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 19, 2024

Barn Boards and Baling Wire

I was 16 years old in August 1967. I was the sophomore class president and sectional wrestling champion; I was still basking in the afterglow of participating in the state tournament. It had been the best year of my young life.

I had no way of knowing I was about to be swallowed alive by a terrible evil that I could never have imagined existed in this world.

No one had heard of sexual predators in those days. There were men who “liked boys” and some who molested young girls, but they were always somewhere else. They were in cities far away, never in our world of Holsteins and feeder pigs in the American Heartland – and certainly not in our little white-frame country church. It was unheard of and unthinkable. But, as we would all come to know, it was happening to thousands of boys and girls…

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#ChurchToo Survivors Call on CA Governor Gavin Newsom

SACRAMENTO (CA)
Good Men Media [Belmont, MA]

May 19, 2024

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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As allegations of clergy sexual misconduct mount up, even resulting in churches being closed down, #ChurchToo survivors and advocate organizations call on the government to criminalize adult clergy sexual abuse.

#ChurchToo Survivors Call on CA Governor Gavin Newsom to Urgently Investigate Questionable Circumstances Surrounding Public Safety’s Handling of Senate Bill 894

“Sexual Exploitation by a Member of Clergy” 

As allegations of clergy sexual misconduct mount up, even resulting in churches being closed down, #ChurchToo survivors and advocate organizations call on the government to criminalize adult clergy sexual abuse in alignment with the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2022 resolution. However, a recent bill in CA to criminalize adult clergy sexual abuse, similar to laws in 13 states and D.C., failed to leave the Public Safety committee under questionable circumstances, and survivors are calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to investigate. 

Sacramento, CA – In an urgent appeal to Governor Gavin Newsom, survivors and advocates of the #MeToo/ #ChurchToo movement…

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Gatlinburg priest cleared of sexual abuse is leaving the country. His future in ministry is not certain.

KNOXVILLE (TN)
Knoxville News Sentinel [Knoxville TN]

May 17, 2024

By Tyler Whetstone

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The Rev. Antony Devassey Punnackal has been cleared of sexual battery charges by a Sevier County jury and has settled a federal civil lawsuit filed by the woman who said he sexually assaulted her during a 2020 counseling session, but he will not be returning to ministry in the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville.

He is leaving the country, in fact.

Punnackal serves at the discretion of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, an international religious order that has requested he return to his native India, diocese spokesperson Jim Wogan said in an email to Knox News.

The religious order, in essence, loaned Punnackal to the diocese and now has requested he return after being cleared of his legal entanglements. Punnackal has been suspended since January 2022. Diocesan leaders learned May 10 of the request that he return to India, Wogan said.

What becomes of his ministry is now up to the Carmelites of…

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May 18, 2024

Deadline Nearing for Sexual Abuse Survivors to File Claims Against the Archdiocese of Baltimore

BALTIMORE (MD)
WGMD [Lewes, DE]

May 17, 2024

By Mari Lou

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If you are a survivor of abuse from clerics or employees from the Archdiocese of Baltimore – May 31st is the deadline for you to come forward and seek justice. Over 100 claims will be filed in the next two weeks – regardless of when the abuse occurred – allowed by the new Child Victims Act in Maryland. The claim and compensation process is confidential and allows survivors to remain anonymous.

Survivors and their families are encouraged to reach out for a free and confidential consultation. For those unsure if they qualify to file a claim for child sexual abuse that occurred at a Maryland church, catholic school, church camp, or other church-run program by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, can learn more by contacting The Yost Legal Group.

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The Sexual Abuse of Children by Leaders in Sovereign Grace Churches Continues

LAGRANGE (GA)
Brent Detwiler [Gilbert, AZ]

May 16, 2024

By Brent Detwiler

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Sovereign Grace Church of LaGrange, Georgia was adopted by Sovereign Grace Churches in September 2014.  In 2018, a deacon was found guilty of incest, aggravated sexual battery, and child molestation.  He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.  This was not the first time.  He was also sentenced in 2000 for child molestation, put on probation, and entered into the sex abuse registry. 

Now, the lead pastor, has been arrested for sexual battery and child molestation related to his oldest daughter.  He is in jail awaiting an indictment by the Grand Jury.  His wife also alleges emotional and physical abuse.  She has filed for a restraining order, custody of her daughters, and divorce.  Their marriage has been on the rocks for over a decade, and this was known to denominational leaders in Sovereign Grace Churches. 

Both these men were approved as above reproach when signs clearly indicated otherwise.  They should…

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Benedictine monk pleads guilty to battery, still lands on Illinois monastery’s sex abuser list

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times [Chicago IL]

May 17, 2024

By Robert Herguth

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Brother Joseph Charron initially was charged with sex crimes involving a now-former student. He recently pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, and the sex crime charges were dropped. Still, his Benedictine abbey placed him on its list of credibly accused child sex abusers.

On the same day this spring that Brother Joseph Charron pleaded guilty to a felony battery charge against a former student at Marmion Academy, where the Benedictine monk was a longtime teacher, the Aurora Catholic school circulated a letter saying his conviction did not involve sexual abuse.

“With a heavy heart, I write to notify you that today, in Kane County Circuit Court, Joseph Charron, known to many in our community as Brother Andre, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery of a minor,” the Rev. Joel Rippinger, abbot of the Benedictine monastery that oversees the far west suburban school, said in the March 28 letter. “There…

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Madagascar’s Catholic Church denounces controversial law authorizing castration of pedophiles

(MADAGASCAR)
Crux [Denver CO]

May 17, 2024

By Ngala Killian Chimtom

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 Madagascar’s influential Catholic bishops’ conference – usually loyal to the government – has denounced in very strong terms the recently enacted law authorizing surgical or chemical castration for pedophiles.

The country’s parliament passed the controversial law on February 2 this year. The law requires that perpetrators of rape against children between the ages of 10 and 13 are surgically castrated. Those who rape children between the ages of 14 and 17 will be chemically castrated. Offenders in both cases could face sentences of up to life in prison.

Chemical castration involves injecting convicted sex offenders with chemical treatments designed to quell their sex drive. These treatments aim to lower the testosterone levels of male sex offenders. This could be reversed by stopping the treatments. Surgical castration involves surgically removing one or both testicles with the aim of lowering testosterone production in male sex offenders to decrease their sex drive. Unlike…

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Georgia deacon charged with many counts of child sexual abuse

SYLVESTER (GA)
Biblical Recorder [Cary NC]

May 16, 2024

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Jerry Dan Heflin was arrested May 7 and charged with more than 60 felony counts, including child molestation, aggravated sodomy, sexual battery against a child and incest.

The charges stem from a 2016 incident, WALB News reported.

Heflin, 60, was a deacon at Unity Baptist Church in the South Georgia town of Sylvester. Church leadership released a statement May 10:

“Due to the recent headlines and social media comments inferring that the criminal charges involving Mr. Jerry Heflin occurred at Unity Baptist Church, our church feels compelled to respond. We have great confidence that our judicial system has investigated the facts surrounding these charges and that the judicial system will handle the matter in an appropriate manner. Our church has internal security measures in place that ensure the safety of all persons including both children and adults. We are confident that none of the allegations made in this…

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Youth Pastor Gets 19 Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing Two Boys

CARTERSVILLE (GA)
Rome News-Tribune [Rome GA]

May 17, 2024

By John Bailey

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When the man realized the youth pastor who had sexually victimized him as a child was going to adopt two young boys, he stepped forward.

He stepped forward despite the fact that he knew his youth pastor Christopher Codding is well loved at his church in Cartersville. He stepped forward despite the shame and pain he still suffered. He just knew he needed to stop it from happening to anyone else.

“When I would be invited to youth events (led by Codding) at elementary school I didn’t know I was being groomed… I didn’t know I already had a target on my back,” he told Floyd County Superior Court Chief Judge John “Jack” Niedrach during a sentencing hearing Thursday.

The man described being 10 years old and coming from a broken home, and waking up to Codding — a grown man he trusted and believed in — abusing him.

He…

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May 17, 2024

‘Get busy and stop this.’ Advocates demand MO leaders act on boarding school abuse

JEFFERSON CITY (MO)
Kansas City Star [Kansas City MO]

May 16, 2024

By Laura Bauer and Judy L. Thomas

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Leaders and lawmakers in Missouri must do more to protect vulnerable youth inside the state’s unlicensed boarding schools, advocates said at a Thursday news conference in Kansas City.

And that should start, they said, with Attorney General Andrew Bailey. He could do more to bring attention to the alleged abuse at schools across the state, said David Clohessy, former national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“He can and should use his bully pulpit and his resources to shout from the rooftops to parents, ‘Be careful, look hard and think twice before sending your kids to one of these facilities,’” Clohessy said. “No matter how slick and nice the website might be and no matter how frustrated and overwhelmed you might feel.

“He can and should take that simple immediate step to warn parents.”

During the news conference outside the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Clohessy…

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Abuse survivors rally at Missouri Supreme Court, demand action from Attorney General

JEFFERSON CITY (MO)
KRCG-TV, Ch. 13 [Jefferson City MO]

May 16, 2024

By Kermit Miller and Jennifer Weiser

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The battle between advocates for abused kids and state officials appearing less than concerned returned Wednesday to the steps of the Missouri Supreme Court building.

People connected to the allegations against several southwest Missouri boarding schools went to the office of Attorney General Andrew Bailey to demand action.

The SNAP organization and other abuse survivors are frustrated by a perceived lack of action against as many as five schools where kids allegedly have endured physical and sexual abuse.

“I beg him to just listen to us, to just hear our stories, hear our concerns,” said abuse survivor Amanda Householder.

Householder’s parents are scheduled to go to trial in October on 99 felony charges and one misdemeanor charge related to the alleged abuse of girls when they ran the Circle of Hope girls ranch in Humansville, Missouri. The state closed the ranch in 2020.

David Clohessy is the director of SNAP.

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A Catholic deacon preyed on a boy. Now in prison, the victim files in church’s bankruptcy.

BALTIMORE (MD)
Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]

May 16, 2024

By Alex Mann

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Broderick Miller has spent about half of his life behind bars, but the 45-year-old wants it known thereʼs an explanation.

“The whole reason I got locked up was because I was using drugs,” Miller said in an interview at a Maryland prison. “The whole reason I was using drugs was because of the deacon.”

Cinder block walls, a heavy metal door and a large hallway window enclose the room where Miller, who goes by “Brodie,” recounted in April how he turned to a Catholic church in Baltimore when he needed food as a teen, only for a clergyman to prey on his vulnerability.

Deacon Thomas Kuhl began assaulting Miller around 1995, at first offering food or money for sex, Miller alleges in court documents. When Millerʼs nerves got in the way of Kuhlʼs desires, he introduced the teen to heroin to calm him down. It didnʼt take long for Miller…

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Gatlinburg priest cleared of sexual abuse is leaving the country. His future in ministry is not certain.

KNOXVILLE (TN)
Knoxville News Sentinel [Knoxville TN]

May 17, 2024

By Tyler Whetstone

Read original article

The Rev. Antony Devassey Punnackal has been cleared of sexual battery charges by a Sevier County jury and has settled a federal civil lawsuit filed by the woman who said he sexually assaulted her during a 2020 counseling session, but he will not be returning to ministry in the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville.

He is leaving the country, in fact.

Punnackal serves at the discretion of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, an international religious order that has requested he return to his native India, diocese spokesperson Jim Wogan said in an email to Knox News.

