Friday, January 2, 2009The most under-reported clergy sex abuse stories of 2008 - a baker’s dozen
(Topics include the papal visit, pedophile nuns, Baptist officials, an Episcopal bishop, the USCCB president, abusive bishops, lawsuit settlements, on-going secrecy, the National Review Board, President George H. Bush’s church and re-offending offenders)
• Despite the hype and nice words, papal visit changes nothing
He won kudos for talking about clergy sex abuse during his spring trip to the US. (Catholic should “do everything possible” to heal wounds caused by pedophile priests, Benedict said. And bishops should “bind up the wounds,” admitting that the crisis had been “badly handled.”) But as best we can tell, that visit has been ignored, by
* bishops, who have changed nothing about how they handle abuse, and
* journalists, who haven’t even asked “Did the Pope’s words have any impact whatsoever.”
• Congressional chaplain oversaw predator priests & tried to get one out of jail
In the fall, a Washington DC newspaper, Roll Call, disclosed that US House of Representatives chaplain Fr. Daniel Coughlin spent ten years “at the center of the Chicago Archdiocese’s efforts to manage priests who had been accused of sexual abuse.” For five years, he ran “a Catholic facility where the archdiocese sent priests who were suspected of committing sexual offenses.”
In subsequent interviews, Coughlin makes no mention of ever notifying police or parishioners about the accused clerics. That’s not surprising, since his boss Cardinal Francis George, admitted under oath this year that never, in 48 years as a priest, did he call the police about a child molesting clergyman. If Coughlin did, we’d love to see the proof.
In 1999, Coughlin wrote a letter to Wisconsin prison officials, urging them to free Fr. Norbert Maday, a convicted, imprisoned serial predator. In a deposition given this year, George said, “I have never seen this (letter) before ... I didn’t approve this letter.” We’ve asked George to discipline Coughlin for making this unauthorized, reckless move. George has not responded.
• Suspended and unsupervised, dozens of predator priests commit more crimes
Recently, and especially over the past year, more and more suspended unsupervised pedophile priests have begun to commit more subsequent crimes. This proves what history, psychology and common sense have long indicated (and we in SNAP have long said): merely removing a child molesting cleric from ‘active duty’ doesn’t ‘cure’ him. These men remain dangerous.
Cases like these and dozens more, show that it’s irresponsible for church officials to do the bare minimum: suspend predatory priests but refuse to house and/or supervise them.
For a list of these publicly disclosed cases over the last few months, go to http://www.snapmidwest.org/FACTSHEET061208.htm
• In 2008, Cardinal George secretly keeps pedophile pal on payroll, breaking 5 year old pledge
“He won't be coming back to Chicago, obviously." That’s what Cardinal Francis George, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, promised in 2003 when he was caught with a convicted pedophile priest
* working in his archdiocese and
* living part time in the Cardinal’s mansion
The trouble is the predator apparently never left. Until two months ago, he was still working in Chicago.
In October 2008, the Chicago Sun Times disclosed that five years after making this pledge, George still let Fr. Kenneth J. Martin, a friend of his, secretly work for the archdiocese. In 2001 Martin pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a boy. In September 2008, he was defrocked by the Vatican. (No church official anywhere made any announcement, however.) Still, George quietly kept paying him.
Note that Martin was initially exposed as living with and working for George in 2003, more than six months after America’s bishops promised a) to never let pedophile priests work in ministry and b) to be open’ about clergy sex cases. Back then, George violated both pledges. He continues to do so even now.
This is one of the most stunning, deceptive and reckless cases we’ve seen in recent years. (But the Chicago Tribune hasn’t printed a word about Martin since 2003.)
• America’s largest Protestant denomination rejects predator database
The largest Protestant denomination in the land refused to even try to implement any system of record-keeping on credibly-accused clergy child molesters. Southern Baptists claim 16.2 million members, and they have 101,000 clergy in this country. Yet, they provide no clergy oversight mechanism nor any tracking system -- deficiencies that allow child-molesting Baptist clergy to roam unstopped from church to church.
http://www.abpnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3719&Itemid=53• Secret settlements still happen & predators aren’t ‘outed’
Bishops want us to believe they no longer make quiet settlements and never disclose the predators’ identities. But they still do.
- In New York City, Jesuits at Fordham University and Fordham prep (and New York archdiocesan officials) kept silent for years about credible abuse allegations against two prominent priests: Msgr. Eugene O’Brien and Msgr. Roy Drake. The Jesuits secretly paid a settlement to one of O’Brien’s victims and secretly moved Drake to a pedophile priest center in Missouri. The accusations surfaced at a SNAP news conference in October 2008, O’Brien is still alive and believed to be living in Manhattan. Drake died recently.
