Category Archives: Archdiocese of Pittsburgh
Priest accused of molesting child in Elizabeth 50 years ago
Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, 2:36 p.m.
Updated 21 hours ago
The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh began informing parishioners of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor nearly 11 years after its leaders learned of the accusation.
“For a decade, church officials have disclosed abuse reports only when they’re forced to and have kept them secret as long as they possibly could,” said David Clohessy, executive director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “I strongly suspect the Pittsburgh Diocese realizes the secret is out so they have to act so they can seem like they’re being responsible.”
SNAP raised an alert in June that a former priest in the Pittsburgh Diocese, the Rev. John P. Carroll, was accused in the Archdiocese of Boston of sexually abusing a minor while he was at St. Michael Parish in Elizabeth between 1962 to 1963.
Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik announced on Sunday that he warned members of St. Michael and the other parishes where Carroll worked of the allegation against him. The diocese was responding because the Boston Archdiocese notified church officials on Aug. 5 that it had taken steps to dismiss him from the priesthood.
Asked why the diocese waited to send out letters about Carroll, the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, a spokesman, said: “We’re talking about something that happened 11 years ago. It was off our radar screen.”
Lengwin said that the Boston Archdiocese first notified Pittsburgh diocese leaders on Dec. 9, 2003. Boston church officials are handling the investigation.
At the time that the diocese was informed, Lengwin said the church considered child sexual abuse as a “moral defect,” as it did with alcoholism, rather than a disease.
“You can’t say you made a mistake that you didn’t understand fully,” Lengwin said. “I would say we learned how to do things better.”
Former Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl, now Archbishop of Washington, developed a no-tolerance policy here that was later adopted by Catholic bishops at their 2002 conference in Dallas.
About a year ago, the Pittsburgh diocese began a policy of informing all parishes where a priest accused of abuse worked.
In keeping with its own policies and that of Catholic bishops nationally, the Pittsburgh Diocese notified civil authorities of the allegation. Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said he could not comment until Monday.
“I urge anyone who has been abused by any person representing the church to notify civil authorities and to contact the diocese to obtain assistance with counseling to help with recovery from abuse,” Zubik wrote in a letter to Carroll’s former parishes.
Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese, wrote in an email that Carroll has been restricted from ministry but would not elaborate.
Carroll worked in the Pittsburgh Diocese from 1962 to 1972, including his stint at St. Michael. He also worked at St. Isaac Jogues in Elrama, St. Margaret in Green Tree, St. Susanna in Penn Hills, St. Alphonsus in Springdale and St. Denis in Versailles, now called St. Patrick in McKeesport.
On Aug. 3, the diocese announced that Zubik had placed the Rev. John Fitzgerald, 66, the pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Conway, on administrative leave pending investigation into an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.
This year, the diocese disclosed that 22 victims had made complaints against nine Marianist brothers at the former North Catholic High School.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PA- Victims condemn Pittsburgh bishop for “11 yrs of secrecy”
For immediate release: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014
For 11 years, Pittsburgh Catholic officials hid the fact that Fr. James P. Carroll is a credibly accused child molester. Yesterday, they finally “came clean” about his crimes. But Pittsburgh church staff said nothing about their callous cover up.
We strongly suspect that Fr. Carroll has spent the past decade living among unsuspecting neighbors who see him as a charming, safe, “grandfatherly” figure. We hope he hasn’t assaulted more kids over these 11 years.
No matter how Catholic officials try to spin it, this is irresponsible and inexcusable. It’s a clear violation of the promises made by Catholic officials – in Pittsburgh and at the national level – to be “open” about clergy sex crimes. Even worse, Pittsburgh Catholic officials, by keeping silent about a potentially dangerous cleric, may have enabled him to hurt more kids.
Two months ago, we disclosed (at a news conference) that Fr. Carroll was a credibly accused child molester.
At that time, back in June, like they have done for years and still do, Pittsburgh Catholic officials said nothing.
Bishop David Zubik’s PR man claims that in 2003, he and his well-educated staff “considered child sexual abuse as a ‘moral defect,’ as it did with alcoholism, rather than a disease,” (according to the Tribune Review). That is insulting baloney.
In 2003, Zubik and other top Pittsburgh Catholic officials knew child sex abuse was a crime. They knew it was apt to be repeated. They knew that citizens have a duty to help police catch criminals. They knew that if they told the truth about Fr. Carroll, more victims might step forward and file charges and Fr. Carroll might be convicted and imprisoned. But they chose – for more than a decade – to stay silent and endanger kids.
Shame on every single current and former Pittsburgh diocesan staffer who knew about the allegations against Fr. Carroll and chose to protect him, not children.
