Monthly Archives: April 2016

French church hit by new paedophile priest scandal

French church hit by new paedophile priest scandal

Published: 28 Apr 2016 12:30 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Apr 2016 12:30 GMT+02:00

From the Link:

A priest in south-western France has been accused of sexually abusing a minor, the latest in a long line of alleged paedophilia in French churches.

It was the mother of the victim who spoke out, claiming that her son – the nephew of the priest – was abused two decades ago.
The assaults allegedly occurred in Bayonne, in south western France, when the victim was a teenager.
Bayonne Bishop Marc Aillet, who is known for his conservative positions and leading a crusade against abortion, said in an open letter to his diocese on Wednesday said he had reported the matter to the Bayonne prosecutor.
The accused priest, Jean-François Sarramagnan, has been suspended from all ecclesiastical function.

Aillet said the priest had twice attempted suicide and had previously been suspended from his duties to attend “therapy”, although it remains unclear for what exactly.

France’s catholic church has been besmirched by a number of similar claims recently.

Earlier this week, a French cardinal accused of covering up for another paedophile priest admitted to “errors in the management and nomination of certain priests”

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, made the admission in a statement after a meeting at the bishop’s residence in Lyon to discuss accusations the church failed to report several child sexual abuse cases in the area.

The meeting, which was held behind closed doors and attended by some 220 priests, heard from a victim of Bernard Preynat, a priest who has admitted sexually abusing scouts under his supervision over 25 years ago.

Several complaints have been brought against Barbarin for failing to inform the authorities about Preynat and other priests targeted by abuse allegations in his diocese.

The media-friendly cardinal, one of the top figures in the Church in France, has vehemently denied any cover-up.

“The cardinal recognised that the diocese committed errors in the management and nomination of certain priests,” the statement issued after Monday’s meeting said.

“We failed to fulfill our obligation to investigate and to seek the truth,” Yves Baumgarten, vicar-general of the diocese, told a later press conference.
The scandal is the worst to hit the Catholic Church in France since 2001, when a bishop was given a three-month suspended jail sentence for failing to inform authorities about a paedophile priest.
Asked whether there were calls at the meeting for Barbarin to step aside, Baumgarten said that some priests were favourable to him stepping aside while the investigation was ongoing the vast majority wanted him to remain in his position.
The Catholic Church in France has announced plans for an independent commission of secular experts to advise bishops on handling allegations of clerical abuse as well as for local units in charge of listening to victims’ complaints.

Abuse responsibility not equal: Pell

Abuse responsibility not equal: Pell

Source: AAP
1 MAR 2016 – 5:15 AM  UPDATED 1 MAR 2016 – 12:20 PM
From the Link:
Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

In compelling evidence to the child abuse royal commission, George Pell has explained how responsibility for protecting children is shared in the church.

Cardinal George Pell says he had ‘no interest’ in Gerald Francis Ridsdale’s offending in the mid-1970s and was not told the priest was being moved because he was a pedophile

Cardinal Pell, who was then a Ballarat priest, says he did not know that Ridsdale’s offending was common knowledge in the Victorian parish of Inglewood in 1975 and did not know about the allegations.

“It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me,” he told the child abuse royal commission from Rome, drawing gasps from some observers in the room.

“The suffering, of course, was real and I very much regret that, but I had no reason to turn my mind to the extent of the evils that Ridsdale had perpetrated.

He was asked if it was not necessary to avoid repeat offences to fully understand the circumstances of cases like Ridsdale.

The cardinal said that everyone in the church approached the task differently according to their level of responsibility.

Ms Furness asked him if he was saying it was not the case that if a parish priest heard of events dangerous to children happening in a neighbouring parish or a distant parish he had no responsibility to the children who were in danger.

Cardinal Pell: “Well, very obviously I said nothing of the sort. I said that a person from a neighbouring parish or distant parish has less responsibility for the care of children in those distant parishes than he does in his own.”

He told commission chair Justice Peter McClellan that he agreed that every member of the church had a responsibility to do what they could to protect children.

He also agreed that office bearers had a greater responsibility.

Cardinal Pell also said that Bishop Ronald Mulkearns lied to him about Ridsdale.

Former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns knew about complaints against Ridsdale when he moved him between parishes but Cardinal Pell said he was not told about it when he was an adviser to the bishop from 1977.

Cardinal Pell said the bishop and senior cleric Monsignor Leo Fiscalini deceived him and other advisers at meetings which discussed moving Ridsdale.

The commission has heard Ridsdale’s offending was common knowledge in at least two parishes but Cardinal Pell maintained he did not know.

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said Cardinal Pell would be held to be culpable if he, like Bishop Mulkearns, did know about the offending.

Cardinal Pell said that was correct.

“It is very clear of course that the decision is one of the bishop’s, that the consultors only have an advisory capacity and of course all of us have to respect the evidence,” Cardinal Pell said.

Pell account unbelievable: Abuse survivors

Pell account unbelievable: Abuse survivors

1 MAR 2016 – 11:52 AM  UPDATED 1 MAR 2016 – 7:35 PM
From the Link:
Cardinal George Pell says he was unaware of the offending of pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale in the 1970s but abuse survivors find that hard to believe.
Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

Child sex abuse survivors say it’s unbelievable a man of Cardinal George Pell’s intelligence was unaware of a pedophile priest’s offending when two Victorian communities and local clergy knew about it.

The cardinal told the child abuse royal commission on Monday night that while he was on a Ballarat diocese committee that advised on the transfers of priests he was never told of the offending of pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale in the 1970s.

Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, now head of the Vatican Treasury, met the pontiff after his initial grilling by the commission and told reporters before resuming his evidence on Tuesday: “I have the full backing of the Pope”.

By videolink from Hotel Quirinale in Rome he told the commission sitting in Sydney that then Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns and his advisor Monsignor Fiscalini had deceived him by not telling him Ridsdale was moved between parishes because of his offending.

Ridsdale was able to continue his offending as he was shifted from one parish to another as “talk” began among parishioners about his interfering with children.

His nephew David Ridsdale, who was sexually abused by his uncle, is among a group of survivors hearing the cardinal’s evidence in Rome and told reporters it appeared the Catholic Church was behaving “with lies and deceit” within its own structure.

He said he assumed Victorian Police would be taking up the matter in relation to church officials moving pedophile priests to parishes where they could continue their offending.

