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.

May 26, 2021

Lawyers for former priest’s victims outraged and saddened by revelations in Croteau case

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
Boston Globe

May 24, 2021

By Travis Andersen, Shelley Murphy and John R. Ellement

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Word that Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni was poised to criminally charge former Catholic priest Richard R. Lavigne with the 1972 murder of 13-year-old Danny Croteau when Lavigne died last week tore open a painful chapter for Croteau’s family and many of Lavigne’s other sexual abuse victims.

Attorney John Stobierski, a Greenfield attorney who represented Croteau’s late parents for decades as they urged prosecutors to hold his killer accountable, said Monday that Gulluni’s announcement that there was overwhelming evidence linking Lavigne to the slaying marked a “good day,” but it was sad that it had taken so long.

“There’s a great injustice done here,” said Stobierski, who has represented more than 25 of Lavigne’s abuse victims.”This helps, but it has not told us why it happened and how the levels of power kept it silent.”

He urged Gulluni’s office to publicly release all of the investigative materials…

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May 25, 2021

Chicago Priest to Be Reinstated After Inquiry Finds Proof of Sex Abuse Lacking

CHICAGO (IL)
New York Times

May 24, 2021

By Azi Paybarah

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There is “insufficient reason to suspect” that the Rev. Michael Pfleger is guilty, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, an influential Roman Catholic priest who temporarily stepped aside from his parish on the South Side of Chicago in January after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor more than 40 years ago, will be reinstated after an internal investigation found “insufficient reason to suspect” he was guilty, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced on Monday.

In a letter to the Faith Community of St. Sabina, the parish where Father Pfleger is assigned, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said that the archdiocese’s Independent Review Board and its Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review, as well as outside investigators, had “conducted a thorough review of the allegations.”

“The Review Board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations,” the cardinal wrote….

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Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni formally closes investigation into the homicide of Danny Croteau, citing new evidence against Richard Lavigne

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
Hampden District Attorney's Office [Springfield MA]

May 24, 2021

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May 24, 2021 -Springfield- Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni announcedthe investigation into the murder of Danny Croteau has been officially closed. The investigation began after Danny was found deceased on April 15, 1972, in the Connecticut River in Chicopee, still dressed in his clothes from his previous school day at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart school. The search for answers and proof of what happened to Danny has ensued for over 49 years.

This past Friday, detectives with the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office were authorized by DA Gulluni to present the case against Richard Lavigne to a magistrate in order to obtain an arrest warrant for the murder of Danny Croteau. However, Lavigne died this past Friday evening, May 21, in a hospital facility in Greenfield.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni stated, “Danny’s parents, Carl and Bernice, told reporters that they just…

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A priest, a boy, and a murder

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
Boston Globe

May 24, 2021

By Kevin Cullen

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The killer was only ever going to be Richard Lavigne, who as a priest groomed 13-year-old altar boy Danny Croteau to rape him, then murdered him and tossed him in the Chicopee River when Danny became a nuisance.

Mike McNally is a Massachusetts State Police detective who asks the questions the dead need answered.It took him a few meetings this time, but finally 80-year-old, bedridden Richard Lavigne could hear Death’s footsteps and was ready to unburden himself of a dark secret he had carried in his dark heart for a half century.

Still, being a narcissistic sociopath, Lavigne couldn’t quite bring himself to explicitly admit he murdered 13-year-old altar boy Danny Croteau. Like everything else he did in his sorry life, Lavigne repeatedly framed his homicidal callousness in the best possible light, a gauzy haze that sought to minimize his vain and vile awfulness.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni announced…

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‘Danny Croteau died at the hands of Richard Lavigne,’ DA says in closing 50-year-old case

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
MassLive.com/The Republican [Springfield MA]

May 24, 2021

By Stephanie Barry

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In a dispassionate voice, defrocked Catholic priest Richard Lavigne told a state trooper about Daniel “Danny” Croteau’s final hours before the boy was found dead in the Chicopee River in 1972.

Lavigne was the last person to see Croteau alive — and had long been the prime suspect in his murder — but managed to evade prosecution up until his death on Friday as investigators closed in.

“What did you do after you saw the body in the water?” Massachusetts State Trooper Michael McNally asked Lavigne, who agreed to 11 hours of interviews from a hospital bed in Greenfield over five days in April and early May.

“I don’t remember what I did. I don’t remember telling anyone,” Lavigne responded slowly.

“Did you tell the police?” McNally pressed.

“I don’t believe I did,” Lavigne said.

“I don’t believe you did either,” the trooper said.

“I just remember…

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Former priest responsible for 1972 death of altar boy, but died before his arrest, DA says

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
NBC News [New York NY]

May 24, 2021

By Tim Fitzsimons

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A Massachusetts district attorney announced the closure of the Danny Croteau cold case and said Richard Lavigne caused the death of the 13-year-old boy.

Authorities in Massachusetts say a defrocked priest was responsible for the death of a child in a cold case from 1972 — but the suspect died last week before he could be arrested.

In a press release, Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni announced that the death of Danny Croteau, a 13-year-old boy from Springfield whose body was found floating in a river in 1972, was caused by his then-priest, Richard Lavigne, who pleaded guilty to child molestation in 1992 and was defrocked in 2003.

Rev. Richard R. Lavigne, a Roman Catholic priest, pleads guilty to two counts of indecently assaulting two adolescent boys at Newburyport Superior Court in this June 25, 1992 in Newburyport, Mass.Scott Maguire / AP file

The district attorney said…

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Prosecutor: Late former priest killed altar boy in 1972

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
Associated Press [New York NY]

May 24, 2021

By Alanna Durkin Richer

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Investigators were preparing to seek an arrest warrant for a defrocked Roman Catholic priest long considered a suspect in the 1972 killing of a western Massachusetts altar boy shortly before his death last week, a prosecutor said Monday.

Incriminating admissions Richard Lavigne made in a series of recent interviews while in a medical facility further implicated the longtime suspect in 13-year-old Danny Croteau’s death, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni told reporters.

Gulluni said his office was prepared to prosecute Lavigne for Croteau’s killing, but he died Friday at the age of 80 before he could be arrested.

Lavigne indicated in interviews this year with investigator that he had brought Croteau to the riverbank, physically assaulted him, left him there and returned sometime later to see the boy floating in the river, Gulluni said.

“I just remember being heartbroken when I saw his body going down the river knowing I was…

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Former priest Richard Lavigne died last week. He murdered a 13-year-old boy 49 years ago, according to the Hampden DA’s Office. (Courtesy photo Hampden DA’s Office)

Former Springfield priest killed 13-year-old boy in 1972: Hampden District Attorney

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
Boston Herald [Boston MA]

May 24, 2021

By Rick Sobey

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Danny Croteau was found dead in the Connecticut River

[Photo above: Former priest Richard Lavigne died last week. He murdered a 13-year-old boy 49 years ago, according to the Hampden DA’s Office. (Courtesy photo Hampden DA’s Office)]

A former Springfield priest who was a person of interest in the murder of a 13-year-old boy 49 years ago has been ID’d as the boy’s killer, the Hampden DA said Monday, three days after the man died.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni announced that the investigation into the murder of Danny Croteau has been officially closed, citing new evidence against Richard Lavigne who died Friday in a hospital facility.

Danny was found dead on April 15, 1972, in the Connecticut River in Chicopee. This past Friday, detectives were authorized by Gulluni to present the case against Lavigne to obtain an arrest warrant for Danny’s murder.

“Danny’s parents, Carl and Bernice, told reporters…

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Local priest appears in court after arrest on child pornography charges

BOSSIER CITY (LA)
KTAL-TV/NBC affiliate [Shreveport LA and Texarkana TX]

May 24, 2021

By Nancy Cook

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BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Bossier City man and associate pastor at a local church arrested last week on child pornography and bestiality charges made his first appearance in court Monday.

Seby Chemmampallil, 36, was arrested Friday and charged with two counts of pornography involving juveniles under the age of 13 (possession), two counts of pornography involving juveniles under the age of 13 (distribution), and two counts of sexual abuse of animals.

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport issued a letter to the Catholic clergy and the community shortly after the arrest announcing that Chemmampallil, known in the Catholic community as the Rev. Seby Shan, had been removed from serving as priest in the diocese. Chemmampallil served as associate pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church in Bossier City.

“While the allegations against him do not, at this time, involve physical contact with minors, they nonetheless…

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‘Do your job’: Abuse survivors call on Senate to pass stalled lawsuit reform bill

HARRISBURG (PA)
Pennsylvania Capital-Star

May 24, 2021

By John Micek

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Cindy Leech’s voice broke, then it broke again, as she talked about the lives ruined, and the lives lost, to childhood sexual abuse — including her son’s.

“We’re not going away. We are going to fight,” Leech, of Johnstown, her husband at her side, said, as she and other survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy and others called on the No. 2 Republican in the state Senate to finally hold a vote on a long-sought bill opening a two-year window in civil court allowing them to sue in cases where the statute of limitations has expired.

Legislation authorizing such a change cleared the Republican-controlled state House in April on a 149-52 vote, but the legislation remains in park in the majority-GOP state Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, has said such a bill is unconstitutional.

Ward, whose office controls the flow of legislation to the floor, said…

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Advocates calling on Springfield Diocese to release “secret archives”

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
WGGB - WesternMassNews [Springfield MA]

May 24, 2021

By Lindsey Kane and Amanda Callahan

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A long-awaited update to a murder investigation some thought would never come.

The Hampden District attorney claims he knows who killed 13-year-old Danny Croteau all those years ago, but now defrocked priest Richard Lavigne died while the arrest warrant was being written up.

While this chapter has finally closed, advocates are claiming there’s more to this story and they want to get to the bottom of it.

The founder of Road to Recovery, an organization that helps victims of sexual abuse said he wants answers as to why Danny Croteau’s murder took nearly 50 years to solve.

“Release all the documents let us see the documents,” Road to Recovery President Dr. Robert Hoatson said.

After nearly 50 years, the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office said the investigation into the 1972 death of an altar boy, Danny Croteau is closed.

Former priest Richard Lavigne was named a suspect in the case…

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Chicago priest Pfleger reinstated after abuse investigation

CHICAGO (IL)
Associated Press [New York NY]

May 24, 2021

By Kathleen Foody

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Nationally known activist Chicago priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger will be reinstated as the leader of his parish after an investigation found “insufficient reason to suspect” he sexually abused children, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced Monday.

The decision from the archdiocese comes more than four months after it asked Pfleger to step aside and told his parish that its Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review had received an allegation that the priest had sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago. Three accusers ultimately came forward, with one saying he was 18 when Pfleger sexually abused him.

Pfleger, who is white, had fierce support from leaders and parishioners at St. Sabina, a Black church in the city’s largely Black and low-income Auburn Gresham neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Parishioners cheered as he arrived for a news conference outside St. Sabina on Monday afternoon, and Pfleger jokingly said…

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Father Pfleger Reinstated At St. Sabina Church After Archdiocese Finds ‘No Reason To Suspect’ He’s Guilty Of Sex Abuse

CHICAGO (IL)
Block Club Chicago

May 24, 2021

By Jamie Nesbitt Golden and Atavia Reed

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Pfleger, who has led St. Sabina since 1981, is set to return to the pulpit June 5. “I’m so relieved and glad that this nightmare is over,” he said.

AUBURN GRESHAM — Father Michael Pfleger has been reinstated at St. Sabina Church, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Monday, as church leaders found “no reason to suspect” the longtime pastor is guilty of sexual abuse.

