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Timothy Cardinal Dolan ripped for delaying talk on child sex abuse


Timothy Cardinal Dolan ripped for delaying talk on child sex abuse

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 10:36 PM
From the Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/cardinal-dolan-ripped-stalling-talk-child-sex-abuse-article-1.2648910
Cardinal Timothy Dolan feels the church should not suffer for priest abuse victims.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan feels the church should not suffer for priest abuse victims.

The time may not be right for Timothy Cardinal Dolan to talk about child sex abuse, but advocates say it’s long overdue.

Victim-turned-advocate Kathryn Robb says Dolan is putting a new generation of kids in danger by opposing legislation that would allow adult victims of child sex abuse to seek justice in claims that would likely affect predator priests.

Robb ripped Dolan after the leader of New York’s 2.6 million Catholics told the Daily News on Saturday at rally for farm worker rights that he was ready to discuss efforts to reform the law — but not just yet.

Time, however, is running out to eliminate the statute of limitations on child sex abuse since the state Legislature’s session ends June 16.

“It may not be time for you Cardinal Dolan, but it is time for survivors of sexual abuse and the children of the state of New York,” said Robb, who said she was molested by her eldest brother George Robb while growing up on Long Island. “We as responsible citizens who care about the safety of children and justice are not waiting for his call.”

New York’s statute of limitations bars victims of childhood sexual abuse from filing criminal charges or civil claims after their 23rd birthday. Victim advocates say it is one of the most restrictive in the nation.

Supporters of the Child Victims Act say the Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of church’s bishops, has been the bill’s biggest obstacle. The CVA — one of a handful of bills under consideration — would eliminate the civil and criminal statutes of limitation for victims.

A spokesman for the archdiocese said he would discuss a Daily News request for a sit-down with the cardinal. The spokesman said Dolan declined to talk about sexual abuse Saturday because he did not want to overshadow the farm worker rights rally.

What the church documents reveal


What the church documents reveal

Opinion

‘Prepare to be shocked,’ Milwaukee archbishop warns of priest sex files


‘Prepare to be shocked,’ Milwaukee archbishop warns of priest sex files

Archdiocese to release documents Monday

By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

June 29, 2013 5:41 p.m

From the link: http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/prepare-to-be-shocked-milwaukee-archbishop-warns-of-priest-sex-files-b9944386z1-213713061.html

In a major turning point in its nearly 3-year-old bankruptcy, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday is scheduled to make public thousands of pages of documents detailing the sexual abuse of minors by priests going back decades, and what church leaders did — and did not do — in response.

The records will contain parts of 42 priests’ personnel files as well as depositions of former Archbishop Timothy Dolan, now cardinal of New York; retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland; retired Bishop Richard Sklba; and now-defrocked priest Daniel Budzynski.

Most of the information, which is being released as part of an agreement in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy proceedings, has never been seen publicly.

“Needless to say, there are some terrible things described in many of the documents,” Archbishop Jerome Listecki said in his weekly letter to local Catholics in advance of the release. To those deciding to read the files, Listecki advised, “prepare to be shocked.”

According to interviews and court records, the documents are expected to include: details about how church officials shuttled abusive priests from one parish or school to the next without divulging their histories; correspondence between the archdiocese and the Vatican, which has the final word on defrocking priests; evidence that the archdiocese under Dolan paid some priests to accept that decision without protest; and graphic accounts of sexual assault of young people.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley has acknowledged in court the disturbing nature of some of the documents. Earlier this year, commenting on the case of Franklyn Becker, a priest who molested at least 10 teenage boys beginning in the 1960s, Kelley said: “Every time I have to read his file, I’m just devastated.”

Jeffrey Anderson, who represents most of the 575 men and women who filed sex abuse claims in the bankruptcy, argued for the release of the documents and called it a victory for victims and survivors.

“From the outset, what survivors have wanted most is to protect other kids,” said Anderson. “And the only way you can do that is to have full disclosure of what has been done in the past.”

Listecki, who was not available for this story, worried in his letter how victims would weather the public release of such information. To some, that rang hollow.