‘We’ve ended up with the ears of the world’: Abuse survivors adamant fight will go on

‘We’ve ended up with the ears of the world’: Abuse survivors adamant fight will go on

3 MAR 2016 – 3:43 AM  UPDATED 3 MAR 2016 – 8:01 PM
From the Link:
Abuse survivors vowed to continue the fight for justice for people who have been sexually abused within the Catholic church, just moments after Cardinal George Pell finished giving evidence to the child abuse royal commission.
Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

The abuse survivors who travelled to Rome to hear his evidence spoke to reporters moments after Cardinal Pell completed his final day on the stand in Rome.

David Ridsdale, a victim of pedophile priest, his uncle Gerald Francis Ridsdale, said the fight for justice was far from over.

“We wanted to make sure the commission [for Cardinal Pell] was the same process that we faced when in Australia,” Mr Ridsdale said.

“We feel that has been achieved. But so much more has happened. We’ve ended up with the ears of the world.

“So, please, understand that while we’re fighting one battle in Ballarat, we’re hoping to steamroll a whole deal more, and this is a worldwide institutional problem, not just the Catholic Church, this went on for so long and everybody knew, everybody knew.

“And it is about time that we addressed the past and look forward to the future, and I can assure you that is the goal of all the survivors that you have met.”

‘In the loop’

On his fourth day on the stand in Rome, Cardinal Pell said he would have been aware of concerns raised by parents from the Victorian parish of Doveton in a 1991 letter to the Catholic Education Office that said Searson was going into the boys’ toilets, watching boys in the shower and taking children into the presbytery without permission.

He said he did not investigate the matter because it was the responsibility of the CEO and the Vicar General.

“If they’d asked my opinion I would have given it,” he said.

He agreed that he was “in the loop as far as knowledge of Father Searson being a risk to children” but said the issue was the level of risk and “just what could be done within church and state law”.

The commission also heard that a student at St Patricks College in Ballarat told Cardinal Pell that Brother Edward Dowlan was “misbehaving” with boys in 1974.

Cardinal Pell said the boy “mentioned it casually in conversation” and did not ask him to do anything.

Asked by Commissioner Peter McClellan what he did with the information, Cardinal Pell replied: “I didn’t do anything about it”.

Eventually, he said, he inquired about the matter with the school chaplain but did not go immediately to the school to find out what was going on.

“With the experience of 40 years later, certainly I would agree that I should have done more,” Cardinal Pell said.

Lawyer Peter O’Brien, representing a former student of the Christian Brothers from Ballarat, asked Cardinal Pell “why on earth” he did not mention the complaint to police or insurance companies involved in cases brought against the Christian Brothers about Dowlan since the 1990s.

Cardinal Pell said it was because he had “no idea that the Christian Brothers were covering up in the way in which it’s now apparent”.

Dowlan continued to abuse dozens of children until 1985 but Cardinal Pell said he could not have done something to stop the crimes.

Pell denies offering bribe to keep abuse victim quiet

Earlier in proceedings, Cardinal Pell denied asking a nephew and victim of pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale what it would take to keep him quiet.

David Ridsdale told the commission when he told Cardinal Pell in 1993 he had been abused by his uncle, the then Melbourne bishop asked him: “I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.”

Cardinal Pell said he felt sorry for Ridsdale, but repeatedly denied the claim.

Mr Ridsdale’s lawyer Stephen Odgers SC asked: “Was it the case that you didn’t have much interest in what David Ridsdale told you about the crimes of Gerald Ridsdale?”

Cardinal Pell replied: “That’s completely untrue and David has never claimed that.”

Cardinal Pell said there was a radical misunderstanding between himself and Mr Ridsdale over their 1993 telephone conversation.

“I’m not even sure what keeping quiet means,” Pell said.

“I do dispute that.

“But for a man who was expressing a preference for a church hearing rather than going to the police, I wouldn’t have had any dispute with him on that score, although I have never impeded or discouraged anyone from going to the police.”

‘Disastrous coincidence’

Pell said it was a “disastrous coincidence” that five pedophiles ended up at the one Victorian school and parish in the 1970s.

Four pedophile Christian Brothers taught at Ballarat East’s St Alipius Boys’ School and pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale was the parish priest.

Pell also emphatically denied telling another priest that Fr Gerald Francis Ridsdale was abusing boys.

Former altar boy BWE has testified he overhead Cardinal Pell tell Fr Frank Madden before a funeral in Ballarat in 1983: “Ha, ha, I think Gerry’s been rooting boys again.”

“Let me begin by saying that nearly every detail in this allegation is manifestly false,” Pell said.

Fr Madden has previously told the inquiry Cardinal Pell never said that.

Cardinal Pell also said he deeply regretted the impact the abuse had on survivors’ faith, saying “Of course one of the other things I regret as a Catholic priest is the damage that these crimes do to the faith of the survivors, of the victims and their friends and family and generally throughout the society. I lament that”.

Cardinal Pell told the commission on Wednesday the church in the 1970s and 1980s was a world of crimes and cover ups and he was left in the dark about serious sex abuse allegations against priests and brothers in Ballarat and Melbourne.

Cardinal Pell also said he regretted his choice of words when he told the commission on Tuesday he had no interest in Father Ridsdale’s offending in the mid-1970s.

Cardinal Pell said he completely messed up the sequence of events while giving evidence and had believed he was responding to questions about when he was a Melbourne official in 1993.


Pell’s claim he was deceived ‘is wrong’

Pell’s claim he was deceived ‘is wrong’

27 APR 2016 – 6:30PM

From the Link:

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

A hearing into abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne winds up with former education officers expressing anger at Cardinal Pell’s allegations of deceit.

27 APR 2016 – 6:30 PM  UPDATED YESTERDAY 6:30 PM

Three former Catholic education officers have denied Cardinal George Pell’s claims their office deceived him about the activities of a violent and sexually abusive priest.

Former Catholic Education Office director Monsignor Thomas Doyle and his deputy Peter Annett told the sex abuse royal commission of their shock, disappointment and anger on hearing Dr Pell allege the office withheld information about pedophile priest Peter Searson in the 1980s.

Cardinal Pell, an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne in the ’80s, told the royal commission in March education officials were fearful of telling him the full story about Searson because they knew he would be “decisive” and not accept the status quo.

In giving his evidence from Rome where he is now the Vatican’s finance chief, Dr Pell also said he thought the education office at the time was protecting Archbishop Frank Little.

But Mgr Doyle and other witnesses categorically denied this was the case.

