Monthly Archives: July 2016

Hunter Catholic priests’ alleged sexual relationship used by a child sex offender priest, says author


Hunter Catholic priests’ alleged sexual relationship used by a child sex offender priest, says author


22 Jul 2016, 4 p.m

From the Link: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4010363/sadistic-priest-protected-his-position-victim/

SADISTIC Catholic paedophile priest John Denham committed crimes against boys without fear of exposure because of an alleged sexual relationship between Catholic priests Tom Brennan and Patrick Helferty, writes a former St Pius X, Adamstown student in an explosive new book.

Denham “protected his position by threatening to reveal Brennan and Helferty as homosexual lovers”, writes James Miller in his book, The Priests, in which he alleges he was sexually abused by Brennan in 1978 when he was 15.

Mr Miller has called for Catholic schools funding to be stopped until the celibacy rule for priests is removed, saying the celibacy vow poses a blackmail risk because of the church’s structures relating to schools.

Studies suggesting up to 50 per cent of Catholic priests break their vows because of sexual relationships with men or women, or sexual abuse of children, mean “every second priest is living a life of deceit, with the other probably aware”, Mr Miller said.

“This systemic dishonesty makes the church unfit to care for children. With so many clergy compromised where is the moral authority to act when confronted with evidence of abuse within a Catholic school?

“How can a compromised bishop be trusted to report offenders to authorities if the offender can destroy the bishop’s career by publishing details of a secret and longstanding affair with a mistress?”

In his book, released on Monday, Mr Miller writes that he was sexually abused by Brennan while a year 10 student at St Pius X and after transferring from Belmont High School.

He alleges Brennan told him: “There is nothing wrong with what we are doing. But some people just won’t understand. It’d be bad for you.”

“It was as if I was his young boyfriend,” Mr Miller writes.

In the book Mr Miller writes that the abuse had a profoundly negative impact on his life. Although he went on to become a Newcastle University law academic, commercial barrister and author, Mr Miller writes about drinking, self harm, suicide attempts, destruction of relationships and homelessness he links directly to abuse.

“I became more or less constantly angry on the inside. Something was definitely broken,” he writes.

In The Priests Miller writes that nearly 40 years after the abuse he discovered Brennan and Helferty were “lifetime lovers”.

This week he stood by the controversial allegation, saying he relied on evidence contained in his civil action against the church which he declined to make public because it has not yet been put to Maitland-Newcastle diocese.

Rumours of the men’s sexual relationship were raised with the Newcastle Herald by others a number of years ago. Witnesses at Helferty’s funeral described Brennan as a sobbing and devastated man grieving for a dead partner, and not a calm Catholic priest celebrating a soul’s elevation to heaven.

While Brennan’s sister-in-law Patricia Brennan said on Wednesday that she had “never heard such rubbish in all my life” and she was “very proud of the fact” she was the late priest’s sister-in-law, former St Pius X teacher Bill Izzard said “I’d give that quite a bit of credence”.

“I wouldn’t say no to that one. I would form the view the bloke’s telling the truth,” Izzard said.

A Maitland-Newcastle diocese spokesperson declined to respond to questions about the allegation that Brennan and Helferty had a sexual relationship. The spokesperson said the diocese would not make public details about victims of child abuse but “respects their right to disclose aspects of their personal narrative as they choose”.

In The Priests Miller argues Brennan did nothing because Denham knew of his relationship with Helferty, when it was still dangerously illegal to be an active homosexual in Australia, and when the Catholic Church not only damned homosexuality as an abomination, but demanded the complete suppression of sexual impulses from its priests. The celibacy rule also leaves priests and bishops in clandestine relationships with women at risk of blackmail within the church, Miller said.

“Denham had the senior leadership of St Pius X right where he wanted them,” he writes.

“Denham protected his position by threatening to reveal Brennan and Helferty as homosexual lovers. I would go further and say that whether he ever actually put the specific threat counts for naught. It would have been enough that Brennan and Helferty believed Denham would do so.”

Denham was approached for comment but did not respond to written questions.

Solicitor representing many victims of church abuse, Dr Judy Courtin, said celibacy was a child protection risk.

“A spiteful nature combined with some serious dirt on a fellow clergyman, can make a powerful weapon with which to demand silence all round. Such silence can only enable the commission of child sex crimes,” Dr Courtin said.

University of Sydney child protection specialist and law Professor Patrick Parkinson said celibacy was a child protection risk because some men who abused children did so because their vows prevented them from having relationships with adults, so they became “situational” abusers.

“If you are a religious Brother, you’re lonely and your context is teaching in a boys’ school, that’s where you go find it,” Professor Parkinson said.

