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 3, 2021

Sexual misconduct allegations surface against Conventual Franciscan priest

BALTIMORE (MD)
WMAR - ABC 2 [Baltimore MD]

May 2, 2021

By Michelle Richardson

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The Archdiocese of Baltimore has received an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor against Father Romuald Meogrossi, OFM Conv. The allegation was immediately reported to law enforcement. Fr. Meogrossi is an 81-year-old priest who had been in residence at St. Michael the Archangel Friary in Overlea.

In accordance with policy, earlier this week the Archdiocese removed Fr. Meogrossi’s faculties to function as a priest, and his Franciscan superiors suspended him from public ministry, pending the results of an investigation. Fr. Meogrossi is no longer residing in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Until several years ago, Fr. Meogrossi engaged in practice as a licensed clinical professional counselor. The alleged misconduct occurred during 2006 in a clinical therapy setting.

Fr. Meogrossi has denied the allegation.
This matter is in an early stage of investigation and therefore no determination of credibility has been made by the Franciscan Friars Conventual or the Archdiocese at this…

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May 2, 2021

A street sign in front of St. Aidan Roman Catholic Church in Williston Park honors its former pastor, the Rev. Charles Bermingham, after whom the street was renamed. Bermingham, however, landed on a list of clerics accused of sexually abusing minors. Some are calling for the signs to be removed. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Memorialized names of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse open old wounds

WILLISTON PARK (NY)
Newsday [Melville NY]

May 2, 2021

By Bart Jones

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[Photo above: A street sign in front of St. Aidan Roman Catholic Church in Williston Park honors its former pastor, the Rev. Charles Bermingham, after whom the street was renamed. Bermingham, however, landed on a list of clerics accused of sexually abusing minors. Some are calling for the signs to be removed. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin]

Msgr. Charles Bermingham was so beloved a pastor at the Church of St. Aidan in Williston Park that the street in front of the parish was named after him decades ago.

But last month, Bermingham’s name was among 101 priests on a list of clerics that the Diocese of Rockville Centre, in papers submitted to U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said were credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

Now advocates, attorneys and survivors are demanding that officials remove the “Bermingham Place” street sign. Bermingham died in 2003.

A “simple gesture” of removing the name “would help…

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Archdiocese of Baltimore receives allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor against Father Romuald Meogrossi, O.F.M., Conv.

BALTIMORE (MD)
Catholic Review - Archdiocese of Baltimore [Baltimore MD]

May 2, 2021

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The Archdiocese of Baltimore has received an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor against Conventual Franciscan Father Romuald MeogrossiRead the archdiocese’s full May 2 statement below:

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has received an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor against Father Romuald Meogrossi, OFM Conv. The allegation was immediately reported to law enforcement. Fr. Meogrossi is an 81-year-old priest who had been in residence at St. Michael the Archangel Friary in Overlea.

In accordance with policy, earlier this week the Archdiocese removed Fr. Meogrossi’s faculties to function as a priest, and his Franciscan superiors suspended him from public ministry, pending the results of an investigation. Fr. Meogrossi is no longer residing in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Until several years ago, Fr. Meogrossi engaged in practice as a licensed clinical professional counselor. The alleged misconduct occurred during 2006 in a clinical therapy setting. Fr. Meogrossi has denied the allegation.

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Bishop: Woyen resigned as Lutheran pastor after sexual battery allegations surfaced

STRASBURG (OH)
The Times Reporter [New Philadelphia OH]

April 30, 2021

By Nancy Molnar

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A Minnesota man accused of sexual battery who formerly served as a Lutheran minister has resigned as a pastor, according to the Rev. Laura L. H. Barbins, bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, based in Cuyahoga Falls.

Steven P. Woyen, 46, is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor who attended or was a member of First Lutheran Church of Strasburg when he was its pastor. The Tuscarawas County Grand Jury indicted him on three counts of sexual battery that allegedly occurred between 2008 and 2011. 

“We became aware of allegations that former pastor Steven Woyen was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor while he was a pastor at First Lutheran Church in Strasburg,” Barbins wrote in an email to The Times-Reporter. “His bishop reported those allegations to the appropriate authorities here in Ohio and I and his bishop have cooperated fully with law enforcement.

