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In Wake of Pennsylvania Charges, Abuse Spotlight Falls on Religious Orders


In Wake of Pennsylvania Charges, Abuse Spotlight Falls on Religious Orders

07/22/2016

From the Link: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/in-wake-of-pennsylvania-charges-abuse-spotlight-falls-on-religious-orders

U.S.-based orders have undertaken widespread reforms, but criminal charges filed against three Franciscan friars for alleged supervisory failures of a known child molester indicate problems remain.

In this April 14 photo, lawyers lead Franciscans Franciscan Fathers Giles Schinelli (front) and Anthony Criscitelli to their hearing at the Blair County courthouse in Hollidaysburg, Pa. The men are charged with allowing a suspected sexual predator to teach at a Pennsylvania high school and hold other jobs where he molested more than 100 children. – Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat via AP, File

In this April 14 photo, lawyers lead Franciscans Franciscan Fathers Giles Schinelli (front) and Anthony Criscitelli to their hearing at the Blair County courthouse in Hollidaysburg, Pa. The men are charged with allowing a suspected sexual predator to teach at a Pennsylvania high school and hold other jobs where he molested more than 100 children.
– Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat via AP, File

Since the sex-abuse crisis entered the national discussion in 2002, the bulk of the media attention has been on how individual Catholic dioceses have responded and the steps they have taken over the years to remove abusive clergy from ministry and protect minors and vulnerable people.

But this spring, a religious order put the spotlight on fresh concerns about Church handling of sexual abuse: Criminal charges were filed in Pennsylvania against three Franciscans friars, related to their roles in supervising a brother friar who was accused of molesting more than 100 children.

Though they have not garnered the same attention as dioceses until now, religious orders in the United States say they have also implemented new policies and practices over the past 14 years to hold abusive members in their communities accountable and protect victims.

“We were completely committed to the principle that no one who has been established as an abuser will ever practice a public ministry and certainly will not be in a position to have access to children, to youth and to vulnerable people,” said Capuchin Father John Pavlik, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, an association of the leadership of men in religious and apostolic institutes in the United States.

Father Pavlik told the Register that almost 90% of institutes representing approximately 17,000 men in religious life have gone through an independent accreditation process of their sexual-abuse prevention policies and practices. Father Pavlik said the institutes agree to be scrutinized by an outside firm because they want to follow the bishops’ example in protecting minors.

“The religious certainly wanted to be in the same place the bishops of the United States were when it came to promulgating safeguards that would seem to actually work to protect minors and youth and vulnerable people,” Father Pavlik said.

To perform public ministry, religious brothers, monks and priests are also required to abide by norms established by the local diocesan bishop. For example, a brother or friar who works in a parish or in other diocesan facilities must undergo the same sex-abuse prevention safety training as regular diocesan priests and lay personnel.

However, some observers note that the policies and practices, as well as the accreditation process, are still voluntary and not really enforceable, since the religious orders, including the individual provincial leaders, do not answer to each other.

“The bottom line is that they are completely independent from one another. It’s like herding cats. They all do what they want,” said Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk who investigates clergy sex abuse for victims and their lawyers.

Wall told the Register that he believes the orders have done a comparatively poor job of handling sex-abuse cases, and he said there is no real enforcement mechanism to ensure that provincial leaders do the right thing, apart from the civil and criminal courts.

 

The Pennsylvania Scandal

The criminal proceedings in western Pennsylvania, where the three Franciscan friars will stand trial for child endangerment and conspiracy charges, could serve as a cautionary tale.

The Pennsylvania grand jury that returned indictments against Fathers Giles Schinelli, Robert D’Aversa and Anthony Criscitelli concluded that the defendants, who headed the Third Order Regular Franciscans of the Province of the Immaculate Conception from 1986 to 2010, should have done more to protect minors from Brother Stephen Baker, who killed himself in January 2013 after he was accused of sexually abusing dozens of teens in at least three states.

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Office — which released a scathing report earlier this year detailing decades of abuse in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown — is prosecuting the friars. News reports indicate that federal prosecutors are also considering filing racketeering charges against the diocese.

“This is a brand-new world where you have both state and federal authorities looking at the Franciscans and looking at the diocese, both, for allowing this to happen,” Wall said.

Father Pavlik said one of the most significant facts of the Pennsylvania grand-jury investigation to emerge thus far is that the TOR Franciscans had allowed their sex-abuse prevention accreditation to lapse.

Said Father Pavlik, “Why would you allow that to lapse, especially when you had people who had committed horrible crimes? You had people who were credibly accused. What were you thinking?

“You’ve got to ask the question: Why did they stop participating? I don’t know the answer to that question.”

The TOR Franciscans of the Province of the Immaculate Conception did not return a message seeking comment. In a March 15 statement, the province said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the criminal charges.

“The province extends its most sincere apologies to the victims and to the communities who have been harmed,” the Franciscans said in the statement. The province also encouraged prayers “for healing and understanding and for all the priests and brothers who honor their vocations and the Church.”

If there is a weakness in the accrediting system, Father Pavlik said, it is that the accrediting agency, Texas-based Praesidium Inc., does not publicly report the religious institutes that have failed to be accredited or that have let their accreditation lapse.

“It seems to me that if there is a weakness somewhere in the system, it’s here,” Father Pavlik said. “If there is something that could be improved, it’d be some effort to know who isn’t accredited.”

Accreditation Information

Christy Schiller, vice president of religious services for Praesidium, told the Register that the TOR Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception Province were accredited in 2009. The accreditation lasted for three years, and the institute allowed the accreditation to lapse in 2012.

While Praesidium does not formally publish a list of institutes that are accredited or that have let their accreditations lapse, Schiller said the firm will provide that information to anyone who inquires.

