Monthly Archives: August 2012
Is NOM’s Brian Brown Standing With Cardinal Dolan Against
Church Child Rape Victims?
by Scott Rose on August 29, 2012
Among the many motives that the Catholic Church of Rome has for scapegoating LGBTers worldwide is that of attempting to distract world attention from the Church’s seemingly endless child rape scandals.
In the United States, nobody fights harder than the Catholic Church against proposed laws to lift the statutes of limitations for prosecution of child rape. And the Republican Party is the Church’s political ally in its war against such proposed legislation.
New York State Senator Thomas Duane, a Democrat, proposed Senate Bill S3333. The proposed legislation seeks to extend “the statute of limitations in criminal and civil actions for certain sex offenses committed against a child less than eighteen years of age.”
A Duane staffer told this reporter: “If you think Cardinal Dolan fights hard against marriage for same-sex couples, you should know that that is nothing, compared to how fiercely Dolan fights against laws designed better to hold child rapists accountable for their crimes.” The staffer added that Republican state legislators — not Democrats — lead the charge against the proposed legislation.
A perfect example of why the statutes of limitations should be lifted comes from California. Though the Los Angeles diocese settled with many of the Church’s child rape victims there for a total of over $660 million — (without any admission of wrongdoing) — attorney Ray Boucher found that the Church subsequently engaged in cover-ups, even allowing known child rapist priests to hide out in rehab centers until the statute of limitations for prosecutions ran out.
The statutes of limitations need to be lifted, additionally because Church officials sometimes engage in attempted intimidation of victims while the victims are still minors.
For example, in August, 2011, Father Jaime Duenas of the Bronx was arrested on charges he had repeatedly molested a 16-year-old girl working in the rectory. After victims’ advocates criticized then Archbishop Dolan for his handling of the matter, Dolan teamed up with Catholic League president Bill Donohue, took to his blog and trashed the 16-year-old girl. Dolan and Donohue were not only attempting to intimidate that victim, but also sending a very public message: “Dare to come forward as a young victim, and you too will be trashed to the public by the most powerful Catholic Church leaders in the country.”
And the Church’s intimidation related to statutes of limitations is not limited to youngsters. As President of the Colorado State Senate, Joan Fitz-Gerald, a Democrat, proposed legislation to lift the statute of limitations on child rape. Fitz-Gerald spoke to the New York Times about the Catholic Church’s war against her proposed legislation: “It was the most brutal thing I’ve ever been through. The politics, the deception, the lack of concern for not only the children in the past, but for children today.”
At its upper echelons, the National Organization for Marriage is united with the Catholic Church in political strategy. There apparently is no political strategy which NOM has that is not also promoted by the Church. NOM founder and mastermind Robert P. George sits on the advisory board of the Catholic League. Catholic League president Bill Donohue often attempts to scapegoat homosexuals to distract attention from the Church’s child rape scandals. NOM’s Brian Brown appears to abet his NOM boss Robert George and Bill Donohue in those efforts.
For example, very shortly after the 2011 arrest of Father Jaime Duenas, NOM’s Brian Brown attempted to smear gay rights advocates by alleging that gay rights are connected to a (non-existent) push to “normalize pedophilia.” Brown hate-and-fear-mongered against gays by mischaracterizing a medical experts’ symposium session that was aimed at improving treatment for pedophiles. The symposium had less than nothing to do with gay rights. Brown’s reprehensible actions in that anti-gay smear match the apparent Catholic Church political strategy of scapegoating and falsely blaming gays to distract public attention from the Church’s child rape scandals.
In his outlandish and completely unsupported anti-gay smear, NOM’s Brian Brown referenced alleged “Biblical views of marriage.”
In a debate Brown had with Dan Savage, Savage raised the point that the Bible has been used to justify slavery, that such pernicious abuse of the Bible was discontinued, and that people today must discontinue all gay-bashing abuses of the Bible.
In his gay-bashing propaganda produced after the debate, Brown lies about the extent to which the Bible historically was used to justify slavery. Brown actually says that Popes have condemned slavery, as though nobody knew anything about the history of the Catholic Church.