The Catholic priest was asked to step down from the ministry in January, when two brothers accused Pfleger of inappropriate sex abuse stemming from incidents that occurred decades ago when they were underage. A third man came forward with allegations in March.

In a letter to the St. Sabina parish, Cardinal Blase Cupich said Pfleger can return to the pulpit the weekend of June 5, coinciding with the Feast of Corpus Christi. Cupich said he’s asked Pfleger to take…

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May 24, 2021

Hampden DA identifies former Catholic priest as killer in 1972 slaying of 13-year-old Danny Croteau

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
Boston Globe

May 24, 2021

By John R. Ellement and Travis Andersen

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[Includes link to audio recordings shared by Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni from interviews Richard R. Lavigne had given in the weeks before his death.]

Ever since the body of 13-year-old Danny Croteau was found floating facedown in the Chicopee River in 1972, investigators had set their sights on Richard R. Lavigne, the priest at the Catholic church where the Springfield youngster was an altar boy.

The day after Danny’s body was found, Lavigne was spotted walking alone along the riverbank as police surveyed the crime scene. When questioned, Lavigne posed a chilling question.

“If a stone was used and thrown in the river, would the blood still be on it?” he asked, according to a police report. Danny had been killed by a crushing blow to his head, likely with a rock.

Lavigne was never charged in the boy’s death, although he was convicted of crimes against other…

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Cardinal Cupich returns Fr. Michael Pfleger to active ministry after four months of internal investigation; SNAP reacts

CHICAGO (IL)
SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [St. Louis MO]

May 24, 2021

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A popular Southside pastor in the Archdiocese of Chicago will be returned to his parish months after being accused of child sexual abuse. We hope that Catholic officials will provide a detailed explanation as to how the allegations of three men were deemed  “insufficient” to determine that the priest was guilty of the accusations. 

CardinalBlasé Cupich announced today that Fr. Michael Pfleger would return to active ministry next month at theparish where he had worked for years. Since we know that a false allegation of sexual abuse is extremely rare, and that there were at least three allegations in this case, we urge the Archdiocese to provide more information on the investigation.

In January of this year, Fr. Pfleger stepped down following an allegation of sexually abusing a minor over 40 years ago. Later that same month, a second…

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Rev. Michael Pfleger speaks Monday outside his St. Sabina Church after it was announced that he will return to his role as senior pastor after being cleared of sexual abuse allegations. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Pfleger to return to St. Sabina after investigation into allegations of sex abuse

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times

May 24, 2021

By Tom Schuba

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In a letter Monday to St. Sabina’s congregation, Cardinal Blase Cupich said the archdiocese’s review board “concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”

[Photo above: Rev. Michael Pfleger speaks Monday outside his St. Sabina Church after it was announced that he will return to his role as senior pastor after being cleared of sexual abuse allegations. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times]

Cardinal Blase Cupich announced Monday that Rev. Michael Pfleger is being reinstated early next month as the senior pastor of St. Sabina Parish after the Archdiocese of Chicago cleared him to return after an internal probe into decades-old allegations of sexual abuse against minors.

In a letter to St. Sabina’s congregation, Cupich said the archdiocese’s independent review board “concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.” Cupich noted Pfleger will return to his position June 5.

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Cardinal reinstates Rev. Pfleger as St. Sabina pastor, says investigation found ‘insufficient reason to suspect’ he’s guilty of child sex abuse allegations

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Tribune

May 24, 2021

By By CHRISTY GUTOWSKI and MADELINE BUCKLEY

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Cardinal Blase Cupich is reinstating the Rev. Michael Pfleger as senior pastor at St. Sabina Parish after the archdiocesan board that investigates sexual abuse claims found “there is insufficient reason to suspect” the iconic South Side priest is guilty of allegations of abuse dating back decades, according to a letter released to parishioners Monday.

Two adult brothers from Texas in January lodged complaints that in the 1970s each was molested by Pfleger, the high-profile pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Parish in the Gresham neighborhood who has clashed with a succession of Catholic leaders over many matters including his unusually long tenure at the same parish.

The allegations had been under investigation by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Independent Review Board. In a letter, Cupich told parishioners Pfleger will return June 5.

“The review board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is…

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Pfleger to be Reinstated at St. Sabina After Review Finds Abuse Allegations Unfounded

CHICAGO (IL)
WMAQ - NBC 5 [Chicago IL]

May 24, 2021

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Fr. Michael Pfleger has been the pastor of St. Sabina Church in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood since 1981, most widely known for his activism against violence in the city.

Father Michael Pfleger will be reinstated as senior pastor at St. Sabina Church after an investigation by the Chicago Archdiocese review board found that allegations of abuse against Pfleger were unfounded, Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote Monday in a letter to parishioners.

“In accordance with our policies for the protection of children and youth, the archdiocese Independent Review Board assisted by our Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review and outside investigators conducted a thorough review of the allegations,” Cupich said in the letter. “The Review Board has concluded that there is no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”

Pfleger will be reinstated the weekend of June 5-6, Cupich said.

“I have asked Father Pfleger to take the…

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Father Michael Pfleger reinstated as St. Sabina pastor by Chicago Archdiocese

CHICAGO (IL)
WLS-TV, Ch. 7 [Chicago IL]

May 24, 2021

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CHICAGO (WLS) — Father Michael Pfleger has been reinstated as pastor of Saint Sabina Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side.

Pfleger had been under investigation by the Chicago Archdiocese after two men came forward claiming they there were sexually assaulted by Pfleger when they were board.

An Archdiocese Review Board has found that there is “no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”

An emotional Pfleger spoke through tears Monday in front of the church where he has worked for decades.

“I’ve been discouraged at times. I’ve wanted to give up,” Pfleger said. “And to be honest with you, there were some times I would’ve gived up. But I love this church too much to walk away from it. Your support and love and my faith have kept me going. I’m so relieved and glad that this nightmare is over.”

Back in January, two adult brothers from Texas filed…

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‘I am innocent’: Father Pfleger speaks for first time following reinstatement by Archdiocese of Chicago

CHICAGO (IL)
WGN-TV [Chicago IL]

May 24, 2021

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Cardinal Blase Cupich is reinstating the Rev. Michael Pfleger to his post as senior pastor at St. Sabina Catholic Parish.

A letter to the community from Cupich says a review of abuse allegations against Pfleger shows “no reason to suspect” he is guilty of the accusations.

Cupich has asked Pfleger to take a couple weeks to prepare himself to return and he has agreed. He will be reinstated as pastor the weekend of June 5 and 6.

St. Sabina scheduled a news conference at 3 p.m. Monday in which Pfleger gave his first public statement in months.

“I am innocent of those charges and accusations and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to God and all those who supported me and prayed to me during this time,” Pfleger said. “This has been the most difficult and trying time of my life. I have been frustrated, I have been…

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Cardinal Reinstates Pfleger to St. Sabina After Child Abuse Investigation

CHICAGO (IL)
WTTW-TV (PBS) [Chicago IL]

May 24, 2021

By Heather Cherone

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Cardinal Blase Cupich reinstated the Rev. Michael Pfleger on Monday as senior pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church after an investigation of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago “concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”

In a letter to the St. Sabina Church and school community, Cupich said the archdiocese’s Independent Review Board, assisted by the Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review and outside investigators conducted “a thorough review” of the allegations.

The first version of the letter published on the archdiocese’s website said the probe “concluded that there is no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations” before being updated — without explanation — 90 minutes later. 

The letter was changed because officials from the archdiocese wanted “to be precise in repeating the language of the Independent…

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Father Pfleger reinstated, investigation found ‘no reason to suspect’ he is guilty of abuse allegations, Cardinal says

CHICAGO (IL)
WGN-TV [Chicago IL]

May 24, 2021

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CHICAGO — Cardinal Blase Cupich is reinstating the Rev. Michael Pfleger to his post as senior pastor at St. Sabina Catholic Parish.

A letter to the community from Cupich says a review of abuse allegations against Pfleger shows “no reason to suspect” he is guilty of the accusations.

Cupich has asked Pfleger to take a couple weeks to prepare himself to return and he has agreed. He will be reinstated as pastor the weekend of June 5 and 6.

St. Sabina has scheduled a news conference at 3 p.m. Monday at which Pfleger will make a statement.

The entire letter from Cardinal Blase Cupich below:

Dear Members of the Faith Community of St. Sabina,

Thank you for your patience and prayers during the absence of your senior pastor. Father Michael Pfleger. As you know, earlier this year the archdiocese received allegations of child sexual abuse against Father Pfleger. In accordance with…

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Father Michael Pfleger To Be Reinstated As Pastor Of St. Sabina, After Review Board Clears Him Of Sex Abuse Claims

CHICAGO (IL)
WBBM-TV - CBS 2 [Chicago IL]

May 24, 2021

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Cardinal Blase Cupich is reinstating Rev. Michael Pfleger as pastor of Saint Sabina parish, four months after he was asked to step aside from his duties, after an Archdiocese review board cleared him of allegations of sexual abuse.

Pfleger will hold a news conference Monday afternoon at 3:00 to address announcement.

“In accordance with our policies for the protection of children and youth, the archdiocese Independent Review Board assisted by our Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review and outside investigators conducted a thorough review of the allegations. The Review Board has concluded that there is no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations,” Cupich wrote in a letter to the Saint Sabina Parish.

Pfleger was removed from St. Sabina in January, after two brothers accused him of sexually abusing them decades ago. A third accuser later came forward.

After the review board…

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Letter from Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on the reinstatement of Father Michael Pfleger to active ministry

CHICAGO (IL)
Archdiocese of Chicago IL

May 24, 2021

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[Note from BishopAccountability.org: Cardinal Cupich’s letter was revised shortly after its publication on May 24, 2021. Initially, the first sentence of the second paragraph read: “The Review Board has concluded that there is no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.” The word “no” was changed to “insufficient,” but not before the “no reason” version had appeared in early reports by WGN and CBS 2. See our caches of these initial reports by WGN and CBS 2.]

Dear Members of the Faith Community of St. Sabina,

Thank you for your patience and prayers during the absence of your senior pastor. Father Michael Pfleger. As you know, earlier this year the archdiocese received allegations of child sexual abuse against Father Pfleger. In accordance with our policies for the protection of children and youth, the archdiocese Independent Review Board assisted by our Office of Child Abuse Investigation and…

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Bishop Stika wants ‘the whole story’ ahead of Vatican investigation

KNOXVILLE (TN)
The Pillar [Washington DC]

May 22, 2021

By JD Flynn

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A Pillar longread

Bishop Rick Stika, who is only 63, has had both a heart attack and major heart surgeries. A few years ago he lost sight in his right eye. He has severe diabetes, which gives him chronic pain, and he’s walked with a limp since he fractured his foot in five places, falling from a curb while on vacation. He says he should have surgery on the foot, but because of the diabetes, there is risk that surgery could turn into amputation. 

“So I live with that. I tell people, you know, you’ve gotta laugh a little bit at life. I’ve trained this eye to close and leave this one open so I can take snoozes at meetings,” the bishop jokes. 

The limp gets more pronounced when he’s tired, I notice.

“Yeah. The limp kinda bothers me. So I just kinda pace myself, and I’ve taken some meds…

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Richard Daschbach waves from a police van before the start of his trial on Feb. 22. (Photo: YouTube)

Timor-Leste postpones ex-priest’s sex abuse trial again

(TIMOR-LESTE)
Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]

May 24, 2021

By Ryan Dagur

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Covid-19 lockdown prevents Richard Daschbach and lawyers from traveling to the courthouse

[Photo above: Richard Daschbach waves from a police van before the start of his trial on Feb. 22. (Photo: YouTube)]

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a district court in Timor-Leste to postpone the resumption of a trial of an ex-priest accused of sexually abusing children for the third time.