“We’re happy to share that,” she said. “We can’t give any more details about the specifics of the institute because of the confidentiality clause in our contract. But a particular group’s status: That is information we’re willing to share.”

Many of the major religious orders in the United States are forthcoming if they have been accredited by Praesidium. On their websites, several orders post information about their accreditation. For example, the Society of Jesus says each province in the United States maintains Praesidium accreditation through periodic audits by independent auditors and ongoing training for each Jesuit to establish awareness, prevention and proper responses to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Christian Brother Timothy Coldwell, general councilor of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, told the Register that the De La Salle Christian Brothers in the United States are also accredited by Praesidium.

“Meeting and complying to their standards of accreditation became our first and primary goal,” Brother Timothy said. “Every one of our districts (provinces) earned early accreditation, and each have maintained it to the present.”

In August 2002, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men unanimously approved the statement“Improving Pastoral Care and Accountability in Response to the Tragedy of Sexual Abuse.” That statement facilitated the framework for CMSM’s official response, which was entitled: “Instruments of Hope and Healing: Safeguarding Children and Young Adults.”

Father Pavlik said the religious orders’ leaders, including him, who gathered in August 2002, were “appalled” at the preponderance of evidence that pointed to priests and religious in the United States who had sexually abused minors over the course of several decades.

“We quickly formed relationships with some survivors,” Father Pavlik said. “When you listen to their stories, you actually become angry, upset and disturbed that people who were committed to doing good violated the innocence and goodness of vulnerable people.”

According to Praesidium, more than 130 religious institutes, representing 90% of order priests and brothers in the United States, have attained accreditation. The agency’s work has been presented to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life at the Vatican.

While the vast majority of religious orders participate in the system, some observers point out that Church law does not compel the individual institutes to do so. Father Pavlik said he has personally appealed three times in the last five years to smaller institutes, which do not have the same financial resources as larger institutes, to become accredited. Father Pavlik said that is still no excuse for not seeking accreditation.

Said Father Pavlik, “From my point of view, you go out and creatively find a way to do this. This is the right thing to do. You have to stand with the rest of the Church.”

Areas Covered

Praesidium’s “Standards for Accreditation cover three main areas: prevention, response to abuse allegations and supervision of offenders. Prevention standards review how new members are screened, educational programs for initial and ongoing formation, systems of support and accountability and how the institute manages internal reports of potential boundary violations.

Responding standards review the institute’s response to reports of suspected abuse and the role of external review boards, while supervision standards review the management and supervision of a member who is known to have abused a minor.

Unlike U.S. dioceses, religious orders allow some members with substantiated allegations against them to remain in community, with restrictions — known as safety plans — that depend on the seriousness of the incidents and on their evaluations.

“We agreed to supervise those who were credibly accused. We set up stringent requirements for what the supervision amounts to, and every institute that agreed to do this for its members has to always be vigilant to make sure it is maintaining what it promised,” Father Pavlik said, adding that the religious orders also created an independent review board that annually reviews the safety plan. Praesidium evaluators visit the institutes to review the safety plans and speak with the supervisors and the members under supervision.

“Obviously, the people responsible have to be deeply committed to the concept that protecting children is an absolute good that cannot be compromised in any way,” Father Pavlik said. “They have to hold themselves accountable to what is required. If you do that, you will see that the statistics show we have an overwhelmingly high successful rate of preventing recidivism.”

Brother Timothy said a brother who has admitted to his offense or has had a credible accusation against him is allowed to live only in the community assigned by the provincial, or in another appropriate supervised place of residence where there is no unsupervised contact with minors or vulnerable adults.

“No separate apartment, private home or other domicile is allowed as a permanent residence for the brother offender,” said Brother Timothy, adding that communities that house a “high-risk” brother are visited by outside auditors at least once a year on an unannounced basis to ensure consistent implementation of safety-plan protocols.

“High-risk brothers will be evaluated on the basis of current empirical research,” Brother Timothy said. “The auditors will document the visits of outside auditors. Communities that are found to be out of compliance with the safety plan for a ‘high-risk’ brother will be re-visited within the next 30 days. It is understood that continued noncompliance with safety plans will result in the loss of accreditation.”

 

Concerns

But the dynamics of living in a religious community, where one’s colleague one day can be his provincial in a few years, can cut both ways, said Terry McKiernan, of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks clergy sex abuse and bishops’ handling of those cases.

Said McKiernan, “The close-knit character of religious life, where you’re all living together in community, which of course goes back to St. Benedict and beyond, is really a distinctive and important feature of religious life. It’s also in some way a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the abuse crisis. It makes it harder for the provincial to say, ‘You’re my brother, but I have to hand you over to the police.’”

McKiernan and Wall both described a decades-long pattern where religious orders, in dealing with accused abusers, would transfer alleged perpetrators to different provinces as well as institutes in other countries where the orders were present. In his old monastery, Wall recalled seeing accused monks transferred to the Bahamas, Japan and Rome.

“With the modern religious orders, you will see the provincials change every six years,” Wall said. “What they’ll do is get [the accused religious] out of the zone of scandal, make a whole bunch of promises and never follow through on them.”

Like Wall, McKiernan believes the example of the Third Order Regular Franciscans will be a motivating factor for religious superiors moving forward to walk the straight and narrow on sex-abuse cases.

“Any provincial who has to make a decision about a priest, a monk or a brother is going to think about the Third Order Regular Franciscans,” McKiernan said. “They don’t want that to happen to them. I think it’s really going to change behavior.”

The first and primary lesson of the Third Order Regular Franciscans, Brother Timothy said, is self-scrutiny.

