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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.

Archbishop Robert Carlson “Legally, no one can even touch me, whether I did these awful things or not, because the law doesn’t apply to bishops like me.”


Archbishop Robert Carlson: “Legally, no one can even touch me, whether I did these awful things or not, because the law doesn’t apply to bishops like me.”

Archbishop Robert Carlson Seeks to Dismiss Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Argues Archdiocese Isn’t Liable

Lawsuit says St. Louis archbishop knew priest was threat to kids


Lawsuit says St. Louis archbishop knew priest was threat to kids

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson knew that a priest was a danger to children before that priest was charged last year with molesting a teenage girl, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Lincoln County.

The lawsuit was filed by the parents of the girl, who told police last June that the Rev. Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang, an associate pastor at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica in the Central West End, had molested her. Jiang, 30, eventually was charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. The girl had described him as a family friend.

In the lawsuit filed Friday, the girl’s parents said Carlson “knew that Father Jiang was dangerous to children” and “that allowing Father Jiang access to minors as part of his duties as a priest would result in Father Jiang harming minors.”

The suit does not provide details of how Carlson would have known Jiang was a threat to children.

According to the suit, the girl’s parents asked Carlson last year if Jiang, who was ordained in 2010, would be removed from the priesthood. Carlson responded “that he would remove Jiang if he ‘had sex’ with the child, but not for activities other than that,” according to the suit.

The lawsuit asks for damages but does not specify an amount.

In an email, Angela Shelton, community relations specialist for the archdiocese, said, “These new allegations against the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Archbishop Carlson are false and will be denied in an answer to the lawsuit filed in court.”

Jiang’s attorney, Paul D’Agrosa, did not return a call seeking comment.

In a statement last year, the archdiocese said Jiang was placed on administrative leave after officials learned about the allegations. It also said none of the alleged abuse had taken place at the Cathedral Basilica or on archdiocesan property.

But the lawsuit filed Friday alleges that while much of the abuse happened in the parents’ home in Lincoln County, a witness saw Jiang kissing the girl on the mouth and touching her inappropriately “in the parking lot of the church rectory.”

The archdiocese has said Jiang is a native of Shandong, China. In recent years, Jiang attended St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., according to the St. Louis Review, the archdiocese’s newspaper. He served his supervised ministry at St. John the Baptist Parish in St. Paul. According to the lawsuit, Jiang was a deacon in Saginaw, Mich., when Carlson was bishop there, before he moved to St. Louis.

Jiang met the 15-year-old girl in early 2010, just months before he was ordained. Carlson assigned him to the Cathedral Basilica, and Jian lived in a room at the archbishop’s residence, according to the suit.

The lawsuit claims Jiang first began visiting the girl’s house in early 2011, but he later resolved to stay away after her parents confronted him about being “too affectionate and too touchy” with their daughter.

By the following year, however, the priest returned to visiting the family home and began to “manipulate (the girl) into sexual contact,” the lawsuit says. When confronted again in June 2012, Jiang admitted his actions and, later that night, placed a check for $20,000 on the family car and sent a text message to the girl’s mother saying he left the money because of his “stupidity,” according to the suit. The parents turned over the check to police, the suit says.

The Church’s Errant Shepherds


Op-Ed Columnist

 

The Church’s Errant Shepherds

 

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.

I invite you to visit my blog at http://bruni.blogs.nytimes.com/ , follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/frankbruni and join me on Facebook.

St. Louis Priest Father William Vatterott Indicted on Child Pornography Charge


St. Louis Priest Father William Vatterott Indicted on Child Pornography Charge