Hundreds of clergy investigated, Church tells CommissionHundreds of clergy investigated, Church tells Commission

Hundreds of clergy investigated, Church tells Commission

AT LEAST 129 Anglican Church clergy members are currently listed as “persons of concern” and up to 209 more are under investigation across the country, the royal commission into child sex abuse has heard.

The revelation came during inquiries into the workings of the Church’s national register – an internal “red flag” system, which gives professional standards directors and bishops the ability to background check clergy members transferring from diocese to diocese.

Those listed have either been convicted of or are under investigation for criminal behaviour and in particular, child sex offending.

Martin Drevikovsky, General Secretary, General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia told the commission this morning that the register was incomplete.

He said that when the royal commission was announced, every diocese was given directions to “search for (complaint) files and review them to ensure all necessary steps had been taken and if not, to take immediate action”.

As a result, Mr Drevikovksy said, “a large number of files have come to light”.

He said an estimated 209 files were listed for review and expected that between 40 and 45 and “possibly more” names would be added to the persons of concern register.

Earlier, Grafton/Newcastle Diocese Professional Standards Director Michael Elliott said at least four names of concern from northern NSW region had not been added to the register including that of Allan Kitchingman, a former Lismore priest who was jailed in 2003 over the sexual assault of a teenage boy.

Mr Elliott also confirmed that along with the North Coast Children’s Home files, there were between 10 and 15 files involving allegations against members of the Grafton Diocese which had yet to be reviewed.
The hearing continues.

http://www.dailymercury.com.au/news/church-reveals-names-royal-commission-child-abuse/2097324/

Vatican abuse prosecutor addresses questions on Bishop Finn, former apostolic nuncio

Vatican abuse prosecutor addresses questions on Bishop Finn, former apostolic nuncio

In his first extended interview since becoming the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s promoter of justice in 2012, Father Robert Oliver addressed questions involving accountability for bishops who fail to report clerical abuse, as well as abuse allegations against a former apostolic nuncio.

As promoter of justice, Father Oliver is responsible for addressing cases of child sexual abuse by clergy. He said earlier this year that the Congregation is examining 600 cases, most of which involve abuse that allegedly took place between 1965 and 1985.

“All the data we have suggests that the number of priests harming minors today is very, very low, and that’s based on reports not just from the United States but from other nations as well, where we see a dramatic drop in incidents of abuse,” Father Oliver told John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.“Certainly, we have much more to do, which is why our congregation asked episcopal conferences around the world to review their abuse guidelines.”

Asked about the number of cases reported to the Congregation, Father Oliver said, “I suppose in an average month, we’re talking in the dozens from around the world, including cases which date back many years. We don’t have many present-day allegations of abuse, though it’s important to remember that there’s often a delay in people coming forward to make reports. Let’s be clear: One case is one too many. Yet as we look around at this problem today, we can see many positive effects from the efforts the Church has made.”

Asked about Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, who resigned in August from his position of apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic after he was accused of abuse, Father Oliver replied:

 

I can’t comment on open cases, as you know. If you wish, here’s a general observation: Every incident of abuse is a crime, and when they happen, they’re a reminder that this danger never goes away and we have to remain vigilant. Also with every allegation of abuse, the Church cooperates with civil authorities in order that they do their work on the criminal side. We then implement our own canonical process in a just way to decide if the accused can continue to function as a priest, doing it all with transparency and accountability. Present-day cases are, therefore, also reminders that the changes the Church has made are working.

Allen said, “Some will never accept that the Church’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy means anything until they see a bishop punished for failing to apply it. For instance, critics point to Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, who was convicted of failing to report abuse more than a year ago and still remains in office.”

Father Oliver replied:

 

First of all, it’s important to say that whatever happened in the past, there are clear rules today for what bishops are supposed to do. We have norms that say when a bishop becomes aware of an abuse report, he has to look into it, and if it’s credible, he’s required to report it to us. He’s also supposed to report it to the civil authorities and to allow the criminal justice system to take its course. 

Of course, what you’re really asking is what happens if somebody feels that a bishop hasn’t followed those rules, and I have to say it’s an underdeveloped area. For instance, there’s a question of what canon lawyers call “competence.” The code states that the metropolitan bishop is to investigate any abuses in church discipline in the suffragan dioceses and report to the Holy Father. It is not always clear, however, to somebody who wants to bring a complaint in a Church court against a bishop for what you might call “negligent supervision,” what court do they bring it to? Who has the right to hear the case, and what process do you use? We often don’t really have clear answers for these people, and work in these areas needs to be done. 