“I don’t agree with that evidence. I don’t agree that the Catholic Education Office intended to deceive Bishop Pell, so I thought his statement was wrong,” the Monsignor told the commission on Wednesday.

He was disappointed with the Cardinal’s claims.

“I don’t think they were true,” he said.

The now retired priest also said the office would have welcomed then Bishop Pell’s assistance in removing Searson.

The commission has heard evidence Searson threatened one little girl by holding a knife to her chest, sexually molested children in confession and threatened people with a gun.

Searson died in 2009 without being charged.

He was suspended from duty in 1997, a year after Dr Pell became Archbishop of Melbourne.

The commission has also heard that Archbishop Little ignored repeated requests to remove Searson.

Mr Annett said on Wednesday at one stage in the late ’80s the number one priority for the office was to get Searson removed from the parish.

“I would have thought our staff would be completely frank with Bishop Pell and be cheering from the rooftops if he was able to take action,” he said.

He said he had to admit to “some shock” at what Dr Pell said in Rome.

“I was disappointed and perhaps angry, but certainly very disappointed,” Mr Annett said.

Mr Annett, Mgr Doyle and former education consultant Allan Dooley said there was never any instruction to keep information from then auxiliary bishop Pell.

A fourth witness, former education official Catherine Briant who in 1989 took over as zone officer with responsibility for Doveton from Mr Dooley, said she was not briefed on problems at the Holy Family school.

She dealt with complaints he was bullying and harassing staff. She had no dealing with Bishop Pell, nor was she ever instructed to keep information from him, she said.

The hearing into widespread clerical abuse in Melbourne, which started last November, concluded on Wednesday.

EXCLUSIVE: Victim raped by upstate priest wants N.Y. to fix sex abuse statute

EXCLUSIVE: Victim raped by upstate priest wants N.Y. to fix sex abuse statute

Friday, April 8, 2016, 4:00 AM
From the Link:
JOHN O'BRIEN/JOHN BERRY Msgr. Charles Eckermann was defrocked and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after a probe showed the sex abuse claims against him were credible.

Msgr. Charles Eckermann was defrocked and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after a probe showed the sex abuse claims against him were credible.

Kevin Braney went through hell in the basement of a church rectory.

Braney says he was a devout 15-year-old altar boy when Msgr. Charles Eckermann first raped him in a rectory storage room at St. Ann’s Church in Manlius, a suburb of Syracuse. Braney says Eckermann assaulted him at least a dozen times in 1988 and 1989 on a mattress the priest had stashed in the storage room.

“I was taught to trust and believe priests because they were the closest thing to God on Earth, and he told me if I defied him, I was defying God,” Braney said. “He said he had a divine right to abuse me.

“He told me he would put my genitals in a vise if I resisted,” added Braney, now an executive at a mental health agency in Boulder, Colo., and an advocate for sexual abuse victims. “He said he would kill me if I said anything.”

Eckermann, now 84, was defrocked and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican in October 2014 after an investigator hired by the Diocese of Syracuse deemed Braney’s allegations credible. But Braney, 43, is unable to pursue criminal charges or civil litigation against Eckermann or the church because New York’s statute of limitations bars child sex abuse victims from proceeding with cases after their 23rd birthday.

That’s why Braney supports the Child Victims Act, a bill sponsored by Queens Assemblywoman Margaret Markey that would eliminate the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases and open a one-year window for victims of past sexual abuse to file civil suits.

“The best thing for the Catholic Church would be for the law to change and let justice run its course,” Braney said. “It would bring closure for the victims and their families and it would let the church move forward and heal the damage caused by the sex-abuse scandal.”

The Child Victims Act faces stiff opposition from the Catholic Church, including the Diocese of Syracuse, but diocesan spokeswoman Danielle Cummings called Braney “courageous” for speaking out about the abuse.

Church officials weren’t always so sympathetic, Braney said. When he finally found the guts to tell another priest about Eckermann’s abuse, the priest hit him in the face.

Church officials were reportedly put on notice about sexual misconduct by Eckermann, who served on the Syracuse board of education and was a high school teacher and principal, four years before he began abusing Braney.

Braney says he was also raped by another priest, the Rev. James Quinn, in 1989 during a rehearsal for his confirmation.

“He took me to a room in the rectory and raped me,” Braney said. “I was frozen. I was disconnected from my body. I just wanted it to end. I remember I focused on a clock. It was 4:23 in the afternoon.”

Eckermann could not be reached for comment. Quinn died in 2013.

Braney says he dealt with the internal demons unleashed by the sexual abuse by throwing himself into sports and his studies. He became a star lacrosse player at Brown University and moved to the Denver area, where he earned a doctorate in education at the University of Colorado. He later became the principal of Boulder High School.

Braney was working with teens who had been abused — when the memories he repressed for decades came flooding back about four years ago.

Braney’s pain became public in March 2013, when police were called to his home during an argument with his former wife. He told the Boulder cops who arrested him on suspicion of domestic violence that he was dealing with the stress that came from his abuse. The police told Braney — who later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for damaging property — to contact Syracuse-area prosecutors or police.

The Onondaga DA’s office investigated Braney’s claims, but prosecutors told Braney they could not file charges because the statute of limitations had expired.

Current Syracuse bishop Robert Cunningham has apologized to Braney for the abuse and the diocese has paid for therapy. But Braney wants more: He wants transparency. He wants the diocese to publicly identify clergy who also face credible allegations of abuse.

Cummings said the diocese is reluctant to do so because other victims who have come forward have asked to keep details of their abuse — including identities of the abusers — private.

Braney said that practice puts the responsibility for transparency on victims and survivors.

“It perpetuates the shame and secrecy,” Braney said. “Most of all it protects pedophiles.”

EXCLUSIVE: Only 1 NYC district attorney supports fixing state law to help child abuse victims seek justice

EXCLUSIVE: Only 1 NYC district attorney supports fixing state law to help child abuse victims seek justice


Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 4:00 AM
From the Link:

One of the city’s district attorneys is in favor of extending the criminal statute of limitations on charges of sexual abuse of children — but the others refused to take a stand.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s support of overhauling the oft-maligned law barring criminal charges after the victim turns 23 years old comes as the state Senate considers a bill to do just that.

“We have long been supportive of extending the criminal statute of limitations for young victims of sexual abuse,” Kevin Ryan, a Brown spokesman, told the Daily News.

But other district attorneys were more reluctant to tackle the issue.

The offices of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark all referred The News to the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York.

The association occasionally issues position statements on legislation under consideration in Albany.

