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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.

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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.”

It is time for all good people to bring justice to the Roman Catholic Abuse Survivors


We arrest, we try, we convict and we imprison and execute, people whom rape children and murder children. This is the supposed norm of what we do to those whom prey on children. Yet we allow one religious organization, to rape children, to murder children, to destroy children with impunity, without going after them, without arresting them, without prosecuting them, without imprisioning them or executing them in the most horrible and gruesome fashion we can think of, because when you rape or murder a child, this is exactly what you deserve….but hey…the

UNHOLY, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF PEDOPHILE PIMP LEADERS, PEDOPHILE PRIESTS, PSYCHO ABUSIVE NUNS, AND FREAK PARISHIONERS WHOM LOVE THESE PEOPLE WHOM RAPE AND MURDER THEIR OWN CHILDREN ARE ABOVE THE FUCKING LAW.

We have overwhelming, concrete, irrefutable proof, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if this evidence was heard by a jury, these scumbags would be convicted of their crimes….that the leaders of the Unholy Roman Catholic Church of Pedophiles…have moved rapist priests from parish to parish, state to state, country to country and are STILL DOING THIS TO THIS VERY DAY.

We have overwhelming, concrete, irrefutable proof, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if this evidence was heard by a jury, these scumbags would be convicted of their crimes, that these leaders and others of the Roman Catholic Church have in fact murdered children. We have the bodies and the graves to prove it. Yet again, the Unholy Roman Catholic Church seems to be above the law and not one of these evil fucks have every been arrested nor prosecuted for their crimes.

IT IS TIME, FOR ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE, THE GOOD, DECENT, HONEST, MORAL PEOPLE OF THE WORLD TO GATHER TOGETHER AND JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIE NETWORK….SAY WE ARE MAD AS HELL AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANY FUCKING LONGER!!!

WE NEED REAL PEOPLE TO FINALLY SAY…ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, WE WILL NOT ALLOW ONE MORE OF OUR CHILDREN TO BE RAPED, TO BE ABUSED, TO BE MURDERED BY THESE SCUM OF THE UNHOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

WE AS A PEOPLE, NEED TO COME TOGETHER, TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM THESE EVIL, SOULESS, MONSTERS WHOM HIDE BEHIND RELIGIOUS ROBES….AND WE MUST DESTROY THEM AS A PEOPLE. WE MUST TAKE A STAND.

WE MUST STAND UP FOR OUR CHILDREN…WE MUST PLACE THE LIVES OF OUR CHILDREN FIRST, ABOVE THESE RELIGIOUS, SADISTIC, PSYCHOTIC FREAKS. WE MUST DESTROY COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY THESE PEOPLE OF SATAN, WHOM DESTROY LIVES.

ONLY UNTIL WE HAVE CARDINALS SUCH AS TIMOTHY DOLAN, BERNARD LAW, JUSTIN RIGALI, ROGER MAHONY, DOLAND WUERL, POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT AND ALL THE OTHERS, THEIR BODIES ROTTING WHILE SWINGING ON ROPES, HANGED IN FRONT OF THEIR VATICAN AND IN ST PETERS SQUARE FOR ALL TO SEE….THAT WE WILL NO LONGER PUT UP WITH THEIR POPES, CARDINALS, BISHOPS, ARCHBISHOPS, PRIESTS AND NUNS…RAPING OUR CHILDREN, MURDERING OUR CHILDREN AND THINKING THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW BECAUSE THEY ARE THE LEADERS OF THIS PSYCHOTIC RELIGIOUS SECT.

WE EXECUTE CHILD RAPISTS AND MURDERERS ALL THE TIME, WE IMPRISON FOR LIFE EVIL, SOULESS, MORALESS, SCUMBAGS LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME.

WELL IT IS TIME TO START DOING THE SAME THING WITH THE PEDOPHILE PIMPS, PRIESTS, NUNS AND THE SCUM OF THE UNHOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Frank J LaFerriere

The Catholic church should be outlawed forthwith


The Catholic church should be outlawed forthwith

JohnB on outlawing the Catholic church today

From the link: http://www.molestedcatholics.com/

After all my anger at the crimes and the harm done to society by the Catholic cover up is the need to understand how the healing journey can go and how it can help straighten a part of your life – it helps to regain a part of your truth and to show the depth of the damage and the harm caused by the actions of Catholics in their attempts to cover up the crimes of their fellow Catholics and their clergy.

