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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.

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Gerald T. Slevin, Update–Criminal Charges of Vatican Child Abuse Cover-Up


From the link: http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2012/04/gerald-t-slevin-update-criminal-charges.html

Gerald T. Slevin, Update–Criminal Charges of Vatican Child Abuse Cover-Up

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jerry Slevin continues to be vigilant about what’s happening with Catholic church officials and the child abuse cover-up, from a legal standpoint.  He has just sent another outstanding statement, this one about SNAP’s filing last week of new charges updating their previous filing of criminal charges against the Vatican with the International Criminal Court, for the Vatican’s internationally orchestrated cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
Here’s Jerry’s statement:
SNAP, the international victims advocacy network, filed on April 11, 2012 with the International Criminal Court (ICC) a 19 page letter (“New Charges”), plus supporting documentation, updating  SNAP’s  prior September  2011  original  charges ( “Original Charges”).
The New Charges, include additional evidence supporting SNAP’s allegations against Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) and three top Vatican subordinates, Cardinals Bertone, Levada and Sodano. SNAP alleges this Vatican clique for years has been, and still is, orchestrating a worldwide criminal cover-up by Catholic bishops of  priest child sexual abuse, including acts involving  systemic rape, sexual violence and torture, of hundreds of thousands of defenseless children. These collectively would constitute “crimes against  humanity” under the ICC treaty.
After SNAP filed the Original Charges, almost 500 additional victims from over 60 countries contacted SNAP with new allegations that SNAP has added to the Original Charges. The New Charges (accessible by clicking here) also contain brief and clear updates, with citation links, concerning other recent relevant developments since the Original Charges, including:
(1) September 2011: The issuance of the scathing and devasting report, “In Plain Sight”, by Amnesty International Ireland, concerning the recent  history of priest sexual abuse of children  in Ireland and of the Irish government’s “hands off” approach until recently  to the Catholic Church hierarchy’s and priests’ appalling misdeeds;
(2) October 2011: The indictment of Cardinal Justin Rigali’s protégé, Opus Dei Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, for failing to report a child pornographer priest, and the April 5, 2012 court decision denying Finn’s motion to dismiss the criminal charges;
(3) November and December 2011: The issuance in Ireland of the sordid remainder of the Cloyne Diocese Report and the results of governmental audits in six additional Irish dioceses, all confirming in varying degrees a familiar pattern of abuse and bishops’ cover-up;
(4) December 2011: The issuance in the Netherlands of the massive Deetman report indicating tens of thousands of Dutch children had been sexually abused by priests over several  decades, supplemented by reports of several children being castrated following their reporting that they were sexually abused by clerics;
(5) January 2012: The publication of several articles highlighting the escalating  reporting of priest abuse of children in Poland and the special difficulty of getting governmental officials to confront the entrenched Polish Catholic hierarchy on priest abuse issues;
(6) March 2012: The publication by a former Legion of Christ priest of evidence of special canon law favoritism by the Pope and Cardinal Bertone towards admitted sexual deviant, Fr. Maciel, of Mexico;
(7) March-April 2012: The unprecedented ongoing  Philly criminal trial of a former top aide to Cardinals Bevilacqua and Rigali and the almost daily revelations of a decades-old cover-up, including document shredding by bishops and another  bishop’s admission under oath that  the important priest personnel decisions were always made by the Cardinals. The trial is establishing that a similar cover-up pattern was followed over a half-century by three different Cardinals with episcopal experience from five dioceses in four states, as well as in Rome. Each of the three Cardinals had close ties to the Vatican. The common cover-up pattern is indicative of at least policy coordination with Rome and, in some instances even, of direct coordination, as SNAP has alleged to the ICC generally with respect to the Vatican clique. This is discussed in more detail in my April 13, 2012 article about the Philly trial, accessible here.
(8) February-April: In New York, District Attorneys in the State Capitol, Albany, area have banded together to tighten up significantly the handling of claims of child sexual abuse by priests. In Milwaukee, a Federal bankruptcy judge has to date ruled against releasing massive records relating to priest child abuse in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Generally, the US bishops’ latest annual report confirms a rise in overall priest child sexual abuse claims, including some  additional new claims, as well as the continued failure of some bishops to follow even the weak US bishops’ child protection guidelines.
In addition to the foregoing, the New Charges also spell out clearly the long standing directives to the bishops from the Vatican to resist adopting mandates that Catholic bishops must promptly report priest child abuse claims to the police.
Finally, the New Charges crisply summarize the effort of senior US bishops and their highly paid apologists and attorneys to retaliate against SNAP, apparently for filing criminal charges against the Vatican clique with the ICC. The recent appointment of a woman and a mother as the new ICC lead prosecutor may be giving the Vatican clique some sleepless nights about SNAP’s ICC case. The New Charges will likely only increase the retaliatory efforts against SNAP.
The protections from prosecution  surrounding the pope have been extensive to date, but they may eventually prove to have been in vain. The pope runs a tight ship, perhaps a throwback to his teenage German military service in the dangerous days at the end of World War II. For more infomation on this, please read the comments under, “An Opportunistic Pope,” “The Pope at the Masters” and “Kids, Women and Bishops Beware,” accessible by clicking here.
The International Criminal Court, or the ICC, is structurally independent of the United Nations and the World Court, and was established as a permanent tribunal at the Hague, Netherlands, a decade ago by an international treaty now ratified by over 120 nations that are annually assessed to support the ICC’s staff of over 500 professionals, as described here.
The ICC’s  special focus is on handling crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes that, for various reasons, cannot readily be tried elsewhere, as in this case involving the Vatican. Given the geographical and chronological scope of the Vatican clique’s alleged crimes against humanity, there appears to be clear ICC juridiction over the Vatican clique if the ICC prosecutor decides to pursue the criminal case fully. Decisions to pursue criminal prosecutions frequently take a long period to evaluate, given the voluminous facts and documents, etc., sometimes taking over a year just for the decision to prosecute.
A new lead ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, presently Deputy Prosecutor, takes office  in a few weeks. She has been an advocate on behalf of African victims of violence, including those in Rwanda, and is a mother with two sons, one of whom reportedly  lives currently in the United States.  For more on Mrs. Bensouda, please see this recent Irish Times article.
Ironically, as the pope is increasingly engaged in a war against women’s rights  as part of his US efforts to replace Barack Obama, the pope’s fate may now be decided initially by a woman ICC prosecutor in a case led by a woman, Pam Spees, a no-nonsense and very competent international human rights attorney, with her excellent professional colleagues and experienced staff at SNAP’s legal advocates, the Center For Constitutional Rights, an exceptionally successful and highly regarded human rights advocacy group based in New York City and described more fully here.
For 300 years, the early Church generally prospered and grew under and obeyed  Roman law applicable to all Romans, including bishops. For most of the next 1,700 years after Constantine’s virtual takover of the Church hierarchy, the imperial Church hierarchy have mostly made their own rules as an unaccountable hierarchical monarchy and frequent player in European power politics. The power politics ended substantively in 1870  when the Papal States were lost to Italian populists, but the pope still clings to the fantasy that the Vatican is a sovereign nation and player yet in power politics. Of course, the hierarchy has personally benefited, and continues to benefit, greatly from the monarchical structure, which is mainly why it  fights so fiercely to maintain its power and wealth.
Almost 150 years later, the pope is still resisting becoming accountable to the international rule of law that applies to almost all other world leaders and nations. The ICC  and European financial regulators will likely soon change that permanently.

