Posts Tagged “child sexual abuse”

Looking north from a hill in Branch Brook Park, at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart on a sunny midday.Among the R.C. Church’s rationales for protecting abusive clergy within its ranks is a presumption that the victims are to blame for it, and — perversely — that the abusers are the true “victims.” The Church doesn’t say so out loud very often, but once in a while someone lets this presumption slip, here or there. The most recent example of this, as NJ Advanced Media reports, came from a Newark priest who’d fled to his native Ecuador in 2003 when faced with allegations he’d abused a teen (WebCite cached article):

In an extraordinary admission of wrongdoing, a priest sought by authorities in New Jersey has acknowledged engaging in a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old boy, but he deflected blame for the incident by saying the teen “wanted” it and had “evil in his mind.”

In a telephone interview with NJ Advance Media, in email exchanges and in a lengthy post he shared publicly on Twitter, the Rev. Manuel Gallo Espinoza said it was a “mistake” to have sexual contact with the boy in the rectory of a Plainfield church in 2003. He said he fled to his native Ecuador after the victim told a nun and another priest that Gallo Espinoza raped him.

“One thing that I am conscious (of) is he was at that time a teenager, and it is a big mistake for me. But I didn’t force him to do anything he didn’t want,” Gallo Espinoza wrote. “He was older (sic) enough to walk away, but I think that I was attracted to him, that is the only explanation that I can think right now.”

Gallo Espinoza added: “He had something evil in his mind. He approached me many times.”

Amazingly, Gallo Espinoza had been rather public about all of this:

Using the screen name “Unforgetables Unforgettables,” he also wrote an 864-word comment [cached] beneath the July 30 story about him on NJ.com. Gallo Espinoza, who identified himself by name in the comment, later shared a copy of it on Twitter [cached], along with one of his emails to NJ Advance Media.

For the record, here is that July 30 story (cached).

Because the victim sued the archdiocese of Newark, this vile creep even indulged in the “it’s-all-about-greedy-plaintiffs” whine:

Gallo Espinoza made reference to Ramirez’s lawsuit in his correspondence, saying the victim had revived the issue after 12 years to cash in.

“The explanation that I find to begin again with this incident after many years is ‘EASY MONEY,'” Gallo Espinoza wrote.

So in addition to having already admitted he abused a boy, the priest tried to insinuate the incident had been fabricated for money. Nice touch there, fella. Really nice!

Another nice touch in this case is that the victim’s uncle and youth minister, to whom the victim had reported the abuse and who’d confronted Gallo Espinoza about it, warned him an investigation had been started and that he should flee the country:

While the circumstances of Gallo Espinoza’s abrupt departure have never been fully disclosed, he said in the telephone interview it was [youth leader Antonino] Salazar and [victim’s uncle Jeivi] Hercules who told him to run. Hercules, who has since entered the priesthood, is now parochial vicar at Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington.

Wonderful people, eh? How marvelous of these men — whom the victim had trusted enough to report the incident — to take that trust and crush it into the dirt. All in defense of a pedophilic priest and the Mother Church to which he belonged.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 4 Comments »

Papa Francisco na JMJ - 24072013For well over a decade the Vatican has fiercely denied that any of its clergy abused children or that its hierarchs protected the abusers. This scandal has traveled around the world and reared its head on every continent (except Antarctica), but the Church’s commanders have repeatedly insisted they’re the true victims, not the abused children, and have blamed the scandal on anyone and everyone other than themselves. So I find it remarkable that, as the Religion News Service reports, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness over it (WebCite cached article):

“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests — quite a few in number, though not compared to the total number — and to ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done by sexually abusing children,” Francis said [cached].

“The church is aware of this damage,” he said. “It is personal and moral damage, but carried out by men of the church. And we do not want to take one step backward in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, I believe that we have to be very firm. Because you cannot take chances with children!”