One point to make is that no matter what happens, there’s always going to be some local discretion. For instance, suppose a bishop gets a report of abuse and he takes it to his own review board, as well as relaying it to the civil authorities, and both come back to say there’s no evidence of a crime, so the bishop doesn’t move forward. He’s followed the process as it’s laid out, and in the end, it comes down to a local decision.

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=19808

Royal commission hears there are potentially dozens of clergy not yet identified as paedophiles

Royal commission hears there are potentially dozens of clergy not yet identified as paedophiles

The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse has heard there are potentially dozens of clergy within the Anglican Church who have not been formally identified as paedophiles.

Protocols for dealing with sex offenders within the Anglican Church are being scrutinised by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The commission is looking into the response from the Anglican Diocese of Grafton to allegations of historic abuse at the North Coast Children’s Home in Lismore.

The Anglican Church set up a national register in 2004 designed to provide a database for information if a member of clergy had a complaint or finding of abuse established against them.

The General Secretary of the Anglican Church, Martin Drevikovsky, said that in response to the Royal Commission being formed last year an overview of all files concerning abuse was undertaken.

“In the case of Sydney it was 600 [files]. In the case of Melbourne I know it was hundreds,” he told the Commission.

He said the number of clergy to make it onto the register is expected to be far fewer when the review is completed in the coming months.

Call for mandatory compensation scheme

The head of the Anglican Church in Australia Archbishop Phillip Aspinall wants the Royal Commission to recommend the establishment of a mandatory compensation scheme for all victims of institutional abuse.

Archbishop Aspinall, the Primate of Anglican Church of Australia, was the last witness to front the Royal Commission in its examination of how the Diocese of Grafton handled allegations that former residents of a children’s home in Lismore had been physically and sexually abused.

He told the Commission that the Diocese focused on protecting its finances rather than the victims in responding to the claims.

But the Archbishop has suggested a way of changing that for the future by establishing a uniform compensation scheme that all religious, government and community organisations would have to follow to ensure victims get the pay outs they deserve.

“So that we don’t have different classes of victims,” he said.

He wants such a scheme to be an outcome of the Royal Commission.

Afterwards Archbishop Phillip Aspinell said the evidence presented over the last week and a half has been harrowing for the victims and all those who heard it.

“That little children could be abused and treated so sadistically makes any normal person just feel sick in the stomach,” he said.

He said however there have been positives that have provided lessons for other institutions such as the laying bare of the failings of Anglican Diocese of Grafton in responding to victims.

The Royal Commission inquiry into the Anglican Church’s handling of the allegations of sexual abuse at the children’s home in Lismore has wrapped up today in Sydney.

Church was ‘harsh’

In evidence yesterday Bishop Keith Slater admitted to the commission that the Anglican Church was harsh in its dealing with victims from the Lismore children’s home.

A group of former residents from the children’s home in Lismore made a compensation claim for alleged sexual and physical abuse between the 1940s and 1980s.

The royal commission is looking into the response from the Diocese to the allegations and how it handled the group claim.

Bishop Slater resigned as Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton over his handling of the claims.

During questioning, Bishop Slater told Counsel Assisting Simeon Beckett that the Church’s finances were his main concern.

However in a statement to the commission at the end of his testimony, Keith Slater made an apology expressing his deep sorrow to those who were abused.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-27/potentially-dozens-of-clergy-not-yet-identified-as-paedophiles/5120000

Retired NSW priest linked to child porn ring remains on strict bail conditions

Retired NSW priest linked to child porn ring remains on strict bail conditions

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ABCRetired Catholic priest Edward Sedevic is facing seven charges relating to the possession of child abuse material.

A retired Catholic priest on the New South Wales central coast remains on strict bail conditions after being linked to a major global child pornography ring.

Edward Sedevic, 72, from Lakehaven is facing seven charges relating to the possession of child abuse material.

He was arrested in August after police allegedly discovered two movie files and four DVDs at his retirement home.

Two weeks ago, it was alleged the former Sydney parish priest was one of 66 Australians implicated in a Canadian child sex abuse ring, which was smashed by authorities.

He briefly faced Wyong Local Court on Wednesday and was accompanied by a small group of supporters.

Police documents reveal he is on strict bail conditions which prohibit him from having any access to the internet or being near anyone under the age of 18.

The matter has been adjourned to Sydney’s Central Local Court on December 18.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/20044142/retired-nsw-priest-linked-to-child-porn-ring-remains-on-strict-bail-conditions/

Anglican Church register of sex abuse complaints out of date, royal commission hears

Anglican Church register of sex abuse complaints out of date, royal commission hears

A national register of abuse incidents used by the Anglican Church to screen clergy appointments is seriously deficient and so out of date that scores of names may be missing from it.

