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.

January 2, 2012

Mater Dolorosa Church in Holyoke marks six-month anniversary of its 24-hour vigil

HOLYOKE (MA)
The Republican

By Jeanette DeForge, The Republican

HOLYOKE – The New Year brought a celebration of a different kind at the Mater Dolorosa Church where more than 100 people gathered to recognize the six-month anniversary of a round-the-clock vigil held to save the church.

Friends of Mater Dolorosa – formed shortly after the last Mass was said at the Maple Street church in June – gathered inside the church to say prayers and sing in Polish and English. They shared food and hugged.

Throughout the six months of arranging a schedule to make sure at least two people are in the church at all times, huddling in blankets to stay warm in the heatless building and battling with Springfield Roman Catholic Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell, the group has grown stronger and remains determined, said Shirley Anop, of Chicopee, a long-time member.

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

Catholic priest’s defense to target gambling

NEVADA
Las Vegas Review-Journal

By Doug McMurdo
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Posted: Jan. 2, 2012

When Kevin McAuliffe appears in federal court Jan. 13, the Catholic priest’s addiction to gambling will be used as an argument for leniency in his sentencing for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his Summer­lin parish.

His attorney, Margaret Stanish, has hired an expert who will offer testimony about gambling and his assessment of McAuliffe as a pathological gambler. The expert, Dr. Timothy Fong, is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and on the staff of UCLA’s Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He treats problem gamblers with a combination of pharmacology and psychotherapy, trying to rewire brains that can’t shake the feeling the next bet is going to yield a big payday.

According to court papers, Fong will tell Mahan that the former monsignor, in addition to being a pathological gambler, suffers from major depression and social anxiety.

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

Lawsuit accuses Catholic priest of sexual assault

MONTANA
Great Falls Tribune

[the lawsuit via BishopAccountability.org]

BILLINGS — A Northern Cheyenne woman has filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, contending she was sexually abused as a young girl by a popular priest at the St. Labre Mission School in Ashland between 1955 and 1962.

The lawsuit seeking unspecified damages was filed Friday in Cascade County District Court in Great Falls. It also names as defendants the Order of Friars Minor, the Capuchin Order and the school.

Rev. Emmett Hoffmann is not named as a defendant but is identified as the reason for the lawsuit. The 85-year-old Hoffmann retired in 1993 and lives in Ashland.

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

Priest back after false abuse claim

IRELAND
Kerryman

Sunday January 01 2012

A priest wrongly accused of sexual abuse has returned to full ministry.

Father Sean Cahill voluntarily stood down from duties at St Malachy’s Church in Castlewellan after the claim was made against him in early 2010.

In August last year it emerged that no charges would be brought against the priest.

Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor welcomed Fr Cahill back to ministry at St Malachy’s at Sunday morning’s Mass.

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

Chaput Wants To List Historic Archbishop Residence For Sale

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
CBS Philly

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput is seeking to sell the large estate in Overbrook where he lives. Word of the sale comes as a blue ribbon commission prepares to recommend the closing of dozens of parish schools.

A source in the archdiocese says the proposal to sell the archbishops’ residence has been presented to the priests’ counsel and the finance counsel and now has only to be approved by the Vatican.

The eight-plus acre estate has been home to the archdiocese chief since 1935 but the source says the bishop does not want to continue to live in such splendor when he is about to ask area Catholics to accept sacrifices in the educational system.

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

More Time: NY should extend statute of limitations on child sexual abuse

NEW YORK
The Post-Standard

By The Post-Standard Editorial Board

The sexual abuse charges against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and the allegations of abuse by former assistant Syracuse University basketball coach Bernie Fine have drawn attention to a reality children’s advocates have long known: Victims of child sexual abuse often wait years before talking about the incidents.

In New York, that means many victims wait too long to be able to seek justice in the courts. Under current state law, the statute of limitations for most sexual felonies involving child victims is five years after the victim turns 18. Bobby Davis, the first person to accuse Fine of sexually abusing him as a child, was 30 when he first reported the alleged abuse in 2002. Mike Lang, who accused Fine in November, is also too old to seek criminal or civil charges in New York.