- The US Bishops Conference sent a brief, confidential notice to all American bishops warning them about a Newark priest, Fr. Daniel Medina, who has been suspended since 2002 and has been instructed to no longer present himself as a priest in public.( In church circles, this language is used to describe alleged or confirmed pedophile priests.) When SNAP disclosed this at a news conference in September, Newark diocesan officials confirmed that Medina was arrested in 2004 on unspecified charges of abusing a boy and pleaded guilty this summer.
- In Santa Rosa California, Bishop Daniel Walsh paid a victim of Fr. Thomas Parker a $ 215,000 in September. Walsh kept silent abou
t it, even though Parker had never been accused of molesting kids before.
The identities of these credibly accused child molesting clerics was disclosed only because of brave survivors and persistent journalists. Families now know about these dangerous men in spite of, not because of church officials (despite their repeated promises to be ‘open’ about clergy sex cases).
This secrecy even extends to cases involving already-disclosed perpetrators. In December 2008, for instance, the Paterson NJ diocese admitted, when confronted, that it had paid another settlement to the seventh known victim of Fr. Ronald Tully.
• For once, a church disciplines a bishop for covering up abuse
For perhaps the first time in US history, a bishop has been disciplined by his denomination for covering up child sexual abuse.
This fall, after a full church trial, Bishop Charles Bennison of Philadelphia was ousted by the Episcopal Church for concealing child molestation by his brother, Fr. John Bennison in California years before.
Contrast this case with another one involving two ordained Episcopalian brothers: the Baumans. Ward Bauman directs the Episcopal House of Prayer, a retreat center on the grounds of a Catholic seminary in Minnesota. He repeatedly hires his brother Lynn Bauman to lead retreats there, even though Lynn is an admitted and convicted child molester and defrocked clergyman.)
• Two firsts: a Catholic panel calls a bishop a predator & another bishop pays his own victimsNearly 20 bishops are accused of molesting kids themselves (in addition to covering up sex crimes by other clergy).
Though most bishops who have abused children continue to escape consequences and live unmonitored among unsuspecting neighbors and families, there were two encouraging developments in this area this year.
In November, for the first time ever, a church panel has looked at abuse allegations against a bishop and deemed them credible. The Davenport Iowa review board determined that now retired Sioux City Bishop Laurence Soens molested several boys when he was a priest in their diocese. (He’s accused of abusing at least 31 boys.)
(This raises the question: What’s up with the other review boards? Why have they ignored these cases? Why haven’t they probed these allegations?)
And for the first time in history (as best we can tell), a bishop has paid a portion of the settlements his victims received. In December, Springfield Massachusetts Bishop Thomas Dupre (who resigned in 2004 because of abuse allegations against him) paid an undisclosed sum to help resolve two civil lawsuits against him.
(Contrast this with Bishop Joseph Hart of Wyoming. Six child sex abuse lawsuits against him have been settled in Kansas City, where he molested kids as a priest. Yet through his lawyer, he denies any wrongdoing. A wing of a children’s home was named in honor of him, even after he was sued for abuse. It bears his name today.
http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2008/08/20/local_news_updates/20local_08-20-08.txt• The ‘watch dog’ has become a ‘lap dog’
The nearly-invisible National Review Board was criticized in December, when its head, Michael Merz, authored a controversial op ed in the Boston Globe.
But think about this: when was the last time you saw or heard or read about a single member of this panel say a single critical comment about a single case or bishop? It just doesn’t happen anymore, not since 2003 when Frank Keating and Ann Burke spoke out.
In the November issue of St. Anthony’s Messenger, Merz claimed the Pope’s visit “has changed things” and “I don’t see how any bishop could say he doesn’t have time to meet with survivors. You know if the pope’s got time, any bishop ought to have time.”
A month later, Merz was asked by two groups to lean on a bishop who refused, for three years, to meet with them, the judge immediately demurred, saying the board does not respond directly to local issues and has “never been involved in local matters."
Putting Merz aside, take a closer look at the individuals who are now playing key roles while serving as the "watchdogs" for the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
At first, the National Review Board (NRB) was headed by former Governor Frank Keating, a truly independent, outspoken, high profile ex-prosecutor. Later, the NRB is chaired by Nicholas Cafardi, a less independent, quiet, low profile defense lawyer. (Merz, the current head, has held several key positions in the Cincinnati archdiocese, one of the nation’s most corrupt.)
As a former U.S. Attorney, Keating investigated and prosecuted criminal cases. As a defense attorney, Carfardi represents a Catholic bishop.