He said all the evidence was that celibacy was “a hard road to follow”. There were credible reports of 50 per cent of bishops and priests breaking their vows which potentially compromised them within the church.

He rejected the argument that Catholic schools funding should cease until the celibacy vow is removed, saying the school context had changed significantly in the past 40 years, particularly priests’ interaction with children.

“Funding issues should be made on legitimate criteria and the celibacy of priests is not legitimate criteria,” Professor Parkinson said.

Australian Catholic University Professor Neil Ormerod said breaching celibacy could compromise priests and could pose a child protection risk, but there were more significant reasons why the church should reconsider the celibacy vow based on the mental wellbeing of priests.

“There are many reasons why the church might reconsider the whole issue of celibacy, and the ones around abuse are not the only ones. Many priests never mature as psycho-sexual beings and that is a cause of many difficulties,” Professor Ormerod said.

He rejected the argument for stopping Catholic schools funding because of the child protection risk posed by celibacy, saying it might have been a valid argument 30 years ago but was not today.

In public and reported comments Pope Francis has said he favoured retaining the celibacy rule although “it is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change”.

The issue of married priests was in his “diary”, the Pope is reported saying.

Editorial: Rep. Rozzi, HB 1947 not going away


Editorial: Rep. Rozzi, HB 1947 not going away

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is learning that while a key aspect of House Bill 1947 might be going away, its biggest booster is not.

State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-126, of Berks County, the man who authored the controversial language in the bill that would have retroactively extended the window for victims of child sexual abuse that occurred decades ago to sue the molesters and those that employed them, took his case to the church this week.

Rozzi knows a little something about the church and sexual abuse. He was an altar boy and a victim decades ago. Now he’s a state representative.

His colleagues in the House gave HB 1947 a stunning, resounding victory in a 190-15 vote to extend the age when victims could sue their tormentors and those who employed them or enabled them from age 30 to age 50.

Gov. Tom Wolf indicated he supported the controversial language in the bill, which would also lift the statute of limitations for criminal charges in such cases. Wolf said if it wound up on his desk, he would sign it.

The bill then went to the Senate. That’s when opponents of the measure, most notably the Catholic Church, in particular the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

Archbishop Charles Chaput sent a letter that was either read or mentioned at every Mass in every parish in the archdiocese. Chaput did not mince words, characterizing the legislation as no less than an attack on the church. He urged parishioners to contact their state senator and oppose the measure, in large part because of a belief that it would treat victims of public institutions differently unfairly than those of private institutions, and questioning the constitutionality of the retroactive language that had been penned by Rozzi.

Several members of the Delaware County House delegation found themselves feeling heat, both from the archdiocese and their local parish priests. State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162, of Ridley Park actually had his name casually dropped in the parish bulletin with a friendly reminder to the faithful that he had supported the bill.

The church, clearly taken aback by the surprising approval in the House of an idea that had long been opposed in Harrisburg, was not taking any chances. It put on a full-court press, making a passionate argument against retroactivity in a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Its prayers were answered. The bill passed the Senate, but only after the language that would allow past victims to file suit was modified. Victims would have until age 50 to file civil actions against their molesters, but only in cases that occurred after the bill becomes law. It’s not back in the House.

The latest battle over such legislation was fueled by still another damning grand jury report, this time from the Johnstown-Altoona archdiocese.

An outraged Rozzi led the charge to give past victims their day in court. And he has no intention of stopping now, despite the setback in the House.

The state rep stood on the steps of the Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul, the downtown headquarters of the archdiocese, and tossed copies of grand jury reports of sexual abuse by priests. He vowed to rewrite the House bill and once again include a two-year window for past victims to file suit.

“One of my main messages today was it’s not over by any means,” Rozzi said. “For over 50 years, this institution, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and its leadership, the archbishops and in fact all Roman Catholic dioceses across the state of Pennsylvania believed they were above the law, that they didn’t have to abide by our laws. And now they hide behind our laws.”

Of course, state representatives don’t have that luxury. They now are wearing a bull’s eye and no doubt will feel the heat once again generated by those who oppose Rozzi’s plan, most notably the archdiocese, the National Catholic Conference and the insurance industry.

Rozzi, who said he was motivated to visit the basilica because of Chaput’s opposition to his bill, was joined by several activists as well as Marci Hamilton, a lawyer who has represented clergy abuse victims. She urged elected to “start representing the common good,” while reminding those gathered – and those not in attendance – of the separation of church and state.

“They’re supposed to serve the people, and not just one set of wealthy religious lobbyists,” she said.

Rozzi said he would re-introduce his legislation in the fall, including the push to once again allow those abused decades to seek their day in court today.

