Paedophilia ‘not a criminal condition’, says leading Catholic
A South African cardinal who helped elect Pope Francis has said some paedophiles were not criminally responsible for their actions as the condition is a “psychological illness.”
The South African cardinal told the BBC that people who were themselves abused as children and then abused others needed to be examined by doctors.
He added, “From my experience paedophilia is actually an illness, it is not a criminal condition, it is an illness.”
He was one of 115 cardinals who took part in the conclave at the Vatican to elect Pope Francis earlier this week.
The Church has recently been dogged by scandals over clerical sex abuse.
In an interview with the Stephen Nolan programme on BBC Radio 5 live, Cardinal Napier referred to paedophilia as “a psychological condition, a disorder”.
“What do you do with disorders? You’ve got to try and put them right.
“If I – as a normal being – choose to break the law, knowing that I’m breaking the law, then I think I need to be punished.”
He said he knew at least two priests, who became paedophiles after themselves being abused as children.
“Now don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged.”
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier’s comments triggered immediate criticism.
Barbara Dorries, who as a child was abused by a priest, works for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which is based in Chicago. She told the BBC: “If it is a disease that’s fine, but it’s also a crime and crimes are punished, criminals are held accountable for what they did and what they do.
“The bishops and the cardinals have gone to great lengths to cover these crimes to enable the predators to move on, to not be arrested, to keep the secrets within the church.”
Michael Walsh, who has written a biography of late Pope John Paul II, said Cardinal Napier’s remarks were similar to the position once taken by the Catholic Church in the UK and the US.
“They did actually at one time believe it was a condition that could be dealt with. Many bishops were simply moving priests and trying to disguise the fact that they’d been committing these crimes,” Mr Walsh told the BBC.
Marie Collins, who is a victim of abuse, told the BBC: “I think it is appalling that we have a cardinal, a man at this level in the church that can still hold these views. He is totally ignoring the child.”
Priest placed on leave
4/19/2012 9:01:00 AM
The Albany Diocese has placed a Greene County priest on administrative leave from ministry pending the outcome of investigations into allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. The Diocese has referred the allegations to the Greene County District Attorney’s Office.
Rev. Jeremiah Nunan, 74, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Cairo and Our Lady of Knock Mission in East Durham, is temporarily barred from officiating at any sacraments, wearing clerical garb or presenting himself as a priest.
The Diocese acted after a civil lawsuit was filed claiming that Father Nunan sexually abused an individual between 1996 and 2003 when the individual was a minor and between 2007 and 2011 when the individual was an adult. The lawsuit named as defendants Father Nunan, one of the parishes and the Diocese. Father Nunan has denied the allegations.
The Diocese has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse of children by clerics. Any priest or deacon against whom an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is substantiated at any time is permanently removed from ministry.
This is the second time Father Nunan has been placed on administrative leave by the Diocese during an investigation of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. The previous allegation, received in 2006 and involving alleged abuse in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Hudson, was investigated by the Independent Mediation Assistance Program and could not be substantiated. As a result, the Diocese restored Father Nunan to ministry.
Father Nunan joined the Albany Diocese in 1963 after graduating from a seminary in Ireland, and has served at St. Henry’s parish in Averill Park, St. Mary’s in Little Falls, Our Lady of the Assumption in Latham and St. Mary’s in Hudson, and as chaplain for the Columbia Memorial Hospital School for Nursing.
The Diocese is arranging for other priests to celebrate Mass and perform other ministerial duties at the two parishes in Father Nunan’s absence.
The Diocese urges anyone who as a child was sexually abused by a Catholic priest or deacon to report the matter to a law enforcement agency or to the Diocese. To report an incident of abuse or to seek help, please contact the Diocese’s assistance coordinator, Theresa Rodrigues, at (518) 453-6646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the full story of Father Michael Charles Glennon, one of Australia’s most notorious child-abusers
This is the full story of Father Michael Charles Glennon, one of Australia’s most notorious child-abusers
Broken Rites Australia helps victims of church-related sex-abuse, including victims of Father Michael Charles Glennon.
By a Broken Rites researcher
When the Catholic Church ordained Father Michael Glennon as a priest for the Melbourne Archdiocese, it gave him easy access to children. This launched Father Glennon on a career of child-sex crimes.