Said Brother Timothy, “Namely, we must continually ask ourselves, ‘Are we transparent in all that concerns our life as men and women who consecrate our lives to God for people, especially young people?’ The key lesson is that it is not enough to be accountable before God — we must be accountable to God’s people.”

 

Hunter Catholic priests’ alleged sexual relationship used by a child sex offender priest, says author


Hunter Catholic priests’ alleged sexual relationship used by a child sex offender priest, says author


22 Jul 2016, 4 p.m

From the Link: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4010363/sadistic-priest-protected-his-position-victim/

SADISTIC Catholic paedophile priest John Denham committed crimes against boys without fear of exposure because of an alleged sexual relationship between Catholic priests Tom Brennan and Patrick Helferty, writes a former St Pius X, Adamstown student in an explosive new book.

Denham “protected his position by threatening to reveal Brennan and Helferty as homosexual lovers”, writes James Miller in his book, The Priests, in which he alleges he was sexually abused by Brennan in 1978 when he was 15.

Mr Miller has called for Catholic schools funding to be stopped until the celibacy rule for priests is removed, saying the celibacy vow poses a blackmail risk because of the church’s structures relating to schools.

Studies suggesting up to 50 per cent of Catholic priests break their vows because of sexual relationships with men or women, or sexual abuse of children, mean “every second priest is living a life of deceit, with the other probably aware”, Mr Miller said.

“This systemic dishonesty makes the church unfit to care for children. With so many clergy compromised where is the moral authority to act when confronted with evidence of abuse within a Catholic school?

“How can a compromised bishop be trusted to report offenders to authorities if the offender can destroy the bishop’s career by publishing details of a secret and longstanding affair with a mistress?”

In his book, released on Monday, Mr Miller writes that he was sexually abused by Brennan while a year 10 student at St Pius X and after transferring from Belmont High School.

He alleges Brennan told him: “There is nothing wrong with what we are doing. But some people just won’t understand. It’d be bad for you.”

“It was as if I was his young boyfriend,” Mr Miller writes.

In the book Mr Miller writes that the abuse had a profoundly negative impact on his life. Although he went on to become a Newcastle University law academic, commercial barrister and author, Mr Miller writes about drinking, self harm, suicide attempts, destruction of relationships and homelessness he links directly to abuse.

“I became more or less constantly angry on the inside. Something was definitely broken,” he writes.

In The Priests Miller writes that nearly 40 years after the abuse he discovered Brennan and Helferty were “lifetime lovers”.

This week he stood by the controversial allegation, saying he relied on evidence contained in his civil action against the church which he declined to make public because it has not yet been put to Maitland-Newcastle diocese.

Rumours of the men’s sexual relationship were raised with the Newcastle Herald by others a number of years ago. Witnesses at Helferty’s funeral described Brennan as a sobbing and devastated man grieving for a dead partner, and not a calm Catholic priest celebrating a soul’s elevation to heaven.

While Brennan’s sister-in-law Patricia Brennan said on Wednesday that she had “never heard such rubbish in all my life” and she was “very proud of the fact” she was the late priest’s sister-in-law, former St Pius X teacher Bill Izzard said “I’d give that quite a bit of credence”.

“I wouldn’t say no to that one. I would form the view the bloke’s telling the truth,” Izzard said.

A Maitland-Newcastle diocese spokesperson declined to respond to questions about the allegation that Brennan and Helferty had a sexual relationship. The spokesperson said the diocese would not make public details about victims of child abuse but “respects their right to disclose aspects of their personal narrative as they choose”.

In The Priests Miller argues Brennan did nothing because Denham knew of his relationship with Helferty, when it was still dangerously illegal to be an active homosexual in Australia, and when the Catholic Church not only damned homosexuality as an abomination, but demanded the complete suppression of sexual impulses from its priests. The celibacy rule also leaves priests and bishops in clandestine relationships with women at risk of blackmail within the church, Miller said.

“Denham had the senior leadership of St Pius X right where he wanted them,” he writes.

“Denham protected his position by threatening to reveal Brennan and Helferty as homosexual lovers. I would go further and say that whether he ever actually put the specific threat counts for naught. It would have been enough that Brennan and Helferty believed Denham would do so.”

Denham was approached for comment but did not respond to written questions.

Solicitor representing many victims of church abuse, Dr Judy Courtin, said celibacy was a child protection risk.

“A spiteful nature combined with some serious dirt on a fellow clergyman, can make a powerful weapon with which to demand silence all round. Such silence can only enable the commission of child sex crimes,” Dr Courtin said.

University of Sydney child protection specialist and law Professor Patrick Parkinson said celibacy was a child protection risk because some men who abused children did so because their vows prevented them from having relationships with adults, so they became “situational” abusers.

“If you are a religious Brother, you’re lonely and your context is teaching in a boys’ school, that’s where you go find it,” Professor Parkinson said.

He said all the evidence was that celibacy was “a hard road to follow”. There were credible reports of 50 per cent of bishops and priests breaking their vows which potentially compromised them within the church.

He rejected the argument that Catholic schools funding should cease until the celibacy vow is removed, saying the school context had changed significantly in the past 40 years, particularly priests’ interaction with children.

“Funding issues should be made on legitimate criteria and the celibacy of priests is not legitimate criteria,” Professor Parkinson said.

Australian Catholic University Professor Neil Ormerod said breaching celibacy could compromise priests and could pose a child protection risk, but there were more significant reasons why the church should reconsider the celibacy vow based on the mental wellbeing of priests.

“There are many reasons why the church might reconsider the whole issue of celibacy, and the ones around abuse are not the only ones. Many priests never mature as psycho-sexual beings and that is a cause of many difficulties,” Professor Ormerod said.

He rejected the argument for stopping Catholic schools funding because of the child protection risk posed by celibacy, saying it might have been a valid argument 30 years ago but was not today.