And now, we beg every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups in Pittsburgh to call police, expose predators, protect kids and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
After all of the stories of Catholic priests being accused of child abuse, among other atrocities, you would think they would have learned by now. Apparently for one Roman Catholic in Pennsylvania, the point hadn’t been driven home yet.
Sorensen, 63, was arrested by Allegheny County authorities in December 2011 after an employee at St. John Fisher Parish found him looking at a photo of a young boy sans underpants on his computer. An arrest affidavit said the female employee saw the image appeared to be a five to 10-year-old boy under the caption “Hottie Boys” on the priest’s computer in his residence.
Allegheny County police arrested Sorensen and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh removed him from active ministry and placed him on leave.
FOX News reports that Federal officials took over the investigation after a search revealed thousands of child pornography images, some of them sadomasochistic.
Sorensen pleaded guilty in May, expressing remorse to everyone but the young boys depicted in images on his computer. He is scheduled to appear in court this Friday on Federal charges.
Sorry, Reverend, God may forgive you, but the courts and likely thousands of others feel otherwise.
Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/467033/pennsylvania-priest-to-spend-eight-years-in-prison-for-child-pornography/#zJPrL4LlZygt3JXf.99
Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League being sued for defamation against priest abuse survivor
Missouri (USA): Catholic church dares to defame a man after he accuses priest of sex abuse, claiming he is a drug-abusing murderer
INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI (USA) — The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights defamed a man who says he is a victim of priestly sex abuse as a drug-abusing murderer and a Catholic-hating bigot, the man claims in court.
Jon David Couzens Jr. sued The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, its President William Donohue, the KC Catholic League, KC Catholic League President Joe McLiney and KC Catholic League Capacity Secretary James O’Laughlin, in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Couzens claims Donohue defamed him in statements responding to the Kansas City Star’s three-part series on priestly abuse, written by Judy Thomas in December 2011.
The series centered around Couzens’ claims – and subsequent lawsuit against the KC Diocese, Msgr. Thomas O’Brien and Fr. Isaac True – that he and three other altar boys, one of whom committed suicide, were sexually abused in the early 1980s.
“Thomas’ entire soap-opera yarn concerns the allegations of Jon David Couzens,” Donohue said in a statement posted on the Catholic League’s website.
“He says that a priest molested him and three other altar boys back in the early 1980s. But why should we believe a man who only now is coming forward with his tale – he never told a single soul – especially given the fact that he has been implicated in a murder? Thomas never told readers that on the night Mark Trader was murdered about a dozen years ago, Couzens got into a fight with him over a botched drug deal, and although another man was convicted, on appeal it was alleged that Couzens and two other men had ‘motive to commit the murder and the opportunity to do so.’ This is public record, so why the cover up?”
Couzens’ attorney, Rebecca Randles, told Courthouse News she has no idea where Donohue came up with the drug and murder implications. Randles said in an interview that that to her knowledge Couzens has never been subject to any drug or murder-related charges.
In the lawsuit, Couzens claims that he reported Trader’s murder in April 1992 to police, after the killer confessed to him. He claims in the lawsuit that he received a commendation from now-Sen. Claire McCaskill for his good citizenship in the murder investigation and trial.
Donohue ramped up his criticism in another statement on Dec. 8, 2011, speculating on the timing of Couzens’ abuse lawsuit with the emergence of a lawsuit filed earlier that year against the K.C.
Diocese and priest Shawn Ratigan. That lawsuit claimed the Diocese waited nearly 6 months before reporting child pornography found on Ratigan’s computer.
“Couzens may be a hero to the Star, but his character is indeed questionable: he was implicated in a murder,” Donohue said in the statement. “Why hasn’t the Star revealed this to its readers? Does it want to ‘silence’ its critics? Why did Couzens wait 30 years before he told his ‘wrenching’ tale? Because the time was ripe to cash in after Fr. Ratigan’s name hit the papers?”
Randles said her client is not a gold-digger, and that the 30-year delay that Donohue finds suspicious is actually quite normal.
“If the memories are repressed or suppressed, there is no way to bring forth the accusations earlier,” Randles said in the interview. “Also, the average age of (priest) abuse is 12. The average age to report is 42. So 30 years is a common time frame.”
Couzens claims that Donohue’s statements falsely portray him as a drug-abusing killer and a Catholic hating bigot. Donohue’s statements were intended to incite and inflame people to confront Couzens, the lawsuit states.
As a result, Couzens says, he has been physically assaulted, cursed at on the streets, suffered emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.
Couzens said in a statement that he did not come forward just for himself.
“In the big picture it is a very sad thing that William Donohue and the Catholic League are attacking those who the Priesthood has already abused,” Couzens said in the statement. “I am not doing this just for me. I now understand why other victims don’t come forward. The things said about me are so cruel and offensive they cut to the core of my being. Others who don’t have my support would cower under these attacks.”
Randles said that statements such as Donohue’s are a common tactic by the Catholic League against those who claim to be abused by priests. She said the Catholic League attempts to bully and harass victims to deter them from moving forward.
Catholic League officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Couzens seeks actual and punitive damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“Mr. Donohue has been an outspoken and pugnacious defender of the church,” Randles said. “It’s our hope that he will align himself with things that are factually true.”
Randles said Couzen’s abuse lawsuit filed in 2011 against the KC Diocese and O’Brien is set for trial in April. The suit against True has been settled.
You Parishioners on here find my postings insulting and degrading, you find my words disgusting and nasty. Well I would ask YOU to read this posting. It will NOT be full of my swears but it speaks the truth. I just want you all to hear, from the words of a Priest Rape Survivor why we cannot forgive you just yet.
When I was diagnosed with PTSD over my priest rape and soul torture, I thought it was bull. I believed that the ONLY people whom could be classified as someone with PTSD were soldiers or those in war zones. Then my therapist started explaining to me what a person whom they diagnose with PTSD goes through, what their life is like…it was like they wrote most of that definition for me.
Yet people still think what I went through can simply go away if I just get over it, forgive the priest, forgive the church, forgive those whom harmed me.
That if I just forget…somehow this will make me all better.
What those whom think this way do not realize, for 33 years I hid what that priest did to me. I felt guilty, I hated myself for what he did to me. I called myself the Antichrist because of it.
When I thought I was the ONLY one who got raped by a priest…once I came out and started raising my voice about this evil…I found there were tens of thousands of us. Then I found out what the leadership did to protect the rapists and not us. Then I found they continue to rape us and harm us by their actions against us.
They continue to deny us justice. They just wish we would shut up and go away. They insult us, denigrate us, call us faggots, say we enjoyed and wanted what happened to us. They call us liars and gold diggers. They say we should look at others whom do the same thing.
How can anyone with what I or others went through EVER hope to get any healing from this, hope to ever find it in our hearts to forgive those whom harmed us…when they continue to do this to us?
Whom do you think Jesus Christ is going to one day, heal our pain and wipe away our tears, take away the never ending nightmares we suffer from because what those whom called themselves priests, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and even Popes did to cover this evil up? I have some hope with Pope Francis…we survivors had none with Pope Benedict.
I onced loved the RCC with all of my heart and soul. When I was a young boy taking my Catechism and doing my First Communion…I was hooked to the beauty and the mysticism and most of all…the love of God and Jesus Christ. That I just had the incredible honor of having my first Communion, of taking the Holy Body and Blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into me and that meant the world to me at that moment.
That was taken away from me in one night due to the perversities of a priest. Whom that night decided his vows he made to God, Jesus Christ and all of us did not matter, that his lusts mattered, and in that night…he took the soul, the faith and the life of a scared, young boy whom had just ran away from a foster home and thought the next day he was going to go to prison til he was 18 for it.
So when YOU PARISHIONERS hear us survivors of these crimes against us, speak out in anger, speak out in pain, speak out in horror about the evils done to us…do not condemn us…help us…help us heal from all of this suffering, all of this pain. Stand up for us. Stand up for your children. I know if you are true to the church…you have some God children. Remember the vows YOU TOOK…to protect and defend the life of this baby…with your very own if you need to.
If this is true to your heart and soul, if you took vows like these and you felt them burn within you…then do this again. Take the vow again to stand up and defend the Children of the Roman Catholic Church.
Help us heal our pain, help us heal our suffering. Help us.
Former Promoter of Justice for Congregation of the Faith Addresses Canon Law Society about Abuse Situation: For Whom Is Canon Law Designed?
Former Promoter of Justice for Congregation of the Faith Addresses Canon Law Society about Abuse Situation: For Whom Is Canon Law Designed?
From the blog: Bilgrimage
1. Pastoral leaders must find “the courage to tell victims to move on,” to stop creating “a persona out of being victims.”
2. “A tragic consequence of abuse is the loss of faith — a loss of faith in a God who is compassionate, merciful and loving. I have met victims who have renounced the faith as a consequence of what they suffered, and my attitude is silence and prayer.”
3. “The victims evangelize us.”
As long as we have bishops (with canonists who think as Rev. [Reginald] Whitt [of St. Paul-Minneapolis] does to advise them) who assume that their primary pastoral responsibility as bishops, bolstered by canon law itself, is to “save” pedophile priests while ignoring the needs of the people of God, we’ll continue to have dangerous priests placed by bishops in positions in which they’ll have access to minors. And we’ll have cover-ups.
Catholic priest recalls fleeing after sex abuse confession
9/9/13 By Gillian Flaccus of Associated Press
The Rev. Carlos Rodriguez’s account of his flight after confessing to molesting a boy was among files released Monday under the terms of a lawsuit settlement.
