US prosecutor may seek racketeering suit in Pa. clergy abuse
ASSOCIATED PRESS APRIL 03, 2016
PITTSBURGH — A federal prosecutor may file a racketeering lawsuit against a Roman Catholic diocese where a state grand jury found two former bishops helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 clergy over a 40-year period.
The ongoing investigation of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese grew out of the prosecution of the Rev. Joseph Maurizio Jr., US Attorney David Hickton said Friday.
The 71-year-old Somerset County priest was convicted last year of molesting two street children during missionary trips to Honduras. He was sentenced to nearly 17 years in prison, fined $50,000, and forced to pay his victims $10,000 each.
Hickton said the ongoing investigation concerns whether diocesan officials engaged in a pattern of criminal activity that would fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as RICO.
The statute of limitations has lapsed on criminal racketeering charges, but there is no time limit for filing a RICO civil lawsuit, Hickton said. KDKA-TV first reported that Hickton was considering such a lawsuit. A diocesan spokesman did not immediately comment.
‘‘The remedy that would be available under a civil RICO would be some sort of injunctive relief,’’ Hickton said. ‘‘If we were able to get a consent decree, that would be one route.’’
Injunctive relief, in this case, would be a court order requiring the diocese to take certain actions. A consent decree is a voluntary agreement between prosecutors and a target that certain reforms would be enacted.
A grand jury, in a report released last month, was especially critical of Bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec. Hogan, who headed the diocese from 1966 to 1986, died in 2005. Adamec, who succeeded him, retired in 2011.
The grand jury found Hogan, in particular, held sway over police and prosecutors in the diocese and often reassigned priests accused of molesting children instead of removing them from duty. Adamec threatened accusers with excommunication and generally worked harder to hide or settle abuse allegations than to discipline the priests accused, the grand jury found.
An attorney for Adamec denied wrongdoing and said 14 priests accused of molestation under Adamec’s watch were given psychiatric screenings. Nine were suspended or removed, and the five who were returned to ministry didn’t reoffend, Adamec’s attorney said.
Hickton won’t say what he believes church officials may have done wrong.
Kane’s report grew out of allegations that a Franciscan friar, who has since killed himself, molested dozens of students at a school in the diocese from 1992 to 2000.
Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who represented dozens of those victims, said he favors the RICO lawsuit even though many of his victims ‘‘would find incarceration for the supervisors more suitable.’’
‘‘I think the tactic is an approach that must be taken given the depth and scope of the supervisors enabling sexual abuse,’’ Garabedian said. If a consent decree is reached, ‘‘many victims would like to see a complete admission of guilt, and perhaps an independent supervisor appointed to review the activities of the diocese.’’
Bruce Antkowiak, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, said the RICO Act is used to target individuals who ‘‘operated or managed an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.’’
To prove that, a prosecutor must show the target committed specific crimes listed in the act — including murder, extortion, and robbery. Mail fraud — essentially using the mail in any step of a fraud — or extortion are other RICO crimes that could conceivably relate.
According to the grand jury report, a whistle-blower accused Maurizio in 2009 of abusing the boys, and the diocese conducted its own investigation, including hiring a translator to review the victim’s claims.
Diocesan records ‘‘show a high-ranking Diocesan official concluding the alleged conduct was ‘impossible,’’’ the report said.
‘He was a monster’: how priest child abuse tore apart Pennsylvania towns
A grand jury report issued last week details abuse by dozens of Catholic leaders in the small communities of Altoona-Johnstown from the 1950s to the 1990s
Joanna Walters in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania
Tuesday 8 March 2016 07.30 EST
One of Brian Gergely’s fellow altar boys had a code he would use to signal danger in the room where they and the priest prepared for mass.
“He would say ‘red buttons’, and that was the alert that the priest was coming up behind you, and we would try to get away from him, running around the desk in the middle of the room where he kept the chalices, the host and the wine,” said Gergely, 46.
Gergely was 10 at the time.