The sides in this epic battle have been clearly defined, with Rozzi, other victims and their advocates on one side, and the church on the other. In the middle will be state House members, wrestling with a most prickly legal and societal issue at the very time they are campaigning for re-election.

The fight over House Bill 1947 is not over, not by a long shot.

Mark Rozzi is not going away. If nothing else, he made that crystal clear this week.

Mountain Home priest arrested on sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult


Mountain Home priest arrested on sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult

By KBOI and KMVT News Staff |
From the Link: http://www.kmvt.com/content/news/Mountain-Home-man-arrested-on-sexual-abuse-and-exploitation-of-a-vulnerable-adult-387975702.html
Pictured Victor F. Jagerstatter. Photo courtesy of Elmore County Sheriff's Office.

Pictured Victor F. Jagerstatter. Photo courtesy of Elmore County Sheriff’s Office.

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho (News Release) – A Mountain Home priest is accused of sexual abuse and exploitation of a vulnerable adult, according to the Mountain Home News.

Mountain Home Police arrested Victor F. Jagerstatter, 39, Friday for sexual abuse and exploitation of a vulnerable adult, according to a news release.

This investigation is on-going, and no more information will be released at this time.

Anyone with questions about this case, may contact the Elmore County Prosecutor’s Office at 208-587-2144.

Police told CBS affiliate KBOI 2News that Jagerstatter will be arraigned in Elmore County court on Monday.

Officials reached could not confirm if this Victor F. Jagerstatter is the same man who is a Roman Catholic priest for Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mountain Home, Our Lady of Limerick in Glenns Ferry, St. Bridget in Bruneau and St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Grandview. A picture of Jagerstatter is listed on the Roman Catholic Diocese website.

‘Screaming was pointless,’ survivors tell of school abuse by Christian Brothers


‘Screaming was pointless,’ survivors tell of school abuse by Christian Brothers

ITV Report

By Peter Smith, Scotland Correspondent
22 July 2016 at 12:27pm

From the Link: http://www.itv.com/news/2016-07-22/screaming-was-pointless-survivors-tell-of-school-abuse-by-christian-brothers/

John Farrell (left) and Paul Kelly outside court

John Farrell (left) and Paul Kelly outside court

The Christian Brothers were meant to be men of God – a religious order within the Catholic Church.

At their St Ninian’s school in Fife, though, two of the Brothers were men of unspeakable cruelty who stole innocence from children and left the deepest scars.

John Farrell and Paul Kelly were today convicted of 11 counts of sexual and physical abuse against six children in their care. Children as young as 11. The pair were doing it with impunity through the 1970s and 80s.

Survivors of their crimes told me how they did it.

“There was a strategy of ‘good cop, bad cop,” says one man who doesn’t want to be identified. “Kelly would go out of his way to be horrible to me – scare me, punish me. We were children in care so we were alone – just scared wee boys.

“Then Farrell would step in. He’d put an arm round you and and act like your best pal. He’d invite you to go into his room to help him with a chore and then he’d tell you to spend the night with him. That’s how he got me in. Then he started touching me.”

There was no point in shouting or screaming because nobody would hear you.

And if they did hear you they’d know what was going on, so screaming was pointless.

– ST NINIAN’S ABUSE VICTIM

Until now Farrell and Kelly have been free men, walking the streets with a clean record. Those they abused, however, told me they have been prisoners of their torment for more than three decades.

Some have suffered mental health problems, others alcoholism.

Another former St Ninian’s pupil explained to me how he still suffers. “This has an affect on your whole life,” he says. “It’s affected every single relationship I’ve had as an adult. There are nightmares, flashbacks. It never leaves you.”

The Christian Brotherhood has a particularly grim record of child abuse. They’ve paid out millions of pounds to victims after thousands of allegations emerged in Ireland, America, Canada, and Australia.

This, however, is the first conviction of Christian Brothers in Scotland. As yet there has been no apology from the Brotherhood for these crimes.

While Farrell and Kelly face prison time when they are sentenced, there are others who say they were abused at St Ninian’s by men who have never been prosecuted.

David Sharp told me he was taken to Ireland to be passed around for abuse at parties.

I am still campaigning for justice. This only scratches the surface.

Until these people, the perpetrators, are caught, justice is done, and the Christian Brothers and the Catholic Church come out and show a meaningful apology then I can’t get on with my life.

– DAVID SHARP

Farrell and Kelly used to brag to their victims that no one would listen to them against men of God. Today, after more than three decades, the survivors of the St Ninian’s abuse were at last heard.

 

 

Boys abused under residential school’s brutal regime


Boys abused under residential school’s brutal regime

From the Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-36723226

Two former teachers have been convicted of sexually and physically abusing boys at a residential school in Fife in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Paul Kelly, 64, of Plymouth, was convicted of seven charges and acquitted of 22, while John Farrell, 73, of Motherwell, was found guilty of four and acquitted of 18 charges.