“Mr. Woyen resigned immediately after the…

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Trial Pushed Back for Cincinnati Priest Geoff Drew’s Child-Rape Case

CINCINNATI (OH)
CityBeat Cincinnati

April 27, 2021

By Allison Babka

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Geoff Drew is charged with nine counts of rape. His alleged victim was just 10 years old at the time.

A Cincinnati-area priest accused of raping a 10-year-old boy will not stand trial until October, officials said Monday. 

Geoff Drew originally was expected to go to trial Monday for nine counts of rape, but the trial was postponed to Oct. 25 after Drew’s attorneys requested more time to build their defense. If convicted, Drew faces life in prison.

In lieu of a $5 million bond, Drew remains at the Hamilton County Justice Center, where he’s been since his arrest in 2019. He pleaded not guilty during an arraignment that year.

Drew is accused of raping an altar boy in his office while he was a music minister at St. Jude in Bridgetown. The accuser, who was 10 years old when those rapes allegedly started in 1988 and is…

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Lawsuit against Springfield Diocese continues allegations of cover-ups by top officials

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

May 2, 2021

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

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A recent lawsuit alleging clergy sexual abuse and a cover-up by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield — which the diocese is seeking to have dismissed — recalls a similar case the church faced and settled in 2009.

The earlier suit claimed that former diocesan Bishops Joseph F. Maguire and Thomas L. Dupre knew the Rev. Alfred Graves, who had the time of the suit had been removed from ministry, had a history of child molestation when he was assigned to a Berkshire County parish. Andrew Nicastro, the 38-year-old plaintiff in the case, alleged Graves sexually molested him between 1982 and 1984 while a priest at St. Patrick’s Parish in Williamstown.

Lawyers for the two bishops sought unsuccessfully to get the suit dismissed on statute of limitation grounds. The 2012 jury trial ended shortly after it began when the parties agreed to a $500,000 settlement.

“They did…

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From left to right, 7-year-old "Chuckie" and 8-year-old Bobby Carroll in 1948, two orphans in foster care, before they were sent to the New Jersey State Colony for Boys, an institution later renamed the New Lisbon Developmental Center.

Bobby was violently abused at a state institution decades ago. Why his brother spread his ashes there.

WOODLAND (NJ)
nj.com [New Jersey]

May 1, 2021

By Susan K. Livio, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

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[Photo above: From left to right, 7-year-old “Chuckie” and 8-year-old Bobby Carroll in 1948, two orphans in foster care, before they were sent to the New Jersey State Colony for Boys, an institution later renamed the New Lisbon Developmental Center.]

Charles Carroll was 8 and his brother Robert was 9 when they were delivered to a state institution for children with developmental disabilities in rural Burlington County more than 70 years ago.

Neither boy was disabled. But their parents had abandoned them, and foster families had returned them.

The New Jersey State Colony for Boys, today known as the New Lisbon Developmental Center, became their home and their hell. They were raped by older boys and employees and deprived of an education and any hope of escaping before they reached adulthood, according to Charles A. Carroll’s 2005 harrowing memoir, Hard Candy.

Yet when Bobby died from COVID-19…

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INVESTIGATION: What Is the Real Reason the Archdiocese of New Orleans Declared Bankruptcy?

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Big Easy Magazine [New Orleans LA]

May 1, 2021

By Helen Lewis

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On May 1, 2020, the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. Since filing, the archdiocese has not been entirely honest about the real reason that they declared bankruptcy. 

When asked for a statement on why they declared bankruptcy, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese forwarded along a press release and informational booklet, commenting that “As this is a legal proceeding pending before the federal bankruptcy court, we think it is imprudent to comment further.” 

The press release explained, “In order to continue effectively ministering to the needs of the church community and victims and survivors of clergy abuse, the Administrative Offices of the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced today that it has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. The move was necessitated by the growing financial strain caused by litigation stemming from decades-old incidents of clergy abuse as well as ongoing budget challenges. The unforeseen circumstances surrounding…

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Pope imposes drastic new anti-corruption rules at the Vatican

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
La Croix International [France]

May 1, 2021

By Loup Besmond de Senneville

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Pope Francis has issued a new decree on financial management at the Vatican in what is being touted as a further step in his fight against corruption inside the Church.

The new text, which was issued on April 29 in the form of a motu proprio (meaning “at his own initiative”), imposes measures to ensure financial transparency at all levels of the Holy See.

What exactly does this new motu proprio contain?