The trial of Richard Daschbach, 84, an American national and former Divine Word priest, was originally scheduled to resume on May 24 in a court in Oecusse, Timor-Leste’s small coastal enclave surrounded on three sides by Indonesia, located 200 kilometers west of the capital Dili.

Julio Nunes, the court secretary, said Daschbach, his lawyer and a prosecutor failed to appear in court. “The trial was supposed to start at 9am but they didn’t show up,” he told UCA News.

He said the judge decided to reschedule the hearing to June 7.

The absence…

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Dallas man says he was a teen when Pastor Rickie Rush raped him: ‘I want him to remember, and know that I remember’

DALLAS (TX)
Dallas Morning News

May 23, 2021

By Miles Moffeit and Sue Ambrose

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As accusations mount, victim advocates question police commitment to investigation. Rush has denied all allegations.

Note: This story contains depictions of sexual and physical abuse that may be disturbing.

A former member of the Inspiring Body of Christ Church says he was 13 when Pastor Rickie Rush raped him, an allegation Dallas police say they are investigating.

Marcus Bell Jr., 26, described the assault in recent interviews with The Dallas Morning News, saying it came after a week of beatings by Rush in 2007 that left him bruised and barely able to walk. At least six former members of the church told The News that Rush often targeted him for whippings in the name of discipline.

The News also recently obtained an affidavit that another former IBOC member submitted to Dallas police two years ago, alleging Rush touched her inappropriately around 2006.

Bell and the woman are among 12 former church members The News has reported…

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Priest charged with indecent assault wanted to change ‘feeling towards young boys’, court told

BURRADOO (AUSTRALIA)
Sydney Morning Herald [Sydney, New South Wales, Australia]

May 24, 2021

By Laura Chung

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A Catholic priest charged with indecently assaulting 12 boys in a NSW Southern Highlands boarding school in the 1980s allegedly wrote if he could change something about himself it would be “this feeling I have towards young boys”, a court has heard.

Father Anthony William Peter Caruana, 79, allegedly assaulted the boys when he was a dormitory manager, rugby coach and band teacher at Chevalier College, in Burradoo, between 1982 and 1988.

He has pleaded not guilty to 29 charges, including four counts of homosexual intercourse with a student and several counts of indecent assault of a person aged under 16.

In her opening statement at the Sydney Downing Centre on Monday, crown prosecutor Nerissa Keay outlined the allegations and told the jury what they could expect to hear from the 12 complainants over the course of the eight-week trial.

Among the allegations, is the indecent assault of a student…

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Kalamazoo Pastor and Community Leader Accused of Paying Boys for Sex

KALAMAZOO (MI)
Ministry Watch [Matthews NC]

May 21, 2021

By Steve Rabey

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The first accusations came in 2018, when two alleged victims and the father of a third alleged victim told police a prominent Kalamazoo, Michigan, pastor and his wife, both of whom worked for the local school district, had paid local boys for sex with the pastor and his wife. One claimed the pastor gave him a car.

The case has only grown more complex and controversial over the last three years. Rev. Stricjavvar “Strick” Strickland, pastor of Second Baptist Church, was also charged with assaulting a church elder. He was found not guilty on that charge.

In 2020, when he failed to show up for court dates, police called him a fugitive from the law. His attorney said Strickland was at a home in Mississippi and was having problems traveling due to a hurricane and other weather issues. He later turned himself…

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Starting today: Trial of Fr. Clark, who was caught with dominatrices on altar. What we know so far.

PEARL RIVER (LA)
WGNO [New Orleans LA]

May 24, 2021

By Peyton LoCicero

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A shocking case is set to go before a judge today.

Beginning Monday morning at 9:00 A.M. is the trial of the former priest who was caught making a pornographic video on the altar.

Father Travis Clark, 37, and the two women he was caught with making a pornographic video, each faces up to two years imprisonment if found guilty.

These are the three who stand trial today [see photo below], Father Clark (middle), on the left is Mindy Dixon, 41, and to the right Melissa Cheng, 28. They’re facing criminal charges in St. Tammany Parish.

Happening last year at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Pearl River, Father Clark was caught having sex with the two women on the altar. A local resident saw the lights were still on in the church and looked through the windows to find the priest and two dominatrices.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond helped…

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Burlington’s Roman Catholic Diocese is served with another sexual abuse lawsuit

BURLINGTON (VT)
VTDigger [Montpelier VT]

May 23, 2021

By Grace Elletson

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The Roman Catholic Diocese in Burlington has been served with another lawsuit alleging that a priest sexually abused a young boy in the 1970s. 

The lawsuit filed in Chittenden County Superior Court on Tuesday alleges that the church negligently employed and assigned throughout the country a priest with a history of sexual abuse who preyed upon a minor while he was stationed in New Jersey. 

The church in 2019 published Leo Courcy’s name along with those of 40 others it said had been credibly accused of abusing children. 

The case is being brought by Christopher Silletti, who is represented by Jessica Arbour, an attorney with Horowitz Law. The firm has represented victims in a number of church sexual abuse cases. Silletti, 49, is seeking damages of an unspecified amount. 

The suit argues that the diocese made “a purposeful effort to conceal the horrific misdeeds of Diocesan priests” and “misrepresented to Plaintiff,…

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Many Boy Scouts Victims Find Little Comfort as Bankruptcy Nears End

WILMINGTON (DE)
Wall Street Journal [New York NY]

May 24, 2021

By Peg Brickley and Joseph De Avila

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Chapter 11 odyssey has left some victims who stepped forward at the Boy Scouts’ request feeling angry and mistrustful of the process

When the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy last year and asked alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse to step forward, roughly 84,000 did, with many hoping the legal proceeding would help usher a financial settlement—and some closure to their ordeals.

But 15 months later, those who came forward are still waiting as the Boy Scouts’ odyssey through chapter 11 approaches the finish line without a clear resolution of their claims.

Boy Scout lawyer Jessica Lauria said in a court hearing last week that the only way to preserve the organization’s mission is to reorganize it rather than liquidating assets to pay sex abuse claims. Breaking up the Boy Scouts would harm 700,000 active Scouts, she said.

But to turn the page on…

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“Nothing can fix the cyclical pain inflicted on women who experienced Mother and Baby Homes”: Folk act Leah Sohotra recounts her family’s trauma

DUBLIN (IRELAND)
Hot Press [Dublin, Ireland]

May 24, 2021

By Kate Brayden

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Cork-based musician Leah Sohotra was emotionally impacted by the publication of the Commission of Investigation’s report in January 2021, after her mother experienced a similar, unbearable fate in New York following sexual assault.

Folk musician Leah Sohotra’s own story is tightly bound to that of the survivors of Ireland’s horrific Mother & Baby Homes. The Commission of Investigation’s report on the homes for unmarried mothers was published on January 12th, 2021. The five-year report found that around 9,000 children died in 18 different homes, where girls as young as 12 were admitted over seven decades. It also found evidence of physical abuse, issues relating to burials of babies, and the facilitation of “illegal registrations of birth” as a result of forced adoption.

Met with heartbreak and frustration by survivors’ groups who insist that the report barely scratched the surface, they are now calling for criminal…

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Christian cruelty: two profuse apologies in a single week

CANTERBURY (UNITED KINGDOM)
Patheos [Englewood CO]

May 21, 2021

By Barry Duke

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EVERY time a story breaks about the abuse inflicted on youngsters in religious environments, the response from church officials is always the same: a grovelling apology usually followed by blather that such incidents are things of the past that cannot possibly happen again.

On Wednesday we reported on “hip” pastor Jonathan Stockstill saying how sorry he was about gross acts of cruelty inflicted on youngsters in camps run by his church in Louisiana, and a day later we had the much less “hip” but far more prominent Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, above, in full-on hand-wringing mode over Christian camps run by serial abuser and sadist John Smyth QC.

I am sorry this was done in the name of Jesus Christ by a perverted version of spirituality and evangelicalism … I continue to hear new details of the abuse and my sorrow, shock and…

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Senate balking at lawsuit window

HARRISBURG (PA)
The Herald [Sharon PA]

May 23, 2021

By John Finnerty

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Abuse survivors to hold rally today in Harrisburg

Adult survivors of child sex abuse are pledging to return to the state Capitol today and maintain pressure on Senate Republican leaders, who so far have declined to hold a final vote on legislation that would permit lawsuits against their abusers and organizations like the Catholic Church that covered up for child predators.

Senate leaders don’t have a vote on the legislation, House 951, scheduled next week, said Erica Wright, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland County.

Declining to act now would be “cruel and inhumane” after the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the legislation in April in a vote in which key Republicans — Senate President Pro Tem Jake Corman, R-Centre County and Senate Judiciary committee Chairwoman Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne County threw their support behind the bill, said Shaun Dougherty, a priest abuse survivor from Johnstown.

“They pulled this out of…

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California Judge in Catholic Clergy Cases Upholds Triple Damages for Cover Up

LOS ANGELES (CA)
Los Angeles Legal Examiner - Saunders & Walker [Pinellas Park FL]

May 23, 2021

By Joseph H. Saunders

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The Catholic Bishops in Northern California had challenged a new law providing for triple damages against any Diocese or organization that covered up childhood sex abuse. In 2019, the California legislature passed a law to provide for a 3-year window for survivors of childhood sex abuse to come forward and sue the priest and the church no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. Part of that law, CCP 340.1, provided for triple damages for cover up. The bishops’ lawyers argued that the triple damages provision in CCP 340.1 was unconstitutional because it imposed a new punishment that was not in place when the cover up conduct actually occurred.

The statute of limitations in California barred most of these cases because the old statute of limitations required that a lawsuit be filed within two years from the abuse. Few children would have been aware of their right to file a…

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May 23, 2021

Doris Reisinger and Tom Doyle

The hero of the first hour

(VA)
Die Zeit [Hamburg, Germany]

May 13, 2021

By Doris Reisinger

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[Photos above: Doris Reisinger and Tom Doyle]

As an insider of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Thomas Doyle became an invaluable source of knowledge for survivors.  Father Thomas Doyle grasped the extent of the abuse scandal in the USA early on. He acted quickly, meticulously and did not allow himself to be deterred.

Father Doyle paused. On that day in the summer of 1984, the Dominican priest at the papal embassy in Washington, D.C., the nunciature, had an unusual case: in the city of Lafayette in the US state of Louisiana, Pope John Paul II was named as a defendant in a civil case. The lawyer Joseph Minos Simon was responsible for this. Obviously, a PR coup. Simon wanted to attract attention. Doyle contacted Wilfred Caron, a lawyer at the US Bishops’ Conference. Caron made sure that the Pope’s name disappeared. Doyle’s task could have ended here. But it didn’t, because…

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‘A ticking time bomb’: Timor-Leste begins to reckon with alleged Catholic church sex abuse

(TIMOR-LESTE)
The Guardian [London, England]

May 22, 2021

By Zevonia Vieira and Tjitske Lingsma

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The trial of defrocked priest Richard Daschbach, charged with sexual abuse of 14 girls, is dividing the small, deeply Catholic country

Lita grew up in a poor family in a hamlet surrounded by the spectacular mountains of Oecusse in Timor-Leste. When she was 11 years old she went to live in Topu Honis shelter home, in the mountainous, forest-encircled village of Kutet.