But when it comes to victims of child sex abuse holding their abusers accountable, the association does not plan to take an official position, according to Executive Director Robyn Pangi.

“People want to be able to bring these prosecutions, but as you know, a lot of these cases are 30 or 40 years old. It’s very difficult to collect evidence, find appropriate witnesses and build a case,” Pangi said.

She vowed that district attorneys were committed to doing everything in their power, whatever the law may be.

“We certainly want to ensure the victims feel we will be able to prosecute their case effectively,” she said.

Doug Auer, a spokesman for Staten Island DA Michael McMahon, echoed that sentiment.

“Regardless of whether the statute is changed, we will continue to do our utmost to do justice for the victims of these crimes,” Auer said.

Individual district attorneys do often take stands on certain issues — just not this one.

In recent months Vance has been among the leading voices in the city calling for law enforcement to have access to encrypted smartphones.

The DAs’ reluctance to take an official position comes as the Senate considers a bill to do away with the statute of limitations to bring criminal cases or civil suits in cases involving adults abused as children.

Previous efforts to reform the law have failed as GOP lawmakers have signaled they are against the legislation. Advocates say that is in large part due to the opposition of the Catholic Church and a consortium of yeshivas.

The issue came to the fore recently after Suffolk County authorities charged Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu with sexually abusing seven foster children that had been in his care.

Authorities said at the time they couldn’t bring charges in connection to additional victims of Gonzales-Mugaburu, 59, because of the statute of limitations.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Loyola School on Upper East Side covered up teacher who molested seven girls in 1970s, 1980s — but victims can’t sue

Loyola School on Upper East Side covered up teacher who molested seven girls in 1970s, 1980s — but victims can’t sue

Saturday, April 23, 2016, 9:58 PM
From the Link:
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES Barbara Dorris, an advocate for children who were abused, says that the coverup is why New York needs to adjust its statute of limitations law for sexual abuse survivors.

Barbara Dorris, an advocate for children who were abused, says that the coverup is why New York needs to adjust its statute of limitations law for sexual abuse survivors.

Despite Loyola’s admissions of Tambini’s sexual abuse, victims won’t be able to sue to learn what officials knew about it and how they responded to it.

Louis Tambini was a legendary figure at Loyola, a history teacher, coach and athletic director who worked at the small Catholic school on the Upper East Side for more than 30 years.

Tambini was also a creep who molested seven girls who attended the school in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Officials at the Jesuit-run school failed to notify authorities, parents or alumni when they learned about the sexual abuse allegations, according to a report commissioned by the current Loyola administration and prepared by the Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft law firm. But despite evidence that Loyola officials covered up the abuse for decades after they learned of the allegations in December 1982, the victims can’t file lawsuits against the school because New York’s statute of limitations expired decades ago.

The statute of limitations in New York, considered one of the strictest in the nation, bars sex abuse survivors from pursuing criminal charges or civil damages after their 23rd birthday.

“This report really does memorialize how an institution can use a strict and draconian loophole in New York State law to keep the matter quashed until the statute of limitations runs out,” said attorney Mike Reck, who represents one of the victims.

Barbara Dorris of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, meanwhile, said the damning Loyola report provides a cogent argument for why statute of limitations reform is necessary.

“This report is more proof that even now, Catholic officials work very hard — and usually with success — to keep child sex crimes and coverups covered up,” Dorris said. “That’s one reason why New York’s archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations must be reformed and why every person who saw, suspected or suffered abuse and coverup should call secular authorities, not church officials.”

The six-page report issued April 15 and prepared by Cadwalader attorney Ken Wainstein and two associates concluded that Tambini, who died at age 70 in 1999, could have been prosecuted for sexual abuse. All of the incidents took place at the school; one of the girls was molested as Tambini taught a class.

“The actual abuse was generally similar in each instance,” the report said. “Each victim reported that Tambini approached her from behind and rubbed himself against her backside in a state of arousal.”

Loyola administrators learned about the abuse in December 1982, according to the report, when a freshman told two faculty members that Tambini had abused her. The parent of another girl also reported at that time that Tambini, a popular teacher who coached the school’s baseball, basketball and girls’ volleyball teams, had “inappropriately touched her.”

Tambini was fired — but he was allowed to continue teaching and coaching until the end of the 1982-1983 academic year. Administrators did not call the police or notify parents or alumni about the allegations. Some of the victims, the report said, were frustrated because Loyola officials continued to laud him publicly long after his dismissal. Tambini’s name continued to grace the school’s annual award for outstanding male athlete until just recently.

Current Loyola president Tony Oroszlany learned about the sexual abuse allegations against Tambini in April 2015 when one of the alleged victims posted about it on Facebook.

The Loyola School covered up Louis Tambini’s history of sexual abuse, long after he was fired — even keeping his name on an award given to outstanding male athletes.

The report says Oroszlany later discovered a letter written in the mid-2000s by one victim that described Tambini’s abuse and “the school’s inadequate and insensitive” response. An administrator forwarded the letter to police, but the cops declined to investigate because Tambini was dead. Loyola officials yet again failed to notify parents and alumni or issue a public statement seeking additional victims.

Loyola officials commissioned the Cadawalader investigation in May of last year. The school also provided funding to the victims for counseling and paid travel expenses for victims to meet with Wainstein and his investigators.

“From my perspective the current administration’s response to learning about this misconduct was an example of how every school should respond to sexual abuse allegations,” Wainstein said.

Despite Loyola’s admissions, the victims won’t be able to use the courts to learn what school officials knew about Tambini’s abuse and how they responded to it, Reck said. The victims won’t be able to pursue full disclosure without passage of the Child Victims Act, which would eliminate the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases and open up a one-year window for older victims to pursue litigation.

“This is an investigation that could have and should have been done a decade earlier,” Reck said. “I think they are doing the right thing because of pressure from survivors and their advocates.”

Were you a victim of child sex abuse but couldn’t press charges or sue because of New York State’s statute of limitations? Tell us your story at :


Alleged victim says abuse by nuns ‘not being addressed’

Alleged victim says abuse by nuns ‘not being addressed’

By Matt C. Abbott

Mary C. Dunford, an alleged victim of sexual abuse by a nun, would like more attention to be paid to the victim-survivors of abuse by women religious.

States Dunford (edited):

“I believe there are a number of reasons why abuse by nuns is not in the public eye and not being addressed. Taboos against believing female abuse exists and, most especially, female abuse by nuns; and statutes of limitation laws which, after brief period of time, keep victims from bringing charges. Typically victims don’t understand that they were abused, nor do they realize the extent of the damage until well into adulthood — different for each victim. The Catholic Church actively lobbies against any change in these laws.