The religious order, in essence, loaned Punnackal to the diocese and now has requested he return after being cleared of his legal entanglements. Punnackal has been suspended since January 2022. Diocesan leaders learned May 10 of the request that he return to India, Wogan said.

What becomes of his ministry is now up to the Carmelites of…

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May 16, 2024

Southern Baptist Convention membership falls below 13 million. LifewayResearch.com in conjunction with Baptist state conventions

New data show SBC not really reckoning with sexual abuse

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist News Global [Jacksonville FL]

May 15, 2024

By Christa Brown

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[Chart above: Southern Baptist Convention membership falls below 13 million. LifewayResearch.com in conjunction with Baptist state conventions]

According to the Southern Baptist Convention’s latest statistical report, the SBC has lost more than 3.3 million members since 2006, which happens to be the year I did my first sidewalk press conference outside SBC headquarters, talking about clergy sex abuse and coverups.

In that year, 2006, the SBC had 16.3 million members, but its membership has been declining ever since.

No doubt there are multiple factors involved in the SBC’s decline, but I do think the never-ending news of clergy sex abuse and coverups has had an impact.

The SBC’s total membership has now dropped below 13 million for the first time in nearly half a century.

So, that’s the good news. I say that because, in my view, a faith group that is cavalier about protecting kids is a faith group that doesn’t deserve…

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Victim advocates call on Missouri officials to hold religious boarding schools accountable

SPRINGFIELD (MO)
Springfield News-Leader [Springfield MO]

May 15, 2024

By Ryan Collingwood

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Bursts of torrential rainfall soaked a group of victim advocates in front of a federal courthouse in Springfield on Tuesday, each holding a sign relating to abuse they said they endured at Missouri boarding schools.

The paper was drenched but their message was clear: If you see something, say something.

Three women, alongside former Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) leader David Clohessy, urged state officials to thoroughly investigate Christian boarding schools amid multiple reports of abuse at facilities throughout southern Missouri. Many have in resulted in criminal charges and lawsuits.

They want action from Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey but said they have had little success in their pursuit of accountability and more regulation.

Their frustration was palpable.

“I’m asking the state of Missouri to do something because I find that myself and many others basically lost our childhood to this state,” said 33-year-old Amanda Householder, who…

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The Diocese of Trier, in the region bordering Luxembourg, was historically one of the most important sees in the Holy Roman Empire. Wikimedia Commons

Successive bishops covered up abuse in German diocese

TRIER (GERMANY)
The Tablet [Market Harborough, England]

May 16, 2024

By Tom Heneghan

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[Photo above: The Diocese of Trier, in the region bordering Luxembourg, was historically one of the most important sees in the Holy Roman Empire. Wikimedia Commons]

The late Fr Edmund Dillinger was “power-obsessed, self-centered, narcissistic and egotistical”, according to investigators.

An independent sexual abuse inquiry in the Diocese of Trier concluded that successive bishops covered up the actions of a notorious abuser priest for decades.

Local prosecutors in the region, next to the Luxembourg border, also did little to punish the late Fr Edmund Dillinger, who the inquiry said had abused 19 people from 1961 until 2018.

In addition, he possessed “very many people” photographed in sexual scenes or “exposed to touchings in all areas of the body”, the report by two retired senior prosecutors said.

The diocese reported Dillinger to the police in 2012 and barred him from celebrating Mass in public and contacting youths.

“It is hard to…

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Louisiana high court to reconsider recent ruling on ‘look back law’ for abuse claims

BATON ROUGE (LA)
National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

May 15, 2024

By Gina Christian

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Louisiana’s top court will reconsider its recent decision to scrap a “look back law” for abuse survivors — a move that could have a profound impact on several Catholic dioceses in the state that are already grappling with significant legal settlements and ongoing investigations.

On May 10, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted a rehearing on a March ruling that had overturned a 2021 “look back law,” which gave victims of child sexual abuse until June 14 of this year to file civil claims. Senate Bill 246 would seek to extend that deadline until June 14, 2027.

The court’s 4-3 March ruling had found that law was at odds with the state constitution’s due process, prompting dismay from abuse survivors and advocates, and a filing for a rehearing from state attorney general Liz Murrill.

Murrill, a Republican, called the Supreme Court’s decision to grant a hearing a “victory for child victims…

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Texas priest indicted, faces child sex abuse charges

BROWNSVILLE (TX)
KXAN-TV, NBC-21 [Austin TX]

May 15, 2024

By Steven Masso

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A Brownsville priest was indicted on several child sex crimes, records show.

Fernando Gonzalez Ortega, who was serving as a priest at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Brownsville at the time of his arrest, was indicted May 8.

The six-count indictment charges him with continuous sex abuse of a child (victim under 14), indecency with a child with sexual contact, sexual assault by clergyman and three counts of sexual assault of a child.

Gonzalez-Ortega is accused of a sexually abusing a child from Dec. 27, 2012 through Dec. 26, 2014.

The indictment alleges that Gonzalez Ortega also sexually assaulted said child three times in 2017, with the most recent assault allegedly taking place on Sept. 15, 2022.

On Feb. 12, Brownsville police arrested Gonzalez Ortega at the 1900 block of Barnard Road on several active warrants. Gonzalez Ortega was initially arrested in February on multiple child sex-related crimes, including trafficking…

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May 15, 2024

Louisiana High Court To Reconsider Recent Ruling On ‘Look Back Law’ For Abuse Claims

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Our Sunday Visitor [Huntington IN]

May 15, 2024

By Gina Christian

Read original article

Louisiana’s top court will reconsider its recent decision to scrap a “look back law” for abuse survivors — a move that could have a profound impact on several Catholic dioceses in the state that are already grappling with significant legal settlements and ongoing investigations.

On May 10, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted a rehearing on a March ruling that had overturned a 2021 “look back law,” which gave victims of child sexual abuse until June 14 of this year to file civil claims. Senate Bill 246 would seek to extend that deadline until June 14, 2027.

The court’s 4-3 March ruling had found that law was at odds with the state constitution’s due process, prompting dismay from abuse survivors and advocates, and a filing for a rehearing from state attorney general Liz Murrill.

Murrill, a Republican, called the Supreme Court’s decision to grant a hearing a “victory for child victims…

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After investigation into archdiocese, Louisiana Supreme Court may reopen legal window for victims of child sex abuse

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Catholic Vote [Madison, WI]

May 14, 2024

By McKenna Snow

Read original article

Following a police investigation into the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Louisiana Supreme Court has decided to rehear arguments in favor of a law that could reopen the window for victims of child sex abuse to file lawsuits against the Archdiocese. 

 “In a victory for child victims of sexual abuse – I’m pleased that the Louisiana Supreme Court granted our application for a rehearing,” Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill posted on her X account. “This was the right decision – as the bill passed unanimously through the State Legislature and should be the law here in Louisiana.”

“I’ll always defend victims of sexual abuse, and I look forward to the next steps at the Louisiana Supreme Court,” she added. 

In March, the Court initially ruled that the law, which was passed in 2021 and amended in 2022, “conflicted with due process rights in the state constitution,”  View Cache

Child sex abuse survivor Mark Rozzi decries Pa.’s failure to act on lawsuit issue for victims

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

May 13, 2024

By Ford Turner

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The therapist waved a stick-like object back and forth before state Rep. Mark Rozzi’s eyes, making him look left and right, as the therapist got his patient to recite painful memories of sexual abuse that happened 40 years earlier.

The therapy Mr. Rozzi has undergone recently, he said, has let him mentally grasp horrible recollections from his youth and “file them away like any other childhood memory.” It is called EMDR — for “eye movement densensitization and reprocessing therapy” — and it has been a milestone in his handling of memories of being raped by a Catholic priest.

“It’s been a godsend,” he said of its effect on his personal life.

Squaring away things in his public life is another matter.

Mr. Rozzi, 53, for years has championed in Harrisburg the need to allow child sex abuse survivors a two-year window in which to file otherwise…

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Abuse victim advocates pushing Missouri AG to investigate Christian boarding schools

JEFFERSON CITY (MO)
Associated Press [New York NY]

May 14, 2024

By Jim Salter

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Advocates for victims of abuse at Missouri boarding schools on Monday urged the state’s attorney general to launch an investigation, work with local prosecutors and take other steps aimed at stemming the tide of abuse.

Three Christian boarding schools in southern Missouri have shut down since 2020 amid wide-ranging abuse allegations levied by current and former students. Several people affiliated with those schools are facing criminal charges. Advocates who worry that more abuse is going unpunished gathered Monday outside Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s St. Louis office to demand action.

“This is a structural problem,” said David Clohessy, a longtime advocate for abused children and former leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “These are facilities that are remote, independent, private, sometimes for-profit, largely under the radar with little or no scrutiny, state oversight, monitoring or supervision. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

A spokeswoman for Bailey said in…

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Boarding school abuse victims news conference – 11:15am, Wed 5/15 in Jeff City MO

JEFFERSON CITY (MO)
DavidClohessy.com [St. Louis MO]

May 14, 2024

By David G. Clohessy

Read original article

Prominent boarding school abuse victim speaks out

She sued her parents; They now face 100+ felony charges

Now, she blasts AG for “insulting letter & endangering kids

Group to Bailey: “Hold zoom meeting with suffering survivors

In last minute plea, they call on lawmakers to strengthen child safety laws

WHAT

At a sidewalk news conference, a nationally-known survivor, activist and whistleblower will discuss

  • startling new revelations that a Missouri sheriff dealt with at least 15 run-away teens – including two just last Saturday – from a Christian boarding school over the past three years, and
  • the upcoming criminal trial of her parents on 100+ felony abuse charges stemming from their years-long severe mistreatment of kids at their boarding school, and
  • her just-resolved unusual civil lawsuit against her mom and dad.

Holding signs and childhood photos, she and other abuse survivors will also reveal a “terse and insulting” letter they recently received from Missouri’s attorney general,…

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FFRF applauds Washington AG’s commitment to clergy sex abuse investigation

SEATTLE (WA)
FFRF (Freedom from Religion Foundation) [Madison WI]

May 14, 2024

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation cheers the decision of the Washington attorney general to force the Seattle Archdiocese’s compliance with a clergy child sexual abuse investigation.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson recently sent subpoenas to the Seattle Archdiocese, the Diocese of Spokane and the Diocese of Yakima seeking to examine whether these religious entities have used charitable funds to cover up pedophilia. Of the three, the Seattle Archdiocese is the one that has refused to cooperate.

The Seattle Archdiocese first released names of perpetrators in 2016. The list, which now has more than 80 individuals, includes long-dead priests. It goes without saying that the Catholic Church cannot be trusted to fully and accurately report on the number of perpetrators among its clergy. The Illinois Attorney General’s Office’s published report in 2023 listed four times as many substantiated child sex abusers than previously disclosed…

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FBI asked to join investigation of death of pastor’s wife, Mica Miller

MYRTLE BEACH (SC)
Religion News Service - Missouri School of Journalism [Columbia MO]

May 14, 2024

By Kathryn Post

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Miller’s April 27 death has been the source of fierce controversy and widespread speculation.

The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office have been asked to assist in an investigation into the death of Mica Miller, a pastor’s wife whose apparent suicide in North Carolina has been the source of fierce controversy and widespread speculation among her friends and former church community in South Carolina.

“The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with the United States Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation in South Carolina since the early stages of the Mica Miller investigation,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement to local news station WPDE on Monday (May 13). “Based on the information gathered during the investigation and jurisdiction reasons, the Sheriff’s Office has requested the assistance of both agencies.”