Pope Nicholas V, Pope Callixtus III, Pope Sixtus IV, Pope Leo X and Pope Alexander VI all issued papal “bulls” authorizing the slave trade and sometimes citing Biblical justifications for it.
If it is true that 1) later Popes condemned slavery, then 2) Brian Brown and all of his fellow NOM anti-gay bigots should 3) take that papal movement away from Bible-justified slavery, towards human enlightenment as 4) a model for ending all present-day Bible-based gay bashing.
As explained above, the appearance is that through NOM’s Robert George’s position of authority in the Catholic League — and Robert George’s position of power and influence in the Republican Party — NOM’s despicable tactic of smearing gays as pedophiles is coordinated with the Church’s political strategies.
If the Catholic Church and NOM are not coordinating political strategies against lifting the statutes of limitations for prosecution of child rape, then when will NOM’s Robert George, Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher and Thomas Peters make public demands that the statutes of limitations be lifted?
New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.
Vatican Not Priests’ Employer, U.S. Judge Says
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Vatican won a major victory Monday in an Oregon federal courtroom, where a judge ruled that the Holy See is not the employer of molester priests.
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman ends a six-year question in the decade-old case and could shield the Vatican from possible monetary damages.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2002 by a Seattle-area man who said the Rev. Andrew Ronan repeatedly molested him in the late 1960s.
The plaintiff tried to show that Ronan and all priests are employees of the Vatican, which is therefore liable for their actions.
Mosman made a previous decision strictly on legal theory and determined that, if all the factual assertions made by the plaintiff’s lawyers in the case were true and applicable, then the Vatican would indeed employ Ronan. But on Monday, Mosman said he looked at the facts in the case and didn’t find an employer-employee relationship.
“There are no facts to create a true employment relationship between Ronan and the Holy See,” Mosman said in his ruling from the bench.
Jeff Anderson, attorney for the plaintiff, said he will appeal the decision.
“While we’re disappointed, of course, we’re not discouraged,” Anderson said.
Vatican attorney Jeff Lena said the case should put to rest the notion that the Holy See is liable for the actions of priests.
“This is a case in which, for the first time, a court in the U.S. has taken a careful, factual look at whether or not a priest in the U.S. can be viewed as an employee of the Holy See and the answer, unequivocally, was no,” Lena said.
The case is the last major U.S. sex abuse lawsuit against the Holy See. Cases in Kentucky and Wisconsin have been dropped in recent years.
The plaintiffs argued that what they contend was Ronan’s fealty to the Pope, the Vatican’s ability to promote priests, the Vatican’s laicization – or removal – process, and the ability to change priests’ training all pointed to the Vatican employing priests.
“We believe that under further scrutiny,” Anderson said in a news release, “the courts will find that Vatican protocols and practice make it clear that obedience to Rome required the secrecy and concealment practiced by priests and bishops as the clergy abuse crisis unfolded in the United States.”
Lena said the Vatican had little to do with the laicization process unless a priest appealed, and points out that the appellate court will not further scrutinize the facts, but rather the application of the law in the case.
The impact of Mosman’s ruling on other priest sex-abuse cases is not yet clear. The case has gone further than any other in attempting to get at the relationship between priests in the U.S. and the Vatican.
Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia School of Law professor, said lawsuits against the Pope are usually dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds, with a U.S. court ruling that the Vatican can’t be sued because there is no jurisdiction in the U.S. to do so.
“This was likely filed more to make a political statement,” Laycock said.
Mosman took up several hypothetical analogies while questioning attorneys for both sides. He said that, for instance, the Oregon legal bar has many of the same powers over lawyers as the Vatican has over priests: It can disbar someone and issue sanctions, just as the Vatican can laicize priests, but doing so doesn’t constitute a firing.
The plaintiffs were trying to show that, by exerting control, the Vatican was the priests’ employer.
Mosman said that if he accepted the plaintiff’s argument that the Vatican maintains absolute control over all priests, and is therefore their employer, then all Catholics everywhere could similarly be considered employees of the Holy See.