Lawsuits: Sisters abused by same Altoona priest as kids
| Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 2:24 p.m.
From the Link: http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/10669248-74/bodziak-diocese-priest?fb_action_ids=983185511794736&fb_action_types=og.comments
ALTOONA — Two sisters have sued a Catholic priest, his central Pennsylvania diocese and two ex-bishops who supervised him, saying the cleric molested them repeatedly as girls — including one at her first Communion party.
The younger sister, who is now 47, said she met the Rev. Charles Bodziak at St. Leo Church in Altoona, where he was the parish priest, when she was in second grade. At the party her parents threw after her first Communion, Bodziak groped her buttocks and gave her an open mouth kiss, according to the lawsuit.
Bodziak, now 74, repeatedly molested the girl until she was in sixth grade, taking her on school trips where she was fondled, kissed and assured “that what he was doing was ‘OK’ because he was a priest,” her lawsuit said.
The lawsuit filed by her older sister, now 49, makes similar allegations against Bodziak, covering the time when she was 8 to 14 years old. She said Bodziak gave her wine on several occasions before molesting her. Bodziak assaulted her in the rectory after summoning her from school and molested her while she practiced the organ in church, according to her lawsuit.
The Associated Press could not locate an attorney for Bodziak, and three phone numbers listed as his in online databases were not answered Tuesday.
Tony DeGol, a spokesman for the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, declined to comment on the allegations, but noted current Bishop Mark Bartchak placed Bodziak “on leave in January as a precautionary measure while the diocese re-examines an allegation of sexual misconduct involving minors against Father Bodziak dating back more than 30 years.”
It unclear whether the allegation cited by the diocese relates to the lawsuits filed Tuesday by attorney Richard Serbin, who has been suing the diocese and its priests for alleged molestation of children for decades.
Bodziak was labeled a child predator in a grand jury report earlier this year. The report focused on the diocese and was critical of two former bishops who were sued on Tuesday, James Hogan and Joseph Adamec. Hogan, who headed the diocese from 1966 to 1986, died in 2005. Adamec, who succeeded him, retired in 2011.
Adamec’s attorney didn’t immediately return a call for comment. DeGol said a priest serving as executor of Hogan’s estate declined comment.
The lawsuits parrot the grand jury’s findings that the bishops were either slow to respond or sought to cover-up allegations of child-sex abuse against Bodziak and dozens of other priests over the last 50 years.
The grand jury report noted that Bodziak remained in ministry after an allegation involving a different girl surfaced in 2003 and Adamec referred it to a review board. The lawsuits quote the grand jury report, which said the board served as a “fact-finding” mechanism that forwarded information to lawyers to help the diocese protect itself from litigation, “not a victim service function.”
Grand jury: Hundreds of children sexually abused by priests in Altoona-Johnstown diocese
POSTED 10:45 AM, MARCH 1, 2016, BY VALERIE WALTZ, UPDATED AT 10:54AM, MARCH 1, 2016
ALTOONA, Pa. — A statewide investigating grand jury has determined that hundreds of children were sexually abused over a period of at least 40 years by priests or religious leaders assigned to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane’s office announced today.
The widespread abuse involved at least 50 priests or religious leaders. Evidence and testimony reviewed by the grand jury also revealed a troubling history of superiors within the Diocese taking action to conceal the child abuse as part of an effort to protect the institution’s image. The grand jury, in a 147-page report made public today, stressed this conduct endangered thousands of children and allowed proven child predators to abuse additional victims.
“The heinous crimes these children endured are absolutely unconscionable,” said Kane, who addressed the media this morning at a news conference at the Blair County Convention Center. “These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe.
“Just as troubling is the cover-up perpetrated by clergy leaders that allowed this abuse to continue for decades,” Kane added. “They failed in our society’s most important task of protecting our children.”