It’s not unusual for people to go decades without telling anybody about troubling sexual abuse, experts say. Complicated feelings of shame, guilt and fear make it difficult for some to talk about it at all. That means some perpetrators may go free, possibly to abuse others.

New attention to the issue should propel the state Legislature next session to extend the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse and allow more victims to seek justice in the courts.

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

Rebuilding From the Ruins: Cardinal O’Malley on the 2002 Boston Sex-Abuse Scandal and Aftermath

BOSTON (MA)
National Catholic Register

by JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND
01/02/2012

A decade ago, the Boston clergy sexual abuse crisis engulfed the archdiocese, ultimately drawing global attention to a once-hidden scourge that has destroyed the innocence of minors, shattered families, severely damaged the credibility of Church leaders everywhere and led to an estimated $1 billion in settlements to American survivors.

Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley was named archbishop of Boston in 2003. He replaced Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned after the 2002 publication of archdiocesan personnel files revealed that clergy with credible allegations of child sexual abuse were reassigned to new parishes, rather than removed from ministry, and that parishioners were not warned about their history.

In a two-part interview with Register senior editor Joan Frawley Desmond, Cardinal O’Malley discusses a range of topics, from the path to healing and spiritual reconciliation for survivors, to rebuilding the moral credibility of the Church, and penalties for bishops that neglect to protect the innocent.

When he arrived in Boston nine years ago, then-Archbishop O’Malley had already addressed clergy sexual abuse scandals in two other dioceses. In 1992, he was appointed to the nearby Diocese of Fall River, Mass., where then-Father James Porter would subsequently receive an 18- to 20-year prison sentence for sexually abusing 28 children.

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

Priest back in ministry following abuse probe

NORTHERN IRELAND
Belfast Telegraph

By Amanda Poole
Monday, 2 January 2012

A Catholic priest who had been at the centre of abuse allegations dating back to the 1970s has been restored to his full ministry.

Father Sean Cahill from the dioceses of Down and Connor had always denied wrongdoing and voluntarily stepped aside in February 2010 while the PSNI investigated allegations against him.

In August 2011, the PSNI confirmed no prosecution has been directed against Fr Cahill, who had been working in Castlewellan, Co Down when he stood down.

At Mass yesterday Bishop Noel Treanor told the congregation at St Malachy’s Church in Castlewellan he was “delighted” to welcome Fr Cahill back to his priestly ministry, “with an unblemished character”.

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

Woman Files Sexual Abuse Suit Against Catholic Diocese

MONTANA
KFBB

[the lawsuit via BishopAccountability.org]

By KFBB News Team

Story Created: Jan 2, 2012

The Roman Catholic Church is coming under fire again in another sexual abuse case.

The latest lawsuit accusing the church of sexual abuse was filed Friday in Cascade County District Court.

A Northern Cheyenne woman from Ashland is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings. She claims a priest abused her at the St. Labre Mission School between 1955 and 1962.

The woman is seeking unspecified damages. Other defendants named in the suit include the Order of Friars Minor, the Capuchin Order and the St. Labre School.

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

Editorial: Comfort and help for abuse victims

WISCONSIN
The Sheboygan Press

The bold move by a group of Catholic priests — including two from Sheboygan — to work with and help victims of clergy sexual abuse gives all victims hope that they can receive justice.

The Rev. James Connell, pastor of Sheboygan’s Holy Name and St. Clement parishes, and the Rev. Richard Cerpich, who serves St. Peter Claver parish, recognized that the Catholic Church needed to do more to reach out to abuse victims.

Last week, they and abuse victims, including Vicky Schneider of Sheboygan, took out full-page ads to remind victims that the deadline for filing claims against the church is less than a month away.

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

January 1, 2012

SNAP Hypocrisy Shocker: SNAP’s Clohessy Fights Court-Ordered Deposition

MISSOURI
TheMediaReport

The strident National Catholic Reporter has exclusively reported that a Missouri judge is forcing David Clohessy, the national president of SNAP, to appear at a deposition, and Clohessy is vehemently fighting the order.

