation Snowbird, an effort to ferry students from Holy Cross, the site of one of the original Catholic missions and home to a closing Catholic school, to Copper. Holy Cross students joined others from across Alaska at the newly opened school. Seventy students and staff were at the school in its first winter, living and learning in the unfinished facility. Upon the school’s completion several years later, Copper featured classrooms, dormitories, staff quarters, a cafeteria, a gym and a chapel. Enrollment peaked at more than 150 in the late 1960s.

The school offered a rigorous Catholic education, led by the Sisters of Saint Ann and Jesuit priests, Scholastics and Brothers. Lay volunteers from throughout the country rounded out the staff — filling teaching, administrative and maintenance positions. Educational expectations were high: Teachers challenged students to build their art, mathematics and writing skills. Students from Copper regularly participated in academic competitions, such as debate tournaments, with other regional schools. Each weeknight, students had mandatory study hall, with individual tutoring available. The boarding school environment also served to build community as the students worked together on school tasks.

In addition to schoolwork, each student had assigned chores: washing dishes, peeling potatoes, plucking chickens, hunting and butchering caribou (and the occasional buffalo), cleaning bathrooms, buffing floors, hauling garbage or unloading coal. The school also offered a variety of extracurricular activities, including Civil Air Patrol, basketball, track and skiing. Students could join various organizations such as Sodality of Our Lady of Sorrows, Glee Club, Library Club, Hobby Club, Movie Club, Pep Club and others. When they needed to escape, students took long expeditions on trails through the school site’s hundreds of acres, walked the mile to Brenwick’s store to buy candy and sodas, or took weekend expeditions, trekking the six miles to Rosent’s at the Hub if they craved a hamburger and milkshake.

The school closed in 1971, owing to a combination of financial struggles and shifts in diocesan priorities. In the environment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971, parents had also begun to question the value of sending their children away to boarding schools and were working to establish village high schools (a right later affirmed in the “Molly Hootch” case in 1976), reducing the need for boarding schools across the state. After the school’s closing, the church explored several options for the massive facility. The diocese eventually sold it at auction to a group of local businessmen, who were considering turning the facility into a shopping mall before the school burned down in 1976.

Copper students’ experiences were not universally positive. One study found two incidents of abuse. The rigorous Catholic education allowed little room for traditional Alaska Native education; as a result, several Native students struggled to maintain their connections with their Native cultures, a problem some alumni continue to grapple with today. Students wrestled with homesickness and loneliness.

Nonetheless, Copper’s focus on education and the strong community of both students and staff provided a protective layer for most students. Many alumni think highly of the Copper Valley School, stating that their education and experiences at the school prepared them for their future careers in the military, education, politics, nursing, corporate management, and other professions. Some Native graduates went on to serve as leaders within the state, their village communities, and the Native Corporations established by ANCSA.

Students made lifelong friendships during their time at the school, not only among the students but also between the students and staff. In an effort to foster these friendships, in 1985, Theresa “Tiny” Demientieff Devlin started an alumni newsletter called “The Scuttlebutt” in honor of the school’s newsletter of the same name. In 1986, alumni organized to meet for a reunion, a tradition that carries on to this day. Alumni have come from across Alaska, Canada, the Lower 48, and Australia. The annual reunion has served as a forum for friends to reconnect, sit around a bonfire, reminisce, share a meal and remember those who have passed away. Former staff also attend these reunions, and alumni often thank them for their teaching, dedication and inspiration. In 1993, alumni formed the nonprofit Copper Valley School Association. The association has supported scholarships and raised funds to bring guests, such as former teachers, priests and students, to reunions.

Believing that the school holds an important role in Alaska’s education history and has had a significant impact on Alaska’s history in general, CVSA is sponsoring two research projects at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The Arctic and Northern Studies (ACNS) program at UAF is an interdisciplinary program that studies the history, policy, culture and other issues related to the Arctic and the Circumpolar North. CVSA is sponsoring a graduate student researcher in the ACNS program. This student, Elizabeth Klemm, is currently researching Copper’s legacy and will write a historical narrative of the school. CVSA is also working with UAF’s Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives (APRCA) to archive documents related to the school.

If you attended Copper Valley School or otherwise have information about Copper that you would like included in the history, please contact Elizabeth Klemm at CVSlegacy@gmail.com.

[Elizabeth Klemm lives in Anchorage and is a graduate student in Arctic and Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Stephen Gemmell lives in Fairbanks and is the president of Copper Valley Student Association. Brandon Boylan, Ph.D., lives in Fairbanks and is an associate professor of Political Science and the director of the Arctic and Northern Studies Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.]

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] The Copper Valley School’s legacy continues

ANCHORAGE (AK)
Anchorage Daily News

February 1, 2021

By Elizabeth Klemm, Stephen Gemmell and Brandon Boylan

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Copper Valley School, the first integrated boarding school in Alaska. Located near Glennallen, “Copper,” as many referred to it, aimed to prepare its students to become the next generation of leaders in Alaska.

In a time when Alaska village schools were understaffed and high school availability was limited, many parents chose to send their children away from home for a high-quality education. Both Native and non-Native, Catholic and non-Catholic, village and city students attended Copper. While schools throughout the country were still grappling with integration, Copper welcomed Aleut, Athabascan, Iñupiaq, Yup’ik and white students, as well as several students from Africa. To this day, several alumni claim that the merging of cultures was a success of the school, allowing students to learn to appreciate other backgrounds and cultures and work with one another in collaborative ways. One former student recently described the school as a “mini-United Nations.” Many students made lifelong friendships, and the school’s alumni organization, the Copper Valley Student Association (CVSA), continues to connect former students.