Miller, 30, was found dead at Lumber River State Park near the South Carolina border west of Wilmington…

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FBI Called in to Help with Mica Miller’s Case

MYRTLE BEACH (SC)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

May 14, 2024

By Liz Lykins

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Local law enforcement investigating the controversial death of Mica Miller have reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in South Carolina and the United States Attorney’s Office for help, ABC 15 News has reported.

The media outlet said the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office announced the development on Monday. 

The Roys Report (TRR) reached out to the sheriff’s office for more information but did not hear back. However, Veronica R. Hill, Public Affairs Specialist at U.S. Attorney’s Office, confirmed her office has been in contact with the sheriff’s office but wouldn’t further “confirm/deny/comment on investigations.”

Mica Miller’s death at Lumber River State Park in North Carolina on April 27 has been making headlines globally for concerning details surrounding it. Mica’s family members allege that John-Paul Miller was abusing Mica, and that Mica feared for her life.

Additionally, Mica and her husband were in the process of divorcing at the time of…

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Texas priest indicted, facing new charges

BROWNSVILLE (TX)
Everything Lubbock [Lubbock, TX]

May 14, 2024

By Steven Masso

Read original article

A Brownsville priest was indicted on several child sex crimes, records show.

Fernando Gonzalez Ortega, who was serving as a priest as St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Brownsville at the time of his arrest, was indicted May 8.BACKGROUND: Brownsville priest arrested on child sexual abuse, trafficking charges, authorities say

The six-count indictment charges him with continuous sex abuse of a child (victim under 14), indecency with a child with sexual contact, sexual assault by clergyman and three counts of sexual assault of a child.

Gonzalez-Ortega is accused of a sexually abusing a child from Dec. 27, 2012 through Dec. 26, 2014.

The indictment alleges that Gonzalez Ortega also sexually assaulted said child three times in 2017, with the most recent assault allegedly taking place on Sept. 15, 2022.

On Feb. 12, Brownsville police arrested Gonzalez Ortega at the 1900 block of Barnard Road on several active warrants. Gonzalez Ortega…

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Brooklyn diocese: ‘Vos estis’ finds Chappetto allegations ‘unfounded’

(NY)
The Pillar [Washington DC]

May 13, 2024

By The Pillar

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The Diocese of Brooklyn said that a Vatican-ordered investigation into a retired auxiliary bishop has ended, concluding that allegations against Bishop Raymond Chappetto are unfounded. 

Chappetto, a now-retired auxiliary bishop who was vicar general of the Brooklyn diocese, was accused in 2021 of administrative negligence, namely failing to disclose appropriately that a Brooklyn priest was prohibited from contact with minors, and thus potentially putting minors at risk.

But in a statement sent to The Pillar Thursday, the diocese said it had been informed by apostolic nuncio Cardinal Christophe Pierre that “upon examination of the Vos estis investigation report in a complaint against Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Raymond F. Chappetto, the Dicastery for Bishops has concluded the allegations ‘are manifestly unfounded, and the case has been closed.’”

The diocese said it was not able to provide details into the investigation, which was conducted by Archbishop Leonard Blair, who retired earlier this month as Archbishop of Hartford,…

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Priest arrested in Florida appears in Iowa court

DUBUQUE (IA)
WFLA [Tampa FL]

May 14, 2024

By Kevin Accettulla

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A priest who was arrested in Florida last month after he was accused of sexually abusing boys appeared in an Iowa court on Monday.

Father Leo Riley‘s arrest in Florida is tied to alleged abuse in Iowa in the 1980s. He’s charged with five counts of sexual abuse.

Riley appeared in court in Dubuque, Iowa, and was given a $500,000 bond, according to NBC affiliate KWWL. Riley’s attorney, Guy Cook, said that bond amount is too high, and planned to challenge it.

“Father Leo Riley is, to those people who know him well, a person of upstanding moral character, an honest man, and a person who would not commit these kinds of acts,” Cook said.

If Riley posts bond, he would remain in Department of Corrections custody and would have to stay at a halfway house, according to KWWL.

Riley served…

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Attorney for Suncoast priest files for lower bond in Dubuque court

DUBUQUE (IA)
WWSB -ABC 7 [Sarasota FL]

May 14, 2024

By Jordan Litwiller

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A $500,000 bond has been set for Charlotte County priest Leo Riley, following his initial appearance at the Dubuque County Courthouse on Monday. Father Leo Riley spent the night in jail while his attorney filed paperwork to have his bond significantly reduced.

Riley is facing five counts of sexual abuse allegedly committed during his time as a priest in Iowa. Last month, a local victim came forward saying he was abused by Riley in Charlotte County.

Father Leo Riley has not been charged in Charlotte County, but is back in Dubuque to answer to five counts of capital sexual battery related to reports in the 1980s.

Riley was a past priest at the Resurrection Church in Dubuque, Iowa. In Charlotte County, he was a Priest at Saint Charles Borromeo in Port Charlotte in the early 2000′s, and is currently assigned to San Antonio Catholic Church, also in Port Charlotte.

Following…

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Former North Jersey teacher pleads guilty to taking lewd photos of students

SPARTA (NJ)
NorthJersey.com [Woodland Park NJ]

May 13, 2024

By Kyle Morel

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A former teacher at Pope John XXIII Regional High School pleaded guilty last week to illegally recording students while employed in the district before his 2022 arrest, authorities said.

Michael Wagner, 41, entered his plea Friday before Judge Michael Gaus, the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office stated. He was charged with first-degree child endangerment and second-degree manufacturing of child sexual abuse.

The prosecutor’s office and Sparta police began an investigation on Oct. 12, 2022, after another teacher at Pope John overheard several eighth grade girls talking about Wagner recording them during class.

Police found hundreds of photos and videos of students taken by Wagner, who “would position the electronic device in such a way as to capture and record the underclothing of female students,” the release stated. His other personal devices were confiscated and also found to contain images of child exploitation or abuse.

Wagner taught eighth grade physics and science…

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May 14, 2024

A judge set Fr. Leo Riley's bond at $500,000.

Former Dubuque Priest charged with sex abuse placed on $500,000 bond

DUBUQUE (IA)
KWWL-TV, NBC-7 [Waterloo IA]

May 13, 2024

By Austin Ellis

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[Photo above: A judge set Fr. Leo Riley’s bond at $500,000.]

A former Dubuque Priest charged with sexually abusing altar boys in the 1980s made his first appearance in court in Dubuque on Monday.

Father Leo Riley, charged with five counts of second-degree sexual abuse, has been placed on a $500,000 bond. Riley was apprehended in his home state of Florida last month before bonding out to face the charges in Iowa.

Riley is accused of abusing young boys during his time with the Archdiocese of Dubuque in the 1980s. Riley later moved to Florida in the early 2000s.

Should he put up the bond amount, Riley will be in custody of the Department of Corrections where he’ll sent to a halfway home. He would be barred from making contact with minors, as well as a no-contact order with the victims.

Riley’s attorney, Guy Cook, noted in court on Monday…

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Local priest spending first night in jail in Iowa

DUBUQUE (IA)
WWSB -ABC 7 [Sarasota FL]

May 13, 2024

By Jordan Litwiller

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A $500,000 bond has been set for Charlotte County priest Leo Riley, following his initial appearance at the Dubuque County Courthouse on Monday. As of Monday night, he is still behind bars.

He is facing five counts of sexual abuse allegedly committed during his time as a priest in Iowa. Last month, a local victim came forward saying he was abused by Riley in Charlotte County.

“I buried these memories very deep but I couldn’t keep them buried forever,” said an alleged victim going by John Doe.

Father Leo Riley has not been charged in Charlotte County, but is back in Dubuque to answer to five counts of capital sexual battery related to reports in the 1980s.

Riley was a past priest at the Resurrection Church in Dubuque, Iowa. In Charlotte County, he was a Priest at Saint Charles Borromeo in Port Charlotte in the early 2000′s, and is currently…

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$500K bond set for ex-Dubuque priest charged with sexual abuse

DUBUQUE (IA)
Telegraph Herald [Dubuque IA]

May 14, 2024

By Maia Bond

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A $500,000 bond has been set for a former Dubuque priest accused of sexually abusing multiple boys in the 1980s.

The Rev. Leo P. Riley, 68, of Port Charlotte, Fla., is charged in Iowa District Court of Dubuque County with five counts of second-degree sexual abuse. He made his initial appearance in court Monday morning after being arrested in Florida last month.

In addition to setting the cash-only bond, Iowa District Associate Judge Robert Richter determined Riley will not be allowed to leave Iowa while court proceedings continue.

Richter ordered Riley to wear an ankle monitor and be subject to pretrial supervision by the Iowa Department of Corrections. Richter also imposed a no-contact order for each of the alleged victims and witnesses and barred Riley from having any contact with minors.

Court documents state that four people have said they were sexually abused by Riley from 1985 to 1986, while…

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Former Iowa priest appears in court on sex abuse charges

DUBUQUE (IA)
KCCI - CBS 8 [Des Moines IA]

May 13, 2024

Read original article

The priest accused of sexually abusing boys at a Dubuque school in the 1980s appeared in an Iowa courtroom for the first time, KCRG reports.

Father Leo Riley made his initial appearance in a Dubuque County Courtroom Monday morning. Riley said little, only to acknowledge the charges against him and to confirm he had legal representation. Riley is charged with five counts of sexual abuse, as prosecutors say he molested multiple altar boys while he served at Resurrection School in Dubuque from 1984-86.

The judge ordered Riley to be held on $500,000 cash-only bond. If he is able to post that bond, the judge ordered he must remain in Iowa and wear an ankle monitor. He is also not to have any contact with the alleged victims.

Riley was arrested last month in Florida where he is serving at a Catholic Church. Riley is facing…

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Look back period for child abuse lawsuits could be extended in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE (LA)
Louisiana Illuminator [Baton Rouge LA]

May 13, 2024

By Julie O’Donoghue

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Louisiana lawmakers are swiftly advancing legislation that would extend the timeframe adults who are survivors of child abuse have to file lawsuits against institutions such as Catholic Church.

The bill took on more relevance Friday after the Louisiana Supreme Court announced it would reconsider its decision to scrap the state law creating a “look back window” to allow child abuse survivors to file lawsuits over misconduct that took place decades ago.

It also followed news that Louisiana State Police troopers had raided the Archdiocese of New Orleans in April, seeking records and communication about how child sex abuse cases were handled.

In 2021, the Louisiana Legislature unanimously approved a new law removing the time limit for damage suits over child abuse, but the measure wasn’t retroactive. Adults who recalled their abuse years after it happened had…

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May 13, 2024

Smyllum Park orphanage closed in 1981

Nun and carer who abused children have sentences cut

MOTHERWELL (UNITED KINGDOM)
BBC [London, England]

May 10, 2024

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[Photo above: Smyllum Park orphanage closed in 1981]

A nun and a care worker convicted of abusing vulnerable children at an orphanage in Lanark have had their sentences reduced.

Sister Eileen Igoe, 79, and carer Margaret Hughes, 77, mistreated young people at Smyllum Park between 1969 and its closure in 1981.

The pair were initially jailed for three years each following a six-week trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court in January.

But the Court of Appeal said “insufficient” weight had been given to their age and shortened their sentence to seven months from the date of their initial conviction.

In a written judgement on Friday, Lord Matthews said he would have imposed a sentence of probation with unpaid work.

However he acknowledged the two women had already been in custody since 18 January this year and that a seven-month term – almost four months of which have already been served –…

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Catholic Church uses bankruptcy to shield abusive priests

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

May 10, 2024

By David G. Clohessy

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Regarding the editorial “Courts must not let Gateway Pundit use bankruptcy to escape accountability” (April 26): The Editorial Board is right to blast a disinformation site that is a “monstrous purveyor of slander and lies” and is using bankruptcy as “a pre-emptive move” to “escape justice.”