The grand jury’s findings followed two years of exhaustive investigation by the Office of Attorney General, which brought this matter to the grand jury in April 2014. While Attorney General Kane stressed the investigation is ongoing, none of the criminal acts detailed in the grand jury report can be prosecuted. This is due to the deaths of alleged abusers, deeply traumatized victims being unable to testify in a court of law and the statute of limitations for the crimes being exhausted.
As a result, the grand jury in its report made a series of recommendations, such as abolishing the statute of limitations for sexual offenses against minors and urging the state General Assembly to suspend the civil statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims.
The grand jurors also urged victims of crimes, such as child abuse, to report criminal activity to law enforcement. Attorney General Kane also urged victims and others with information concerning the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown to contact the Office of Attorney General. Those with information may contact the office by dialing 888-538-8541, a toll-free, dedicated hotline established for this case.
“This is by no means the end of our investigation. We will continue to look at this matter and consider charges where appropriate, which is why it is so important for those with information to come forward,” Kane said. “At the very least we must continue to shine a light on this long period of abuse and despicable conduct.”
Execution of search warrant uncovers “secret archive”
The grand jury reviewed more than 200 exhibits and heard testimony from numerous witnesses, which created thousands of pages of transcribed testimony. A substantial amount of the physical evidence was uncovered when investigators with the Office of Attorney General executed a search warrant last August at a Diocese office and uncovered materials that included the Diocese’s “secret archive.”
The materials included numerous files for priests accused of sexual misconduct. As the grand jury noted in its report, boxes and filing cabinets were filled with documents detailing children being sexually violated by the Diocese’s own members. Also among the seized items detailing the abuse were: handwritten notes of Bishop James Hogan, letters and documents sent to Bishop Joseph Adamec, several sexual abuse victim statements, correspondence with offending priests and internal correspondence related to these matters. All told, approximately 115,042 documents were removed from the Diocese.
The evidence was instrumental in detailing the actions of Bishops Hogan and Adamec, the men who led the Diocese between the mid-1960s through 2011. The bishops allegedly were at the forefront of the cover-up the grand jury details in its report.
The evidence also shows several instances in which law enforcement officers and prosecutors failed to pursue allegations of child sexual abuse occurring within the Diocese.
Priest sent on sabbatical to avoid criminal investigation
The grand jury found the case of Joseph Gaborek, 70, to be “a particularly heinous example of the Diocese exercising authority and influence to cover up the sexual abuse of a child at the hands of a Diocesan priest.”
The grand jury reviewed evidence that Gaborek, who was assigned to St. Michael’s Church (West Salisbury) and St. Mary’s Church (Pocahontas) in the early 1980s, sexually violated a boy after recruiting him to work at the parishes. The abuse was later reported to the Pennsylvania State Police, the grand jury stated.
The grand jury determined that Bishop Hogan spoke to police investigating the case and assured a police investigator he would send Gaborek to an institution. Further review of the evidence showed Gaborek was sent on sabbatical to a school for boys where there was no psychological or psychiatric treatment available, the grand jury determined. He was later reassigned to another parish.
The Diocese’s own files detailed Hogan’s intervention in the police investigation. A portion of one such file noted Gaborek “would have been prosecuted and convicted of [sexual contact with a 16 year old boy] except that the bishop intervened and he was sent to Michigan for treatment and then placed in another parish upon his return.”
Bishop acted to avoid scandal rather than protect children, grand jury finds
The grand jury report details another troubling example of abuse allegedly perpetrated by Martin Cingle, 69, a priest who was ordained in 1973 and later was assigned to various parishes within the Diocese. Evidence uncovered during the investigation showed Cingle in 1979 groped the genitals of a child while sleeping next to the boy on a cot in his underwear, the grand jury report states.
The victim met in 2002 with Bishop Adamec. Records recovered from the Diocese show that Adamec sent Cingle for “treatment” after the victim came to him. The so-called treatment concluded after roughly one month. Among its findings, records show, was the determination that there was no evidence of “psychopathology in the psychological data,” and that nothing in Cingle’s history was consistent with an attempt to initiate sexual relations with a man. Cingle was returned to full-time ministry.