The school had a remarkable beginning. In the 1940s, Father Buchanan, a young Jesuit priest, began serving in western Alaska. As he traveled throughout his 74,000-square-mile parish, he realized the need for a Catholic school in the area and dreamt of opening a school that would prepare Alaska Natives for leadership positions. As his vision attracted attention, the U.S. Congress provided a land grant of 460 acres at the junction of the Copper and Tazlina Rivers, south of Glennallen, for educational purposes. A Jewish architect provided plans for the school without charge. To help with the school’s construction, a variety of businesses donated materials or provided them at cost. Donations came from throughout the country. Even Bing Crosby donated a truck to the school.

On Oct. 13, 1956, Alaska Airlines launched Operation Snowbird, an effort to ferry students from Holy Cross, the site of one of the original Catholic missions and home to a closing Catholic school, to Copper. Holy Cross students joined others from across Alaska at the newly opened school. Seventy students and staff were at the school in its first winter, living and learning in the unfinished facility. Upon the school’s completion several years later, Copper featured classrooms, dormitories, staff quarters, a cafeteria, a gym and a chapel. Enrollment peaked at more than 150 in the late 1960s.

The school offered a rigorous Catholic education, led by the Sisters of Saint Ann and Jesuit priests, Scholastics and Brothers. Lay volunteers from throughout the country rounded out the staff — filling teaching, administrative and maintenance positions. Educational expectations were high: Teachers challenged students to build their art, mathematics and writing skills. Students from Copper regularly participated in academic competitions, such as debate tournaments, with other regional schools. Each weeknight, students had mandatory study hall, with individual tutoring available. The boarding school environment also served to build community as the students worked together on school tasks.

In addition to schoolwork, each student had assigned chores: washing dishes, peeling potatoes, plucking chickens, hunting and butchering caribou (and the occasional buffalo), cleaning bathrooms, buffing floors, hauling garbage or unloading coal. The school also offered a variety of extracurricular activities, including Civil Air Patrol, basketball, track and skiing. Students could join various organizations such as Sodality of Our Lady of Sorrows, Glee Club, Library Club, Hobby Club, Movie Club, Pep Club and others. When they needed to escape, students took long expeditions on trails through the school site’s hundreds of acres, walked the mile to Brenwick’s store to buy candy and sodas, or took weekend expeditions, trekking the six miles to Rosent’s at the Hub if they craved a hamburger and milkshake.

The school closed in 1971, owing to a combination of financial struggles and shifts in diocesan priorities. In the environment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971, parents had also begun to question the value of sending their children away to boarding schools and were working to establish village high schools (a right later affirmed in the “Molly Hootch” case in 1976), reducing the need for boarding schools across the state. After the school’s closing, the church explored several options for the massive facility. The diocese eventually sold it at auction to a group of local businessmen, who were considering turning the facility into a shopping mall before the school burned down in 1976.

Copper students’ experiences were not universally positive. One study found two incidents of abuse. The rigorous Catholic education allowed little room for traditional Alaska Native education; as a result, several Native students struggled to maintain their connections with their Native cultures, a problem some alumni continue to grapple with today. Students wrestled with homesickness and loneliness.

Nonetheless, Copper’s focus on education and the strong community of both students and staff provided a protective layer for most students. Many alumni think highly of the Copper Valley School, stating that their education and experiences at the school prepared them for their future careers in the military, education, politics, nursing, corporate management, and other professions. Some Native graduates went on to serve as leaders within the state, their village communities, and the Native Corporations established by ANCSA.

Students made lifelong friendships during their time at the school, not only among the students but also between the students and staff. In an effort to foster these friendships, in 1985, Theresa “Tiny” Demientieff Devlin started an alumni newsletter called “The Scuttlebutt” in honor of the school’s newsletter of the same name. In 1986, alumni organized to meet for a reunion, a tradition that carries on to this day. Alumni have come from across Alaska, Canada, the Lower 48, and Australia. The annual reunion has served as a forum for friends to reconnect, sit around a bonfire, reminisce, share a meal and remember those who have passed away. Former staff also attend these reunions, and alumni often thank them for their teaching, dedication and inspiration. In 1993, alumni formed the nonprofit Copper Valley School Association. The association has supported scholarships and raised funds to bring guests, such as former teachers, priests and students, to reunions.

Believing that the school holds an important role in Alaska’s education history and has had a significant impact on Alaska’s history in general, CVSA is sponsoring two research projects at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The Arctic and Northern Studies (ACNS) program at UAF is an interdisciplinary program that studies the history, policy, culture and other issues related to the Arctic and the Circumpolar North. CVSA is sponsoring a graduate student researcher in the ACNS program. This student, Elizabeth Klemm, is currently researching Copper’s legacy and will write a historical narrative of the school. CVSA is also working with UAF’s Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives (APRCA) to archive documents related to the school.

If you attended Copper Valley School or otherwise have information about Copper that you would like included in the history, please contact Elizabeth Klemm at CVSlegacy@gmail.com.

[Elizabeth Klemm lives in Anchorage and is a graduate student in Arctic and Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Stephen Gemmell lives in Fairbanks and is the president of Copper Valley Student Association. Brandon Boylan, Ph.D., lives in Fairbanks and is an associate professor of Political Science and the director of the Arctic and Northern Studies Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.]

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Northern Irish victims call for their own Catholic baby homes investigation

NORTHERN IRELAND
National Catholic Reporter

February 2, 2021

By Sahm Venter

The young mother wrapped her baby son in a shawl and carefully pushed a letter to his adoptive parents into a bag stuffed with toys, sweaters and other clothes.