“Another reason is that nuns are not held accountable. Bishops refuse to take any responsibility for them or their behavior. Nuns are accountable only to their own orders’ provincials and to some obscure body in Rome. At the time of the Dallas Charter, nuns, according to Archbishop Harry Flynn, refused en masse to be included in the ‘strictures’ of the Charter. They self-govern, self investigate, and self determine the credibility and consequences of each accusation.”

The following is the text of a 2005 lawsuit filed on behalf of an alleged victim of sex abuse by a woman religious.

Case Type: Personal Injury
Christine Bertrand, Court File No.:____________

The Franciscan Sisters d/b/a Sisters of
the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
of the Congregation of Our Lady
of Lourdes,



Plaintiff, for her cause of action against Defendant, alleges that:

1. Plaintiff Christine Bertrand (hereinafter ABertrand@) is an adult female resident of the State of California. At all times material to the conduct alleged in this Complaint, Bertrand was a minor and a resident of the State of Illinois.

2. At all times material, Defendant The Franciscan Sisters d/b/a Sisters of the Third Order Regular, Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes (hereinafter AOrder@) was and is an unincorporated Roman Catholic religious order of women with its principal place of business located at 1001 14th Street N.W., Suite 100, Rochester, MN 55901, and doing business in the State of Illinois, in conjunction with the Catholic Bishop of Chicago (hereinafter AArchdiocese@), a corporation sole. The Order and its agents and employees were and continue to be responsible for the selection and assignment of personnel, supervision of personnel activities, the exercise of authority over various members of its religious order, and the maintenance of the well-being of its members attending schools and parishes which are staffed and/or operated by the Order.

3. Plaintiff was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family, was baptized, confirmed, and regularly celebrated mass and received the sacraments through the Roman Catholic Church (hereinafter AChurch@). As a result, Plaintiff developed great admiration, trust, reverence, and respect for, and obedience to representatives of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, including Sr. Benen Kent, o.s.f. (hereinafter AKent@).

4. At all times material, Kent was a Catholic nun, educated, trained, and employed by Defendant Order. At all times material, Kent was under the direct supervision, employ, agency and control of Defendant Order.

5. Generally, Kent’s employment duties with Defendant Order included providing pastoral care, counseling, and spiritual guidance and leadership to Catholics. In addition to these responsibilities, Kent was a teacher and provided religious and musical instruction to minor students entrusted to her care, including Plaintiff.

6. During her tenure as a member of the Order, Kent was assigned to St. Juliana’s parish school as a teacher until 1965. Upon information and belief, in 1965, Kent was transferred to the Mother House in Rochester, Minnesota, in response to complaints of her conduct with children attending St. Juliana’s school. Upon information and belief, Kent died in 2003, while still residing at the Mother House and still maintaining her faculties as a member, employee, and representative of the Order.

7. At all times material, Plaintiff was a parishioner and student at St. Juliana’s parish school, where she came to know, admire, trust, revere and respect Kent as a nun, counselor, spiritual advisor, religious instructor and teacher.

8. Kent became acquainted with Bertrand through Bertrand’s attendance at St. Juliana’s school. During all times relevant, Kent was Bertrand’s piano and musical performance teacher.

9. Starting in or around 1962, and continuing through the summer of 1967, while Bertrand was entrusted to Defendant’s care for instruction, custody and control, Kent began sexually molesting the then-minor Bertrand on a regular and repeated basis. The abuse occurred while Kent was instructing Bertrand in piano performance on the premises of St. Juliana’s school and at the permanent residence of Kent, the convent located across the street from St. Juliana’s school, operated by Defendant Order, and located in the State of Illinois.

10. In addition to the abuse perpetrated repeatedly and regularly in the State of Illinois, Bertrand was also sexually abused and exploited by Kent at the Defendant’s Mother House, located in the State of Minnesota.

11. Defendant Order and others within the Church held themselves out to parishioners, including Plaintiff, as counselors and instructors on matters that were spiritual, moral and ethical. Accordingly, Plaintiff and her family placed trust in Defendant and so that Defendant gained superiority and influence over Plaintiff. Defendant, by maintaining and encouraging such a relationship with Plaintiff and her family, entered into a fiduciary relationship with Plaintiff and her family.

12. This fiduciary relationship with Plaintiff established a duty of good faith, fair dealing and the duty to act with the highest degree of trust and confidence. This fiduciary relationship includes the duty to warn, and to disclose, and the duty to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation by Catholic nuns whom the Defendant Order promote as being celibate and chaste representatives of God on earth. Said Defendant’s fiduciary relationship with Plaintiff was based upon a justifiable trust on Plaintiff’s side, and superiority and influence on the side of the Defendant.

13. Further, the local leaders of Defendant Order were in specialized or superior positions to receive and did receive specific information regarding misconduct by priests, nuns, and other agents and employees that was of critical importance to the well being, protection, care and treatment of innocent victims, including Plaintiff. This knowledge was not otherwise readily available from any other source. Defendant Order exercised its special or superior position to assume control of said knowledge and any response thereto.

14. On the other hand, Plaintiff was in a subordinate position of weakness, vulnerability, and inequality and were lacking in such knowledge. Further, the abilities of Plaintiff or her family to monitor the use or misuse of the power and authority of Defendant Order or Kent were compromised, inhibited or restricted by Defendant.

15. Defendant had a secular standard of fiduciary duty which it breached by failing to act upon, or insufficiently acting upon or responding to, information which it had obtained by virtue of their superior status, known only or secretly to its agents, affiliates, and representatives that was indicative or highly suggestive of a pattern of wrongful, unlawful or criminal behavior on its part.

16. Defendants breached this duty, as well as other duties, through inaction, manipulation, intimidation, evasion, intended deception, undue influence, duress or otherwise, as more fully described and set forth elsewhere in this complaint, resulting in negative consequences to the welfare and well being of Plaintiff.

17. As detailed elsewhere in this complaint, the acts of Defendant Order and others allowed pedophile predators, including Kent, to perpetrate criminal acts of child sexual abuse throughout the United States for many decades. Persons controlling or directing the affairs of the Church and Defendant Order allowed this by making fraudulent representations, concealing criminal activity, obstructing justice and criminal investigations, evading civil and/or criminal liability, and by inculcating parishioners to keep their scandals secret through the guise of religious teachings and spiritual instruction and counseling.