In public and reported comments Pope Francis has said he favoured retaining the celibacy rule although “it is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change”.

The issue of married priests was in his “diary”, the Pope is reported saying.

‘Screaming was pointless,’ survivors tell of school abuse by Christian Brothers


‘Screaming was pointless,’ survivors tell of school abuse by Christian Brothers

ITV Report

By Peter Smith, Scotland Correspondent
22 July 2016 at 12:27pm

From the Link: http://www.itv.com/news/2016-07-22/screaming-was-pointless-survivors-tell-of-school-abuse-by-christian-brothers/

John Farrell (left) and Paul Kelly outside court

John Farrell (left) and Paul Kelly outside court

The Christian Brothers were meant to be men of God – a religious order within the Catholic Church.

At their St Ninian’s school in Fife, though, two of the Brothers were men of unspeakable cruelty who stole innocence from children and left the deepest scars.

John Farrell and Paul Kelly were today convicted of 11 counts of sexual and physical abuse against six children in their care. Children as young as 11. The pair were doing it with impunity through the 1970s and 80s.

Survivors of their crimes told me how they did it.

“There was a strategy of ‘good cop, bad cop,” says one man who doesn’t want to be identified. “Kelly would go out of his way to be horrible to me – scare me, punish me. We were children in care so we were alone – just scared wee boys.

“Then Farrell would step in. He’d put an arm round you and and act like your best pal. He’d invite you to go into his room to help him with a chore and then he’d tell you to spend the night with him. That’s how he got me in. Then he started touching me.”

There was no point in shouting or screaming because nobody would hear you.

And if they did hear you they’d know what was going on, so screaming was pointless.

– ST NINIAN’S ABUSE VICTIM

Until now Farrell and Kelly have been free men, walking the streets with a clean record. Those they abused, however, told me they have been prisoners of their torment for more than three decades.

Some have suffered mental health problems, others alcoholism.

Another former St Ninian’s pupil explained to me how he still suffers. “This has an affect on your whole life,” he says. “It’s affected every single relationship I’ve had as an adult. There are nightmares, flashbacks. It never leaves you.”

The Christian Brotherhood has a particularly grim record of child abuse. They’ve paid out millions of pounds to victims after thousands of allegations emerged in Ireland, America, Canada, and Australia.

This, however, is the first conviction of Christian Brothers in Scotland. As yet there has been no apology from the Brotherhood for these crimes.

While Farrell and Kelly face prison time when they are sentenced, there are others who say they were abused at St Ninian’s by men who have never been prosecuted.

David Sharp told me he was taken to Ireland to be passed around for abuse at parties.

I am still campaigning for justice. This only scratches the surface.

Until these people, the perpetrators, are caught, justice is done, and the Christian Brothers and the Catholic Church come out and show a meaningful apology then I can’t get on with my life.

– DAVID SHARP

Farrell and Kelly used to brag to their victims that no one would listen to them against men of God. Today, after more than three decades, the survivors of the St Ninian’s abuse were at last heard.

 

 

Boys abused under residential school’s brutal regime


Boys abused under residential school’s brutal regime

From the Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-36723226

Two former teachers have been convicted of sexually and physically abusing boys at a residential school in Fife in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Paul Kelly, 64, of Plymouth, was convicted of seven charges and acquitted of 22, while John Farrell, 73, of Motherwell, was found guilty of four and acquitted of 18 charges.

Paul Kelly and John Farrell were supposed to care for the pupils at St Ninian’s.

Instead, when they taught at the school in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they sexually and physically abused six boys between the ages of 11 and 15.

St Ninian’s, which was located in the Fife village of Falkland, was a “List G” state school for troubled children, run by the Christian Brothers organisation.

Most of its pupils came from Glasgow, Dundee and Perth and many were from broken and abusive homes, and had been in some kind of trouble themselves.

St Ninian’s was supposed to give them a chance at life.

But for the boys preyed on by Kelly and Farrell, they were denied that chance.

As well as being indecently assaulted, boys also suffered under a brutal regime of corporal punishment.

They were repeatedly punched, kicked and hit with belts.

In one case, a boy’s head was slammed off a sink.

After St Ninian’s closed in 1983, Farrell, from Motherwell, and Kelly, who latterly lived in Plymouth, seemingly went on to lead normal lives.

Past crimes

Farrell, who joined the Christian Brothers at the age of 18 and was eventually appointed head teacher at St Ninian’s, became a priest, while Kelly continued to teach.

But their past crimes came to light in 2012 after some former pupils independently came forward to talk about their ordeal.

However, there were challenges.

Ch Insp Nicola Shepherd, of Police Scotland, said: “Detectives turning up at someone’s door after 40 years and asking about something traumatic – and in many cases something they’d chosen to forget – we are very aware that these victims needed a lot of support, which they received, and we are aware it’s been a difficult time for them.

“I don’t think there are words to describe how horrific and systematic this abuse by Farrell and Kelly of these boys quite was.”

After an investigation lasting several years, the pair were charged and went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

As the trial got under way, the former pupils – now in middle age – relived the horror of what happened at St Ninian’s, as they recounted their stories in the hope that their abusers would face justice.

Following their conviction, Farrell and Kelly face lengthy jail terms.

For the former pupils who suffered at the hands of the pair, they may feel justice has been served.

But the horrific memories of what happened to them at St Ninian’s will probably never fade.

Former priest barred from contact with anyone under 16, turns up at other NH churches


Former priest barred from contact with anyone under 16, turns up at other NH churches


Monitor staff

Monday, January 18, 2016
From the Link: http://www.concordmonitor.com/Archive/2016/01/ChurchSide-cm-011716
The South Parish Unitarian Church, locked during a cold winter rainstorm, looked like so many other churches in so many other towns.