“I lifted him from the nursery, walked up the corridor and handed him to a nun and that was the last I’d seen of him for 40 years,” said Adele, who asked to use a pseudonym because of the sensitive nature of her story.

She said that at the age of 18, she had been “shipped off” to the Good Shepherd Sisters’ Marianvale Mother and Baby Home in Newry in Northern Ireland.

What struck her immediately as she walked in was the smell of lavender wood polish. She still associates it with the trauma of having to give up her name, and her baby, and of being made to perform Irish dances for the nuns with a group of pregnant women and girls.

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Northern Irish victims call for their own Catholic baby homes investigation

NORTHERN IRELAND
National Catholic Reporter

February 2, 2021

By Sahm Venter

The young mother wrapped her baby son in a shawl and carefully pushed a letter to his adoptive parents into a bag stuffed with toys, sweaters and other clothes.

“I lifted him from the nursery, walked up the corridor and handed him to a nun and that was the last I’d seen of him for 40 years,” said Adele, who asked to use a pseudonym because of the sensitive nature of her story.

She said that at the age of 18, she had been “shipped off” to the Good Shepherd Sisters’ Marianvale Mother and Baby Home in Newry in Northern Ireland.

What struck her immediately as she walked in was the smell of lavender wood polish. She still associates it with the trauma of having to give up her name, and her baby, and of being made to perform Irish dances for the nuns with a group of pregnant women and girls.

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Catholic order allows accused child abuser to live by school because of ‘locked gate’

LIVERPOOL (ENGLAND)
Liverpool Echo

February 1, 2021

By Jonathan Humphries

The man was later found to have been accessing the grounds of St Francis Xavier’s College anyway

A man accused of sexually abusing boys was allowed to live by school grounds because of a “locked gate” – with the knowledge of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, council and police.

The man, a member of French Catholic order the Brothers of Christian Instruction, had been living in accommodation adjoining the grounds of St Francis Xavier’s College (SFX) without the knowledge of the head teacher or governors.

The ‘safeguarding plan’ was only scrapped when it emerged two fellow brothers had been allowing the unnamed man to access school grounds anyway.

The two men, then deputy head teacher, Brother Peter Tracey, and school chaplain, Brother James Hayes, have since departed the school.

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Catholic order allows accused child abuser to live by school because of ‘locked gate’

LIVERPOOL (ENGLAND)
Liverpool Echo

February 1, 2021

By Jonathan Humphries

The man was later found to have been accessing the grounds of St Francis Xavier’s College anyway

A man accused of sexually abusing boys was allowed to live by school grounds because of a “locked gate” – with the knowledge of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, council and police.

The man, a member of French Catholic order the Brothers of Christian Instruction, had been living in accommodation adjoining the grounds of St Francis Xavier’s College (SFX) without the knowledge of the head teacher or governors.

The ‘safeguarding plan’ was only scrapped when it emerged two fellow brothers had been allowing the unnamed man to access school grounds anyway.

The two men, then deputy head teacher, Brother Peter Tracey, and school chaplain, Brother James Hayes, have since departed the school.

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Botched handling of ballot question is a ‘kick in the teeth’ to survivors of abuse

PENNSYLVANIA
Crossville Chronicle

February 1, 2021

By John Finnerty

https://www.crossville-chronicle.com/news/tennessee_news/botched-handling-of-ballot-question-is-a-kick-in-the-teeth-to-survivors-of-abuse/article_533a689f-a34f-5ddc-8c5d-4977e523a15d.html

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is resigning after administration officials acknowledged Monday that the department had failed to advertise a proposed change to the state Constitution to allow adult survivors of childhood sex abuse to sue the Catholic Church and other organizations that covered up for predators.

Because of the error, the proposed amendment can’t be on the ballot until 2023 due to a requirement that the measure be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions. Failing to properly advertise the proposed change when it first passed the General Assembly in 2019 means that the process must start over at the beginning, the Department of State said in a statement.

Boockvar’s resignation is effective Friday.

Gov. Tom Wolf apologized for the Department of State’s bungling and confirmed that Boockvar’s departure was based on the botched handling of the statute of limitations amendment.

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Botched handling of ballot question is a ‘kick in the teeth’ to survivors of abuse

PENNSYLVANIA
Crossville Chronicle

February 1, 2021

By John Finnerty

https://www.crossville-chronicle.com/news/tennessee_news/botched-handling-of-ballot-question-is-a-kick-in-the-teeth-to-survivors-of-abuse/article_533a689f-a34f-5ddc-8c5d-4977e523a15d.html

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is resigning after administration officials acknowledged Monday that the department had failed to advertise a proposed change to the state Constitution to allow adult survivors of childhood sex abuse to sue the Catholic Church and other organizations that covered up for predators.

Because of the error, the proposed amendment can’t be on the ballot until 2023 due to a requirement that the measure be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions. Failing to properly advertise the proposed change when it first passed the General Assembly in 2019 means that the process must start over at the beginning, the Department of State said in a statement.

Boockvar’s resignation is effective Friday.

Gov. Tom Wolf apologized for the Department of State’s bungling and confirmed that Boockvar’s departure was based on the botched handling of the statute of limitations amendment.

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Victim’s Advocates Frustrated by Government Failure

PENNSYLVANIA
Erie News Now

February 1, 2021

By Elspeth Mizner

[Play Video]

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar will resign this week after a crucial crime victim bill, slipped through the cracks on her watch.

This news today is another setback for survivors of sexual abuse.

Paul Lukach, the Executive Director of the Crime Victim Center was stunned when he heard that abuse victims would have to wait years for their days in court.

