Prominent Catholics want Seattle Archdiocese to open all sex-abuse files
By Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times
From the Link: Prominent Catholics want Seattle Archdiocese to open all sex-abuse files
SEATTLE — Two prominent legal professionals and practicing Catholics want straight answers from the Seattle Archdiocese to questions about its recently published list of clergy members identified as admitted or credibly accused child-sex abusers.
Terry Carroll, a retired King County Superior Court judge, and Mike McKay, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, said they’re frustrated with what appears to be more of a public-relations move than a sincere effort at transparency and accountability.
In 2004, the two men headed an appointed review panel charged with examining clergy sex-abuse cases that recommended the archdiocese publicize names of credibly accused clergy. This month, the archdiocese essentially did that — disclosing names of 77 priests and others “for whom allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been admitted, established or determined to be credible.”
But the accounting provides no details about when and where the alleged sex abuse occurred — information Carroll and McKay contend parishioners and the public deserve to know.
“Congratulate them on publishing these names, but that’s hardly the full story,” Carroll said. “Not so fast. Fill in the gaps and let us talk about it. I think that would be the healthiest thing moving ahead.”
The two men urged the archdiocese to provide a thorough public airing about the church’s work in addressing child-sex-abuse issues leading up to the list, as well as answering several key questions:
• Why did it take so long for the archdiocese to publish the list?
• Why aren’t the names of certain credibly accused priests from other religious orders included in it?
• How many children were victimized by each offender?
• How much money has the archdiocese spent in attorneys’ fees fighting sex-abuse claims, and how did it pay for them?
Carroll and McKay also want the archdiocese to release each listed clergy member’s secret file in full, other than redacting names of victims.
“Put it all out there,” Carroll said. “Open these files and let us finally know exactly what happened so that we can put it behind us, instead of this type of an approach they’re doing with talking points and all of the spin that goes along with it.”
Since it published the list on the Friday afternoon before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, the archdiocese has said it will continue reviewing cases to determine if additional information or names should be included.
But it hasn’t responded to a number of follow-up questions, and rejected a request to provide additional information about those on the list and the allegations against them. Archbishop Peter Sartain has declined interview requests.
Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni, in responding to Carroll’s and McKay’s question about attorneys’ fees, said it’s “nearly impossible” to determine what has been spent because the fees were part of settlement costs covered by insurance.
The archdiocese has said publication of the list was motivated by Sartain’s commitment to transparency and healing for victims, not by outside pressure or legal concerns.
The endeavor came after months of work by a consultant hired to evaluate case files and an appointed board that reviewed her recommendations, Magnoni has said.
But Carroll and McKay believe fallout from parishioners’ criticism over the archdiocese’s mishandling of an accused priest in 2014 prompted Sartain to act. The priest, the Rev. Harold Quigg, was among 13 clergy that Carroll, McKay and eight others on the 2004 review board investigated for child-sex-abuse claims.
The board supported accusations against nine priests and did not substantiate claims about three others. It also found allegations against Quigg to be credible, but determined they didn’t amount to child-sex abuse because the minor involved was 17 — a year older than the age of consent under church law.
Still, the panel wrote to then-Archbishop Alex Brunett, “This priest’s actions were so egregious so as to make him unsuitable for the priesthood.”
Among recommendations in a June 2004 report, the board advised Brunett to seek to defrock or bar from public ministry Quigg and the nine others, and to publicize their names.
Brunett resisted publishing the board’s report and wanted it rewritten, Carroll and McKay said. Brunett at the time said the board had exceeded its charge and that most of the recommendations were already in place.
Only after board members threatened to resign did Brunett publish the report, including the names of the nine priests. But Quigg’s name wasn’t released.
Brunett told the board Quigg “would live this life of private contemplation and penitence, but there would be no public ministry,” McKay said.
A few months later, when McKay attended a Catholic funeral of a friend in Bellevue, Quigg was officiating at the Mass.
“There he is up on the altar, and I’m very sure I’m the only one in the congregation that knew he shouldn’t be there,” McKay recalled.
In a December 2004 letter to Burnett, six review-board members called him out about Quigg and took issue with him for not adequately responding to their recommendations for more accountability for perpetrators and improved safeguards to reduce further abuse.
But 10 years later, North End parishioners at St. Bridget Church who learned Quigg was supposed to be barred from public ministry complained he still occasionally performed baptisms, funerals and weddings.