Its steeple and clock, standing tall at the edge of Charlestown’s main strip, rose through the mist, a sign out front attached to weathered brick reading “built in 1844.”

Recently, a man named Mark Fleming, a former Catholic priest accused of molesting three young boys in the 1980s, worked at this historic site, perhaps breaking an agreement that forbade him from having contact with children younger than 16.

A Manchester attorney, Mark Abramson, who represented the boys in a civil suit in 2002, is still outraged that Fleming never served any prison time.

“It’s a shame the public can’t have the opportunity to hear in detail from these boys what happened,” Abramson said in a phone interview. “Now of course they are grown men, but they are haunted by this and it could have destroyed their lives, and to some extent it has.”

Like so many other priests who faced credible accusations of sexual assault, Fleming was never prosecuted. Many priests were protected by an expired statute of limitations, or perhaps families were unwilling to face them in a criminal trial.

As a result, many of the priests who were exposed for inappropriate sexual relationships in Massachusetts and New Hampshire remain free to live wherever they want, away from the watchful eye of law enforcement.

The Monitor learned about Fleming’s background in Charlestown from David Clohessy, the national leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Clohessy, who is based in St. Louis and was sexually abused by a priest as a child, wrote on his website last month that Fleming “now heads the South Parish Unitarian Church in Charlestown.”

Fleming, who lives in Manchester, told the Monitor by phone that he worked at the church “for quite some time.” He said officials were aware of his background, and said children were never part of the congregation.

Hard of hearing and startled by the call, Fleming hung up before revealing any more information. His freedom, though, underscores the state’s inability to prosecute men who would have been put behind bars if not for the power of their white collars.

Paperwork from the Diocese of Manchester and the attorney general’s office reveal that Fleming admitted molesting the three boys, all brothers, at Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Hudson in 1983.

“The incident of abuse involved an 11-year-old child lying naked on a bed in the rectory in Hudson. Rev. Fleming was discovered fondling the genitals of the boy. Rev. Fleming has admitted the act, having been confronted by his superiors,” stated a child sexual abuse report to the attorney general’s office.

The boys’ father, documents show, declined to press charges, saying the family wanted to avoid shame and scandal.

Fleming then signed an agreement in 1984 that forbade him from “teaching or in any way participating in any future religious, educational, or organized social programs which involve children under the age of 16 . . . for the remainder of his natural life.”

In that same agreement, the Hillsborough County Attorney’s office agreed not to seek indictments if Fleming stuck to the deal.

If Fleming, now 63, violated the agreement, he could potentially face prosecution for the original offenses, lawyers said, but that could ultimately fall to a judge to decide.

Fleming resigned from the Diocese of Manchester while undergoing therapy in Missouri in 1986.

Another document, a confidential memorandum from 1997 sent by Monsignor Normal Bolduc to Bishop Francis Christian, incorrectly reported that Fleming “passed away sometime last month.”

John Hurley, director of communications for the Unitarian Universalist Association, based in Boston, wrote in an email to the Monitor that a Mark Fleming worked at the First Universalist Church of West Chesterfield from 1998 to 2000.

The Monitor was not able to confirm that this was the same person accused of assaulting children in 1983.

In 2002, Fleming was named in a civil suit brought by the three boys who had accused him of molesting them in ’83, which ended in a settlement.

Abramson said Fleming should have been locked up for his crimes. He no longer represents victims of child sexual abuse. “It just took a toll on me personally,” Abramson said.

As for Fleming, he told the Monitor he recently left the Unitarian church in Charlestown. His exact role there and whether he had contact with minors remains a mystery.

He became a member in October 2013, according to Hurley. Fleming lists himself as a minister on his LinkedIn account.

“We have no indication that he was serving them as a minister, only that he was a member,” Hurley said in his email. “His exact role in that congregation could only be ascertained by checking with the congregation.”

One number listed for the Charlestown church was disconnected, while another rang for a while before a high-pitched beep sounded.

And recently, the doors there were locked.

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

Former Catholic Priest Mark Fleming At NH Historic Church


Former Catholic Priest Mark Fleming At NH Historic Church

From the link: https://predatorshepherds.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/former-catholic-priest-mark-fleming-at-nh-historic-church/

Former priest barred from contact with anyone under 16, turns up at other NH churches.

The South Parish , locked during a cold winter rainstorm, looked like so many other churches in so many other towns.

Its steeple and clock, standing tall at the edge of Charlestown’s main strip, rose through the mist, a sign out front attached to weathered brick reading “built in 1844.”

Recently, a man named Mark Fleming, a former Catholic priest accused of molesting three young boys in the 1980s, worked at this historic site, perhaps breaking an agreement that forbade him from having contact with children younger than 16.

A Manchester attorney, Mark Abramson, who represented the boys in a civil suit in 2002, is still outraged that Fleming never served any prison time.

“It’s a shame the public can’t have the opportunity to hear in detail from these boys what happened,” Abramson said in a phone interview. “Now of course they are grown men, but they are haunted by this and it could have destroyed their lives, and to some extent it has.”

Like so many other priests who faced credible accusations of sexual assault, Fleming was never prosecuted. Many priests were protected by an expired statute of limitations, or perhaps families were unwilling to face them in a criminal trial.

As a result, many of the priests who were exposed for inappropriate sexual relationships in Massachusetts and New Hampshire remain free to live wherever they want, away from the watchful eye of law enforcement.

The Monitor learned about Fleming’s background in Charlestown from David Clohessy, the national leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Clohessy, who is based in St. Louis and was sexually abused by a priest as a child, wrote on his website last month that Fleming “now heads the South Parish Unitarian Church in Charlestown.”

Fleming, who lives in Manchester, told the Monitor by phone that he worked at the church “for quite some time.” He said officials were aware of his background, and said children were never part of the congregation.

Hard of hearing and startled by the call, Fleming hung up before revealing any more information. His freedom, though, underscores the state’s inability to prosecute men who would have been put behind bars if not for the power of their white collars.

Paperwork from the Diocese of Manchester and the attorney general’s office reveal that Fleming admitted molesting the three boys, all brothers, at Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Hudson in 1983.

“The incident of abuse involved an 11-year-old child lying naked on a bed in the rectory in Hudson. Rev. Fleming was discovered fondling the genitals of the boy. Rev. Fleming has admitted the act, having been confronted by his superiors,” stated a child sexual abuse report to the attorney general’s office.

The boys’ father, documents show, declined to press charges, saying the family wanted to avoid shame and scandal.

Fleming then signed an agreement in 1984 that forbade him from “teaching or in any way participating in any future religious, educational, or organized social programs which involve children under the age of 16 . . . for the remainder of his natural life.”

In that same agreement, the Hillsborough County Attorney’s office agreed not to seek indictments if Fleming stuck to the deal.

If Fleming, now 63, violated the agreement, he could potentially face prosecution for the original offenses, lawyers said, but that could ultimately fall to a judge to decide.

Fleming resigned from the Diocese of Manchester while undergoing therapy in Missouri in 1986.

Another document, a confidential memorandum from 1997 sent by Monsignor Normal Bolduc to Bishop Francis Christian, incorrectly reported that Fleming “passed away sometime last month.”

John Hurley, director of communications for the Unitarian Universalist Association, based in Boston, wrote in an email to the Monitor that a Mark Fleming worked at the First Universalist Church of West Chesterfield from 1998 to 2000.

The Monitor was not able to confirm that this was the same person accused of assaulting children in 1983.

In 2002, Fleming was named in a civil suit brought by the three boys who had accused him of molesting them in ’83, which ended in a settlement.

Abramson said Fleming should have been locked up for his crimes. He no longer represents victims of child sexual abuse. “It just took a toll on me personally,” Abramson said.

As for Fleming, he told the Monitor he recently left the Unitarian church in Charlestown. His exact role there and whether he had contact with minors remains a mystery.

He became a member in October 2013, according to Hurley. Fleming lists himself as a minister on his LinkedIn account.

“We have no indication that he was serving them as a minister, only that he was a member,” Hurley said in his email. “His exact role in that congregation could only be ascertained by checking with the congregation.”

One number listed for the Charlestown church was disconnected, while another rang for a while before a high-pitched beep sounded.

And recently, the doors there were locked.

Australian bishop testifies on prevalence of child sex abuse in the church


Australian bishop testifies on prevalence of child sex abuse in the church

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From the Link: https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/australian-bishop-testifies-prevalence-child-sex-abuse-church

Dying of cancer, Bishop Emeritus Geoffrey Robinson appeared Aug. 24 before the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to testify to the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the church.

He painted a sad picture of a brave and lonely Sisyphus with his band of bishops in tow, pushing a boulder with a reasoned response to the crisis up the Vatican Hill, only to have it pushed back by popes and cardinals who had no idea about the issue and a blindness about the incapacity of canon law to deal with it.

“However great the faults of the Australian bishops have been over the last 30 years, it still remains true that the major obstacle to a better response from the church has been the Vatican,” Robinson told the commission. Most of the Roman Curia saw the problem as a “moral one: if a priest offends, he should repent; if he repents, he should be forgiven and restored to his position. … They basically saw the sin as a sexual one, and did not show great understanding of the abuse of power involved or the harm done to the victims.”

Robinson entered the seminary at 12-years-old, was ordained a priest, and became a canon lawyer and then auxiliary bishop of Sydney. In 1996, when revelations of clergy sexual abuse of children in Australia had reached a crescendo, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference appointed him to find a solution. In 2004, he resigned as auxiliary bishop of Sydney after concluding that the church’s response was still inadequate.

“I eventually came to the point where I felt that, with the thoughts that were running through my head, I could not continue to be a bishop of a church about which I had such profound reservations,” Robinson wrote in a 2008 book Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church. “I resigned my office as Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney and began to write this book, about the very foundations of power and sex within the church.”

He wrote books and went on lecture tours, calling for radical reforms within the church, and in the process lost and gained many friends.

He quickly came to the conclusion after his appointment by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to draw up a protocol to deal with child sexual abuse in 1996, that canon law was so inadequate for cases of sexual abuse that it would be a sham to use it. “We would have to invent something of our own,” he told the Royal Commission.

Prior to 1983, when he was consulted by the Vatican about a new draft of the Code of Canon Law, he found the words “pontifical secret” stamped over the document. He complained that if he were to give a reasoned response, he needed to discuss it with colleagues. He was told:  “Just don’t give it to the media.”

In 1996, Robinson devised a protocol called “Towards Healing,” a system that was “outside, and indeed contrary to canon law.” In the first draft, he required these crimes to be reported to the police as the police were not the media. Pope Paul VI’s instruction, Secreta Continere of 1974, imposes the pontifical secret over allegations of clergy sexual abuse of children and contains no exception for reporting to the police. The barrage of statements by senior Curia figures from 1984 to 2002 made it abundantly clear that bishops should not report these allegations to the police.

But that was not the only conflict that “Towards Healing” had with canon law. It had its own system of investigation, and clergy could be placed on permanent “administrative leave.” None of this complied with canon law.

In his perceptive notes of the meeting in the Vatican in April 2000 to discuss child sexual abuse, Robinson wrote that the members of the Roman Curia showed an “an overriding concern to preserve the legal structures already in place in the Church and not to make exceptions to them unless this was absolutely necessary.”

He told the Commission how Italian Archbishop Mario Pompedda told the delegates how they might get around canon law, but he did not want a law that he had to get around. He wanted one he could follow, but “they never came up with it.” Robinson came away from that meeting knowing that the Australian bishops had no choice but to continue to go it alone, irrespective of what the fall out might be.

The extent to which he and the other Australian bishops were prepared to do that is starkly illustrated in the minutes of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference of Nov. 28, 2002, where they resolved to disobey Pope John Paul II’s 2001 Motu Proprio, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, which required all complaints of child sexual abuse to be referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which would then instruct the bishop what to do. They would only refer those cases where there was no admission by the priest that the abuse had occurred. Robinson told the Commission that the purpose behind that was to avoid being told by Rome what to do with those priests who admitted the abuse. That decision was well justified given the figures presented to the United Nations by the Vatican that only one third of priests against whom credible allegations of child sexual abuse had been made, have been dismissed. The claim that the Vatican has a policy of zero tolerance is pure spin.

This defiance of canon law was never going to last. Patrick Parkinson, professor of law at Sydney University, appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to review “Towards Healing,” pointed out the problems of a local protocol that conflicted with canon law: priests permanently removed from the ministry simply appealed to Rome which ordered their reinstatement. The bishop had to comply or be sacked. Robinson told the Commission that “Towards Healing” was initially successful because a number of priests accepted that they could not continue to work as a priest, but “it later fell down because both sides changed.” Priests started to defend themselves with canon lawyers, and the victims went to civil lawyers.

Robinson was very critical of Pope John Paul II for a lack of leadership on this issue, and particularly his imposition in 1983 of a five-year limitation period that effectively meant that there could be no prosecution of priest paedophiles under canon law because their crimes had been “extinguished.” Prior to 1983, there was no limitation period for these crimes. After 1983, if a child was abused at the age of 7, and did not complain by the age of 12, there was no possibility of dismissing the priest under canon law.

Figures presented to the Commission indicate that in Australia, the limitation period meant that only 3 percent of accused priests could be dismissed, and that figure only increased to 19 percent with the extension of the period to 10 years from the 18th birthday of the victim in 2001. Robinson said the church has still not had the appropriate leadership on child sexual abuse from Pope Benedict XVI and not even from Pope Francis.

Robinson also criticized Australian Cardinal George Pell for refusing to join the other Australian bishops in adopting the “Towards Healing” protocol. Pell was party to the two-year consultations leading up to its adoption in November 1996, but, without reference to anyone, announced he was setting up his own system, the “Melbourne Response,” and then claimed he was the first in Australia to do something about clergy sexual abuse. Apart from accusing Pell of destroying a unified response from the Australian bishops, Robinson said he was an “ineffective bishop” for having lost the support of the majority of his priests who wished for him to be transferred somewhere else. Their wish was fulfilled. He is now in charge of the Vatican finances.

A reading of the many documents tendered to the Royal Commission provides even more evidence that the Vatican’s all but useless disciplinary system caused far more children to be abused than would otherwise have occurred. Robinson fought the good fight, but was ultimately defeated and resigned, exhausted.

In the end, the Australian bishops abandoned the courage they displayed under his leadership, and followed the lead of Pope Benedict XVI who, in his 2010 Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, ignored the Murphy Commission’s criticisms of canon law, and blamed the Irish bishops for failing to follow it. In submissions to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and to the Royal Commission, the Australian bishops ignored what they knew of canon law’s failings, and blamed their predecessors for making “terrible mistakes” when their predecessors were demonstrably complying with canon law.

Australia has a peculiar cultural habit of creating heroes who struggle in vain, and are defeated — from the bushranger, Ned Kelly to the soldiers who were massacred at Gallipoli in the First World War. The Catholic church needs some heroes. Robinson, now terminally ill, is one of them.

[Kieran Tapsell is the author of Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican Secret and Child Sexual Abuse (ATF Press 2014).]

Former Wollongong Catholic Brother pleads guilty


Former Wollongong Catholic Brother pleads guilty


15 Jun 2016, 5:30 p.m.

From the Link: http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/3970972/former-wollongong-catholic-brother-pleads-guilty/

A former Catholic Brother has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a young male student at Edmund Rice College in the late 1980s.

John Vincent Roberts was a teacher at the single-sex school when he repeatedly molested and raped the 12-year-old boy while on school grounds.

Roberts, now aged 73 and living in Sydney, was arrested after voluntarily attending Redfern Police Station on December 14 at the request of investigating officers.

He was charged with 21 offences in total, including multiple counts of homosexual intercourse (teacher of pupil) and indecent assault where the victim was under his authority.

In Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday, Roberts entered pleas to 11 of the charges.

He will be sentenced in Wollongong District Court on August 11.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Christian Brothers Oceania expressed ‘’profound sorrow and unreserved apology after a Brother pleaded guilty to charges of historic child sexual abuse in Wollongong today’’.

‘’The crimes that have been admitted to represent a deplorable betrayal of trust,’’ the statement said.

‘’A child in our care had the right to expect every protection from this person and they were tragically let down. To them we extend without reservation our sincerest apology for what has happened.’’

The Christian Brothers would comment ‘’more fully’’ once the judicial process including sentencing had been completed.

‘’We urge any person who has any evidence of criminal conduct to contact the police so that the appropriate investigation can be undertaken.’’

‘’Whilst the past cannot be undone, the Christian Brothers are committed to addressing the effects of past abuse through acknowledgment of the suffering that those who have been abused endure and by providing practical assistance to help heal lives.’’

Police charge sheets presented in court at an earlier hearing claim Roberts’ carried out several acts of indecency upon the child.