But as much harm as this right-wing website has caused, I think we can all agree that even more monstrous than slandering adults is committing and concealing heinous, devastating sex crimes against kids.

That is exactly what thousands of Catholic clerics have done. Now, facing embarrassing litigation about widespread clergy child sexual abuses and cover ups and desperately clinging to their reputations and careers, dozens of top church officials are filing for bankruptcy.

More than 40 dioceses and religious orders — 12 in the last five years — have sought Chapter 11 protection. No, they’re not broke or going broke. Like The Gateway…

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Former Dubuque priest to make first court appearance on multiple sexual abuse charges

DUBUQUE (IA)
KGAN - CBS 2 [Cedar Rapids IA]

May 13, 2024

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The former Dubuque priest charged with the sexual abuse of three victims from his time at a local parish will appear in court in Iowa on Monday, May 13th.

Leo Riley was arrested back in April in Florida after charges were filed in Iowa.

He faces five charges, all connected to allegations dating back to the 1980s when he was at Resurrection Church in Dubuque.

A criminal complaint alleges that Riley forced altar boys to perform sex acts on him and to each other.

He bonded out of jail in Florida on the condition that he’d return to Iowa to face his charges.

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Former Port Charlotte priest expected to appear in court on Monday, accused of sexual abuse

DUBUQUE (IA)
NBC News [New York NY]

May 13, 2024

By Zach Scott

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A former Port Charlotte priest, accused of five counts of sexual abuse to the second degree, is expected to appear in court on Monday.

Father Leo Riley, 68, is expected to make his initial court appearance in Dubuque, Iowa, on Monday at 10:30 a.m.

Riley was arrested on multiple counts of capital sexual battery in connection to his previous role at a church in Dubuque on April 24.

Before his arrest, several individuals came forward with allegations against him, which he denies.

According to the documents, Riley was ordained in 1982 and was assigned to approximately 17 different parishes in the Archdiocese of Dubuque until 2002. He served as Associate Pastor at Ressurection Parish from 1984 to 1986.

In 2002, he requested to transfer to the Diocese of Venice and was appointed at St Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte.

While the Diocese of…

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Washington AG investigating clergy abuse says Seattle Archdiocese won’t cooperate

SEATTLE (WA)
NBC News [New York NY]

May 9, 2024

By Lewis Kamb

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[See the Attorney General’s Petition to Enforce Subpoena.]

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Thursday he’s seeking a court order to force the Seattle Archdiocese to turn over files on priests accused of sexual abuse and make its archbishop answer questions under oath as part of a sweeping probe into how the state’s three Catholic dioceses handled claims of child sex abuse.

Ferguson’s office is looking into “allegations that the Catholic Church has facilitated and attempted to cover up decades of pervasive sexual abuse of children by Church leaders in Washington State,” his office’s petition for a court order states.

Because the Seattle Archdiocese “refuses to cooperate” with civil subpoenas issued by his office last summer and last month, Ferguson went public with his probe Thursday by filing a legal petition in King County Superior Court that seeks an…

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Child sex abuse survivor Mark Rozzi decries Pa.’s failure to act on lawsuit issue for victims

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

May 13, 2024

By Ford Turner

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The therapist waved a stick-like object back and forth before state Rep. Mark Rozzi’s eyes, making him look left and right, as the therapist got his patient to recite painful memories of sexual abuse that happened 40 years earlier.

The therapy Mr. Rozzi has undergone recently, he said, has let him mentally grasp horrible recollections from his youth and “file them away like any other childhood memory.” It is called EMDR — for “eye movement densensitization and reprocessing therapy” — and it has been a milestone in his handling of memories of being raped by a Catholic priest.

“It’s been a godsend,” he said of its effect on his personal life.

Squaring away things in his public life is another matter.

Mr. Rozzi, 53, for years has championed in Harrisburg the need to allow child sex abuse survivors a two-year window in which to file otherwise…

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Head of Catholic church in Poland accused of negligence in sex abuse case

GDAńSK (POLAND)
Notes from Poland [Kraków, Poland]

May 13, 2024

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The head of Poland’s Catholic episcopate, Tadusz Wojda, has been accused of negligence in dealing with reports of sexual abuse carried out by one of his subordinates. In one case, he allegedly argued that no abuse had taken place because “it was just groping”.

In response to the claims, the spokesman for Wojda’s archdiocese has issued a statement denying the accusations against the archbishop and accusing the journalist who made them of presenting only a “fragmentary” and “distorted” version of the story.

The claims were made last week in a lengthy article by Zbigniew Nosowski, the editor-in-chief of Więź, a leading Catholic news magazine.

He noted that details of Wojda’s alleged negligence had in fact first been published in February 2022 in Tygodnik Powszechny, another Catholic news magazine, but had gone largely unnoticed because they were published at the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Nosowski now revealed that, in March this year, the Vatican received…

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May 12, 2024

Man opens up on alleged sex abuse from former Chicago priest known as ‘Father Happy Hands’

CHICAGO (IL)
WGN-TV [Chicago IL]

May 10, 2024

By Andy Koval

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A man who says he was abused by a former Chicago priest known as “Father Happy Hands” told his story following a settlement last month.

Larry Kubbins, 60, held a press conference opening up about the alleged abuse by the Rev. Daniel Mark Holihan, who died in 2016, and had a message for survivors across the world.

“It’s been a weight I’ve had for almost 50 years,” Kubbins said. “They need to not be afraid to report it. I was not smart enough to listen to my mother and walked away from it.”

Kubbins alleges Holihan sexually abused him twice — once at Our Lady of the Snows and once at a lake house belonging to Holihan in Wonder Lake. During the alleged abuse, Kubbins and the attorney general’s office said children would call Holihan “Father Happy Hands.”

“He couldn’t keep his hands off boys, he took me to the…

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Spanish bishops protest government ‘obsession’ with Church abuse

(SPAIN)
The Tablet [Market Harborough, England]

May 10, 2024

By Bess Twiston Davies

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The Spanish Bishops’ Conference said the government’s five-point plan to respond to abuse largely matched the Church’s own strategy.

The Archbishop of Oviedo has accused the Spanish government of presenting “only the Catholic Church” as guilty of harbouring sexual abuse.

Estimates extrapolated from the survey claimed there were a potential 440,000 victims across the Spanish population. That figure was dismissed by the head of the polling firm as a “statistical delusion”.  

The Spanish Bishops’ Conference said the five-point plan produced in response to the report largely matched the Church’s own strategy to recognise, care for and compensate victims as well as to raise awareness of abuse through training, and to prevent future abuse through reporting and investigating allegations.

The conference said the government’s focus on compensating only victims of clerical abuse excluded “nine out of every 10 victims” of sexual abuse in Spanish society. A spokesman said: “The Church cannot accept measures…

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Watchdog groups respond to new revelations of two accused sexual predators in Cleveland parishes

CLEVELAND (OH)
SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [Chicago IL]

May 10, 2024

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Watchdog groups respond to new revelations of two accused sexual predators in Cleveland parishesThey ask: How many other sex offenders are active in the diocese? In a letter to Bishop Malesic, they express concern about his “carelessness” and urge him to take immediate action 

In the wake of revelations yesterday that two accused sexual predators are helping to lead Mass in Cleveland parishes, two watchdog groups are calling on Bishop Edward Malesic to act immediately to identify and remove all other diocesan personnel who might pose a risk to children and young people. Calling the news “alarming,” a co-director of BishopAccountability.org and a longtime Ohio leader of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) are urging Malesic to take “personal responsibility” for ensuring that only adults with clean records work at his parishes, schools, hospitals, and summer camps. In the last 24 hours, the public has learned of two accused sexual…

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Jesuits in Bolivia deny ‘systematically covering up’ clerical abuse

COCHABAMBA (BOLIVIA)
Crux [Denver CO]

May 4, 2024

By Eduardo Campos Lima

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One year after the diary of a Jesuit describing more than 80 cases of child abuse came to light in Bolivia, the Society of Jesus repudiated the accusation that it’s a “criminal organization” and that it shouldn’t be blamed for the crimes.

The Bolivian Community of Survivors of Ecclesial Sex Abuse, however, reaffirmed that the Jesuits have institutional responsibility for “systematically covering up” over 400 cases, arguing that superiors and provincials were aware of the crimes.

The diary of late Spanish-born Father Alfonso Pedrajas (1943-2009), known as Padre Pica, was first mentioned in a story published by Spanish newspaper El Pais in April of 2023. The article detailed how his writings were discovered by a nephew and then handed to the newspaper.

According to Pica’s diary, the first abuse happened in Lima, Peru, in 1964. Most of his crimes, however, took place when he worked at the John…

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US archdiocese ‘refused to comply’ with sexual abuse investigation, Washington attorney general claims

SEATTLE (WA)
Catholic Herald [London, England]

May 11, 2024

By John Lavenburg

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Amid a campaign for the governorship, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced on 9 May that he has taken legal action against the Archdiocese of Seattle, alleging that it has “refused to comply” with his investigation into whether the three Washington dioceses used charitable funds to cover up allegations of child sex abuse by clergy.

Later on 9 May, the archdiocese responded that it was blindsided with Ferguson’s decision, maintaining that it welcomes the investigation because “we have shared the common goal of abuse prevention, healing for victims and transparency”.

“We have been collaborating with the Attorney General’s legal team on the shared legal analysis, which is common for investigations like this,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “Today’s press conference was a surprise to us since we welcome the investigation and have been working closely with the Attorney General’s team for months now.”

Ferguson’s office first sent subpoenas to…

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Catholic church is stonewalling sex abuse investigation, Washington attorney general says

SEATTLE (WA)
Associated Press [New York NY]

May 11, 2024

Read original article

The Catholic church is refusing to cooperate with a Washington state investigation into whether it unlawfully used charitable trust funds to cover up sexual abuse by priests, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday, asking a court to force the Seattle Archdiocese to turn over decades of records.

“We have a good understanding of the content of our files and we have no concern about sharing them with the Attorney General lawfully and fairly,” the statement said.

Ferguson, a Catholic himself, told a news conference that the archdiocese has refused to provide even a single document that had not already been made public, claiming an exemption as a religious institution. The archdiocese disputed that as well, saying it offered this week to provide private deposition documents, but that the attorney general’s office said it wasn’t interested.

Ferguson said the archdiocese ignored a second subpoena issued this spring seeking records on how…

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May 11, 2024

Washington AG subpoenas Seattle Archdiocese for sex abuse records

SEATTLE (WA)
Crosscut - Cascade Public Media [Seattle WA]

May 9, 2024

By John Stang

Read original article

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a subpoena to try to force the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese to turn over records on suspected sexual abuse, he announced Thursday.

In July 2023, the Attorney General’s Office requested massive amounts of information from the archdioceses of Seattle, Yakima and Spokane, so it could map the extent and details of sexual-abuse incidents, the number of priests involved and the transfers of suspected priests from assignment to assignment. So far the three archdioceses have not provided the requested information, Ferguson said.

“We need a public accounting of childhood abuse,” Ferguson said.

Consequently, the Attorney General’s Office filed the subpoena in King County Superior Court, requesting a May 22 hearing. The three archdioceses share a common trust fund that is used to compensate victims of sexual abuse, and Ferguson wants access to those records as well.