Cross-posted on Open Tabernacle, 16 April 2012.

Witness: Priest plied me with booze, molested me


From the link: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/147586455.html

Witness: Priest plied me with booze, molested me

By Joseph A. Slobodzian

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

The Philadelphia Catholic clergy sex-abuse trial began its fourth week this morning with testimony by a former Philadelphia man who told of being plied with liquor and sexually molested by his parish priest in a King of Prussia hotel room.

The 50-year-old man, who grew up in Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Andorra, told the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury about an incident when he was in the seventh grade.

The Rev. Thomas J. Smith had offered to take him and another boy on a trip to Hershey Park, driving a recreational vehicle borrowed from the second boy’s parents.

But the RV got no farther than King of Prussia, the man testified, when Smith said the vehicle had mechanical problems and they would have to stay overnight in a nearby Holiday Inn.

There the two boys spent the afternoon playing cards with their pastor, drinking Southern Comfort liquor and sodas.

Later that day, the man testified, Smith began chasing them around the room putting ice cubes down their underwear. When it came time for bed, the man continued, Smith told them to sleep naked because their clothes were wet.

While his friend slept on the floor, the man testified, he slept in bed with Smith and quickly fell asleep because of the alcohol he drank.

The man said he awoke on top of Smith – who was also naked – and realized they both had erections. When Smith saw that he was awake, the man continued, the priest pushed him to the other side of the bed.

The man said he went back to sleep and told no one until the incident became part of the 2005 report of the Philadelphia County grand jury report about the cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” asked Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington.

“I asked myself that question for years,” the man replied. “I think I was more afraid of getting in trouble. I was brought up to respect my elders and figures of authority.”

Though Smith continued to visit his parents and five brothers, the man testified, he withdrew from contact with the priest, whom he said enjoyed wrestling with his brothers in the basement of their house.

In questioning the man, defense attorney Jeffrey Lindy elicited the fact that the man did not come forward to authorities until 2004 – two years after Msgr. William J. Lynn, one of the two clerics on trial, left his job as the Archdiocese’s chief investigator of wayward priests.

Though not criminally charged in the 2005 grand jury report, Smith was left in his parish two years after Archdiocesan officials learned of the abuse in 2002. Two years later, after additional allegations of abuse arose, Smith was removed from active ministry.

