Fort Worth Diocese Interrogated Sex Abuse Victim and His Mother in a Starbucks: Lawsuit
From the Link: http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/fort-worth-diocese-interrogated-sex-abuse-victim-and-his-mother-in-a-starbucks-lawsuit-7139543
By 2013, the stories of child molestation in the Catholic church, along with the archdiocese’s attempts to sweep the allegations under the rug, were old news. In that year alone, sex abuse cases cost the Catholic church $108,954,109, according to a report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops acknowledged the church’s failings and laid out a series of recommendations to prevent more abuse and abuse cover-ups. “We pledge that we will work toward healing and reconciliation for those sexually abused by clerics,” they wrote.
But that same year, the Fort Worth Diocese was working to cover up a new claim of sexual abuse, a lawsuit filed this week claims. The man identified in court documents only as John Doe 117 says he was the victim of sadistic “punishment” by Father John H. Sutton when he was a student at Wichita Falls’ Notre Dame Middle-High School in the early 1990s.
Sutton, who died in 2004, was employed by the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth as the school’s Chaplain, confessor and a history teacher. During a 7th grade history class, Sutton accused Doe of copying an assignment from an encyclopedia, Doe claims. For “penance,” Sutton ordered the boy to pray in the chapel during his lunch hour. Soon, Sutton would look for Doe in the lunchroom multiple times each week, the suit claims, and escort him to the chapel.
In the chapel, Sutton stood over Doe while he knelt in payer, and then began groping him, Doe says. The assaults escalated, the suit says, and eventually Sutton was raping Doe with sex toys that he kept in a black bag:
Doe also recalls hearing the sound of a camera clicking during some incidents of abuse. Sutton even stuffed a towel in Doe’s mouth to prevent his uncontrollable agonizing screams from being heard. “Shut up,” Sutton threatened the child, “or it will be worse.”
Doe claims Sutton also threatened him that “I have the power to ruin your life.” Doe was later accused of selling LSD at school — a charge he says was brought on in retaliation for hinting to another faculty member that Sutton had been abusing him. He says the abuse lasted two years.
In 2013, the victim was a grown man living in Washington when, he says, he had a nervous breakdown. Suffering flashbacks from his abuse, he decided to talk to the Catholic Diocese. Fort Worth’s Catholic Diocese acknowledges this much in a statement released to the media, the only comment they agreed to make about the case:
The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth was contacted by a former student of Notre Dame Catholic School in Wichita Falls. The former student made allegations of sexual abuse by a deceased priest, Father John H. Sutton. The Diocese offered and provided professional personal counseling and pastoral support to the former student.
Doe spoke to Fort Worth’s victim assistance coordinator over the course of a year and began going to therapy. Finally, by September 2014, Fort Worth Diocese Bishop Michael Olson agreed to fly to Spokane, Washington to meet with the alleged victim. Olson requested they meet in a Starbucks, the suit claims, and asked if it was okay if he brought along a volunteer. Doe agreed to the conditions.
It wasn’t until recently that Doe discovered the volunteer was also a Fort Worth police officer, the suit says. During the meeting, Olson agreed to be recorded. “At a busy local Starbucks, after giving in that very public place an emotionally grueling recorded account of the sexual assaults and abuses by Father Sutton,” the suit says, “Doe asked Bishop Olson to go to Mass with him and pray with him …” But Olson refused to pray with the victim afterward, the suit says, making the excuse that he was too busy.
Olson also asked to meet with Doe’s mother, separately, again in a Starbucks. While there, they also asked her to recount her son’s allegations of sex abuse. “They did not tell her that she was being recorded secretly, a criminal violation of Washington State law,” the suit claims. According to the lawsuit, the likely purpose of the recordings was to get a statement from the victim without an attorney present and to lull him into thinking the church was investigating his allegations while the statute of limitations ran out.