After the ruling, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, director David Clohessy said in a statement that the Vatican wants “to have their cake and eat it too” by varying their definition of the church, sometimes calling it a top-down hierarchical institution and other times asserting that only locals have control over their employee – an assertion Lena said flies in the face of an appellate court ruling in 2009 and Monday’s decision by Mosman.
“It’s a shame that, once again, top Catholic officials successfully exploit legal technicalities to keep clergy sex crimes and cover ups covered up,” Clohessy said. “The truth is that the Vatican oversees the church worldwide, insisting on secrecy in child sex cases and stopping or delaying the defrocking of pedophile priests.”
The Vatican Can’t Be Held Responsible For Things It Couldn’t Have Known. The Problem Is… It Knew A Lot
The Vatican Can’t Be Held Responsible For Things It Couldn’t
Have Known. The Problem Is… It Knew A Lot.
Where does accountability begin and end? I hosted a heated HuffPost Live discussion about that question with Marci Hamilton, a lawyer trying to hold the Vatican accountable for pedophile priests.
This week, the Church won a victory over Hamilton when an Oregon federal court ruled that the Holy See is not the “employer” of molester priests. The case could shield the Church from possible monetary damages, although Hamilton says she’ll appeal.
The Vatican’s responsibility for the actions of priests on the other side the world is not just a legal question. It’s a moral one. Defending the Vatican on HuffPost Live was writer-reporter James Marshall Crotty, who asked: “Is the Pope responsible for every action of anybody who works in a church? … Is the Pope responsible for the part-time guy who helps in a church with the liturgy and does something wrong? Is the Pope responsible for the person who volunteers at a shelter that’s overseen by the Church?”
No. He has a point. The Church can only be held responsible for what it should reasonably have known. The problem for Crotty and the Church’s other defenders is… it knew a lot. The Vatican is not an impartial head office, detached from the daily workings of its dioceses. Nor does it lack moral influence over its global franchise. It is a deeply engaged institution — and it has systematically enabled child rapists to escape justice and freely rape again. When Pope Benedict ran the diocese of Munich and Freising in 1980 as Archbishop Ratzinger, it came to his attention that one of his priests had taken an 11-year-old boy into the mountains, fed him alcohol, locked him up, stripped him naked, and forced the boy to give him a blow job. Ratzinger’s response was to send the priest off for “therapy.”
Quite apart from the absurdity of the idea that a man of Ratzinger’s character enjoys the deepest possible kinship with an all-wise creator of the universe, is there any doubt that he, his predecessors, and his colleagues have presided over a global operation that encourages its foot soldiers to turn the same blind eye he did?
As I argued on HuffPost Live, imagine if the Catholic Church were a secular child care institution that ran a franchise of dormitories and boarding schools. Imagine if that child care company was implicated in a vast, recurring cover-up of child rape. Would we absolve the CEO of responsibility because he didn’t know about every instance? Would we leave the board of directors in place, on the narrow grounds that its pedophile employees were technically hired by subsidiary operations — even though they wore the company’s uniform, adhered to its instruction manual, used the same training methods, provided the same services, hired and fired whom the head office told them to, and pledged fealty to the CEO every day? The company would be shut down in a heartbeat. Its owners would be in jail.
Barbara Blaine, a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest, was the third guest in the HuffPost Live conversation. As the founder and president of the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests, she argued that Church officials try to have it both ways. “When it comes to something that has to do with the abuse of children, they want to wipe their hands of it and keep a distance,” she said. “But if that same priest were to come out in support of same-sex marriage, you can be sure that he or she would be removed or disciplined, and the Vatican would assert their authority.”
Sadly, most lawyers I’ve spoken with regard Hamilton’s case against the Vatican as a loser. When it comes to employment law, the Holy See has successfully distanced itself from the priests who work for it (or rather, apparently, who don’t.) It’s unsurprising that the institution has structured itself in such a way as to evade legal responsibility for its crimes. But that has no bearing on its moral responsibility. The Vatican may win in the courts of law. But in a higher court — a court whose judgment the Church, of all institutions, should care most about—the Vatican still has a case to answer.
Split verdict in pastor’s sex abuse trial
ADEL, Iowa —
A jury announced its split verdict Friday in the trial of former Pella pastor Patrick Edouard late Friday afternoon.