Talking whilst driving with my son today and I began to relate to him some details about a foot injury I had as a child. He had come home and shown me a blister on his foot; I told him he had not spent enough time in bare feet – that was the prompt,  my topic could be my right foot or how long/harmful/life distorting the repression of the day to day Catholic cover up are – its part of the healing journey and a son who smiled today when he listened to me about this – its the story of how I had to cover up the injury even though I had to have ongoing medical attention and purpose made boots it was always done in the name of something else – my injured foot which had left me with a distinct limp because I walked with my foot turned in as it had been injured seriously when the car door was repeatedly slammed on my foot on the day the priest raped me at a little church in the beautiful hills of Central Victoria – its about how every Catholic knew what the cause was and every Catholic knew I was not permitted to speak about it – they were able to assist me with my pigeon toed-ness but they were not able to help me with my injured foot due to being slammed in the lock of the car door as that was a lie that would send me to hell – that’s why other kids parents were permitted to beat you if they heard you speak about it being what it in fact was. This was a conscious campaign by every catholic in that town, nuns and priests, knights of the Southern Cross, bishops, the local Catholic Policeman, the Editor of the local newspaper included – they all knew and participated – that to me is what the cover up was and the to me is what the cover up is today – that is what Catholic parishes across the world participate in still today – that is the Catholic cover up in action. It is bigger and stronger than just the Catholic hierarchy because so many have built their careers and their fortunes on.

The part skepticism plays in helping to clarify those truths and facts of your life – you realize that your own brothers and sisters were blackmailed in the same way over this and over dozens of other crimes that had occurred and were covered up – there was a regular murmurous uproar as another instances of sexual abuse was gossiped and whispered about and some kid bullied into fear of their life until the rules of secrecy were instilled (rather this repression was the enforcement of denial into the entire catholic population.

How deep is that repression?
How clarifying it is to me as a person. Reason and memory fit as another part of the jig-saw each of us who experienced this repression which was deployed on to all Catholic children. This was the cruelest and most psychologically damaging process that a human being could be put through- the entire religion and its entire congregation believed fervently that the were the leading light of Christianity – they led the world in morality, justice, humanity, compassion, leadership, ethics, community,salvation, redemption whilst they practiced the ways of the psychopath through a regime of terror inflicted through the fear of eternal hell, damnation, spiritual death and the very real and very often ostracism they deployed on those in the community the wished to bring into line.
Catholics were and remain efficient at that form of repression, they are persistent and ruthless as they are religiously sanctioned by the bishops, priest and nuns (each of whom backed up the story of the priest – this sealed the fate of any victim child of any form of torture who attempted to break out from it.
Those who survived that became good Catholics and continued with this genocidal war against their own children to ensure they would be as psychologically harmed as their parents – it became a self replicating child repressing monster that enshrined its rites to continue with these atrocious abuses of the rights  of a human child. The Catholic church is riven with this thinking and behavior, it is endemic in its persistence within the entire life of a Catholic it is endemic in all those religions which followed the same course and who between them have polluted our society to the point where the blatant sexual abuse of more than 30 million people alive today must be held in repression by the believers in the Catholic religion.

If society does not turn away from the path of the Catholic church and if it does not freeze its assets, its businesses then the vast majority of the real crime in our society will never be addressed and the world will never have had a real chance to raise our children in a peaceful, loving and truthful environment. Lets make 2011 the year we all come together to unite in the single cause of demanding our government ceases to trade with and Catholic or religious entity until democracy is restored in our country.

There is no precedent that permits a sector of society to enact genocide on its followers on the basis of religion. That is what we have today and what we have today is insidious and at the core of the ability of society to progress in the areas of human rights, dignity, respect, individuality, freedom of expression of thought and the freedom of speech.