John Doe is asking for $1 million. The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth’s statement to the media doesn’t address the allegations that the victim and his mother were recorded in a Starbucks. The spokeswoman says church officials did all they could to find more victims of Sutton. In early 2014, she says, Olson and other Diocesan officials visited “all parishes in the Wichita Falls area which had students at Notre Dame School during the tenure of Father Sutton. At the end of each of the Masses, the Diocese announced the allegations and formally asked for victims to contact the Diocese and civil authorities. ”
U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse
South America has become a safe haven for the Catholic Church’s alleged child molesters. The Vatican has no comment.
South America has become a safe haven for the Catholic Church’s alleged child molesters. The Vatican has no comment.
By Ian Millhiser on July 31, 2013 at 2:05 pm
A federal judge in Wisconsin handed down an opinion yesterday granting the Catholic Church — and indeed, potentially all religious institutions — such sweeping immunity from federal bankruptcy law that it is not clear that it would permit any plaintiff to successfully sue any church in any court. While the ostensible issue in this case is whether over $50 million in church funds are shielded from a bankruptcy proceeding triggered largely by a flood of clerical sex abuse claims against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Judge Rudolph Randa reads the church’s constitutional and legal right to religious liberty so broadly as to render religious institutions immune from much of the law.
The case involves approximately $57 million that former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan transferred from the archdiocese’s general accounts to into a separate trust set up to maintain the church’s cemeteries. Although Dolan, who is now a cardinal, the Archbishop of New York and the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has denied that the purpose of this transfer was to shield the funds from lawsuits, Dolan penned a letter to the Vatican in 2007 where he explained that transferring the funds into the trust would lead to “an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.”
The issue facing the court is, essentially, whether the funds that Dolan split off into a separate trust can now be reabsorbed into the archdiocese’s assets in order to enable sex abuse victims and other creditors to be paid out of these assets. In holding that these funds cannot be so absorbed, Randa relies on a law that limits the federal government’s ability to “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion,” Randa cites to the current Archbishop of Milwaukee’s statement that “the care and maintenance of Catholic cemeteries, cemetery property, and the remains of those interred is a fundamental exercise of the Catholic faith,” and concludes that this statement alone is enough to shield the church’s funds. As Randa explains, “if the Trust’s funds are converted into the bankruptcy estate, there will be no funds or, at best, insufficient funds for the perpetual care of the Milwaukee Catholic Cemeteries.”
And Randa does not stop there. He goes on to argue that senior church officials get to unilaterally decide what constitutes a “substantial burden” on their faith for purposes of federal law — “Archbishop Listecki’s declaration stands unopposed, and on the issue of religious doctrine, it is unassailable. Moreover, the issue of substantial burden is essentially coterminous with religious doctrine.” In this case, an archbishop declared cemetery funds to be untouchable in a bankruptcy proceeding, but Randa’s reasoning could extend much farther. Nothing in his opinion would prevent a church’s officials from declaring that every single line in every single ledger kept by the church is mandated by the sacred word of God — and therefore every single dollar owned by the church is untouchable so long as the church engages in the kind of accounting gymnastics Dolan allegedly performed.
The same federal law that protects religious liberty also permits substantial burdens on religion when such a burden is “in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.” Randa largely glosses over this exception, however, holding that the “interests advanced by the bankruptcy system are not compelling.” That very well be true, but there is another, overriding interest in this case — whether an employer whose employees stand accused of widespread sexual abuse can evade accountability by engaging in accounting tricks. At least 45 Milwaukee priests face sex abuse accusations. One priest in particular was accused of personally molesting close to 200 deaf boys. Yet Randa does not even consider whether America has a compelling interest in deterring the church from allowing future such incidents to occur.