18. Defendant Order’s intentional concealment and/or negligent and/or reckless failure to prevent, disclose or discover Kent’s acts of sexual misconduct, contributed to Plaintiff’s repression of the events of abuse described herein and prevented Plaintiff from discovering or acting upon the wrongs done to her.

19. By tradition, Roman Catholics, including Plaintiff, are taught to hold nuns in the highest esteem as earthly representatives of God, and that nuns, unlike lay people, belong to a separate and higher state in life, the so called Aclerical state,@ which they represent to be of divine origin and which they represent entitles them to special privileges. For these and other reasons relating to the practices of the Church, nuns and other persons in leadership positions in the Church have traditionally occupied a position of great trust and allegiance among the parents and youth, including Plaintiff.

20. As part of this traditional reverence of Church clergy, Plaintiff was instructed and indoctrinated as a small child to show obedience to nuns and was taught to believe and did believe that it would be Asinful@ or wrong to make any kind of an accusation against a priest, a nun, or any other representatives of the Church. Plaintiff relied upon these teachings and incorporated them into her religious beliefs and practices. Accordingly, she believed that it would be sinful or wrong for anyone to make any kind of an accusation against nuns or priests.

21. In addition, Plaintiff and others were taught and instructed that Church issues and scandals were not to be disclosed to the public at large or to law enforcement and that any such scandals were to remain strictly secret. AGood@ Catholics, like Plaintiff, were taught and believed that such issues would be handled internally by the Church, including Defendant Order, and that it was un Christian and counter to the tenants of the faith to make any public allegations against the Church or any of its representatives. In fact, to disclose any such issues or scandals could result in excommunication. Plaintiff believed what she was taught by the Church. These teachings kept the widespread problem of pedophiles in the Church out of the public arena until recently and contributed to the Plaintiff suffering in secrecy and shame, and her complete repression of the incidents of abuse.

22. The sexual abuse of the Plaintiff and the circumstances under which it occurred caused Plaintiff to develop various psychological coping mechanisms, including repression, denial, avoidance, amnesia, and other psychological manifestations which prohibited her from knowing or having reason to know that she was a victim of sexual abuse, and, as a result of abuse, suffered damages. Plaintiff did not know that she was a victim of sexual abuse, or that she suffered injury by reason of sexual abuse, until within six years of the commencement of her lawsuit. In February or March 2002, while preparing for a bridal shower, Plaintiff’s husband approached her from behind and began tickling her. Plaintiff had an immediate negative reaction to her husband’s action, and had a flashback to Kent approaching her from behind while the Plaintiff sat at the piano, and putting her hands on Plaintiff’s genitals. Plaintiff ran to her bathroom and began throwing up. The memories of the abuse continued to flood into her mind in the following weeks and months.

23. Plaintiff suffered a traumatic amnesia, or memory repression, of the sexual abuse when she was a child. She had no memory of the sexual abuse from the time that she was a child until February or March of 2002.

24. Upon information and belief, both before and after Plaintiff Bertrand was sexually abused by Kent, Defendant Order and others knew or should have known of material facts regarding Kent’s pedophile impulses and behavior, but failed to act on that knowledge, thereby increasing the likelihood that Plaintiff would be harmed. Defendant’s failure to act on that knowledge also contributed to Plaintiff’s inability to come forward, appreciate the abuse and resulting injuries she sustained or to obtain help for the abuse and injuries she suffered.


Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth under this count and further alleges that:

25. By establishing, staffing, and/or operating a church and school, encouraging the membership and instruction of the Plaintiff in this church, accepting the membership of the Plaintiff in this church, and holding the church to be a safe environment for learning, worship and spiritual growth, Defendant Order entered into an express and/or implied duty to provide a reasonably safe learning and spiritual environment. Defendant Order further assumed this duty by holding Kent out to the public, including Plaintiff, as a competent and trustworthy nun, teacher and counselor of high morals. Defendant Order breached this duty by exposing Plaintiff to Kent, an unfit agent with dangerous and exploitive propensities.

26. As a direct result of Defendant’s negligent conduct, Plaintiff has suffered the injuries and damages described herein.


Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth under this count and further alleges that:

27. At all times material, Kent was employed by Defendant Order and was under Defendant’s direct supervision, employ and control when she committed the wrongful acts alleged herein. Kent engaged in the wrongful conduct while acting in the course and scope of her employment with Defendant Order and/or accomplished the sexual abuse by virtue of her job-created authority. Defendant Order failed to exercise ordinary care in supervising Kent in her assignment and failed to prevent the foreseeable misconduct of Kent from causing harm to others.

28. As a direct result of Defendant’s negligent conduct, Plaintiff has suffered the injuries and damages described herein.


Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth under this count and further alleges that:

29. Defendant Order, by and through its agents, servants and employees, became aware, or should have become aware, of problems indicating that Kent was an unfit agent with dangerous and exploitive propensities, yet Defendant Order failed to take any further action to remedy the problem and failed to investigate or discharge Kent.

30. As a direct result of Defendant’s negligent conduct, Plaintiff has suffered the injuries and damages described herein.


Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth under this count and further alleges that:

31. At all times material, Defendant Order employed Kent. Kent was under Defendant Order’s direct supervision, employ, and control when he committed the wrongful and negligent acts described herein. Kent engaged in this conduct while acting in the course and scope of his employment with Defendant Order and/or accomplished the sexual abuse by virtue of his job created authority.

32. Defendant Order granted Kent facilities to perform as a nun, teacher, spiritual leader and counselor within Defendant Order. Defendant Order held Kent out to the community as a fit and competent agent of Defendant Order. Kent committed the acts alleged within the apparent authority arising from her agency. Said conduct was undertaken in the course and scope of Defendant Kent’s employment with Defendant Order and/or was ratified by Defendant Order.

33. Kent was acting at least in part to serve the interests of her employer when she committed the sexual abuse. Specifically, Kent was acting as a nun, as well as using the trust, power and authority of the position granted, while she was with the Plaintiff. Simultaneously, Kent used that same power and authority to gain Plaintiff’s confidence and trust and to sexually abuse Plaintiff.

34. By using her position as a nun and the trust, power and authority of the position conferred on her, Kent purported to act and/or speak on behalf of Defendant Order when she committed the tortuous acts alleged herein. Plaintiff further relied upon Kent’s apparent authority to act on behalf of Defendant Order.