The jury found Edouard not guilty of three counts of third-degree sexual abuse.
The jury found him guilty of all four counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, school employee or clergy. They also found him guilty of having a pattern, practice or scheme to sexually exploit.
Four women in Edouard’s former congregation at Covenant Reform Church in Pella said he used his influence as a pastor and counselor to draw them into having sexual relations. Three of the women said the first sexual encounter with Edouard was rape.
The jury deliberated Thursday afternoon and Friday. They announced they were returning to the courtroom to read the verdict about 3:50 p.m.
Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown said they were hoping for convictions on the sex abuse charges and believed they had the evidence to prove them.
“Ultimately, in the end, we’re just happy and very pleased with the outcome,” Brown said. “We knew the sexual abuse charges were a real uphill battle because of the nature of the relationships that our victims had with the defendant.”
Edouard faces up to nine years in prison.
“We’re very pleased with the verdict. We know it was a very difficult case, difficult for the victims, difficult for their families, difficult for the jury to hear the type of evidence they had to hear, and we’re very happy with the verdict that was entered,” Brown said.
Judge Paul Huscher continued Edouard’s bond and he was able to leave the courtroom after the verdict.
Prosecutors refile felony charges dropped against Philly priest
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Prosecutors have refiled felony sex-assault charges against a suspended Philadelphia priest, days after a judge dropped them for lack of evidence.
A city judge had found the victim’s testimony at a preliminary hearing last week failed to support the most serious charges against the Rev. Andrew McCormick. The judge upheld misdemeanor charges, including indecent exposure and indecent assault.
But prosecutors insist the 56-year-old priest’s actions amount to felony sexual assault.
The 25-year-old accuser says McCormick molested him at his rectory in 1997, when the boy was 10.
The charges refiled Tuesday include sexual assault and deviate intercourse.
Defense lawyer William Brennan says he’s disappointed by the prosecutors’ decision, but is ready to defend the case.
McCormick remains free on bail. It’s not yet clear when he’ll return to court.
Priest accused of sexual misconduct again
A priest that was a member of the Glenmary Home Missioners, a Catholic society in Fairfield of priests and brothers who are dedicated to establishing a Catholic presence in rural areas and small towns of the United States, has been alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct for a second time.
Authorities allege that Father Bob Poandl was involved in an incident that took place in the 1980s in the diocese of Savannah, Georgia. A police report containing these allegations was filed on July 14 with the Union County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Department.
Poandl had originally been accused in February of child sex abuse that occurred 30 years ago in West Virginia.
Poandl was brought back to Cincinnati and relieved of his duties following the first set of allegations, the charges of which were dismissed by a West Virginia judge. Poandl has been living at Glenmary’s Cincinnati residence since then and has not been functioning as a priest.
“I have requested a copy of the July 14 police report,” Father Artysiewicz, president of the Glenmary Home Missioners, said. “We have also been in contact with the district attorney in Blairsville, Ga., who was also not aware of the police report. Once I receive the report, Glenmary will begin a preliminary investigation. We don’t know anything about the accuser at this time, but it’s my hope that I can find a way to reach out to this person as soon as possible.”
“Glenmary is committed, first and foremost, to making every possible effort to prevent misconduct by any of its members,” Father Artysiewicz said. “And we also remain committed to facilitating healing for all those involved in any instances of sexual misconduct by providing an open, compassionate pastoral response.”
Report filed against Catholic Priest for child abuse
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) –
A sex abuse report has been filed against a Catholic Priest with ties to Southeast Georgia.
An Atlanta man filed the report, stating that Father Robert Roandl molested him when he was a child.
Leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests want Roandl put in a secure treatment center.
The priest served churches in Pembroke and Claxton under Glenmary Missions of Cincinnati. He has not served with the Diocese of Savannah. He also worked in seven other states
Pastor ordered to stay behind bars in child sex abuse case
By Arelis R. Hernández, Orlando Sentinel
7:44 p.m. EST, August 22, 2012
A judge has ordered that the former pastor of a Chuluota church remain behind bars after being accused of sexually molesting a child for several years.