In May 2014, the archdiocese issued a statement about Quigg, detailing that starting in 1980, he and a teenager had “engaged in a 15-year-relationship.”
“The information was not made public because of the determination that the sexual contact did not involve a minor,” said the statement, which noted Brunett had ordered Quigg barred from public ministry.
The statement also said the archdiocese “learned recently” that Quigg had disobeyed the orders and that parish leaders weren’t alerted to the restrictions on him.
Carroll and McKay fired off a letter to Sartain, who replaced Brunett in 2010. It criticized the archdiocese’s statement about Quigg for errors and for downplaying the serious nature of his abuse.
“We had to call them on that for a couple reasons,” McKay said. “One, it was false. But secondly, it reflects a lack of vigilance on the Chancery’s part. We put them on notice about Quigg, and 10 years later, they said they didn’t know he was in active ministry.”
A short time later, Carroll and McKay sent another letter to Sartain, asking for an update on the nine other credibly accused priests from their 2004 review.
In July 2014, Sartain responded with an update saying all nine had been removed or restricted from ministry. His letter added he hadn’t had to discipline a priest for child-sex abuse since taking over as archbishop, nor was he “aware of any priests who have been disciplined for sexual abuse by Archbishop Brunett after 2002 that were not made public.”
Sartain concluded: “There is no place in the church for those who abuse minors, and I intend to do everything in my power to be sure that the vulnerable are protected and safe in our parishes and schools.”
Within three months of his letter, the archdiocese’s legal counsel had hired Kathleen McChesney, a consultant who specializes in investigating child-sexual abuse in religious institutions. She was tasked with compiling the list of credibly accused clergy.
McChesney reviewed dozens of files to compile the list of 77 names by April 2015, she said.
“This was not an investigation by any means,” said McChesney, a former King County police officer and FBI administrator. “People were not contacted and interviewed.”
Instead, McChesney mostly focused on information already in the files.
“For the names we put forth, we felt we had enough information to make those determinations,” she said.
Because she was hired by the archdiocese’s legal counsel, McChesney said her work is covered by attorney-client privilege.
“Some people might think (the archdiocese) did this for protection, but that’s not the case,” McChesney said. “There’s integrity in this and the people who worked with me. We didn’t have to do this. Our goal is to encourage others to come forward.”
Lucy Berliner, a member of both the 2004 review board and the current one that evaluated McChesney’s recommendations, added that the panel thoughtfully considered each case.
“The reason it took so long was because of this sort of caring, deliberative process we took,” said Berliner, who directs the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress. “And in my view, it was very transparent.”
Many clergy on the list previously had been named in news reports and by victims’ advocates. That includes Quigg, who died last November. A number of other accused clergy — and lay employees — are missing from the list, some say.
McKay and Carroll said they believe McChesney and the board’s work is competent.
“We’re not disputing that,” Carroll said. “But there are other questions, and for the sake of transparency, much more needs to be known.”
Here Are All the Seattle Catholic Priests Who Have Been Accused of Sexually Assaulting Children
By Sydney Brownstone
January 15, 2015
From the Link: Here Are All the Seattle Catholic Priests Who Have Been Accused of Sexually Assaulting Children
The Archdiocese of Seattle has released a list of 77 religious officials accused of sexually assaulting children in Western Washington.
From Jennifer Sullivan at the Seattle Times:
Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni said the list has been in the works for the past two years.
“In early 2014 we brought in a private consultant, a former FBI agent who does this kind of work, she came in with an associate and was given full access to our files. It took about 1,000 staff hours to put it together,” Magnoni said.
The archdiocese is now—finally—taking tips from anyone who has information about sexual abuse in the clergy. The tip line is 1-800-446-7762.
Here’s the list:
ARCHDIOCESE OF SEATTLE PRIESTS
Michael C. O’Brien
PRIESTS FROM OTHER DIOCESES
Phan Huu Hau
Manuel C. Ocana
RELIGIOUS BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Gerard Al Kealy*
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.
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 7, 2013, on page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: The Church’s Errant Shepherds.
A Catholic’s Easter lament: Dogmatic, tone-deaf bishops
By JOEL CONNELLY, SEATTLEPI.COM
Published 04:00 p.m., Saturday, April 7, 2012
A painful truism of this Holy Week, Christianity’s most important days of the year: Moral leadership in America’s Catholic Church is starting to flow from lay persons in pews and priests who deal with human problems, not prelates on thrones wearing white, red and purple hats.