35. Kent would not have been able to commit the sexual abuse were she not given the authority to act as a nun by Defendant Order under its direct supervision. Kent conducted her tortious conduct during her agency relationship with Defendant Order while providing religious instruction and counseling to Plaintiff. Therefore, Defendant is liable for the negligent and wrongful conduct of Kent under the law of vicarious liability, including the doctrine of respondeat superior.

36. As a direct result of the sexual abuse, Plaintiff has suffered the injuries and damages as described herein.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff contends the Franciscan Sisters Order has shown itself incapable of taking appropriate action for prevention of child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church and healing for victims who have been abused by clergy, and the Order in this instance has failed to protect the individual Plaintiff and other children from harm and has been incapable of dealing with the issue of child sexual abuse within the church. Plaintiff respectfully requests the Court to take supervision of this matter under established principles of law and equity.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgement against Defendant in an amount in excess of $50,000 plus costs, disbursements, reasonable attorneys fees, interest, and whatever other relief the Court deems just and equitable.

Dated: ____________ JEFF ANDERSON & ASSOCIATES, P.A.

By: Jeffrey R. Anderson, #2057
Attorney for Plaintiff
E-1000 First National Bank Building
332 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101
(651) 227-9990

The undersigned hereby acknowledges that sanctions, including costs, disbursements, and reasonable attorney fees, may be awarded pursuant to Minn. Stat. ‘ 549.211 to the party against whom the allegations in this pleading are asserted.

© Matt C. Abbott

Betrayal of Faith

Betrayal of Faith

By Cris Foehlinger
Sunday News [Pennsylvania]
January 16, 2005

LANCASTER COUNTY, PA – Patricia Cahill is overcoming a life of abuse and secrecy at the hands of the Catholic church.Her childhood was destroyed by the sexual abuse of a priest and later when she was a teenager by the very nun in whom she confided the abuse.

Through alcohol, drugs and a position of authority, Sister Eileen Shaw determined, in large part, the woman Cahill is today. One with no sexuality and no understanding of normalcy, yet one with a strong drive to right the wrongs of a church that molded her into a quagmire of guilt.

Patricia Cahill describes a long-term sexually abusive relationship with a Catholic nun, who gave her the gifts entwined in the fingers of her left hand.

Patricia Cahill describes a long-term sexually abusive relationship with a Catholic nun, who gave her the gifts entwined in the fingers of her left hand.

Although the nun’s ministry has since been restricted, Cahill, now 52 and living in Lancaster, is angry at the church for stealing her childhood, her family and her dreams.

She has found support through the nationwide Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. And, in turn, she is trying to focus on the future. Later this week she will launch a support group in Lebanon to help local survivors. (See related story.)

Child of faith

Cahill and her five siblings were born into a wealthy Ridgewood, N.J., family and attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel elementary school. Their father sold cars at his dealership and their mother sold real estate between bottles of vodka, Cahill said.

She said she was in first grade when a priest took her to his bed, the clergyman always wearing pieces of his priestly garb.

“He never took the white collar or stole off,” said Cahill. “He said it was a mortal sin to talk about anything we did while he had them on. Catholics are taught that if you commit a mortal sin you will go to hell.” So Cahill wouldn’t breathe a word of the abuse.

At home, she’d pick up empty liquor bottles before her father’s return from work. “I took over for Mom raising three younger siblings,” said Cahill, whose parents are now deceased.

“I remember cleaning Dad’s bathroom when I was 7. He made a big deal about it and I thought, “Wow!’ ” Craving that kind of positive attention, Cahill set her sights on the rest of the house.

“I was the chief bottle washer and surrogate housewife,” she said. “I was very strict and rigid like my Dad. I demanded a lot of my siblings and I regret that now, but I didn’t know anything else.” Cahill said her father was abusive. He was not an alcoholic, but the disease is a family one. “He would rule with an iron fist and for no reason,” she said, “he would pick out one of the three oldest and send them upstairs for a beating.” Meanwhile, the priest’s abuse continued until she was 13. It stopped because Cahill said, “No.” “I felt 100-percent responsible because all I had to do was say “no,’ ” she said. “I don’t know if his abuse was widespread, but I know of some victims and am looking for others.”

From priest to nun

Although Cahill was able to remove herself from the priest’s grasp, she couldn’t escape the need for the love and support she didn’t get at home.

At age 15, she confided the priest’s abuse in a family friend: the nun.

“She said, “He was a sick man so it wasn’t his fault’,” Cahill recalled. “Looking back, I see a lot of conflict with what she said.” Cahill said Sister Shaw, a member of the Sisters of Charity at Convent Station, N.J., saw that she was in dire need of love and attention. Shaw offered encouragement, spent time with her and told her she was special.

“She took me out of a dysfunctional home and promised me the world,” Cahill said. “She said no one would ever hurt me again.” By age 16, Cahill spent summers at the shore with Shaw and the nun’s family and friends. “All of them were 20 years older than me,” Cahill said. “What were they thinking? Why didn’t they think it was odd?” The sexual advances didn’t start right away, Cahill said.

“She became my mother figure but,” Cahill said with obvious fury, “you don’t sleep with your mother.

“I had kept secrets my whole life. I thought I was a sinner. Then Eileen told me I was. She also said it was my job to keep her vows because I was the stronger of the two of us.” Cahill said she was 15 when Shaw introduced her to alcohol and drugs, namely Valium and Librium.

And Shaw gave Cahill a medallion to wear only when the two were intimate. Cahill calls it her “medal of shame” as she was never to speak about what went on while she wore it.

One night when Cahill was 17, she remembers crying and asking Shaw to let her go. “She should have let me go, but she wouldn’t,” Cahill said.

“She made me call her “Sister Eileen’ in bed and told me that she loved me,” Cahill said.

“No one had ever loved me before.”

Search for justice

That love, however, cost Cahill a chance to have a family and children of her own, she said. Because of internal conflicts caused by the relationship, she said, it cost her a chance to join the Sisters of Charity in her teens.

And it cost Cahill her sexuality. Since she’s been away from Shaw, Cahill said, she has never been attracted to another woman. Because she remembers fear and pain from the priest, she won’t get involved with men.

For her, the guilt and shame blend with anger and bitterness.

Cahill, who is no longer a practicing Catholic, said one of the biggest obstacles to healing is trying to understand why so many nuns turned their heads and allowed the abuse to continue.

Ten years ago Cahill received help from the Sisters of Charity, who did “everything they are legally obligated to do,” according to a recent statement issued by Mother Superior Maureen Shaughnessy.