The shelter was run by Richard Daschbach, a now-defrocked 84-year-old US priest who founded the facility in 1992.

Daschbach, born in Pittsburgh and a former member of the Society of the Divine Word, was a powerful man. He was regarded as an expert in local language and many residents were convinced he had magical powers. Over the years the shelter, which had the support of international donors, took care of more than 600 orphans, poor children, vulnerable adults and abused women.

Lita says that in the evenings, as…

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In England and Wales, Catholic Church names former prosecutor to lead child protection efforts

LONDON (UNITED KINGDOM)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

May 22, 2021

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Nazir Afzal, a prestigious Muslim barrister with a history of prosecuting gangs engaged in sexual abuse and grooming, is the head of the latest effort by the Catholic Church in England and Wales to ensure better prevention of sexual abuse of children and to address ongoing allegations in all Catholic institutions and groups.

“The Catholic Church has recognized the failures of the past and the need to put things right,” said Afzal, the new chair of the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency. “This is what attracted me to the role.”

“To make a difference, you have to act differently. It usually takes great courage to do so,” Afzal, said May 17. “When I helped deliver justice to thousands of victims of abuse, I realized that they were the most courageous of all.”

Afzal’s previous roles include chief crown prosecutor for northwest England and chief executive of the Police and Crime Commissioners.

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Law firm issues callout to past students of Kingston High School over historical child sex abuse allegations

(AUSTRALIA)
Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC [Sydney, Australia]

May 21, 2021

By Lucy MacDonald

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A former southern Tasmanian high school teacher is facing allegations he sexually abused two male students in the late 1980s to early 1990s.

Key points:

  • The man is accused of serious and repeated sexual abuse against two boys dating back to the late 1980s
  • A law firm is pursuing civil action on behalf of the two men and is calling for others to come forward
  • It’s understood the man also taught at other state schools

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a teacher at Kingston High School during the period of the alleged offending. 

Australian law firm Maurice Blackburn is representing the two men and has called for anyone who attended Kingston High School between 1980 and 2005 who knows anything to come forward.

Senior associate John Rule said the allegations against the teacher were “serious”.

“[It was allegedly] repeated abuse and involved quite sophisticated grooming over…

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St. Vincent Catholic Charities suspends children’s home operations amid staffing, licensing issues

LANSING (MI)
Lansing State Journal [Lansing MI]

May 21, 2021

By Ken Palmer Kara Berg Lansi

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St. Vincent Catholic Charities is suspending operations at its children’s home while it deals with issues involving staffing.

The agency decided to halt operations while it revamps staff recruiting and retention efforts to better meet “the needs of the ever-changing population of children in crisis,” St. Vincent spokesperson Andrea Bitely said in an email.

“The challenges faced over the last year have made it clear to St. Vincent’s leadership that a temporary pause in programming is necessary to properly provide the highest quality of care, the best and safest environment and the right forms of management for both the children and their staff,” Bitely wrote.

The home accepts children ages 5 to 17 who suffer from abuse and neglect, providing counseling, education and other services. More than 90% of the children placed there are wards of the court, according to the agency’s website.

State records show the facility on West Willow Street has a capacity…

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Stop suppressing Catholics, outspoken nun tells Australian church leaders

(AUSTRALIA)
Sydney Morning Herald [Sydney, New South Wales, Australia]

May 16, 2021

By Farrah Tomazin

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An outspoken US nun who was recently embroiled in a censorship row with Melbourne’s Archbishop has warned Australia’s Catholic Church it faces an inevitable decline unless it stops suppressing rank-and-file members pushing for reform.

The nation’s bishops are under pressure to overhaul the church after years of sex scandals and internal unrest, and one of America’s most prominent Benedictine nuns, Sister Joan Chittister, has now renewed calls for women to be ordained and for laypeople to be given more power over their parishes, declaring that the church needs to “grow up” if it wants to thrive.

Such reforms were meant to be thrashed out at the most significant conference Australian Catholic bishops have held in 80 years, the Plenary Council, which is scheduled to take place in October.

However, working documents prepared for the event have prompted concerns that some of the more contentious issues on the agenda could be cast…

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Passing of the guard at the Associated Press; the rise of Ministry Watch and the Roys Report

NEW YORK (NY)
Get Religion

May 11, 2021

By Julia Duin

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The death of a well-known religion reporter; a new job announcement from a beat veteran and a spotlight on two feisty independent religion news organizations is what concerns me this week.

Tmatt had previously offered an update on the health of Rachel Zoll, a former Associated Press religion specialist who came down with glioblastoma, a brain cancer that has no cure, in early 2018. That was only a few months after another religion-beat pro, Jeffrey Weiss of the Dallas Morning News, died of the exact same malady.

Last week, Zoll died at the age of 55 at her home in Massachusetts. She reported on religion for AP for 17 years.

There have been lots of tributes, so I’ll spotlight this Associated Press obit atop the list.

Zoll covered religion in all its aspects, from the spiritual to the political, and her stories reached a global…

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Justice for SBC sexual abuse victims: A call for an investigatory commission

NASHVILLE (TN)
Religion News Service - Missouri School of Journalism [Columbia MO]

May 20, 2021

By Christa Brown

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Few abuse survivors anticipate the country’s largest Protestant faith group will effectively address its sexual abuse problem without the pressure of outside forces.

As the Southern Baptist Convention prepares for its annual gathering next month in Nashville, Tennessee, expectations that clergy sex abuse survivors will see meaningful progress are low. Few of us anticipate the country’s largest Protestant faith group will effectively address its sexual abuse problem.

Over two years have passed since the “Abuse of Faith” investigatory series brought wide media attention to the long-standing, pervasive SBC problem of clergy sex abuse and church cover-ups. The series documented more than 700 people who reported having been sexually abused by Southern Baptist clergy and church leaders. Nearly all were children at the time they were abused.

The investigation also found that the very structure of the SBC “enabled predators to move undetected and stifled reforms to prevent abuse.” And the investigation  View Cache

Ex-prosecutor Nazir Afzal to lead Catholic Church child abuse body

LONDON (UNITED KINGDOM)
BBC [London, England]

May 19, 2021

By John McManus

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The former chief crown prosecutor in the Rochdale grooming gang cases has been appointed as the chairman of the Catholic Church’s new safeguarding body in England and Wales.

Nazir Afzal’s appointment was welcomed by two survivors of abuse, who said “a seismic shift in culture” was needed.

The body will be able to sanction clergy who do not meet standards.

It comes after the Church was heavily criticised for its response to child abuse by an independent inquiry.

Mr Afzal, a practicing Muslim, previously served as the chief crown prosecutor for north-west England and director in London, as well as the chief executive of the Police and Crime Commissioners.

He was responsible for bringing sex traffickers in the Rochdale grooming gang scandal to justice, as well as Stuart Hall, the former television presenter who in 2014 was convicted of multiple sex offences against children.

The Church hopes the new Catholic…

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Was Mother Teresa a Cult Leader?

KOLKATA (INDIA)
New York Times

May 21, 2021

By Michelle Goldberg

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During the Trump years, there was a small boom in documentaries about cults. At least two TV series and a podcast were made about Nxivm, an organization that was half multilevel marketing scheme, half sex abuse cabal. “Wild Wild Country,” a six-part series about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s compound in Oregon, was released on Netflix. Heaven’s Gate was the subject of a four-part series on HBO Max and a 10-part podcast. Indeed, there have been so many recent podcasts about cults that sites like Oprah Daily have published listicles about the best ones.

In many ways the compelling new podcast “The Turning: The Sisters Who Left,” which debuted on Tuesday, unfolds like one of these shows. It opens with a woman, Mary Johnson, hoping to escape the religious order in which she lives. “We always went out two by two. We were never allowed just…

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Diocese of Erie pays $16.6M to sexual abuse survivors

ERIE (PA)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Pittsburgh PA]

May 20, 2021

By Keith Gushard

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The Diocese of Erie has paid out $16.6 million to a total of 134 survivors of sexual abuse committed by clergy or laypersons of the diocese.

The announcement came Tuesday as the diocese said administrators hired to oversee its independent survivors’ reparation program have completed their work and closed out the fund.

The diocese launched its compensation fund in 2019, giving survivors of sexual abuse committed by men and women affiliated with the diocese a six-month window to file a claim. Claims were accepted from Feb. 15 to Aug. 15, 2019, regardless of when the abuse took place.

The Most Rev. Lawrence Persico, bishop of Erie, announced the figures along with a letter to pastors on Monday. The letter will be shared with parishioners beginning this weekend.

The fund was financed through $22.5 million in lines of credit obtained by the diocese and secured by its investments.

No money donated…

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Former Newark archbishop accused of sexually abusing 5-year-old girl

NEWARK (NJ)
New York Post

May 18, 2021

By Jesse O'Neill

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A Newark archbishop sexually abused a 5-year-old girl in the 1970s, after gaining her hungry family’s trust by bringing them food, a new lawsuit claims.

The March litigation is believed to be the first abuse accusation against Peter Gerety, who died in 2016 at the age of 104, making him the world’s oldest Catholic bishop.

The plaintiff, who is now in her 40s, said Gerety flattered her as “such a smart and pretty young girl,” before sexually abusing her in the church rectory on at least three or four occasions, the lawsuit alleges.

The plaintiff said she told her sister of the attacks when she was a teenager, and still takes drugs to treat anxiety and depression stemming from the sex crimes, the affidavit said.

“I have suffered from extreme difficulty navigating intimate relationships, and I continue to experience bouts of anger, as well as difficulties when involved in relationships…

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Msgr. Alan Placa

Sexual abuse allegations against Msgr. Alan Placa

ROCKVILLE CENTRE (NY)
Newsday [Melville NY]

May 21, 2021

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[Video interview]

Lawsuits filed under the state Child Victims Act allege that a retired Long Island Catholic priest, Msgr. Alan Placa, sexually abused adolescent and teenaged boys in the 1970s at the now-defunct St. Pius X preparatory seminary in Uniondale, and at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Glen Cove. On Thursday, an attorney representing complainants spoke about the cases. Credit: Corey Sipkin; Photo Credit: Newsday / David Pokress

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Clergy abuse crisis: Persico ‘concerned’ about Erie diocese’s finances as court case looms

ERIE (PA)
Erie Times-News [Erie PA]

May 22, 2021

By Ed Palattella

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After announcing Catholic Diocese of Erie fund paid victims $16.6 million, Bishop Persico says diocese awaiting decision in Pa. Supreme Court case. Bankruptcy possible, depending on ruling.

With its latest report on the clergy abuse crisis, the Catholic Diocese of Erie said it has spent more than $31 million compensating victims and survivors and investigating cases.

Whether the financial reckoning continues, and whether the 13-county diocese will have to consider bankruptcy as a result, depends largely on how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules on a clergy abuse case that originated in the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

“We are going to have to wait and see,” Erie Catholic Bishop Lawrence Persico said.

