Monthly Archives: August 2013
Archbishop Robert Carlson “Legally, no one can even touch me, whether I did these awful things or not, because the law doesn’t apply to bishops like me.”
Archbishop Robert Carlson: “Legally, no one can even touch me, whether I did these awful things or not, because the law doesn’t apply to bishops like me.”
Archbishop Robert Carlson Seeks to Dismiss Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Argues Archdiocese Isn’t Liable
Last month, a Lincoln county family filed a lawsuit against St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson alleging that he tried to cover up a sex abuse case involving a local priest and even attempted to tamper with incriminating evidence. The priest in question is Father Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang who reportedly has very close ties to Carlson — and who is accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage girl.
Now, Carlson has filed a formal response to the suit, asking the courts to dismiss it, arguing that neither he nor the Archdiocese of St. Louis is liable.
Victims’ rights advocates say this move is not surprising but still troubling. “It’s like no matter what the facts are or what the allegations are, his response is stunningly uniform: ‘You can’t hold me responsible,'” David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, tells Daily RFT.
SNAP, along with the attorneys representing the accuser, say the case against Jiang and the Archdiocese is unique for several reasons. Notably, the accusations refer to very recent incidents; Jiang, according to the suit, molested the girl several times last year and admitted his actions to the victims’ parents in June of 2012. The suit also says notes clear evidence of the abuse — including text messages from Jiang who allegedly tried to pay off the family.
Additionally, this may be the first time that Carlson has ever been subpoenaed in a criminal case.
In the case of Jiang, there is both an ongoing criminal case and civil suit. The abuse is said to have occurred inside the home of the victim, whose family was reportedly very close to the priest.
Carlson’s response doesn’t necessarily address the accusations head-on but argues that legally, he and the Archdiocese of St. Louis cannot be liable on any of the counts. An excerpt:
Under Missouri law, a corporate entity on its own cannot commit battery…. Even if the Court were to construe Count I of Plaintiff’s Petition as pleading a claim for vicarious liability, Plaintiffs would still not state a cause of action because sexual assault and battery are not within the course and scope of the employment of priests.
While the lawsuit alleges that the Archdiocese “aided and abetted” Jiang’s alleged actions, “Missouri courts have declined to extend liability under the theories attempted by Plaintiffs,” says the motion to dismiss.
Citing past cases, the filing also says, “Because the Missouri Supreme Court has determined that a claim of negligence against a religious entity (or its religious leaders) in this situation violates the First Amendment, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against the Archdiocese or Archbishop Carlson for negligence.”
Clohessy says it’s hypocritical of the Archdiocese not to offer a substantive response to the accusations — and for Carlson to claim he is not responsible.
“He repeatedly promised to be open and transparent…and yet it’s been now more than a month since these fairly shocking charges were made and he’s chosen not to give an answer,” he says. “A real, straightforward answer.”
“You could summarize this motion in one sentence. ‘Whether or not I did any of these things doesn’t matter. Missouri law says I can’t be held responsible. The case against me should be tossed,'” he continues.
There is, as Clohessy points out, one fairly significant footnote in which Carlson addresses the accusation that he attempted to tamper with evidence. According to the family, Jiang left $20,000 for the family after admitting to the abuse and then went on to directly confess his actions to Carlson. Carlson, the suit says, then told the family that Jiang would only be removed if he had sex with the girl — and suggested the parents give the check to him.
A footnote in the motion to dismiss says:
Archbishop Carlson vehemently denies the baseless allegations set forth by Plaintiffs in Count VI (Attempted Tampering with Evidence): For purposes of the instant motion to dismiss, however, the falsity of Plaintiffs’ allegations is immaterial since Plaintiffs cannot state a claim under Missouri law in the first instance.
“Despite the fact that these are very recent and very specific allegations of abuse by Jiang and coverup by Carlson, he still offers the boilerplate, legalistic, hair-splitting defenses that you would expect of any corporate CEO,” Clohessy says, “and not of an allegedly spiritual shepherd.”
A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis says in an e-mail to Daily RFT, “This matter is in the hands of the Missouri courts and accordingly we have no further comment beyond what’s been filed.”
We left a message yesterday for Jiang’s attorney and will update if we hear back.
He’s a good priest and a holy priest…
He’s a good priest and a holy priest who happens to have be arrested and charged with child molestation and victim tampering. We support Rev. Joseph Liang… or so suggests congregants from Catherdral Basilica of St. Louis as they tried to organize an official event showing their support for the alleged pedophile Catholic priest. SNAP put an end to it.
