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Renewed push to update statute-of-limitations laws in child sex abuse cases


Renewed push to update statute-of-limitations laws in child sex abuse cases

Published: 1/23 12:05 pm

From the link: http://www.whptv.com/news/local/story/Renewed-push-to-update-statute-of-limitations/lunXGHHsiEGu7WcYmOEZ5Q.cspx

Saying the move is long overdue and flanked by high-profile reform advocates, state Reps. Louise Williams Bishop and Michael P. McGeehan, both D-Phila., today announced a renewed push to update archaic statute-of-limitations laws in child sexual abuse cases at a Capitol Rotunda news conference.

Bishop and McGeehan said their respective bills are patterned after ones they introduced in the last two-year legislative session but died after being inexplicably bottled up in the committee process.

Bishop has reintroduced her legislation, now known as H.B. 237, which would abolish the statute of limitations on criminal charges and civil lawsuits in cases of child sexual abuse.

“Child sexual abuse victims are slowly beginning to break the barriers of silence; however, they still face a daunting procedural obstacle — the statute of limitations,” said Bishop, who came out last year as a victim of child sexual abuse. “Instead of suppressing legislation that would lift the statute of limitations, we should be voting these game-changing bills out of committee and the House, so more victims can seek justice.”

McGeehan has introduced H.B. 238 that would suspend any expired statute of limitations for two years in child sex abuse cases, providing a window of opportunity for those victims to file a civil lawsuit. His bill also would seek to make child sexual abuse an exception to the sovereign immunity defense that shields public officials from being sued.

“The effects of child sex abuse are felt everywhere,” McGeehan said. “We are all victims. The scandals which have rocked school districts and dioceses across the country, Penn State, the Boy Scouts — the problem clearly is not going away. Opponents of our measures need to rethink their positions and become part of the solution. Let’s get this done.”

Freshman state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, a victim of child sexual abuse by a priest and prime co-sponsor of McGeehan’s legislation, said he is proud to stand as an ally of Bishop and McGeehan in this effort.

“Sexual abuse not only destroys the victim’s life, but its ripple effects can have a dramatic impact on family members and friends as well,” Rozzi said. “Often times the victims suffer in silence, and they see suicide as their only way out. It is now time to break the silence, let their voices be heard and end this vicious cycle of sexual abuse.”

A key supporter of the legislation, former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, said, “Recent revelations about decades of lies and cover-ups of child sexual abuse in the most respected organizations demonstrate the need for the progressive pieces of legislation offered by Representatives Bishop and McGeehan.”

McGeehan praised Abraham for her courageous efforts in convening the exhaustive investigation of the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 2002, which actually empaneled three grand juries.

“To quote former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, she is one tough cookie,” McGeehan said.

Professor Marci A. Hamilton of the Benjamin N. Cardoza School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York, the author of “Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect its Children” and a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, praised the Bishop-McGeehan-Rozzi effort.

“Statue-of-limitations reform is empowering to victims and their families, and terrifying to pedophiles and their supporting institutions,” said Hamilton, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania law school. “This legislation finally levels the playing field so that victims can come forward when they are ready — and those creating the conditions for abuse are put on notice that they do not have a safe haven in an arbitrary legal technicality.”

John Salveson, founder and president of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, said the reopening of a window to file civil suits – as called for by the McGeehan bill – can have a profound effect on public awareness.

“This week, the Los Angeles Times broke a story that Catholic Church officials concealed abuse involving 75 priests and 500 victims,” Salveson said. “Those files were released as part of a civil action by child sex abuse victims covered by a one-year window in California that suspended the statute of limitations for past victims. No window, no trial. No trial, no documents. No documents, no exposure of predators. It’s really that simple.”

Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Full Statement of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia about the 21 Suspended Priests


Full Statement of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia about the 21 Suspended Priests

ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA OFFICE FOR COMMUNICATIONS  222 North Seventeenth Street ● Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-1299 Telephone (215) 587-3747 ● communof@adphila.orghttp://www.archphila.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     CONTACT: Donna Farrell  March 8, 2011         p: 215-587-3747           c: 215-651-3574

ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA PLACES  21 PRIESTS ON ADMININSTRATIVE LEAVE
Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, today announced that he has placed 21 priests on administrative leave. The action follows an initial examination of files looking at both the substance of allegations and the process by which those allegations were reviewed. In each case the next step is a thorough independent investigation.
Cardinal Rigali said, “These have been difficult weeks since the release of the Grand Jury Report: difficult most of all for victims of sexual abuse, but also for all Catholics and for everyone in our community.
“As we strive to move forward today,” Cardinal Rigali added, “I wish to express again my sorrow for the sexual abuse of minors committed by any members of the Church, especially clergy.  I am truly sorry for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse, as well as to the members of our community who suffer as a result of this great evil and crime.”
The Grand Jury Report identified 37 cases of concern. In addition to the 21 announced today, three priests were placed on administrative leave after the report was released in February. Five others would have been subject to administrative leave.  However, one who was already on leave and two who are incapacitated have not been in active ministry.  Two others no longer serve in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and, as both are members of a Religious Order, the Archdiocese has notified the Superiors of their Religious Orders and the Bishops of the Dioceses where they are residing.   The remaining eight priests will not be subject to administrative leave. The initial independent examination of these cases found no further investigation is warranted.
All 37 cases were subject to a review using the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, the Child Protective Services Act, the “Essential Norms” from the Charter for the Protection of Young People of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Archdiocese’s Standards for Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries.  The cases of those on administrative leave involve a range from allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to boundary issues with minors.
Cardinal Rigali stated, “Since 2005, the Archdiocese has worked very hard and we believed that we were on the right path, making significant progress in the protection of children and in the investigation and handling of abuse allegations.  In fact, the present investigation of sexual abuse began as a result of reports from the Archdiocese to the District Attorney’s Office.  The 2011 Grand Jury Report, however, presented us with serious concerns that demand a decisive response.”
ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA OFFICE FOR COMMUNICATIONS  222 North Seventeenth Street ● Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-1299 Telephone (215) 587-3747 ● communof@adphila.orghttp://www.archphila.org
2
Administrative Leaves Continued:
Within a week of the release of the Grand Jury Report, the Archdiocese retained Gina Maisto Smith, a former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney who has prosecuted child sexual assault cases for nearly two decades. Mrs. Smith, a partner at the law firm of Ballard Spahr, conducted an initial review of all 37 cases of concern with the aid of her team and a forensic psychiatrist.
“Cardinal Rigali asked me to assist him in responding to the concerns raised in the Grand Jury Report,” Mrs. Smith said. “I was given the unlimited freedom to do a thorough review with full access to all files and documents.”
The Cardinal’s actions were based on Mrs. Smith’s recommendations. She will now lead a team of experts to investigate more fully each case. Her team will include a nationally renowned pediatrician in the field of child abuse, a forensic psychiatrist and psychologist, an expert from the child advocacy community and other experts.
Cardinal Rigali said, “I want to be clear: These administrative leaves are interim measures. They are not in any way final determinations or judgments.”
“I know that for many people their trust in the Church has been shaken,” stated the Cardinal.  “I pray that the efforts of the Archdiocese to address these cases of concern and to re-evaluate our way of handling allegations will help rebuild that trust in truth and justice.”
For more information and to read Cardinal Rigali’s complete statement, visit the Archdiocese of Philadelphia web site at http://www.archphila.org (“Response to 2011 Grand Jury Report”).
Cardinal Rigali will celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent for Christians throughout the world. Lent is the penitential season of prayer and sacrifice lasting from Ash Wednesday through Holy Thursday, in preparation for Easter.
Cardinal Rigali also has invited the faithful to join him at the Cathedral for a Penitential Service, including Stations of the Cross, at 7 p.m. March 11, 2011, the first Friday of Lent.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For Ash Wednesday Mass on March 9 and the Penitential Service on March 11, an audio and video mult-box feed will be provided in the parking lot of the Cathedral. Please enter on 17th Street, between Race and Vine Streets. Crews will need a bnc connector and recording deck or a live truck. Television cameras will not be permitted in the Cathedral. Reporters and still photographers will be permitted in the Cathedral.