If Randa had stopped there, his opinion would still award the church — and, indeed, potentially all religious institutions — a breathtaking degree of legal immunity. Taken to its logical conclusion, Randa’s framework would allow a church to run up whatever debts it chooses, then effectively protect the entirety of its assets from its creditors through a combination of creative accounting and a bankruptcy filing. Yet Randa does not even stop there. After reaching this sweeping interpretation of federal religious liberty law, he then turns to the First Amendment of the Constitution. With little analysis, and in an almost certain conflict with a binding Supreme Court precedent, Randa concludes that the church has a constitutional right to shield its funds. By raising his opinion to constitutional status, Randa effectively strips Congress of its ability to correct his sweeping interpretation of the law.
Judge Randa, a George H.W. Bush appointee, has a history of being reversed by higher courts in cases involving hot button social issues, so there is a good chance that his opinion will ultimately be reversed on appeal. In the meantime, however, Randa effectively places the church above the law — and leaves what could be hundreds of sexual abuse victims in the cold.
Lawyers Question New York Cardinal in Milwaukee Suits
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN Published: February 20, 2013
A week before Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan is set to leave New York for Rome, where his name is being floated as a candidate for pope, he was questioned in Manhattan for three hours on Wednesday behind closed doors in a legal deposition concerning the sexual abuse of children by priests.
The lawyers deposing Cardinal Dolan represent hundreds of people who say they were sexually molested by priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which he led for seven years before his appointment as archbishop of New York in 2009. The lawyers want to know when Cardinal Dolan, as archbishop of Milwaukee, learned of allegations against certain priests, and how quickly he made those allegations public.
Cardinal Dolan is one of two American cardinals who are being deposed in sexual abuse lawsuits this week, and who plan to travel to Rome next week in advance of the proceedings to elect the successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who announced last week that he was resigning Feb. 28.
The other American is Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles. He is expected to be deposed on Saturday in Los Angeles, and he has been under fire since the court-ordered release last month of 12,000 pages of internal church files revealing his role in shielding accused priests from the law.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, Joseph Zwilling, said that Cardinal Dolan had cooperated fully with the deposition.
“Today Cardinal Dolan had the long-awaited opportunity to talk about his decision nine years ago in Milwaukee to publicize the names of priests who had abused children and how he responded to the tragedy of past clergy sexual abuse of minors, during the time he was privileged to serve as Archbishop of Milwaukee,” Mr. Zwilling said in a statement. “He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could, and he was looking forward to talking about the good work and progress that took place to ensure the protection of children and pastoral outreach to victims.”
Cardinal Dolan has been much discussed as a possible candidate for pope. The cardinal, who is the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is a charismatic figure at ease in parishes as well as in morning talk show studios, and he left a strong impression in the Vatican last year with speeches promoting what the church calls the “new evangelization.”
But in New York, he has been dogged by the legal cases in Milwaukee. His successor, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, had the archdiocese declare bankruptcy in 2011, saying that it would be the best way to compensate all the victims and for the church to move forward. Milwaukee was the eighth Catholic diocese in the United States to seek bankruptcy protection because of abuse lawsuits.
In the Milwaukee Archdiocese, 575 people have filed claims saying that they were abused, over many decades, by Catholic clergymen. About 70 said they were victims of the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who, church records show, admitted having molested deaf students at a boarding school outside Milwaukee, said Jeff Anderson, a lawyer in St. Paul who represents 350 of the 575 plaintiffs.
Bankruptcy negotiations fell apart last year when the archdiocese argued that many of the 575 cases were invalid. Frank LoCocco, the lawyer for the Milwaukee Archdiocese and Cardinal Dolan, said the cases were beyond Wisconsin’s statute of limitations, or the plaintiffs had already received settlements, or the accused were not employed by the archdiocese.
Lawyers for the victims argue that previous archbishops, including Cardinal Dolan, intentionally stalled and kept allegations quiet so that the cases would fall beyond the statute.
Mr. Anderson, who questioned Cardinal Dolan on Wednesday, said he had already deposed a former Milwaukee archbishop, Rembert G. Weakland, and Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba.