“I couldn’t believe it. This didn’t just happen, we thought this was gonna come through. We had enough people on board to make it happen. People were understanding and actually hearing the victims”, said Lukach.

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Victim’s Advocates Frustrated by Government Failure

PENNSYLVANIA
Erie News Now

February 1, 2021

By Elspeth Mizner

[Play Video]

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar will resign this week after a crucial crime victim bill, slipped through the cracks on her watch.

This news today is another setback for survivors of sexual abuse.

Paul Lukach, the Executive Director of the Crime Victim Center was stunned when he heard that abuse victims would have to wait years for their days in court.

“I couldn’t believe it. This didn’t just happen, we thought this was gonna come through. We had enough people on board to make it happen. People were understanding and actually hearing the victims”, said Lukach.

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Por violación y corrupción de menores, dan 65 años de prisión al cura Luis Esteban Zavala

[For rape and corruption of minors, they give 65 years in prison to priest Luis Esteban Zavala]

MEXICO
Proceso

January 29, 2021

By Verónica Espinosa

El sacerdote católico Luis Esteban Zavala Rodríguez fue sentenciado a 65 años y tres meses de prisión, al ser encontrado culpable de violación espuria calificada y corrupción de menores

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The Catholic priest Luis Esteban Zavala Rodríguez was sentenced to 65 years and three months in prison, when he was found guilty of qualified spurious rape and corruption of minors.]

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‘Just sick over it’: Clergy sexual abuse victims, their advocates lament error that derailed Pa. amendment

PENNSYLVANIA
TribLive.com

February 1, 2021

By Deb Erdley

https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/just-sick-over-it-backers-lament-bureaucratic-bungle-that-sinks-constitutional-amendment-to-open-courts-to-old-clergy-sexual-abuse-cases/

Mark Rozzi was crushed Monday when Gov. Tom Wolf called to tell him an amendment seeking to open a window of opportunity in court for old child sex abuse claims would not make the primary ballot this year because of an advertising oversight.

Rozzi, a state representative from Berks County who has recounted how he was raped by a priest in junior high school, has led the charge to change the law for several years. During that time, he’s become a champion of other survivors who stayed in the shadows for decades.

He thought the measure to create a limited period to allow old claims to be heard in court had gained sufficient traction to change the state law, following the explosive 2018 statewide grand jury report. The grand jury’s investigation detailed allegations of hundreds of incidents of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy across the state, going back decades.

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PA Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to resign after dept. fails to advertise constitutional amendment

PENNSYLVANIA
WHTM-TV

February 1, 2021

By Tyler Galaskas

PA Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to resign after department fails to advertise constitutional amendment

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is resigning following news that the Department of State failed to advertise a proposed constitutional amendment that would extend retroactively the timeline for victims to file civil actions against their abusers.

Her last day will be Friday, Feb. 5, according to Governor Tom Wolf. The department will immediately institute new controls, including additional tracking and notifications of constitutional amendments, to ensure similar failings do not occur in the future.

“This change at the Department of State has nothing to do with the administration of the 2020 election, which was fair and accurate,” said Gov. Wolf. “The delay caused by this human error will be heartbreaking for thousands of survivors of childhood sexual assault, advocates and legislators, and I join the Department of State in apologizing to you. I share your anger and frustration that this happened, and I stand with you in your fight for justice.”

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California bishops challenge state’s extension of statute of limitations for abuse

WASHINGTON D.C.
Catholic News Agency

February 1, 2021

California bishops are asking a judge to overturn a state law that extends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims.

The state now allows adult survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil claims in old abuse cases until the age of 40, or five years after an adult survivor realizes they have been abused.

In addition, survivors are eligible under the law for triple damages in the event of an institutional cover up of the abuse. Previously, survivors of child sex abuse had to file civil claims by age 26, or within three years of realizing their abuse.

The new law also created a three-year window for abuse claims beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, in cases where the old statute of limitations had already expired. The legislation, Assembly Bill 218, was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in Oct., 2019, and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

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Opinion: It’s time for Colorado’s Catholic Church to take a moral inventory

COLORADO
Colorado Sun

February 2, 2021

By Bri Buentello

The dialogue about the need for accountability following reports of priestly abuse should also be the catalyst for examining other areas where the church presumes moral authority, including health care.

Growing up in the Catholic faith, several guiding principles were instilled in me, including the sanctity of human life and dignity, that our humanity is measured by the compassion we show the poor and our most vulnerable, and that regardless of our differences, we are all God’s children.

And of course, and perhaps most fundamentally, to trust in God, his plans, and in his holy church.

Like so many in my community, I was horrified by the recent follow-up report in December from Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser about the systemic abuse of children in the state by Catholic clergy, following an earlier report issued in 2019. The two reports say 212 Colorado children were sexually abused by 52 priests from 1950 onward.

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‘Sexual sadist’ priest who locked boy in crypt and watched him shower sent to jail

ENGLAND
StokeOnTrentLive

February 2, 2021

By Hayley Parker

Father Joseph Quigley – former national education advisor for Roman Catholic schools – also beat the boy

A priest who carried out ‘depraved’ sexual and physical abuse on a boy during a sick six-year ordeal has been jailed for more than 11 years.

Father Joseph Quigley – described as a ‘sexual sadist’ – committed a catalogue of offences against his teenage victim.

These included:

— Rubbing the boy’s inner thigh after making him wear gym kit;
— Making him take showers with the door open;
— Inflicting ‘sado-masochistic’ punishments on him such as locking him in the church’s crypt, a cold and dark room containing tombs;
— Beating the boy with a hurling stick and;
— Making the boy do sit-ups and press-ups as punishments, to stand in the corner and suck paracetamols, which have a bitter taste.

