Man acquitted of beating of priest he said sexually abused him
SAN JOSE, Calif. (WLS) – William Lynch, the California man who admitted he pummeled a priest who he said abused him as a boy, has been found not guilty of felony assault and elder abuse charges.
The jury of nine men and three women could not reach a verdict on a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault for the 2010 attack at a retirement home.
The jury began deliberations late Monday after hearing impassioned closing arguments from both sides.
The defense’s strategy had long been to prove to the jury that the wrong man was on trial. However, prosecutor Vicki Gemetti urged jurors to focus on the assault.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” she said in her closing arguments on Monday.
Lynch’s crusade for his own form of personal justice against the priest, Jerry Lindner, drew supporters to the courthouse in San Jose, Calif., during his nearly three-week trial. They carried signs that read “stop clergy sex abuse” and condemned the “pedophile playground” retirement community that is home to Lindner, who has had previous allegations against him.
Lynch testified last Friday that he visited Lindner with the intention of having the aging Jesuit sign a confession, but when the priest “looked up and leered” at Lynch in the same manner he did more than 35 years ago when he sexually abused him, Lynch said he ordered the priest to take off his glasses and hit him.
Lynch passed up a plea deal of one year in jail and instead chose to go to trial to publicly shame the man who he said haunted his memories for 35 years.
On a family camping trip 35 years ago, Lynch said he was brutally raped at age 7 by Lindner and was then forced to perform sex acts on his 4-year-old brother.
The boys kept their painful secret for years, long past the six-year statute of limitations California had in place at the time of the alleged crimes.
Lynch got his wish to see the priest in court, even if the tables were turned. Lindner was forced to testify, but a short time later the Jesuit invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The judge struck his testimony from the record.
During his short time on the stand, Lindner, now 67, told the court he remembered Lynch, but only as the man who attacked him at a Los Gatos, Calif., Jesuit retirement community where the priest has resided since 2001.
Lindner denied molesting Lynch and his younger brother on a camping trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974.
Lynch’s attorney declared the priest had perjured himself and even prosecutor Vicki Gemetti said in her opening statement that she expected Lindner to lie on the stand or say he didn’t remember certain events.
“The evidence will show [Lindner] molested the defendant all those years ago,” she said, but urged the jury to focus on Lynch’s attack.
Lynch’s case of alleged vigilante justice has attracted support from around the world and has shed light on a justice system many view as flawed.
Lynch and his brother were awarded $625,000 after filing a civil suit against Lindner in 1997. The priest was removed from active ministry and was moved to the Jesuit retirement community in 2001.
Lindner was named in two other abuse lawsuits, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
ABC Radio News Contributed To This Report
Gerald T. Slevin: Philly Criminal Trial Reveals Vatican’s Fatal Strategy
VATICAN’S STRATEGIC CHOICES: (A) HOPEFUL TRANSPARENCY OR (B) FATAL SECRECY
It appears that the only crucial force for change in the Church will be the pressure from criminal and bankruptcy courts throughout the world. It is already beginning to happen. Vatican officials have run out of places to hide, as the Philly trial and Vatileaks are showing us in real time. Instead, some of them are pointing fingers by leaks at others, hoping to enhance their own positions and save their own neck. Too little too late.
Church assisting paedophile priests
Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie
June 15, 2012
The archdiocese has disclosed to The Age that it is providing significant financial support to four clergy released from jail after serving sentences for child sex abuse.
Victim support groups say more clergy found either by police or internal church investigations to have abused children are likely to be receiving financial support from different Catholic orders outside the Melbourne archdiocese’s control.
A spokesman for the Melbourne archdiocese said church law required the bishop to ”ensure appropriate financial support is provided to all priests”. ”The archdiocese contributes to rental support and health insurance for four priests who have had their faculties to function as a priest withdrawn, been convicted of child sex offences and completed any term of imprisonment imposed by the courts.”
A fifth paedophile priest within the Melbourne archdiocese, Victor Rubeo, was also receiving financial support until his death in December last year, on the day he was to face a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court over 30 fresh child sex abuse charges.
Director of victims support group In Good Faith and Associates, Helen Last, said the generous financial support to paedophile priests was unjust compared with the financial, physical and emotional hardship endured by those who have been abused.
”This seems to be a weak response in terms of discipline and there should be an examination of the archdiocese’s relationship with clerical sexual offenders,” she said. ”The victims are often left out in the cold with no ongoing financial support and help. The money the [convicted] priests get from the church makes it a very unjust situation and demonstrates no awareness by the church of the seriousness of sexual crime.”