 

Archdiocese Of Philadelphia Suspends 21 Priests In Renewed Probe Of Sex Abuse Claims


Archdiocese Of Philadelphia Suspends 21 Priests In Renewed Probe Of Sex Abuse Claims

Reported by Mark Abrams, KYW Newsradio; Todd Quinones, CBS 3     March 8, 2011 11:10 PM

From the link: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2011/03/08/21-local-priests-suspended-in-renewed-probe-of-sex-abuse-claims/

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia District Attorney calls the suspension of 21 priests ‘unprecedented.’

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Tuesday the suspension from ministry of 21 priests cited by a Philadelphia Grand Jury report last month as ducking what the panel believed were credible accusations of abuse.

A statement issued by the Archdiocese says Cardinal Justin Rigali has suspended the priests from active ministry pending a further review of allegations of child sex abuse raised against the priests but dismissed by an archdiocesan review board which ruled those complaints not credible.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams calls the move a good first step.

“Where those investigations go, and how they result will be more definitive of what the actions of the Archdiocese will be,” Williams said.

On February 16th, Rigali announced that three priests — Father Joseph DiGregoria, Father Joseph Gallagher, and Father Stephen Perzan, all of whom were specifically named in the Grand Jury report — were being suspended from public exercise of their ministry pending a second review of their cases.

At that time, Rigali stated that the Archdiocese planned a re-review of the 34 other cases of priest child sex abuse cited by the grand jury’s review of those files as being credible.

According to the statement from the Archdiocese, five other priests would have been subject to suspension, but one is already on leave and two others are said to be incapacitated and have not been in active ministry.

Two others are members of a religious order which has not been identified and are no longer serving in the archdiocese, according to the statement, but their superiors have been notified as well as bishops of the dioceses where they are living.

The Archdiocese says the eight remaining priests cited by the Grand Jury will not be suspended and that the initial independent examination of those cases found no further investigation warranted.

Rigali’s actions Tuesday were recommended by Gina Maisto Smith, a former Philadelphia assistant DA who handled sex abuse crimes while a prosecutor. She was hired last month after the Grand Jury report to advise the Archdiocese on these matters

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (“SNAP”), calls Rigali’s move a long overdue step which will make children safer in the short term.

 But he says much more remains to be done.

“Suspending credibly accused child molesters is just a smart defense move and it’s great PR and it’s something, frankly, that Rigali has no choice but to do,” Clohessy told KYW Newsradio.

Cardinal Justin Rigali’s statement in part reads: “I know that for many people their trust in the church has been shaken.” “The 2011 grand jury report … presented us with serious concerns that demand a decisive response.”

“Most of us who were abused think we are alone,” Barbra Blaine, President of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said.

She is upset with the Archdiocese’s decision to only release the names of the 21 priests suspended to their effected parishes.

The Archdiocese has declined to name the priests who were removed from active ministry. Sources say they began getting notifications Monday morning and were told to clear out of their parishes by 5 p.m. Monday.

“We will be doing that on Ash Wednesday and we will be doing that this following Sunday.” Archdiocese spokesperson Donna Farrell said.

“If names were released (made public) we suspect more victims would come forward,” Blaine said.

Lawyer Gina Maisto Smith has been hired by the church to investigate the allegations.

As a former city assistant district attorney, she prosecuted child sexual abuse cases.

“It’s very difficult before a thorough investigation is done to make a decision and announce a name,” Maisto Smith said.

The announcement came on the eve of Ash Wednesday, the start of the Roman Catholic Church’s 40-day observance of Lent, a time of penance, prayer and sacrifice.

One Catholic journalist who is following the latest developments quotes one veteran priest as saying, “We are in the midst of an earthquake” as news of the removal of the priests began to circulate in the archdiocese Tuesday.

Also, due to the statute of limitations, none of the priests will face criminal charges.

 

Disputing ‘Penetration,’ Judge Dismisses Felony Sex Charges Against Philadelphia Priest


Disputing ‘Penetration,’ Judge Dismisses Felony Sex Charges Against Philadelphia Priest

By Tony Hanson   August 16, 2012 6:30 PM

From the link: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/08/16/judge-dismisses-felony-sex-charges-against-philadelphia-priest-disputing-penetration/

WARNING:  THE FOLLOWING REPORT CONTAINS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS THAT MAY OFFEND SOME READERS.  EXTREME READER CAUTION IS URGED.

