Posts Tagged “child abuse”

The UConn Husky cries / PsiCop graphic, based on UConn logo by NikeSome correspondents complain that I focus too much on child abuse allegations in the Roman Catholic Church and ignore it when it happens elsewhere. This is, of course, a flat-out lie. I’ve blogged about accusations of child abuse among clergy in the Orthodox churches, Protestant churches, Orthodox Jews, and the Mennonites … among others (such as anti-gay activists). What happens is that the Catholic Church’s defenders read just one of my (admittedly many) posts on Catholic clergy abusing kids and assume — based on that one entry — that I’ve never, ever ever taken note of anything else. They don’t bother to do any research … which is easy enough, given this blog has a Search feature … to find out whether or not it’s the case. They just leap to that conclusion, due to their sanctimonious rage over some insolent agnostic heathen blogger daring to talk about the Catholic Church’s scandal.

The latest example of a child-abuse scandal, though, that I must comment on and cannot ignore, comes not from the Catholic Church. It doesn’t even come from any other religious institution. It comes, instead, from my alma mater: the University of Connecticut. The Hartford Courant reports on the investigation both into a music professor who may have abused kids while volunteering at a camp, and into how much UConn officials knew about what he’d been up to, and when (WebCite cached article):

The University of Connecticut will pay an outside law firm to investigate its own employees’ handling of allegations the school received as early as 2006 that a music professor engaged in sexual misconduct.

The school said it is cooperating in multiple law enforcement investigations into allegations against Robert Miller, 66, a former head of the music department who has worked at UConn since 1982. Miller was placed on administrative leave June 21 and barred from campus. He could not be reached for comment Monday. He is being paid his $135,741 salary and has not been charged with any crime.

However, investigations by UConn and state police are continuing – and now UConn’s Board of Trustees has asked state Attorney General George Jepsen to solicit proposals to retain an outside law firm to investigate whether UConn officials handled the allegations properly. The firm also would represent and advise UConn in an internal probe into whether it complied with federal Title IX procedures concerning sexual abuse allegations.…

Some of the alleged misconduct by Miller, according to court documents and Jepsen’s office, involved claims of improper physical contact with boys at a summer camp.

A spokesman for The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp in Ashford confirmed that Miller was a volunteer at the camp from 1989 to 1992 when the improper contact was alleged to have taken place.

“These events date back more than 20 years. At that time, the camp immediately removed Mr. Miller from his position,” Ryan Thompson, the organization’s senior development officer, said in an emailed statement. “When the current investigation began several months ago, it was unclear whether the matter was reported to the appropriate authorities at that time. Therefore, the camp immediately made a report to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families and has continued to cooperate fully with authorities.”

The focus of the investigation is on Miller’s activities at the camp, however, the possibility he might have been involved with UConn students has been broached:

Authorities also are investigating a statement that a student made to a UConn faculty member soon after news of Miller’s suspension last month “that the student was not surprised to hear” of the investigation “because the faculty member was known to have visited freshman dorms, provided drugs to students and had sex with students.”

The latter statement appears in Jepsen’s 40-page request for law firms’ proposals to do the investigation. It also says that the faculty member who reported the student’s comment “also indicated that the faculty member now being investigated was known to have a history of having sex with boys.”

This whole situation is just intolerable. It’s possible that university personnel might have known about Miller as long ago as 2006. If so, it will have been 7 years that UConn might knowingly have had a child predator in its faculty.

As for the R.C. Church … I’m sure a lot of their apologists are jumping for joy, pointing to this case, and screaming, “See? It happens at public universities, too! It’s not just a Catholic problem! Stop picking on our Church!” I hate to break it to them, but this case hardly makes any such point. That other organizations’ personnel abuse children, does not and can never make it acceptable for R.C. personnel to do so. That some folks at UConn might have known about Miller but kept quiet, does not and can never make it acceptable for R.C. hierarchs to cover up for and protect abusive clergy. That kind of reasoning is called “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and it’s fallacious.

What it means is that abusing kids and obstructing justice are not acceptable at any time, and can never be tolerated, no matter where it happens. It means it can conceivably happen almost anywhere, and one must always be ready to deal with it. It means Catholic hierarchs need to stop ignoring it, stop looking away, and stop making excuses. It means that the organization that views itself as the sole remaining arbiter of morality on the planet, cannot afford to use other groups’ misdeeds as justification for its own.

And lastly, it means numbers are not on the Church’s side. Miller may turn out to be the only UConn employee who’s ever accused of child abuse that was known to university staff. The same cannot be said for the archdiocese of Hartford, which is on at least its third case in only the last couple years … and it has many other cases before then.