Ms Last called on the archdiocese to disclose how many clergy it had confirmed through its own internal investigations had abused children – but were not reported to police – were also receiving financial support.
A spokesman for the Broken Rites victim support group said: ”If abusive clergy receive ongoing support from the church, this shields the offenders from the harsh reality of the long-term harm that they have done to victims.”
The issue of the handling of child sexual abuse within religious organisations is to be investigated by a Victorian parliamentary inquiry. A state government source has confirmed the inquiry will have the power to override any confidentiality agreements abuse victims have signed to receive compensation from religious organisations.
Veteran clergy sex abuse victim advocate Joey Piscitelli describes ordeal concerning the credibility of Cardinal Levada and the Diocese of San Francisco.
Ex-priest James Patrick Jennings is ordered to stand
trial in Melbourne
In the mid and late 1960s, Father James Patrick Jennings was listed as a priest at St Vincent’s College — a Catholic boarding school for boys in Bendigo, 150 kilometres north of Melbourne. Father Jennings was then a member of the Vincentian religious order (this order is also called the Congregation of the Mission).
More than 40 years later, in May 2012, Jennings was charged in the Bendigo Magistrates Court with a series of child-sex offences, allegedly committed against boys at the school in the 1960s.
James Jennings, aged 79 when charged in court, faces multiple charges of gross indecency and indecent assault on a male child aged under 16. The charges relate to three complainants, all students at this Bendigo school in the 1960s.
Magistrate Jennifer Tregent heard evidence concerning the three complainants.
The court also heard from Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Morris, head of the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) at Bendigo Police. Senior Sergeant Morris received some information from a New South Wales police unit (Strike Force Belle), which was established to investigate allegations of sexual assaults on students at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst in central-west NSW. The Bathurst school was run by the same order of priests as St Vincent’s in Bendigo.
The court was told that James Jennings left the priesthood many years ago and he now lives in Tasmania.
On 8 May 2012, after a two-day preliminary hearing, the Bendigo magistrate ordered James Patrick Jennings to stand trial in a higher court on these charges. The magistrate listed the case for a later date in the Melbourne County Court, where initially a judge would have a brief “directions hearing” (to determine when and how the subsequent hearings would be held).
Jennings’ bail was extended pending the Melbourne County Court proceedings.
Meanwhile, the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team at Bendigo (telephone 03 5448 1420) is continuing its inquiries.
St Vincent’s College was set up in Bendigo in 1955 and was run by the Vincentian Fathers. In 1977, it was taken over by the Marist Brothers. In 1983 this school then became part of Catholic College Bendigo.
Victim Advocates Question Security Around Defrocked Jesuit Brethren
Head of Jesuit order says men are under strict supervision at center in Los Gatos.
By Sheila Sanchez January 10, 2011
The Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. One of its defrocked priests was beaten in May 2010. The alleged attacker appeared in court in December and will face a judge on Feb. 7 for a preliminary hearing in a case that will probably go to trial.
Santa Clara County prosecutors are accusing 44-year-old William Lynch of mauling Jesuit priest Jerold Lindner with his fists, said Lynch’s attorney Pat Harris. Lynch has said Lindner sodomized and raped him and his brother as young boys.
Lynch’s supporters, who include members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), plan a news conference after the hearing at the Santa Clara County Superior Court building on Hedding Street in San Jose and a march in Los Gatos, according to Harris.
The supporters are taking this opportunity to complain about the security measures at the center, which houses Lindner, 65, and five other retired priests or brethren who have faced charges of sexual abuse. They claim the men can leave the compound at any time and that the supervision plans aren’t strict enough.
The two, along with three other men, whom the order will not identify, live in the large Jesuit compound at 300 College Ave. The center includes a retirement home, an assisted-living facility and a skilled nursing infirmary. Here, 75 elderly priests live out the rest of their lives after serving in the elite order of priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Rev. John P. McGarry, the provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, said the concerns about the five men who live at the center are exaggerated.
McGarry is head supervisor at the center and leader of the 375 Jesuit priests who work in California.
He said none of the men is under investigation right now.
Connor is housed in the center’s skilled nursing facility, is confined to a wheelchair and has severe dementia, McGarry said. “He’s totally incapacitated,” he said. “Better that we take care of them there than having them be out on their own in the community.”
Lindner, said McGarry, is under a strict security plan that prevents him from leaving the center unsupervised.