By the year 2003, Fr Michael Glennon had been convicted five times (and was serving a long jail sentence) for child-sex offences, involving a long list of children, mostly boys. However, these were not his only victims — they were merely those who eventually spoke to the police. The world will never know exactly how many children Father Glennon abused. Even Glennon himself would have lost count of the real number.
Broken Rites has researched Glennon’s criminal prosecutions. We have also interviewed some of his victims, who helped to bring him to justice. Broken Rites referred two families to an appropriate police unit to report Glennon’s offences.
Michael Glennon’s background
Michael Charles Glennon was born about 1944 in a family of ten children and grew up in Melbourne’s working-class northern suburbs, among a mixture of Irish Catholics, European immigrants and Aboriginal families. There, becoming a professional Catholic — a priest — was a means of getting ahead in the world.
The Melbourne archdiocese recruited Glennon as a trainee for the priesthood at Melbourne’s Corpus Christi College seminary. Glenon was not the only sex-offender in the seminary. Former students at Corpus Christi have told Broken Rites that Glennon’s room-mate for the first six months was Terrence Pidoto, who later ended up in jail for child-sex crimes.
While training to be a priest, Glennon was also acting as a Scout leader but not much is known about those activities. After being ordained in 1971 (aged 27), he became a Scout “chaplain”.
By then, he was also “working” with homeless boys. The 1972 annual report of St Augustine’s boys’ orphanage, Geelong, said that students from Corpus Christi seminary, including Father Michael Glennon and Father Terry Pidoto, “have frequently travelled down to St Augustine’s and have given many hours in counselling, holding discussions and helping the boys generally.”
It is not clear exactly how Glennon and Pidoto “helped” the boys.
About 1972, Glennon began his first permanent appointment as an assistant priest in Thornbury East (the Holy Spirit parish), followed in the mid-1970s by Moonee Ponds (St Monica’s) and Reservoir (St Gabriel’s) — all in Melbourne’s north, the region where he had grown up.
He acted as a “chaplain” at local Catholic schools. At St Monica’s school in Moonee Ponds, he did football coaching, taught karate and took children on camping trips.
At the Marist Brothers boys’ school (later re-named Redden College and Samaritan Catholic College) in Preston (the suburb where Glennon was born), he conducted “sex education” classes. A former student there has told Broken Rites that Fr Michael Glennon was popular there because he was well known as an expert in karate.
Glennon’s activities ranged far and wide beyond these parish boundaries.
Glennon’s rural camp
During the 1970s, he launched a youth group, the Peaceful Hand Youth Foundation, in which he taught karate. Somehow, he acquired a 16-hectare rural property, “Karaglen”, near Lancefield, north of Melbourne.
It is not clear how Glennon managed to afford to acquire this land. The land was on two titles and Broken Rites knows the official folio numbers of both titles. According to a title search, Glennon acquired the first allotment on 12 August 1977 and this was transferred to the Peaceful Hand Youth Foundation Pty Ltd on 23 January 1978. The second allotment was bought by the Peaceful Hand Youth Foundation (not in Glennon’s name) on 3 June 1991.
Initially a bunch of huddled tents and scrubby wilderness, “Karaglen” grew to become a collection of huts and a hall attached to Glennon’s private bedroom. Groups of children would visit there, staying overnight in sleeping bags, for the karate camps that Glennon regularly held there. Parents trusted Father Michael to look after their children because they trusted Catholic priests. Father Michael was sometimes the only adult present at the camp.
According to evidence by victims, the children were required to take turns in sleeping with Father Michael in his bedroom. However, the children were intimidated into remaining silent about Father Michael’s activities.
First jail sentence, 1978
In 1978 the first allegation surfaced when a 10-year-old girl said Glennon had sexually assaulted her in his car at “Karaglen”. Glennon pleaded guilty to indecent assault and was sent to jail, serving seven months of a two-year sentence. This was the only time he ever pleaded guilty. During the next two decades, he would contest all subsequent charges fiercely.
[Much later, it was revealed that in 1979, nine weeks after his release from jail, he indecently assaulted a 16-year-old girl during a sleepover at Karaglen].