“Releasing these documents is not going to hurt us. The damage has been done. We can’t suffer any more than we already have,” said Charles Linneman of Sugar Grove, Ill.

Linneman was abused by Becker at the age of 14 at St. John’s Parish in South Milwaukee and now serves as chairman of the bankruptcy creditors committee.

“I haven’t met one survivor who wants those documents to stay sealed,” he said.

One group of offenders

The individual priest files will focus on one group of offenders accused in the bankruptcy claims: 42 of the 45 priests named on the archdiocese’s website as having substantiated allegations of sexually abusing at least one minor.

They include some of the archdiocese’s worst sex offenders. Among them: the late Father Lawrence Murphy, who is believed to have molested as many as 200 deaf boys, most during his decades at St. John School for the Deaf in St. Francis; and Sigfried Widera, who was facing 42 counts of child abuse in Wisconsin and California when he jumped to his death from a Mexico hotel room in 2003 as authorities closed in.

All of the files will be redacted to omit names and other information that would identify victims, their families or those who reported the abuse who were not employed by the local archdiocese or another Catholic entity. They also will omit private medical information and information covered by attorney-client privilege.

The archdiocese and attorneys for victims are expected to post the documents on their respective websites — www.archmil.org and www.andersonadvocates.com— at 1 p.m. Monday.

The cache will not include the records of religious order priests, brothers and nuns; or teachers and others accused in bankruptcy claims. Also omitted will be three defrocked or deceased priests who appear on the archdiocese’s list — James Godin, Roger Schneider and Donald Musinski. In the case of Godin and Schneider, their victims could be identified; as for Musinski, he was added late in the process.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, many of whose members have claims in the bankruptcy, has criticized the limited nature of the release and called on the archdiocese to add to its list religious order priests and other offenders who worked in the archdiocese’s parishes, schools and other ministries in the 10-county area.

Nearly a dozen religious order men and women have substantiated allegations against them, according to news accounts, court records and a database of abuser priests maintained by the nonprofit Catholic watchdog site www.bishop-accountability.org. And victims’ attorneys say there are 100 known or accused offenders identified in bankruptcy claims — 75 of them priests — who do not appear on the archdiocese list.

“Every clergy person known to have harmed or assaulted a child — every teacher, every person who worked in the archdiocese — should be on that list. For public safety,” said Peter Isely, SNAP’s Wisconsin director, who was sexually assaulted by a Capuchin priest while a student at St. Lawrence Seminary in Mount Calvary in the 1970s.

The records to be released have been under seal as part of a protective order issued by Kelley early in the bankruptcy to protect victims and some of the accused. The order is so broad that even legal arguments must be filed under seal.

The archdiocese had fought the release for months — as it has in past court cases — saying victims could inadvertently be identified. But it reversed course in April after Kelley made it clear in court that she was likely to unseal at least some of the documents.

The archdiocese on Saturday issued a series of talking points and a Q&A for priests and parishes to address the issue. It makes no mention of Kelley’s comments. Instead, it says, it decided to release the records “as part of our commitment to open and candid communication.”

Interest in depositions

The depositions are expected to draw particular scrutiny, especially any new information connected to Dolan, who led the Milwaukee Archdiocese from 2002 to 2009. Now considered the most powerful American bishop, he was heralded at the time for his outreach to victims. But since then, allegations have been made that in anticipation of the bankruptcy filing, he directed the movement of millions of dollars into special trusts in an attempt to shield them from abuse settlements. Both Dolan and the archdiocese have denied the allegations.

Sklba’s deposition will also be examined closely because as auxiliary bishop he was, in Weakland’s words, the “go-to” person for dealing with sex abuse cases. In anticipation of Monday’s document release, Sklba wrote what he called “a few words of introduction” to his deposition.

“Although the decisions I made and the actions I took to deal with clergy offenders were done in good faith and in light of the knowledge available at the time, I deeply regret any initial judgments which added to the pain of victims of this tragedy,” he wrote.

In their letters, both Listecki and Sklba emphasized a common theme within the church hierarchy throughout the sex abuse scandal — that the understanding of child sex abuse has evolved, and that — to use Listecki’s words, “it is easy to question decisions of the past with the insight of today.”