Catholic News Service provides video of the Pope, via Youtube:

Of course, the Pope’s request for forgiveness is a far cry from the sort of true accountability that people around the world have been looking for, for over a decade. But given the Vatican’s long history of excuse-making and refusal to date even to admit the possibility it might have done anything wrong, it does show a somewhat different attitude. Let’s hope Francis does take additional steps and actually holds his Church responsible for what it did.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Pope Asks Forgiveness Over Clerical 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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 2 Comments »

Mordechai Jungreis, right, walks his mentally disabled son, 16, home from school in Brooklyn. (James Estrin/The New York Times)I blog often about the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide child-abuse scandal. It may seem that I concentrate on Catholic cases at the expense of other institutions’ abuses. But I have mentioned other faiths’ abuses, and this blog post also concerns another religion. Worse than child abuse itself, is the manner in which religions close ranks around abusers. You see, it’s not only the Catholic Church that protects them; as the New York Times reports, it also happens in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities of New York (WebCite cached article):

The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.

Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. …

Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said.

That’s right, the abuse victims’ families are victimized a second time, merely for having stood up to the abusers. Wonderful, eh?

The retribution against the reporters of abuse has had some unfortunate ramifications:

When ultra-Orthodox Jews do bring abuse accusations to the police, the same cultural forces that have long kept victims silent often become an obstacle to prosecutions.

In Brooklyn, of the 51 molesting cases involving the ultra-Orthodox community that the district attorney’s office says it has closed since 2009, nine were dismissed because the victims backed out. Others ended with plea deals because the victims’ families were fearful.

“People aren’t recanting, but they don’t want to go forward,” said Rhonnie Jaus, a sex crimes prosecutor in Brooklyn.

The article is lengthy, and offers many examples of this kind of reprehensible behavior. It’s well worth reading to the end.

The article also mentions that the situation has begun to change. That’s all well and good, I suppose, but given that both Jews and Christians frequently sing the praises of their vaunted “Judeo-Christian ethics” and waltz around telling everyone else that only they have any morals, the fact that this could have happened at all, is telling: It tells me that theists may talk a good game of “morality,” but when it comes down to actually behaving morally … well, too often they can’t be bothered.

Sorry, but given situations such as this … wherein entire communities of people who belong to the same religion all behave in such a horrific manner … I am forced to conclude that the common theists’ claim that “religion makes morality” is, very clearly, nothing but fucking bullshit. It’s obvious these peoples’ religiosity did nothing to make them “moral” — just the opposite, in fact! What’s worse, the sense of righteousness that theists feel, actually prevents them from improving their behavior. Now more than ever, we need to stop giving theists the right to proclaim themselves morally superior to everyone else. Their hypocrisy really needs to end, and those of us who see it for what it is, must make it clear and stop giving them a “pass.”

Photo credit: James Estrin / New York Times.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Orthodox Jews Turn On Child-Abuse Reporters

St. Catharine's Church in Utrecht (the Netherlands). Picture taken by Fruggo, September 2004.I blogged a long time ago about the Roman Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal hitting the Netherlands. The AP via CTV relates the release of a report into the abuse of children by Catholic clergy there, and the numbers are staggering (WebCite cached article):

Thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions over the past 65 years, and church officials knew about the abuse but failed to adequately address it or help the victims, a long-awaited report said Friday. The release of the report was followed by an apology to victims by the archbishop of Utrecht, who said the revelation “fills us with shame and sorrow.” …

The Dutch report said Catholic officials failed to tackle the widespread abuse, which ranged from “unwanted sexual advances” to rape, in an attempt to prevent scandals. Abusers included priests, brothers, pastors and lay people who worked in religious orders and congregations, it said. The investigation followed allegations of repeated incidents of abuse at one cloister that quickly spread to claims from Catholic institutions across the country.

The suspected number of abuse victims who spent some of their youth in church institutions likely lies somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000, according to a summary of the report investigating allegations of abuse dating back to 1945.