While ever the Catholic church continues to exist and to be able to function as an organized religion it will be in the process of enacting the genocidal practices of the religion against some portion of society and it will continue to enable wars just as any organized religion can and repeatedly to the detriment of society does. The Catholic church is our most obvious example. We can either help the Catholic church to  prevail or we can help our children to prevail. For every person on the planet the real choice they have to make is whether they will support the Catholic church or will they support the children.

2011 must be the year when those of us across the world who have an understanding of this and for us to collectively demand our governments brings it to a halt and never permits it to occur again. That is a part of their moral obligation to society. Any politician who today stands in support of the Catholic church should be collectively condemned through our united and collective voices.

Make 2011 the year when you connect up with a proactive survivor who speaks clearly and directly about the needs and the means of providing the safety and the protection our children and our society need.

The Catholic church and those who follow it today need to stand back and permit reason and justice to prevail, to permit each and every person within the boundaries of their country to live with the legitimate right to live in a free and democratic country free of repression and child abuse.

The Catholic church stands condemned as a psychopathic pariah and must be rejected in all forms wherever it is not regulated and policed.

Join with us and support us in our demand to governments across the world that the repression and actions of genocide carried out by Catholics and the Catholic church must cease immediately.

JohnB

Pope should endorse independent investigation


Pope should endorse independent investigation

By Gerald T. Slevin
retired attorney

From the link: http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2010/04/pope_should_endorse_independent_investigation.html

The expanding abuse crisis requires immediate action by Catholics. It is needed to invigorate their dispirited Church for the sake of defenseless children, disrespected women, disheartened clergy and disillusioned Catholics everywhere. The repeated worldwide pattern in too many child abuse cases leads to a central source that honest Catholics must now sadly acknowledge.  The Church’s hierarchy for much too long has been unwilling to act responsively on urgent issues. The hierarchy has lost much of its credibility.

Much careful analysis already exists on potential solutions.  Catholics must now choose and act on these solutions. Concerned Catholics are calling for the pope to set up promptly a commission of informed Catholic lay women and men, nuns and priests, both young and old, married and single.  The commission would include persons from around the world knowledgeable in relevant areas, including scripture, theology, church history, psychology and law. The commission idea was proposed as a solution recently at NJ.Com by the distinguished Jesuit, Fr. Raymond Schroth.

Fr. Schroth has served as a dean or professor at five Catholic universities, as well as at New York University. He is well versed in theology and church history. This 12- person commission would review, and by majority vote recommend to the pope, necessary changes in the Catholic Church’s governance structure and its policies on human sexuality and gender, including mandatory celibacy and women priests. The pope has already been requested by me on behalf of many Catholics worldwide to set up this commission with independent and worldwide representation so that it can begin its work promptly and end the existing gridlock in Rome.

If the pope does not do this, concerned Catholics are expected then to set up the commission themselves and invite the pope to appoint two observers. The commission would be expected to accept by e-mail serious comments from all people. The commission would by August make its public recommendations for papal action and implementation by October. If papal action is not forthcoming by then, the commission would be expected to request the pope and bishops to call for an ecumenical council (Vatican III) to begin in November and to complete its work by mid-December.  If neither the pope nor the council act timely, interested Catholics are expected by grassroots efforts continually to call upon their fellow Catholics worldwide to urge the pope and the bishops to adopt the commissions’ recommendations promptly.

These efforts, if necessary, are expected to include (a) media announcements and interviews, (b) direct lobbying of bishops, of major group and large individual contributors to the Vatican and the bishops worldwide, and of other Catholic interest groups, (c) appropriate public demonstrations at select key Church events worldwide,  (d) calls for the withholding by all Catholics worldwide of contributions to the bishops and the Vatican, and (e) calls for all relevant governments, for example in Germany, to end all governmental subsidy payments to the Catholic Church. While Catholics will be expected to continue to support their local parishes and the Church’s health, social welfare and educational institutions, Catholics worldwide are expected to be called upon to curtail contributions intended for the Church’s hierarchy, until the  commissions’ recommendations are implemented.