First of all, it requires all Roman Curia officials – from the prefects of dicasteries to the vice-directors – to complete, as soon as they take office, a declaration of interests.

They must attest, in particular, to never having been convicted in any country and to not have benefited from any system of amnesty or prescription.

The motu proprio explicitly states that all curia heads, “including cardinals”, will also have to promise not to be the subject of…

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AG Kaul announces state-wide inquiry into clergy and faith leader abuse

MADISON (WI)
The Monroe Times

May 1, 2021

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Attorney General Josh Kaul announced April 27 a statewide initiative, led by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), with support from district attorneys, survivor groups, and crime victim services professionals, which will review reports of clergy and faith leader abuse in Wisconsin.

Survivors, their friends and family, or anyone who has information about the church’s response to abuse are encouraged to report clergy and faith leader abuse online at SupportSurvivors.widoj.gov or by calling 1-877-222-2620.

“The people of Wisconsin, and especially victims, deserve an independent review of clergy and faith leader abuse,” said Attorney General Kaul. “With this initiative, we are seeking to ensure that survivors of clergy and faith leader abuse have access to needed victim services, to help prevent future cases of sexual assault, and to get accountability to the extent possible.”

“Survivors are grateful to the Attorney General for his commitment to pursue justice for victims of clergy…

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Laicized priest dies, Wajda faced child sexual abuse claims

SAINT PAUL (MN)
The Catholic Spirit [Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis MN]

May 1, 2021

By Joe Ruff

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A laicized priest, removed from public ministry in 2003 and dismissed from the clerical state in 2016 for substantiated child sexual abuse accusations, died April 29. Joseph Wajda was 74.

Ordained in 1973 for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Wajda served in eight parishes. He also was judicial vicar of the Metropolitan Tribunal from 1996 to 2002.

Funeral services were pending.

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Letter: Priest sexual abuse story smacks of anti-Catholic bias

ST. LOUIS (MO)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

May 1, 2021

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Regarding “Guarding faith: St. Louis archdiocese adds another priest’s name to its list of abusers, but won’t talk about it” (April 18): As the president of the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization, I must complain about this story.

We live in a complex time with no shortage of current events that merit readers’ attention. Between the coronavirus, the border crisis and a whole host of other issues, it is peculiar the Post-Dispatch would prominently feature a story about a priest accused of abusing a minor in the 1970s. This is hardly the substance of breaking news. That is, unless the goal was to attack the church and impugn the reputation of Catholic priests.

I have had to raise concerns before about what I believe is an anti-Catholic bias at the Post-Dispatch.

William A. Donohue, Ph.D. • New York, N.Y.

President, Catholic League

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May 1, 2021

Santa Fe archdiocese to sell over 700 properties amid mounting abuse settlements

SANTA FE (NM)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

April 30, 2021

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The Archdiocese of Santa Fe intends to sell over 700 properties by year’s end to help pay for settlements to sexual abuse survivors, an examination of court records has found. 

An examination of court records by the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper found that the diocese has sold at least six properties over the past year and intends to sell 732 more by late July. 

Those first six sales generated $7.5 million for the diocese, the records show. According to the AP, among the buildings sold were several surrounding a Carmelite Monastery in Santa Fe. 

Of the many more properties to be sold by an auctioneering firm, most are small vacant lots, fields, or grazing land donated to the archdiocese by families, the New Mexican reported. 

In August 2020, the archdiocese listed the vacant St. Francis Cathedral School in downtown Santa Fe for $3.6 million.

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11…

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Safeguarding expert: Guidelines are ‘in vain’ if not upheld by Church powers

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

April 30, 2021

By Hannah Brockhaus

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A safeguarding expert said that the Catholic Church could do more to take responsibility for the failures of the past, and to reform power structures which allow abuse and cover-ups to take place.

Fr. Hans Zollner, S.J., a psychologist, theologian, and leading expert on abuse prevention, told CNA April 30 that the Church’s safeguarding procedures would not be effective unless those in power shared the same goals.

“You can have the best guidelines, you can have the best-prepared people for that kind of work or for protection or safeguarding, [but] if the institution as such does not live up to the ideals that are expressed in the guidelines — for example, if there are power structures that contradict what the guidelines for safeguarding say — then the same guidelines are put up in vain,” he said.