The offences took place while he was the parish priest at a church from 2002 until he was forced to resign in disgrace.

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[Opinion] Conversion bill debate reveals Church’s hypocrisy

AUSTRALIA
Sydney Morning Herald

February 2, 2021

By Daniel Comensoli

I feel uncomfortable writing this; and wondered whether it was even worth it. But I believe the legislation currently before the Victorian Upper House to prohibit LGBTQA+ conversion practices in Victoria is too important an issue to remain quiet.

The debate on the bill is an issue that is of profound importance to me.

The Victorian Upper House is due to debate the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020. While not being subject to conversion practices myself, this is an issue that is of profound importance to me. Some of my colleagues and friends have been subject to these practices. However, I am a proud gay man. I also happen to be the nephew of the current Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli.

The bill has been met with fierce opposition by him, as well as other religious leaders and members of the Christian right with the same fear-mongering and disinformation campaign that we have seen before.

While this no longer surprises me, it makes me angry.

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German bishops’ summit considers women and lay roles as answer to abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY
Religion News Service

February 1, 2021

By Claire Giangravé

While the summit officially affects only Germany, the bishops’ discussions will likely have consequences for the global church.

Germany’s Catholic bishops will resume discussions this week to plan the Synodal Path, a set of conferences slated to address controversial questions such as women’s roles and LGBTQ acceptance, even as the country faces yet another scandal of sexual abuse by clergy.

Many churchmen believe that the social questions and the abuse crisis are related. “The abuse crisis hurts the church very deeply,” the Rev. Martin Maier, a Jesuit priest and former editor at the German Catholic magazine Voices of the Time (Stimmen der Zeit), told Religion News Service. “One of the most painful consequences is the loss of trust. One of the goals of the Synodal Path is to restore trust, which is crucial and vital.”

Started in 2019 and scheduled to last two years, Synodal Path was put on hold in September 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its purpose is to debate questions of power structures in the Catholic Church, priestly life, sexual morality and the role of women in the church.

While the bishops’ summit officially considers only Germany’s local dioceses and parishes, the discussions and decisions will likely have consequences around the global church. Bishops from Australia to South America and Ireland are grappling with the devastating impact that the sexual abuse crisis has had, as well as with mounting secularization that has depleted church attendance and vocations.

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Pedophile former priest evades justice in Timor-Leste

TIMOR-LESTE
UCA News

February 2, 2021

By Rock Ronald Rozario

Despite his crimes, American Richard Daschbach enjoys celebrity status in the tiny Catholic-majority nation

Richard Daschbach might be 84, defrocked from the priesthood and under house arrest in Timor-Leste capital Dili, but he continues to make a buzz in the tiny Catholic-majority Southeast Asian nation.

The self-proclaimed pedophile and former priest from the Society of the Divine Word congregation has hit the headlines again in Timor-Leste and beyond.

On Jan. 26, former president Xanana Gusmao visited the American to greet him on his birthday and pose for photos in what some believe was a political stunt by the former guerrilla leader turned politician.

The news of the visit was widely covered by news outlets including state-run news agency Tatoli.

Most reports covered the life and work of Daschbach in detail, including his contributions to the country’s independence struggle and support for marginalized people. However, little to nothing was mentioned about his crimes of sexual abuse of dozens of girls and pornography that led to his dismissal from the priesthood by the Vatican in 2018. Neither did they say that he is wanted in the United States for fraud.

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Record numbers leave Church in Cologne as anger grows

GERMANY
The Tablet

February 1, 2021

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Anger is increasing in the Cologne archdiocese over Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s refusal to publish the results of the investigation into the handling of abuse cases, as record numbers of Catholics opt to quit the Church.

The number of Catholics officially leaving the Church has increased at an unprecedented rate, by 70 per cent, and is now a record 1000 a month.

In order to leave the Church in Germany and stop having to pay 8-9 per cent of net income in compulsory church tax which is collected at source, Catholics have to make an appointment with their municipal office and state that they intend to leave in writing.

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[Opinion] North Dakota Legislature Feels Ire of Catholic League

UNITED STATES
Catholic League (blog)

January 21, 2021

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the initial success of efforts to protect religious liberty in North Dakota:

Yesterday, I sent a letter to the North Dakota legislature regarding SB 2180. This legislation would break the seal of the confessional and is nothing more than a direct assault on our faith. However, thanks to the support of our members, the sponsors of this bill have come to feel the ire of the Catholic League, and the viability of the legislation is in peril.

Not long after receiving my letter, one of the North Dakota House co-sponsors, Rep. Michael D. Brandenburg, sent me an email stating he will no longer support the bill and intends to vote against it. Rep. Brandenburg’s heroic decision to reverse course and stand with those who support religious liberty delivers a severe blow to this anti-Catholic legislation and harms its ability to become law.

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[Opinion] Port: Catholics win the ‘liberty’ to keep silent about child abuse

NORTH DAKOTA
InForum

February 1, 2021

By Rob Port

People who are committed to protecting children actually protect them. They don’t hide behind religious dogmas, however long-standing.

MINOT, N.D. — Catholics and other supposed proponents of “religious liberty” are crowing about the defeat of Senate Bill 2180.

The legislation introduced by Sen. Judy Lee, R-Fargo, would have crossed out a clergy exemption to a state law mandating reporting of child abuse. Lee ultimately withdrew the bill after a pressure campaign organized by lobbyists for the Catholic Church and other interests.