If the hierarchy fails to act timely, I believe all Catholics will have a clear moral obligation to support these grassroots efforts. The Gospels call upon all Catholics to protect defenseless children. Since 1990, several billion dollars of Catholics’ contributions have been diverted from advancing the Gospel to expenditures related to child abusers and those who wrongfully covered up their serious crimes, rather than primarily to addressing the child abuse problems openly, effectively and honestly. Unless this commission action is taken, these abuse expenditures can be expected to continue worldwide at high levels into the foreseeable future. For example, reports of child abuse cases are currently skyrocketing  in Germany, the pope’s home country. Catholics can no longer avoid the painful truth being reported daily that their contributions are continuously being used to enable the cancer of child abuse to exist in order apparently to protect the power and positions of the hierarchy mainly. To date, no bishop has really been penalized for misconduct related to clerical child abuse. When compelling evidence of bishop misconduct has been presented, the bishops have generally been able to move into a comfortable retirement or moved to another position. Perhaps, this should not be so surprising. The Vatican is dependent on bishops for significant financial support and on voting cardinal bishops for desired political support at the next papal election, which may not be long in coming. Many Catholics want to change this unfair and counterproductive policy that fails to hold bishops accountable. Child abuse prevention programs cannot reasonably be expected to be successful, if supervising culprits, like bad bishops, are not penalized.

Many thousands of defenseless children and their families have for decades suffered from Catholic clerical child abuse. Many continue to suffer painfully. Millions of Catholics have left the Church reluctantly and dejectedly in frustration, taking their contributions with them. Recent polls indicate that millions of Catholics worldwide who remain are becoming increasingly disillusioned and many are considering leaving. Many Catholics want the Church to return to the loving spirit of the Gospels such as existed among early Christians, who for 300 years elected their own bishops and pastors. Many Catholics will not, and morally cannot, any longer support the existing ineffective and negative policies of the current hierarchy. Many Catholics want a Church governance structure that assures the accountability of all who act on behalf of the Church.  Many Catholics also want the Church to promote positive policies concerning human sexuality and gender matters that are true to Catholics’ everyday lived experience in the present and in accordance with the loving spirit of the Gospels. Catholics worldwide are now increasingly standing up for their Church and, I expect, will vigorously support the call for the independent commission. History will surely judge them badly if they do not act and more innocent children suffer. The big question now is will the pope cooperate with an independent commission or will he once more miss a real opportunity to reform and preserve the Catholic Church and the great faith it supports. Time will tell!
To date, unfortunately, the pope has too often followed a Nixonian Watergate-style stonewalling strategy. He completely evades answering directly questions about his involvement in several very disturbing child abuse cases. His spokespeople mainly just deny, deny and deny. His defenders fiercely attack any one who dares to raise obvious and legitimate questions and even try to smear them with outrageous slurs. I worked while at Harvard Law School for Archibald Cox, the Watergate prosecutor mainly responsible for bringing Nixon to justice. I think if he were here today, Archibald Cox would find the pope’s strategy very familiar. It didn’t work for Nixon and it cannot in the age of the internet and 24 hour news cycles possibly work for the pope. Hopefully, the pope will realize that soon and endorse the independent commission as being in everyone’s best interests.”
Gerald T. Slevin practiced law until retirement at the Wall Street firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. Mr. Slevin attended 16 years of Catholic schools before graduating from Harvard Law School.

Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia


The sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, U.S., is a significant episode in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States, Ireland and elsewhere. The Philadelphia abuses were substantially revealed through a grand jury investigation in 2005. In early 2011, a new grand jury reported extensive new charges of abusive priests active in the archdiocese. In 2012, a guilty plea by priest Edward Avery and the related trial and conviction of Monsignor William Lynn and mistrial on charges against Rev. James J. Brennan followed from the grand jury’s investigations.

Cover-up by Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua

On September 21, 2005, nearly 10 years after the death of Cardinal John Krol, a grand jury, empaneled by Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, announced that Cardinal Krol was involved with the cover-up of a sex scandal against accused priests throughout the archdiocese, as was his successor 1988-2003, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. Like the sex scandals in the Archdiocese of Boston, Krol and Bevilacqua transferred accused priests to other parishes throughout the archdiocese.