Photo credit: PsiCop modified UConn logo by Nike.

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Manitoba Family Services would not say Wednesday how many children had been taken into care (file photo)Once upon a time, Anabaptist Christians (known mainly as Mennonites or the Amish) had a reputation for being passive and non-violent. Whether or not that reputation was deserved, it seems to be waning. With the arrival of the “reality” TV series Amish Mafia, and the eruption of infighting among them, it’s clear that there’s more to them than meets the eye. Yet another story that forces one to rethink how Mennonites are viewed, is this story, by the Canadian Press via the National Post, about rampant child abuse in one such community in Canada (WebCite cached article):

Children have been removed from an orthodox Mennonite community in southern Manitoba, where more adults have been charged with assaulting youngsters using items such as cattle prods and leather straps.

Manitoba Family Services would not say Wednesday how many children had been taken into care, or reveal any other details about the case.…

Two adults from the tiny orthodox community were charged in March with various counts of assault and assault with a weapon on several boys and girls between July 2011 and January of this year.

This week, two more adults appeared in court to face similar charges involving 12 alleged victims. The allegations are once again that the assaults were repeated and over roughly the same 18-month time frame. They were released pending their next court appearance.

I suppose leather straps are implements one might find among Mennonites, who eschew modern technology … but cattle prods? Seriously? And using them on children, no less? These are pretty serious allegations, especially with the RCMP involved.

Photo credit: National Post.

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Church of the Gesù in Rome / By Maus-TraudenOnce again, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church must be dragged kicking and screaming (metaphorically, anyway) into admitting their complicity in the abuse of children by clergy working under them. The Chicago Tribune reports the Jesuits in that city finally owned up to having protected and aided an abusive priest, for several decades (WebCite cached article):

Internal church records released Tuesday show that Chicago Jesuits consciously concealed the crimes of convicted sex offender Donald McGuire for more than 40 years as the prominent Roman Catholic priest continued to sexually abuse dozens of children around the globe.…

The documents contributed to a $19.6 million settlement between the Jesuits and six men from four states announced Tuesday. With an average payout of $3 million per person, the amount per individual is the largest in the history of the U.S. Catholic sexual abuse crisis, the victims’ lawyers said. The settlement and the documents add one more chapter to the still unfolding story of sexual abuse in the church.

Although the Jesuits insisted they’d found out about McGuire only recently, this turns out to have been a lie. They’d been warned long ago, and had even corresponded between themselves about it:

A memo in February 1991 expressed concern about a boy from Anchorage, Alaska, who traveled with McGuire and slept in the same room during a retreat in California. “This travel business is at least very imprudent, perhaps much more serious,” wrote the Rev. Robert Wild. He could not be reached for comment.

Another memo, dated April 1993, documented a call from the Rev. Joe Fessio, reporting that McGuire had been accompanied by several young men in Russia, “one of whom he was taking showers with and reading hard pornography.” Fessio reportedly contacted the boy’s father and “asked him to keep this quiet until he could represent this to McGuire’s provincial.”

Fessio could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In 1995, the Rev. Francis Daly, then acting provincial, wrote to McGuire after a mother copied his superiors on a memo telling him to stay away from her son. Daly could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“Let us hope that no more alleged incidents come to light,” Daly wrote. “You must understand the complaints raised in these situations are serious. There must be no more. I am calling you to a prudence greater than that which you have shown in recent years.”

Now, I’m pretty sure Catholic apologists out there who agree with the hierarchs that the Church has done nothing wrong, and that the whole scandal was caused by outside forces trying to destroy their precious holy Church, will continue to deny these documents show any awareness of McGuire’s wrongdoing. But Daly’s letter to him does indicate McGuire had crossed the line before. “I am calling you to a prudence greater than that which you have shown” makes no sense except in light of such knowledge.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'I am the Lord your God, and I need your kids to die for me!' / PsiCop original graphicNote: See below for some recent developments in this story.

A few years ago I blogged about Herbert & Catherine Schaible, who killed their son Kent by relying on prayer instead of medicine to save him from pneumonia. Well, it seems they managed to kill off another of their children. WCAU-TV in Philadelphia reports they killed an 8-month-old son for Jesus (WebCite cached article):

A couple that was sentenced to probation after their 2-year-old died in 2009 from pneumonia have had another child die.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible, fundamentalist Christians who believe in the power of prayer ahead of modern medicine, recently had their 8-month-old son die, according to Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Jillian Russell.