Paul Kelly and John Farrell were supposed to care for the pupils at St Ninian’s.

Instead, when they taught at the school in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they sexually and physically abused six boys between the ages of 11 and 15.

St Ninian’s, which was located in the Fife village of Falkland, was a “List G” state school for troubled children, run by the Christian Brothers organisation.

Most of its pupils came from Glasgow, Dundee and Perth and many were from broken and abusive homes, and had been in some kind of trouble themselves.

St Ninian’s was supposed to give them a chance at life.

But for the boys preyed on by Kelly and Farrell, they were denied that chance.

As well as being indecently assaulted, boys also suffered under a brutal regime of corporal punishment.

They were repeatedly punched, kicked and hit with belts.

In one case, a boy’s head was slammed off a sink.

After St Ninian’s closed in 1983, Farrell, from Motherwell, and Kelly, who latterly lived in Plymouth, seemingly went on to lead normal lives.

Past crimes

Farrell, who joined the Christian Brothers at the age of 18 and was eventually appointed head teacher at St Ninian’s, became a priest, while Kelly continued to teach.

But their past crimes came to light in 2012 after some former pupils independently came forward to talk about their ordeal.

However, there were challenges.

Ch Insp Nicola Shepherd, of Police Scotland, said: “Detectives turning up at someone’s door after 40 years and asking about something traumatic – and in many cases something they’d chosen to forget – we are very aware that these victims needed a lot of support, which they received, and we are aware it’s been a difficult time for them.

“I don’t think there are words to describe how horrific and systematic this abuse by Farrell and Kelly of these boys quite was.”

After an investigation lasting several years, the pair were charged and went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

As the trial got under way, the former pupils – now in middle age – relived the horror of what happened at St Ninian’s, as they recounted their stories in the hope that their abusers would face justice.

Following their conviction, Farrell and Kelly face lengthy jail terms.

For the former pupils who suffered at the hands of the pair, they may feel justice has been served.

But the horrific memories of what happened to them at St Ninian’s will probably never fade.

Lawsuit Links Cardinal to Placing Pedophile Priest in Pepperell, Lowell


Lawsuit Links Cardinal to Placing Pedophile Priest in Pepperell, Lowell

By Lisa Redmond
Lowell (MA) Sun
April 10, 2002

From the Link: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/2002_04_10_Redmond_LawsuitLinks.htm

Lowell, MA – New civil lawsuits accuse two priests who served in three Greater Lowell communities of sexual abuse, alleging that church leaders knew about the incidents and did nothing to stop them.

A Lowell man says he was abused for four years by the Rev. Richard O. Matte, then at St. Louis De France Parish in Lowell.

And three brothers say they were molested more than 100 times each by the Rev. Mark Fleming, at John the Evangelist parish in Hudson, N.H., in the early 1980s.

In the Lowell case, Derek Mousseau has sued Matte, Cardinal Bernard Law and the Archdiocese of Boston, saying that Law knew or should have known that Matte was allegedly committing sexual predatory acts. The lawsuit says Mousseau was 13 when the abuse began in 1989.

Matte was a school chaplain at the Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood in the early 1970s, According to published reports, school administrators were told Matte had been abusing one student during confessions.

The student who reported the alleged abuse was suspended for starting the rumor about Matte, while the priest continued at the school, reports state.

Mousseau’s suit alleges that the church received numerous complaints against Matte. Attorney Roderick MacLeish says that around 1988, Law removed Matte from the Assumption Parish in Bellingham because of complaints of sex abuse. Law was aware of the molestation complaints against Matte while he was at St. Joseph’s Parish in Pepperell and while he was assigned to Xaverian, MacLeish says.

Matte was placed on sick leave in 1993, reportedly to receive treatment related to sex abuse of young boys, the lawsuit states. Matte returned to duty in 1996, working in the Boston Ardhiocese personnel office. He has retired.

It is not clear if Matte could face criminal charges. The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office declined comment.

The lawsuit accuses Matte of assault and battery, and Law of negligence. It asks for more than $25,000. Lawsuits filed against the church total in the millions of dollars.

Neither MacLeish or Mousseau could be reached for comment. Donna Morrissey, spokesman for the Boston Archidocese, did not return phone calls. Matte, who is retired and lives in South Dennis, has an unlisted phone number.

In the New Hampshire case, Fleming is accused of “savagely sexually assaulting” all three brothers from 1974 and 1983. They are not identified in their lawsuit.