Using records subpoenaed from the archdiocese, the jury examined “secret archive” files for 169 priests and two deacons. To expose the extent of abuse and a “continuous, concerted campaign of cover-up”, the jury documented 63 examples of abuse and where the abusers were assigned at the times of those attacks. The grand jury also demonstrated that nobody could be prosecuted due to Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations and other conditions that protect the archdiocese from being criminally accountable.[1]

Three weeks into the 2012 Lynn trial, The Philadelphia Inquirer editorialized that “the clear outlines of an alleged cover-up … as far up as” Bevilacqua had already emerged in the testimony.[2] While the judge compelled the cardinal to testify in a closed hearing in November, 2011, before the trial, neither the prosecution nor the defense used any of the testimony in the trial. The cardinal died in January, 2012.[3]

Role of Cardinal Rigali in 2005

Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali adopted the policy of defrocking those who were accused and confirmed by investigations. Cardinal Rigali, in cooperation with District Attorney Abraham and other district attorneys throughout the archdiocese, started the practice of both internal archdiocesan investigations, as well as external criminal investigations.

Cardinal Rigali staunchly defended the actions of his two predecessors, Krol and Bevilacqua, when they were named as sponsors of a cover-up by the September, 2005, grand jury

Actions of Bishop Cistone

According to the 2005 investigation, while serving as assistant vicar for administration in 1996, Joseph R. Cistone was involved with silencing a nun who tried to alert parishioners at St. Gabriel parish about abuse by a priest. According to the report, there were several other instances of priest sexual abuse which Cistone was complicit in covering up. The report also indicated that Cistone was most concerned with the public relations ramifications of the sexual abuse. The report also showed that when a sex abuse victim demanded to meet with Cardinal Bevilacqua, Cistone refused the request, saying that allowing a sex abuse victim to meet with the Cardinal would “set a precedent. When these revelations became public, Cistone expressed sorrow for “any mistakes in judgment.”[4] However, Cistone refused to discuss the matter further, saying, “[I]t would not serve any purpose to revisit the grand jury report and endeavor to recall the rationale for past decisions made in specific cases.”[5][6]

Aftermath in Saginaw, Michigan

A week after being named to lead the Diocese of Saginaw, Cistone was asked by a mid-Michigan newspaper reporter about the grand jury investigation and his reported role in covering up instances of sexual abuse. Cistone expressed unhappiness with how little opportunity he had been given to respond to the report, saying, “Unfortunately, the grand jury procedure, as followed in Philadelphia, did not allow for any opportunity to address such questions to offer explanation or clarification.” Cistone also expressed surprise that he had not been questioned about the grand jury report during his introductory press conference and told the reporter, “Had it come up, I certainly would have addressed it.”[6]

On June 9, 2009, a group of survivors of clergy abuse protested Cistone’s appointment outside the Saginaw Diocese office. Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) demanded that Cistone hold a public forum to explain his actions as described in the 2005 grand jury report. SNAP President Barbara Blaine said the actions had to be taken because, “the innocence of children was shattered needlessly because of the action and inaction of this bishop.” In response to the group’s calls for transparency, Cistone said, “If someone wants to go back and rehash what the church may have done based on knowledge and experience or lack of experience the church had, well, that’s OK, but that’s not productive. What’s productive is what we can do to move forward.”[7]

John McDevitt affair

A 2009 suit claims that Rev. John McDevitt, a religion teacher at Father Judge High School for Boys, abused Richard Green for six months in 1990 and 1991, according to a report by the New York Post. At the time, the victim’s uncle, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor, served as archbishop of New York.[8]

Use of the penile plethysmograph

During the abuse scandal, the reliability of the penile plethysmograph was questioned by some officials in the archdiocese of Philadelphia. Later, these officials chose to seek therapy at an institution where the plethysmograph was not used. This, even though the officials were made aware of the fact that the test was used by most experts and was believed to be of value in diagnosing sexual disorders. Later, a Grand Jury found that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s decision to do so “had the effect of diminishing the validity of the evaluations and the likelihood that a priest would be diagnosed as a pedophile or ephebophile.” [9]

Mary Achilles hired by archdiocese

“In 2006, the Archdiocese hired Achilles, the state’s first victim advocate, to review its treatment of victims after a 2005 grand-jury report highlighted abuse by more than 50 priests over 50 years.”[10] Achilles, among other involvements in the field, has worked on the subject of restorative justice with Professor Howard Zehr of Eastern Mennonite University.[11]