“The deposition of Cardinal Dolan is necessary to show that there’s been a longstanding pattern and practice to keep secrets and keep the survivors from knowing that there had been a fraud committed,” Mr. Anderson said.
The Milwaukee Archdiocese said recently that it had spent $9 million in legal fees. Creditors accuse the archdiocese, under Archbishop Dolan, of shielding $55 million in a cemetery trust. The archdiocese argued that those assets had been set aside for Catholic burials by Archbishop Dolan’s predecessors.
Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Boston
The sexual abuse scandal in Boston archdiocese was part of a series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States and Ireland. In early 2002, Boston Globe coverage of a series of criminal prosecutions of five Roman Catholic priests thrust the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests into the national limelight. The coverage of these cases encouraged other victims to come forward with their allegations of abuse resulting in more lawsuits and criminal cases.
As it became clear that there was truth to many of the allegations and that there was a pattern of sexual abuse and cover-up in a number of large dioceses across the USA, what had originally appeared to be a few isolated cases of abuse exploded into a nationwide scandal. The resulting scandal created a crisis for the Catholic Church in the United States, encouraging victims in other nations to come forward with their allegations of abuse, thus creating a global crisis for the Church.
Ultimately, it became clear that, over several decades in the 20th century, priests and lay members of religious orders in the Catholic Church had sexually abused minors on a scale such that the accusations reached into the thousands. Although the majority of cases were reported to have occurred in the United States, victims have come forward in other nations such as Ireland, Canada and Australia. A major aggravating factor was the actions of Catholic bishops to keep these crimes secret and to reassign the accused to other parishes in positions where they had continued unsupervised contact with youth, thus allowing the abusers to continue their crime.
Boston Globe coverage
In 2002, criminal charges were brought against five Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area of the United States (John Geoghan, John Hanlon, Paul Shanley, Robert V. Gale and Jesuit priest James Talbot) which ultimately resulted in the conviction and sentencing of each to prison. The ongoing coverage of these cases by The Boston Globe thrust the issue of “sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests” into the national limelight. The coverage of these cases encouraged other victims to come forward with their allegations of abuse resulting in more lawsuits and criminal cases.
In 2003, the series of articles in the Boston Globe received a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The Globe was honored, according to the Pulitzer website, “for its courageous, comprehensive coverage … an effort that pierced secrecy, stirred local, national and international reaction and produced changes in the Roman Catholic Church.”
Grassroots public advocacy groups like Voice of the Faithful focused on Cardinal Law after documents revealed his extensive role in covering up incidents of sexual misconduct of his priests. For example, Cardinal Law moved Paul Shanley and John Geoghan from parish to parish within the diocese despite repeated allegations of molestation of children under the priests’ care. Later, it was discovered that Father Shanley even advocated the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Under questioning, the cardinal stated that, when a priest committed a sex crime, the cardinal said his practice was to seek the analysis of psychiatrists, clinicians and therapists in residential treatment centers before deciding whether a priest accused of sexually abusing a child should be returned to the pulpit.
In 1984, John Brendan McCormack became Secretary for Ministerial Personnel in the Archdiocese of Boston. In this position, McCormack was Cardinal Law‘s point person on hearing complaints against priests accused of sexual misconduct and removing some of them from active duty. He was later accused of taking too little action in handling John Geoghan, a Boston priest who allegedly molested over 130 children during his ministry.
In 1990, after receiving complaints from an alleged victim, he removed one priest from duty and sent him to treatment, only for the same priest to later serve as a hospital chaplain. He also wrote conciliatory letters to another priest accused of pedophilia and who once defended the North American Man/Boy Love Association, then failing to notify the diocese to which that priest was later transferred of the accusations made against him.