Their attorney, Mark Abramson, said that in one case, Fleming held one of the boys under water in an apparent display of his power.

The allegation is in one of four lawsuits Abramson filed Monday on behalf of six men who say they were sexually abused by priests. The lawsuits accuse officials of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester of failing to protect the men from the alleged assaults, the most recent of which was in 1983.

According to the lawsuit, most of the assaults against the brothers took place at the church rectory. The lawsuit says another priest at the parish, the Rev. Stephen Scruton, knew of the abuse, did nothing to prevent it, and molested one of the boys himself. Scruton was fired from a job as a counselor for sex offenders at a jail in Massachusetts when the diocese released a list of priests accused of sexual offenses. Scruton does not have a listed telephone number in the state.

Calls to the churches involved failed to turn up anyone who even recognized the names of the accused priests. There is an unlisted number for a Mark Fleming in Manchester, where Abramson said the former Hudson priest lives.

In a written statement, Bishop John McCormack said he was saddened by the reports and committed to helping anyone sexually abused by a priest.

Abramson said the brothers’ family reported the assaults in 1983 and the case went to the attorney general’s office. Abramson does not know why it was not prosecuted. Assistant Attorney General N. William Delker said he could not comment on the 1983 allegations, or the current lawsuits.

Diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said that while Fleming has not been defrocked, his right to minister was revoked in 1983 when an accusation was made against him. McGee did not know whether it was the same allegation that prompted the brothers’ lawsuit.

Former priest barred from contact with anyone under 16, turns up at other NH churches


Former priest barred from contact with anyone under 16, turns up at other NH churches


Monitor staff

Monday, January 18, 2016
From the Link: http://www.concordmonitor.com/Archive/2016/01/ChurchSide-cm-011716
The South Parish Unitarian Church, locked during a cold winter rainstorm, looked like so many other churches in so many other towns.

Its steeple and clock, standing tall at the edge of Charlestown’s main strip, rose through the mist, a sign out front attached to weathered brick reading “built in 1844.”

Recently, a man named Mark Fleming, a former Catholic priest accused of molesting three young boys in the 1980s, worked at this historic site, perhaps breaking an agreement that forbade him from having contact with children younger than 16.

A Manchester attorney, Mark Abramson, who represented the boys in a civil suit in 2002, is still outraged that Fleming never served any prison time.

“It’s a shame the public can’t have the opportunity to hear in detail from these boys what happened,” Abramson said in a phone interview. “Now of course they are grown men, but they are haunted by this and it could have destroyed their lives, and to some extent it has.”

Like so many other priests who faced credible accusations of sexual assault, Fleming was never prosecuted. Many priests were protected by an expired statute of limitations, or perhaps families were unwilling to face them in a criminal trial.

As a result, many of the priests who were exposed for inappropriate sexual relationships in Massachusetts and New Hampshire remain free to live wherever they want, away from the watchful eye of law enforcement.

The Monitor learned about Fleming’s background in Charlestown from David Clohessy, the national leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Clohessy, who is based in St. Louis and was sexually abused by a priest as a child, wrote on his website last month that Fleming “now heads the South Parish Unitarian Church in Charlestown.”

Fleming, who lives in Manchester, told the Monitor by phone that he worked at the church “for quite some time.” He said officials were aware of his background, and said children were never part of the congregation.

Hard of hearing and startled by the call, Fleming hung up before revealing any more information. His freedom, though, underscores the state’s inability to prosecute men who would have been put behind bars if not for the power of their white collars.

Paperwork from the Diocese of Manchester and the attorney general’s office reveal that Fleming admitted molesting the three boys, all brothers, at Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Hudson in 1983.

“The incident of abuse involved an 11-year-old child lying naked on a bed in the rectory in Hudson. Rev. Fleming was discovered fondling the genitals of the boy. Rev. Fleming has admitted the act, having been confronted by his superiors,” stated a child sexual abuse report to the attorney general’s office.

The boys’ father, documents show, declined to press charges, saying the family wanted to avoid shame and scandal.

Fleming then signed an agreement in 1984 that forbade him from “teaching or in any way participating in any future religious, educational, or organized social programs which involve children under the age of 16 . . . for the remainder of his natural life.”

In that same agreement, the Hillsborough County Attorney’s office agreed not to seek indictments if Fleming stuck to the deal.

If Fleming, now 63, violated the agreement, he could potentially face prosecution for the original offenses, lawyers said, but that could ultimately fall to a judge to decide.

Fleming resigned from the Diocese of Manchester while undergoing therapy in Missouri in 1986.

Another document, a confidential memorandum from 1997 sent by Monsignor Normal Bolduc to Bishop Francis Christian, incorrectly reported that Fleming “passed away sometime last month.”