David Rutherford Downs, 54, of Chuluota was arrested last month after allegations emerged that he had had inappropriate contact with a child under the age of 12. He is charged with two counts of sexual battery, a capital offense.
During a bond hearing Wednesday, defense attorney Tad Yates questioned the credibility of Downs’ alleged victim and argued that his client should be set free because he poses no danger.
Downs, who founded and led Cornerstone Baptist Church in Chuluota for more than 20 years, encouraged church leaders to remove him as senior pastor and report the allegations, Yates said.
Yates argued that no one has corroborated the victim’s story and that the child likely fabricated the allegations in retaliation for discipline Downs had imposed.
Nevertheless, his client submitted to authorities willingly when faced with the charges, Yates said.
But Orange County Judge Marc Lubet said the victim’s explicit testimony regarding the details of the alleged abuse was enough to deny Downs bail.
Sheriff’s Office Det. Melissa Harrielson testified that the victim was isolated from other children and led alone into Downs’ bedroom on several occasions.
The Department of Children and Families had also investigated reports of physical and sexual abuse. They confirm the child had been spanked severely in 2011 but the molestation case was closed due to lack of evidence.
When Harrielson investigated further, the child’s family refused to cooperate and retained lawyers, she said.
Lubet said he thought it was unusual that no one — including his own family — came to Downs’ defense and instead had “clammed up.”
Downs’ friend Kyle Henderson said outside the courtroom that when he visited the former pastor in jail, Downs denied the abuse.
“I believe he is being treated unfairly,” Henderson said. “I just know he’s done a lot of good things for our community and for church members. It was a surprise to everyone.”
A new scandal is shaking the Aussie Church
Police are currently looking into alleged cover-ups involving three senior churchmen
By Jill Duchess of Hamilton on Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Accusations of cover-ups and blame-shifting by the Catholic Church in its handling of allegations of child sexual abuse by priests have been front-page news in Australia. Newspaper headlines such as “Senior Catholic Priests in Child Sex Cover-Up Inquiry” point to claims that the Church has attempted to hide possible sex abuse within its walls rather than reporting it to the police.
Whether these cases will stand up is yet to be proved, but investigators in the states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria are currently searching for evidence that in many instances priests were merely moved on. This is not unique to Australia. There have been far-reaching repercussions from court cases involving cover-ups in Ireland, Germany and America.
Two dedicated investigations by the NSW police, Strike Force Lantle and Strike Force Glenroe, are currently looking into alleged cover-ups involving three senior churchmen, including a bishop and an archbishop
An MP has renewed calls for a royal commission. Last April in Victoria, following revelations of 40 suicides of abuse victims by two priests, the state government initiated a parliamentary inquiry into the failure of the Catholic Church to protect children from sexual abuse.
All members of the hierarchy vehemently deny the allegations. But even if subsequent court hearings come to nothing, they are re-focusing attention on the many priests already jailed for paedophilia.
There are no official figures, but since 1993 the charity Broken Rites alone has supported 150 cases which ended in prosecutions and are currently aiding another eight court cases. They have also handled 15 cases that ended without convictions and 128 out-of-court settlements. The abuse was so extensive that Pope Benedict, when visiting Sydney in 2008 on World Youth Day, made a public apology to victims in Australia.
Whether mandatory celibacy has contributed to abuse is now much debated. One lawyer remarked: “Total denial of sexuality can have terrible repercussions. Pent-up sexual tensions sometimes find an outlet with the easiest available target – sadly this is often children.”
The fact that celibacy is a matter of Church discipline, not part of Church doctrine, has been emphasised in the recent revelations of 49-year-old Fr Kevin Lee of Sydney, who has been married to a woman in the Philippines for a year.
While in Australia I made inquiries into how all this will adversely affect congregations. The answer is that Mass attendance is now similar to that in Dublin, with less than one in five Catholics kneeling in pews each Sunday. But with 5.5 million Catholics – that is, 25.3 per cent of the population – the Catholic Church, despite the growth of Pentecostal churches, is Australia’s largest religion.
