Posts Tagged “child sex abuse”

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Altoona, PAOnce again the world is treated to yet another revelation of the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s Mafia-like morals. It turns out that a campaign to let abusive priests prey on children lasted for decades in central Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the release of a grand jury’s finding outlining the “staggering” depravity (WebCite cached version):

Hundreds of children were molested, raped and destined to lasting psychological trauma by at least 50 priests and others associated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown across half a century, a state grand jury has found in denouncing coverups orchestrated by two bishops and enabled by the law enforcement officials they controlled.

The conspiracy amounted to “soul murder,” said the report by the 37th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, released today nearly two years after the grand jury was impaneled.…

The two previous bishops leading the diocese — James Hogan, who served from 1966 to 1986 and died in 2005, and Joseph Adamec, who served from 1987 to 2011 and is now retired — “took actions that further endangered children as they placed their desire to avoid public scandal over the wellbeing of innocent children,” the report said. “Priests were returned to ministry with full knowledge they were child predators.”

Making this case much worse than a lot of others, was the active involvement of secular officials, who apparently were more concerned with pleasing the R.C. Church than in doing their jobs and prosecuting crimes against children:

The report includes extensive testimony from a key aide to Bishop Hogan, Monsignor Philip Saylor, who said a Blair County president judge, sheriff and other law-enforcement officers deferred to the diocese to let it handle investigations of abusive priests, rather than prosecuting them. And Monsignor Saylor said a mayor of Johnstown sent candidates for police and fire chief to him for interviews, and he would tell the mayor whom to pick. “That happened in Johnstown and Altoona,” he said.

The grand jury report quoted former Altoona Police Chief Peter Starr as crediting his own appointment to such arrangements and saying that the “politicians of Blair County were afraid of Monsignor Saylor” given his role as editor of the diocesan newspaper.

With such influence, “Hogan saw no obligation of faith or law to the children of his parishioners,” the grand jury report said.

The report added that even a diocesan review board, impaneled amid growing public outrage over sexual abuse by priests, often turned into a travesty, with investigations focusing not on the accused but on those reporting abuse by priests. In one case, the review board sought gynecological records of a survivor, the report said.

You can read the entire report for yourself, if you wish (cached).

This is one of the few investigative reports in which secular officials’ complicity and obeisance to the Church were revealed in plain language. The unfortunate problem is that, despite this pervasive child abuse and extensive efforts to obstruct justice, no one is going to be prosecuted, due to the deaths of many perpetrators, statutes of limitations, and an unwillingness to force victims to testify. If not for those, a lot of people might be going to jail. More’s the pity.

Now, I’m sure the fact that this report was released by Pennsylvania’s embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane will make Catholic apologists leap for joy. “How can anyone believe this report?” they’ll protest. “Ms Kane is up to her eyeballs in a scandal!” Yes, it’s true, Ms Kane is in deep trouble (cached). So yes, this grand jury report was offered up by tainted hands. But that’s not actually relevant here, and it doesn’t affect the report’s credibility. She wasn’t on the grand jury. What’s more, that she presented the report doesn’t mean its conclusions aren’t valid. After all, even a broken clock is right, twice a day.

So, too bad so sad, Catholic apologists. You still lose. And you always will, because your loser Church is run by a cadre of amoral and cowardly old men.

Photo credit: Joseph, via Flickr.

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Archbishop John Nienstedt celebrated Holy Thursday Mass in April 2015 at the Cathedral of St. Paul. Jennifer Simonson | MPR NewsHere’s a follow-up to my last blog entry. Archbishop John Nienstedt is out, Religion News Service reports, as the head of the archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican on Monday (June 15) launched a major housecleaning of the scandal-plagued Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, accepting the resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt along with that of a top Nienstedt aide, Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche.

The moves come a little over a week after authorities charged the archdiocese for failing to protect children from an abusive priest and days after Pope Francis unveiled the first-ever system [cached] for disciplining bishops who do not act against predator clerics.

As noted in the article, not only has Nienstedt had trouble dealing with allegation of abuse by his priests, including the possibility that someone on his staff may have destroyed evidence in a criminal case, he’s engaged in some questionable behaviors of his own.

Nienstedt’s resignation, therefore, has been a long time coming … too long, as it turns out. Although some have praised Pope Francis for this and other similar moves, the cold fact is that it’s too little, too late. The Pope finally got around to closing the barn door only after nearly all the horses got out.