At the time, Cahill received treatment and about $46,000, Cahill said.

She is seeking additional treatment costs, a request she and members of her support network see as a moral obligation of the church.

Part of her larger mission now is to make sure nuns are punished for abusive actions. Because they are part of a religious order, they are more insulated and protected, Cahill said.

“We (Shaw and Cahill) would sleep in convents up and down the East Coast,” Cahill said. “Nuns would turn their heads when I ran up the back staircases.” Yet the conflict for Cahill remains.

Shaw encouraged her to go to college, something no member of Cahill’s family managed to accomplish. Her first teaching job was at St. Cecelia’s in Kearny, N.J. Shaw was the principal of the now-defunct school.

Shaw gave Cahill a ring during that first year of teaching, one that was identical to one the nun wore. “It never dawned on me what that ring was supposed to mean,” she said. “But it’s pretty clear now.” The nun even selected Cahill’s apartment, one where Shaw’s car could be parked undetected, Cahill said.

“During the day, she was extra authoritative with me in front of other people,” Cahill said. “Away from school, she would tell me not to befriend the other teachers and not to bring my home life into work.” Brief trips were routine.

“One weekend, we went to a convent in Connecticut and got snowed in,” Cahill said. “I think it was a bit obvious when we both didn’t show up for school, but she wouldn’t talk about it.” After a year of teaching under Shaw, Cahill realized she needed to get away and took a job in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. “I really liked teaching and made friends,” she said. “Shaw would still come on weekends, which wasn’t a problem since no one knew her.” By this time, Cahill said she was sick with drugs and alcohol. “I would drink on my way to school,” she said.

Cahill shared an apartment with a friend. “She was very indiscriminate with sex and would entertain men at night,” Cahill said. “After walking in on her one night, she came up with a system where she would put the man’s shoes outside her door to let me know she was with a man.

“So I would leave Shaw’s shoes outside my door and hang her veil on the doorknob,” she said. It’s an image that still haunts Cahill and one that will become the title of her book, “Veiled Threat.” Cahill said the nun thought the roommate’s conduct was immoral. But as Cahill’s questions persisted, Shaw refused to answer or make any sense out of her relationship with Cahill.

“What happened at night, happened at night,” Cahill said. “What happened during the day saved my life.

“She helped me out in lots of ways that I felt indebted to her so much that I kept her secret for too many years.” Cahill viewed everything as her fault. But then her emotional struggle becomes evident and contradictions reemerge.

“She was 36 and I was 15,” Cahill said of their early relationship. “It couldn’t have been my fault.”

Path to peace

By 1979 Cahill sought help through a 12-step program. It cost her any hope of a relationship with her siblings; they felt Cahill betrayed them by airing the family’s laundry, she said.

In her 30s, Cahill again studied to become a member of the Sisters of Charity, Shaw’s order. “I have learned since then that victims almost always return to the scene of the crime,” she said.

Cahill could not complete her quest because of internal conflicts that centered on the relationship with Shaw.

By 1992, Cahill knew she was in trouble and approached the Sisters of Charity for help. “I was very foolish,” she said. “I wanted therapy and nothing else.” Yet she also asked that Shaw be removed from her position as school principal. “They took her out and promoted her,” Cahill said.

Shaw is now the administrator of the Caritas Community in Jersey City, N.J., a retirement home for nuns. Repeated attempts to reach her were unsuccessful. Nuns who answered the phones said Shaw was on “holiday.” Caritas Community is in a convent that sits next to an elementary school.

When recently questioned about Shaw’s duties, Jim Goodness, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., said that the nun “is not allowed in the school.” She does attend Mass in the local parish, but is not part of the spiritual team. She is not involved in parish functions.

“The community has dealt with the issue and she is restricted in her ministry,” he said. “There has never been an incident where she broke her assignment since this came to light.” Goodness clarified that the Sisters of Charity is not officially part of the archdiocese. “But the sisters work in the archdiocese under the spiritual direction of the archbishop,” he said. “Religious communities operate under their own rules and authorities.” This is part of the problem as far as Cahill is concerned. “Priests are defrocked when they are exposed for abuse,” she said. “But there is no punishment for nuns.” Shaughnessy, Sister of Charity’s mother superior, said there was a confidentiality agreement at the time the sisters offered Cahill help. “I’m certainly not going to break that, and I have nothing to say about it.” Shaw has been cleared to serve in her new position, Shaughnessy said recently. “I don’t want to talk about this.” In a letter dated July 1, 1994, the Sisters of Charity agreed to pay for “certain professional services” from July 1, 1994, through June 30, 1996.

“In order to qualify for payment by the Sisters of Charity, the services: (a) must have been provided by a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker, and (b) must, in the provider’s professional judgment, have been made necessary by the alleged inappropriate conduct of a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, who is alleged to have had sexual contact with Patricia Cahill at various times between the years 1968 and 1992,” the letter states.

The letter goes on to say that all charges must be included on an invoice mailed to Sister Mary Canavan, general superior, in an envelope marked “personal and confidential.” “The Sisters of Charity consider this letter and the information contained herein to be confidential,” the letter, signed by Canavan, states.

“I never healed because they made me sign a gag order not to talk about it,” said Cahill, who is now recovering from alcohol and drug addictions.

She moved to Lancaster in 1997 to get away from her family and Shaw.

She thought about suicide. Reaching rock bottom, she again turned to the nuns she had grown up with.

By this time, the order had established a response team, made up of nuns, priests, lawyers and psychologists.

Shaughnessy encouraged Cahill to meet with them. She agreed.

Lancaster friend Donna Wilcox accompanied her to the session held at the Mother House in New Jersey. While the two were greeted cordially, Wilcox said, “The building was imposing and it was dark and empty. The surroundings felt very big and I felt very small.” Cahill wasn’t intimidated by the familiar atmosphere. But at the meeting there with two lawyers and two therapists, she said, ” “I feel like I need a lawyer,’ and they said, “No dear, we’re here for your healing.”‘ Cahill described the exhausting 3-hour session as “interrogation with a smile.” “I was impressed by one nun who seemed compassionate,” Wilcox said. “Patricia was so articulate and focused while my composure was gone. When you hear her story, it’s very humbling.

“They seemed caring and supportive,” Wilcox said. “I left thinking help was on the way.” Two weeks later Cahill received word that there would be no further therapy from the sisters, but “we will pray for you.” That’s all it took.

The anger that roared through Cahill catapulted her on the road to healing.