In a written statement, the Archdiocese of Seattle said…

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Washington AG investigating clergy abuse says Seattle Archdiocese won’t cooperate

SEATTLE (WA)
NBC News [New York NY]

May 9, 2024

By Lewis Kamb

Read original article

Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a petition Thursday to compel the Catholic Church to hand over files and answer questions under oath. 

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Thursday he’s seeking a court order to force the Seattle Archdiocese to turn over files on priests accused of sexual abuse and make its archbishop answer questions under oath as part of a sweeping probe into how the state’s three Catholic dioceses handled claims of child sex abuse.

Ferguson’s office is looking into “allegations that the Catholic Church has facilitated and attempted to cover up decades of pervasive sexual abuse of children by Church leaders in Washington State,” his office’s petition for a court order states.

Because the Seattle Archdiocese “refuses to cooperate” with civil subpoenas issued by his office last summer and last month, Ferguson went public with his probe Thursday by filing  View Cache

Washington AG investigating Catholic Church’s role in clergy sex abuse

SEATTLE (WA)
Washington State Standard [Olympia, WA]

May 9, 2024

By Laurel Demkovich

Read original article

Bob Ferguson is taking the Seattle Archdiocese to court over documents he says it has refused to release.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is taking the Archdiocese of Seattle to court over records he said the church is refusing to give up in an investigation of its handling of child sex abuse allegations. 

Ferguson announced Thursday his office is investigating whether the Catholic Church used charitable funds to cover up allegations of sex abuse by clergy in three dioceses in Washington: the Seattle Archdiocese, the Diocese of Spokane and the Diocese of Yakima. 

Fergusons’s office sent its first round of subpoenas to the dioceses last summer, but none have yet to provide any information not already publicly available. 

On Thursday, his office filed a petition asking the King County Superior Court to enforce the Seattle Archdiocese subpoenas and requested a hearing for May 22.

The state has not yet taken…

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WA AG: Archdiocese of Seattle refusing to share sex abuse documents

SEATTLE (WA)
Seattle Times [Seattle WA]

May 9, 2024

By Catalina Gaitán

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The Archdiocese of Seattle is refusing to turn over documents showing how it handled child sexual abuse allegations by church leaders, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a news conference Thursday.

The archdiocese is citing a legal exemption for religious organizations that shields the records from public disclosure, said Ferguson, who has asked a King County Superior Court judge to force the church to comply with the office’s subpoenas and turn over the documents. Ferguson has requested a May 22 hearing.

Ferguson’s motion comes months after his office issued subpoenas to the state’s three dioceses — Seattle, Spokane and Yakima — as part of an investigation into allegations that they misused charitable funds to cover up decades of sexual abuse by church leaders. The investigation also seeks to identify accused priests and determine the church’s role in how it had kept those in positions of power, Ferguson said.

Ferguson…

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Police Search Archdiocese of New Orleans Offices for Evidence of Past ‘Child Trafficking’

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
National Catholic Register - EWTN [Irondale AL]

May 10, 2024

By Matthew McDonald

Read original article

Priest Sex-Abuse Investigation Expands

Louisiana State Police are investigating the Archdiocese of New Orleans for suspected past child trafficking by certain priests there, according to court documents made public last week.

While many Catholic dioceses have been sued by victims and investigated by police in recent decades, using a search warrant on a chancery is less common, and tying the investigation to child trafficking even less so.

Investigators executed the search April 25, looking for documents, letters, email messages and personnel records, including records pertaining to assignments and transfers, according to an affidavit filed in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in New Orleans.

“The Archdiocese is actively cooperating with investigators and the terms of the search warrant,” a state police spokesman, Trooper Jacob Pucheu, said by email. “This investigation remains ongoing, and there is no additional information available at this time.”

The Archdiocese of New Orleans says officials there are cooperating…

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‘There’s been so many’ – Pedophile priest’s eye-opening testimony in church sex abuse case

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WWLTV [New Orleans, LA]

May 9, 2024

By David Hammer / WWL Louisiana Investigator, Ramon Antonio Vargas / The Guardian

Read original article

At one point in the deposition even Hecker became overwhelmed at the number of times with which he has been confronted with sex abuse allegations.

WWL Louisiana and the Guardian have obtained a long suppressed, eight-and-a-half-hour deposition of a 92-year-old Catholic priest charged with physically overpowering and raping a boy in a New Orleans church in 1975. 

Taken in 2020 as part of a civil lawsuit demanding damages from him and the church, in the deposition, clergyman Lawrence Hecker provides the most complete account yet of how the US’s second-oldest archdiocese spent much of its recent history taking extreme measures to keep the public from finding out about his abusive past. The questioning – which the church has fought in court for years to keep hidden – also reveals steps the city’s last four archbishops took to help him avoid accountability for decades. 

Eventually, law enforcement officials were able to…

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4 New Orleans archbishops and a pedophile priest: what did they know and when did they know it?

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WWLTV [New Orleans, LA]

May 10, 2024

By David Hammer / WWL Louisiana Investigator, Ramon Antonio Vargas / The Guardian

Read original article

Leaked testimony from a 2020 deposition gives insight into how Lawrence Hecker remained in the priesthood for so long after allegations came to light.

As he walked into New Orleans’ historic St. Louis Cathedral in early January 2000 to receive the honorary, Vatican-bestowed title of monsignor, veteran Catholic priest Lawrence Hecker had already confessed to molesting several children he met through his ministry. 

Hecker had been flown out of town and driven by limousine to a psychiatric facility which diagnosed him as an inveterate pedophile. He had been forced to take a monthslong sabbatical, to begin the week after his promotional ceremony at a cost to the archdiocese of $6,000. And he had already spoken personally to the archbishop of New Orleans at the time and his predecessor about the child sexual abuse allegations against him.

And yet, sworn testimony Hecker gave at a deposition in 2020 shows key higher-ups…

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‘We were encouraged to be with younger boys’: breaking down a child molester priest’s secret testimony

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
The Guardian [London, England]

May 9, 2024

By Ramon Antonio Vargas in New Orleans and David Hammer of WWL Louisiana

Read original article

In unearthed deposition, Lawrence Hecker pleaded the fifth 117 times, but still provided damning details of decades-long predatory behavior

The Guardian and CBS affiliate WWL Louisiana have obtained a long suppressed, eight-and-a-half-hour deposition of a 92-year-old Catholic priest charged with physically overpowering and raping a boy in a New Orleans church in 1975.

Taken in 2020 as part of a civil lawsuit demanding damages from him and the church, clergyman Lawrence Hecker provides in the deposition the most complete account yet of how the US’s second-oldest archdiocese spent much of its recent history taking extreme measures to keep the public from finding out about his abusive past. The questioning – which the church has fought in court for years to keep hidden – also reveals steps the city’s last four archbishops took to help him avoid accountability for decades.

Eventually, law enforcement officials were able to obtain an indictment charging Hecker…

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Louisiana supreme court to rehear case on letting child sexual abuse victims sue

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
The Guardian [London, England]

May 10, 2024

By Ramon Antonio Vargas in New Orleans and David Hammer of WWL-TV

Read original article

Five justices voted in favor of reconsidering earlier decision to deny permission, which devastated adult survivors of clergy abuse

Weeks after the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New Orleans was identified as the subject of a child sex-trafficking investigation, the Louisiana state supreme court has agreed to reconsider its decision to strike down a law that had allowed victims to file civil lawsuits over long-ago abuse.

Five of the court’s justices voted in favor of rehearing a case that produced a 4-3 ruling in March, dismaying survivors of the state’s decades-old clergy abuse scandal. The judges voting for a rare rehearing were chief justice John Weimer – who suggested a hearing before the end of May – and associate justices Scott Crichton, William Crain, Jay McCallum and Piper Griffin.

Griffin and Crichton in March had formed part of the majority that struck down the so-called lookback law. But they then signaled their…

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Report: Prominent Anglican Church Failed to Investigate or Inform Congregation of Sexual Abuse Involving Former Pastor

FALLS CHURCH (VA)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

May 9, 2024

By Rebecca Hopkins

Read original article

A prominent Anglican church in Virginia waited 16 years to investigate or inform its congregation about a former youth pastor’s alleged sexual abuse, a third-party investigation has found.

According to the report by law firm Isler Dare, Jeffrey T. Taylor sexually abused three boys—two of whom were 13—while Taylor was a youth director from 1990-1999 at the historic The Falls Church Anglican (TFCA) in Falls Church, Virginia. Despite this, Eddie Isler, the investigator, told The Roys Report (TRR) he was unaware of any pending criminal charges against Taylor.

One of Taylor’s victims approached the church with allegations in 2007, and the parents of another victim came forward in 2021. However, it wasn’t until September 2023, after some parents complained to a bishop about TFCA’s lack of response, that the months-long investigation began. In October 2023, TFCA informed its congregation of the alleged abuse.

TFCA, which President George Washington and former  View Cache

Long Island pastor, 71, charged with sexually abusing teen girl in church basement

HUNTINGTON STATION (NY)
NY Daily News [Jersey City, NJ]

May 9, 2024

By David Matthews

Read original article

A Long Island pastor has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a teen girl in the basement of a church.

Clinton Bucknor, 71, of Huntington Station, is accused of sending inappropriate photos and texts to a 15-year-old girl and molesting the teen in the church basement in March, Suffolk County police said.

Bucknor works at the Huntington Seventh-Day Adventist Church. He was arrested Thursday morning after the girl’s sister notified police on Wednesday, authorities said. He’s been charged with sexual abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal solicitation.

Bucknor is scheduled to be arraigned Friday at First District Court in Central Islip.

Detectives said they hope news of the arrest will inspire anyone with more information or who may also be a victim to come forward.

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Brussels archbishop apologizes amid priest election scandal

BRUSSELS (BELGIUM)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

May 10, 2024

By AC Wimmer

Read original article

The archbishop of Brussels has apologized to abuse survivors and expressed deep regret over the inclusion of reportedly three perpetrators of sexual abuse on an electoral list for the council of priests. 

“This is a grave mistake on our part, and I extend my deepest apologies to the victims. I acknowledge the mistake and offer my sincerest regret,” Archbishop Luc Terlinden of Mechelen-Brussels said in a press release published May 8.

“I have initiated a thorough investigation and will take appropriate action. In the event that priests known to the archdiocese for abuse are elected to the current Flemish Brabant and Mechelen priests’ council, they will be unable to serve on the council,” Terlinden added.

The council of priests is an advisory body that provides a bishop with guidance and support on ecclesiastical matters and church governance. 

Father Rik Devillé, a vocal advocate for victims of clerical sexual…

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Why alleged victims of Florida priest may never see justice

TAMPA (FL)
WFLA [Tampa FL]

May 9, 2024

By Brittany Muller

Read original article

A criminal complaint provided disturbing new information about a priest accused of sexually abusing multiple children.

Father Leo Riley served in the Diocese of Venice and was recently assigned to a parish in Port Charlotte. Authorities said his arrest stems from his time in Iowa in the 1980s.

A newly released criminal complaint details the alleged abuse, and also reveals why some of Riley’s alleged victims, who served as altar boys at the church, may never see justice.

The explicit details are disturbing. The complaint outlines when and where at least four underage altar boys were molested, sexually assaulted, and abused at Riley’s hands.

According to the complaint, a parent reported the alleged abuse to the principal and “a couple weeks later, Riley was transferred to another parish.”

Riley was ordained a priest in 1982. He was assigned to 17 different parishes within the Archdiocese of Dubuque until 2002.