Earlier this week, local victims’ rights advocates were outraged when they saw an invitation to a meet-up at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis to pray for the “defense and exoneration” of Father Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang, a priest accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage girl. Representatives of the Archdiocese of St. Louis said they were not aware of the event until Daily RFT reached out. They ultimately canceled it and had the meetup.com listing removed.
Oh you foolish people! Why would you support this man? Is it because he is a man of God? I think by now we all understand that priest are men who have the same weaknesses as other men, but much more access to power and children, which makes them more susceptible to abuse. Jiang will go to prison over these allegations. In fact, I predict a 30 year sentence. The evidence is damning. And now, Archbishop Robert Carlson has been Subpoenaed in the case. I smell a cover up!
“Child-molesting clerics may perform the actual assault alone, but almost always there are coverups involving other church officials, usually supervisors,” David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, tells Daily RFT. “We can’t predict what Carlson will be asked or answer under oath. But simply the fact that he has to face tough questions under oath in a pending criminal case is encouraging to us.”
Archbishop Robert Carlson denied the allegation. I cannot wait to see Carlson testify, so I hope the court rules in the victim’s favor. The question I want Carlson to answer, why did he bail out Rev. Joseph Liang?
I am a huge fan of SNAP. They fight the good fight and do a good job of holding the church and priests accountable. What I like most is the help they provide the victims. I would also like to thank Sam Levin of the Riverfront Times for his outstanding reporting.
Newark needs a spiritual father, not another crime boss
August 23, 2013
From the link: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/cassidy/130823
The disgraced and discredited Archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers, has lashed out like a cornered rat at his critics, the media, politicians, members of the clergy and even the families of victims whose safety he utterly disregarded. In response, today’s Star-Ledger rightly states that “it boggles the mind that in 2013 an archbishop would dare speak of families like this.”
It boggles the mind, indeed, that any Christian leader would be allowed to wreak the destruction this man has caused in the Archdiocese of Newark. His haughty contempt and refusal to meet with anyone disagreeing with him is well known, but the irreparable damage he has caused to peoples lives, to the salvation of souls driven out of the Church, to the Church’s institutions like the approximately 70 schools closed by Myers, and the scores of once vibrant parishes now boarded up are testament to a pompous ass who seeks not to serve, but to be served.
His only apparent defender appears to be Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. Since it is well known that Donohue speaks for the Catholic hierarchy and certainly for his own Archbishop, Cardinal Dolan, who also presides over the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, one must ask, how much damage will this unstable narcissist be allowed to wreak before any bishop here or abroad speaks out? What price will they pay? Bishops like Myers have already cost the Church more than $2 billion. Have they no moral responsibility beyond loyalty to a brother bishop? They may wish to ponder the words of Saint Ambrose: “Not only for every idle word,but for every idle silence must man render an account.”
Thanks be to God for the Star-Ledger for exposing the corruption. That newspaper’s editorial board published today a succinct and excellent summary of this ongoing tragedy in Newark; but it is in the comments to the editorial, linked here, where one can grasp the pain, alienation and justified anger felt by those who expect their bishop to mirror Christ and the Apostles, not a crime boss.
- regarding his handling of sexual abuse cases is so crowded with falsehoods and insults that it’s difficult to know where to begin.
- What’s most revealing is what is missing: There’s not a single word of sympathy for the victims and their families. Myers instead insults them by suggesting they are blaming the church for problems in their own families. “One can understand when family difficulties lead parents, even by conjecture, to blame someone outside the family,” he wrote. “But conjecture is no reason to undermine the Ministry of individual Priests (or Bishops for that matter.)”
- It boggles the mind that in 2013 an archbishop would dare speak of families like this. But it is vintage Myers. While many bishops are working hard to rehabilitate the church, he offers only haughty disdain for those who question his judgment.
- This time, he calls his critics “evil, wrong, and immoral” and suggests that they may burn in hell: “God will surely address them in due time.”
- The latest damning information comes from a lawsuit the church recently settled for $1.35 million. It accuses Myers of ignoring a credible accusation against a priest on his watch. The lawsuit claimed that the Rev. Thomas Maloney went on to repeatedly abuse an 8-year-old boy.
- In his deposition, Myers says he never saw written warnings that went to the diocese, perhaps because of his “slipshod” filing system. If that were true, if it was an innocent mistake, you would expect Myers to offer a heartfelt apology to the victim and his family for his failure to red-flag these cases. Instead, he has refused for years to meet with them.
- In his letter to the diocese last weekend, Myers concedes that Maloney gave him gifts, but mentions only one: “I recall that he once gave me a coin of minimal value, of which he had several examples.”