It’s nice, I suppose, that Archbishop Wim Eijk apologized and expressed remorse over this, and compensation will be offered to victims, but once again I must ask why it took so long — the culmination of a thorough examination and investigation — for the apology to be forthcoming? Would it have been so fucking hard for the Dutch Catholic Church simply to have owned up, right at the start? Why is the Catholic Church, which claims to be the sole remaining arbiter of morality in the world, so fiercely unwilling to show some damned courage and moral fortitude, just once? They love telling everyone else what they ought to do, but refuse to be held accountable for their own actions, or inaction as the case may be, and must have all concessions of wrongdoing dragged out of them. Hypocrites!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

Papal tiaraThe Roman Catholic Church is nothing if not predictable. The Los Angeles Times provides this story on a report that the Church released about the abuse of children in the care of Catholic clergy (WebCite cached article):

Sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the United States is a “historical problem” that has largely been resolved and that never had any significant correlation with either celibacy or homosexuality, according to an independent report commissioned by Catholic bishops — and subjected to fierce attack even before its release on Wednesday.

The report [cached] blamed the sexual revolution for a rise in sexual abuse by priests, saying that Catholic clerics were swept up by a tide of “deviant” behavior that became more socially acceptable in the 1960s and ’70s.

First, I find I must comment on the writing of this story. It is contradictory to say that a report “commissioned by” the bishops, is “an independent report.” If the bishops commissioned it, then it’s their report, not someone else’s. They may not have written it themselves, or even researched it, but they “own” it nevertheless, so it cannot logically be said to have been “independent.”

Second, I note that the report refuses to acknowledge that the Church’s actions, including protecting abusers, played anything other than an incidental role in the scandal:

“The abuse is a result of a complex interaction of factors,” said Karen Terry, a John Jay criminal justice professor who led the research team. One major factor, she said at a news conference in Washington, was social turmoil in the 1960s and ’70s that led some priests “who had some vulnerabilities” to commit child sexual abuse. She said Catholic seminaries had done a poor job of preparing priests “to live a life of chaste celibacy,” as their vows demanded.

In other words, it was all the fault of society … and the “sexual revolution” … and if the Church did anything wrong, it was in failing to deal with that as well as it might have.

It’s absolutely stunning how the bishops continually rationalize their own criminal behavior. When they chose to shield abusers from prosecution, and when they chose to move them around in order to avoid letting anyone know their dirty little secrets, that was NOT because society or the sexual revolution put a gun to their heads and forced them to do it. No. It was a cold, calculated choice based on the information they had at the time they had it, and it was made in order to protect their Church’s reputation and wealth. Neither society nor the sexual revolution had anything to do with that. Not the slightest damn thing. Oddly enough, the report itself describes at least one instance of inaction by the Church hierarchy:

On October 18, 1984, a Louisiana grand jury indicted Gilbert Gauthe, a former priest of the Diocese of Lafayette, for a long list of sexual crimes against children. The Diocese of Lafayette had received multiple reports of Gauthe’s abusive acts for seven years before he was indicted but had not managed to control his behavior. Gauthe had been repeatedly cautioned about his behavior but was not removed from ministry until 1983, when, following another report of abuse by a parent who demanded action, he was sent to the House of Affirmation in Massachusetts for treatment. The specifics of the Gauthe case were shocking: Gauthe had not only raped and sodomized dozens of boys, he had used the “cloak” of his status as a priest to justify his actions to the victims and to intimidate them into silence. Harm to Gauthe’s victims was profound, requiring hospitalization for some and psychotherapy for many. The criminal case and related civil litigation filed by the families of the victims drew national and international press attention. Despite the sensational press coverage and extensive discussion of the case, the failures of the leaders of the Diocese of Lafayette were many. Diocesan leaders hesitated to remove Gauthe from ministry even after he admitted to the abuse, and they failed to redress the harm to the child victims and their families. They were preoccupied with controlling negative publicity and so were not forthcoming with information to the affected parishes. Such failures on the part of the Diocese of Lafayette were to be repeated by leaders of some other dioceses in the coming years. (p. 77)

Nevertheless, elsewhere the report downplays the bishops’ furious efforts to cover up for the abusers, passing them off as something all institutions tend to do:

This response framework, as well as the lack of transparency, is not an atypical response to deviant behavior by members of an institution. (p. 4)

Of course, most institutions do not claim to be the sole remaining arbiters of morality in the world. The R.C. Church cannot legitimately use “But other organizations do the same thing!” as an excuse. That’s “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and is fallacious.

