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)
Former Tyler priest sentenced to prison
Published on Thursday, 13 February 2014 10:05 – Written by From Staff Reports
An Ohio priest who served in the Catholic Diocese of Tyler from 1994 and 1999 was sentenced Wednesday to seven and a half years in prison.
Robert Poandl was convicted of taking a 10-year-old boy to West Virginia for sex in 1991. He was sentenced in federal court in Cincinnati on one count of transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent of engaging him in sex.
Prosecutors say the priest, from the suburban Cincinnati-based Glenmary Home Missioners, took the boy to Spencer, W.Va., in 1991 and raped him while visiting a church there.
Catholic officials in Tyler say that no one has come forward claiming abuse by the priest since his indictment in March of 2010, and maintains a page on the Diocese website about Poandl and how to report abuse.
“We encourage people to come forward who have ever been victimized by anyone,” said the Rev. Gavin Vaverek, promoter of justice for the diocese. “That’s our ongoing policy.”
At the time of the indictment in 2010, the bishop at the time of the Tyler Diocese, The Most Rev. Alvaro Corrada, issued a request in parish bulletins for any victims who may be in Tyler to step forward.
Poandl served in a parish in Pittsburg while with the Diocese of Tyler. He was convicted in September and continued to maintain his innocence Wednesday.
“I have never ever abused anyone, ever,” the 72-year-old priest told the judge prior to sentencing.
Representatives at the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) say that the kind of cooperation they received from the Tyler diocese is unusual, and still urge anyone in the Tyler Diocese to come forward with any information. Those who wish to come forward may contact law enforcement or SNAP.
“It’s never too late to share what you know or suspect with law enforcement officials,” said Judy Jones of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “It’s up to us to pass on information. And it’s up to police and prosecutors to determine what will help them prosecute a criminal.”
Besides Texas, he worked at churches and church assignments in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and Georgia.
“He has been transferred roughly 30 times in 44 years. That alone is a serious red flag,” said David Clohessy of SNAP in the written release.
Poandl also said that he believes his accuser has convinced himself and his family that the abuse occurred and they believe him.
He said he would pray for the accuser and his family.
The victim, who now is in his 30s, also spoke in court prior to sentencing, saying that the priest had “put hate into my heart.”
The accuser, looking directly at Poandl much of the time, said that the abuse caused him years of anger and shame.
“It is time for justice to finally be served,” he told the court.
The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify people who say they were sexually abused.
The accuser, now in his 30s, didn’t tell West Virginia law enforcement officials until 2009 that he’d been abused. Poandl was indicted there on charges accusing him of sexually abusing the boy, but a judge dismissed those charges in 2010.
Prosecutors said at the trial that the priest told the boy’s parents he needed someone to ride with him to keep him awake and navigate and then raped the boy after they arrived at the West Virginia church. The priest then told the boy that they had sinned and needed to pray for forgiveness, prosecutors have said. The defense argued that the accuser’s story changed through the years and was full of inconsistencies.
Poandl’s attorney, Stephen Wenke, in asking the court for a lesser sentence, noted that the priest has been diagnosed with late-stage cancer of the kidney and is likely to die before the end of the year. He asked the court to take that into account with Poandl’s age and years of community service.
Wenke declined to comment Wednesday after the sentencing other than to confirm that they are appealing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy Muncy had requested the maximum sentence, telling the judge that Poandl abused the trust placed in him by the victim and the victim’s family. She later said she thought the sentence was fair.
“I would just encourage anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse to come forward and have faith that justice will be served,” she said.
Poandl’s accuser left the court without commenting.
Members of Poandl’s family were crying afterward, with some calling out “love you Bob,” as the priest left the court in handcuffs.
The Glenmary religious order, which isn’t associated with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, is a society of priests and brothers who dedicate themselves to establishing a Catholic presence in rural areas and small towns. The group removed Poandl from ministerial duties in 2012.
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
Father John P. Connor
The Church’s Errant Shepherds
By FRANK BRUNI Published: July 6, 2013
BOSTON, Philadelphia, Los Angeles. The archdioceses change but the overarching story line doesn’t, and last week Milwaukee had a turn in the spotlight, with the release of roughly 6,000 pages of records detailing decades of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests there, a sweeping, searing encyclopedia of crime and insufficient punishment.
But the words I keep marveling at aren’t from that wretched trove. They’re from an open letter that Jerome Listecki, the archbishop of Milwaukee, wrote to Catholics just before the documents came out.
“Prepare to be shocked,” he said.
What a quaint warning, and what a clueless one.
Quaint because at this grim point in 2013, a quarter-century since child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church first captured serious public attention, few if any Catholics are still surprised by a priest’s predations.