After his release from jail, Glennon was still a priest, although the Melbourne archdiocese did not appoint him to another parish. However, the archdiocese had no control over Glennon’s unofficial activities.
Glennon continued to practice as a freelance priest throughout the 1980s. He held Catholic-style religious services at his home at Thornbury (a Melbourne northern suburb), preaching a conservative Catholic liturgy to his flock of poor or immigrant families and Aboriginal families. And, despite his jailing, some parents continued to allow their children to visit (and even to have sleepovers at) “Karaglen”.
Glennon charged again, 1984-85
In 1984, Glennon was charged with indecently assaulting a boy, aged 11, and sodomising another boy, aged 13, during a camp sleepover, but was acquitted on both charges.
After this, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese moved to distance itself more clearly from Glennon. As well as refraining from giving Glennon any more parish appointments, the archdiocese officially declared in 1984 that Glennon no longer had rights to practice as a priest on behalf of the Melbourne archdiocese. However, Father Michael continued to minister privately to his unofficial congregation.
In November 1985, after receiving further complaints about Father Michael, police charged him with several sexual offences, including buggery and indecent assault of five boys and one girl, aged between 12 and 16 years, in 1977-80. During the 1985 court proceedings, 3AW broadcaster Derryn Hinch sabotaged this prosecution by publicising Glennon’s 1978 conviction. Hinch’s blunder meant that Glennon’s jury trial had to be postponed. Glennon was therefore released on bail and he continued as a freelance priest. And, thanks to Hinch, Glennon continued to abuse children.
Father Glennon’s authority, 1980s
Why were parents so trusting of Glennon, even in the late 1980s after the Derryn Hinch publicity? One of Glennon’s later trials (in 2003) heard the testimony of a woman whose nephew was one of Glennon’s victims in the 1980s. She told the court that she saw her nephew in bed with Father Michael at “Karaglen” one night in 1986 when she walked through his room on the way to the bathroom.
Asked by Judge Roland Williams if she trusted Father Michael, the aunt declared: “Of course I did. I’m a Catholic aren’t I? I mean, you go by the cloth… Who else do you trust in this world? …He came around to our houses and we used to sing and we used to talk all hours of the night and enjoy each other’s company because he was just good to talk to… I thought this world was good when you talked to a priest.”
Similar statements were repeated throughout Glennon’s other trials.
Prosecutor Rosemary Carlin told one court session about Glennon’s popularity, charisma and persuasiveness among his followers. She said: “They think the world of Glennon… He is their priest, their friend, their confidant… He has shown them he has a profound understanding and respect for the Aboriginal culture.”
During one trial, the jury was shown video footage of an open-air communion Mass Glennon held at “Karaglen” in 1989. The footage included the smiling faces of three boys who were repeatedly abused by Glennon. One of them, aged 12, was dressed as an altar boy, leading a procession of children to make their first communion.
The video also included a sermon by Glennon, in which he told the congregation: “Everybody here, priest included, is and has been a most wicked, wilful sinner.”
This is the kind of things that Glennon was doing in the late 1980s, while he was out on bail.
Another Glennon trial, 1991
Eventually, in 1991, after the Hinch affair had faded from the memory of potential jurors, Glennon’s trial was held. The jury found Glennon guilty of attempted buggery of a boy under 14 and two counts of buggery with violence.
Glennon was sentenced to jail but successfully appealed to the Victorian Court of Appeal, arguing that the publicity had prevented him receiving a fair trial.
Thus, Father Michael was a free man again — and he returned to his faithful followers.
Glennon still a priest?
On 29 December 1991, after Glennon’s successful appeal, Melbourne’s Sunday Age wondered whether Father Michael Glennon was “still a priest” and whether he would be entitled to regain his position in the Melbourne archdiocese. However, Melbourne’s Catholic vicar-general (Monsignor Hilton Deakin) said the archdiocese had already deprived Glennon of his capacity to work as a priest for the Melbourne archdiocese.
But not completely, apparently… The newspaper quoted Hilton as saying: “We have made only two exceptions and they were made on very compassionate grounds. We returned his rights for one day at a time — for the funeral of his mother and the wedding of his sister.”
In other words, Glennon was still a Catholic priest, being allowed officially to minister to his own family.
Anyway, Father Michael told the Sunday Age that he had no plans to rejoin the Catholic Church in an official capacity.
Asked what he planned to do, Father Michael said he would apply for unemployment benefits, but “what do I say when they ask me what I’m qualified to do? I’m pretty good as a Catholic priest – what have you got in that line?”
Jailed in 1992, 1999 and 2003
Glennon’s successful appeal was short-lived. In 1992 the Victorian state prosecution office successfully appealed to the High Court of Australia against the Victorian acquittal. Glennon was sent back to jail, this time for at least seven years (with no parole possible until mid-1998).
In 1997, as his release neared, Glennon was charged with new sex offences — 65 charges, involving 15 male victims and one female, between 1974 and 1991. The offences included indecent assault, buggery, attempted buggery and rape. Glennon committed many of his crimes while on bail awaiting trial for other sex offences, including during the delay caused by the Derryn Hinch publicity.
The youngest victim was seven years old. The victims included Aboriginal children, and Glennon used his knowledge of Aboriginal traditions to scare his victims into silence.
These proceedings were split into three separate trials, with different juries. Each trial was held in secret so that jury members could not be prejudiced.
- In May 1999, in the first trial, Glennon was convicted on all but five of 29 counts relating to the abuse of six children between 1974 and 1978. He immediately began serving a jail sentence for this conviction, with the total jail sentence to be increased if convicted after the subsequent trials.
- The second trial began in September 1999 and, after another appeal and a retrial, was decided in August 2003 when Glennon was convicted of sex assaults against an Aboriginal boy in 1983.
- The third of the split trials was held in August-October 2003 with a conviction. A jury found him guilty of 23 charges of abuse on three boys from 1986 to 1991.
A police officer told Broken Rites that the third trtial was to have included a female victim but this victim was badly damaged and she died of a drug overdose before the case reached court.
Glennon sentenced, 2003
In November 2003, as a result of the three trials, Glennon (then aged 59) was sentenced to a total of 18 years jail, with a 15 year minimum. However, in 2005, after an appeal, some of the charges were quashed and his total sentence was reduced to a minimum of 10 years six months, dating from October 2003.
This meant that, at last, the children of Victoria were safe from Fr Michael Glennon.
And a police officer told Broken Rites that, after Glennon was jailed in May 1999, a very senior cleric from the Catholic Church visited Glennon in prison. There, the cleric read an official statement to Glennon, declaring that he was no longer authorised to practise as a priest of the Catholic Church. [But this news came nearly 30 years too late for the many victims of Fr Michael Charles Glennon.]
Father Farrell charged for alleged offences against three girls
- October 18, 2012
Leesha McKenny and Lisa Davies
A former NSW priest who allegedly told three senior Catholic clergy a decade ago that he had repeatedly sexually abused children has been charged with 25 child-sex offences relating to three girls.
The 59-year-old was arrested at a home in Armidale this morning, and is expected to face court this afternoon in relation to the charges dating back to the 1970s and ’80s.
Following his arrest, police urged anyone with information about an alleged cover-up by the Catholic Church to come forward.
Sex crime squad commander John Kerlatec said it was too early to say for sure whether Strike Force Glenroe would investigate suggestions the Catholic Church covered up the allegations.
“It’s certainly early days in regards to our investigation in respect to the alleged cover-up that’s been suggested,” Detective Superintendent Kerlatec said.
The offences were allegedly discovered after police formed Strike Force Glenroe in July.
Detectives have spoken to 50 people, including potential victims, their families and others who may have information.
The police say the victims were were all young girls aged between five and 18 when they were allegedly sexually and indecently assaulted by the former priest.
The State Crime Command’s sex crimes squad set up Strike Force Glenroe in July to investigate allegations that Father F had abused altar boys while a priest based in Armidale and Parramatta.
Father F, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was removed from public ministry after a meeting with three clergy in 1992, following continued allegations of abuse after he was moved from the Armidale diocese to Parramatta.
The three priests now all occupy senior positions in the church, which has denied a cover-up amid conflicting accounts of Father F’s admissions during the 1992 meeting and why he was not reported to police.
Father F, who was defrocked in 2005 but continued to live in Armidale, also told a court in 2004 that he had admitted to the priests that he performed oral sex on boys.
These allegations were brought to light by an ABC Four Corners report earlier this year.
Federal Court judge Antony Whitlam had been appointed by Bishop of Armidale Michael Kennedy and Bishop of Parramatta Anthony Fisher to lead its own inquiry into the church’s handling of the case.
Bishop Kennedy said in a statement that that the diocese was offering its full co-operation and assistance to police.
“I am not able to comment any further as this is a matter rightly being dealt with by the NSW Police,” he said.
“I again take this opportunity to extend my deepest sympathy to victims of child abuse and their families, and reassure the community of my commitment to see justice achieved.”
Premier Barry O’Farrell welcomed today’s arrest.
“I welcome the police decision to arrest another person accused of paedophilia,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“I wish them well – that’s what should be happening, rather than some of the politically motivated calls for royal commissions.”
A new scandal is shaking the Aussie Church
Police are currently looking into alleged cover-ups involving three senior churchmen
By Jill Duchess of Hamilton on Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Accusations of cover-ups and blame-shifting by the Catholic Church in its handling of allegations of child sexual abuse by priests have been front-page news in Australia. Newspaper headlines such as “Senior Catholic Priests in Child Sex Cover-Up Inquiry” point to claims that the Church has attempted to hide possible sex abuse within its walls rather than reporting it to the police.
Whether these cases will stand up is yet to be proved, but investigators in the states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria are currently searching for evidence that in many instances priests were merely moved on. This is not unique to Australia. There have been far-reaching repercussions from court cases involving cover-ups in Ireland, Germany and America.
Two dedicated investigations by the NSW police, Strike Force Lantle and Strike Force Glenroe, are currently looking into alleged cover-ups involving three senior churchmen, including a bishop and an archbishop
An MP has renewed calls for a royal commission. Last April in Victoria, following revelations of 40 suicides of abuse victims by two priests, the state government initiated a parliamentary inquiry into the failure of the Catholic Church to protect children from sexual abuse.
All members of the hierarchy vehemently deny the allegations. But even if subsequent court hearings come to nothing, they are re-focusing attention on the many priests already jailed for paedophilia.
There are no official figures, but since 1993 the charity Broken Rites alone has supported 150 cases which ended in prosecutions and are currently aiding another eight court cases. They have also handled 15 cases that ended without convictions and 128 out-of-court settlements. The abuse was so extensive that Pope Benedict, when visiting Sydney in 2008 on World Youth Day, made a public apology to victims in Australia.
Whether mandatory celibacy has contributed to abuse is now much debated. One lawyer remarked: “Total denial of sexuality can have terrible repercussions. Pent-up sexual tensions sometimes find an outlet with the easiest available target – sadly this is often children.”
The fact that celibacy is a matter of Church discipline, not part of Church doctrine, has been emphasised in the recent revelations of 49-year-old Fr Kevin Lee of Sydney, who has been married to a woman in the Philippines for a year.
While in Australia I made inquiries into how all this will adversely affect congregations. The answer is that Mass attendance is now similar to that in Dublin, with less than one in five Catholics kneeling in pews each Sunday. But with 5.5 million Catholics – that is, 25.3 per cent of the population – the Catholic Church, despite the growth of Pentecostal churches, is Australia’s largest religion.
Along with diminishing churchgoers, the drop in the number of Australian-born priests continues. In the 2012 directory of Catholic priests in Australia once again the most common name is Vietnamese. There are 40 priests called Nguyen.
But one positive trend is the vibrancy of Australia’s Catholic schools – mostly run by lay teachers. With 650,000 students and around 21 per cent of all secondary school enrolments, they rank second after government schools. As non-Catholic admissions are kept at around seven per cent, parish priests are sometimes asked by Catholic parents who never got around to having their babies baptised to perform late baptisms on children aged between four and 11. These christenings are, alas, for expediency, not for faith.
Veteran clergy sex abuse victim advocate Joey Piscitelli describes ordeal concerning the credibility of Cardinal Levada and the Diocese of San Francisco.
Ex-Kansas priest found guilty of plotting death of accuser
Prospective victim was man who had accused him of sexual
abuse. He could face life in prison.
DALLAS — A former Roman Catholic priest with ties to the Kansas City area was found guilty Thursday of plotting the death of a man who accused him of sexual abuse.
The Dallas County jury returned its verdict on John M. Fiala after a few hours’ deliberation.
After the verdict, testimony began in the penalty phase. Fiala could be sentenced to up to life in prison for solicitation of capital murder.
Prosecutors alleged that Fiala tried to hire a neighbor’s brother to kill the man who accused the priest of abusing him in 2008. That’s when the man was 16 and Fiala was the priest at a rural West Texas parish.
Defense attorney Rex Gunter told the jury that Fiala had no true intentions of having his accuser killed.
Fiala testified earlier Thursday that he was told by his neighbor, Scottie Fisher, that the neighbor’s brother would likely turn on him if he wasn’t convinced that the hit was on.
“I knew that if I didn’t do this, I’d be the one on the list, marked to be killed, according to what Scottie said,” Fiala said.
But the man Fiala met with in November 2010 and instructed to kill his accuser for $5,000 was actually an undercover police officer. Their entire conversation was recorded on video and played for the jury on Wednesday.
During closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors urged jurors not to believe Fiala’s claims that his actions were motivated only by fear that his own life was in danger.
“John Fiala is not a puppet,” said prosecutor Brandon Birmingham. “He is a puppeteer.”
Fiala was arrested September 2010 in Lawrence, Kan., and extradited to Edwards County, Texas, on four counts of sex crimes against children. The indictment in Edwards County is still pending.
From August 1998 until mid-2001, Fiala served as spiritual director to the SOLT (Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) community, which maintains a religious house in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He did not have a parish assignment in the diocese.
Fiala was an associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee from Aug. 31, 2001, to January 2002. He helped at a parish in Holton, Kan., from January to April 2002, according to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
No sexual abuse charges have been filed against Fiala in Kansas or Missouri.
When Fiala was charged with plotting a murder in the fall of 2010, Catholic officials on both sides of the state line said they received no complaints about Fiala when he was in the area.
Punishment phase of trial continues for ex-priest convicted of trying to hire hit man to kill abuse accuser
Punishment phase of trial continues for ex-priest convicted of
trying to hire hit man to kill abuse accuser
Ex-priest John Fiala will soon learn whether he’ll be sentenced to life in prison or something less for trying to hire a hit man to kill a teenage boy who accused him of sexual assault.
The Dallas County jury that convicted Fiala yesterday is hearing testimony this morning in the punishment phase of the trial. Among those expected to testify is the abuse accuser, who is now 20.
The man is not being named because The Dallas Morning News generally does not identify possible victims of sex crimes. He also testified on Wednesday.
The 53-year-old former Roman Catholic priest faces separate charges he sexually assaulted the boy in West Texas several years ago, including at gunpoint. The purported hit man he tried to hire to kill the boy in a 2010 meeting in Dallas was actually an undercover Texas Department of Public Safety agent.
After Fiala’s arrest, authorities found photos of young men, and possibly boys, on his computer. Some of them were wearing only underwear and exposing themselves.
Fiala also apparently used a Facebook account under the name “Ziggy the Great,” collected toys and had a Sponge Bob Square Pants calendar, according to testimony.
Ex-priest James Patrick Jennings is ordered to stand
trial in Melbourne
In the mid and late 1960s, Father James Patrick Jennings was listed as a priest at St Vincent’s College — a Catholic boarding school for boys in Bendigo, 150 kilometres north of Melbourne. Father Jennings was then a member of the Vincentian religious order (this order is also called the Congregation of the Mission).
More than 40 years later, in May 2012, Jennings was charged in the Bendigo Magistrates Court with a series of child-sex offences, allegedly committed against boys at the school in the 1960s.
James Jennings, aged 79 when charged in court, faces multiple charges of gross indecency and indecent assault on a male child aged under 16. The charges relate to three complainants, all students at this Bendigo school in the 1960s.
Magistrate Jennifer Tregent heard evidence concerning the three complainants.
The court also heard from Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Morris, head of the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) at Bendigo Police. Senior Sergeant Morris received some information from a New South Wales police unit (Strike Force Belle), which was established to investigate allegations of sexual assaults on students at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst in central-west NSW. The Bathurst school was run by the same order of priests as St Vincent’s in Bendigo.
The court was told that James Jennings left the priesthood many years ago and he now lives in Tasmania.
On 8 May 2012, after a two-day preliminary hearing, the Bendigo magistrate ordered James Patrick Jennings to stand trial in a higher court on these charges. The magistrate listed the case for a later date in the Melbourne County Court, where initially a judge would have a brief “directions hearing” (to determine when and how the subsequent hearings would be held).
Jennings’ bail was extended pending the Melbourne County Court proceedings.
Meanwhile, the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team at Bendigo (telephone 03 5448 1420) is continuing its inquiries.
St Vincent’s College was set up in Bendigo in 1955 and was run by the Vincentian Fathers. In 1977, it was taken over by the Marist Brothers. In 1983 this school then became part of Catholic College Bendigo.
Compassion or Cover-Up? Teen Victim Claims Rape; Forced
Confession in Church
For years, her church was all she knew but today, Tina Anderson has left that church and says she’s not going back.
“I still struggle, because I’ve been made to feel guilty for so long,” she told “20/20.”
Anderson was only 16 when she said she was forced to stand terrified before her entire church congregation to confess her “sin” — she had become pregnant. She says she wasn’t allowed to tell the group that the pregnancy was the result of being allegedly raped by a fellow congregant, a man twice her age.
She says her New Hampshire pastor, Chuck Phelps, told her she was lucky not to have been born during Old Testament times when she would have been stoned to death.
Phelps says that Anderson voluntarily stood in front of the church, but Tina says it was the first step of “church discipline” at her Independent Fundamental Baptist Church (IFB).
“I was completely in shock, but too scared to go and tell anyone because I thought I would get blamed for what happened,” Anderson said.
“I truly believed that it was my fault,” she said.
Her mother sought help from the pastor and they agreed to send her thousands of miles away to Colorado to live with another IFB family.
There, she said she was homeschooled and restricted from seeing others her age until she gave her child up for adoption.
In February 2010, after keeping her secret for 13 years, Anderson — who now has three more children and lives with her husband in Arizona — was contacted by police and agreed to press charges.
All the years that she lived with the memory of the alleged abuse, she says she held it tight. “You are told not to talk about it,” according to Anderson.
Today, the man accused of raping Anderson is awaiting trial. Ernest Willis, a former church member who lives in Gilford, N.H., is accused of raping Anderson twice — once in the backseat of a car during a driving lesson and a second time at Anderson’s home where she says he showed up when her mother was away. Willis was arrested in May, 2010 on felony sexual assault charges and has since pleaded not guilty. He has declined to speak with “20/20.”
Anderson told “20/20” that, as a pregnant teen, she confided her pregnancy to Willis. His reaction, she said, was to offer to pay for an abortion. When she rejected his offer, he presented another option, she said.
“He asked me if I wanted him to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could to try to cause a miscarriage,” she said. “I told him, ‘No, leave me alone.'”
Thirteen years after the alleged crime, Matt Barnhart, a former member of Anderson’s church, decided to write a post referencing Anderson’s story on a Facebook page for ex-members of IFB churches.
The site supervisor, who runs an advocacy group for former IFB members, Freedom from Abuse, alerted Concord police.
Anderson, who at the time was teaching voice at the International Baptist College in Chandler, Ariz., got the police call out of the blue.
“Right now I feel completely overwhelmed,” said Anderson. “It’s been tough. In my mind, I didn’t think he’d be arrested, and when I got the phone call I was completely shocked. My whole world has changed.”
Phelps, now a pastor at another IFB church, says that there was no church cover-up and that he had immediately reported the accusations to authorities. He says the church made many documented calls to the police to report the alleged rape, and that a report was made to the Division of Family and Child Services within 24 hours of learning about the accusations on Oct. 8, 1997.
“A hallmark of my thirty years of ministry has been complying with legal requirements and offering kindness to those seeking spiritual care,” he said in a statement to “20/20.” “The Concord Police never contacted me further about the reports or about the welfare or whereabouts of Tina Dooley Anderson.”