John Hurley, director of communications for the Unitarian Universalist Association, based in Boston, wrote in an email to the Monitor that a Mark Fleming worked at the First Universalist Church of West Chesterfield from 1998 to 2000.

The Monitor was not able to confirm that this was the same person accused of assaulting children in 1983.

In 2002, Fleming was named in a civil suit brought by the three boys who had accused him of molesting them in ’83, which ended in a settlement.

Abramson said Fleming should have been locked up for his crimes. He no longer represents victims of child sexual abuse. “It just took a toll on me personally,” Abramson said.

As for Fleming, he told the Monitor he recently left the Unitarian church in Charlestown. His exact role there and whether he had contact with minors remains a mystery.

He became a member in October 2013, according to Hurley. Fleming lists himself as a minister on his LinkedIn account.

“We have no indication that he was serving them as a minister, only that he was a member,” Hurley said in his email. “His exact role in that congregation could only be ascertained by checking with the congregation.”

One number listed for the Charlestown church was disconnected, while another rang for a while before a high-pitched beep sounded.

And recently, the doors there were locked.

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

Former Catholic Priest Mark Fleming At NH Historic Church


Former Catholic Priest Mark Fleming At NH Historic Church

From the link: https://predatorshepherds.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/former-catholic-priest-mark-fleming-at-nh-historic-church/

Former priest barred from contact with anyone under 16, turns up at other NH churches.

The South Parish , locked during a cold winter rainstorm, looked like so many other churches in so many other towns.

Its steeple and clock, standing tall at the edge of Charlestown’s main strip, rose through the mist, a sign out front attached to weathered brick reading “built in 1844.”

Recently, a man named Mark Fleming, a former Catholic priest accused of molesting three young boys in the 1980s, worked at this historic site, perhaps breaking an agreement that forbade him from having contact with children younger than 16.

A Manchester attorney, Mark Abramson, who represented the boys in a civil suit in 2002, is still outraged that Fleming never served any prison time.

“It’s a shame the public can’t have the opportunity to hear in detail from these boys what happened,” Abramson said in a phone interview. “Now of course they are grown men, but they are haunted by this and it could have destroyed their lives, and to some extent it has.”

Like so many other priests who faced credible accusations of sexual assault, Fleming was never prosecuted. Many priests were protected by an expired statute of limitations, or perhaps families were unwilling to face them in a criminal trial.

As a result, many of the priests who were exposed for inappropriate sexual relationships in Massachusetts and New Hampshire remain free to live wherever they want, away from the watchful eye of law enforcement.

The Monitor learned about Fleming’s background in Charlestown from David Clohessy, the national leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Clohessy, who is based in St. Louis and was sexually abused by a priest as a child, wrote on his website last month that Fleming “now heads the South Parish Unitarian Church in Charlestown.”

Fleming, who lives in Manchester, told the Monitor by phone that he worked at the church “for quite some time.” He said officials were aware of his background, and said children were never part of the congregation.

Hard of hearing and startled by the call, Fleming hung up before revealing any more information. His freedom, though, underscores the state’s inability to prosecute men who would have been put behind bars if not for the power of their white collars.

Paperwork from the Diocese of Manchester and the attorney general’s office reveal that Fleming admitted molesting the three boys, all brothers, at Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Hudson in 1983.

“The incident of abuse involved an 11-year-old child lying naked on a bed in the rectory in Hudson. Rev. Fleming was discovered fondling the genitals of the boy. Rev. Fleming has admitted the act, having been confronted by his superiors,” stated a child sexual abuse report to the attorney general’s office.

The boys’ father, documents show, declined to press charges, saying the family wanted to avoid shame and scandal.

Fleming then signed an agreement in 1984 that forbade him from “teaching or in any way participating in any future religious, educational, or organized social programs which involve children under the age of 16 . . . for the remainder of his natural life.”

In that same agreement, the Hillsborough County Attorney’s office agreed not to seek indictments if Fleming stuck to the deal.

If Fleming, now 63, violated the agreement, he could potentially face prosecution for the original offenses, lawyers said, but that could ultimately fall to a judge to decide.

Fleming resigned from the Diocese of Manchester while undergoing therapy in Missouri in 1986.

Another document, a confidential memorandum from 1997 sent by Monsignor Normal Bolduc to Bishop Francis Christian, incorrectly reported that Fleming “passed away sometime last month.”

John Hurley, director of communications for the Unitarian Universalist Association, based in Boston, wrote in an email to the Monitor that a Mark Fleming worked at the First Universalist Church of West Chesterfield from 1998 to 2000.

The Monitor was not able to confirm that this was the same person accused of assaulting children in 1983.