Honestly, I saw this coming a mile away. These people just don’t care about their own children’s lives. They demonstrated this conclusively, already, when they allowed Kent to die for no good reason. That they let another of their children die for Jesus was inevitable. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania also ought to have known this was coming. But they chose to do nothing. In fact, despite their conviction for Kent’s death, Pennsylvania courts and officials purposely and coldly allowed them to endanger more kids:

In 2010, a jury convicted the Schaibles, who have seven other children, of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in the death of their 2-year-old son Kent. The Schaibles were each sentenced to 10 years of probation — they could have faced prison time [cached].

Yes, folks, you read that correctly: For having been convicted of killing their own son Kent, the Schaibles were effectively unpunished, and didn’t even have their other children taken away from them so as to protect them. The commonwealth allowed them to go right back home, and just do whatever they wanted to their remaining kids. While the Schaibles are clearly deluded by their fierce, unrelenting, irrational and destructive religionism, the judge who sentenced them — and commonwealth officials who supposedly monitored them — have no viable excuse for their negligence. In a way, because of their comparatively-greater awareness of the problem, they’re actually more culpable for this second death than the Schaibles themselves!

Perhaps they, too, should now be hauled into court and tried for manslaughter. They cannot possibly have failed to know the danger. But we know they won’t be held accountable … because they, and the rest of Pennsylvania’s government, clearly just don’t fucking care about the Schaible kids. At least, they don’t care about them any more than the Schaibles themselves do — which quite obviously, is not at all.

Update: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the death of Brandon Schaible has been ruled a homicide (cached).

Hat tip: Secular Web News Wire.

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Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)In one of the most laughable examples of “spin” that I can think of, the archdiocese of New York actually bragged about Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s deposition concerning his time as archbishop of Milwaukee. CNN reports on their ridiculous claim (WebCite cached article):

“Today Cardinal Dolan had the long-awaited opportunity to talk about his decision nine years ago in Milwaukee to publicize the names of priests who had abused children and how he responded to the tragedy of past clergy sexual abuse of minors, during the time he was privileged to serve as archbishop of Milwaukee,” Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said in a written statement.

“He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could, and he was looking forward to talking about the good work and progress that took place to ensure the protection of children and pastoral outreach to victims.”

You may remember, while he headed the Milwaukee archdiocese, Dolan bribed abusive priests $20,000 a piece to walk away from the Church, rather than defrocking them and then handing them over to the authorities for prosecution. The stated reason for paying the abusers was that defrocking is a long, arduous process, so paying abusers to quit was easier. That may be true, however, the defrocking process (or “laicization”) is something the Church’s hierarchs — Dolan among them — control. If they find it too difficult, they can change it to make it more efficient. This excuse also does not explain why Dolan didn’t forward accusations he thought were solid enough to merit bribing a priest to quit the Church to the police. It’s an idiotic pretense that I am nowhere near stupid enough to buy into.

As for Zwilling’s claim that his boss “was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could,” well … most folks who are “eager” to be deposed, don’t spend something like two years dodging and swerving away from them. Rather, they call the lawyers and stenographers together and they get it the hell over with — immediately. They don’t have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table as Dolan was.

Their disingenuousness places Dolan and his spokesman into my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Photo credit: Fred R. Conrad / The New York Times.

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Roger MahonyI’d hoped I was done blogging about retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archibishop of Los Angeles. If you recall, he claimed to have been blissfully unaware of the fact that child abuse was a bad thing. After blogging about how his successor managed to “punish” him without actually punishing him, I’d expected that’d be all that needed to be said about the creep.

But I was wrong. Mahony, apparently, refuses to let go of the matter. He took to his personal blog to proudly declare to the world that he forgives the insolent folks who dare criticize and rebuke him (WebCite cached article):

From our earliest catechism days we learn about the virtue of humility. We study it, we think about it; but we don’t embrace it.

And why? Because humility is all about self-effacing, about seeing ourselves as far more diminished than we had hoped. As a result, few of us set out to embrace humility for Lent or as a pattern for our lives. Most us us accept a few affronts and neglects as humility, and then move on.

But as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are actually called to the fullness of humility: humiliation, and publicly. …

In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated. In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people. I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage–at me, at the Church, at about [sic] injustices that swirl around us.

Thanks to God’s special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them.