Along with diminishing churchgoers, the drop in the number of Australian-born priests continues. In the 2012 directory of Catholic priests in Australia once again the most common name is Vietnamese. There are 40 priests called Nguyen.
But one positive trend is the vibrancy of Australia’s Catholic schools – mostly run by lay teachers. With 650,000 students and around 21 per cent of all secondary school enrolments, they rank second after government schools. As non-Catholic admissions are kept at around seven per cent, parish priests are sometimes asked by Catholic parents who never got around to having their babies baptised to perform late baptisms on children aged between four and 11. These christenings are, alas, for expediency, not for faith.
Written by Melissa Grima
BERLIN — A local man with a claim of abuse pending against the Diocese of Manchester hopes that telling his story will help bring the focus of the church sex abuse scandal onto the victims rather than the abusers.
Frank Laferrier, a Berlin resident who grew up on the Seacoast, said he was raped by a priest as a young teen in Durham as he sought refuge at St. Thomas More Parish after running away from an abusive foster home. Laferrier said that although he has a claim pending with the diocese, he is coming forward to tell his story publicly because he believes Catholics “really need to see what was done to the victims.”
“I think if someone like me tells them what I went through, they would understand what the victims went through,” Laferrier said.
Careful to point out that he does not blame all Roman Catholics for the abuse he sustained, only the priest who did it, Laferrier said he recognizes that not all priests and parish leaders are like this. “I’ve met some really good people,” he said.
He added that he is not trying to destroy the church or attack anyone’s beliefs, but he does want those who abused children or hid the abuse to pay for their crimes.
“What the priest did to me that night, he took my heart, my soul, my body and my mind.”
According to Laferrier, on the night in question, he was brought to the church for a single night after running away. Alone with the priest, he was raped. As the priest raped him, Laferrier alleges, he was told it was punishment for his sins — the sin of disobeying his mother and father. Additionally, he claims, the priest told him if he told anyone what had happened he would spend an eternity burning in hell.
His upbringing in the faith and attendance at Catholic school made certain that he took those words to heart, he said, and as a result he held on to the secret until last year.
In September of 2011, Laferrier said, he took his case to the diocese and has since retained the services of attorney Peter Hutchins of Manchester, a personal injury attorney with extensive experience in clergy abuse cases.’
Hutchins, who said he has handled about 200 clergy abuse cases since 2002, said Laferrier’s claim is going through the process with the church but still has a ways to go. The case is currently in the investigation phase, Hutchins confirmed. He explained that claims of abuse go to the church, which then coordinates an informal interview with alleged victim and a diocese investigator. The investigator then prepares a report determining if claim is credible and the diocese moves from there.
Though Laferrier has brought his allegations to the diocese, he has not yet been scheduled for the informal interview with the investigator. Hutchins said he expects that move to come within the next few months.
After that, Hutchins said, the case can take 12-15 months before any settlement might be offered if the claim is found to be credible by the diocese. He noted that the church takes the cases as they come, but “there are certain financial realities with a small diocese especially one that has already paid out a couple hundred claims.”
The settlement process is the first course of action, Hutchins said, and his clients always have the right to pursue legal action in court if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the initial settlement attempts.
Laferrier said is looking for a financial settlement and an apology.
Though it has been many years since the original church abuse scandal broke in 2002, Laferrier pointed to continued comments from high-profile Catholics like Cardinal Timothy Dolan (Archdiocese of NY) and Catholic League president Bill Donohue and even Pope Benedict himself, as part of the reason he has become so outspoken.
“Frank’s an individual who is very involved in following these church related matters,” Hutchins said. He takes issues with many of the comments made by these men on his blog Rape Victims of the Catholic Church (all one word) on WordPress. In his blog, which is a blend of news links and vitriolic tirades, Laferrier takes issue with stories relating to the Catholic Church on a fairly regular basis.
Hutchins added that Frank is not alone in waiting to make his claim of abuse. “A lot of people, they come forward at different random times for whatever reason,” he said. He noted that 2002-03 —when the issue was in the news — saw the most people come forward. Even now, though, his law firm averages one call every 4-6 weeks and he currently has 6-8 pending clergy abuse cases.