In 2002, Fleming was named in a civil suit brought by the three boys who had accused him of molesting them in ’83, which ended in a settlement.

Abramson said Fleming should have been locked up for his crimes. He no longer represents victims of child sexual abuse. “It just took a toll on me personally,” Abramson said.

As for Fleming, he told the Monitor he recently left the Unitarian church in Charlestown. His exact role there and whether he had contact with minors remains a mystery.

He became a member in October 2013, according to Hurley. Fleming lists himself as a minister on his LinkedIn account.

“We have no indication that he was serving them as a minister, only that he was a member,” Hurley said in his email. “His exact role in that congregation could only be ascertained by checking with the congregation.”

One number listed for the Charlestown church was disconnected, while another rang for a while before a high-pitched beep sounded.

And recently, the doors there were locked.

More victims come forward alleging they were sexually abused by former NJ church pastor


More victims come forward alleging they were sexually abused by former NJ church pastor

The Archdiocese of Newark confirms Father Mitch Walters was removed from ministry last October after 2 others made similar claims

Reported by Mike Delgado
July 3, 2016 6:05 pm

From the Link: http://www.fios1news.com/newjersey/priest-accused-of-rape-montclair#.V5EedygrKM_

More victims are coming forward claiming they were abused at the hands of a Catholic priest in new Jersey.

“He molested me on two occasions. He fondled me on by buttocks and breast outside my clothes. I was also subject to years of predatory grooming by him,” Danielle Polemeni, said.

The former upper Montclair native is the latest to speak up, alleging her former church pastor, Father Mitch Walters sexually abused her when she was only 13.

“I had been processing my abuse from Father Mitch for many years. I didn’t feel like I would be ready to come forward myself.”

The Archdiocese of Newark confirms Walters was removed from ministry last October after two others made similar claims.

Ultimately, the victims want Father Walters removed from priesthood.

However, an archdiocese of Newark spokesman says they don’t have enough evidence to make that call because they say the victims are not coming to them directly to tell their stories.

But Dr. Hoatson argues that’s nonsense as the diocese already had Father Walters step down from the ministry when the allegations first surfaced.

Danielle and others are taking legal action and she encourages other potential victims to come forward as well.

“I can’t say this enough you do not need to feel guilt or shame anymore,” Polemeni saod.

The Essex County prosecutors is also investigating.

Australian bishop testifies on prevalence of child sex abuse in the church


Australian bishop testifies on prevalence of child sex abuse in the church

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From the Link: https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/australian-bishop-testifies-prevalence-child-sex-abuse-church

Dying of cancer, Bishop Emeritus Geoffrey Robinson appeared Aug. 24 before the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to testify to the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the church.

He painted a sad picture of a brave and lonely Sisyphus with his band of bishops in tow, pushing a boulder with a reasoned response to the crisis up the Vatican Hill, only to have it pushed back by popes and cardinals who had no idea about the issue and a blindness about the incapacity of canon law to deal with it.

“However great the faults of the Australian bishops have been over the last 30 years, it still remains true that the major obstacle to a better response from the church has been the Vatican,” Robinson told the commission. Most of the Roman Curia saw the problem as a “moral one: if a priest offends, he should repent; if he repents, he should be forgiven and restored to his position. … They basically saw the sin as a sexual one, and did not show great understanding of the abuse of power involved or the harm done to the victims.”

Robinson entered the seminary at 12-years-old, was ordained a priest, and became a canon lawyer and then auxiliary bishop of Sydney. In 1996, when revelations of clergy sexual abuse of children in Australia had reached a crescendo, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference appointed him to find a solution. In 2004, he resigned as auxiliary bishop of Sydney after concluding that the church’s response was still inadequate.

“I eventually came to the point where I felt that, with the thoughts that were running through my head, I could not continue to be a bishop of a church about which I had such profound reservations,” Robinson wrote in a 2008 book Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church. “I resigned my office as Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney and began to write this book, about the very foundations of power and sex within the church.”

He wrote books and went on lecture tours, calling for radical reforms within the church, and in the process lost and gained many friends.

He quickly came to the conclusion after his appointment by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to draw up a protocol to deal with child sexual abuse in 1996, that canon law was so inadequate for cases of sexual abuse that it would be a sham to use it. “We would have to invent something of our own,” he told the Royal Commission.

Prior to 1983, when he was consulted by the Vatican about a new draft of the Code of Canon Law, he found the words “pontifical secret” stamped over the document. He complained that if he were to give a reasoned response, he needed to discuss it with colleagues. He was told:  “Just don’t give it to the media.”