LOS ANGELES — The orders the Rev. Carlos Rodriguez got from his religious superiors after he confessed to molesting a 16-year-old boy just hours before were swift and decisive: Leave immediately. Check into a motel. Don’t tell anyone where you are going. Await further instructions.
Rodriguez, then 31, picked up cash and waited by the phone. The next day, the regional leader of his religious order called and told him to book a plane ticket out of state. By the time the victim’s family went to police, he had checked in at a residential treatment center for troubled priests in Maryland.
“I felt like a fugitive. But what else could I do under the circumstances. I had no other choice but to follow orders,” he wrote years later in an essay that was included in his Vatican petition to be defrocked.
The essay was part of a 303-page confidential personnel file on the priest that was released Monday along with files for five other priests who were also accused of molesting children while working for their Roman Catholic religious orders — the Vincentians, the Norbertines and the Augustinians — while on assignment in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Rodriguez’s file stands out because it includes a candid and detailed autobiographical account of his actions in 1987 and the steps his religious superiors took to shield him from the family and civil authorities.
The file also makes clear that officials with Rodriguez’s religious order, the Vincentians, and the LA archdiocese worked together to intercede. Both knew of Rodriguez’s confession, but no one spoke with police until the boy’s family filed a police report a month later, according to the file.
“The thing that Carlos Rodriguez does is, he lays out the truth, the underbelly, and exposes that for all that it is,” said Ray Boucher, a lead plaintiff attorney in the clergy litigation who secured the release of the files.
The religious order files are the second set to be released and more are expected in the coming weeks as religious orders comply with the final terms of a 2007 settlement with hundreds of clergy abuse victims in Los Angeles.
The archdiocese itself released thousands of pages under court order this year for its own priests, but the full picture of the problem has remained elusive without records from the religious orders, which routinely assigned priests to work in Los Angeles parishes.
Without access to Rodriguez, the police case dried up and the priest was back at work within seven months, where he molested two brothers. Rodriguez, who was defrocked in 1998, was convicted of that abuse 17 years later, in 2004, and sentenced to prison. He was released in 2008.
Now 57, he lives as a registered sex offender in Huntington Park, a gritty, industrial city southeast of Los Angeles. He has been accused of abuse in at least five civil lawsuits.
“It still weighs heavy on me,” Rodriguez, who wore a cross around his neck, said on Monday when reached at his apartment. “It’s nothing proud to talk about. I still feel remorse and it still hurts.”
The Rev. Jerome Herff, the Vincentian regional provincial who told Rodriguez to leave LA after his 1987 confession and placed him back in ministry the following year, said he urged him to leave because the boy’s family was irate and he feared for the priest’s safety. The treatment center, he said, was recommended by a law enforcement authority, although he declined to say who.
“I did what I thought was best and had to be done and what happened, happened,” Herff said in a brief phone interview. “I’ve lived with this for years and I just don’t want to go back there anymore.”
Rodriguez’s troubles began when he took two teenage boys on a trip to the Grand Canyon in 1987, roughly a year after he was ordained. The three checked into a Holiday Inn in Flagstaff, Ariz., and in his essay, Rodriguez wrote he began molesting one teen who was asleep on the floor.
The boy awoke and the novice priest, terrified at being discovered, drove nearly 500 miles through the night to deliver both teens to their families and immediately went back to his parish, where he took a shower and confessed.
The Vincentians sent him to the residential treatment center. While there, Rodriguez fretted in letters home about the “seriousness of the law in Arizona” that could get him up to 15 years in prison and asked the Vincentians for character references that would convince the Arizona prosecutor not to press charges.
When the family contacted the Los Angeles police a month later, Rodriguez’s superior told the investigating detective that the “church was aware of the situation and the defendant was currently hospitalized,” according to court papers.
The victim’s former attorney, Drew Antablin, said his client, who could not be reached for comment, was part of a larger settlement with the church in 2007.
After his release, Rodriguez was assigned to work for the archdiocese’s office of family life in Santa Barbara in 1988 and then to St. Mary’s Seminary in Santa Barbara. He took a leave of absence in 1993 after complaints of abuse surfaced again — but his superiors soon discovered he was saying Mass in a neighboring county in violation of his status.
In 1996, Rodriguez asked the Vatican to be defrocked and was exiled from the priesthood two years later.
In 2004, he pleaded guilty to molesting two brothers whom he met in 1988, just after his return to ministry. “He used his position in the church and used the victims’ faith as a weapon against them,” said Deputy District Attorney Anthony Wold, who handled that case. “It was outrageous and unforgiveable.”
Associated Press Writer Greg Risling reported from Los Angeles and Huntington Park, Calif.