|LA Times Runs Puff Piece on Priest Who Transferred Pedophile to Mexico, Then San Joaquin
By Kay Ebeling
April 14, 2009
The L.A. Times wrote a glowing feature story about one of the "bystanders" in the Franciscan cases that finally ended April 2nd and nothing about the final rulings. If you had any doubt that the Times serves corporate interests over informing the people read "Protesting priest's path leads repeatedly to jail," from April 8th, a feature story the Times chose to run days after a monumental ruling in LA Superior Court in a years long legal battle that the Times had been covering until about a year ago. The Times ignored the ruling April 2nd ruling.
Adults who were raped as children and won civil lawsuits with the Franciscans of St. Barbara in 2006 were waiting for the religious order to come through with the second part of the settlement agreement, release of personnel files on the perpetrator friars. The Times had sent a reporter, John Spano, to every hearing until Spano left the Times. Apparently no one took Spano's place.
But then for the Times to ignore the Court Order and instead run a foot-kissing feature story is inexplainable, other than the Times is cowtowing to Catholic Church pressure over the people's right to know the truth. Here at L.A. City Buzz we had been scathing ourselves, here and here Remember the Franciscans of Santa Barbara produced at least 20 perpetrators in a fifty year period. Of their victims. 59 came back as adults and filed lawsuits, there are undoubtedly dozens more, maybe hundreds, damaged souls who happened to grow up near Santa Barbara or be sent to St. Anthony's Franciscan Seminary as teenage boys.
How one religious order could wreak havoc on a community, men coming up behind children and humping them openly - oh sorry that was another religious order in a different town. . . . There's so much sex crime against children in the Catholic Church, different towns, same MO with slightly different details - it's hard not to confuse them.
The Times had the same new information that I had about the final ruling from Judge Peter Lichtman, L.A. Superior Court finally ending the Franciscans' two year pillaging of the justice system and they have a lot more resources than I do. The Times didn't even run a short news blurb about the ruling. In the stuff I wrote, I was scathing and rightfully so, I am a survivor and I tell you up front, I am biased.
But I'm not the media giant that the L.A. Times is.
So probably five hundred people read the stories here about the ruling that finally ends the lawsuits against the Franciscans, though they were settled in 2006.
The Franciscans of Santa Barbara, with teams of attorneys for their defense fighting one plaintiff attorney,Tim Hale of Santa Barbara, were trying to keep the public from finding out the truth about crimes committed by the Franciscans brothers overseeing the perpetrator priests - claiming vows of poverty while flying around the state with their lawyers - and finally two weeks ago, Judge Lichtman called it to a halt, even warning in his order April 2 covered here April 4 in 2 parts
The final paragraph of Judge Lichtman's April 2nd could have been written through gritted teeth, Lichtman writes: "This Court notes that there is no reason for any further briefing regarding objections to the production and publication of the contested documents. This Court has addressed every argument raised by Defendant Franciscan Friars. In addition, this Court addressed every argument addressed by alleged perpetrators and the bystanders.
"In the interest of justice, this Court even applied the arguments raised by the alleged perpetrators and the bystanders to each of the contested documents. No further arguments remain. As such, the matter is resoved. Signed Judge Peter Lichtman, April 2, 2009."
So apparently the monk in brown robe with rope belt in charge of PR for the Franciscans picked up his phone and dialed one of the L.A. Times executives and pleaded for positive news coverage. What could they do? There is really only one friar who ever makes news and since it's for protesting against nuclear weapons and for world peace, it would be easy to send one of the college interns working for credit instead of pay to do the story.
Reporter Richard C. Paddock stories go back to 2007 in the L.A. Times database, maybe he is a veteran. Anyone who is still working at a mainstream newspaper is too stretched to do decent coverage. The story that ran April 9th about Father Vitale, the monk who shows up prenenially at peace demonstrations in what to me looks like astonishing self promotion. I guess these monks spend so much time in isolated prayer and fasting they have no idea how ridiculous they look to people on the outside.
The Times reporter Paddock wrote:
"Vitale explains in his gravelly voice that he had a higher purpose when he trespassed two years ago at Vandenberg Air Force Base: calling attention to the perils of nuclear war and persuading military personnel to embrace nonviolence.
"The biggest threat to the world is our nuclear arsenal," he tells Magistrate Judge Rita Coyne Federman.
More than two dozen family members and friends, including actor Martin Sheen, are in the courtroom to show support for the friar and his three co-defendants.
Okay here's where I have to stop and have a smoke or I'll give in to my gag reflex. You can read the LA TImes story here if you really want to: If you don't want to bother reading the LA Times story, let me just share this wonderful quote from Martin Sheen about Father Vitale:
"He's one of my heroes," said Sheen, a longtime friend who has been arrested with Vitale in Nevada. "He is one of the great peacemakers."
My God, I can see that LA Times guy just writing down whatever they say and printing it. That's journalism?
Tim Hale, the plaintiff attorney in Santa Barbara who fought the teams of Franciscan law firms and won, had this to say in response:
Fr. Vitale joined the Franciscan Order's Province of St. Barbara at a time when there was an explosion of sexual abuse of children by Franciscans, including the abuse of at least fifty-nine Santa Barbara children. Despite repeated opportunities to address this criminal conduct he has failed miserably. At least as early as 1982 Fr. Vitale found himself on the front lines of the sex-abuse scandal while serving as Provincial Minister.
HALE: Are children any less deserving of the passion for a cause Father Vitale devotes to protesting nuclear war?
That year one of the survivors of sexual abuse by Fr. Mario Cimmarrusti (22 known victims) reported his abuse to Fr. Vitale. Fr. Vitale said that he "was not surprised," and that "others had complained" about Fr. Cimmarrusti. Fr. Vitale also said that the Franciscans had sent Fr. Cimmarrusti to Mexico but that he got into similar trouble with the Mexican authorities, who wanted to throw Fr. Cimmarrusti in prison. Fr. Vitale did not specify what events except that they were of a sexual nature with children and that the Province had made arrangements with the Mexican authorities to have Fr. Cimmarrusti deported in lieu of serving prison time. Fr. Vitale told the survivor that Fr. Cimmarrusti had been assigned to a place where he would not come in contact with children, and offered assurances that Fr. Cimmarrusti would never be again be assigned to a ministry that would place Cimmarrusti in contact with children. However, in the early 1990's the survivor learned Fr. Cimmarrusti had in fact been transferred to a parish duties in the San Juaquin Valley without any warning to the community.
HALE: Vitale was given yet another opportunity to help prevent childhood sexual abuse by his fellow Franciscans. Fr. Vitale provided no warning to parishioners or the surrounding community
Similarly, while serving as pastor at St. Boniface in San Francisco in 2002, Fr. Vitale was given yet another opportunity to help prevent childhood sexual abuse by his fellow Franciscans. The Franciscans had previously settled a lawsuit for sexual abuse by Fr. Steve Kain in the 1990s. Nevertheless, when the Franciscans assigned Fr. Kain to St. Boniface, Fr. Vitale provided no warning to parishioners or the surrounding community.
Fr. Vitale's nonviolent protest against nuclear war and other societal ills is admirable. However, it is tragic he has not directed the same passion towards preventing childhood sexual abuse by his fellow Franciscans. Are children any less deserving of the passion for a cause Father Vitale devotes to protesting nuclear war?
The L.A. Times didn't write a paragraph, even though up to last year they had a seasoned report er with knowledge of the clergy cases, John Spano, covering the ongoing hearings between Franciscans law firm teams and Tim Hale fighting alone on behalf of the plaintiffs. Tim Hale won last week and the Times went looking for a positive story to run about the Franciscans.
They had to dig. There is one Santa Barbara Franciscan who pops up in the news like a carnival shooting target. Father Louis Vitale, who has been showing up at progressive demonstrations
"Dressed in the traditional brown robe and the knotted rope belt that signifies vows of poverty, chastity and obedience," writes the Times. From the days of Martin Luther King to last year when again as reported in the Times, "Vitale explains in his gravelly voice that he had a higher purpose when he trespassed two years ago at Vandenberg Air Force Base: calling attention to the perils of nuclear war and persuading military personnel to embrace nonviolence."
Oh give me a break says a friend of mine in Santa Barbara who has followed the fight with the Franciscans over their handling of pedophile brothers from the beginning.
Here is the extent of local news coverage, other than here at L.A. City Buzz, on the Court order re Franciscan privacy rights at the Injury Board website:
LOS ANGELES JUDGE ORDERS FRANCISCANS TO OPEN CLERGY FILES
InjuryBoard.com - řApr 6, 2009ř
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