Just look around to events from Rome to Berlin, and from Worcester, Mass., to Seattle.
In the Archdiocese of Seattle, our bishops issued a letter saying parishes will become signature-gathering centers for Referendum 74, a ballot measure designed to roll back same-sex marriage. But the state’s marriage equality law was sponsored by a Catholic state senator and signed into law by a Catholic governor.
Archbishop Sartain and Bishop Elizondo talk about treating all persons with “respect, sensitivity and love,” but then urge support for a campaign put together by the National Organization for Marriage — an outfit that wants to “drive a wedge” between blacks and gays, “sideswipe” President Obama and make opposition to marriage equality “an identity marker” for young Latinos.
A Q-and-A, just put out by the Washington State Catholic Conference, tells the faithful: “The Catechism of the Catholic Church does teach that homosexual ACTS are intrinsically disordered, not persons.”
A question to Archbishop Sartain, who does not seem to want to take questions: How do I, as a layperson, treat my friends who are gay and lesbian?
When with a telltale, sheepish grin a friend says he/she is seriously in love, my standard refrain is along the lines, “Why you lucky dog! Have you kids set a date?” Friends take pleasure in other friends’ happiness.
What’s, then, the approved party line for gay friends in love? a) Sorry, the church says what you are doing is “disordered,” or b) I love you as a sinner but I hate your sins, or c) My bishops have written: “For all unmarried persons, chastity means that they refrain from sexual relations.”
Do purple skullcaps dull the mind? The Jesus of the Gospels preaches human decency, not dogma. Life experience teaches us that the essence of marriage is the same whether people are straight or gay. Two people affirm their love and make a commitment to each other. Lots of gay and lesbian couples are raising children: Should they be denied the right to raise those children as legally married couples?
Catholic governors in Washington, Maryland, New York and California have not submitted to church dogma, or the hierarchy’s convoluted reasoning. And a vast majority of young people — including Catholic young people — want the happiness of friends whatever their age or race or sexual preference.
The hierarchy is tone deaf in many ways and places, be it in heavy-handed attacks on contraception coverage in health insurance or cruel treatment of Catholics who are not docile and do not submit to discipline.
A small Catholic college in Massachusetts was forced during Holy Week to rescind its invitation to Vicki Kennedy, widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy, to be this year’s graduation speaker. She was to speak as co-founder and president of the group Common Sense About Kids and Guns.
The order came from Worcester Bishop Robert McManus, whose spokesman told National Catholic Reporter that McManus acted because of Kennedy’s “positions on pro-choice versus pro-life and the sanctity of marriage.”
What a cruel, vindictive action, and what a reflection on the kind of men running the church.
“I am a lifelong Catholic and my faith is very important to me,” Kennedy said. “I am not a public official. I hold no public office, nor am I a candidate for public office. I have not met Bishop McManus nor has he been willing to meet with me to discuss his objections. He has not consulted with my pastor to learn more about me or my faith.”
The bishops don’t learn. They may think of themselves a shepherds, but America’s Catholics are not sheep. They may not consult people in the pews — or meet with those, like Kennedy, that they are judging — but laypersons (and many priests) are consulting their consciences.
A key lesson: Moral authority is earned. It is not simply acquired when a bishop/cardinal/Pope is installed. The American (and Irish, and Dutch, and Belgian , etc.) hierarchy has forfeited a lot of that authority through its handling of the priest sex-abuse scandal.
The despair is mitigated by the good works and wise words from those in the pews.
As Pope Benedict XVI used a Holy Thursday sermon to tell priests to obey orders, Medina, Wash., lay Catholic Melinda Gates was speaking from conscience about contraception at a conference in Berlin.
Contraceptives are not a code for abortion, she said, nor an invitation to promiscuous sex. “We are talking about giving women the power to save their own lives and their children’s lives — and to give their families the best possible future,” said Gates, talking of the need for birth control in the developing world.
Gates discussed the instruction in faith she received from sisters in a Catholic high school: “In the tradition of great Catholic scholars, the nuns also taught us to question received teachings. One of the teachings most of my classmates and I questioned was the one saying birth control was a sin.”
She didn’t question lessons on service, and giving back, and social justice, worthy grounding for the future co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The bishops will just have to deal with conscience-driven Catholics. In fact, they could listen and learn.