“He didn’t drive himself to the hospital,” he said, referring to newspaper reports that said he had done so, which triggered victims’ protests.
He explained that nursing staff at the center attended to him, and that either one of the Jesuits in the community or one of the nurses on duty drove him to the hospital. “He wouldn’t have been able to drive … He was badly beaten up. His head was bleeding,” McGarry said.
Dan McNevin, a San Francisco SNAP volunteer, is skeptical and upset the Catholic Church hasn’t found another location to house clergy charged, accused or investigated of abuse. “Why are they living there and not in a more secure location?” said McNevin.
The deep distrust against the order, McNevin said, is caused by numerous incidents that indicate that the Jesuit hierarchy has covered up incidents to protect the order’s reputation.
“A priest who has abused should be behind bars and not living in a retreat center,” said McNevin.
McGarry has an answer to that. “If I had any concern that the men living here, who have allegations against them and who are on safety plans, were a risk to the larger community or a risk for reoffending, I would not have them living here,” he said.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office handled the Lynch incident in May because of jurisdiction issues regarding where the center is located. If something were to happen in the center’s parking lot, however, the Los Gatos Monte Sereno police department would step in, said police spokesman Sgt. Kerry Harris. But he said the center has never given the town any problems.
“We’ve never had any issues with them,” Harris said.
For those looking for assurances, McGarry points to the fact that the center has been accredited by the Austin-based Praesidium risk management group, which has established criteria regarding the prevention of and response to sexual abuse of minors by Jesuit authorities. He added that Praesidium had renewed the center’s certification in July 2010.
The five men who live at the center have served at one time or another in Jesuit schools such as Bellarmine College Preparatory, Sacred Heart Nativity School and Most Holy Trinity Parish in San Jose and Santa Clara University in Santa Clara.
McGarry said the order’s policy continues to be to turn over to criminal and civil authorities allegations of priestly misconduct with minors. The province provides pastoral care and counseling to any person that comes forward and makes an allegation of sexual abuse, he said. He said he’s met often with people who have made allegations.
Joey Piscitelli, Northern California director for the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests, isn’t buying it. “They have aided, abetted, shuffled, protected and promoted known child rapists for decades, and that’s criminal behavior,” he said.
Piscitelli, who says he was molested by a Salesian priest, won a $5 million settlement award against the order after a jury trial in 2006.
Piscitelli has protested outside the center several times, along with John Chevedden, whose brother, Jesuit priest James Chevedden, killed himself when he jumped from the sixth floor of the Santa Clara County Courthouse’s parking garage in 2005.
Chevedden accused the Jesuits of negligence in his brother’s death and in 2007 and settled with the order for $1.6 million.
He said the Lynch case is another example of how victims of abuse suffer for a long time. “It’s disturbing to see how long-lasting and traumatic the abuse is to the victims … that after 35 years it still has a strong impact,” Chevedden said.
What I also found interesting was one of the comments posted under this article:
Fr. Thomas Smolich, promoted to be the # 1 Jesuit in the USA, said a Jesuit priest and resident at the Los Gatos Center, Fr. James Chevedden committed suicide. The Jesuit Order even issued a news release claiming Fr. Chevedden’s suspicious death was a suicide. Fr. Smolich also told Fr. Chevedden’s family that the Jesuit Order would keep Fr. Chevedden’s body.
Fr. Chevedden had earlier reported to Fr. Smolich that he was the victim of Jesuit sex abuse at Los Gatos by a Jesuit Religious Brother, Br. Charles Connor. Br. Connor and Fr. Jerold Lindner were friends. Lindner helped Br. Connor with computers and both sat at the same small meal table.
Ironically or worse, the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive was Fr. Lindner, with $2 million paid out in sex abuse settlements. The Jesuit Order did not tell the police that Fr. Lindner was the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive. Fr. Lindner was scheduled to testify about his being the last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Fr. Chevedden’s Dad. The Jesuit Order paid $1.6 million to settle the lawsuit. Thus Fr. Lindner avoided explaining his being last Jesuit to see Fr. Chevedden alive.
Man abused by priest found dead in Ohio home
April 7, 2012 12:00 am
/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The plaintiff in a landmark priest-abuse lawsuit against the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese has been found dead at his Ohio home at age 44.
Attorney Richard Serbin told the Altoona Mirror that his former client, Michael Hutchison, was found dead in Akron on Wednesday.