In releasing the latest figures on the abuse cases on Tuesday, Persico told the Erie Times-News that the Catholic Diocese of Erie would be in a precarious financial situation if the state Supreme Court were to rule against the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in…

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May 22, 2021

Australian Cardinal George Pell is interviewed by The Associated Press in his home at the Vatican, Thursday, May 20, 2021. Pell, who was convicted and then acquitted of sex abuse charges in his native Australia, is spending his newfound freedom in Rome. Pell strongly denied the charges and his supporters believe he was scapegoated for the Australian Catholic Church’s botched response to clergy sexual abuse. (AP Photo / Gregorio Borgia)

Cardinal Pell eyes a Vatican scandal he suspected long ago

(ITALY)
Associated Press [New York NY]

May 22, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

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[Photo above: Australian Cardinal George Pell is interviewed by The Associated Press in his home at the Vatican, Thursday, May 20, 2021. Pell, who was convicted and then acquitted of sex abuse charges in his native Australia, is spending his newfound freedom in Rome. Pell strongly denied the charges and his supporters believe he was scapegoated for the Australian Catholic Church’s botched response to clergy sexual abuse. (AP Photo / Gregorio Borgia)]

Cardinal George Pell is enjoying his first Roman spring since being exonerated of sex abuse charges in his native Australia: He receives visitors to his Vatican flat, sips midday Aperol spritzes at the outdoor cafe downstairs and keeps up religiously with news of a Holy See financial scandal that he suspected years ago.

Pell, who turns 80 in June, is buoyed by the perks of being a retired Vatican cardinal even as he tries to put back together…

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Nuncio to Mexico says sex abuse cases were ‘covered up’

MEXICO CITY (MEXICO)
Catholic News Service - USCCB [Washington DC]

May 21, 2021

By David Agren

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[Via Catholic Philly]

Mexican church officials previously “covered up” cases of clerical sexual abuse, a situation the Vatican ambassador to Mexico said has changed as Catholic leaders increasingly follow a zero-tolerance policy promoted by Pope Francis.

Archbishop Franco Coppola, apostolic nuncio, told the Spanish news agency EFE that 271 cases of alleged sexual abuse committed by clergy have been investigated over the past decade. Of those cases, 103 priests have been removed from their positions, 45 priests have been suspended and 123 cases are still open.

“I seriously think there were people who covered up (cases) with bad intentions,” Archbishop Coppola told EFE May 19. “I want to think there were also people who covered up (cases) without realizing the seriousness of it.”

An official with the apostolic nuncio’s office in Mexico City told Catholic News Service the comments published by EFE were correct.

The nuncio’s comments offered a candid…

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Bossier City priest removed immediately due to sexual abuse allegations

SHREVEPORT (LA)
KTBS - ABC 3 [Shreveport LA]

May 21, 2021

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An associate priest at Christ the King Church has been removed following allegations of the sexual abuse of minors.

This is according to a press release from the Diocese of Shreveport.

Shreveport’s Bishop Francis Malone said in the release that the allegations against Rev. Seby Shan Chemmampallil “do not, at this time, involve physical contact with minors, [but] they nonetheless constitute serious violation of the law.”

According to Bossier Sheriff’s Office records, Chemmampallil, 36, was booked into Bossier Maximum Security Facility Friday at 4:20 p.m. The records show he is charged with (4 counts) Pornography Involving Juveniles and (2 counts) Sexual Abuse of an Animal. Bond is set at $100,000.

Bishop Malone also encourages those who are suspicious of clergy members sexually abusing minors to contact the Diocesan Victim Assistance Minister at 318-584-2411 or the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation at 225-326-6100.

Bishop Malone also encourages those who are suspicious of…

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Woman opens up about sexual abuse allegations against Cleveland priest

CLEVELAND (OH)
WKYC-TV, NBC - 3 [Cleveland OH]

May 22, 2021

By Rachel Polansky

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It took her 30 years to confront her past.

“Father Tony was always nice, or so I thought,” she said. “He was very kind, gentle. He always spent a lot of time with the kids, so I trusted him until everything happened.”

What happened, she said, is what’s happened to dozens, if not hundreds of children over the past several decades: sexual abuse committed by a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

Rev. Anthony Schuerger was a priest at St. Raphael Church in 1990. She was 8 years old and a public school student who took religious classes at the Bay Village parish.

“He would come and take me to his office to speak with me in private and talk in private and talk to me about how I need to do better for God,” she recalled.

The woman claims Schuerger at times would touch her inappropriately during those…

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Rape-accused priest tells court: ‘We never claim to be perfect’

(UNITED KINGDOM)
BBC [London, England]

May 21, 2021

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A priest accused of raping a woman told a jury he went to her house to see if she would “make love” with him and said “we never claim to be perfect”.

Retired Roman Catholic priest John Clohosey, 72, who presided over churches across north-east England, is accused of attacking the woman in her Gateshead home in 1986.

Newcastle Crown Court has heard he forced himself upon her in her bedroom.

Father Clohosey, of St Mary’s Priory in Filey, North Yorkshire, denies rape.

Giving evidence, he said the purpose of his visit to the woman’s home had been “friendship I suppose, and to see if she would like to make love”.

‘Human failings’

Asked how that reconciled with his vow of celibacy, he replied: “Human failings… we never claim to be perfect.”

Father Clohosey said during the visit he asked her to “make love” and she had said “no” more…

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Senate leaders resisting push for vote on statute of limitations change

HARRISBURG (PA)
Tribune-Democrat [Johnstown PA]

May 22, 2021

By John Finnerty

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Adult survivors of child sex abuse are pledging to return to the state Capitol on Monday to keep up the pressure on Senate Republican leaders, who so far have declined to hold a final vote on legislation that would allow them to sue their abusers and organizations such as the Catholic Church that covered up for child predators.

Senate leaders don’t have a vote on the legislation, House Bill 951, scheduled next week, said Erica Wright, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland.

Declining to act now would be “cruel and inhumane” after the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the legislation in April in a vote in which key Republicans – Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne – threw their support behind the bill, said Shaun Dougherty, a priest abuse survivor from Johnstown.

“They pulled this out of Judiciary. They…

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Irish priest accused of raping woman in 1986 says he went to her house to ask if she would ‘make love’, court hears

(UNITED KINGDOM)
Irish Daily Mirror [Dublin, Ireland]

May 22, 2021

By Tom Wilkinson

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Retired John Anthony Clohosey, 72, denies the charge but said he kissed and cuddled with the complainant on her bed

An Irish priest accused of raping a woman in 1986 told a jury he went to her house to see if she would “make love”, adding: “We never claim to be perfect.”

Retired John Anthony Clohosey, 72, denies the charge but said he kissed and cuddled with the complainant on her bed.

Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court heard his accuser, who cannot be identified, asked the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle for help to pay a legal bill and grew angry when she was turned down as the Catholic Church had paid out money to victims of sexual abuse.

The court was told, in an email, she said she had been abused by a serving priest years before.

Jurors also heard the woman claimed to police she was raped in…

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Seminaries begin committing to sexual misconduct policy benchmarks

CLEVELAND (OH)
Catholic News Service - USCCB [Washington DC]

May 21, 2021

By Dennis Sadowski

Read original article

[Via National Catholic Reporter]

Fifteen seminaries have committed to meeting five sexual misconduct policy benchmarks developed by a group of laypeople, seminary leaders and bishops.

Developed by a seminary study group assembled by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, the voluntary benchmarks are meant to bolster the sexual misconduct policies seminaries already have in place, said John Cavadini, institute director.

“We worked really hard to come up with benchmarks so that if you adopted all of them into your policy, you would have a policy that is credible to potential victims,” Cavadini told Catholic News Service.

Specifically, the benchmarks are:

  • Systematic training for seminarians, staff and faculty on policies on sexual harassment and reporting procedures.
  • Reporting and investigation to include internal procedures and the ability to report issues to an agency outside of the seminary structure and that is independent of the seminary.
  • Victim support as the process…
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May 21, 2021

Murdered priest’s time at parish conflicts with abuse plaintiff’s claims

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News [Buffalo NY]

May 20, 2021

By Jay Tokasz

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Murdered Buffalo priest A. Joseph Bissonette, accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a boy at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in 1977, wasn’t assigned to that parish until three years later.

Bissonette was listed in official Buffalo Diocese directories from 1973 to 1979 as associate pastor of St. Brigid Church, located about 6 miles from St. Bartholomew. He was named pastor of St. Bart’s in 1980 and served in that post until 1987, when he was fatally beaten and stabbed by two teenaged robbers now serving 50-years-to-life prison terms.

The pastor of St. Bart’s in 1977 was the Rev. Joseph Friel, according to the diocese directories. That raises the question of whether the plaintiff misidentified Bissonette as the alleged abuser instead of Friel, who has been accused of child sex abuse in 11 Child Victims Act lawsuits.

The Buffalo Diocese also includes Friel on its list of 78 diocese priests…

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Montreal shepherd says anti-abuse protocols based on simple idea: ‘It needs to stop’

MONTREAL (CANADA)
Crux [Denver CO]

May 21, 2021

By Elise Ann Allen

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Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Montreal unveiled a new set of protocols implemented as the result of an independent investigation into a local abuse case which identified several holes in the previous system.

According to the Archbishop of Montreal, Christian Lepine, one driving idea behind the reform is that “we need prevention, and good prevention.”

Abuse, Lepine told Crux, “Goes so much against Jesus, it goes so much against our Christian faith…People don’t want abuses, but they happen; people want to prevent them, but they happen; people want to listen to the victims, but they don’t hear them.”

While abuse might seem impossible to stop, Lepine said he believes that “where there’s a will, there’s a way. We need to want it to stop, [and] it needs to stop.”

Among other things, the new protocols include a revamped complaint process and the appointment of an independent ombudsman, a position that…

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Court Says Pedophile Ex-Priest Can’t Be Held Beyond Sentence

CHICAGO (IL)
WMAQ - NBC 5 [Chicago IL]

May 20, 2021

By Don Babwin

Read original article

An Illinois appeals court has reversed a trial judge’s ruling that a convicted child molester and defrocked priest can be held longer than his sentence, according to a Tuesday court filing.

A three-judge panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court ruled Cook County prosecutors failed to prove Daniel McCormack’s mental disorder would likely cause him to re-offend, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. McCormack completed his five-year sentence in 2009 for molesting five boys in Chicago’s St. Agatha’s Roman Catholic parish. He has been in state custody since.

Judge Dennis Porter in 2017 declared McCormack a sexually violent person who should remain indefinitely in a state facility for sex offenders. During the hearing, psychiatrist Dr. Angelique Stanislaus, testifying for the state, and Dr. Raymond Wood, a defense expert, both concluded that McCormack had pedophilic disorder. They differed in that Wood said McCormack and a “below average” risk of re-offending, while Stanislaus testified…

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New Jersey archbishop accused of sexually abusing 5-year-old girl in $50 million lawsuit: report

NEWARK (NJ)
Fox News [New York NY]

May 20, 2021

By Peter Aitken

Read original article

A former New Jersey priest stands accused of molesting a 5-year-old girl in 1976, according to a $50 million lawsuit

The victim, now 49, reportedly filed the lawsuit in March against the Newark Archdiocese and Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety’s estate. 

Gerety passed away in 2016 at the age of 104. 

The New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Program offered an initial settlement of $5,000, which the victim rejected, The Record and NorthJersey.com reported

The lawsuit alleges that Gerety molested the victim when she was a little girl, telling her that his actions were “what God required and wanted” him to do, and that she needed to keep them secret or it would “hurt” her mother. 

Gerety allegedly took the girl back to his room in the rectory three or four times, where he touched her sexually…

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Burlington Diocese faces new child sex abuse lawsuit

BURLINGTON (VT)
WCAX [South Burlington VT]

May 20, 2021

Read original article

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington is facing a new lawsuit with claims of child sex abuse and a cover-up.

The plaintiff in the case claims that when he was a child, Father Leo Courcy sexually abused him multiple times starting in 1978.

According to the lawsuit, the diocese knew Courcy was treated for psychosexual disorder in the late 1960s, but he continued to serve under the bishop of Burlington even when working outside of Vermont.

“We have not yet been officially served with that lawsuit, so we don’t have a copy of that complaint. So at this point we have nothing to comment on,” said Monsignor John McDermott of the Burlington Diocese.

The diocese has Father Courcy on its list of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

Courcy was ordained in Vermont in 1962.

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May 20, 2021

Peter Isely, program director of Nate’s Mission, speaks outside the Brown County District Attorney's office on April 8, 2021, to advocate for reopening a sex abuse case against a priest with known offenses and ties to St. Norbert Abbey. Show less. Sarah Kloepping / USA Today Network-Wisconsin

Those sexually abused as children want Wisconsin to let them seek justice. Lobbyists, including the Catholic church, stand in the way.

MILWAUKEE (WI)
Journal Sentinel [Milwaukee WI]

May 19, 2021

By Laura Schulte and Haley BeMiller

Read original article

[Photo above: Peter Isely, program director of Nate’s Mission, speaks outside the Brown County District Attorney’s office on April 8, 2021, to advocate for reopening a sex abuse case against a priest with known offenses and ties to St. Norbert Abbey. Sarah Kloepping / USA Today Network-Wisconsin]

Chad Travis recalled that he was 9 years old, strapped into a rig to heal his broken leg, the day he was sexually assaulted by a hospital chaplain in Merrill.

He was essentially immobile when the priest from the hospital’s Holy Cross Chapel hung a tag on the door handle signaling that prayers were going on inside the room, then shut the door and abused him.

Travis didn’t tell many people what happened to him as a child in the late 1970s. But decades later in 2019, he testified at the former priest’s hearing alongside other men who were assaulted as children. Thomas Ericksen wasn’t charged with…

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Abuse victims’ long wait

ROCHESTER (NY)
Rochester Beacon [Rochester NY]

May 20, 2021

By Will Astor

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James Cali is losing heart. 

The chairman of the creditors committee in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy believes negotiations between the diocese and insurance companies it hopes will cover the heavy liabilities it expects to incur could be stalled, perhaps fatally. 

If the talks fail, he fears, the case will collapse, and he and other abuse survivors could see their hopes of an end to pain they have carried with them for decades evaporate.

A CPA who has worked as a forensic accountant for plaintiffs’ attorneys in two class actions that ended with plaintiffs winning sizable settlements, Cali is not unfamiliar with court proceedings. 

Rather than try to wait out what he fears is an irretrievably stalled negotiation, Cali says he believes that he and other abuse survivors might be better served by taking their complaints back to where they were originally filed, in state court. 

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Appeal overturns judge’s ruling that ex-priest Daniel McCormack can be held longer than his sentence

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times

May 19, 2021

By Madeline Kenney

Read original article

[Includes appellate court decision.]

An Illinois First District Appellate Court panel decided the prosecution failed to prove McCormack’s mental disorder would likely cause him to reoffend.

A state appeals court overturned a trial judge’s finding that convicted child molester and defrocked priest Daniel McCormack can be held longer than his sentence.

A three-judge panel in the Illinois First District Appellate Court unanimously decided the prosecution failed to prove McCormack’s mental disorder would likely cause him to reoffend, according to court records filed Tuesday.

McCormack, one of Chicago’s most notorious and recent offenders in the Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal, completed his five-year sentence in 2009 for molesting five boys in St. Agatha’s parish, where he worked as a priest, teacher and basketball coach. He has remained in custody at a downstate detention facility for sex offenders since.

In 2017, Judge Dennis Porter declared McCormack a sexually…

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Priest ‘said God bless after raping Gateshead woman’

(UNITED KINGDOM)
BBC [London, England]

May 19, 2021

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A priest said “God bless” to a woman after raping her, a court has heard.

Retired Roman Catholic priest John Anthony Clohosey, 72, is charged with raping the woman at her Gateshead home 35 years ago.

The woman made the accusation after her pleas for financial help from his diocese were turned down, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Father Clohosey, of St Mary’s Priory in Filey, North Yorkshire, denies the charge.

In a recorded police interview the woman said he wrote to her in 1986, after he moved parishes, asking to visit her.

Describing him arriving at her home, she said: “Immediately I was uneasy about the situation.”

She told the court that “out of the blue” he had said: “I wonder if you could help me out – will you have sex with me?”

The woman said she repeatedly told the priest “no” but he “pushed me on the shoulder…

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Another Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against the Burlington Diocese

BURLINGTON (VT)
Seven Days [Burlington VT]

May 19, 2021

By Derek Brouwer

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A New Jersey man is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington over sexual abuse dating to 1978 involving a since-disgraced priest who was under the diocese’s authority.

The civil complaint, filed in Vermont Superior Court on Tuesday, accuses the diocese of allowing the Rev. Leo Courcy Jr. to continue his ministry for decades with “unfettered” access to children, despite knowing he was a pedophile.

Courcy worked in Vermont for a little more than three years following his ordainment in 1962 but held church positions around the country until his priestly faculties were revoked by Bishop Kenneth Angell in 1993, according to biographical details published in 2019 as part of the diocese’s public accounting of abusive priests. He spent time in the late 1960s at an infamous treatment site for priests run out of Jemez Springs, N.M., by a Catholic religious community known as Servants…

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Rape accusation against former County Durham priest followed plea for help

DURHAM (UNITED KINGDOM)
Northern Echo [Darlington, England]

May 19, 2021

By Georgia Banks

Read original article

A woman has accused a County Durham Roman Catholic priest of rape after her pleas for financial help from his diocese were turned down.

Retired John Anthony Clohosey, 72, was suspended from his duties at Lady Immaculate and St Cuthbert’s RC Church, in Crook, in 2019.

At the time, diocesan safeguarding coordinator, Angie Richardson, said: “The safeguarding department of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle is currently cooperating with Northumbria Police to assist with their investigation.

“It is standard practice for the Bishop to support parishioners in these circumstances.”

Clohosey denies the offence – said to have happened in 1986 at a different church – but told police he did ask her for sex and that they had kissed and cuddled.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the complainant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, approached her local priest – who is not the defendant – asking that the Diocese of Hexham and…

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‘It was undignified’: Cardinal George Pell opens up about his toughest experience in jail before he was acquitted of child sex offences

(AUSTRALIA)
Daily Mail [London, United Kingdom]

May 19, 2021

By Charlie Coë

Read original article

[Includes timeline]

  • Exonerated cardinal spoke of the ‘humiliating’ prison strip searches he endured 
  • Convicted in 2018 of five counts of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys 
  • He spent 405 days behind bars before his six-year jail sentence was overturned
  • Pell said at times he thought he would have to wait until afterlife for vindication

Cardinal George Pell has revealed ‘humiliating’ prison strip searches were the worst part about being in jail before his child sex abuse convictions were quashed.

Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic official was wrongly convicted in December 2018 of five counts of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys at Melbourne‘s St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996.

He spent 405 days behind bars before his six-year jail sentence was overturned in a final appeal to the High Court in April 2020.

Pell, 79, said there were times during his ‘undignified’ stint behind bars when he thought he would have to wait until the Christian afterlife to…

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Ex Newark Archbishop Accused Of Rape Of 5-Year-Old In $50-Million Lawsuit

NEWARK (NJ)
Latin Times [New York NY]

May 19, 2021

By Nirmal Varghese

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A former archbishop of Newark has been named in a whopping $50-million lawsuit for reportedly sexually abusing an innocent 5-year-old girl on church grounds and on numerous occasions in 1976.

Court papers alleged that archbishop Peter Gerety, who died in 2016 at the age of 104, gained the trust of the young victim’s financially struggling family by delivering meals to their home. The former priest reportedly eventually volunteered to look after the little girl while her mother, a seamstress, was away at work.

While fostering the child at the church rectory, Gerety reportedly took to inviting the young girl to his bedroom where he would touch her inappropriately and pleasure himself in front of her on several occasions, the lawsuit claimed.

Gerety served as Newark’s archbishop from 1974 through his retirement in 1986. The disgraced priest had served in New Haven, Connecticut, and Portland, Maine before starting his service in Newark, said View Cache

May 19, 2021

Samuel Venne in a screenshot from this report.

Retired priest appeals 7-year suspension handed down by Vatican officials

BUFFALO (NY)
WIVB [Buffalo NY]

May 18, 2021

By Luke Moretti

Read original article

[Photo above: Fr. Samuel Venne of Buffalo in a screen shot from this report.]

A retired Diocese of Buffalo priest has appealed a decision from the Vatican to suspend him for seven years after being accused twice of sexual abuse of minors.

Samuel Venne, 79, has been a priest with the Buffalo Diocese for more than 40 years. He learned of his punishment through a Nov. 10, 2020, letter from Judicial Vicar Rev. Msgr. Salvator Manganello.

The letter came with a “Penal Precept” spelling out the restrictions against Venne, which included prohibiting him from celebrating Mass publicly and from wearing any clerical garb. [See the Penal Precept in a screen shot from this report.]

In other words, Venne, who has always maintained he is innocent, is not allowed to present himself as a priest.  

Venne has refused to sign the precept.

“I cannot sign any document regarding my…

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Clergy abuse: Catholic Diocese of Erie fund pays $16.6M to victims; total costs: $31.35M

ERIE (PA)
The Bradford Era [Bradford PA]

May 19, 2021

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The emotional and long-term costs to victims are most often incalculable in cases of clergy sex abuse, but the abuse scandal has produced a dollar figure for victims in the Catholic Diocese of Erie: $31.35 million.

The 13-county diocese has spent that much investigating abuse case and making payments to victims, according to data released on Tuesday.

Erie Catholic Bishop Lawrence Persico provided the numbers as the diocese announced that it had made a total of $16.6 million in payments to abuse victims through the diocese’s compensation fund, launched in February 2019 in response to the devastating August 2018 Pennsylvania attorney general grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse of minors in the Roman Catholic Church statewide.

Persico said the fund made its final payments in March. The final payments closed out the program and further clarified how much the diocese has spent on clergy sex abuse cases. The rest…

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Erie Catholic Diocese completes Independent Survivors Reparation Program, survivor speaks out

ERIE (PA)
WJET [Erie PA]

May 18, 2021

By Yoselin Person

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The Erie Catholic Diocese has completed its Independent Survivors Reparation Program.

The pay-out of millions of dollars to victims comes in the wake of the national priest sexual abuse scandal.

Some of those abuses took place here in the Erie Catholic Diocese.

We had a chance to speak with both a survivor along with the Bishop of Erie.

This program went on for six months, but a survivor we spoke to said that the Erie Diocese would need to do more than just a temporary program.

“It’s a little too late. They had an opportunity in 1989 to begin making things right, but it wasn’t until the thing happened in Boston in 2002 that Trot even admitted that he abuse happened,” said Kevin McParland, Survivor.

Kevin McParland is a sexual abuse survivor. He said that he was abused by a former Erie Catholic clergy.

This abuse took place in the…

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Report: Defrocked Grand Haven priest groomed victim

GRAND HAVEN (MI)
WOOD-TV [Grand Rapids MI]

May 18, 2021

By Heather Walker

Read original article

A retired West Michigan priest who has since been removed from the priesthood over sexual abuse allegations started grooming his victim when she was as young as 12, police records obtained by the Grand Haven Tribune show.

William Langlois, 75, was defrocked earlier this month. At the time, the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids said it had learned of the allegations in 2018. Langlois had retired in 2016 after serving as pastor of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Catholic Parish in Grand Haven for the previous 20 years and in other West Michigan parishes for some 30 years before that.