Keating never got a paycheck from the church. Cafardi represents several Catholic religious orders and teaches at a Catholic university.
Keating spoke out when he saw bishops dissembling and attempting to back pedal. Cafardi was remained silent.
Keating repeatedly made public comments designed to prod bishops toward real reform. Cafardi did not.
Keating believed in studies and research. But he didn’t hesitate to bluntly call backsliding bishops to task. Cafardi remained silent.
The Director's job at the bishop's Office of Child and Youth Protection (OCYP) was originally held by a former FBI official. Later, the OCYP deputy, Sheila Kelly, is a long time church insider, having served as a Chancery official for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Now the office is held by Teresa Kettlekamp. Ever recall her saying anything critical of bishops?
In December 2004, the bishops appointed five new board members to their 14-person NRB panel.
The outgoing board members included: a former White House chief of staff, a former governor, a former legal counsel to the President of the United States, an Appeals Court judge (and child welfare expert), and the CEO of a major newspaper chain. (Outgoing board members: the Hon. Leon E. Panetta, Governor Frank Keating, Robert S. Bennett, Justice Anne M. Burke, and William R. Burleigh)
The new board members included: an educational consultant, a doctor at a Catholic hospital, a magistrate judge, and two lawyers. (New board members: Dr. Patricia O'Donnell Ewers, Dr. Angelo P. Giardino, Judge Michael Merz, United States Magistrate Judge; Ralph I. Lancaster, and Joseph Russoniello)
Board member Russoniello's first public comment about the Church's sex abuse crisis is disturbing. He argued against publicly naming known, admitted, and suspected abusive priests. "My experience tells me it's easy to make an accusation -- especially from a deranged, angry, vengeful person striking out against an authority figure," he said. (November 12, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle, "Levada takes heat over abuse inquiry/Panel member resigns, says church suppressed results," by Don Lattin).
Consider the public comments of those NRB members who have left:
Frank Keating wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece of his "frustration over the efforts of a small minority of church leaders to obstruct the workings of the board. When we asked valid questions, they gave us few or no answers. Where information and cooperation was called for, we received delay or an outright refusal to help."
When dozens of bishops wanted to scuttle the entire "audit" process, Justice Anne Burke commented, "We were manipulated. Those who said bishops were never serious about breaking free from the ... bad judgments of the past will be vindicated."
Former White House Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta, stated, "These dioceses are separate fiefdoms. It's an almost medieval organization we're dealing with. Each bishop runs his own fiefdom. There is very little communication between those dioceses and bishops and indeed, very little communication between bishops and the Vatican. The basic culture that developed is, 'We take care of our own, we really don't want to open ourselves up to being questioned by others.'"
But it’s been years since we’ve heard such "tough talk" from any of the existing NRB members; much less see any concrete action toward reform.
• Baptist General Convention of Texas keeps secret file with child-molesting clergy.
The largest state-wide Baptist organization in the land -- an organization with 5500 affiliated churches -- keeps a confidential file of ministers reported by churches for sexual abuse. (It doesn't consider abuse reports from the victims themselves.) Though it has publicly admitted that the file includes ministers reported for child molestation, the Texas convention doesn't remove the men from active ministry and doesn't inform people in the pews.
• Ex-head of California Southern Baptist Convention kept quiet about child sex case
According to lawsuit documents, a Southern Baptist pastor in California, Wayne Stockstill, wrote in a letter that he "erred on the side of grace" in keeping quiet about a deacon's reported sexual abuse of children. Stockstill is a recent two-term president of the California Southern Baptist Convention, a fact that was virtually completely overlooked in news accounts.
• Nuns continue to shun victims & essentially ignore abuse crisis
For years, many looked at each new pedophile priest case as some kind of isolated aberration. This assumption proved to be terribly misguided at best and downright reckless at worst. Thanks to brave victims and determined journalists, we now know that hundreds of thousands of clergy sex crimes have been and are still being concealed.
Nevertheless, many now look at each new child molesting nun story in the same wrong-headed way, naively assuming “well, this can’t be as bad as the pedophile priest crisis.”
The truth is: we don’t and can’t know, especially because the leadership of America’s nuns won’t disclose secrets or figures, or urge victims of abusive nuns to come forward, get help and call the police.
For the past four years, SNAP members have contacted (in writing and in person) the nation’s largest organization of nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, seeking both a dialogue and real action to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. The organization has basically shunned us.
• Settlements reached, promises made, then ignored or delayed
Under pressure, dioceses sometimes reach settlements with victims. (These often happen on the eve of a potentially embarrassing civil trial in which top church officials will have to face tough questions under oath in open court about their complicity.)