The time for the R.C. Church to have taken strong and decisive action against abusive clergy and their enablers in the hierarchy, was a dozen years ago or so when the abuse had been known and the worldwide scandal really began to snowball, with various countries’ investigations coming in and demonstrating just how extensive it was. The abuse happened for decades — if not centuries — and by virtue of the hierarchy’s (until-recently) successful cover-ups and resistance to doing anything, a lot of the perpetrators and their enablers managed to evade punishment. For every cover-up artist like Nienstedt who’s now forced to resign, a dozen predecessors had already managed never to be held accountable for what they did. It’s a travesty — especially in an institution that claims to be the sole remaining arbiter of morality on the planet. The truth about them is that they wouldn’t know morality if smashed them in the face and knocked them out.

Photo credit: Jennifer Simonson / Minnesota Public Radio.

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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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The young men are members of Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga. They say Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities. Credit: CBS/The Early Show. Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-504083_162-10004953-2.html#ixzz1ffIIO6kuI’ve blogged before about “Bishop” Eddie Long, the head of a megachurch in suburban Atlanta who recently settled several child sex-abuse cases. Therefore, perhaps not surprisingly, WXIA-TV in Atlanta reports via USA Today that he’s taking a leave of absence (WebCite cached article):

The senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Bishop Eddie Long, announced to his congregation Sunday morning that he is taking time off to be with his family.

Long, who was accused last year of sexually abusing several men in Atlanta, built his 150-member congregation into a following of 25,000 people and a televangelist empire.

His church pointed out rather sternly that Long is not resigning from his position, conceding only that he’s taking time off, probably because an outright resignation would amount to an admission of guilt on his part, something he’s avoided in spite of the settlements (which are confidential).

But what’s strange is that he claims to be taking time off to be with his family, just at the moment when his wife is divorcing him:

On Thursday, Vanessa Long filed for divorce from her husband of 21-years. By Friday Mrs. Long had reversed direction and had decided not to dissolve her marriage. However, Friday evening she recanted and moved forward with the divorce proceeding.

So pardon me if I don’t swallow this particular line.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: CBS News.

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San Diego Mission Church, San Diego, California (Wikipedia/Dmadeo)The Roman Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal continues to generate stories — if not at quite the same pace as it did earlier this year. The latest revelation comes from the Diocese of San Diego, which recently was forced by a court to cough up documents. What they reveal is positively bone-chilling, as this report offered by KCBS-TV explains (WebCite cached article):

Nearly 10,000 pages of previously sealed Catholic church documents have been made public and showed that the Diocese of San Diego long knew about abusive priests, some of whom were shuffled from parish to parish despite credible complaints against them.

After a three-year legal battle over the diocese’s internal records, a retired San Diego Superior Court judge ruled late Friday that they could be made public. Attorneys for 144 people claiming sex abuse made the papers public Sunday.

The report is, unfortunately, very typical of other, similar revelations made over the years by various dioceses around the country (and around the world):

The files show what the diocese knew about abusive priests, starting decades before any allegations became public, and that some church leaders moved priests around or overseas despite credible complaints against them.

What is remarkable, in this particular case, is the complicity of secular authorities, who actively enabled the diocese to shield its priests from prosecution:

In at least one instance, the files included documented abuse by a priest whose name had not before surfaced in any lawsuit or criminal case, the Rev. Luis Eugene de Francisco, who was originally from Colombia. Police investigated de Francisco for allegedly abusing children, but the diocese convinced authorities to drop the case if the priest would return immediately to his Colombian diocese and never return to the U.S.

“In early August 1963, Father was placed under arrest by the civil police of the City of San Diego for violation of the State Penal Code,” then-Bishop Charles F. Buddy wrote the Colombian bishop in the Diocese of Cali. “At that time, arrangements were made between this Chancery and the civil authorities of San Diego in which, if Father left the United States with the promise never to return, the charges against Father would be set aside by Civil Law.”

I find this incredible. Both the diocese and the district attorney consciously chose to throw the children of Colombia under the bus, in order to avoid having to deal with one criminal priest. It’s one thing for the Catholic Church to protect its own … it’s quite another for the district attorney to allow them to get away with it. At some point there’s going to have to be an investigation into the complicity of secular authorities which, no doubt, has helped contribute to the priestly abuse and which helped the Church get away with it as long as it did.

At this point, though, I can only wonder at how pointless all these revelations have been. After all, if it’s not clear to anyone by now that the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy is morally bankrupt and not much better than the Mafia, then further exposés, such as this one, will hardly help. I can’t imagine why Catholics continue to support this stinking, festering amoral sewer of a Church — but they do. And they do so happily, and most of them will defend it to the hilt.

So much for “suffer the little children,” eh? Nah. Better to just let them be abused, rather than allow the Church to look bad for having harbored criminals.

If you’re interested, the cache of documents is available online, courtesy of a group that advocates for victims of clerical abuse.

Hat tip: Lordrag at iReligion Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Wikipedia / Dmadeo.

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