The Grand Haven Tribune reported Tuesday that a March 2018 police report it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act alleges Langlois groomed a “vulnerable child” over a period of a few years. That allegedly began in 1994 or 1995 when she was 12 or 13. 

According to the Tribune, the woman…

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Sinead O’Connor Remembers Things Differently

(IRELAND)
New York Times

May 18, 2021

By Amanda Hess

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The mainstream narrative is that a pop star ripped up a photo of the pope on “Saturday Night Live” and derailed her life. What if the opposite were true?

Sinead O’Connor is alone, which is how she prefers to be. She has been riding out the pandemic in a tiny village on an Irish mountaintop, watching murder shows, buying fairy-garden trinkets online and mainlining American news on CNN. On a recent overcast afternoon, she had a navy hijab arranged over her shaved head and a cigarette permanently installed between her fingertips, and when she leaned over an iPad inside her all-glass conservatory, she looked as if she had been hermetically sealed into her own little world.

“I’m lucky,” she said, “because I enjoy my own company.”

Her cottage was appointed in bright, saturated colors that leapt out from the monotonous backdrop of the Irish sky with the surreal quality of…

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Revised canon law on crimes, penalties almost ready for publication

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Catholic News Service - USCCB [Washington DC]

May 19, 2021

By Cindy Wooden

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The revised section of the Code of Canon Law dealing with crimes and penalties, including those related to clerical sexual abuse, should be ready for publication before the end of summer, said the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, who spearheaded the project, confirmed the imminent publication in late May after the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales released correspondence about changing the current code “to clearly distinguish” between a priest violating his promise of chastity and sexually abusing a minor.

Pope Francis already said in February 2020 that the work on a revised Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, “Sanctions in the Church”. was complete.

The revision, the Pope had said, was needed “to make it more organic and responsive to new situations and problems” that the Church has become more aware of since the code was published in 1983. Work…

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Native American Catholics focus of Knights of Columbus documentary

NEW HAVEN (CT)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

May 17, 2021

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The historical and contemporary witness of Native American Catholics are the subject of a Knights of Columbus-produced documentary set for broadcast in upcoming weeks.

“It is impossible to fully understand what it means to be a Catholic in North America without a sincere appreciation for the Catholic tradition among so many native tribes,” the Knights of Columbus website said. “Few people realize that Indigenous communities throughout the continent were sincerely practicing their faith centuries before the founding of the United States.”

The Catholic fraternal organization characterized the documentary as offering “a missing piece to the greater story of Catholicism in America.” It combines the history of Native American Catholics and their continuing contributions, with commentary from present-day Native Americans and other Catholic leaders.

Among those who speak in the documentary is Deacon Andrew Orosco, who on his father’s side is descended from the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians of…

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‘Old habit’ of covering up abuse must stop everywhere, pope says

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Catholic News Service - USCCB [Washington DC]

May 17, 2021

By Carol Glatz

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[Via The Pilot of the Archdiocese of Boston]

Abuse against a minor is a kind of “psychological murder” that can destroy the victim’s childhood, Pope Francis told an Italian association active in the fight against child abuse and online child pornography.

“Therefore, protecting children against sexual exploitation is a duty of every nation, (which is) called to identify both traffickers and abusers,” he said during an audience May 15 at the Vatican with members of the association, Meter.

The association was founded in 1989 by Father Fortunato Di Noto, an Italian priest who has been leading the fight in Italy to protect children from online predators around the world. It works with law enforcement, government agencies and schools in fighting the crime of child sex abuse and other forms of online abuse, in prevention and offering safety and help for victims.

The pope praised its work, especially in trying to…

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Chicago archdiocese reinstates priest after investigating TikTok allegation

CHICAGO (IL)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

May 18, 2021

Read original article

The Archdiocese of Chicago has reinstated a pastor who was accused of attempted sexual assault, after failing to substantiate the accusation. 

Fr. Larry Sullivan, the pastor of Christ the King parish in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, stepped aside from ministry in April after a woman accused him of attacking her and attempting to sexually assault her in 1984, just before he entered seminary. The woman’s accusation was posted on the app TikTok. 

Sullivan said that after the video surfaced, he forwarded it to the archdiocese which began an investigation. The archdiocese said it also reported the accusation to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney.

On May 14, Cardinal Blase Cupich issued a letter to the Christ the King parish and school communities, saying that the archdiocese would be reinstating Sullivan as they could not substantiate the accusation made against him. 

“A thorough review…

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Examining the Deep Roots of the Abuse Crisis

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Crisis Magazine [Manchester NH]

May 18, 2021

By Darrick Taylor

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[With comments section]

The ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Church has left many good Catholics shaken, and like many I have tried to understand how this has happened. Obviously, homosexuality in the clergy plays a role, and the all-male nature of the priesthood provides opportunities for such abuse. But here I want to explore the larger historical forces that allowed abuse to flourish in the Church, which at least for me makes it somewhat more explicable in human terms, the supernatural nature of evil notwithstanding. 

Perhaps the most insightful explanation I have encountered comes from the Canadian philosopher John Lamont, whose article “Tyranny and Sexual Abuse in the Church: a Jesuit Tragedy,” identifies a warped idea of obedience which has influenced priestly formation since the 16th century. According to Lamont, a voluntarist conception of obedience, which made the will of a superior the necessary criteria for obedience,…

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Lawsuit: Former Newark archbishop abused 5-year-old girl

NEWARK (NJ)
Associated Press [New York NY]

May 18, 2021

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An archbishop of Newark groomed a 5-year-old girl by delivering food to her struggling family and regularly babysitting her, then sexually abusing her on multiple occasions in the 1970s, a lawsuit alleges.

The suit filed in March is believed to be the first to level sexual abuse charges against the late Peter Gerety, who died in 2016 at 104 as the world’s oldest Catholic bishop. Gerety served as archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark from 1974 until his retirement in 1986, according to the archdiocese’s website.

Prior to serving in Newark, Gerety had served in New Haven, Connecticut, and Portland, Maine.

In an affidavit accompanying the lawsuit, the plaintiff, a woman now in her late 40s, alleged Gerety gained her trust by helping her family and praising her as “such a smart and pretty young girl.” Eventually, the lawsuit claims, Gerety took her to a bedroom in the…

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May 18, 2021

Child Victims Act lawsuit accuses murdered priest of molesting boy

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News [Buffalo NY]

May 17, 2021

By Jay Tokasz

Read original article

Buffalo priest who was murdered inside a church rectory in 1987 is being accused of sexually assaulting a boy a decade earlier.

A Child Victims Act lawsuit alleges the Rev. A. Joseph Bissonette molested a 7-year-old boy in his office at St. Bartholomew Church six or seven times in 1977, under the guise that the priest was counseling and helping the plaintiff with his reading.

[The original article links to: Priests’ Killers Get 50 Years to Life: Judge Regrets State Forbids Death Penalty, by Matt Gryta, Buffalo News, November 2, 1988.]

The Herman Law firm in New York City filed the case May 6 on behalf of a plaintiff identified by the initials M.D.

The defendants are St. Bartholomew Catholic Church and St. Bartholomew Catholic School, both of which no longer exist. St. Bartholomew’s parish merged in 1993 into Blessed Trinity Church as part of a Buffalo Diocese consolidation…

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Ex-prosecutor Nazir Afzal who brought down the Rochdale grooming gangs will head the Catholic Church’s drive to stamp out child abuse scandals

LONDON (UNITED KINGDOM)
Daily Mail [London, United Kingdom]

May 15, 2021

By Simon Caldwell

Read original article

  • He will be appointed as chairman of Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency
  • Mr Afzal won plaudits a decade ago for overturning Crown Prosecution Service
  • He pursued British Pakistani criminals involved in rape and trafficking of 47 girls

The Muslim former prosecutor who led the crackdown on Rochdale’s grooming gangs is to head the Catholic Church’s drive to stamp out child abuse scandals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The appointment of Nazir Afzal as the first chairman of the new Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency will be announced on Tuesday.

Mr Afzal won plaudits a decade ago for overturning a Crown Prosecution Service decision and pursuing a gang of British Pakistani criminals involved in the rape and trafficking of 47 girls, resulting in 19 convictions.

Birmingham-born Mr Afzal later criticised the white professionals in the CPS for ‘over-sensitivity’, asserting that ‘political correctness and fear of appearing racist may have contributed to justice being stalled’….

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How to help victims of sexual abuse get justice: Eliminate statutes of limitations

COLUMBUS (OH)
Evening Sun [Hanover PA]

May 18, 2021

By Marci Hamilton

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In the United States, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience sexual abuse every year. On college campuses, 13% of students experience rape or sexual assault. And for those brave enough to come forward, our legal system actively works against them — often precluding them from pursuing justice altogether through outdated state laws with statutes of limitations.

For example, survivors of abuse at Ohio State University have been prevented from seeking justice under state causes of action or Title IX by narrow statutes of limitations, even though survivors of abuse in other states don’t encounter the same barriers.

Justice must be available to abuse survivors whenever they are ready to come forward, regardless of geographic boundaries.

With new leadership in Congress and the White House, it is past time for federal lawmakers to prioritize an effort to expand the statute of limitations for these crimes nationwide, with one federal standard that guarantees survivors the right to…

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May 17, 2021

Auxiliary Bishop Karlheinz Diez of Fulda, Germany, speaks Jan. 31, 2020, with synodal assembly participants in Frankfurt. (CNS / KNA / Harald Oppitz)

Whose synodality? Social alliances and institutional models in global Catholicism

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

May 17, 2021

By Massimo Faggioli

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[Photo above: Auxiliary Bishop Karlheinz Diez of Fulda, Germany, speaks Jan. 31, 2020, with synodal assembly participants in Frankfurt. (CNS / KNA / Harald Oppitz)]

Looking at the driving forces of synodality from one continent to another

Ecclesial synodality is something very old and, at the same time, something very recent. It is an integral part of the tradition of the Church.

As the report of the International Theological Commission, Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church (2018), says in the opening section: ” ‘Synod’ is an ancient and venerable word in the Tradition of the Church, whose meaning draws on the deepest themes of Revelation.”

But the theology of synodality, which is now at the basis of Pope Francis’ push for a synodal reform of the Church, is something that has developed in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

The final documents of…

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A famed folk singer won a presidential pardon after molesting a child. Did he prey on others?

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Post

May 17, 2021

By Gillian Brockell

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No one from the government notified Barbara Winter about the pardon. Not the White House, not the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, not the prosecutor who handled her case.

She found out from her mother, who read in the newspaper that one of the country’s most famous folk singers, who had admitted to and been convicted of molesting her when she was barely 14, had been pardoned by President Jimmy Carter on his final full day in office in 1981.

It felt, Winter says now, “like you got sucker-punched in the gut. It’s telling him, ‘It’s okay what you did, just don’t get caught next time,’ if that makes sense.”

Presidential pardons often kick up controversy, from Gerald Ford’s pardon of his disgraced predecessor Richard M. Nixon, to Bill Clinton’s clemency for fugitive financier Marc Rich, who had been on…

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Former youth footballer investigation found abuse of children as young as six

GLASGOW (UNITED KINGDOM)
Sunday Post [Glasgow, Scotland]

May 16, 2021

By Marion Scott

Read original article

Hugh Stevenson’s sexual abuse of young footballers was publicly exposed in 2016 – 12 years after his death.

Former youth footballer Peter Haynes, now 54, waived his anonymity to tell a BBC investigation how Stevenson raped him over a three or four-year period from 1979.