At…

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Spanish bishops protest government ‘obsession’ with Church abuse

(SPAIN)
The Tablet [Market Harborough, England]

May 10, 2024

By Bess Twiston Davies

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The Spanish Bishops’ Conference said the government’s five-point plan to respond to abuse largely matched the Church’s own strategy.

The Archbishop of Oviedo has accused the Spanish government of presenting “only the Catholic Church” as guilty of harbouring sexual abuse.

Archbishop Jesús Sanz Montes said the focus on sexual abuse in the Church was “a kind of obsessive mantra” deployed “every time they need a smoke screen to distract from the real problems we have”.

He was reacting to a government plan for victims of abuse in the Spanish Catholic Church.

The plan follows the publication in October 2023 of a parliamentary report investigating abuse in the Spanish Catholic Church, conducted by Ángel Gabilondo, the national ombudsman.

The inquiry included a sample survey of 8,013 people, of whom 1.13 per cent were affected by abuse in the Church, just over half of it perpetrated by clergy and religious. The report also…

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May 10, 2024

Seattle Archdiocese must hand over abuse records, state attorney general says

SEATTLE (WA)
Washington Times [Washington, D.C.]

May 10, 2024

By Mark A. Kellner

Read original article

Washington state’s attorney general is increasing pressure on the Catholic Church in a child sex abuse investigation he is conducting.

Bob Ferguson said he has asked the King County Superior Court to enforce a subpoena he issued against the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese to obtain church records for the probe.

Mr. Ferguson said the Seattle Archdiocese did not comply with the records request and that Catholic dioceses in Spokane and Yakima are also non-compliant. The legal action in Seattle could be followed by court filings against the other Catholic dioceses, he told a news conference Thursday.

“Through the course of our investigation, the Archdiocese has unfortunately refused to cooperate with our investigation, has refused to provide any of the information to us that we’re requesting that’s not already been made public,” Mr. Ferguson, himself a Catholic, told reporters. “As a result, we’re going to court today to ask the judge to compel the Archdiocese…

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State Supreme Court to review decision limiting time child sex abuse victims have to sue

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WWL-TV [New Orleans LA]

May 10, 2024

By David Hammer / WWL Louisiana Investigator, Ramon Antonio Vargas / The Guardian

Read original article

Five of the court’s justices voted in favor of rehearing a case that devastated survivors of the state’s decades-old clergy molestation scandal.

Weeks after the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New Orleans was identified as the subject of a child sex-trafficking investigation, the Louisiana state supreme court has agreed to reconsider its decision to strike down a law that had allowed victims to file civil lawsuits over long-ago molestation. 

Five of the court’s justices voted in favor of rehearing a case that produced a 4-3 ruling in March, devastating survivors of the state’s decades-old clergy molestation scandal. The judges voting for a rare rehearing: Chief Justice John Weimer and Justices Scott Crichton, William Crain, Jay McCallum and Piper Griffin. 

Griffin and Crichton in March had formed part of the majority that struck down the so-called lookback law. But they then signaled their wish to reconsider their vote by helping grant only…

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Louisiana Supreme Court announces it is reconsidering child sex abuse lookback window ruling

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
KADN - Fox 15 [Lafayette LA]

May 10, 2024

Read original article

The Louisiana Supreme Court announced it is reconsidering its ruling of overturning the state law that allowed childhood sexual abuse victims more time to file civil lawsuits.

Richard Trahant, Soren Gisleson, John Denenea, Kevin Duck, and Cle Simon – attorneys for Douglas Bienvenu, et al – released a statement on the announcement.

“This is a great day for child sexual abuse survivors and the children of Louisiana. It is a bad day for pedophiles and those who protect them. We commend the two Justices (Chrichton and Griffin) who decided to give this issue another look. Good judges sometimes change their minds.”

Associate Justice Jefferson Hughes dissented.

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Louisiana Supreme Court will reconsider ‘lookback window’ for clergy child sex abuse survivors

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Nola.com [New Orleans, LA]

May 10, 2024

By STEPHANIE RIEGEL

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In a potentially significant development for hundreds of survivors of childhood sex abuse by Roman Catholic clergy and others, the Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday agreed to rehear its recent decision striking down a law that gave abuse survivors more time to file lawsuits.

The state’s high court said it would reconsider its 4-3 decision, which ruled as unconstitutional the state’s three-year “lookback window” for filing legal claims in childhood sexual abuse cases.

The vote to rehear the case was 5-2. Justices Jefferson Hughes and James Genovese dissented. Chief Justice John Weimer said he would order oral arguments “promptly during the month of May.” 

The court did not explain why it agreed to reconsider its March decision. Justices Scott Crichton and Piper Griffin were in the majority that rejected the lookback window in March but joined those in the minority — Weimer and Justices William Crain and Jay McCallum — in…

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Man opens up on alleged sex abuse from former Chicago priest known as ‘Father Happy Hands’

CHICAGO (IL)
WGN-TV [Chicago IL]

May 10, 2024

By Andy Koval

Read original article

A man who says he was abused by a former Chicago priest known as “Father Happy Hands” told his story following a settlement last month.

Larry Kubbins, 60, held a press conference opening up about the alleged abuse by the Rev. Daniel Mark Holihan, who died in 2016, and had a message for survivors across the world.

“It’s been a weight I’ve had for almost 50 years,” Kubbins said. “They need to not be afraid to report it. I was not smart enough to listen to my mother and walked away from it.”

Kubbins alleges Holihan sexually abused him twice — once at Our Lady of the Snows and once at a lake house belonging to Holihan in Wonder Lake. During the alleged abuse, Kubbins and the attorney general’s office said children would call Holihan “Father Happy Hands.”

“He couldn’t keep his hands off boys, he took me to the…

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Court to revisit controversial ruling protecting priests from civil suits by adult victims of child sexual abuse

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WGNO [New Orleans LA]

May 10, 2024

By Marlo Lacen

Read original article

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Louisiana Supreme Court has granted a request to reopen and revisit a controversial opinion ruling that civil judgments against priests could not be awarded retroactively to adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

On May 10, the high court requested a rehearing in Bienvenu v The Society of the Roman Catholic Church, Diocese of Lafayette, and St. Martin De Tours Catholic Church, which was reversed and vacated in March.

Attorney Kristi S. Schubert, of the Lamothe Law Firm, LLC, recalls that “when the
Bienvenu ruling came out in March; there was an enormous public backlash. Abuse survivors
felt that the Court had robbed them of their last chance for justice. And Louisiana citizens were
outraged that the Court had granted child molesters an untouchable constitutional right to get
away with child rape.

Soon after the justices voted to…

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Watchdog groups respond to new revelations of two accused sexual predators in Cleveland parishes

CLEVELAND (OH)
BishopAccountability.org [Waltham MA]

May 10, 2024

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They ask: How many other sex offenders are active in the diocese? In a letter to Bishop Malesic, they express concern about his “carelessness” and urge him to take immediate action

For Immediate Release, May 10, 2024 

In the wake of revelations yesterday that two accused sexual predators are helping to lead Mass in Cleveland parishes, two watchdog groups are calling on Bishop Edward Malesic to act immediately to identify and remove all other diocesan personnel who might pose a risk to children and young people. 

Calling the news “alarming,” a co-director of BishopAccountability.org and a longtime Ohio leader of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) are urging Malesic to take “personal responsibility” for ensuring that only adults with clean records work at his parishes, schools, hospitals, and summer camps. 

In the last 24 hours, the public has learned of two accused sexual abusers serving in leadership posts…

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Washington state asks court to force Seattle Archdiocese to comply with abuse inquiry

OLYMPIA (WA)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

May 10, 2024

By Daniel Payne

Read original article

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson this week announced legal action against the Archdiocese of Seattle over what the prosecutor said was a refusal to cooperate with the state’s ongoing investigation into an alleged cover-up of clergy abuse there. 

Ferguson’s office said in a Thursday press release and at an accompanying press conference that it was “initiating legal action against the Seattle Archdiocese” over the archdiocese’s alleged refusal “to comply with Ferguson’s investigation into whether the three Washington dioceses of the Catholic Church used charitable funds to cover up allegations of child sex abuse by clergy.”

The attorney general’s office said that pursuant to that investigation it had sent subpoenas to Washington’s three Catholic bishoprics — the Seattle Archdiocese as well as the Dioceses of Spokane and Yakima — but that the Seattle Archdiocese “refused to cooperate.”

Ferguson subsequently filed a petition in King County Superior Court demanding that the attorney general’s…

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WA attorney general announces investigation against 3 Catholic dioceses for clergy abuse

OLYMPIA (WA)
The Olympian [Olympia WA]

May 9, 2024

By Shauna Sowersby

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The Catholic Accountability Project lined up pictures outside the Attorney General’s Office Tuesday of 151 clergy members in Washington who so far have been convicted of sexual abuse. The organization said they believe the AGO opened an investigation in August of three more bishops in the state. 

An investigation into three Washington dioceses of the Catholic Church became public Thursday for the first time after the state Attorney General announced legal action against the Seattle Archdiocese for failure to comply with a subpoena.

The Diocese of Spokane, Diocese of Yakima and Seattle Archdiocese were all first subpoenaed in summer of 2023 for an investigation looking into whether allegations of sex abuse by clergy was covered up using charitable funds, according to a news release from the AGO.

The investigation is now public as the state has moved to seek a court order to enforce the second subpoena against the Seattle…

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Washington state sues Seattle Archdiocese over child sex abuse investigation records

SEATTLE (WA)
KUOW-FM [Seattle WA]

May 9, 2024

By Gustavo Sagrero Álvarez

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Washington state is suing the Archdiocese of Seattle in an effort to compel the institution to turn over documents related to sexual abuse allegations against its clergy, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Thursday morning.

Ferguson said his office has been investigating child sexual abuse allegations made against Catholic Church clergy across Washington state dating back multiple decades, including in Spokane and Yakima.

“We have sent subpoenas to all three Washington diocese…so far all three refuse to cooperate,” Ferguson said during a press conference.

He added that it’s unusual for his office to have to ask a judge to force an entity under its investigation to turn over documents.

“The church has more information than is shared with the public,” Ferguson said. “It has released names, but has not released its files on these abusive priests. No one has read files. The purpose of our investigation is to uncover whether the…

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State investigating dioceses of local Catholic churches over charitable funds and abuse allegations

OLYMPIA (WA)
Source One News [Quincy WA]

May 9, 2024

Read original article

Yakima – The Diocese of Yakima, along with the Seattle and Spokane dioceses, has come under the investigative lens of Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The investigation focuses on whether these dioceses have used charitable funds to obscure allegations of child sex abuse by clergy members. While the Seattle Archdiocese has already faced legal action for non-compliance, the Yakima Diocese remains under close observation as the investigation progresses.

Attorney General Ferguson, expressing disappointment in the lack of cooperation from the Catholic Church, emphasized the need for transparency. “Washingtonians deserve a public accounting of how the Catholic Church handles allegations of child sex abuse, and whether charitable dollars were used to cover it up,” Ferguson stated. He stressed that the goal is to uncover the truth and provide a voice to the survivors.

The investigation was triggered by concerns that the Seattle Archdiocese had historical knowledge of abusive behavior by…

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Attorney General Ferguson announces investigation into Catholic Church’s handling of child sex abuse allegations

SEATTLE (WA)
Office of the Attorney General, Washington State

May 9, 2024

Read original article

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 9 2024

Seattle Archdiocese refusing to cooperate with subpoenas

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced his office is initiating legal action against the Seattle Archdiocese. The Archdiocese has refused to comply with Ferguson’s investigation into whether the three Washington dioceses of the Catholic Church used charitable funds to cover up allegations of child sex abuse by clergy.