Clueless because Listecki was referring to the rapes and molestations themselves, not to what has ultimately eroded many Catholics’ faith and what continues to be even more galling than the evil that a man — any man, including one in a cassock or collar — can do. I mean the evil that an entire institution can do, though it supposedly dedicates itself to good.
I mean the way that a religious organization can behave almost precisely as a corporation does, with fudged words, twisted logic and a transcendent instinct for self-protection that frequently trump the principled handling of a specific grievance or a particular victim.
The Milwaukee documents underscore this, especially in the person of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, previously the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009 and thus one of the characters in the story that the documents tell. Last week’s headlines rightly focused on his part, because he typifies the slippery ways of too many Catholic leaders.
The documents show that in 2007, as the Milwaukee archdiocese grappled with sex-abuse lawsuits and seemingly pondered bankruptcy, Dolan sought and got permission from the Vatican to transfer $57 million into a trust for Catholic cemetery maintenance, where it might be better protected, as he wrote, “from any legal claim and liability.”
Several church officials have said that the money had been previously flagged for cemetery care, and that Dolan was merely formalizing that.
But even if that’s so, his letter contradicts his strenuous insistence before its emergence that he never sought to shield church funds. He did precisely that, no matter the nuances of the motivation.
He’s expert at drafting and dwelling in gray areas. Back in Milwaukee he selectively released the names of sexually abusive priests in the archdiocese, declining to identify those affiliated with, and answerable to, particular religious orders — Jesuits, say, or Franciscans. He said that he was bound by canon law to take that exact approach.
But bishops elsewhere took a different one, identifying priests from orders, and in a 2010 article on Dolan in The Times, Serge F. Kovaleski wrote that a half-dozen experts on canon law said that it did not specifically address the situation that Dolan claimed it did.
Dolan has quibbled disingenuously over whether the $20,000 given to each abusive priest in Milwaukee who agreed to be defrocked can be characterized as a payoff, and he has blasted the main national group representing victims of priests as having “no credibility whatsoever.” Some of the group’s members have surely engaged in crude, provocative tactics, but let’s have a reality check: the group exists because of widespread crimes and a persistent cover-up in the church, because child after child was raped and priest after priest evaded accountability. I’m not sure there’s any ceiling on the patience that Dolan and other church leaders should be expected to muster, especially because they hold themselves up as models and messengers of love, charity and integrity.
That’s the thing. That’s what church leaders and church defenders who routinely question the amount of attention lavished on the church’s child sexual abuse crisis still don’t fully get.
Yes, as they point out, there are molesters in all walks of life. Yes, we can’t say with certainty that the priesthood harbors a disproportionate number of them.
But over the last few decades we’ve watched an organization that claims a special moral authority in the world pursue many of the same legal and public-relations strategies — shuttling around money, looking for loopholes, tarring accusers, massaging the truth — that are employed by organizations devoted to nothing more than the bottom line.
In San Diego, diocesan leaders who filed for bankruptcy were rebuked by a judge for misrepresenting the local church’s financial situation to parishioners being asked to help pay for sex-abuse settlements.
In St. Louis church leaders claimed not to be liable for an abusive priest because while he had gotten to know a victim on church property, the abuse itself happened elsewhere.
In Kansas City, Mo., Rebecca Randles, a lawyer who has represented abuse victims, says that the church floods the courtroom with attorneys who in turn drown her in paperwork. In one case, she recently told me, “the motion-to-dismiss pile is higher than my head — I’m 5-foot-4.”
Also in Kansas City, Bishop Robert Finn still inhabits his post as the head of the diocese despite his conviction last September for failing to report a priest suspected of child sexual abuse to the police. This is how the church is in fact unlike a corporation. It coddles its own at the expense of its image.
As for Dolan, he is by many accounts and appearances one of the good guys, or at least one of the better ones. He has often demonstrated a necessary vigor in ridding the priesthood of abusers. He has given many victims a voice.
But look at the language in this 2005 letter he wrote to the Vatican, which was among the documents released last week. Arguing for the speedier dismissal of an abusive priest, he noted, in cool legalese, “The liability for the archdiocese is great as is the potential for scandal if it appears that no definitive action has been taken.”
His attention to appearances, his focus on liability: he could be steering an oil company through a spill, a pharmaceutical giant through a drug recall.
As for “the potential for scandal,” that’s as poignantly optimistic a line as Listecki’s assumption that the newly released Milwaukee documents would shock Catholics. By 2005 the scandal that Dolan mentions wasn’t looming but already full blown, and by last week the only shocker left was that some Catholic leaders don’t grasp its greatest component: their evasions and machinations.