Former young players at Eastercraigs Boys’ Club, where Stevenson was an official, also told of his attempts to groom them.

Haynes’ along with another victim’s account of Stevenson’s abuse was included in the SFA-commissioned Independent Review of Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football, written by former Catholic Church adviser Martin Henry and published in full in February.

Haynes told the review that the first assault by Stevenson – who the report names only as “A” – took place in the referee’s car.

The report said: “Mr Haynes told the review that he believed a number of boys may have been similarly abused by A over the…

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Fresno Catholic Diocese scores win over ex-priest in defamation row

FRESNO (CA)
San Joaquin Valley Sun [Fresno CA]

May 17, 2021

By Alex Tavlian

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno won a key legal battle in a Fresno County court which threw out a defamation suit filed by now-former Bakersfield Monsignor Craig Harrison.

The suit, which alleged that the Diocese’s top spokeswoman, Teresa Dominguez, defamed him by stating in an NPR interview that she visited the home of an alleged sexual assault victim and told the individual that she believed his claims of misconduct by Harrison against him.

In court filings, Harrison and his attorneys argued that the statements by Dominguez equated to the Diocese believing the allegations against him.

In a ruling siding with the Diocese, Fresno County Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan said that the court had to review Dominguez’s comments to the public radio station using a “totality of the circumstances” test, examining the language used to determine if it asserted her opinion – which would not be considered defamatory.

Kapetan found…

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Northern Michigan priest pleads guilty to more sexual abuse charges

IRON MOUNTAIN (MI)
WJBK - Fox 2 [Southfield MI]

May 16, 2021

Read original article

A former Upper Peninsula priest who left Michigan years ago has pleaded guilty to a remaining sexual abuse case against him.

Gary Jacobs, 75, is accused of sexually abusing teenagers in the 1980s while serving as a priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette.

He pleaded guilty Friday to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Dickinson County, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. His sentencing will be July 2.

In April, he pleaded guilty to four other counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ontonagon County. His sentencing in that case will be May 25.

According to the plea deal, which covers both counties, Jacobs will serve between eight and 15 years on each of the five counts, which will run concurrently. Nessel’s office calls it the “harshest prison sentence” handed down in its clergy abuse investigation which has resulted in other guilty pleas.

Jacobs must undergo sex offender counseling…

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Ex-priest priest pleads guilty in Upper Peninsula to abuse

IRON MOUNTAIN (MI)
Associated Press [New York NY]

May 16, 2021

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A former Upper Peninsula priest who left Michigan years ago has pleaded guilty to a remaining sexual abuse case against him.

Gary Jacobs, 75, is accused of sexually abuse teenagers in the 1980s while serving as a priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette.

He pleaded guilty Friday to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Dickinson County, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. His sentencing will be July 2.

In April, he pleaded guilty to four other counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ontonagon County. His sentencing in that case will be May 25.

According to the plea deal, which covers both counties, Jacobs will serve between eight and 15 years on each of the five counts, which will run concurrently. Nessel’s office calls it the “harshest prison sentence” handed down in its clergy abuse investigation which has resulted in other guilty pleas.

Jacobs must undergo sex…

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Man accused of sexually abusing teen drops defamation suit against accuser

ROCHESTER (NY)
Democrat and Chronicle [Rochester NY]

May 17, 2021

By Sean Lahman

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A local man who says he was falsely accused of sexually abusing a teenager in his care has dropped a defamation suit he filed against his accuser.

That man, Daniel Charcholla, will continue to pursue his suit against his accuser’s former lawyers and WHAM-TV (Channel 13) in Rochester, which aired two stories based on the accusations.

In a legal action commenced in 2019, a man identified by his initials, J.O., alleged that Charcholla had physically and sexually abused him in the early 1980s when he was in his teens.

At the time J.O., an orphan, said he was living in a group home run by DePaul Mental Health Services. Charcholla worked for DePaul, which was then affiliated with the Diocese of Rochester.

“This defamation suit is not a direct response to the allegations in the CVA claim,” said Charcholla’s attorney, Aaron Gavenda. “It is to say that the claims made by…

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May 16, 2021

Father Ron Lange, a Louisburg, Wis., native, served more than 30 years as a missionary in Ghana as a member of the Society of the Divine Word. Photo by: Jessica Reilly

Priest with local ties accused of abuse in Ghana

NORTHBROOK (IL)
Telegraph Herald [Dubuque IA]

May 15, 2021

By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

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[Photo above: Father Ron Lange, a Louisburg, Wis., native, served more than 30 years as a missionary in Ghana as a member of the Society of the Divine Word. Photo by: Jessica Reilly]

Even before he was ordained a Catholic priest, the Rev. Ronald Lange went to Ghana in 1968 to do missionary work.

In a profile by the Telegraph Herald years later, Lange spoke of his commitment to learning about Ghana while teaching at schools there and leading a parish with more than a dozen worship sites.

“The people are just so happy to see you,” Lange, a member of the Society of the Divine Word’s Chicago province, and a native of Louisburg, Wis., said at the time. “You don’t even have to be a good priest.”

And he wasn’t, as his order now acknowledges.

In his four decades as a Catholic missionary in Ghana, Lange has been credibly…

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Archdiocese Ordered To Give Details Of Westchester Coach Accused Of Molesting Student

SCARSDALE (NY)
Somers Daily Voice [Somers NY]

May 15, 2021

By Zak Failla

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A judge has ordered the Archdiocese of New York and three Catholic schools to turn over a host of documents and information regarding a former educator and coach who allegedly molested students over the course of decades.

Edwin Gaynor, of Ossining, is accused of fondling minors during gym classes in the 1960s when he worked at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale, as well as other students in Westchester, according to a lawsuit filed in Westchester County civil court two years ago.

It is alleged that the Archdiocese of New York knew of the abuse and rather than handle the situation, they instead continued to move Gaynor to different schools, none of which have been named in the lawsuit accusing him of fondling the student.

This week, a New York State Supreme Court judge overseeing lawsuits against Gaynor ordered the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and local schools…

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Priest reinstated at Christ the King; sex assault allegation ‘cannot be substantiated,’ Cupich says

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times

May 14, 2021

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The pastor at Christ the King parish in Beverly has been reinstated after officials found an allegation that he sexually assaulted someone 37 years ago could not be substantiated, Cardinal Blase Cupich said Friday in a letter to the community.

The Rev. Larry Sullivan was asked to step aside from the parish at 9325 S. Hamilton Ave. in April after an accusation that he and another person attacked a woman in an alley in 1984 before he was to leave for the seminary, when he was 18 years old, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“A thorough review of this matter by the Archdiocesan Office of Child Abuse Investigations and Review and an outside investigator, including multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain information from the accuser, concludes that the accusation against him, which was alleged to have occurred prior to his entering the seminary, cannot be substantiated,” Cupich wrote.

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Weekend Roundup: St. Norbert Abbey Paid Former Student $400K Following Sex Abuse Reports, Continued To ‘Revictimize’ Him

DE PERE (WI)
Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR)

May 15, 2021

By WPR Staff

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The Green Bay Press-Gazette has done extensive research into Nate Lindstrom’s experience with abuse in the Catholic church. Lindstrom took his own life this spring. 

Lindstrom received monthly checks from the Norbertines of St. Norbert Abbey in De Peren until May 2019.

“According to interviews and documents, the Norbertines quietly sent Lindstrom monthly checks totaling more than $400,000 over 10 years after his parents complained to the Catholic order’s leaders about the harm their son suffered from being sexually abused by at least one priest in the late 1980s,” the Press-Gazette wrote. 

The Press-Gazette has interviewed Lindstrom, his family, friends and others involved, as well as researched documents, for the past 20 months to compile this in-depth coverage of what has happened at St. Norbert Abbey and how it has impacted those who faced abuse.

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Christ the King pastor reinstated after sex assault allegation ‘cannot be substantiated’

CHICAGO (IL)
WLS-TV, Ch. 7 [Chicago IL]

May 15, 2021

By Sun-Times Media Wire

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The pastor at Christ the King parish in Beverly has been reinstated after officials found an allegation that he sexually assaulted someone 37 years ago could not be substantiated, Cardinal Blase Cupich said Friday in a letter to the community.

The Rev. Larry Sullivan was asked to step aside from the parish at 9325 S. Hamilton Ave. in April after an accusation that he and another person attacked a woman in an alley in 1984 before he was to leave for the seminary, when he was 18 years old, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“A thorough review of this matter by the Archdiocesan Office of Child Abuse Investigations and Review and an outside investigator, including multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain information from the accuser, concludes that the accusation against him, which was alleged to have occurred prior to his entering the seminary, cannot be substantiated,” Cupich wrote.

Father Sullivan “fully…

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Letter from Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on the reinstatement of Father Lawrence Sullivan to active ministry

CHICAGO (IL)
Archdiocese of Chicago IL

May 14, 2021

By Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

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Dear Members of the Christ the King Parish and School communities,

On April 21, 2021, I informed you of an allegation of sexual assault against your Pastor, Father Lawrence Sullivan dating from 1984 when he was eighteen years old.  In keeping with our procedures, Father Sullivan was asked to step aside from his pastoral duties until a thorough investigation could be completed.  This has been a difficult time for your parish and school communities and all involved. Thank you for your patience with this process.

A thorough review of this matter by the Archdiocesan Office of Child Abuse Investigations and Review and an outside investigator, including multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain information from the accuser, concludes that the accusation against him, which was alleged to have occurred prior to his entering the seminary, cannot be substantiated.  Therefore, I am reinstating Father Sullivan as your Pastor effective immediately.

Father Sullivan has…

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May 15, 2021

The yellow markers show where Society of the Divine Word clerics were credibly accused of having abused children. The reds dots are places where the same priests and brothers served during their careers. The locations of the markers are approximations. Frank Main, Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Exporting abusive priests: Catholic religious order based near Northbrook reveals abusers

NORTHBROOK (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times

May 14, 2021

By Robert Herguth

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Many of the Society of the Divine Word clerics credibly accused of molesting kids served as missionaries in the developing world, where experts say the next big priest sex abuse scandal lurks.

[Photo above: The yellow markers show where Society of the Divine Word clerics were credibly accused of having abused children. The reds dots are places where the same priests and brothers served during their careers. The locations of the markers are approximations. Frank Main, Robert Herguth / Sun-Times]

Even before he was ordained a Catholic priest, the Rev. Ronald Lange went to Ghana in 1968 to do missionary work.

In a profile by a community newspaper years later, Lange spoke of his commitment to learning about Ghana while teaching at schools there and leading a parish with more than a dozen worship sites.

“The people are just so happy to see you,” Lange, a member of the Society…

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Pastor at Beverly Church Reinstated After Sex Assault Allegation ‘Cannot Be Substantiated’

CHICAGO (IL)
WMAQ - NBC 5 [Chicago IL]

May 14, 2021

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The pastor of Christ the King Roman Catholic Church in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood has been reinstated after a review determined an allegation he sexually assaulted someone more than 35 years ago “cannot be substantiated,” the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Friday.

Rev. Lawrence Sullivan was asked to step aside last month pending the outcome of the investigation into the incident, which was said to have occurred when Sullivan was 18 years old.

In a letter posted to the parish’s website, the pastor addressed the allegations, which he says stem from an encounter he had with an employee at a fast food restaurant in 1984.

“I made unwelcome verbal comments to a female employee that upset her to the extent that her parents and the police were contacted,” he said in the letter.

Sullivan said no physical interaction took place, and he was “ashamed and deeply sorry” about his actions that…

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