The church’s current leader, Pastor Brian Fuller, said that the Concord Police dropped the ball 13 years ago. “Let’s go to the police station, where thirteen years ago, somebody unconscionably took the reports, and put ’em away in a filing cabinet, let them gain dust,” Fuller said.
“20/20” reached out to the Concord Police, who declined to comment, citing the ongoing nature of the case.
Phelps repeatedly declined on-camera interview requests by “20/20” but in a statement said: “Tragically, Tina was involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with Mr. Willis…Tina lied to her mother and to me about this relationship. Tina begged her mother to protect Ernie and not turn this matter over to police.”
“20/20” later caught up with Phelps at the IFB church he now preaches at in Indianapolis. He defended the decision to keep Willis, Anderson’s alleged attacker, in the church.
“First, I didn’t know that he had impregnated a 15 year-old girl. Remember it was an accusation made, an accusation is not a conviction,” he said. “It’s not the responsibility of the church to close the doors to people who have real problems and issues, no matter how heinous. So I think you’ll find the community historically has always allowed heinous people, under careful guidelines to be part of churches.”
Anderson said she told both Phelps and her mother that she didn’t want to go to Colorado and wanted to live with her paternal grandparents in Texas.
“My mother is very much a follower,” said Anderson. “She believes she needs to do what [the church] tells her because they are men of God. But I don’t think she made the wisest choices.”
Anderson was sent to live with a family in Colorado who worshipped in an IFB church where Phelps had been a youth minister. It was, as Phelps has described it, an act of compassion.
According to Anderson, the local pastor in Colorado, Matt Olson, who is now president of Northland International University in Dunbar, Wisc., told her to write a letter to Willis’s wife apologizing for her part in what happened. Olson declined to speak to “20/20,” saying through his lawyer that his conversations with Anderson remain privileged.
In March, 1998, Anderson gave birth to a baby girl. Adoption records show that her alleged rapist, Ernie Willis, admitted he was the father.
Anderson’s traumatic journey began at a young age. She said she and her brother were severely beaten by her stepfather, Daniel Leaf. In 1989, Leaf went to prison for nearly a year for child abuse. After Leaf was released, Anderson said the abuse continued. Between ages 9 and 11, Anderson said her step-father sexually molested her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
Anderson said she was only free of Leaf after he was sent to prison for a second time for molesting another minor.
At the age of 14, Anderson was hired as a babysitter for the Willis family. She said the first assault occurred in the backseat of a car during a driving lesson. Anderson said Willis pulled her into the back of the car and raped her.
Anderson said the second assault occurred at her home when Ernie Willis showed up there.
“He locked the door behind him and pushed me over to the couch. I had a dress on and he pulled it off. I pushed my hands against his shoulders and said ‘No,’ but he didn’t stop,” Anderson said.
When Anderson’s mother contacted Pastor Phelps, he insisted on the public apology, according to Anderson. At the same time the church congregation also heard a confession from Willis for being unfaithful to his wife. Former church members say that the confessions were presented as separate issues, but eventually some church members connected the dots.
Matt Barnhart, 41 and a father of four, says he witnessed the confession just six months after he joined the church, and it bothered him for years. But he says he felt that he could not speak out. “The whole culture is, no, you don’t question the ministry, you don’t question the pastor,” he said.
Willis continued to be a member of the church “in good standing,” according to Barnhart, and girls continued to babysit for him. After some time, Willis left the church, he said.
By January 2010, Barnhart had quit his membership after 15 years. “She’s a brave girl,” said he said of Anderson speaking publicly about it.
After attending college in Wisconsin, Anderson married and settled in Arizona. Anderson said she has a “wonderful husband who is 100 percent supportive.” Anderson also stays in touch with her first-born’s adoptive parents, whom she said provide a “very stable and good home” for her daughter.
The couple does not intend to go back to an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church.
“Going forward, we wouldn’t raise our children and subject them to that,” she said.
Still, Anderson says she hasn’t abandoned God or her faith.
“My relationship with God is fine. I’m not mad at God,” she said.
She says she knows what to tell her children about that dark chapter in her life.
“I would just say, ‘Mommy went through a time where some bad people did some, some tough things …but we’ve made it through,'” she said, “‘and God is still good.'”