But when it comes time to honor their commitments, bishops often drag their feet.
In August 2008, the Kansas City diocese reached a settlement with 47 victims in August. Victims insisted that church officials write to 50 state licensing agencies, warning them about Fr. Thomas Reardon. (In recent years, Reardon has worked as a drug and alcohol counselor. He faces more civil child sex abuse lawsuits than any other clergyman in Missouri.) The diocese agreed, but four months later, they still haven’t honored this pledge.
In Aug. 2007, South Carolina diocesan officials announced the settlement of a class action lawsuit involving 11 victims of allegedly predatory Catholic employees (priests & parochial school teachers). Sixteen months later, they still haven’t paid.
For months, church figures have given conflicting explanations for why they haven’t met the deadlines to distribute the settlement. In March 2008, a separate lawsuit was filed against the diocese for its breach of contract. But church officials continue to refuse to pay.
And we should point out that 1.5 years after the Los Angeles archdiocese settled more than 500 clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, and pledged to release long-secret church documents, no such records have yet been released.
• He imports dozens of predators & wins a promotion
There's a disturbing recent Rome promotion pattern: conceal abuse in the US, get elevated to the Vatican (see Levada, William and of course Law, Bernard). The latest example: Archbishop Raymond Burke who imported and concealed dozens of proven, admitted and credibly accused predators while archbishop of St. Louis yet was named a high ranking Vatican official in June.
While many of the sexually troubled priests are in housing and treatment centers in the St. Louis area, several (including Fr. Nicholas Voelker of the Wichita diocese, Fr. Joseph R. Monaghan of the Philadelphia archdiocese and Fr. Darell Mitchell of the Yakima diocese) have been quietly allowed to work in unsuspecting parishes.
One priest, an admitted child molester (Fr. Vincent Bryce), continues to work and live today directly across the street from St. Louis University. (Few, if any, in the college community have been warned about him.)
In addition to recklessly and secretly importing predators from elsewhere, Burke has acted similarly irresponsible with local pedophiles too. Two priests (Fr. Robert Osborne and Fr. Alex Anderson) still work today in archdiocesan parishes even though they’ve faced at least two allegations of abuse and at least one lawsuit against each has been settled.
• The USCCB president keeps violating charter & nothing happens
The Kenneth Martin case, described above, is just the tip of the iceberg in the Chicago Archdiocese. Just during the last year,
-- newly release secret church records and Cardinal George’s sworn deposition show that an accused serial predator priest, Fr. Joseph R. Bennett. Bennett was suspended from his suburban parish in 2006 only after at least a dozen of his victims had reported him to church authorities.
-- Those same documents show that George overruled the recommendations of his own hand-picked abuse panel and had him alleged and secretly (but ineffectively) ‘monitored’ by a fellow priest (Fr. Leonard Dubi) who is a close friend of Bennett’s. The two of them own property together in Indiana. They then took a trip to Mexico together.
-- George’s hand-picked abuse panel specifically, in two memos, urged George to NOT assign Dubi to this role. The Cardinal rejected their recommendation.
-- The same deposition and documents also reveal that George and his top staffers spent considerable time and effort secretly trying to win the early release of a convicted serial child predator, Fr. Norbert Maday, who is in a Wisconsin prison.
-- We suspect and fear there are or have been other jailed sex offender clerics who have gotten or are getting the Cardinal’s ‘behind the scenes’ help. We have asked George to stop it immediately, and to disclose if he’s taken similar reckless action with other pedophiles. He has ignored us.
--This fall, we publicly called on George to promise he’d never again try to get a convicted pedophile priest out of jail early. He has not responded.
-- We fear other accused child-molesting clergy are in still Chicago parishes right now, unbeknownst to parishioners, allegedly being ‘monitored’ by peers. We’ve asked George to disclose who and where they are and/or abide by the church’s national abuse policy and publicly suspend them. He has ignored us.
-- In the same documents, Fr. Edward Grace, the archdiocese’s Vicar for Priests. Grace, urged Bennett to essentially lie about birthmarks on his genitals to ‘beat’ multiple child sex abuse allegations before a lay church panel.
-- Also this fall, we asked George to discipline these ‘enablers’ – Dubi and Grace - whose deceit put kids in harm’s way.
Finally, many are familiar with the 2005-06 case of Fr. Daniel McCormack in Chicago. Five top church staff who were involved in the McCormack debacle have all essentially been promoted since then. Only one has been disciplined – the female school principal who actually called the police and reported McCormack’s crimes.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
David Clohessy, National Director Barbara Blaine, President
314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 312 399 4747