Cardinal Law’s response
Cardinal Law’s term as Archbishop of Boston began in popularity but quickly declined into turbulence towards the end of his term. Allegations and reports of sexual misconduct by priests of the Archdiocese of Boston became widespread causing Roman Catholics in other dioceses of the United States to investigate similar situations there. Cardinal Law’s actions and inactions prompted public scrutiny of all members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the steps they had taken in response to past and current allegations of sexual misconduct at the hands of priests. The events in the Archdiocese of Boston exploded into a national Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.
Law’s public statements and depositions during the abuse crisis claimed that the Cardinal and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston did not initially have the expertise to understand pedophilia and ephebophilia and relied upon doctors’ recommendations. In January 2002, Law stated, “I promulgated a policy to deal with sexual abuse of minors by clergy. This went into effect on Jan. 15, 1993,” and also noted that the, “policy has been effective.” His depositions echoed those sentiments.
Impact on the diocese
Settlements in the Boston, Massachusetts suits were estimated to be up to $100 million. In some cases insurance companies have balked at meeting the cost of large settlements, claiming the actions were deliberate and not covered by insurance. This was additional financial damage to the Archdiocese, which already faced the need to consolidate and close parishes due to changing attendance and giving patterns. In June 2004, much of the land around the Archdiocese of Boston headquarters was sold to Boston College, in part to raise money for legal costs associated with scandal in Boston.
Resignation of Cardinal Law
In a statement and apology Cardinal Law said, “To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness”. He remained cardinal, which is a separate appointment, and participated in the 2005 papal conclave.
Handling by Bishop Lennon
Bishop Richard Lennon‘s appointment as apostolic administrator of the Boston archdiocese, following the resignation of Cardinal Law, brought criticism from some sex-abuse victims’ groups. This criticism increased after Bishop Lennon‘s appearance in the Frontline Documentary “Hand of God.” The movie documents the history of a Salem, Massachusetts sex scandal and its effects on the film maker’s own family. Lennon closes the Salem parish despite the fact it is not losing money for the Church. Then, when the movie’s filmmaker attempts to film the administrative building where his brother reported his own sexual abuse, Lennon exits the building, shoves the camera, declares he won’t “feel bad about this” after being told why the filmmaker wants to film the building’s exterior, attempts to avoid any discussion of the sex scandal by refusing to talk about anything other than the Church’s private property rights, and responds to the film maker’s claim that he doesn’t care by calling the filmmaker a “sad little man.”
In September 2003, the Archdiocese settled most of the abuse-related claims for $85 million.
In June 2004, the archbishop’s residence and the chancery in Brighton and surrounding lands were sold to Boston College, in part to defray costs associated with abuse cases. The offices of the Archdiocese were moved to Braintree, Massachusetts; Saint John’s Seminary remains on that property.
On August 25, 2011, Cardinal Seán O’Malley released a list of 159 names of priests who had been accused of sexually abusing a minor. The publication mentioned that 250 priests in the archdiocese had been accused but 69 names were omitted because they were either deceased, weren’t active ministers, had not been publicly accused, or were dismissed or left prior to canonical proceedings. An additional 22 names were omitted because the accusations could not be substantiated; nine of these priests were still in active ministry
Sexual abuse cases in the Boston archdiocese
In 1987, after at least 23 years of child molesting by Father Joseph Birmingham during which time he was shuffled to various parishes, the mother of an altar boy at St. Anns wrote to Law asking if Birmingham had a history of molesting children. Cardinal Law wrote back “I contacted Father Birmingham. … He assured me there is absolutely no factual basis to your concern regarding your son and him. From my knowledge of Father Birmingham and my relationship with him, I feel he would tell me the truth and I believe he is speaking the truth in this matter.” 
As a result of the unlawful sex, the Archdiocese of Boston lost millions of dollars in fines and settlements. It also funded the legal defense of accused priests. The archdiocese slipped into large financial deficits. The Archdiocese closed sixty-five parishes before Cardinal Law stepped down from service.
In response to the scandal, over fifty priests signed a letter declaring no confidence in Cardinal Law and asking him to resign  – something that had never before happened in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in America.