Like most prior victims of clergy sexual abuse mentioned during the trial, Smith was not directly involved with the two clerics on trial. Rather, prosecutors have been permitted to bring in other cases to try to prove to the jury their theory of a long practice in the Archdiocese of ignoring or covering up after priests accused of sexually molesting children.

Lynn, as secretary for clergy, was responsible for investigating allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against priests. He is the first church official criminally charged with enabling or covering up such allegations against Catholic clergy.

Lynn’s codefendant, the Rev. James J. Brennan, is charged with attempting to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

Both have denied the allegations.

The Roman Catholic Catechism on Rape


The Catechism offers a clear moral teaching: “Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.” (no. 2356)

 

Pope Benedict XVI: Leader of the RCC and closet Pedophile?

The current Pope on Child Rape and Child Porno,21 December 2010 :

In his traditional Christmas address yesterday to cardinals and officials working in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also claimed that child pornography was increasingly considered “normal” by society.

“In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the Pope said.

“It was maintained — even within the realm of Catholic theology — that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a ‘better than’ and a ‘worse than’. Nothing is good or bad in itself.”

I DON’T THINK THE POPE HAS EVER READ HIS CATECHISM.

Man abused by priest found dead in Ohio home


from the link: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-east/man-abused-by-priest-found-dead-in-ohio-home-630249/

Man abused by priest found dead in Ohio home

April 7, 2012 12:00 am

/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The plaintiff in a landmark priest-abuse lawsuit against the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese has been found dead at his Ohio home at age 44.

Attorney Richard Serbin told the Altoona Mirror that his former client, Michael Hutchison, was found dead in Akron on Wednesday.

Gary Gunther, chief investigator for the Summit County medical examiner’s office, said the cause and manner of death is pending toxicology results, which will take at least three weeks.

“There are no signs of foul play,” Mr. Gunther said. “It’s probably going to be either a natural or an accident. There is no indication of suicide — there was no suicide note and no one we spoke with mentioned him being suicidal.”

Mr. Hutchison’s mother, Mary, sued the diocese in 1987 alleging church officials covered up the abuse of her son by a since-defrocked priest, Francis Luddy, who was also a family friend.

A Blair County jury awarded Mr. Hutchison more than $1 million after a 1994 trial, but that ballooned to $2.7 million by 2008 including interest and delayed damages due to numerous appeals.

Mr. Hutchison spoke out against abuse, and Mr. Serbin said Mr. Hutchison “suffered from age 10 on.”

First Published 2012-04-07 04:06:41

Convicted Hunter priest to retire


from the link: http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/convicted-hunter-priest-to-retire/2514577.aspx

Convicted Hunter priest to retire

JOANNE MCCARTHY
09 Apr, 2012 04:00 AM

TOM BRENNAN

TORONTO Catholic priest Tom Brennan will break a three-year silence today in a statement announcing his retirement over church handling of a notorious Hunter paedophile priest case.

Victims and their families expressed relief yesterday that Brennan, convicted in 2009 of a charge flowing from a police investigation of the paedophile priest, would no longer hold the position of parish priest.

‘‘Thank God for that. Finally some justice,’’ said a victim who described the church’s failure to act against the Toronto priest until now as an ‘‘open wound’’.

Brennan will express regret for the ‘‘terrible things’’ that happened to young boys at a Hunter Catholic school where he was principal in the 1970s and 1980s when the paedophile priest, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a teacher.

He will express ‘‘sincere hope’’ that his retirement, from today, will bring peace to victims and their families experiencing ‘‘ongoing hurt’’ after he remained a parish priest following his conviction for making a false statement to police investigating the paedophile priest.

Brennan told police he could not recall boys, parents and teachers reporting sexual abuse allegations about the teacher-priest in the 1970s and 1980s.

In late 2009 a District Court judge rejected Brennan’s appeal against the conviction, saying he did not believe the priest could not remember the multiple complaints.

Brennan is retiring before completion of a church investigation ordered by Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright early this year after meetings with victims and their families. The investigation is considering whether ‘‘any act or omission’’ of Brennan’s while at the school ‘‘might be subject to penalty under church law’’, Bishop Wright said.

It will be finalised, but will not be made public.

It follows former bishop Michael Malone’s repeated refusal to take action against Brennan after his conviction.

In a statement yesterday, Bishop Wright said some victims of the paedophile priest would ‘‘probably always think chiefly of Father Brennan as the man from whom they should have received help and protection’’.

While Brennan had consistently stated he could not remember requests for help relating to the paedophile priest, he had shown Bishop Wright the statement being released today in which he hoped his retirement would assist victims in their recovery and ‘‘bring them the peace they justly deserve’’.

Brennan announced his retirement at services on the weekend. He will remain at Toronto as caretaker priest until a new parish priest is appointed.