Leave it to Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, to rationalize why the “scandal” was not really a “scandal” and why neither the abusive clergy nor the bishops had done anything wrong:

William Donohue, the outspoken president of the conservative Catholic League, noted on the group’s website that the report found that 81% of abuse victims were male and 78% were beyond puberty. “Since 100% of the abusers were male, that’s called homosexuality, not pedophilia or heterosexuality,” he said.

Aha. So it’s “just” homosexuality. Oh well, I guess that makes the abuse of children OK, then, eh Bill?

What a fucking reprehensible bunch of creatures we’re dealing with, in the Catholic Church and its defenders … ! If you’re a Catholic and you’re not sickened by these people, then there’s something wrong with you.

Photo credit: kevingessner.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 4 Comments »

Saint Peter's Square, RomeIn a development that makes clear what an amoral abyss the Vatican is, the preacher to the Pope himself has equated reporting on the Catholic clerical abuse scandal with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Reuters filed this report on Fr Raniero Cantalamessa’s remarks (WebCite cached article):

Attacks on the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict over a sexual abuse scandal are comparable to “collective violence” against Jews, the pontiff’s personal preacher told a Vatican Good Friday service.

The sermon by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, a Franciscan whose title is “Preacher of the Pontifical Household”, drew sharp criticism from both Jews and victims of sexual abuse by priests.

It further racheted up tensions over the abuse scandal, forcing even the Vatican spokesman to distance himself from Cantalamessa, the only person authorized to preach to the pope.

Fr Cantalamessa used Holy Week services, as well as the coincidence of Passover and Easter this year, to get additional attention for his crass comments:

Cantalamessa, speaking with the pope sitting nearby, drew the parallel at an afternoon Good Friday service in St Peter’s Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion.

Noting that this year the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter fell during the same week, he said Jews throughout history had been the victims of “collective violence” and drew comparisons between Jewish suffering and attacks on the Church.

Nice. How marvelous. The worldwide mass media reporting on a long-simmering, insidious child-abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church, somehow is the same as centuries of anti-Semitism, many generations of harassment of and attacks on Jews throughout Europe, leading up to and including the Third Reich’s attempt to wipe them out, culminating in the mechanistic murder of millions of Jews in central and eastern Europe.

Oh yeah, obviously they’re the same thing! Exactly the same!

not!

It goes without saying that Fr Cantalamessa’s comments have been condemned by Jews, as the AP reports via Google News (cached article):

“What a sad irony this would be on Good Friday, where so much of the anti-Semitism was brought about by the church against Jews,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Anti-Semitism was pogroms, inquisitions, expulsions that led to death … What a grotesque comparison.” …

Hours later, the Vatican sought to distance itself from the incident. A Vatican spokesman said that remarks are not the church’s official position and that such parallelism can lead to misunderstandings.

Gee, ya think?

As I’ve posted before, this sort of reasoning seems egregious, extreme, and weird to those of us capable of thinking rationally about it. But as I’ve blogged already, most of the Roman Catholic Church — especially those high up in the Vatican — does not view this scandal rationally. To them, this scandal is not something they’ve created on their own. It is, instead, an external attack upon the God’s appointed Church, by the forces of the Devil himself. To them, the reports of abuse either are absurd and false, fabricated by diabolical forces or “secularists”; or they’re real, but the product of diabolical infestation of the abused children, who “tempted” the poor priests into behaving inappropriately. Either way, by this reasoning, the Church is not in the wrong here; the children harmed by clerical crimes are not “victims,” but rather, the abusive clergy are “victims.” The R.C. Church has not done anything to deserve being “attacked,” other than to have been God’s appointed Church. Such thinking inevitably leads to a comparison with Jews, then, who were persecuted because they viewed themselves as “God’s chosen people.”

Under the “scandal-as-a-spiritual-war” model, then, Fr Cantalamessa’s comparison is perfectly valid and reasonable.

So long as this model of thinking about the scandal holds sway in the cavernous, amoral halls of Vatican City, nothing will be done, because the Church will never concede that anything is wrong. It can’t, because to do so would grant the Devil a “victory,” and they cannot permit that.

Photo credit: Humpalumpa.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »