Category Archives: Archdiocese of St Louis

2 Paths, No Easy Solution on Abusive Priests


2 Paths, No Easy Solution on Abusive Priests

From the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/03/us/2-paths-no-easy-solution-on-abusive-priests.html?pagewanted=all

"Father" Leroy Valentine

“Father” Leroy Valentine

ST. LOUIS, March 1— It has been 20 years since John Scorfina’s family complained to church officials about the Rev. Leroy Valentine’s sexualized horseplay with him and his two brothers, which they say ended with the priest molesting 11-year-old John.

It has been four years since the Scorfina brothers took $20,000 each from the Archdiocese of St. Louis on the condition they never speak of the settlement, believing that lawyers for the church had promised to remove the priest from parish work.

But when the three men recently learned that Father Valentine, who has denied any wrongdoing, was an assistant pastor at a church attached to a Catholic elementary school, the order not to speak could not contain their outrage.

”I just don’t want any kids to go through what I went through,” John Scorfina said this week.

Across the Mississippi River in Belleville, Ill., the priests who have been accused of sexual abuse no longer work in churches. One performs karaoke on Wednesday nights at the Lincoln Jug restaurant in Belleville and another pumps gas at his mother’s service station in the small town of Columbia.

In the mid-1990’s, the Diocese of Belleville publicly ousted 13 priests accused of inappropriate sexual contact with children, leaving them in an odd limbo — on the church payroll yet without portfolio, called ”Father” but barred from administering sacraments or wearing the collar. ”In the church,” said one, the Rev. Raymond Kownacki, ”you’re guilty until proven innocent.”

Cardinal Bernard Law

Cardinal Bernard Law

Here in the center of the country, these two dioceses — one, in a major city in which a third of the population is Catholic, the other a sprawling 11,000-square-mile expanse of small farm towns — have taken divergent paths in handling accusations of sexual abuse by clergymen.

While Belleville made headlines by removing priests, St. Louis quietly moved them around. Each diocese has a board to review the cases. In Belleville, a victim’s say-so was often enough for the board to strip priests of their church ministries; in St. Louis, many victims said they were unaware of the board’s existence.

As church officials nationwide rethink their approaches to the issue amid recent scandals, each bank of the river offers lessons about the intractability of the problem.

Belleville’s broad public sweep of priests from the altar may have eased victims’ pain, but it also left some parishioners uneasy that innocent men were being maligned, while others worried about potential pedophiles being released from the rectory, unwatched. The policy in St. Louis, until this week, of keeping nearly all accusations secret as the archdiocese moved the priests into new parishes, retirement, or low-profile posts, angered victims and may have led to further offenses.

The issue of sexual abuse by priests has taken on new urgency in recent months after disclosures that the Boston Archdiocese had known for years about the sexual misconduct of a priest who was accused of molesting some 130 children. That case led to repeated apologies from the leader of the archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law, who reversed his policy of keeping the matter within the church and gave state authorities the names of some 80 priests accused of abusing children over 40 years.

Since then, church leaders in New England and Philadelphia have informed parishes of similar accusations against priests, handed priests’ personnel files to prosecutors and relieved some of the accused of their duties. In Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahoney issued a public apology to victims and released a new policy vowing that a priest who had abused a child would never return to active ministry.

Here in St. Louis, an archdiocese of 223 parishes, church officials announced the removal of two pastors today, saying they had ”raised the bar” about who is unfit to serve in a parish post. The standard, since 1996, had been that any priest deemed to pose a future risk would be removed. Since the Boston incidents, they say that any priest with a substantiated accusation against him will be ousted. The two priests received treatment after the accusations, which are 15 and 14 years old, officials said.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

”As painful as it is, we’re going to keep the trust of our people,” said Bishop Timothy M. Dolan, the vicar for priests. ”We have to be able to say, we have to be able to believe, that there is no priest in a parish against whom there is a credible claim of clerical sexual abuse.”

Accusations about pedophilia have plagued the Roman Catholic Church in the United States since the first major case arose nearly 20 years ago in a Louisiana parish. Experts warn that, like alcoholism, pedophilia is a disease that can be controlled but not cured, and that problem priests should not be reassigned to parishes where they are at risk of abusing again.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, who lives in St. Louis, says the experiences of Belleville, while flawed, are a starting point as bishops review policies. St. Louis, he says, is a model of what to avoid.

”In Belleville, like virtually every diocese in America, the survivor who comes forward has a long tough road,” he said. ”But in St. Louis, that road is steep, uphill, and seemingly endless.”

St. Louis

Parishioners Uneasy But Dependent

Father Valentine was the favorite of many children at St. Pius X, a parish and school in Glasgow Village, a community of identical aluminum-sided bungalows in the northern part of St. Louis. The priest took them out for ice cream and cheeseburgers. He lavished affection on children like the Scorfinas, who came from single-parent or troubled families. ”He was like the dad that wasn’t there,” said John Scorfina, who now runs a construction company.

Father Valentine, in an interview on Thursday at the rectory of St. Thomas the Apostle, where he is now an associate pastor, said he was barred by the legal settlement from discussing the case. When told that this was his opportunity to respond to whether there was any truth to the accusations, he looked down and shook his head. The senior pastor, the Rev. Henry Garavaglia, who sat in on the interview, said, ”Emphatically, I would say no.”

Cardinal Roger Mahony

Cardinal Roger Mahony

Then Father Valentine looked up and said suddenly, ”At the same time, parents should always be concerned who’s working with their children.”

Others who lived in Father Valentine’s parish said they felt uneasy about him, particularly when he wrestled with groups of boys and slid them over his body in a game he called ”crack your back.”

Tom Joseph, 32, remembers a 1982 trip with Father Valentine to the Illinois River in which he says the priest playfully tackled him, pulled down his pants and spanked him. Mr. Joseph, then 13, did not tell anyone, but says that he never went anywhere with the priest again.

Margie Lewis, a single parent, said that one day she called home and was surprised to learn from her daughter that Father Valentine was there wrestling with her son and his friends. She said that she asked him to come to the phone, but he would not, and that he left suddenly.

The Scorfina brothers were also home alone on the day they say that Father Valentine came over, and initiated a wrestling session. Soon, they say, the priest fondled two of the boys and then took John into a bedroom and sodomized him.

”I remember I had a Pittsburgh Steelers poster on the wall, and he made me name all the players until the deed was done,” John Scorfina said. Asked in his 1998 deposition how long it lasted, Mr. Scorfina said, ”About 10, 15 minutes, maybe, give or take, say, forever, 26 years.”

Katie Chrun, the Scorfinas’ mother, recalled that when she arrived home her youngest son asked: ” ‘Mom, should a priest touch you like that?’ I said, ‘Like what?’ ”

Mrs. Chrun said she contacted the authorities, but was told by pastors and a policeman that it was an internal church matter and to keep quiet and be forgiving.

Then, three months later, Mrs. Chrun, her mother and her sister went to meet with Father Valentine in the rectory. Mrs. Chrun and her sister, Linda Thurman, both say that he apologized and said that if he did something wrong, he must have blacked out.

Asked about the meeting, Father Valentine said, ”It was an apology that they had taken something wrongly.” He said he never said anything about blacking out.

Archbishop Robert Carlson

Archbishop Robert Carlson

Within the month, Father Valentine was removed with no explanation to the Scorfinas or the parishioners, and in the next 12 years was reassigned to three parishes, two of them with schools. Not until the Scorfina brothers filed their lawsuit, in 1995, were parishioners at the church where he worked at that time informed that there were accusations of child sexual abuse against him. The Scorfina brothers sued the Archbishop of St. Louis and Father Valentine and the archdiocese settled with the family in 1998.

Though they refused to discuss specific cases, Bishop Dolan, who also handles sexual abuse cases for the archdiocese, as well as the archdiocese’s lawyer and a psychologist who sits on the review board acknowledged that Father Valentine had been evaluated and treated by medical professionals, and that he had been put on sick leave for four years.

In 2000, as Father Valentine was assigned to his current post in Florissant, a St. Louis suburb, the church’s senior pastor sent parishioners a letter informing them about a 1982 accusation of sexual misconduct against Father Valentine. The letter said Father Valentine had ”unambiguously denied the allegation” and that therapists had concluded he posed ”no threat to children.”

Complaints

Some Settled, Some Unheeded

Interviews and court records suggest Father Valentine’s is not the only St. Louis case where accusations led to transfers — or where victims complained of being ignored by the chancery.

Cardinal Justin Rigali

Cardinal Justin Rigali

Church officials refused to say how many priests, before last week, had ever been publicly removed because of sexual abuse. Doug Forsyth, a lawyer who has handled about two dozen cases against the archdiocese — 15 of which he said were settled — and victims’ advocates said the only cases they were aware of in which removal was publicly attributed to pedophilia were ones in which the priests did not deny the accusations in court.

One of those priests, the Rev. James Gummersbach, admitted in a 1994 lawsuit that he had abused boys in several parishes over decades. Further, in a sworn statement, he acknowledged that from his ordination in 1954 through the 1990’s ”the only known action taken by the defendant archdiocese in response to the accusations that defendant Gummersbach had sexual contact with minors was to transfer Gummersbach and instruct him to obtain personal counseling.”

One man who said his complaints about a priest went unheeded was Steven Pona. Court records show Mr. Pona, now 33, wrote to the the vicar general in 1983 contending that that the Rev. Bruce Forman, director of the Young Catholic Musicians orchestra and choir, tried to seduce him at a drive-in screening of ”Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Mr. Pona said the incident followed at least five occasions in which the priest tried to approach him sexually.

”During the movies he had his arm around me in a funny sort of way, sort of at the waist,” Mr. Pona wrote in a teenager’s cursive. ”I pushed his arm back forcefully and said, ”Don’t, I’m not that type.’

Diocesan directories show that Father Forman, who did not return calls for comment, was moved only once in the last 20 years, in 1986, to the parish where he remains pastor. Mr. Pona’s letter, in a sealed envelope, was placed in the priest’s file, marked, ”To be opened by archbishop only,” according to court records.

Mr. Pona’s lawsuit, filed against Father Forman and the archbishop, was dismissed because of the statute of limitations. But as the issue resurfaced in the news in January, Mr. Pona said, he went to see Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, who at first was compassionate but later phoned to say he had researched the case and found no evidence.

On Friday, Bishop Dolan said Mr. Pona’s recent complaint might have gotten lost because it arrived shortly before Bishop Sheridan left for another assignment. Bishop Sheridan did not return several phone calls on Thursday. In the interview today, Bishop Dolan urged parishioners to ”tell us again” if they were unhappy with how complaints had been handled.

The archdiocese’s new strategy of removing priests based on substantiated accusations rather than assessment of future risk has already spawned criticism. Parishioners at St. Cronan’s Church, where the pastor was removed on Wednesday, gathered that evening to pray for their priest.

”People are feeling that it’s sort of an infringement of our Christian community to have someone taken from us without any consultation and without any explanation,” said Bill Ramsey, a member of St. Cronan’s. ”I don’t think anybody wants sexual abuse anywhere, but it’s a fact of life and there are more constructive ways to deal with it than ordering people away from other people.”

Belleville

Model System Still Falls Short

The church used to shuffle priests accused of sexually abusing children among the 127 parishes in the Belleville diocese, too.

In a 1995 lawsuit against Father Kownacki, one of the ousted priests, and the diocese, Gina Trimble Parks asserted that while she was the priest’s teenage housekeeper, the priest repeatedly raped her over two years and ultimately fed her a quinine potion to bring about an abortion. Court records show Ms. Park’s family made the same assertions to the bishop in 1973, and that Father Kownacki had two previous complaints of sexual abuse against him from other assignments. He was sent for treatment and later returned to a parish.

The lawsuit was dismissed because of the statute of limitations. ”I was too old to fight it,” he said of his ouster in a recent interview, adding that his family and friends ”know the accusations aren’t the truth.”

The Rev. Clyde Grogan, longtime pastor of St. Patrick’s in East St. Louis, said he brought several victims and their families to the chancery to register complaints in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and nothing happened.

”You know how it was handled?” asked Father Grogan, raising his hand and forming a zero with thumb and forefinger. When victims complained, he added, ”The bishop would give lots of assurances. I think the strategy was, what do the people want to hear?”

That changed in 1993, after The Belleville News-Democrat published an article describing how a priest had molested high school boys aboard a houseboat on Carlyle Lake 20 years before. The accused priest was immediately removed and church leaders began rewriting their sexual abuse policy.

Four priests were ousted in the weeks that followed and eight more priests and a deacon were pushed out in the next two years as the diocese investigated a swell of complaints, most of which first appeared in The News-Democrat.One as eventually returned to a parish.

”We were kind of learning as we went,” said Msgr. James E. Margason, Belleville’s vicar general, who helped write the new policy. ”We were damaging someone’s reputation, we didn’t know if the allegation was true. What drove us was to protect children.”

Margie Mensen, a social worker who was the administrator of the Belleville review board from its formation until 1998, said a credible accusation from a victim was enough to remove a priest, often within days of the complaint. Many of the priests never presented their side to the board; only one admitted the abuse. Several refused treatment.

The diocese has since settled at least three of eight lawsuits (one is still pending in federal court) and paid for counseling for 49 people, including victims and their families. Though the state’s attorney subpoenaed all the review board’s records, it filed no charges, because the accusations were years old and lacked corroboration.

But if Belleville has been heralded as a model, many in the community remain dissatisfied with the process.

Father Grogan says the diocese’s 80-some priests are still divided as to whether they believe the abuse accusations. Parishioners at one church wore yellow ribbons to protest their pastor’s removal. Donations dipped for years as people feared the Sunday collection plate would go to defray legal expenses.

Those who say they are victims remain outraged that the priests retain their titles, salaries and pensions.

”That’s kind of a slap in the church’s face, my face, everybody’s face,” said Mary Aholt, whose husband was among those to receive a settlement. ”Everybody that’s paying their salary, and that’s everyone that belongs to the Catholic Church.”

Others worried that the church is not properly supervising the people it had deemed a problem. The Rev. Louis Peterson works in a restaurant in Lebanon, Ill. Father Kownacki collects coins and stamps in a dingy first-floor apartment in Dupo, Ill., where he said he sometimes celebrates Mass for family and friends, against the rules of his administrative leave. The Rev. David Crook has left the area.

”I have a whole new life,” said the lounge singer at the Lincoln Jug Restaurant, Msgr. Joseph R. Schwaegel, who still faces a federal lawsuit, along with the diocese, by a California man who asserts that Father Schwaegel repeatedly touched his genitals and raped him in 1973, when the plaintiff was 8. Father Schwaegel declined to discuss the case.

The Rev. Robert Vonnahmen, a former camp director who faced at least three lawsuits accusing him of luring boys to his cabin for massages that led to molestations, runs a Catholic retreat center and a $3-million-a-year tax-exempt tour company, formerly owned by the church, which leads Catholic ”pilgrimages” to dozens of destinations. (Two of the lawsuits were dismissed because of the statute of limitations, a third was settled out of court.)

At his office the other day, Father Vonnahmen wore a short-sleeved black shirt with Roman collar, button open, defying the church’s sanction. He has denied all accusations against him, twice petitioned the Belleville review board to reinstate him and has now appealed his case to the Vatican. ”I’m not going to give up on the Lord or the church, either one,” he said. ”I know these things happen occasionally. I can’t imagine the large number of people in Belleville. There was a rush to judgment.”

No Belleville priests have been removed since 1997. Monsignor Margason said the 800-number set up to receive abuse complaints has been silent for a year.

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Archdiocese Sued Over Alleged Abuse by Church of the Immacolata Priest Leroy Valentine


Archdiocese Sued Over Alleged Abuse by Church of the Immacolata Priest Leroy Valentine

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

By Sarah Fenske

From the link: http://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2015/10/20/archdiocese-sued-over-alleged-abuse-by-church-of-the-immocalata-priest-leroy-valentine

"Father" Leroy Valentine

“Father” Leroy Valentine

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis was sued Friday over sex abuse allegedly suffered by a young boy who attended school at the Church of the Immacolata in Richmond Heights.

The suit, filed by a pair of anonymous parents on behalf of their son, alleges that Fr. Leroy Valentine began abusing the boy when he was eleven — eventually sodomizing him in the rectory. The abuse allegedly continued for four years, from 1977 to 1981.

Valentine was a priest within the Archdiocese from 1977 to 2002, when he was removed from active duty, according to the lawsuit. But, the suit alleges, “although his church privileges were permanently removed in 2002, he was never laicized” — that is, officially defrocked.

In 2013, Archbishop Robert Carlson found allegations of sexual abuse against Valentine, then 71, to be substantiated.

The suit was filed by attorney Kenneth Chackes of Chackes, Carlson and Gorovsky, who frequently handles such chases against the Archdiocese. In a statement released by Chackes, the unnamed plaintiff said, ““I approached the Archdiocese multiple times for help and tried to get assistance without getting lawyers involved. Filing a lawsuit was my last resort and due to their inaction.”

Archbishop Robert Carlson

Archbishop Robert Carlson

The Post-Dispatch has previously written about Valentine’s misconduct. One story describes his removal; another provides more context. According to one of the stories,

In 1995, three adult brothers sued the archdiocese accusing Valentine of molesting them in 1982. The brothers had been members at St. Pius X Catholic Church in the Glasgow Village area and attended the school there. Valentine denied the charges, and then-Archbishop Justin Rigali backed him up in court.

He put Valentine on administrative leave, and for a time Valentine entered a Catholic facility for troubled priests in eastern Franklin County. Subsequently his address was listed as a St. Louis apartment building. In 1998, the archdiocese paid each of the brothers $20,000 settlements, and the following year Rigali assigned Valentine to a new parish.

Those incidents — and the transfer — would have come after the conduct alleged in this lawsuit. However, the lawsuit does not allege that anyone filed an official complaint about Valentine’s abuse of the Immocalata student at the time it was happening.

Cardinal Justin Rigali

Cardinal Justin Rigali

In 2002, when priest abuse scandals became big national news, Valentine’s conduct at St. Pius X was featured in a front-page story in the New York Times. Numerous Pius X parishioners told the paper they had been uncomfortable with the priest’s activities, and that he was subsequently moved to another parish. In the next 12 years, the paper reported, he was assigned to three different parishes — two of them with schools.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of the church where Valentine served during the allegations in the lawsuit. We regret the error.

Long road toward priest’s removal traces church’s abuse journey


Long road toward priest’s removal traces church’s abuse journey

By
From the link: http://m.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/tim-townsend/long-road-toward-priest-s-removal-traces-church-s-abuse/article_26e0dab9-c94d-5a18-82eb-0ec4dce8cc12.html?mobile_touch=true

"Father" Leroy Valentine

“Father” Leroy Valentine

The St. Louis Archdiocese had what Archbishop Robert Carlson called sad news about clergy sexual abuse.

On May 1, the archdiocese posted a statement from Carlson on its website saying he had permanently removed the Rev. Leroy Valentine, 71, from ministry. An internal, lay investigatory board had determined that “incidents” taking place “in the 1970s” which had been “only recently brought to our attention” were credible, Carlson said.

The archdiocese also published an article in its weekly newspaper, the St. Louis Review, about Valentine’s removal saying the “allegation of abuse occurred in the 1970s.”

A closer look at Valentine’s story reflects a 30-year journey that neatly embodies the Roman Catholic church’s struggle to deal with its sexual abuse troubles over that time.

It’s a sad story — Carlson is right — about a priest who has been repeatedly accused of abuse, and yet neither the law nor the church can prove it. So the archdiocese, despite proclaiming again and again through the years that no allegation against Valentine has been found credible, says he’s “been monitored and supervised continuously since 1999.” He is not guilty. He is not innocent.

In 1995, three adult brothers sued the archdiocese accusing Valentine of molesting them in 1982. The brothers had been members at St. Piux X Catholic Church in the Glasgow Village area and attended the school there.

Archbishop Robert Carlson

Archbishop Robert Carlson

Valentine denied the charges, and then-Archbishop Justin Rigali backed him up in court. He put Valentine on administrative leave, and for a time Valentine entered a Catholic facility for troubled priests in eastern Franklin County. Subsequently his address was listed as a St. Louis apartment building.

In 1998, the archdiocese paid each of the brothers $20,000 settlements, and the following year Rigali assigned Valentine to a new parish.

In its story this week, the Review said that Valentine had “repeatedly stated” that the brothers’ allegations was untrue, and “was not found to be credible by civil authorities, and he was returned to active ministry.”

Rigali assigned Valentine to be associate pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle in Florissant in October 1999. In a letter to parishioners, the church’s pastor said “the conclusion of the therapists who evaluated Father Valentine is clear that he poses no threat to children. Additionally, the allegation has been resolved with no finding of guilt or liability on the part of Father Valentine.”

But a little more than two years later, the clergy abuse crisis had rocked the Catholic church back on its heels, and Valentine became the subject of a front-page New York Times story and multiple stories in the Post-Dispatch.

As the crisis expanded during the first months of 2002, the St. Louis archdiocese tightened its abuse policy saying no priest with a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse would be allowed to work in a pastoral setting or a position that provided access to children.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

After two priests accused of abuse resigned under the new policy, the archdiocese was under pressure to answer questions about any of its priests who had been accused of abuse in the past. Then-auxiliary Bishop Timothy Dolan (now a cardinal and archbishop of New York) said allegations against Valentine and two other priests who had been sued in civil court were unsubstantiated. The archdiocese had no plans to remove them or to review previous complaints, he said.

“There is nobody we are worried about in the ministry,” Dolan said.

He told the New York Times that, “we have to be able to say, we have to be able to believe, that there is no priest in a parish against whom there is a credible claim of clerical sexual abuse.”

Three days later, the archdiocese issued a statement specifically about Valentine, saying it “continues to support Father Valentine in his ministry to the people of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.”

But then, a few weeks later, a former altar boy came forward. He was 32, and told the Post-Dispatch that he was 8 at the time Valentine had molested him, in 1978 at Immacolata Church in Richmond Heights. Valentine allegedly put the boy on his lap while hearing his confession, then put his hands in the boy’s pants.

“I was molested during the first sacrament I ever received,” the man said.

Cardinal Justin Rigali

Cardinal Justin Rigali

The archdiocese said then that it was investigating new accusations against Valentine “from many years ago.” The alleged misconduct dated to the 1980s, the archdiocese says now.

Valentine resigned from St. Thomas during that investigation but maintained his innocence, saying his departure was “in the best interest of our parish family, of the archdiocese and for my own personal well-being.”

But eventually, the allegations leading to Valentine’s resignation were also found to be unsubstantiated by the archdiocese’s advisory board.

And yet despite being cleared by the archdiocese, Valentine never returned to public ministry.

From his resignation in 2002 until 2005, Valentine lived in a private residence, according to the statement. Since then, he’s been living “in a retirement home.” Public records indicate that is Regina Cleri, the archdiocese’s retirement home for priests on its campus headquarters in Shrewsbury. A request to speak with Valentine went unreturned.

The archdiocese did not distribute a release about Valentine to the secular press. It declined to directly answer questions provided by the Post-Dispatch for this column. It also declined to make anyone available for an interview. Instead, it issued a statement from Phil Hengen, director of its Child and Youth Protection office, who said the recent, credible allegation took place in 1978.

The allegation involved “inappropriate touching of a minor” and the archdiocese learned of it last summer, Hengen said in the statement.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Angela Shelton said the recent allegation involves a single person who says Valentine abused him “on more than one occasion.”

Archdiocese officials investigated, and the process concluded with Carlson’s announcement May 1.

“Father Valentine,” according to Hengen, “will continue to live in a monitored, secure environment.”

St. Louis Archdiocese Dismisses Victim’s Abuse Claims as Lies, “Personal Issues” (VIDEO)


St. Louis Archdiocese Dismisses Victim’s Abuse Claims as Lies, “Personal Issues” (VIDEO)

Immaculate Deception


Immaculate Deception

Some dirty little secrets followed Archbishop Raymond Burke from Wisconsin to St. Louis

By Malcolm Gay Wednesday, Aug 25 2004

From the link: http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2004-08-25/news/immaculate-deception/

Cardinal Burke

Cardinal Raymond Burke

 

When Pope John Paul II tapped him to be Archbishop of St. Louis last December, Raymond Burke took yet another stride along the ecumenical fast track. Ordained as a priest in Rome by Pope Paul VI in 1975, Burke had studied canon law in Italy. In 1989 he was appointed to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the church’s highest court, and six years later the pope named him bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Now, at age 55, he was taking his place on the national stage.

The local press described him as the ultimate Vatican insider, a conservative who was said to follow papal decrees minutely. His hard-line stances often spilled over into the eccentric: He’d pulled his diocese out of Church World Services’ annual Crop Walk because the agency advocates birth control. He’d criticized J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series of children’s books. He’d spearheaded a controversial $25 million shrine in La Crosse honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. Most remarkably, he’d ordered priests in his diocese to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who supported euthanasia or abortion rights.

One controversy, however, appeared to have missed Burke entirely: the clergy sex-abuse scandal, which for two years running had rocked the moral underpinnings of the Catholic Church.

While other dioceses reeled amid thousands of allegations of abuse by priests, the Diocese of La Crosse had recently reported that from 1950 to 2002 a mere 10 out of a total of 705 clerics had been found guilty of sexual misconduct — a rate of 1.4 percent. By contrast, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops reported a national average of roughly 4 percent during the same time period. All told, only 31 allegations of clergy sexual abuse had been substantiated in La Crosse. Only three of those cases had made headlines in Wisconsin. One involved a non-diocesan priest, Timothy Svea, who was part of a religious order (see accompanying sidebar); the other two priests are dead.

Burke, it seemed, had tended his garden nicely in La Crosse and was well poised to minister to the fallout of the scandal in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Whereas his predecessor, Justin Rigali, had drawn fire for ignoring victims of abuse, the incoming archbishop was tidily insulated from the problem. So much so, in fact, that when St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Ron Harris asked him to name the most pressing issue facing the Catholic Church here, Burke replied, “How to organize our parishes and our Catholic schools.”

But some members of Raymond Burke’s former flock paint a far different portrait of the erstwhile bishop of La Crosse. If cases of clergy sex abuse were few and far between, they say, it was because Burke was a master at keeping a lid on them. Several victims who claim they were abused by priests in La Crosse tell Riverfront Times they were stonewalled by Burke, who declined to report their allegations to local authorities. And while some of his fellow church officials nationwide were reaching hefty settlements with victims, Raymond Burke was unyielding in his refusal to negotiate with victims’ rights groups. He declined to make public the names of priests who were known to have been abusive, and he denied requests to set up a victims’ fund. Most strikingly, Riverfront Times has learned, while bishop in La Crosse Burke allowed at least three priests to remain clerics in good standing long after allegations of their sexual misconduct had been proven — to the church, to the courts and, finally, to Burke himself.

His critics say Burke’s ability to conceal the diocese’s dirty laundry was abetted by Wisconsin’s unique civil code, which makes it virtually impossible for someone to sue the church for the actions of an individual priest.

“He stands with his fellow bishops in Wisconsin as having had the ability to just rebuke and ignore our victims,” says Jeff Anderson, an attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota, who specializes in clergy abuse cases. “He has a long history of making pastoral statements that they care, that they want to heal, that they want to help. They are very long on words, but very short on actions.”

“We don’t exist, for him,” seconds Peter Isely, a Wisconsin leader of the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “Loyalty to the church is of the highest order for him, and his response to victims’ claims has been lethargic and slow and reluctant and bureaucratic and impersonal.”

Then again, if success is measured in money saved and avoidance of scandal, Raymond Burke possesses a sterling record. At a time when dioceses are reaching million-dollar settlements with individual victims and filing for bankruptcy, Burke reported in January 2004 that between 1950 and 2002 the Diocese of La Crosse paid out a grand total of $15,807.38 to victims seeking counseling for clergy sexual abuse.

St. Louis Archbishop Carlson claims to be uncertain if he knew sexual abuse was a crime


St. Louis Archbishop Carlson claims to be uncertain if he knew sexual abuse was a crime

From the link: http://m.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/st-louis-archbishop-carlson-claims-to-be-uncertain-if-he/article_4215ecea-3409-53b3-813b-545c81a1b793.html?mobile_touch=true

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson claimed to be uncertain that he knew sexual abuse of a child by a priest constituted a crime when he was auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, according to a deposition released Monday.

During the deposition taken last month, attorney Jeff Anderson asked Carlson whether he knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child.

“I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” Carlson replied. “I understand today it’s a crime.”

Anderson went on to ask Carlson whether he knew in 1984, when he was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, that it was a crime for a priest to engage in sex with a child.

“I’m not sure if I did or didn’t,” Carlson said.

Yet according to documents released Monday by the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates in St. Paul, Carlson showed clear knowledge that sexual abuse was a crime when discussing incidents with church officials during his time in Minnesota.

In a 1984 document, for example, Carlson wrote to the then archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, John R. Roach, about one victim of sexual abuse and mentioned that the statute of limitations for filing a claim would not expire for more than two years. He also wrote that the parents of the victim were considering reporting the incident to the police.

In a statement, Gabe Jones, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said “while not being able to recall his knowledge of the law exactly as it was many decades ago, the archbishop did make clear that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today.”

“The question does not address the archbishop’s moral stance on the sin of pedophilia, which has been that it is a most egregious offense,” Jones said.

Anderson took Carlson’s deposition as part of a sexual abuse lawsuit in Minnesota involving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona, Minn.

The plaintiff in the case, only identified as “Doe 1,” claims to have been abused in the 1970s by the Rev. Thomas Adamson at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Paul Park, Minn.

Later in the deposition, when asked about an incident of alleged sexual abuse of a minor by another priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Rev. Jerome Kern, Anderson asks Carlson:

“But you knew a priest touching the genitals of a kid to be a crime, did you not?,” referring to what a 1987 church memo said about the alleged incident.

“Yes,” Carlson replied.

Carlson went on to admit that he never personally reported any incidents of sex abuse to the police, though he encouraged parents to at least once.

Carlson also said that even in 1996 he did not know that pedophilia was a disorder that couldn’t be cured.

“I did not know that, but as a pastor, I was becoming increasingly concerned,” Carlson said.

With regard to the history of sexual abuse in the church, Carlson seemed to suggest he did the best he could at the time.

“I think in everything we do, once we’ve experienced it, we reflect on our actions and we ask what we can do better,” Carlson said. “I think we did a pretty good job.

“Obviously, based on some 25 years later, I would do it differently.”

Anderson then asked, “Don’t you think you should have done it differently then?”

“I did what I did,” Carlson replied.

“I think counselors made mistakes. I think people in general made mistakes. I think the archdiocese made mistakes,” Carlson went on to say.

“I think if you go back in history, I think the whole culture did not know what they were dealing with. I think therapists didn’t. I don’t think we fully understood. I don’t think public school administrators understood it. I don’t think we realized it was the serious problem it is.”

But over and over, throughout the deposition, Carlson claimed to not remember answers to questions posed by Anderson — for a total of 193 times.

Anderson asked Carlson if there was any physical condition or illness that was impeding his memory.

“I can’t make either a psychological or a physical diagnosis, other than to say I have had seven cancer surgeries. Each time, I received some kind of chemical to put me out for that. If that’s impeded my memory or not, I have no idea,” Carlson answered. “My concern is that what I say to you would be accurate.”

Anderson has also taken Carlson’s deposition for a priest sexual abuse case scheduled for trial July 7 in St. Louis. That deposition is under seal.

According to Anderson, Carlson was involved in handling sexual abuse cases in Minnesota for 15 years.

RVCC Comment:ARCHBISHOP ROBERT CARLSON SHOULD BE ABSOLUTELY ASHAMED OF HIMSELF…TO SPEW OUT OF HIS MOUTH THAT HE DID NOT THINK THAT CHILD SEX ABUSE OR RAPE WAS A CRIME? THEN ALL OF THESE MISSING MEMORIES?

HE ENABLED THE ABUSE OF CHILDREN AND TEENS BY HIS ACTIONS. THERE IS NO EXCUSE. POPE FRANCIS MUST…IF HE IS A MAN OF HIS WORD…CALL ARCHBISHOP ROBERT CARLSON IMMEDIATELY TO THE VATICAN AND FIRE HIM AND THEN ALLOW HIM TO BE PROSECUTED.

Support the victims not the victimizers


Frank LaFerriere: Support the victims not the victimizers

Published Date Thursday, April 24,2014
From the Link: http://www.berlindailysun.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49465:frank-laferriere-support-the-victims-not-the-victimizers&catid=73:letter&Itemid=428

To the editor:

If you were to find out that the leadership of a group or organization you belonged to had appeared before commissions and grand juries and openly admitted to covering up the abuses of children, from rape to severe beatings, to even the death of a child, and that this involved tens of thousands of members own children, and that the cover ups are wide spread throughout the organization or group, you would think that the membership of the group would rise up in arms and make sure that the leadership is arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows. That they would stand up and defend and protect their children over the leadership of their group or organization. Yet there is one such organization…though there are others….that its leadership is totally immune from liability for crimes such as these by it’s membership. This organization is known as the Roman Catholic Church.

While they have come far with this problem of child abuse, the Vatican announced that for 2011-2012 almost 400 priests had to be let go because of credible accusations of child abuse, including rape, there is still much to be done. While it is commendable that they caught and fired these priests, what about those whom participated in the cover ups of these crimes? Why are they not called to account for their crimes of the members own children? Why are the leadership of the church put above the law and those whom they have harmed? Why are they defended and even praised or made a saint?

There have been at least a half a dozen commission reports, like the Ryan Report, that detail the systematic sexual, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse of children and teens, children of the Roman Catholic Church; and the cover ups of these abuses by the leaders and even their highest leaders, ones whom are supposed to be the Vicars of Jesus while on this earth and in their position. Yet even to this day, not one credibly accused leader has ever been arrested or prosecuted for their crimes save one, Bishop Robert Finn and that case is being retried. Matter of fact, one of these, John Paul II was given sainthood. There is overwhelming evidence he participated in the cover up of and through acts of omission, turned a blind eye to, the pederast Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ. Yet he is given sainthood? This is an insult to all those whom are survivors of these evil crimes against us.