Police alleged Roberts’ sexual attention towards the boy escalated into rape on several occasions.

The incidents were not reported to police at the time, however officers became aware of the accusations after they were aired last year during the Royal Commission hearings into institutional child sexual abuse.

Catholic Diocese settles sex abuse lawsuit for $4.5 million


Catholic Diocese settles sex abuse lawsuit for $4.5 million

Published: July 6, 2016, 6:15 pm Updated: July 6, 2016, 6:37 pm

From the link: http://wsav.com/2016/07/06/catholic-diocese-settles-sex-abuse-lawsuit-for-4-5-million/

The Diocese of Savannah agrees to a $4.5 million lawsuit settlement.

Father Wayland Brown

Father Wayland Brown

The suit stems from alleged sexual abuse that happened more than 30 years ago against a 13 year old boy.

“He was a monster. He was just a pure monster,” said victim’s attorney Jim Shipley,

The words jump off the page.. touching.. sexual encounters.. molestations.. repeated sexual abuses. All of those words connected to Father Wayland Brown.

Brown was dismissed from the priesthood in 2004 and spent 5 years in prison for child abuse.  But its what he allegedly did to 13 year old Chris Templeton in the 1980’s which led to this settlement.

“When its a 13 year old boy, they were all taught that the Priests were almost godlike that was their salvation and without them there almost was no salvation,” explained Shipley. “Brown in that case would tell Chris after the molestations they would pray together, do the rosary and tell him that if he told anyone they (his family) would be excommunicated.”

But according to Attorney Jim Shipley, Brown wasn’t the only one trying to keep this quiet.

In 1986, while meeting with then Savannah Bishop Raymond Lassard, Brown admitted to “indiscretion” with children.

When Richmond County deputies started investigating Brown during that time, the Diocese decided not to help police, but to “hide” their priest.

Bishop Raymond Lassard

Bishop Raymond Lassard

“August of 1986 he was contacted by detectives from Richmond County in Augusta area who was looking to arrest Brown,” explained Shipley. “At that time they called a meeting at the chancery, discussed it with him. Told Brown a detective was looking to arrest him at that time they moved him to Maryland.”

“A year later when Brown was released from the school in Maryland, Brown was sent right back to the same school, St James.”

That’s the place where lawyers say he molested Chris Templeton, an alleged crime the Diocese could have prevented.

Shipley says no amount of money can get Templeton’s childhood back, but this settlement can give him some closure.

“Chris wanted to do this to show that the other victims are out there may not have reported shouldn’t feel guilty about what happened to them,” said Shipley. “After representing many victims of sexual abuse.they blame themselves for what happened to them. I think that’s one thing Chris really wanted to do is prove to them that its ok to stand up for themselves and its not their fault.

SAVANNAH, Ga. – A settlement was reached in the lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Savannah on charges of alleged sexual abuse by a priest.

The lawsuit, filed in Jasper County South Carolina, named former priest, and convicted child molester Wayland Yoder Brown  who’s accused of abusing a 13-year-old boy in the late 1980s.  It also named the bishop at the time of the alleged crime Raymond Lessard as well as acting Bishop Gregory Hartmayer.

The suit claimed that multiple warnings were given to the church hierarchy about Brown’s behavior by clergy members as early as 1969.   He was a priest for the Diocese from 1979 until 1982 then again in 1987.

In 2003, Brown was convicted of molesting two minors in Maryland.  He served 5 years of a 10 year sentence.

The $4.5 million dollar settlement is the largest for a case of its kind in Georgia.

Ebensburg man, child abuse victims advocate, takes own life


Ebensburg man, child abuse victims advocate, takes own life

From the Link: http://www.tribdem.com/news/local_news/ebensburg-man-child-abuse-victims-advocate-takes-own-life/article_1304b550-d75a-5ea0-b3a1-d88902c61fe3.html

In 2003, Brian Gergely, right, and Kevin Hoover show old photographs of themselves during a news conference in Altoona, Pa. They said the pictures were taken during the time they allege a Roman Catholic priest sexually abused them while they were altar boys. The men, along with three others, sued the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, about 80 miles east of Pittsburgh, Bishop Joseph Adamec, and former Bishop Joseph Hogan, claiming the church should have known about the abuse and was negligent. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

In 2003, Brian Gergely, right, and Kevin Hoover show old photographs of themselves during a news conference in Altoona, Pa. They said the pictures were taken during the time they allege a Roman Catholic priest sexually abused them while they were altar boys. The men, along with three others, sued the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, about 80 miles east of Pittsburgh, Bishop Joseph Adamec, and former Bishop Joseph Hogan, claiming the church should have known about the abuse and was negligent. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

A onetime sexual abuse victim who has spoken out about clergy abuse in the diocese has died.

Brian Gergely, 46, was found dead July 1 inside his Ebensburg home of a self-inflicted injury, Cambria County Coroner Jeffrey Lees said Tuesday.

The Ebensburg man died of asphyxiation, he said.

Gergely was a 1988 graduate of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, where he was a standout running back for the football team.

Over the years, he worked as a behavioral health specialist and therapeutic support staffer who spent years counseling youth.

In recent years, he went public about abuse he suffered in the 1980s at the hands of his church’s former priest, the Rev. Francis McCaa. Gergely said he hoped his willingness to speak out would encourage others to step forward and begin to overcome their own private struggles.

In its March 1 report of widespread child sexual abuse by clergy across the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese, the state attorney general’s office called McCaa “a monster” who groped and “fondled the genitals of numerous children” who attended or served at Holy Name Church in Ebensburg.

The report estimated that McCaa’s victims numbered “in the hundreds.” McCaa died in 2007.