2011 grand jury

A second grand jury, in February, 2011, accused the Philadelphia Archdiocese, still under Cardinal Rigali, of failing to stop the sexual abuse of children more than five years after the first grand jury report had documented abuse by more than fifty priests.[12] The 2011 grand jury report said that as many as 37 priests were credibly accused of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior toward minors. Rigali initially said in February “there were no active priests with substantiated allegations against them, but six days later, he placed three of the priests, whose activities had been described in detail by the grand jury, on administrative leave. He also hired an outside lawyer, Gina Maisto Smith, a former assistant district attorney who prosecuted child sexual assault cases for 15 years, to re-examine all cases involving priests in active ministry and review the procedures employed by the archdiocese.” Three weeks later, most of those 37 priests remain active in the ministry. Terence McKiernan, the president of BishopAccountability.org, which archives documents from the abuse scandal in dioceses across the country, said “‘[T]he headline is that in Philadelphia, the system is still broke.’ David J. O’Brien, who teaches Catholic history at the University of Dayton, said, ‘The situation in Philadelphia is “Boston reborn.”‘”[13]

The appointment of Smith, the new outside lawyer for the archdiocese and a partner with the Ballard Spahr law firm, was criticized by SNAP’s executive director, David Clohessy, who said “No lawyer or consultant is independent in any way, if they’re picked and paid by Rigali. He can bring in a dozen more lawyers, but if he does what he did five years ago with the expert child-safety consultant and ignores every single recommendation, it’s just going to be more empty promises and public relations.” Clohessy was referring to the work of Mary Achilles. The 2011 grand jury found that “archdiocesan officials ignored all of Achilles’ initial recommendations” …. Rigali hired Achilles again last week to perform the same service,” according to one report. District Attorney R. Seth Williams said he respected Rigali’s choice of Smith to lead the case review.[10]

One commentator, Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, concluded, “Out of the church’s many unpleasant confrontations with modernity, this is the starkest. It’s tragically past time to send the message that priests can’t do anything they want and hide their sins behind special privilege,” and credited Philadelphia and District Attorney Williams with starting to send that message.[14]

Legal proceedings

Edward Avery guilty plea and sentencing

In March, 2012, “Edward Avery, 69, known for his moonlighting work as a disc jockey, pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child. He was immediately sentenced to 2½ to five years in prison. The charges stem from Avery’s abuse of an altar boy at St. Jerome’s Parish in northeast Philadelphia in 1999, when Avery was 57 and the boy 10. … Avery was at St. Jerome’s despite a credible 1992 complaint that led him to undergo psychological testing at an archdiocesan-run psychiatric hospital, according to a 2005 grand jury report. He was pulled from his parish, put on a so-called “health leave” and then reassigned in 1993, the report said.”[15]

Two of Avery’s victims testified to the Common Pleas Court jury in the William Lynn trial in April, 2012. Lynn’s alleged crime is not taking adequate action against Avery after having heard an accusation against Avery in 1992. Together the testimony of the two “represented a pillar of the landmark conspiracy and endangerment case prosecutors are trying to prove against” Lynn.[16]

William Lynn and James Brennan trial

Msgr. William Lynn, the pastor of St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, was arrested in February, 2012, indicted in mid-March and, more than a week after the indictment, put on administrative leave by the Archbishop Rigali. “According to a scathing grand jury report, Lynn, as secretary of clergy for the archdiocese, concealed the crimes of accused priests and put them in positions in which they could harm more children. Lynn is innocent and a victim of excessive zeal on the part of the District Attorney’s Office, his lawyer, Jeff Lindy, said after his arrest.”[17] Lynn became the “most senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to be tried on charges relating to the child sexual abuse scandal”[18] and “the first U.S. church official ever charged with endangering children for allegedly failing to oust accused predators from the priesthood or report them to police”.