By Tony Hanson, Diana Rocco

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia judge today dismissed the most serious charges against a local priest after a former altar boy testified he was sexually assaulted as a fourth grader 15 years ago.

The judge ordered defendant Father Andrew McCormick to face trial on the remaining misdemeanor charges, but prosecutors say they will refile the felony charges against the priest.

The alleged victim, now 24, testified that Father McCormick took him back to the rectory after mass and guided the boy upstairs to his living quarters.

The witness testified there was touching, groping, and McCormick tried to force him to perform oral sex.

“He tested that in approximately 1997, when he was a fourth grader at St. John Cantius and an altar boy, the defendant essentially sexually assaulted him,” says prosecutor Jack O’Neill.  “Our contention is, and I think it is pretty clear, that under the case law and under the statute it is a very serious crime and obviously is a felony.”

The defense questions the victim’s credibility saying he came forward 15 years later and after the Penn State sex abuse trial, and the most recent Philadelphia priest trial involving Monsignor William Lynn and Father James Brennan.

“I think that it seems extremely opportunistic that after the Penn State case and the case that my office just handled this gentlemen pops out of the woodwork and apparently all he remembers is that it was 15 years ago and it was cold outside,” said William Brennan, McCormick’s attorney.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW

The victim testified that the priest’s sex organ was forced past his lips but not past his teeth, and Judge Karen Simmons ruled that the act did not meet the legal definition of “penetration” as required for a felony.

McCormick has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.  His attorney, William J. Brennan, has also challenged the credibility of the alleged victim.

Shortly after Judge Simmons’ ruling, the Philadelphia DA’s office issued the following statement:

“The District Attorney’s Office will be re-filing felony charges against 56 year old Andrew McCormick.  At today’s Preliminary Hearing Judge Karen Yvette Simmons dismissed Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (oral sex with child under age 13), Sexual Assault (oral sex without consent of person) and Statutory Sexual Assault (oral sex with child under age 16 and defendant more than 4 years older) charges.  She remanded the case for trial on the misdemeanor charges of Indecent Assault, Corrupting the Morals of a Minor, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

“The adult victim testified today that when he was ten years old, McCormick straddled his chest and pressed his penis through the boy’s lips and up against his front teeth twice.  McCormick was a priest at St. Cantius at the time.  According to Pennsylvania law, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (IDSI) is defined as penetrating a child’s mouth with one’s penis however slightly.  The victim’s testimony clearly established penetration of his mouth by pushing the penis past the boy’s lips and up against his front teeth – all parts of which are described under the law as “mouth.”  The case law is clear that even if the defendant’s penis only made contact with the outside of the boy’s lips without going further, that would constitute IDSI.  For instance, the Superior Court has ruled that the lip is considered part of the mouth and that a child kissing a man’s penis is IDSI.

“The District Attorney’s Office will be filing an appeal to Motions court today.  A Court of Common Pleas Judge sitting in Municipal court will review the notes of testimony from the preliminary hearing within the next thirty days and determine whether the charge of IDSI and related felony charges should have been properly held for court based on the victim’s clear testimony that the defendant’s penis went through his lips into his mouth.  The Commonwealth is very confident that all the felony charges will be reinstated and McCormick will then be sent to trial in the Court of Common Pleas on all charges.  ADA Jack O’Neill is specially assigned to this case.”

Witness: After rape by teacher ‘I had to go’ to school


Witness: After rape by teacher ‘I had to go’ to school

Joseph A. Slobodzian, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 3:42 PM

From the link: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130116_Witness__After_rape_by_teacher_I_had_to_go_to_school.html

The defense lawyer for former parochial schoolteacher Bernard Shero today began trying to chip away at the credibility of a 24-year-old Northeast man who says he was sexually assaulted by Shero and two priests when he was a 10-year-old altar boy.

The witness – The Inquirer does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault – testified Tuesday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court that the serial sexual assaults by Shero and two priests destroyed his childhood and led to his life as a drug addict.

But defense attorney Burton A. Rose, showing the jury blow-ups of the man’s report cards from 5th through 8th grades at St. Jerome’s, noted that his grades and attendance barely changed during the time of the alleged assaults in 1998 and 1999.