In 1996, Robinson devised a protocol called “Towards Healing,” a system that was “outside, and indeed contrary to canon law.” In the first draft, he required these crimes to be reported to the police as the police were not the media. Pope Paul VI’s instruction, Secreta Continere of 1974, imposes the pontifical secret over allegations of clergy sexual abuse of children and contains no exception for reporting to the police. The barrage of statements by senior Curia figures from 1984 to 2002 made it abundantly clear that bishops should not report these allegations to the police.

But that was not the only conflict that “Towards Healing” had with canon law. It had its own system of investigation, and clergy could be placed on permanent “administrative leave.” None of this complied with canon law.

In his perceptive notes of the meeting in the Vatican in April 2000 to discuss child sexual abuse, Robinson wrote that the members of the Roman Curia showed an “an overriding concern to preserve the legal structures already in place in the Church and not to make exceptions to them unless this was absolutely necessary.”

He told the Commission how Italian Archbishop Mario Pompedda told the delegates how they might get around canon law, but he did not want a law that he had to get around. He wanted one he could follow, but “they never came up with it.” Robinson came away from that meeting knowing that the Australian bishops had no choice but to continue to go it alone, irrespective of what the fall out might be.

The extent to which he and the other Australian bishops were prepared to do that is starkly illustrated in the minutes of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference of Nov. 28, 2002, where they resolved to disobey Pope John Paul II’s 2001 Motu Proprio, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, which required all complaints of child sexual abuse to be referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which would then instruct the bishop what to do. They would only refer those cases where there was no admission by the priest that the abuse had occurred. Robinson told the Commission that the purpose behind that was to avoid being told by Rome what to do with those priests who admitted the abuse. That decision was well justified given the figures presented to the United Nations by the Vatican that only one third of priests against whom credible allegations of child sexual abuse had been made, have been dismissed. The claim that the Vatican has a policy of zero tolerance is pure spin.

This defiance of canon law was never going to last. Patrick Parkinson, professor of law at Sydney University, appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to review “Towards Healing,” pointed out the problems of a local protocol that conflicted with canon law: priests permanently removed from the ministry simply appealed to Rome which ordered their reinstatement. The bishop had to comply or be sacked. Robinson told the Commission that “Towards Healing” was initially successful because a number of priests accepted that they could not continue to work as a priest, but “it later fell down because both sides changed.” Priests started to defend themselves with canon lawyers, and the victims went to civil lawyers.

Robinson was very critical of Pope John Paul II for a lack of leadership on this issue, and particularly his imposition in 1983 of a five-year limitation period that effectively meant that there could be no prosecution of priest paedophiles under canon law because their crimes had been “extinguished.” Prior to 1983, there was no limitation period for these crimes. After 1983, if a child was abused at the age of 7, and did not complain by the age of 12, there was no possibility of dismissing the priest under canon law.

Figures presented to the Commission indicate that in Australia, the limitation period meant that only 3 percent of accused priests could be dismissed, and that figure only increased to 19 percent with the extension of the period to 10 years from the 18th birthday of the victim in 2001. Robinson said the church has still not had the appropriate leadership on child sexual abuse from Pope Benedict XVI and not even from Pope Francis.

Robinson also criticized Australian Cardinal George Pell for refusing to join the other Australian bishops in adopting the “Towards Healing” protocol. Pell was party to the two-year consultations leading up to its adoption in November 1996, but, without reference to anyone, announced he was setting up his own system, the “Melbourne Response,” and then claimed he was the first in Australia to do something about clergy sexual abuse. Apart from accusing Pell of destroying a unified response from the Australian bishops, Robinson said he was an “ineffective bishop” for having lost the support of the majority of his priests who wished for him to be transferred somewhere else. Their wish was fulfilled. He is now in charge of the Vatican finances.

A reading of the many documents tendered to the Royal Commission provides even more evidence that the Vatican’s all but useless disciplinary system caused far more children to be abused than would otherwise have occurred. Robinson fought the good fight, but was ultimately defeated and resigned, exhausted.

In the end, the Australian bishops abandoned the courage they displayed under his leadership, and followed the lead of Pope Benedict XVI who, in his 2010 Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, ignored the Murphy Commission’s criticisms of canon law, and blamed the Irish bishops for failing to follow it. In submissions to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and to the Royal Commission, the Australian bishops ignored what they knew of canon law’s failings, and blamed their predecessors for making “terrible mistakes” when their predecessors were demonstrably complying with canon law.

Australia has a peculiar cultural habit of creating heroes who struggle in vain, and are defeated — from the bushranger, Ned Kelly to the soldiers who were massacred at Gallipoli in the First World War. The Catholic church needs some heroes. Robinson, now terminally ill, is one of them.

[Kieran Tapsell is the author of Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican Secret and Child Sexual Abuse (ATF Press 2014).]