Lynn and Rev. James J. Brennan went on trial in late March, 2012. Brennan is accused of the 1996 rape of a 14-year-old boy. The trial was to have included Edward Avery before Avery’s guilty plea.[2]

As the trial opened, Lynn and another of his attorneys, Thomas Bergstrom, were “insisting that [Lynn] tried to address the long-brewing sexual-abuse problem when he served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. [Deceased Cardinal] Bevilacqua and other superiors quashed his efforts …. The jury on Tuesday saw a 1994 list Lynn prepared that named 35 accused priests still on duty in the five-county archdiocese. Avery was on it [and a major subject on the opening day], and deemed ‘guilty’ of the abuse. The list also shows whether the archdiocese could still be sued over each allegation. Bevilacqua ordered that the list be shredded, although a copy survived”.[19]

The court heard Lynn testify on April 19, 2012, that the case of Rev. Stanley Gana “fell through the cracks” due to a job change. “A seminarian in 1992 told Lynn and Lynn’s boss, the late Monsignor James Malloy, that he [the seminarian] had been raped throughout high school by … Gana. The seminarian, who testified in person this week, gave Lynn and Malloy the names and parish of two other potential victims” but they made no contact with the victims. “Malloy told Gana to avoid contact with the seminarian because the allegations, if true, might be criminal. Lynn agreed with the assessment, according to his testimony. Asked why he didn’t notify police, Lynn testified: ‘Because we weren’t required to.'” They did question Gana, who denied the charges. He remained as pastor at Our Mother of Sorrows in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania until 1995; moved to Florida and garnered further abuse inquiries back to Philadelphia from there; and “is 69 [but i]t’s not clear where he’s living”, said the AP report, which also detailed the testimony on the extent and nature of the priest’s, and his superiors’, behaviors and actions.[20]

On April 25, 2012, two of Avery’s victims testified, “represent[ing] a pillar” of the case against Lynn.[16]

“[T]housands of confidential church records and years of abuse complaints against priests in the five-county archdiocese[, many of which] had been locked away for years in the so-called Secret Archives, church files that cataloged misconduct by priests”, also came to light in the trail.[3]

On June 22, 2012, Monsignor William Lynn was convicted of one of two child endangerment charges, and acquitted of a single count of conspiracy. Had he been convicted of all three charges, he would have faced 10 to 20 years in prison.[21][22] Lynn was sentenced to three to six years in prison.[23] This was the first time a Catholic church official serving in an administrative position in a diocese was convicted in the United States for covering up child sexual abuse by priests; efforts have been made to indict U.S. Bishops as well, though prosecuting them would be more difficult, since they are viewed by the Vatican as being administrative extensions of it as well as overseers in their own right, despite being U.S. citizens.[24] The jury deadlocked on attempted rape and endangerment charges against Brennan and Judge M. Teresa Sarmina declared a mistrial on those charges.[3]

Prosecutors said in late June they planned to retry Brennan.[25]

Following arguments for lenient[26] and stiff[27] sentencing, Lynn was sentenced to three to six years in state prison. Judge Sarmina said he had “turned a blind eye while ‘monsters in clerical garb’ sexually abused children and devastated the church and community”. The sentence was just short of the maximum and well above what the defense favored.[28]

Engelhardt and Shero trial

Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former parochial school teacher Bernard Shero are being tried separately William Lynn because they did not report to Lynn.[15] They were both, with Avery, associated with St. Jerome’s parish. In September 2012, their trial was due to start[29] but then postponed due to a family emergency for one of the defense attorneys. The two have been charged with rape, indecent sexual assault and other criminal charges in decade-plus-old assaults. Their primary accuser was called “Billy” in the 2011 grand jury report and he will be the key witness against the men.[30] It has been rescheduled to begin January 2013 and transferred, due to the rescheduling, from Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to the court’s Judge Ellen Ceisler.[31]

Penitential service and other aftermath

In March, 2011, Rigali invited Catholics to a special Stations of the Cross penitential service at the Philadelphia cathedral.[33] The purpose of the service, he wrote in his Lenten letter, was ‘the forgiveness of all sins and reconciliation with God and in the community.’ However, The Economist reported SNAP’s “cynical” opinion “that it took two harsh grand-jury reports and four indictments to get a ‘prince of the church to finally temporarily take more predator priests away from kids.'”[34]

Also in March, 2011, reports emerged about an October, 2003, form which had been apparently used by the archdiocese to prevent archdiocesan officials from reporting some information about alleged sex abuse by clergy to civil authorities. Any individual reporting alleged abuse by Church personnel was required to sign the form.[35]