- The court records tell a different story. Thank-you notes from Myers describe a steady stream of valuable gifts, including gold coins, silver, a “much-loved” camera and undisclosed amounts of cash, which Myers said he would use to gamble at the racetrack.
- Put aside these small falsehoods and insults. Because they mean nothing when measured against Myers’ failure to safeguard children.
- Maloney is just one case. While in Newark, Myers allowed the Rev. Michael Fugee access to children even after Fugee confessed to repeatedly groping a boy’s genitals and signed a legal agreement to stay away from children. Last year, he placed an accused priest in a parish in Oradell without telling parishioners.
- In 2004, Myers wrote a letter of recommendation for a priest one week after learning the priest had been accused of breaking into a woman’s house and assaulting her. The same year, he banned another priest from public ministry after investigating an abuse allegation, but did not notify lay people or other priests. In 2007, he did not tell lay people about a credible finding of molestation against a priest working in Elizabeth and Jersey City.
- Myers just doesn’t get it. His complete lack of repentance underscores the need for him to resign for the sake of children’s safety.
© Daniel Cassidy
100 secret sex abusers in Catholic Church, says expert
by STEPHEN MCGINTY AUGUST 5, 2013
THE “secret archives” of the Catholic Church in Scotland could contain allegations of sexual abuse by as many as 100 priests and other staff in cases stretching back 50 years, according to the former head of the Church’s working party on child protection.
Alan Draper, who compiled a report on “problem priests” in the nineties, dismissed the Church’s plans to publish annual audits of sexual abuse allegations against priests as “window dressing”.
The claims came on the day a bishop apologised for sex abuse at two Scottish schools run by the Church.
Retired social work director Mr Draper said an independent commission should be allowed access to the archives of each of the eight dioceses in Scotland.
As chairman of the Catholic Church’s working party on child protection, Mr Draper identifed 22 “problem priests” by analysing a ten-year period between 1985 and 1995. Based on that study, he believes records covering the past half century could identity as many as 100 priests and individuals associated with the Church who were accused of sexual abuse.
Yesterday, the retired deputy director of Stockport social work department said: “This organisation [the Church] now lacks all credibility. This is a step, but it is a very small step, and it is not appropriate for the Church to lead this process.
“We need an independent audit going back at least 50 years whereby the dioceses open their records for proper scrutiny and it should be a minimum of three people with participation of victims in the process.”
The Catholic Church announced for the first time yesterday that it will publish the audits – compiled by its National Office of Child Safety – of all allegations made against priests, staff or volunteers and how these were resolved. In the autumn, the Church will release the audits dating back to 2006, when co-ordinated procedures were first put in place across the whole country. The exercise will then be repeated annually.
The Church is also preparing a more detailed report for publication next year. That deals with all historical cases stretching across all dioceses in Scotland and is an attempt to end the stream of damaging revelations, many of them dating back to the 1950s and 1960s.
New guidelines were first drawn up in 1996 after the conviction of Father Desmond Lynagh for the sexual abuse of Michael X, a student at Blairs junior seminary between 1973 and 1975.
In 2004, May Dunsmuir, the director of child protection for the Catholic Church in Scotland, wrote a hard-hitting memo stating that “an unacceptable level of risk to children may have been and could remain present”.
Before resigning from the post, Mrs Dunsmuir criticised the hierarchy for failing to adequately monitor certain priests and failing to conduct a national analysis or collate figures across each of the eight dioceses.
At the time, she wrote in a report, A Review of Child Protection Practices: “Of the diocesan cases reviewed, the director has highlighted a small number of active cases involving clergy which require to be addressed. There is no consistent system of monitoring clergy who present, or may present, a risk to children.
“Because of time constraints, a full review of all secret archives has not been completed. Active cases requiring some further action indicate that unacceptable levels of risk to children may have been and could remain present.”
Yesterday, the Bishop of Aberdeen, Hugh Gilbert, apologised on behalf of the Catholic Church for the sexual abuse of pupils by Benedictine monks at Fort Augustus Abbey school and its preparatory school, Carlekemp in East Lothian.
During a sermon at Fort Augustus parish church, Bishop Gilbert told the congregation: “It is a most bitter, shaming and distressing thing that in this former abbey school a small number of baptised, consecrated and ordained Christian men physically or sexually abused those in their care.
“I know that Abbot Richard Yeo has offered an apology to those who have suffered such abuse and I join him in that. We are anxious that there be a thorough police investigation into all this. And, that all that can be done should be done for the victims. All of us must surely pray for those who have suffered.