Over 40 years, Sklba wrote, “society’s general attitude toward perpetrators of sexual abuse moved in a trajectory from understanding abuse as sin with the possibility of forgiveness, to psychological flaw with hope of treatment, to deeper issues of addiction and finally to criminal activity.”

The Milwaukee Archdiocese has been in bankruptcy since January 2011, becoming the eighth Catholic diocese to file for Chapter 11 protection to minimize its liability in mounting sex abuse lawsuits. Under Chapter 11, a debtor and creditors negotiate a reorganization plan that would allow the debtor to compensate creditors — primarily sex abuse victims, in these cases — and retain enough in the way of assets to continue to operate.

Victims believe the documents will prove the archdiocese defrauded them by knowingly moving abusive priests from one parish or school to the next without divulging their histories — the allegation underlying their claims to compensation.

The archdiocese denies the fraud. But if it had defrauded victims, its lawyers have argued, the clock on the six-year statute of limitations started ticking by at least 2004 when it first posted the names of 42 abusive priests on its website.

Clergy sex abuse victims to see Milwaukee archdiocese files


Clergy sex abuse victims to see Milwaukee archdiocese files

Written by M.L. JOHNSON Associated Press Jun. 23, 2013

From the link: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/viewart/20130623/GPG0101/306230271/Clergy-sex-abuse-victims-see-Milwaukee-archdiocese-files

MILWAUKEE — The Archdiocese of Milwaukee plans to make dozens of priests’ personnel files public in the next week, along with hundreds of pages of other documents that sex abuse victims hope will hold church leaders accountable for transferring abusive priests to other parishes and concealing their crimes for decades.

The documents are being released as part of a deal reached in federal bankruptcy court between the archdiocese and victims suing it for fraud. The archdiocese has said the records will include personnel files for 42 priests with verified claims of abuse against them, along with depositions from top church officials, including New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who previously led the Milwaukee archdiocese. The documents are to be posted on the archdiocese’s website by July 1.

Similar files made public by other Roman Catholic dioceses and religious orders have detailed how leaders tried to protect the church by shielding priests and not reporting child sex abuse to authorities. The cover-up extended to the top of the Catholic hierarchy. Correspondence obtained by The Associated Press in 2010 showed the future Pope Benedict XVI had resisted pleas in the 1980s to defrock a California priest with a record of molesting children. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led the Vatican office responsible for disciplining abusive priests before his election as pope.

Archdiocese officials in Milwaukee have long acknowledged that abusive priests were transferred to new churches with no warning to parishioners. Former Archbishop Rembert Weakland publicly apologized to a Sheboygan church for this in 1992, and in a 2008 deposition previously made public, he spoke of multiple cases in which church leaders were aware of priests’ histories but members were not. Still, victims have pushed aggressively for the priests’ files to be released.

Charles Linneman, 45, of Sugar Grove, Ill., said he was an altar boy when he met Franklyn Becker at St. Joseph’s Parish in Lyons in southeastern Wisconsin in 1980 and was abused by him when he visited Becker following the priest’s move to Milwaukee. Linneman read Becker’s file several years ago when it became public during litigation in California, where Becker also served.

Linneman said he had long wondered whether coming forward before he did in 2002 would have kept other children from being hurt. It was a relief, he said, when the file showed no reports of children being abused after him.“It helped me move on,” Linneman said. But it also led him to leave the Catholic church, stunned by what he saw as a massive cover-up.

“I really got fed up,” he said. “I’m like, I just can’t believe all these lies and betrayals that went on. … The archdiocese is supposed to be people in charge that are responsible and morally ethical, and that’s not what they did.”

Becker was removed from the priesthood in 2004. Messages left at a Mayville number listed in his name weren’t returned. His file is among a few from Milwaukee that have already been made public. But Linneman said he still plans to read whatever comes out on July 1 because his attorneys told him the records will likely include some he hasn’t seen.

While certain church officials and attorneys for both sides have seen the roughly 6,000 pages of documents, the victims have not.

Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Jerome Listecki, said the archdiocese had shared some files with some victims over the years but was reluctant to make them public because of privacy concerns. It eventually agreed to do so when it became clear that victims would hold up the bankruptcy case until the information came out. Some of the files contain graphic material, and people “should be prepared to be shocked,” he said.

At the same time, most of the priests’ names have been known since the archdiocese’s release of 43 with verified abuse claims against them in 2004. Two others, Ronald Engel and Donald Musinski, were added to the list later. The allegations against Musinski came to light only after the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and his file will be released later, once it is complete, Topczewski said. Two other priests’ files aren’t being released because they involve single victims who could easily be identified.

The impact of church documents released elsewhere has varied greatly, said Terry McKiernan, who has spent more than a decade collecting and preserving clergy sex abuse records for BishopAccountability.org. In one of the biggest scandals involving the church, Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as the head of the Boston archdiocese within days of the 2002 release of child sex abuse documents that also described a priest abandoning his adult lover as she overdosed. But in other places, where files were too massive or disorganized for most people to make sense of them, they drew little attention, McKiernan said.Even when victims were successful in bringing the truth to light, some found it didn’t have the result they had hoped. Joelle Casteix, 42, of Newport Beach, Calif., was abused by a teacher at a Catholic high school in the 1980s. Documents in her case were made public in 2005 as part of a $100 million settlement with the Diocese of Orange, an experience she called “life-changing.”

“I got my human dignity back,” she said in an email. “I was able to get truth and power for the first time since I was 16. For years, people thought I was crazy. But now, everyone knows that I was right and truthful all along.”

Yet despite the publicity, her former teacher was able to keep his job at a Michigan college. Officials there see her as a disgruntled ex-girlfriend, Casteix said, adding that the situation “makes me ill.”

5 things to know

How many priests were involved? The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has verified claims of sexual abuse by 45 priests, including 23 who are still alive. None is allowed to work as a priest, and 15 have been officially defrocked. Most of them are accused of abuse that took place before 1990.

How many victims are there? It’s hard to say because some victims may not have come forward. But one former priest, Lawrence Murphy, has been accused of sexually abusing some 200 boys at a school for the deaf from 1950 to 1974. Other priests have been accused by only one person thus far. There are more than 570 sexual abuse claims pending in bankruptcy court, but some of those involve lay people or priests assigned to religious orders, not the archdiocese. Attorneys have not said specifically how many of the 570 claims relate to the 45 priests on the archdiocese’s restricted list.

How did clergy abuse cases end up in bankruptcy court? Abuse victims had long sought to hold the archdiocese accountable, but most didn’t come forward until well into adulthood, when it was too late under Wisconsin law to sue the church for negligence in supervising its priests. A 2007 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision gave them a window, saying the six-year limit in fraud cases didn’t start until the deception was uncovered. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2011, once it became clear that it could face a slew of lawsuits. It said it wouldn’t have the money to pay if those cases went against it.What’s in the documents the archdiocese is releasing by July 1? It’s hard to say for certain because no one has seen the collection yet except attorneys and certain church leaders. Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Jerome Listecki, has said it will include the personnel files of 42 priests, depositions of church leaders including New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who previously led the Milwaukee archdiocese, and records from the files of bishops and other key figures.

What happens next? The release of the documents has been important to sexual abuse victims, but it does not affect resolution of the bankruptcy case. Topczewski said the next step in that will be for the archdiocese to come up with a reorganization plan detailing how it will provide for victims and pay its expenses in the future. Mike Finnegan, an attorney representing many victims, says one focus for his legal team will be trying to get the archdiocese’s former insurers to cover abuse claims.

Catholic Whistleblowers urge greater accountability on sex abuse crisis


Catholic Whistleblowers urge greater accountability on sex abuse crisis

By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

From the link: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/208528911.html

In its first public action Wednesday, a national network of Catholic clergy and nuns founded in part by a Milwaukee-area priest called on the church to take a stronger stand against child sexual abuse in its ranks.

Eight members of the Catholic Whistleblowers gathered for a news conference in New York, home to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is considered the most influential American prelate.

The group urged Dolan to use his influence to help oust Newark, N.J., Bishop John Myers, who has been in the news in recent weeks for allowing a pedophile priest continued access to minors, in violation of an agreement with prosecutors.