Gary Gunther, chief investigator for the Summit County medical examiner’s office, said the cause and manner of death is pending toxicology results, which will take at least three weeks.
“There are no signs of foul play,” Mr. Gunther said. “It’s probably going to be either a natural or an accident. There is no indication of suicide — there was no suicide note and no one we spoke with mentioned him being suicidal.”
Mr. Hutchison’s mother, Mary, sued the diocese in 1987 alleging church officials covered up the abuse of her son by a since-defrocked priest, Francis Luddy, who was also a family friend.
A Blair County jury awarded Mr. Hutchison more than $1 million after a 1994 trial, but that ballooned to $2.7 million by 2008 including interest and delayed damages due to numerous appeals.
Mr. Hutchison spoke out against abuse, and Mr. Serbin said Mr. Hutchison “suffered from age 10 on.”
Griffin: An amazing journey of forgiveness
Michael Mack is a man of many credits as a writer and theatrical performer. Now age 55, he has also accomplished two things in the spiritual realm that rank as unique in my experience.
First, despite suffering sexual abuse as a boy at the hands of a Catholic priest, he is now an active member of the church and values its spirituality. All the other victims of clergy abuse I have known have distanced themselves from this faith community, most with continuing and understandable anger.
Michael’s second achievement strikes me as even more remarkable. He has forgiven the priest who violated him.
In a long interview with Michael, I found his account of both events fascinating. The violation took place when he was 11 years old, the forgiveness when he had reached middle age.
Incidentally, the reason for our being in touch was a scheduled performance of Michael’s one-person play “Conversations with My Molester – a Journey of Faith.” It was to be staged at the playwright’s parish, St.Paul’s in Cambridge.
Just before sending this column off, I actually saw the play along with an unexpectedly large audience. We found it spellbinding. Adding to the meaning of the occasion, an official of the Archdiocese of Boston responsible for overseeing child protection, Barbara Thorp, was present and took part in the discussion at the end.
The sexual violation of the boy Michael took place in Brevard, North Carolina, a small town in the western part of the state. Because their mother was ill, he and his siblings spent a year living with their aunt and her family there, rather than back home in Washington D.C.
The boy loved his parish church in North Carolina and envisioned himself becoming a priest someday. He soon became close to the pastor, the person who took Michael to his first basketball game, and acted toward him like a “surrogate dad.”
One day, the boy wandered into the church basement and sat down to play the piano. Then the priest appeared and invited Michael to come to the rectory. Once in this house, the priest brought the boy into a room, closed the door, and took advantage of the child’s innocence.
Days later, the priest left the parish and Michael, too, moved from Brevard soon afterward. “I left that day confused,” he recalls. “I felt that something big had just happened — something not right.”
Later, as a teenager, he was to experience something much worse, what he calls “self-loathing.”
As to the priest who assaulted him sexually, Michael lost complete contact with him for decades. But when he moved to Boston some 10 years ago, Michael made an astounding discovery.
The priest was also living in Massachusetts, not too far away in the orbit of Worcester. Though not defrocked, he was no long performing priestly ministry.
Michael’s repeated efforts to reach the priest were ultimately connected with a spiritual change in Michael’s heart. He had been moved to forgive the priest for what he had done.
As I listened to Michael’s story, I felt moved by his sincerity and his spiritual courage. He had managed to offer forgiveness to someone who, behind the full force of priestly status, had done him terrible harm.
Michael tells of going to the priest’s funeral. It was his first time in many years back in a Catholic church. There the man who had violated him and others was extolled as a good priest. Despite his forgiveness, Michael found it bizarre to hear his molester praised.
Vatican approach to child abuse in Ireland absolutely disgraceful, says PM
Enda Kenny says laws being drawn up making it impossible for anyone to avoid obligation to report abuse allegations
Ireland’s prime minister has denounced the Vatican‘s approach to allegations of child abuse in the republic as absolutely disgraceful.
Enda Kenny said new laws are being drawn up that will make it impossible for anyone – even those high up in the Roman Catholic church – to avoid their obligations regarding reports of child abuse.
“The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier, or by collar,” Kenny said.
He added that he hopes the response from the Irish government to the Cloyne report will clarify to everyone that the law of the land applies in situations where appalling actions took place.
Kenny called on the Vatican to repeat its commitment that civil law should always be followed. The Irish Catholic church and the Vatican have faced severe criticism over repeated attempts to deal with incidents of abuse behind closed doors rather than by handing over suspects to the Garda Síochána.