If you want to understand why so many Americans have turned away from religion, generally, and Catholicism, specifically, one need look no further than the Diocese of Fargo’s Bishop John Folda spiking the football because his priests won’t have report child abusers.

“It really was an assault on our practice of the faith, not just for Catholics but for any people of faith,” he said, according to my fellow columnist, Roxane Salonen.

“It’s not the first time in history civil authorities have tried to use the life of the church for their own ends, and that’s kind of what was going on here,” he continued, adding that his church is “utterly and completely committed to protecting children.”

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February 1, 2021

[Media Statement] SOL Reform Sabotaged by Clerical Error in Pennsylvania, SNAP Responds

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 1, 2021

Statute of limitations (SOL) reform has hit another obstacle in Pennsylvania, this time due to a devastating clerical mistake that will set back recently-passed reforms until at least 2023. While this news is awful and disheartening, we hope that this terrible situation will not damper the spirits of the survivors and advocates who have fought for this critical reform.

Due to a failure to advertise the proposed constitutional amendment that would pave the way for survivors of sexual abuse to have their day in court, the Pennsylvania Department of State has dealt a serious blow to SOL reform efforts in Pennsylvania.

“This is numbing news,” said Mike McDonnell, leader of SNAP Philadelphia. “But I want to encourage survivors who have fought for this reform to hang in there. We have been through other fierce battles and kept fighting, and this one is no different.”

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A Pa. Dept. of State error means some sex-abuse victims will again have to wait for justice

PENNSYLVANIA
Spotlight PA via Philadelphia Inquirer

February 1, 2021

by Angela Couloumbis

https://www.inquirer.com/politics/pennsylvania/spl/kathy-boockvar-resign-pennsylvania-election-official-constitutional-amendment-20210201.html

Pennsylvania’s top election official will resign after her agency made a mistake that will delay a statewide vote on whether survivors of decades-old sexual abuse should be able to sue the perpetrators and institutions that covered up the crimes.

Secretary Kathy Boockvar, who oversaw a tense and difficult presidential election in the battleground state, will resign Feb. 5, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday. Spotlight PA first reported the news.

The resignation follows the discovery that the Department of State did not advertise, as required, a long-sought amendment to the state constitution that would open a two-year window for litigation by survivors of child sexual abuse who have aged out of the statute of limitations.

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State agency bungles ballot referendum for child sex victims

PENNSYLVANIA
Associated Press

February 1, 2021

By Mark Scolforo and Marc Levy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Some victims of child sexual abuse might have to wait two years or more to pursue legal claims because of a major bureaucratic bungle that prompted angry denunciations across the political spectrum Monday and the resignation of Pennsylvania’s top state elections official.

A proposed state constitutional amendment allowing lawsuits for otherwise outdated claims was not advertised as required and so cannot appear on the ballot this spring, the Wolf administration disclosed.

The Pennsylvania Department of State in a news release called it “simple human error” and apologized, saying the mistake was discovered late last week. As a result, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is leaving her job, and both the inspector general and the Legislature will be looking into the matter.

“The delay caused by this human error will be heartbreaking for thousands of survivors of childhood sexual assault, advocates and legislators, and I join the Department of State in apologizing to you,” Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. “I share your anger and frustration that this happened, and I stand with you in your fight for justice.”

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Pennsylvania official at center of Trump election concerns resigns

PENNSYLVANIA
New York Post

February 1, 2021

By Steven Nelson

The Pennsylvania secretary of state who emerged as a villain to supporters of former President Donald Trump said Monday she will resign for failing to comply with an unrelated state election law.

Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, will leave office on Feb. 5. Her office botched the handling of a state constitutional amendment that would allow more sexual abuse victims to sue their alleged abusers.

In a statement, she said, “I’ve always believed that accountability and leadership must be a cornerstone of public service. While I only became aware of the mistake last week, and immediately took steps to alert the administration to the error, I accept the responsibility on behalf of the department.”

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Kathy Boockvar to resign as Pa.’s secretary of state over amendment issue

PENNSYLVANIA
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

February 1, 2021

By Julian Routh and Peter Smith

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar will soon resign after her department failed to advertise an amendment to the state’s constitution extending the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to file actions in civil court against their abusers, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday.

Her resignation will take effect on Friday, Mr. Wolf said.

The omission is a stunning setback in an effort by victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and others to gain a window of time in which they could sue over abuse that happened years or decades ago, beyond what the current statute of limitations allows.

The effort, building on grand jury reports in 2016 and 2018 on the long histories of abuse in Catholic dioceses around the state, would have enabled victims to sue dioceses or others deemed complicit in the abuse.

“We trusted the process, and it failed us again,” said James Faluszczak, a former priest of the Diocese of Erie and himself a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, who was a witness before a grand jury that issued a report on six dioceses in 2018.”

The department was constitutionally required to advertise the proposed constitutional amendment — which voters would have eventually decided at the ballot box — in each of the three months before the 2020 general election, but never did, Mr. Wolf’s office said in a statement.

If the resolution would have been advertised by the state and greenlighted by voters, it would have amended Article I of the state’s constitution to say, “An individual for whom a statutory limitations period has already expired shall have a period of two years from the time that this subsection becomes effective to commence an action arising from childhood sexual abuse, in such cases as provided by law at the time that this subsection becomes effective.”

“The delay caused by this human error will be heartbreaking for thousands of survivors of childhood sexual assault, advocates and legislators, and I join the Department of State in apologizing to you,” Mr. Wolf said. “I share your anger and frustration that this happened, and I stand with you in your fight for justice.”