A judge has told Clohessy and SNAP to turn over all of their documents related to the case of an accused priest. According to the Reporter, these demanded documents may include:

press releases or press release drafts;
correspondence with members of the press;
any correspondence with the victim named in the lawsuit;
any correspondence from members of the public “that discuss or relates to repressed memory”;
and more.

Clohessy and his legal help are frantically fighting this court order, weakly claiming that the deposition could have “a huge chilling effect on helping child sex abuse victims at every stage.”

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

The Not-So-Magic Leap Between Car Booster Seats and Child Sex Abuse

CALIFORNIA
The Worthy Adversary

Posted by Joelle Casteix on January 1, 2012

I am not (usually) an angry person, but today, my head is about to explode.

I opened the paper this morning to find out that my son and every other child in the state of California must be in a car booster seat until age eight or until they are 4-foot-9. My son is five. He will turn eight at the end of the second grade.

I’m not going to go into the sheer hassle, expense and waste this will cause parents who carpool sports teams, have multiple young children, allow their children to attend field trips, encourage play date companions, etc. Nor will I mention that this legislation flies DIRECTLY in the face of California’s push for higher MPG cars (because many families will be FORCED to buy bigger cars for the four or five carseats that they must now cart with them everywhere. And you can’t fit more than two car seats in the Prius).

But I will say this: I am my son’s parent. Not the State of California.

It is MY decision how to educate my child, how to feed him, clothe him, discipline him (and he is a very good boy), help him create his moral foundation, and/or take (or in my case NOT take) him to church. It is not the government’s job. Period.

But wait, there’s more! My outrage gets a little more personal.

I have to wonder, what happens between age eight, when my kid is still stuffed in a car seat, and ages 9, 10, 13, or 15 when officials at JSerra and Mater Dei High Schools, Penn State and Syracuse Universities, and the Archdioceses of Philadelphia and Los Angeles deem that if my kid is sexually assaulted, it must be my kid’s fault (or not really a crime at all)? My son goes from car seat occupant to sexual provocateur overnight? To add insult to injury, many of these officials and their paid spokespeople blame the victims’ parents for the fact that their children were raped.

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

Complaint: Jane Doe 1 v. Capuchins and Diocese of Great Falls-Billings

GREAT FALLS (MT)
Montana Eighth Judicial Court – Cascade County

Posted on December 30, 2011
in the Billings Gazette

1.1 Plaintiff suffered physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by Father Emmett Hoffmann, who was employed by the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin, the St. Labre Mission School, and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Great FallslBillings (hereinafter referred to as “the Bishop”). Plaintiff was then a minor in the care, custody, and control of the St. Labre Mission School, and/or Father Hoffmann, and the Bishop.
. . .

4.1 From approximately 1955 until 1962, Plaintiff was a minor and student at the St. Labre Mission School in Ashland, Montana.

4.2. From approximately 1955 until 1962, Plaintiff was victimized physically, sexually, and emotionally by Father Emmett Hoffmann at the St. Labre Parish and School.

4.3 While inflicting corporal punishment upon Plaintiff, Father Emmett Hoffmann removed Plaintiff’s panties and rubbed her buttocks before and after he spanked her. Father Emmett Hoffmann would tell Plaintiff that God told him to punish her in that manner.

4.4 From approximately 1955 until 1962 and sometime after the incidents described in paragraph 4.3 began, Father Emmett Hoffmann exposed himself to Plaintiff and made her touch and rub his penis.

4.5 Sometime between approximately 1955 through 1962, Father Emmett Hoffman digitally penetrated Plaintiff’s vagina and on at least one occasion digitally penetrated Plaintiff’s anus.

4.6 Sometime between approximately 1955 through 1962, the incidents of sexual abuse perpetrated by Father Emmett Hoffmann upon Plaintiff progressed in scope and severity and included acts of sexual intercourse that were unwanted and unconsented to by Plaintiff, a minor under the age of eighteen.