“So you went to school the next day after this man [Shero] anally raped you in the back of his car?” Rose asked.

“It was school, I had to go,” replied the witness, who was identified as “Billy Doe” in the 2011 county grand jury report.

Rose has argued that Shero never assaulted the witness – or caused his later problems with drugs and the law.

The witness maintained that he was afraid to tell anyone about the assaults by the two priests in the sacristy of St. Jerome’s church, or the assault by Shero, who was his homeroom and English teacher.

Shero, 49, and the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 66, are on trial for the alleged assaults on Billy when he was in fifth and sixth grades at St. Jerome’s.

The other priest, Edward Avery, now 70, pleaded guilty last year shortly before he was to go on trial with two other priests in the investigation of clergy sex abuse of children in the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Avery, now defrocked and serving a 2-1/2 to five years in prison and may be called by prosecutors to testify in the trial of Shero and Engelhardt.

The pair are the last two of five people charged as a result of the 2011 county grand jury report.

Last year’s landmark three-month trial ended June 22 when the jury found Msgr. William J. Lynn guilty of child endangerment, the first church administrator convicted for a priest’s sexual abuse of a child.

Lynn, 62, who as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004 was responsible for investigating allegations against priests, was sentenced to 3 to 6 years. He is in a state prison and appealing his conviction.

Bishop of W.Va. Catholic diocese accused of abuse


from the link: http://www.dailymail.com/News/201204180090

Wednesday April 18, 2012
Bishop of W.Va. Catholic diocese accused of abuse

A witness in a Philadelphia clergy sex abuse trial told jurors Wednesday his abuser told him more than 30 years ago Bishop Michael Bransfield had had sex with a boy. The witness said his abuser also sexually assaulted him at Bishop Michael Bransfield's New Jersey beach house.

 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A witness in a clergy sex-abuse trial in Philadelphia testified that he was sexually assaulted in a home owned by West Virginia’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Bishop Michael Bransfield, and said he was told by his abuser that Bransfield had assaulted another boy.

The 48-year-old witness was on the stand Wednesday when he gave the testimony about Bransfield.

The man was testifying in a criminal trial against Monsignor William Lynn, who is accused of covering up sex abuse allegations for the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Bransfield has not been charged with a crime.

The testimony came one day after news reports that prosecutors were having trouble getting Monsignor Kevin Quirk, Bransfield’s aide, to testify.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington said Tuesday that Quirk had agreed to testify in Philadelphia but had to notify Bransfield first. Then the process stalled.

The witness told the jury he saw Bransfield bring several boys to a farm owned by Stanley Gana, a former priest in the diocese, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The witness told the jury the alleged incident occurred at Gana’s Scranton, Pa., farm more than 30 years ago. He was building a flagstone wall when then Rev. Bransfield pulled up in a car with several teenage boys.

The man said Gana told him Bransfield was having sex with one of the boys.

The 68-year-old Bransfield, a Philadelphia native, was installed as the head of the West Virginia diocese in 2005, replacing Bishop Bernard Schmitt, who retired in 2003.

Bransfield came to this state from his position as the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Bryan Minor, spokesman for the diocese, said that Bransfield was not available Wednesday and that he had yet to speak with him about the allegations.

“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is learning of media reports originating from legal proceedings underway in Philadelphia, and Bishop Michael Bransfield’s name was brought up in court today,” Minor said in a statement.

“Until such time that the facts and issues surrounding this testimony are made fully known to the Diocese, we cannot comment at this time.”

The diocese on Tuesday called the trial a “circus” and said Philadelphia prosecutors were trying to smear people who have never been charged with a crime.

Monsignor Edward Sadie, rector of the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston, had not heard about the testimony concerning Bransfield Wednesday.

“I just find this beyond belief,” Sadie said. “I just hope and pray it’s not true.”

Sadie said Bransfield has been “very diligent” in keeping church officials and parishioners looking out for “deviant behavior” involving children at the church.

He said all church officials and the parishioners who work with children are taught what to look for and are made aware of how and where they should report abuse.

“We have a very strong policy,” Sadie said. “He’s been very diligent in pushing that policy.”