Paul Desilets, a retired Quebec priest, has been indicted on 27 counts of indecent assault and battery dating back to his time as a parish priest in Bellingham, Mass., between 1978 and 1984. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is seeking extradition.
Robert V. Gale
Robert V. Gale was sentenced to 4.5–5 years in prison in 2004 after pleading guilty to repeatedly raping a boy in Waltham during the 1980s. Gale (who had been treated in 1987 following years of abusing children) began a restricted ministry around 1992, living at St. Monica’s in South Boston while studying at the University of Massachusetts.
Cardinal Law, who had the ultimate authority, signed off on letting Gale remain at St. Monica’s. An adolescent reported that Gale abused him in his room/office in the rectory just a few months after Law’s decision was made.
The trial included testimony from the victim; from a psychiatrist, Dr. Edward Messner, who treated Geoghan for his sexual fantasies about children from 1994 to 1996; and from Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, who testified that he banned Geoghan from the swimming club after a complaint that he had been proselytizing and had prurient conversations there.
After initially agreeing to, and pulling out of, a $30 million settlement with 86 of Geoghan’s victims, the Boston archdiocese settled with them for $10 million, and is still negotiating with lawyers for other victims. The most recent settlement proposed is $65 million for 542 victims. The settlements are being made because of evidence that the archdiocese had transferred Geoghan from parish to parish despite warnings of his behavior. Evidence also arose, as a result of allegations against Geoghan, that the archdiocese displayed a pattern of shipping other priests to new parishes when allegations of sexual abuse were made.
Two other cases were charged against Geoghan in Boston’s Suffolk County. One case was dropped without prejudice when the victim decided not to testify. In the second case, two rape charges were dismissed by a judge after hotly contested arguments because the statute of limitations had run out. The Commonwealth’s appeal of that ruling was active at the time of Geoghan’s death, and remaining charges of indecent assault in that case were still pending at that time.
On August 23, 2003, while in protective custody at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, Geoghan was strangled and stomped to death in his cell by Joseph Druce, a self-described white supremacist and inmate serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for killing a man who allegedly made a sexual pass after picking Druce up hitchhiking. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be “ligature strangulation and blunt chest trauma.” There have been questions raised about the wisdom and propriety of placing these two men in the same unit, since prison officials had been warned by another inmate that Druce had something planned.
According to Leon Podles in his book Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, “In late 1993, Shanley was sent to the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut, for evaluation. The Boston archdiocese has refused to release this evaluation, but other released files show that Shanley admitted to nine sexual encounters, of which four involved boys, and that he was diagnosed as “narcissistic” and “histrionic.” Shanley admitted that he was “attracted to adolescents” and on the basis of this confession, the Boston archdiocese secretly settled several lawsuits against Shanley. The archdiocese of Boston in 1993 had to admit to the diocese of San Bernardino part of the truth about Shanley, and the bishop of San Bernardino immediately dismissed him.”
In February 2005, Shanley was found guilty of indecent assaults and the rape of a male minor and received a sentence of 12 to 15 years in prison. Shanley’s case remains controversial because the allegations of abuse came only after the victim (now an adult) alleged that he “recovered” memories of the abuse from approximately 20 years earlier. The notion of “repressed memory” is highly controversial and has been excluded from several courts of law. The manner in which the accusations against Shanley arose and enormous attention in the media also have given rise to questions about the validity of the convictions.
Robert A. Ward affair
In February 2002, Rev. Robert A. Ward was accused of molesting an altar boy in Boston 1970.   Records show that the archdiocese knew at least as early as 1995 that the pastor used cocaine and had been treated for drug abuse. The records also show that in 1999 Ward admitted to downloading of child pornography from the internet, a discovery made when a technician repaired Ward’s computer and noticed the sexually explicit material. Ward was suspended by the Archdiocese of Boston in February 2002 and defrocked by the Vatican in 2005 
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