Zollner, president of Rome’s Center for Child Protection (CCP), told CNA that the prevalence of…

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Kentucky priest “on cloud nine” after priestly faculties reinstated

OWENSBORO (KY)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

April 30, 2021

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An Owensboro, Kentucky priest says he is “on cloud nine” after receiving word that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had reinstated his faculties after he appealed his permanent suspension from public ministry. 

“When the letter [from the CDF] came, I was telling them I was almost afraid to open it  because you don’t know what the news is,” said Fr. Joseph Edward Bradley to 14 News on April 26. 

“I am so happy I can hardly talk,” he said. He said that it was the prayers and support of his “good friends” who got him through his suspension.

“After two years, it was getting more and more difficult,” said Bradley, as he waited for word on the status of the appeal.  

Bradley was in March 2019 temporarily suspended from public ministry following allegations he had sexually abused a minor in the 1980s. 

Another claim was made during…

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US Bishops Fall meeting in Baltimore, Md., 2019. (photo: CNA / EWTN)

Investigations of Bishops Rise as McCarrick Scandal Reforms Kick In

SAINT PAUL (MN)
National Catholic Register - EWTN [Irondale AL]

April 30, 2021

By Joan Frawley Desmond

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Pope Francis’ document ‘Vos Estis’ and a national hotline have produced an uptick in claims against US bishops, but experts are waiting for hard data.

[Photo above: US Bishops Fall meeting in Baltimore, Md., 2019. (photo: CNA / EWTN)]

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston, Minnesota, on April 13, marking a new milestone in the Catholic Church’s global campaign to strengthen episcopal accountability in the wake of the McCarrick scandal.

The former Crookston bishop is the first U.S. Church leader to undergo an investigation pursuant to Vos Estis Lux Mundi (You Are the Light of the World), Pope Francis’ 2019 motu proprio, which holds bishops accountable for negligence in responding to allegations of sexual abuse involving minors and lays out universal procedures for investigating bishops accused of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults or of failing to remove others credibly accused. 

Ron Vasek, the man who told Church…

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Innocent Little Boys Sex Victims Of Catholic Priest In Palmdale, Redondo Beach? Accused Molester Lewd Act Charges

PALMDALE (CA)
MyNewsLA.com [Los Angeles CA]

April 30, 2021

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A former Catholic priest charged with committing lewd acts on four boys while assigned to churches in Palmdale and Redondo Beach between the mid-1990s and 2001 is set to be arraigned Friday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Christopher John Cunningham, 58, was charged April 2 with a dozen felony counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Cunningham was an associate pastor at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale and worked at Saint Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach at the time of the alleged crimes.

The alleged victims include an 11-year-old boy who was allegedly sexually assaulted on two occasions between November 1995 and September 1997 and a boy — whose age was not available — who was allegedly abused at his home some time between June 1996 and June 1998, while Cunningham was…

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Horsham Catholic priest Father Anthony White charged with sex offences

HORSHAM (UNITED KINGDOM)
BBC [London, England]

April 29, 2021

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A Roman Catholic priest has appeared in court accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in the early 1990s.

Father Anthony White is charged with indecent assault and buggery against the 15-year-old in 1992 and 1993.

The attacks were allegedly carried out where Mr White was then living, in Horsham, West Sussex, when he was an Assistant Priest at St John the Evangelist church.

Fr White, 62, appeared at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

The defendant, now of Cross-In-Hand, Heathfield, did not enter a plea.

The case has been committed for trial, with an initial hearing at Lewes Crown Court on 26 May.

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Joliet Diocese teacher fired after he is charged with ‘inappropriate communication with a minor’

JOLIET (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times

April 30, 2021

By David Struett and Emmanuel Camarillo

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An arrest warrant was issued for Jeremy M. Hylka after police were made aware of the video, according to Joliet police.

A former Catholic school teacher in the southwest suburbs has been charged after a video surfaced showing him “engaged in inappropriate communication with a minor.”

Jeremy M. Hylka was charged with traveling to meet a child and grooming after investigators were made aware of a Snapchat video that “possibly depicted inappropriate contact of an adult with a minor,” Joliet Police Lt. Joe Egizio told reporters at a new conference Friday afternoon.

He did not provide details on the contents of the video.

Detectives tracked down and interviewed the person who posted the video, Detective Sean Filipiak said. The person is a 19-year-old man who, in conjuction with a group called “Save Our Siblings,” posed as a 15-year-old when communicating with Hylka.

Filipiak said the…

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Joliet Catholic school teacher fired, charged with grooming after video leads to investigation

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

May 1, 2021

By By Liz Nagy and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team

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Jeremy Hylka worked at Saint Joseph Catholic School in Lockport, Saint Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet when fired

 A former Catholic school teacher in the southwest suburbs has been charged after a video surfaced showing him ‘engaged in inappropriate communication with a minor.”

Jeremy M. Hylka was charged with traveling to meet a child and grooming, according to Joliet police.

Publically, Hylka was a former youth minister, father and teacher, and passionate about the weather. He even appeared in videos for the Joliet Weather Center.

But out of view of his students and parishioners, police say Hylka tried to solicit sex with children on the internet.

Police said on Wednesday they were alerted to a Snapchat video they said possibly showed inappropriate contact with a minor by an independent group called Save Our Siblings.

In part of the video that was sent to police,…

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Legion of Christ facing seven new sex abuse lawsuits

CENTER HARBOR (NH)
Union Leader [Manchester NH]

April 29, 2021

By Damien Fisher

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The Legion of Christ, the Roman Catholic order that operated a now defunct school in Center Harbor, is facing new lawsuits alleging sexual abuse against children at its private schools.

All but one of the suits alleges abuse against boys at the Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in Center Harbor. One lawsuit alleges abuse against a female student of the Immaculate Conception Academy in Rhode Island.

The Legion, founded in 1949 by Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, is headquartered in Cheshire, Conn. Maciel’s behavior reportedly included drug addiction, fathering several children with at least three different women, the sexual abuse of his own children and others. He died in 2008.

The lawsuits, filed earlier this month, allege abuse against boys age 12 to 15 by priests and brothers of the order, some of whom had not been publicly reported as abusers by the order.

The order operated the Immaculate Conception Apostolic School…

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Ex-priest pleads not guilty to lewd acts

PALMDALE (CA)
Antelope Valley Press [Palmdale CA]

April 30, 2021

By City News Service

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A former Catholic priest pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of lewd acts on four boys at two parishes, in Palmdale and Redondo Beach, between the mid-1990s and 2001.

Christopher John Cunningham, 58, was charged April 2 with a dozen felony counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Cunningham was an associate pastor at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale and worked at Saint Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach at the time of the alleged crimes.

The alleged victims include an 11-year-old boy who was allegedly sexually assaulted on two occasions between November 1995 and September 1997 and a boy, whose age was unavailable, who was allegedly abused at his home some time between June 1996 and June 1998, while Cunningham was an associate pastor at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale.

Prosecutors also…

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Former Priest Pleads Not Guilty In Sexual Assault Of Young Boys

LOS ANGELES (CA)
KCAL - CBS 9 [Los Angeles CA]

April 30, 2021

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A former Catholic priest accused of lewd acts on four boys pleaded not guilty on Friday.

The alleged crimes happened in the mid-1990s and 2001 in Redondo and Palmdale.

The former priest, 58-year-old Christopher John Cunningham, was charged on April 2 with 12 felony counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

He was an associate pastor at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale and worked at Saint Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach at the time of the alleged crimes.

“The victims were innocent children who have spent most of their lives with the trauma caused by the abuse alleged in this case,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement about the charges.

“My office is committed to holding accountable anyone who abuses and takes advantage of our children, especially when they hold a position…

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Pope enables Vatican prosecutions of cardinals, bishops

ROME (ITALY)
Associated Press [New York NY]

April 30, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

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Pope Francis has sent another message to Vatican-based cardinals and bishops that he intends to hold them accountable for criminal misconduct: He removed the procedural obstacles that had spared them from being prosecuted and judged by the Vatican’s lay criminal tribunal.

A new law published Friday makes clear that Vatican city-state prosecutors and judges have jurisdiction over Holy See cardinals and bishops and need only the pope’s consent to proceed with investigations and trials against them.

The law abrogated a regulation that said only the tribunal’s highest appeals court, which is made up of three cardinals, could judge cardinals and bishops accused of criminal offenses.

The reform is the latest sign that after eight years of preaching about ending corruption and other criminal activity in the Holy See, Francis is taking concrete steps to make it easier to hold his own cardinals and bishops accountable while emboldening Vatican prosecutors to…

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