Veronica Degraffenreid, a special adviser to the department on election modernization, will serve as acting secretary of the commonwealth, Mr. Wolf’s office said. In response to the failure, the state department will institute “additional tracking and notifications of constitutional amendments,” according to the statement, and the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General will review what happened.

The amendment was in its final stages before going to voters. The state House had given its final approval last month, giving it approval in the second consecutive legislation session, as required. If the state Senate were to follow, the proposal could have been on the election ballot for approval by voters in the May 18 primary.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the state department’s failure “shameful,” and said “all options must be on the table to fix this immediately.”

“Too many institutions have failed survivors of sexual abuse for far too long, and I am determined for that disgraceful streak to end and to make sure justice is no longer denied,” Mr. Shapiro said in a statement.

The governor said he’d commit to working with the state legislature to reach a solution legislatively — if they wanted to create a window in civil court for victims of child sex abuse to file claims.

Mr. Shapiro echoed that sentiment, and said he made clear from the beginning that the constitutional amendment process was an “unnecessary hurdle.” He urged the Legislature to pass the reform into law.

Democrats in the state Senate said that instead of starting over the constitutional amendment process again — which would require passing a bill in its identical form in two consecutive sessions — the legislature should statutorily create the window for claims. They plan to introduce the bill themselves that would “establish a 2-year civil window for survivors of childhood sexual assault with expired claims to bring suit against their abusers,” according to a legislative memo uploaded to the chamber’s website on Monday.

“If we continue with the constitutional amendment process, it will be at least another 2 years until the window would be created and that’s simply too long,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, calling the state department’s failure a “disappointing setback in the process to create the window to justice.”

“A legislative solution can create the window immediately,” he said, “and I’m encouraging bipartisan and bicameral support for the bill that members of our caucus is going to introduce. Survivors need justice now.”

According to the Democrats’ memo, the legislature debated last session whether a constitutional amendment was necessary for the issue at hand, and opted not to adopt an amendment that would have established the civil window statutorily.

“Since then, subsequent court cases have demonstrated the legality of providing a retroactive window statutorily, rather than through a constitutional amendment,” the memo read. “The civil window is supported by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and has been upheld in seven other states.”

The 2018 grand jury report accused 300 priests of sexual abuse across seven decades in six dioceses, including Pittsburgh and Greensburg. It followed a similar report in 2016 on a seventh diocese, Altoona-Johnstown.

Legislative efforts to pass a window in the statute of limitations failed in 2018, in part due to objections that such a look back would violate the state constitution, although other states have allowed them. That led to a new strategy in 2019 to initiate a constitutional amendment, even though some doubted its need.

“The goal of survivors has always been to have a window,” Mr. Faluszczak said on Twitter. “Most of us said we’d give the … amendment process a chance, even though it was constitutionally unnecessary.”

The Diocese of Pittsburgh and most other Pennsylvania dioceses launched compensation funds after the 2018 grand jury report, seeking to reach out-of-court settlements with victims that would, among other things, reduce their exposure to lawsuits if a window were authorized.

Many victims, meanwhile, have already sued over long-ago abuse under a legal theory that alleges long-running conspiracy and fraud by dioceses. The state Supreme Court is weighing those arguments in a precedent-setting case.

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Vatican office admits silence about children of priests was a mistake

VATICAN CITY
National Catholic Reporter

February 1, 2021

By Elisabeth Auvillain

A Vatican office has acknowledged that the Catholic Church erred over previous decades in asking its members to keep silent when they heard about priests fathering children.

“Before our times, the Church did like most institutions and avoided addressing publicly matters regarding its members’ behavior, about which it kept silent,” Norbertine Fr. Bernard Ardura, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, said in a document published last week.

“This was a mistake, which can be explained by the context, but it remains a mistake,” said Ardura.

The priest, whose office is responsible for fostering cooperation between the Vatican and outside historians, was writing in a letter to Vincent Doyle, the child of a priest in Ireland and the leader of Coping International, a global campaign for the recognition of priests’ children. Doyle’s organization has posted the letter, written in French, on its website.

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[Opinion] ‘Seal of confession’ threat withdrawal astute

MINNESOTA
Duluth News Tribune

February 1, 2021

By Roxane Salonen

Under canon law, Catholic priests are forbidden from breaking the “seal of confession” by revealing what they’ve heard in the confessional. Doing so leads to automatic excommunication. Additionally, removing the assurance of confidentiality would have inhibited criminals from coming forward to confess their sins, and deter others from this sacrament of healing.

North Dakota Senate Bill 2180 was withdrawn for legislative consideration Friday, bringing a victory for religious freedom. The bill, if approved, could have turned some pastors into criminals, not for their own sins, but for complying with the divine duty of hearing other’s sins — and not divulging them.

Prior to the withdrawal, Chris Dodson of the North Dakota Catholic Conference said North Dakotans had been responding “en masse against this bill,” while “the eyes of the nation …” watched.

The bill zeroed in on the reporting of abuse, removing an exemption for clergy who garner such information specifically in their role as spiritual adviser. Spiritual ministers are already included among those mandated to report knowledge or suspicion of abuse.

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Retired Grimsby priest accused of further historic sex attacks on boys

ENGLAND
Grimsby Telegraph

February 1, 2021

New charges were put to Father Terry Atkinson who worked previously at the Shalom Youth Project, on Grimsby’s East Marsh

A former Church of England priest accused of sex attacks on young boys faced further new charges when he appeared before Lincoln Crown Court.

Father Terence Atkinson, 68, is now accused of offences against seven different complainants over a 21 year period..

He was formerly involved with St Johns and St Stephens Church Centre, which is now known as the Shalom Youth Project, on the East Marsh estate in Grimsby.