The Irish deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore, met with the Vatican’s ambassador to Ireland to discuss the report’s findings.
“There’s one law in this country. Everybody is going to have to learn to comply with it. The Vatican will have to comply with the laws of this country,” Gilmore said after the meeting.
Gilmore said the report would be debated in the House next Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the availability of ministers and spokespersons.
He said the failure of the church to co-operate with the law was one of the greatest problems and that the coalition government was determined that there would be consequences for any institution which failed to work with the legal authorities of the state when it came to child abuse.
The Socialist party’s Joe Higgins said people were “throwing their hands in the air” at the revelations in the Cloyne report.
Catholic church weighs up response to criticism from Ireland
Vatican officials claim Enda Kenny may be using report into sexual abuse by priests to divert attention from euro crisis
Next month, as every year since he was chosen to lead the world’s Roman Catholics, the scholarly Pope Benedict XVI will preside at a meeting of his Schülerkreis — a group of his former doctoral students.
This year, the issue for debate in the pontifical summer palace, overlooking a volcanic lake near Rome, is the one he was elected to tackle: how to reverse the galloping secularisation of Catholicism‘s European homeland.
The discussion could scarcely be more timely, coming in the midst of a crisis in relations between the Holy See and Ireland, a country where, until a few years ago, official defiance of Rome was unthinkable.
The reaction in the Vatican to Enda Kenny’s impassioned denunciation on 20 July has been one of astonishment. But, as the Holy See’s temporary recall of its ambassador, or nuncio, five days later showed, it is also laced with indignation.
The pope’s deputy spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini, gave the move a positive gloss, saying the Holy See needed the nuncio back in Rome so it could frame its reply to the Cloyne report “with objectivity and determination”. But his temporary withdrawal also reflected what Benedettini tactfully called “surprise and disappointment over some excessive reactions”.
In diplomacy, the recall of an envoy for consultations is a clear signal of disapproval and L’Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, was unable to find a precedent for it in the vast annals of Vatican diplomacy.
The pope’s aides feel they have been unfairly attacked, and some suspect a political motive. One high-ranking cleric who spoke on condition of anonymity noted Ireland was caught up in the euro crisis and speculated that Kenny might have been seeking to distract public opinion.
Others stressed the Vatican response, promised by the end of August, would seek to heal the breach. But the signs this week were that it would also include a vigorous defence of the Vatican’s position.
No one in Rome disputes that allegations of the sexual abuse of minors in the Cloyne diocese were grossly mishandled by the bishop, John Magee. But Vatican officials argue they are being pilloried for the actions of a pastor who disregarded their instructions.
Ireland’s prime minister claimed that judge Yvonne Murphy’s report contained evidence of an “attempt by the Holy See to block an enquiry … less than three years ago”.
Vatican officials say they can find no such evidence. What the report does contain, they say, is criticism of the papal bureaucracy’s actions 14 years ago. In 1997, the Congregation for the Clergy, the department responsible for the priesthood, sent a message to the Irish bishops criticising their attempts to create a framework for dealing with sex abuse cases.
In particular, it objected to a clause that went beyond the requirements of Irish law at the time and proposed that: “In all instances where it is known or suspected that a priest … has sexually abused a child, the matter should be reported to the civil authorities.” The Vatican said that could be at odds with the church’s own laws.
Murphy’s commission concluded that Rome’s objections gave individual bishops – including Magee – freedom to ignore the bishops’ guidelines. But speaking on Vatican Radio on 19 July, the pope’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, argued there was “no reason to interpret the letter as aimed at hiding cases of abuse. In fact, it was warning of the risk of taking measures that could then turn out to be challengeable or invalid from a canonical point of view”.
In any case, say other Vatican officials, even if the Congregation’s response was misguided, it was made before 2001. That is when, in their view, there was a sea change.
Pope John Paul II ordered all cases of alleged sex abuse to be dealt with in Rome by the department then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as he was known then. As he read the paperwork, the future pope became increasingly appalled by what he saw, and put in place an altogether more effective policy. “Not to recognise that there has been a learning curve and that things have changed is stupid”, said a senior Vatican official.
That may not be the whole story, however. In an interview with the website Vatican Insider, the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said he believed Kenny was not only referring to the 1997 exchange, but also “to interactions – which I was unaware of – which took place with the Vatican while the Cloyne report was being prepared”. He did not elaborate.
• This article was amended on 2 August 2011. In the original Diarmuid Martin was described as also having the status of cardinal. This has been corrected.