Only fifty people showed up at the penitential service, Michael Sean Winters reported he had heard, in a commentary in the National Catholic Reporter. He went on to opine: “If any more evidence were needed that Cardinal Rigali is not in a position to heal the harms his lax oversight have permitted, there it is.” Winters also addressed the newly revealed “somewhat bizarre” reporting form:

“This is the kind of form used to intimidate victims. … [U]ntil I saw this document, and considered the circumstances in which it might be employed, it had never occurred to me really how much the chancery officials trying to cover-up sex abuse were, albeit without the sexual prurience, doing exactly what a pedophile-predator does: Confront someone vulnerable, make them do something they don’t want to do and that is not good for them, and then tell them they can’t tell anyone. Intimidation. Shame. Secrecy. These are not the tools one needs for healing and conversion.”[36]

Another commentator for NCR, Richard McBrien, a personal acquaintance with Rigali’s, drew attention to the failure of Rigali to live up to the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. McBrien went on to note that in his opinion, relative to the second grand jury report, Rigali had “made an unfortunate mistake in fundamental logic by making a universal negative assertion that could be rebutted by even a single case to the contrary … [by] denying the allegation that there were other abusive priests still at work in the Archdiocese … [when] [s]oon thereafter he removed twenty-one priests.” He also noted the parallels with Cardinal Bernard Law‘s stance and actions in Boston in 2002.[37]

Resignation of Rigali and appointment of Chaput

In July, 2011, the Holy See accepted Rigali’s resignation, which he had tendered in 2010 when he reached age 75, in accordance with the Code of Canon Law. He “offered an apology ‘if I have offended’ and ‘for any weaknesses on my part,’ but said he saw no particular connection between the timing of the Vatican accepting his resignation and turbulence” over the February grand jury report. Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was named to succeed Rigali.[38]

More reaction

In late July, 2011, Robert Huber at Philadelphia magazine published a 7,630-word article which opened with Rigali’s question “Is it true?” about the 2011 grand jury report. It moved on to ask “Will the Catholic Church as we know it survive in Philadelphia?” as he began to tell the story of Joe, a 59-year-old [39] who spoke of his abuse at the hands of Father Schmeer when in the ninth grade at Roman Catholic High School. Joe spoke this summer to “fellow parishioners at his church—St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Manayunk. The leader of Joe’s men’s group and a victims advocate for the archdiocese set up the meeting. Perhaps 30 people came. Joe discovered something, after he spoke, that shocked him. It was that other people saw him as a hero.”[40] The piece concluded with a critique from Donna Farrell, writing on behalf of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which began: “Unfortunately for Philadelphia magazine readers looking for honest, in-depth reporting, this piece is an agenda-driven travesty of salacious innuendo masquerading as journalism.” Farrell said Huber had been given access to Achilles and Smith but “chose to omit these perspectives from his piece” and hence missed the “significant steps” the archdiocese had taken to rectify the situation. This left the piece “sensational, wildly unfair, and incomplete.”[39] Farrell is the director of communications for the archdiocese.[41] Readers also endorsed and critiqued the article in comments.[39]

As the William Lynn trial proceeded in mid-April, 2012, The Philadelphia Inquirer led an editorial: “Three weeks into a likely months-long landmark clergy sex-abuse trial, a Philadelphia jury already has seen the clear outlines of an alleged cover-up by Archdiocese of Philadelphia officials as far up as Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua.” After detailing numerous testimonies of abuse, the editorial continued: “Both Lynn and [James] Brennan deny the allegations. Whatever the eventual verdicts, testimony likely will have removed all reasonable doubt as to the cover-up’s existence, and the need for reform.” Specifically, the paper went on to say: “Harrisburg lawmakers need to act on proposals still being fought by the state’s Catholic bishops — most vocally by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput — that would waive civil statutes for a brief period to allow those victims to seek justice. As done in Delaware and California, a so-called “civil window” would further expose the abusers’ dirty secrets and help lead to healing in the church, and beyond. State legislators need not await a jury verdict to do the right thing by abuse victims.”[2]

References

1