During his testimony before the grand jury, Cingle acknowledged he could have accidentally fondled the boy’s genitals. The grand jury learned Cingle had told Adamec the same version of events, but the account does not appear in diocesan records. Cingle was left in the ministry until last year, when the Office of Attorney General demanded Cingle be removed from ministry immediately.
The grand jury determined the allegation made against Cingle warranted his removal, and that Bishop Adamec’s reliance on so-called “treatment” was part of a desire to avoid scandal. The matter was never reported to law enforcement.
At least 15 boys abused by monsignor
The grand jury deemed Francis B. McCaa, now deceased, to be “a monster.” McCaa, a monsignor, was assigned for more than 20 years to the Holy Name Church in Ebensburg, where he groped and fondled the genitals of at least 15 boys, many of whom were altar boys, the grand jury found. The victims were reported to be between 8 and 15 years old.
One McCaa victim said the abuse occurred during confession. In other instances, the victims stood together while being abused, the grand jury found. At least one victim committed suicide.
Bishop Hogan in this case also kept detailed notes of his meeting with two prosecutors who worked for the Cambria County district attorney’s office. The notes show another case in which Hogan intervened in a child abuse investigation involving a member of the Diocese, and had McCaa transferred to work as a chaplain at a West Virginia hospital.
Investigators conducted interviews with the prosecutors involved in the McCaa case, which also confirmed their inaction and the decision to move McCaa to another location in lieu of pursuing criminal charges, the grand jury alleges.
OAG credits FBI for assistance with investigation
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown’s parishes are located within eight counties — Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clinton, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset. There are more than 90,000 Catholics in the area the Diocese covers, according to the grand jury.
This Office of Attorney General assumed jurisdiction of this matter upon a formal conflict referral by Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan. The matter was presented to the grand jury by Deputy Attorney General Daniel J. Dye of the Office of Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Section. The office’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations also spent a significant amount of time gathering the evidence that was presented to the grand jury.
The Attorney General’s investigators also were aided greatly by behavioral experts with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Critical Incident Response Group, Behavioral Analysis Unit.
Attorney General Kane thanked all who took part in the investigation for their commitment and hard work.
Pennsylvania Catholic diocese covered up decades worth of child abuse, grand jury report finds
By: Steve Esack Contact Reporter
Call Harrisburg Bureau
March 1, 2016 3:43pm
From the Link: Pennsylvania Catholic diocese covered up decades worth of child abuse, grand jury report finds
Two bishops who ran a Catholic diocese in western Pennsylvania systematically covered up decades worth of child abuse committed by priests and other religious leaders they supervised, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday by the state attorney general’s office.
The statewide grand jury investigation, which started in 2014 with a referral from the Cambria County District Attorney’s office, discovered the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown kept a secret archive detailing hundreds of abuse claims against 50 priests and other religious leaders since the mid-1960s, the attorney general says.
The archive stretched from the mid-1960s to 2011 and included Bishop James Hogan’s notes on the abuse claims and letters and other documents sent to Bishop Joseph Adamec. Both bishops also intervened to stop law enforcement investigations over the years, the grand jury report found.
But no criminal charges can be filed against anyone, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said at a news conference, because the statute of limitations has run out, abusers have died and victims are fearful of testifying in open court.
The grand jury report, Kane said, recommends the state Legislature lift the statute of limitations on when child abuse claims can be filed.
“The heinous crimes these children endured are absolutely unconscionable,” Kane said in a news release that mirrors her comments at a morning news conference at the Blair County Convention Center. “These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe.”
The current bishop of Altoona-Johnstown, Mark Bartchak, issued a statement saying he deeply regrets “any harm that has come to children.”
He says the diocese will continue cooperating with authorities.
He did not comment specifically on the report’s findings. He says the diocese is reviewing it.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says one of the grand jury’s most significant findings was that a diocesan review board was not focused on helping victims.