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

Priest back after false abuse claim

NORTHERN IRELAND
Irish Independent

By David Young

Sunday January 01 2012

A priest wrongly accused of sexual abuse has returned to full ministry.

Father Sean Cahill voluntarily stood down from duties at St Malachy’s church in Castlewellan after the claim was made against him in early 2010.

In August last year it emerged that no charges would be brought against the priest.

Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor welcomed Fr Cahill back to ministry at St Malachy’s at this morning’s mass.

Bishop Treanor said the unfounded allegation had had a devastating impact but stressed the priest returned with his character unblemished.

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

Bisschoppen vlogen met ‘spijt’ meteen uit de bocht

NEDERLAND
Trouw

English translation of title:
Bishops flew with ‘regret’ right off the road

Kerkleiders zijn er niet klaar voor om misbruikonheil het hoofd te bieden. Hun woorden zijn als een schild waar niets door komt.

Eigenlijk ging het in de eerste alinea al mis. De bisschopen openden hun brief over seksueel misbruik met de zinsnede ‘kwetsbaar en klein is God bij ons gekomen, zo klinkt het in de eerste prefatie van de Advent’. Ze spraken ook over Maria en Jozef, ‘bij wie Jezus veilig en geborgen is, ook tijdens de angstige en onzekere dagen in de kindertijd’. Zo vlogen de bisschoppen meteen helemaal uit de bocht.

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

Manager De Hoeksteen stopt ermee

NEDERLAND
de Gelderlander

English translation of title:
The manager of the Cornerstone parish center in Elst will resign

ELST – Yvonne Vos, manager van parochiecentrum De Hoeksteen in Elst en voorzitter van de pastoraatsgroep, legt per 1 januari haar taken neer.

Vos nam afscheid tijdens de viering in de RK kerk te Elst waar een bisschoppelijke brief over het seksueel misbruik binnen de katholieke kerk werd voorgelezen. Haar besluit om functies neer te leggen, heeft daar niets mee te maken, benadrukt Vos in een interview, zaterdag in dagblad De Gelderlander.

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

Priest back after false abuse claim

NORTHERN IRELAND
The Press Association

A priest wrongly accused of sexual abuse has returned to full ministry.

Father Sean Cahill voluntarily stood down from duties at St Malachy’s Church in Castlewellan after the claim was made against him in early 2010.

In August last year it emerged that no charges would be brought against the priest.

Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor welcomed Fr Cahill back to ministry at St Malachy’s at Sunday morning’s Mass.

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

Report: Warren Jeffs, in prison, bans sex

UTAH/TEXAS
UPI

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 31 (UPI) — A follower of Warren Jeffs said the polygamous church leader ordered his followers not to have sex while he is in a Texas prison.

The member said he was excommunicated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for having sex with his wife, CNN reported. The man has asked that his name not be used.

Jeffs was sentenced to life plus 20 years in Texas for the aggravated sexual assault of two “spiritual wives,” one 12 and the other 15.

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

Apocalypse Now? Warren Jeffs’ New Years deadline approaches

UTAH
Fox 13

Ben Winslow, Reporter
Fox 13

HILDALE, Utah—
A deadline set by Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs for his members to reaffirm their commitment to the faith is prompting some people to walk away from the polygamous church on the Utah-Arizona border.

Other FLDS members are simply vanishing once they are re-committed to the faith, ex-members and observers told FOX 13.

Jeffs, who is imprisoned in Texas for child sex assault related to underage marriages, has ordered his followers to be questioned by FLDS leaders. They’ve had to fill out questionnaires, confess their sins and be re-baptized into the faith, only after church elders deem them worthy, ex-members said.

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

Bill Nemitz: Church ignores scandal in ‘welcome home’ ads

MAINE
Maine Sunday Telegram

If ever there was a window into the state of the modern-day Roman Catholic Church, it’s my inbox.

Over the past few days, I’ve received three emails having to do with the faith in which I grew up back when daily Mass attracted a crowd, all five Sunday Masses were packed and a nun in full habit presided over every classroom.