The witness told the jury Gana raped him for years and that Gana and Bransfield were close friends. He said Gana once sexually abused him during a visit to Bransfield’s New Jersey beach house.

Another witness testified that Bransfield had a lewd conversation with him.

Bransfield was ordained in 1971 by the late Cardinal John Krol. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gana was ordained about the same time.

The testimony comes four weeks into the prosecution of Lynn, who is the first U.S. church official ever to be charged over the handling of abuse complaints. Lynn served as the secretary for clergy in Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004 and supervised more than 800 priests.

Prosecutors alleged that Lynn allowed dangerous priests to work with children in the parish to protect the church’s reputation.

The church also is accused of keeping secret files dating back to 1948 that allegedly show a long-standing conspiracy to protect priests and cast doubt on sex-abuse victims.

Lynn’s attorney maintained that Lynn’s job was to oversee the sex abuse complaints but that another man, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who has since died, solely determined priest assignments and transfers.

If convicted, Lynn could serve 28 years in prison.

The other defendant in the trial is the Rev. James Brennan, who is accused of raping a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Quirk’s testimony was sought because he served as a judge for the church’s in-house trial of Brennan in 2008. Prosecutors wanted him to testify about the accuracy of statements Brennan made during that trial.

Defrocked priest Edward Avery was the third defendant in the trial but pleaded guilty early on. Lynn and Brennan both pleaded not guilty.

Avery’s plea acknowledged that he was kept in the ministry despite an earlier complaint, for which he underwent therapy. He sexually assaulted an altar boy seven years later, he said.

Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina agreed to take up the matter with court officials in Wheeling.

Bransfield has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in divinity from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania. He served as assistant pastor at St. Albert the Great Parish in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., from 1971 to 1973. He received a master of philosophy degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1973.

He served as a teacher, chaplain and then chairman of the religion department at a Catholic school in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

He currently serves as president of the Papal Foundation of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and is the treasurer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bransfield also is a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

An official with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on Bransfield to address the allegations Wednesday.

Judy Jones, Midwest director of SNAP, said that in light of the day’s testimony, Bransfield, not his lawyer or representative, should address the allegations immediately. She also wants him to agree to be questioned on the allegations.

“This isn’t rocket science,” Jones wrote. “For starters, there are three simple questions Bransfield should answer: Did or does he own a house with Philly’s Father Gana? If so, did he take boys there? And did he molest any of them?

“This notion that Bransfield somehow can’t respond to the testimony today in Philly, as his lawyer claims, is bogus.”

Jones also took issue with Bransfield’s apparent refusal to send Monsignor Quirk to Philadelphia.

“Msgr. Kevin M. Quirk has a sworn obedience to Bransfield,” Jones wrote. “Bransfield can order Quirk to appear in court. Bransfield should do that immediately. If he doesn’t, that will only add to the doubts about Bransfield.”

Founded in 1988, SNAP is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. It has more than 12,000 members.

Coach at Philly Catholic high school charged with corrupting minor


From the newsworks link: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/the-feed/item/26872-coach-at-philly-catholic-high-school-charged-with-corrupting-minor

Coach at Philly Catholic high school charged with corrupting minor

By Elizabeth Fiedler September 20, 2011

Philadelphia police have arrested a Catholic school baseball coach on charges including corrupting the morals of a minor, simple assault, and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Lou Spadaccini, 37, a coach at SS. John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School since 2006, has been placed on administrative leave.

John Murawski, the school president, said he’s surprised by the allegations.

“Coach Lou was an admired coach and an upstanding member of our community and the Neumann-Goretti family, and we’re really sad and shocked by the news,” Murawski said. “Obviously our deepest concern is the students and their welfare.”

Murawski said Spadaccini is now on administrative leave pending an investigation. He said all of the required criminal background checks and child abuse clearances were in place.

Crisis counselors are available, said Leslie Davila, director of the Office for Child and Youth Protection for the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“We’ll also work with the school in providing support to students, to the team members, to the family and to anyone who has been affected by this,” she said. “We’re dedicated to doing that and offer all the support we can to Neumann-Goretti and their community.”

School administrators sent a letter to school families informing them of the arrest and asking them to contact police with any additional information.