There are so many things wrong with this, I hardly know where to begin. Nevertheless, I’ll dive in and point out the following:

  • Mahony punctuates this lecture on “humility” by declaring — as publicly as he can, by posting it on the Internet — that he’s been humiliated. Excuse me? That’s the opposite of “humility.” True “humility” would be taking the criticism and keeping it to himself. Not broadcasting it to the planet.
  • It’s not up to Mahony to “forgive” his critics. Any criticism Mahony has taken, is something that, by all rights, he actually earned, by virtue of his behavior. If anyone should be doing any “forgiving” here, it’s the child-abuse victims. Not him.
  • In these remarks, Mahony reveals that he views himself as a victim of the “priestly pedophilia” scandal. This isn’t unusual, since most Catholic hierarchs think that way. They blame anyone and everyone but themselves for it. Truthfully, neither Mahony nor any other hierarch is a victim here, and not one of them has any right to claim to be one.
  • Another revelation of this childish screed is Mahony’s egotism and self-centeredness. He views the scandal as being all about him. No one else really matters. This is about as un-Christian an attitude as one can have, which is surprising in a man who’s supposed to be Christ-like and act as Jesus’ representative.
  • Mahony says he is “being called to … be humiliated.” In other words, this is something that was inflicted upon him from outside … sort of like Job being used as a pawn by God and Satan. He refuses to acknowledge that he, himself, did anything to be criticized for.
  • And what’s up with his blog being hosted on a Blogspot domain in the UK? Huh? What does a blog about Los Angeles (according to its name) have to do with the UK? I don’t get it.

It’s long past time for Cardinal Mahony — and the rest of the sniveling crybaby hierarchs — to stop whining and bellyaching about what’s happened to them as a result of a scandal which they, themselves, worked diligently and for decades to manufacture. What childish fucking bullshit. When are they going to grow up and act like grown adults. Oh, and when do lay Catholics plan to understand their Church is run by a cabal whose ethics and morals are little different from the Mafia? Remember … what you refuse to correct, you condone.

P.S. For anyone who plans to pontificate on the virtues of humility: It’s best to begin by actually being humble and contrite. Mahony clearly hasn’t gotten there yet, and is in no position to tell anyone about “humility.”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, former archbishop of Los Angeles / Los Angeles Times photoThere’s been some fallout over the release of documents a few days ago by the archdiocese of Los Angeles showing its complicity in the abuse of children, going back decades. The Los Angeles Times reports the current archbishop, José Horacio Gómez, has handed down punishment to his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony and one of his lackeys (WebCite cached article):

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez on Thursday announced dramatic actions in response to the priest abuse scandal, saying that Cardinal Roger Mahony would no longer perform public duties in the church and that Santa Barbara Bishop Thomas J. Curry has stepped down.

Gomez said in a statement that Mahony — who led the L.A. archdiocese from 1985 to 2011 — “will no longer have any administrative or public duties.” …

Gomez wrote in a letter to parishioners that the files would be disturbing to read.

“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed,” he wrote. “We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today.”

Mahony and Curry were in this scandal right up to their eyeballs, as the records make evident:

The records contain memos written in 1986 and 1987 by Mahony and Curry, then the archdiocese’s chief advisor on sex abuse cases. In the confidential letters, Curry proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they had abused young boys.

Curry suggested to Mahony that they prevent the priests from seeing therapists who might alert authorities and that they give the priests out-of-state assignments to avoid criminal investigators. Mahony, who retired in 2011, has apologized repeatedly for errors in handling abuse allegations.

I’m sure Mahony and Curry have both forgotten this, but Jesus had a bit to say about children, according to the gospels:

Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mt 19:13-14)

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mk 10:13-14)

And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Lk 18:15-16)

While this kind of ecclesiastical discipline of a Cardinal is rare and remarkable, it’s not much of a punishment. Mahony’s life won’t change appreciably, as the L.A.T. explains in an update to the original story:

An archdiocese spokesman, Tod Tamberg, said that beyond cancelling his confirmation schedule, Mahony’s day-to-day life as a retired priest would be largely unchanged. He resides at a North Hollywood parish, and Tamberg said he would remain a “priest in good standing” and continue to celebrate Mass there.

So in the end, Gómez’s “slap down” of his predecessor, is really more of a light tap that carries no significant weight. It seems Gómez merely wished to appear to throw Mahony under the bus, without actually doing so. I have to congratulate the Archbishop for contriving the appearance of punishing Mahony without actually punishing him at all. Well done!

What’s more, keep this in mind: Gómez has been archbishop of L.A. since early 2011. He’s had nearly 2 years to read the documents in question and become outraged over Mahony and Curry’s behavior. But he didn’t choose to do so, until now — when the documents went public. Pardon me for being completely and thoroughly unimpressed by this useless show of inadequate piety.

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times.

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