In addition, members called on Catholic bishops to:

 Support proposed legislation in New York, Wisconsin and elsewhere, that would lift statutes of limitations on sex crimes against children. (A Wisconsin bill, known as the Child Victims Act, is expected to be re-introduced this legislative session.)

 Adopt policies, similar to one in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, that protect priests, nuns and other church employees who report child sex abuse or cover-ups to civil authorities.

“The church has made strides; thousands of people have been trained in how to spot and report sex abuse. But all of that has to do with the future,” said the Rev. James Connell of Sheboygan, who has emerged in recent years as a vocal advocate for child sex abuse victims.

“But that doesn’t address the accountability, or the justice issues of the past,” he said. “Those issues are still at hand.”

A spokesman for Dolan said in an e-mail that the Archdiocese of New York has had a policy for years that encourages those with allegations of abuse to report them to civil authorities, and that here are no known abusers serving in the dioceses. He did not respond to questions about Myers or the statute-of-limitations legislation.

The group laid out its mission at a news conference at Cardozo Law School, which employs First Amendment scholar, Marci Hamilton, who has represented church victims in lawsuits across the country, including in Wisconsin.

Hamilton successfully argued the 2007 Wisconsin Supreme Court case that allows victims to sue religious entities under the state’s fraud statute — the basis of the 570-plus claims in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Bankruptcy. And she won a January ruling in the bankruptcy case that barred the archdiocese from using the First Amendment to keep up to $57 million in cemetery funds from being tapped for sex abuse settlements. That decision is on appeal to the U.S. District Court.

Connell is a founding member of the Whistleblowers, a group of like-minded mostly priests and nuns, brought together last year by the founders of BishopAccountability.org, a Boston-based non-profit that researches and posts information about the Catholic church’s response to sexual abuse.

Other members include well-known critics of the church’s handling of the sex abuse crisis, including Father Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer who alerted U.S. Catholic Bishops to the coming crisis in the 1980s; and Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk and “fixer,” who was sent by his order to clean up after abusive priests, and now consults for victims in lawsuits around the country.

Diocese reveals abuse allegation against retired Mackville priest


Diocese reveals abuse allegation against retired Mackville priest

Werner denies claim of abusing minor in 1970s

from the link: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20130413/GPG0101/304130369/Diocese-reveals-abuse-allegation-against-retired-priest?gcheck=1

A retired priest has been accused of abusing a minor in the 1970s, the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay announced Saturday.

The Rev. Justin N. Werner denies the allegation, the diocese said in a statement. The abuse is alleged to have happened at St. Edward Parish in Mackville, which is in Outagamine County.

Justine Lodl, director of communications with the diocese, declined further comment on the matter, saying it remains under investigation.

The diocese said Werner is being “temporarily restricted from performing any public ministry pending the outcome of a complete review of these matters, which includes an investigation by an independent professional investigator.”

The diocese said it notified civil authorities of the allegations as part of its mandatory reporting policy. It is assisting the alleged victim and Werner, the release stated.

“Making this statement is a good start,” Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a statement. “The diocese now has to make sure parishes where Werner has been conducting ministry… are asked to help the police with any information on the case.”

An Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department official said Saturday they did not have a report, but that it could have gone directly to the investigations department, which was closed Saturday.

Earlier this week, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee said it will release thousands of pages of documents tied to sexual abuse lawsuits, including depositions with some former top officials.

The archdiocese, which had been fighting the documents’ release, made its announcement the day before the matter was to be decided in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Milwaukee. The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2011 to deal with about 500 sex abuse claims. Lawyers representing the men and women who filed the claims had been seeking the documents’ release.

The documents include depositions by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who previously led the Milwaukee archdiocese, as well as by former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland and retired Bishop Richard Sklba. Victims’ advocates have accused archdiocese leaders of transferring abusive priests to other parishes and concealing their crimes for decades.

The archdiocese said it will post the documents on its website by July 1. The documents will also include items from priests’ personnel files and the files of bishops and other church leaders.

— The Associated Press and Gannett Media Wisconsin contributed to this article