Atkinson, of Tetney Road, Humberston, pleaded not guilty to a total of 13 charges of indecent assault on a male person at his court appearance today, Monday, February 1.

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Priests charged with sexual abuse of altar boy to face formal charges

MALTA
Malta Today

February 1, 2021

Court rules there is enough evidence for Attorney General to issue a bill of indictment against Fr Joseph Sultana and Fr Joseph Cini, accused of sexually abusing an altar boy

By Kurt Sansone

A magistrate has ruled that there is enough evidence for the Attorney General to issue a bill of indictment against two priests accused of sexually abusing an altar boy.

Fr Joseph Sultana, 84, and Fr Joseph Cini, 70, were remanded in custody as the compilation of evidence against them continued today.

Cini is also charged with raping the boy, who is now 24. The abuse happened when the victim was eight or nine.

At the end of today’s sitting, Magistrate Monica Vella said the court had seen sufficient evidence for a bill of indictment to be issued by the Attorney General.

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Priests urge Cologne cardinal to resign in sexual abuse report crisis

GERMANY
Irish Times

January 31, 2021

By Derek Scally

Decision to suppress a critical report opposed by over 30 priests in the archdiocese

Priests in Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese are demanding their archbishop resign for suppressing a critical report into clerical sexual abuse in the western German diocese.

The growing crisis in the powerful western diocese has taken on fresh urgency after claims that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki ignored church guidelines rather than report a friend’s sexual abuse record to Rome.

The case involves a priest friend who had convictions for sexually abusing young boys in the 1970s. Instead of reporting that and other abuse cases to Rome, in line with new church guidelines, Woelki reportedly held back his friend’s file, citing the poor health of the priest – who died in 2017.

A steady drip of allegations prompted a priest in the Cologne archdiocese to write a letter, published

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Child abuse in the Spanish Catholic Church: ‘In Spain, no one does anything’

SPAIN
El País English

February 1, 2021

By Iñigo Domínguez and Julio Núñes

After the Jesuits admitted to cases of pedophilia, other religious orders have followed suit, for a total of 126 priests and more than 500 victims, according to EL PAÍS’ count

More cases of child abuse by the Spanish Catholic Church are slowly coming to light. After the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, recognized 81 victims since 1927 and announced plans for compensation, other religious congregations have begun to follow the order’s example. EL PAÍS spoke to 10 of the main Catholic orders in Spain, of which seven said they had carried out or were in the process of investigating past cases of abuse, and were equally open to compensating victims.

These investigations, however, are not in-depth internal inquiries, but rather a review of existing archives. Importantly too, the findings have not been made public and are still far from reflecting the extent of the abuse by the Catholic Church, compared to the advances made in other countries such as Germany, where an external audit found that 3,677 minors had been abused by members of the Church.

Of the 10 orders consulted, three – the Marist Brothers, De La Salle Brothers and the Order of Saint Augustine – continue to refuse to investigate allegations of abuse. The remaining seven admitted to 61 cases of pedophile priests, 42 of which were unknown until now. If this number is added to the findings from the Jesuits’ inquiry – 65 cases, 54 of them unknown until now, according to EL PAÍS’ estimates – the Catholic orders have admitted to 126 cases of pedophile priests. Of this figure, 96 had been buried until now. The figures elevate the number of victims of the Spanish Catholic Church to more than 500, according to a count from EL PAÍS, based on criminal sentences, media reports and the newspaper’s own investigations.

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Australia media to plead guilty to breach of gag order on Pell conviction

AUSTRALIA
Reuters

February 1, 2021

By Sonali Paul

A dozen Australian media firms have agreed to plead guilty for breaching a suppression order on reporting on the trial and conviction of former Vatican treasurer George Pell in 2018 for child sexual assault, a court heard on Monday.

Pell was cleared last year of the sexual abuse charges after spending 13 months in prison.

The cardinal was found guilty by a jury in December 2018 of sexually assaulting two choirboys, making him the highest-ranking Catholic official convicted on child sex crimes.

Reporting on the trial and verdict was gagged Australia-wide by the County Court of Victoria to ensure the cardinal got a fair trial on further charges he was due to face. Those charges were later dropped.

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Church to study interim reports

NEW ZEALAND
NZ Catholic

February 1, 2021

Catholic Church leaders in New Zealand will carefully study the interim reports of the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care, to learn lessons that will help the Church continue to better address the way it deals with complaints and prevent abuse.

The royal commission published its first interim reports on December 16.

“These reports will contain much important information and guidance that follow on from what survivors have told the commissioners about their experiences,” said Catherine Fyfe, chair of the Church’s Te Rōpū Tautoko agency.

“Church leaders will be discussing these reports widely, with the aim of looking at how we can continue to improve the way we help people who have been abused, and the systems we have in place to prevent further abuse.”

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Listening to survivor testimonies painful

NEW ZEALAND
NZ Catholic

February 1, 2021

By Rowena Orejana

The New Zealand Catholic Church needs to show mercy, take responsibility, and accompany abuse survivors.

This was the reaction of Te Kupenga – Catholic Theological College lecturer and abuse survivor Dr Rocio Figueroa to the “heart-wrenching testimonies” of abuse survivors at the royal commission on abuse in care hearings held from November 30 to December 4, 2020.

“It caused me deep pain, not only to listen to the stories of each of the testimonies [of people] who suffered the most atrocious abuses when they were innocent kids, but also to listen to the lack of response or hopeless way in which, many times, we have handled the disclosure within our communities,” Dr Figueroa said.

“As a member or the Catholic Church, I regret our poor response, and I apologise for all that we could have done and we have not done,” she said.

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