The Attorney General’s Office sent subpoenas to the Seattle Archdiocese, the Diocese of Spokane and the Diocese of Yakima. The Seattle Archdiocese refused to cooperate. Consequently, Ferguson filed a petition to enforce the subpoena in King County Superior Court. The office is asking the court to hear the petition on May 22.

The Attorney General’s Office has a longstanding policy that it does not comment on investigations, including confirming whether they exist. Because the Seattle Archdiocese refused to comply with the office’s subpoena, the office now must seek…

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EXCLUSIVE: Sex offender allowed to help lead CLE Catholic church masses; News 5 Investigation leads to change

CLEVELAND (OH)
WEWS-TV, ABC - 5 (News5Cleveland.com)[Cleveland OH]

May 9, 2024

By Jonathan Walsh

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Offender was part of service lead by Bishop Malesic Groups that assist sexual abuse victims are outraged that the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland allows a convicted sex offender to help lead masses for months.

[See video.]

Groups that assist sexual abuse victims are outraged that the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland allows a convicted sex offender to help lead masses for months. The advocacy groups question how this can happen in light of the church’s documented history with pedophile priests.

“I will praise you Lord,” could be heard in song on video of a mass from April 28 of this year. It was the voice of Keith Kozak, 44, from Brooklyn. News 5 Investigators found he has been on the alter at St. Thomas More Church, leading the congregation in prayer and song. “I shall not die but live…,” he sang during a mass there on April 21.

ADVOCACY GROUPS:…

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Catholic church is stonewalling sex abuse investigation, Washington attorney general says

SEATTLE (WA)
Associated Press [New York NY]

May 9, 2024

By Gene Johnson

Read original article

The Catholic church is refusing to cooperate with a Washington state investigation into whether it unlawfully used charitable trust funds to cover up sexual abuse by priests, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday, asking a court to force the Seattle Archdiocese to turn over decades of records.

The archdiocese called the allegations a surprise, saying in a statement that it welcomed the investigation and has been collaborating since receiving a subpoena last July. The archdiocese shares the state’s goals — “preventing abuse and helping victim survivors on their path to healing and peace,” it said.

“We have a good understanding of the content of our files and we have no concern about sharing them with the Attorney General lawfully and fairly,” the statement said.

Ferguson, a Catholic himself, told a news conference that the archdiocese has refused to provide even a single document that had not already been made public,…

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May 9, 2024

‘It wasn’t a big deal’: secret deposition reveals how a child molester priest was shielded by his church

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
The Guardian [London, England]

May 9, 2024

By Ramon Antonio Vargas in New Orleans and David Hammer of WWL Louisiana

Read original article

Lawrence Hecker pleaded the fifth 117 times as he detailed how the Catholic church protected him for more than two decades after he admitted to molesting children

Longtime New Orleans Catholic priest Lawrence Hecker received a special honor from the Vatican nearly 25 years ago despite having confessed to molesting children. Then, for another two decades, church leaders in the city strategically shielded him from law enforcement and media exposure – while also providing him with financial support ranging from paid limousine rides and therapeutic massages to full retirement benefits, according to his own, previously unreported testimony.

A sworn deposition Hecker gave in private in 2020 shows exactly how high-placed Catholic church officials in New Orleans let him keep his elevated position for years, even after they had been advised to oust him from the clergy and – much later – publicly acknowledged that he was a child predator.

“It wasn’t a…

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Lawsuit against Catholic priest delves into legal gray area

LANSING (MI)
Adam Horowitz Law [Fort Lauderdale, FL]

May 9, 2024

Read original article

Legal analysts in Florida and around the country are closely following the developments in a case that hinges on whether or not a law that extends the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases should be applied retroactively. The lawsuit was brought by a Michigan man who claims that he was molested by a Catholic priest when he was a minor. The Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments from attorneys representing the plaintiff and defendant on April 16.

The timeline of events

The man alleges that he was molested by the priest at a juvenile detention facility in 1999. He was 16 years old at the time. The man says that he realized that he had been the victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest during a therapy session in 2020. He filed a lawsuit against the priest, the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Roman Catholic…

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Chicago man sexually abused by priest receives settlement from archdiocese

CHICAGO (IL)
WFLD - Fox 32 [Chicago IL]

May 8, 2024

Read original article

[See video.]

A Chicago man, who a serial pedophile priest sexually abused, has settled his claim with the Chicago Archdiocese more than 40 years after the abuse took place.

Chicago man, who a serial pedophile priest sexually abused, has settled his claim with the Chicago Archdiocese more than 40 years after the abuse took place.

The priest is Father Daniel Mark Holihan, who worked at Our Lady of Snows Parish in Chicago until 1990 and is accused of molesting dozens of parish children.

One report reveals there were at least 40 reported survivors.

Lawrence Kubbins, who is now 60 years old, says the abuse occurred from 1979-1980.

He is represented by attorney Michael Garabedian, who helped him get a settlement in the low six figures.

Father Holihan was removed from the Catholic Church years after accusations continued to be made against him. He was…

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In This Police Youth Program, a Trail of Sexual Abuse Across the U.S.

STOUGHTON (MA)
The Marshall Project [New York NY]

May 1, 2024

By Lakeidra Chavis, Daphne Duret and Joseph Neff

Read original article

Explorer posts, overseen by the Boy Scouts, are supposed to foster an interest in policing. They have faced nearly 200 allegations of misconduct.

[The Marshall Project is investigating abuse in police Explorer programs. Fill out this form to help us.]

STOUGHTON, Mass. — The last known person to see Sandra Birchmore alive was a police officer.

He stopped by her apartment days before the elementary school teacher’s aide, 23 years old and newly pregnant, was found dead in February 2021. The medical examiner later ruled her death a suicide.

The officer worked for the Stoughton Police Department, near Boston, where he first met Birchmore about a decade earlier through the agency’s Explorer post — part of a youth mentorship program run by local departments across the country.

He acknowledged having sex with her when she was 15, according to a court ruling citing the officer’s text messages. That document indicates that his…

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Kansas City Ministry with Ties to Mike Bickle Celebrates 25th Anniversary of IHOPKC, Despite Sex Abuse Scandal

KANSAS CITY (MO)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

May 8, 2024

By Rebecca Hopkins

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A Kansas City prayer room with ties to disgraced International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC) Founder Mike Bickle, gathered Tuesday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of IHOPKC, despite the ministry’s ongoing sex abuse scandal.

Hope City, a prayer room, community center, and church, is led by Bickle’s sister, Lisa Stribling, and her husband, Ray. According to a leaked recording of the ceremony, Lisa Stribling and her son, Richy Bickle, spoke at the event. Stribling praised Bickle and upheld the so-called “prophetic history” of IHOPKC as a reason to keep the 24/7 prayer ministry going.

“It doesn’t matter if the lights are out and we have a candle, we’re going to be praying for revival until we see the things we’ve bled for come to pass,” said Stribling.

The event, which gathered more than 100 people also featured videos of disgraced “prophet” Bob Jones and…

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Former Dubuque Priest charged with sex abuse to make first court appearance in Iowa

DUBUQUE (IA)
KWWL-TV, NBC-7 [Waterloo IA]

May 8, 2024

By Austin Ellis

Read original article

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) — A former Dubuque priest charged with 5 counts of second-degree sexual abuse is expected to make his initial appearance in court in Dubuque next week.

[Play Video]

Leo Riley was arrested in Florida and was charged with 5 counts of sex abuse.

Father Leo Riley is accused of sexually abusing young boys in the mid-1980s during his time with the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Riley moved to Florida in 2002.

Last month, Riley was taken into custody in Florida. He bonded out of the Charlotte County Jail on the condition that he face the charges in Iowa.

He’s expected to make his first court appearance in Dubuque on Monday, May 13.

A new criminal complaint details the alleged abuse from Riley from multiple victims who have come forward. The complaint is embedded below. Some of the accounts may be disturbing to some readers.

[See the View Cache

California Pastor Arrested for Alleged Sexual Abuse of Foster Children

HESPERIA (CA)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

May 8, 2024

By Liz Lykins

Read original article

A California pastor has been arrested following allegations he sexually abused two foster children under his care, according to a press release published by the Hesperia Police Department last week.

Jose Manuel Lozano, 54, served as a bilingual pastor at Zion Assembly Church of God in Hesperia, California, an affiliate church of Zion Assembly Church of God International, according to the LA Times. Hesperia is located about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

Lozano was removed from his office at the church March 15, when the allegations became public, a church representative told the LA Times. The representative said the church doesn’t condone Lozano’s “ungodliness.”

The pastor was arrested on April 25 and faces felony charges of continuous sexual abuse of a minor, police said.

According to police, Lozano abused two girls, ages 10 and 16, while fostering them. Detectives believe there may be additional…

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At least 20 allegations of abuse against former Austin pastor

AUSTIN (TX)
KXAN-TV, NBC-21 [Austin TX]

May 9, 2024

By David Barer, Avery Travis

Read original article

Investigative Summary: Allegations of sexual misconduct against a former Lutheran pastor have split a North Austin congregation and sparked an extensive church investigation. KXAN spoke with people alleging abuse, dug into the pastor’s long history of ministry and followed the church’s effort to move forward with accountability and transparency.

AUSTIN (KXAN) – For decades, Dr. Helen Maidment carried mixed memories of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in North Austin.

On one side, there was the joy of a fulfilling spiritual and social life centered around the church. Her husband started a church camp, and they hosted parties with church friends.

“But in the shadows, there were things that weren’t so good,” Maidment told KXAN.

That was the other side: pain from the disturbing memory of a sexual assault, she alleges, by Gethsemane’s former pastor in 1998. Maidment said she pushed that memory to the back of her mind, but it weighed on…

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Cleveland priest at center of Vatican II altar damage previously accused of abuse

CLEVELAND (OH)
National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

May 9, 2024

By Dennis Sadowski

Read original article

The diocesan priest at the center of the controversial destruction of a historic Vatican II altar at a parish in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood was on leave from the priesthood for a decade following allegations that he “groomed” and attempted to sexually abuse a teenager, before being reinstated to ministry in 2012.

Fr. Jeffery Weaver initially asked for the leave in 2002, as reporting on the sexual abuse crisis peaked and he had admitted to an inappropriate sexual advance toward a young man.

Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon reinstated Weaver to active ministry in 2012. No explanation was given at the time of reinstatement. Lennon died in 2019.

The Cleveland Diocese’s website shows that since May 2012 Weaver has been “awaiting assignment.”

Nancy Fishburn, diocesan executive director of communications, confirmed in an April 9 email to National Catholic Reporter that Weaver “does not currently have a parish assignment,…

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May 8, 2024

Priest arrested in 2015 returns to Guam

HAGåTñA (GUAM)
Guam Daily Post

May 7, 2024

By John O'Connor

Read original article

Rev. Luis Camacho has returned to Guam after being off island for about nine years while a canonical investigation was underway related to his arrest in 2015, according to a release from the Archdiocese of Agana. 

“Father Luis’ priestly faculties remain in restriction. He has been notified that he is restricted from serving in any parish, school or archdiocesan office at this time. Apostolic Administrator Father Romeo Convocar is reviewing his case assisted by others in the archdiocese before any return to public ministry is considered,” the release stated.

Camacho was arrested in March 2015 after police officers found him in a vehicle with a 17-year-old girl at a beach in Hågat. He was charged with custodial interference, according to Post files.