There are some incredible priests and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. I have met some of them. From Fr Tom Doyle, ret., whom has fought tirelessly for the victims of priest abuse, at the cost of his being a priest, to even our own local priest Fr Kyle Stanton whom has helped me immensely, to groups like Catholic Whistleblowers, and others, they have sort of restored my faith that this problem of priests and nuns abusing children and teens will stop. Yet to truly set things right the following must be done.

1. All credibly accused leaders, from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, to Cardinals like Timothy Dolan, Donald Wuerl, Roger Mahony, Bernard Law, George Pell, and many others, against whom there is overwhelming evidence, through commission reports, grand jury testimonies and the churches own documents, must be fired. They must be arrested and prosecuted. We do this to other criminals, we demand this of any rapist or those whom cover up the rapes and abuses of children. They may be leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, but these men are criminals and deserve to be arrested and prosecuted and the victims deserve their day in court and justice for the crimes committed against them because of these leaders actions.

2. Abide by the Pledge to Protect, Promise to Heal charter all of the diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States signed. All attacks against the victims must stop. We are not responsible for our rapes, we did not enjoy being raped. We are not homosexuals because we were raped by a male priest. We are not liars, gold diggers who are out looking for a payday from the Roman Catholic Church.

We are your sons, we are your daughters, who want justice, whom want those who perpetrated these crimes against us punished, whom went through one of the most horrifying and terrifying experiences a human being can go through. We trusted these priests and nuns and they destroyed that trust with their evil crimes against us. We were raped, we were beaten, we had our souls, our hearts stolen from us, we had our bodies destroyed and abused. We did not deserve this, we were not willing participants and we refuse to remain silent while those whom are responsible for these crimes against us go free while we still remain trapped inside the prisons they created for us.

3. No matter what….put your children before your leaders. Protect and stand up and defend your children….not the leaders whom committed these evils against us. Your children should come first. Stand up for the victims of these crimes, whom are your own children. You may know one. Again, we are your sons, your daughters, your nieces and nephews, your God children, whom you vowed and promised to protect and defend.

I started going back to church. I even started photographing St Annes, an incredibly beautiful place of worship. I had no choice though, I had to stop because I felt like such a hypocrite. Far too many of us whom were victims still see those responsible for these evils against us in their positions as if nothing in the world is wrong. We victims are still being attacked, by people like Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League. We are still being attacked by parishioners whom have called me a liar to my face and how dare I spread lies and rumors and false accusations and gossip against the leaders. Well, sadly, I am not spreading lies, rumors and false accusations, these statements I have made can all be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law if it were allowed.

Yet while these leaders whom perpetrated these crimes against us are still in power, I cannot in good conscious go into the church. I cannot be part of a church where the leadership covered up the crimes of child abuse, child rape and put the church before the children and are still in power, for that makes me a hypocrite in my eyes.

I would love to go on a regular basis to St Anne, to be among the other worshipers, some of whom I made acquaintance and even friends with, especially Fr Kyle, but I cannot, for while the wolves are still in control….someone must stand outside the door for the defense and protection of the children and the victims.

Sin is one thing…sin can be forgiven when there is true repentance from the sin. There has been no true repentance among the leadership whom covered up these crimes. There have been staged acts of contrition, but no true repentance. For if they are to truly repent they must also submit to prosecution for the crimes they committed. They must not hide behind their robes of religion. If they seek to make laws for man like they do, they also must submit to the laws of man and be arrested and prosecuted for their crimes. No one, not even religious leaders, should be allowed to get away with crimes against children. They should not be above the law!

When it comes time to the crimes of the rapes and abuses of children and teens and the cover up of these crimes by the leadership…only justice in a court of law, where the victims may have their day in court to see those responsible for the crimes against them be tried and if found guilty sentenced to prison…that is true justice. The Roman Catholic Church promised this to victims and to prosecuting attorneys…but have failed to deliver on this promise. Instead they still fight the victims and hide behind the statue of limitations to deny justice to the victims. Ask yourself is this true justice? If you were raped would you say this is true justice?

In closing whom do you think Jesus Christ will stand up for in the end?

Those whom perpetrated these crimes against children and teens…or the children and teen victims?

Here is a clue: “For it would be better for you to tie a huge boulder around your neck and throw yourself into the deepest of lakes than to harm a single hair on the head of a child.”

Well the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church did a lot more than harm a hair on the head of a child. Whom are you going to stand besides? The ones Jesus Christ would stand up for? Or the ones He would toss into the pit of hell for their evils against children?

Frank LaFerriere, Berlin

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

 

Bill "Pig Face" Donohue, degenerate leader of the Catholic League

Bill “Pig Face” Donohue, degenerate leader of the Catholic League

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.

III. Evidence & Hearings: Canada


III. Evidence & Hearings: Canada.

II. The Unrepentant


II. The Unrepentant.