“The Catholic Church in Scotland has been addressing this issue increasingly effectively in recent years. We want to work with all public bodies who care for the young and vulnerable adults. We wish to share our experience and share best practice so that lessons can be learned and children can always be fully protected.”
A BBC investigation, broadcast last week, uncovered evidence of physical violence and sexual assault, including rape by monks at the fee-paying schools, which have since been closed. The cases of abuse are now being investigated by Police Scotland.
Last night, a spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “It is impossible to make predictions as to what an audit of the last 50 years could reveal.
“We are confident that the transparency of our published audits will satisfy, demonstrating that we are today at the forefront of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. Inevitably, there will be some who simply won’t believe us.”
By Ian Millhiser on July 31, 2013 at 2:05 pm
A federal judge in Wisconsin handed down an opinion yesterday granting the Catholic Church — and indeed, potentially all religious institutions — such sweeping immunity from federal bankruptcy law that it is not clear that it would permit any plaintiff to successfully sue any church in any court. While the ostensible issue in this case is whether over $50 million in church funds are shielded from a bankruptcy proceeding triggered largely by a flood of clerical sex abuse claims against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Judge Rudolph Randa reads the church’s constitutional and legal right to religious liberty so broadly as to render religious institutions immune from much of the law.
The case involves approximately $57 million that former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan transferred from the archdiocese’s general accounts to into a separate trust set up to maintain the church’s cemeteries. Although Dolan, who is now a cardinal, the Archbishop of New York and the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has denied that the purpose of this transfer was to shield the funds from lawsuits, Dolan penned a letter to the Vatican in 2007 where he explained that transferring the funds into the trust would lead to “an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.”
The issue facing the court is, essentially, whether the funds that Dolan split off into a separate trust can now be reabsorbed into the archdiocese’s assets in order to enable sex abuse victims and other creditors to be paid out of these assets. In holding that these funds cannot be so absorbed, Randa relies on a law that limits the federal government’s ability to “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion,” Randa cites to the current Archbishop of Milwaukee’s statement that “the care and maintenance of Catholic cemeteries, cemetery property, and the remains of those interred is a fundamental exercise of the Catholic faith,” and concludes that this statement alone is enough to shield the church’s funds. As Randa explains, “if the Trust’s funds are converted into the bankruptcy estate, there will be no funds or, at best, insufficient funds for the perpetual care of the Milwaukee Catholic Cemeteries.”
And Randa does not stop there. He goes on to argue that senior church officials get to unilaterally decide what constitutes a “substantial burden” on their faith for purposes of federal law — “Archbishop Listecki’s declaration stands unopposed, and on the issue of religious doctrine, it is unassailable. Moreover, the issue of substantial burden is essentially coterminous with religious doctrine.” In this case, an archbishop declared cemetery funds to be untouchable in a bankruptcy proceeding, but Randa’s reasoning could extend much farther. Nothing in his opinion would prevent a church’s officials from declaring that every single line in every single ledger kept by the church is mandated by the sacred word of God — and therefore every single dollar owned by the church is untouchable so long as the church engages in the kind of accounting gymnastics Dolan allegedly performed.
The same federal law that protects religious liberty also permits substantial burdens on religion when such a burden is “in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.” Randa largely glosses over this exception, however, holding that the “interests advanced by the bankruptcy system are not compelling.” That very well be true, but there is another, overriding interest in this case — whether an employer whose employees stand accused of widespread sexual abuse can evade accountability by engaging in accounting tricks. At least 45 Milwaukee priests face sex abuse accusations. One priest in particular was accused of personally molesting close to 200 deaf boys. Yet Randa does not even consider whether America has a compelling interest in deterring the church from allowing future such incidents to occur.
If Randa had stopped there, his opinion would still award the church — and, indeed, potentially all religious institutions — a breathtaking degree of legal immunity. Taken to its logical conclusion, Randa’s framework would allow a church to run up whatever debts it chooses, then effectively protect the entirety of its assets from its creditors through a combination of creative accounting and a bankruptcy filing. Yet Randa does not even stop there. After reaching this sweeping interpretation of federal religious liberty law, he then turns to the First Amendment of the Constitution. With little analysis, and in an almost certain conflict with a binding Supreme Court precedent, Randa concludes that the church has a constitutional right to shield its funds. By raising his opinion to constitutional status, Randa effectively strips Congress of its ability to correct his sweeping interpretation of the law.
Judge Randa, a George H.W. Bush appointee, has a history of being reversed by higher courts in cases involving hot button social issues, so there is a good chance that his opinion will ultimately be reversed on appeal. In the meantime, however, Randa effectively places the church above the law — and leaves what could be hundreds of sexual abuse victims in the cold.