“Just Hours to Go: Give Now to Hold Bishops Accountable in 2012,” implored bishopaccountability.org in its end-of-the-year appeal for a tax deductible donation. Fifty dollars, it promised, will help “obtain and post 250 pages of once-secret church abuse files and other crucial documents” for all the world to see.

“One More Day,” echoed Voice of the Faithful in its request for money to help work toward optional celibacy for priests, deaconships for women and eternal protection for children from sexual abuse by priests, to name but a few of their causes.

And then there was this from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine: “Media Campaign Welcomes Catholics Home.”

The first two messages, truth be told, have appeared regularly in the decade since revelations of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests scorched parishes from Maine to California and, more recently, around the world.

But the “Media Campaign Welcomes Catholics Home”? In these parts, as diocese communication director Sue Bernard noted in her news release, that’s a “first-time ever television event.”

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

Bob Jones University to review sex abuse policy

SOUTH CAROLINA
Greenville Online

By Ron Barnett
| Staff Writer

Bob Jones University will review its policies and procedures for dealing with allegations of sex abuse in order to make sure they “fully comply with the law and ensure a loving, scripturally based response,” according to a statement posted on the school’s website.

The review, which was called for by BJU President Stephen Jones, comes “as a result of recent national media reports of the mishandling of sexual abuse,” the statement says.

“When I — or any member of the BJU family — hears of sexual abuse, we grieve for the victim,” Jones said in the statement. “The scars of abuse are deep, long-lasting and life-altering, and our hearts ache for every individual who’s been abused by a predator.”

The school was drawn into controversy earlier this year when ABC’s 20/20 reported on a 1997 rape case that involved a 15-year-old girl and a male member of a Concord, N.H., church whose pastor was a member of BJU’s Cooperating Board of Trustees.

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

Northern Cheyenne woman accuses Montana priest of sexual assault in lawsuit

MONTANA
The Republic

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
First Posted: December 31, 2011

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Northern Cheyenne woman has filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings contending she was sexually abused as a young girl by a popular priest at the St. Labre Mission School in Ashland between 1955 and 1962.

The lawsuit seeking unspecified damages was filed Friday in Cascade County District Court in Great Falls. It also names as defendants the Order of Friars Minor, the Capuchin Order and the school.

Rev. Emmett Hoffmann is not named as a defendant but is identified as the reason for the lawsuit. The 85-year-old Hoffmann retired in 1993 and lives in Ashland.

Hoffman did not return a call Saturday from The Associated Press, and a message left at the retirement home where he lives was not returned. A message left at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings was also not returned.

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

Retired Ashland priest accused in sexual abuse complaint

MONTANA
KTVQ

BILLINGS- A legal complaint was filed Friday in the Cascade County District Court in Great Falls by a Northern Cheyenne tribal member claiming she was abused as a young girl by a popular Catholic priest in the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

The woman, who is choosing to remain anonymous, says Fr. Emmett Hoffmann sexually abused her from the mid-1950’s to the early 1960’s.

That information was sent out in a press release this weekend by the defendant’s attorney, Vito de la Cruz (of a Yakima, Washington law firm), and claims the abuse began as a form of discipline and evolved into penetration and eventually rape.

In the release from Vito de la Cruz, Hoffmann is described as a hero in the eyes of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe:

“…hailed by some as a priest who did good things for the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe. The subject of the book, The Renegade Priest, depicts Hoffmann’s success in converting tribal members to Catholicism. In 1961, Hoffmann (called “Father Emmett” by his faithful), was made an honorary Chief of the Northern Cheyenne Council of 44.”

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

Woman accuses Montana priest of sexual assault

MONTANA
KXLH

Updated: Jan 1, 2012

A Northern Cheyenne tribal member alleges she was sexually abused more than 50 years ago by a well known priest while attending school in Southeastern Montana.

The victim, listed as Jane Doe to protect her identity, accuses Father Emmett Hoffmann of molesting and raping her over a period of time.

The complaint was filed Friday against St. Labre Mission School and the Roman Catholic Bishop Diocese of Great Falls – Billings, among other groups.

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