The Archdiocese stated that Camacho resigned as pastor of the San Dimas & Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Malesso’ and the San Dionisio Catholic Church in Humåtak, and was prohibited…

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Maryland Supreme Court agrees to take up constitutionality of Child Victims Act of 2023

BALTIMORE (MD)
The Baltimore Banner [Baltimore MD]

May 7, 2024

By Dylan Segelbaum

Read original article

The Maryland Supreme Court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of a new state law that eliminated the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits and allowed more people to sue the institutions that enabled their victimization.

The Child Victims Act of 2023 took effect on Oct. 1, 2023.

In a letter on Tuesday, Gregory Hilton, clerk of the Maryland Supreme Court, wrote that the case has been scheduled for oral argument in the September 2024 session. He also outlined a briefing schedule.

U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar previously sent a question about the constitutionality of the law to the Maryland Supreme Court arising from a lawsuit that a woman filed against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which alleges it was negligent and reckless and failed to protect her from sexual abuse in…

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Dallas priest arrested on two counts of indecency with child in Garland

DALLAS (TX)
Dallas Morning News [Dallas TX]

May 7, 2024

By Sarah Bahari

Read original article

Ricardo Reyes Mata, 34, served as parochial vicar of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

A Dallas priest is accused of inappropriately touching two children, police said Tuesday.

Ricardo Reyes Mata, 34, a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, was arrested Monday on two counts of indecency with a child, Garland police said in a statement. Two children reported the inappropriate contact after the priest visited a home in Garland, police said. Detectives are working with the Dallas diocese.

En español:Cura católico de Dallas es arrestado por cargos de indecencia con dos menores en Garland

In a statement, the diocese said it immediately filed a report with Child Protective Services and law enforcement after becoming aware of allegations by a juvenile girl of inappropriate touching. The priest was also removed from public ministry, the diocese said, adding that no inappropriate activity was reported on diocesan property.

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Catholic priest arrested in Texas; SNAP reacts

DALLAS (TX)
SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [Chicago IL]

May 7, 2024

Read original article

Police in Garland, Texas, said today in a news release that they had arrested a priest from the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on two felony counts of indecency with a child. We are grateful that law enforcement has charged the clergyman. However, we are concerned that there may be other victims and we urge the Diocese to do outreach. 

The Diocese of Dallas said that it was made aware last week of accusations that Fr. Ricardo Reyes Mata inappropriately touched a juvenile girl at a residence in Garland. According to the Diocese’s statement, Church officials immediately filed a report with Child Protective Services and law enforcement. Fr. Mata was also removed from public ministry.

We commend the Diocese for this appropriate response. However, we also believe that this arrest shows us once again that the persistent claims from Church officials that the abuse scandal is a thing…

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Pope Francis appoints new bishop in Tennessee after former bishop’s resignation under pressure

KNOXVILLE (TN)
Associated Press [New York NY]

May 7, 2024

By Associated Press

Read original article

Pope Francis has appointed Reverend James Mark Beckman as Bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee, almost a year after the previous bishop resigned under pressure following claims he mishandled sex abuse allegations.

The Vatican announced the appointment in its Tuesday noon bulletin. As is usual, the announcement made no mention of his predecessor or the circumstances under which he left the post.

Bishop-elect Beckman is a priest of the Diocese of Nashville where he has served as pastor of Saint Henry parish since 2015, according to the announcement. He earned his master’s degree in religious studies from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium in 1989 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990 for the Diocese of Nashville.

Pope Francis accepted Bishop Richard Stika’s resignation last June, closing a turbulent chapter for the southern U.S. diocese that was marked by a remarkable revolt by some of its priests. They accused Stika of…

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Candidate for SBC president stirs a storm by saying sexual abuse cases are a ‘distraction’

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist News Global [Jacksonville FL]

May 7, 2024

By Mark Wingfield

Read original article

In a six-man race for the Southern Baptist Convention presidency, one candidate made headlines over the weekend for his stance on the 42 sexual abuse lawsuits reportedly pending against the denomination.

Critics pounced when David Allen, a seminary preaching professor, called those lawsuits a “distraction” from the gospel imperative.

This set off a chain of social media posts, mainly on X, with Allen’s supporters and critics parsing what he did or didn’t say.

Sexual abuse survivor advocate Tiffany Thigpen shot back on X: “Actually, we ARE distractions because unlike you all, we refused to sit in the pit of despair. We believe in God’s justice and mercy We are reaching back despite our suffering to keep it from happening to others We ARE ministry. We ARE distracting the show. THAT is your problem.”

Clergy sexual abuse survivor David Pittman tweeted: “Thank you for exposing your heart by referring to us as distractions.”

Among Allen’s…

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Durham University issues report on impact of abuse crisis on Catholic communities

LONDON (UNITED KINGDOM)
Zenit [Rome, Italy]

May 7, 2024

By Zenit staff

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The researchers carried out 82 interviews and four focus groups. The participants were drawn from 14 of the 22 Catholic dioceses and 16 religious orders across England and Wales.

The whole Catholic Church should listen more to the victims and survivors of clerical child abuse and the experience of affected parish communities and consider appropriate action, a new report says.

The Cross of the Moment report is based on research led by Durham University’s Centre for Catholic Studies. It is the first study of how the abuse crisis has impacted the whole Catholic community in England and Wales.

The report suggests that aspects of the culture and practices of the Catholic Church are implicated in how clerical child sexual abuse has happened. They also partly explain how the response of the Church has often failed, causing further pain and harm, described by victims and survivors as…

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Rebuilding life after years of religious service marred by misconduct

(FRANCE)
La Croix International [France]

May 8, 2024

By Christophe Henning, with additional reporting by Capucine Licoys

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Victims of spiritual or sexual abuse, some nuns and monks choose to leave their communities. After years of religious life marked by misconduct, finding balance and re-establishing a social life proves to be a real challenge.

When religious life, undermined by misconduct, turns into hell, leaving is just the first step. As abuses of power, spiritual abuses, and situations of dominance have been exposed in some religious communities in recent years, victims who have managed to escape face a monumental challenge: regaining the balance of an ordinary life.

“It was very violent to leave the monastic habit overnight,” explains Manon*, who left after ten years in a Benedictine community. The religious habit protects and exposes at the same time. Shedding it is a relief and a loss of identity. “It weighs on me, but it is a passport,” confides a sister currently struggling. “The first time I removed my veil,…

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Surviving Île-à-la-Crosse boarding school brought to life in short film

SURREY (CANADA)
CJWW 600 [Saskatoon, SK, Canada]

May 7, 2024

By Carol Thomson

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The community of Île-à-la-Crosse had a special screening Monday of a short film about the survivors of the Île-à-la-Crosse boarding school who are trying to be officially recognized by both the federal and provincial governments and compensated for what happened, just like at Indian Residential Schools.

Metis Nation-Saskatchewan Vice-President Michelle LeClair explains that Île-à-la-Crosse, with its Metis students, was left out of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. She says that back in the 1840s it was a Catholic school funded provincially as well as federally, but the harms and the abuse were the same as at the Indian Residential Schools.  The students were called a number instead of by their names, they were not able to speak their language, and survivors suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

LeClair says when the residential schools were being recognized and compensated there just wasn’t the proper recognition at the time for the…

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How victims of Church abuse are reclaiming their minds and autonomy

(FRANCE)
La Croix International [France]

May 8, 2024

By Capucine Licoys

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Interview with a psychotherapist and victimologist who assists individuals who have left religious communities because of abuse

Isabelle Chartier-Siben, a physician and victimologist, serves as the president of the association “C’est à dire,” which supports victims of abuse, particularly within the Church. In an interview with La Croix’s Capucine Licoys, she discusses the care of religious individuals who have left deviant communities, a group she has been assisting for about 30 years.

La Croix: Many former religious abuse victims describe a control that continues beyond leaving the community. How does this mechanism work?

Isabelle Chartier-Siben: When a religious person leaves due to a change of vocation, there is a period of readjustment to the ordinary world. This can be a painful but surmountable stage. In deviant communities, the outside world is somewhat “paranoidized,” described as dangerous, perverse, and incapable of understanding their supposed privileged relationship with God. The victim ends up convinced of the superiority…

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Abuse Victim Rejects Hillsong Settlement Over NDA

(AUSTRALIA)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

May 6, 2024

By Josh Shepherd

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A woman who was sexually abused by a Hillsong worship leader has refused to sign a settlement offer by the Australian megachurch because it included a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).  

On Thursday, Anna Crenshaw, daughter of a Pennsylvania pastor, told reporters outside of a court in Sydney, Australia, “I will not give up my voice. This has never been about money for me, but about justice and accountability, which we’ve not received this week.” 

According to NCA Newswire, the failed settlement would have required Crenshaw to sign an NDA. It also required Crenshaw to co-sign a statement saying that Hillsong had reported the assault immediately, which would conflict with her repeated statements in recent years. 

A former student at Hillsong College, Crenshaw, now 26, has stated that she was touched inappropriately by former Hillsong staff administrator Jason Mays at a party in early 2016.

In…

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How a SBC abuse survivor’s advocacy for reform has evolved over 20 years

NASHVILLE (TN)
Tennessean [Nashville TN]

May 7, 2024

By Liam Adams

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Key Points:

  • Christa Brown, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and a well-known advocate for reform in the SBC, publishes new book, “Baptistland: A Memoir of Abuse, Betrayal, and Transformation.”
  • In Q&A, Brown discusses how she’s grown more skeptical and less hopeful of change in the SBC despite recent steps that many others consider substantive.

It’s long passed the point at which Christa Brown gives the Southern Baptist Convention the benefit of the doubt.

A survivor of clergy sexual abuse and well-known advocate for reform, Brown initially sought change in a state Southern Baptist convention in Texas and then in 2006 shifted her attention to the entire Nashville-based SBC. Her attitude about her advocacy has changed over the years.  

“I will not apologize for my skepticism one bit. I think they have earned it, and it will be a long time before they re-earn any trust from me,” said Brown,…

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Three Women File Lawsuit Claiming the SBC and a Houston Megachurch ‘Enabled A Predator’

HOUSTON (TX)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

May 7, 2024

By Liz Lykins

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Three women are accusing the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and a megachurch in Houston of failing to protect them from a youth pastor who sexually abused them as minors, according to a lawsuit filed last month.

The women, referred to as “Jane Does,” allege the SBC and Champion Forest Baptist Church “invited, encouraged, and enabled a predator to be part of their trusted inner circle,” the lawsuit states. The women are asking for more than a million dollars in damages.

The women were 14, 15, and 16 when former youth pastor Timothy Jeltema started to sexually abuse them, the lawsuit states. The women claim the pastor took advantage of his position of power to do so.

Jeltema is currently in prison after pleading guilty to child sex crimes in 2022, The Roys Report (TRR) previously reported. He was sentenced to five years for two charges of online…

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Southern Baptists, losing members, find solace in baptisms and better attendance

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

May 7, 2024

By Bob Smietana

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While membership in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination is down, participation in worship and baptisms went up in 2023. But a new statistical report found that many Southern Baptist Convention churches do little to address sexual abuse.

The bad news for Southern Baptists is that the denomination, the nation’s largest Protestant group, shrunk in 2023, with a drop of about a quarter-million people.

The good news, according to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual statistical report, is that the decline slowed from 2022. In addition, of those who remained, more went to church and more newcomers took the plunge to get baptized.

The SBC’s 2024 Annual Church Profile, released Tuesday (May 7), showed that membership dropped to 12.9 million members, the lowest since the late 1970s. Having peaked at 16.3 million in 2006, membership has been in decline ever since, with nearly 3.5 million members in total lost. About half of…

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