But the church’s most senior figure, Phillip Aspinall, appears powerless to effect change in the nation’s 23 dioceses, telling the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: ”The Anglican Church makes Federal Parliament look like kindergarten.”

The royal commission on Wednesday heard there was ”gross non-compliance” in the Grafton diocese in dealing with abuse claims.

Archbishop Aspinall has echoed the Catholic Church’s call for a mandatory national compensation scheme for child sex abuse, saying this would ensure parity for victims ”not just between Anglican dioceses” but across all community organisations ”so that we don’t have different classes of victims”.

It would also be ”much quicker and simpler if it were imposed on us from outside”, he said.

The register of abuse incidents used to screen appointments had 129 names on it but scores have yet to be entered, Martin Drevikovsky, general secretary of the church’s general synod, said.

He said the internal review had turned up ”a large number of files” that might need to be entered on the register, but he disagreed with the suggestion of commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan that ”hundreds” more names might need to be considered.

Mr Drevikovsky said the Sydney diocese had outsourced 600 files for review, and it was thought these may yield up to 100 register entries.

The commission heard clergy had little confidence in the register, which was not only incomplete but technically difficult to access and operate. Mr Drevikovsky said a new, improved register would be in place by next year.

Children were brutally abused physically, sexually and mentally at the North Coast Children’s Home at Lismore, in the Grafton diocese, from the 1940s to the 1980s, the commission has heard.

But when 40 victims came forward in 2006, the church initially denied liability, then settled on an amount which, after costs, resulted in individual payments of $10,000 to those who agreed. Victims who came forward in 2008-09 were denied any financial settlement.

The commission has heard that the Grafton diocese had more than $200 million in assets but was cash-poor. Money became its overriding concern in dealing with the victims, according to the evidence.

The dioceses hold the church’s wealth mainly as property, according to Archbishop Aspinall, who described how nationally it had about $2 million in financial assets and a skeletal infrastructure of six people.

An audit in preparation for the commission revealed ”gross non-compliance” with the diocese’s procedures for abuse complaints. Keith Slater resigned as Bishop of Grafton and apologised for his failures in the case in May this year.

Archbishop Aspinall said that as primate, his powers are ”very, very limited”. Bishop Slater seldom responded to his correspondence, which included suggestions and requests for information. He said there was no national approach to dealing with abuse claims, although he thought there should be.

Correction: The original version of this story quoted Phillip Aspinall as saying ”The Anglican Church makes federal politics look like kindergarten.”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/anglican-church-register-of-sex-abuse-complaints-out-of-date-royal-commission-hears-20131127-2yadt.html#ixzz2lwINFzK7

Church records of sex offenders faulty

Church records of sex offenders faulty

Hundreds of Anglican clergy accused of sexual abuse could potentially be missing from a national register kept by the church.

The register was set up by the Anglican Church as a central repository of information about complaints and findings of abuse. It can be accessed by each diocese when someone applies for a job.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard on Wednesday that the register was not working.

Martin Drevikovsky, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Australia, said a large number of files had still to be processed and that historical information needed to be entered on the system.

In a statement to the commission, he said the Sydney diocese was reviewing 600 files which had been referred to a lawyer.

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan also referred him to a statement he had submitted to the hearing saying the Sydney Diocese was reviewing between 70 and 100 files.

‘This is giving me a confused picture, but it sounds to me like there might be hundreds of potential persons who need to be considered as to whether or not they should go on the register,’ Justice McClellan said.

Mr Drevikovsky explained that all dioceses had been asked to review files in response to the Royal Commission and he understood that the Sydney number had been culled and they expected 100 files to contain information that would need to go on the register.

There were also hundreds of files being reviewed in Melbourne and about 50 in the Grafton Diocese, which is at the heart of the inquiry because of its handling of abuse claims at a children’s home in Lismore.

He said there were 129 names on the register and they expected to add up to another 40.

The commission also heard how the computerised national register which was expected to be fully operational a month after it was set up in 2008 was still not functioned effectively five years on.

The Professional Standards Directors around the country were said to be very unhappy with the national register as it operated and avoided using it.

The process meant that each director had to review files and upload them onto a netbook. The software was not user friendly and the system often collapsed.

Directors refrain from putting information on the register if police were involved and confidentiality is needed.

*FACT CHECKER* SNAP and the TRUTH About False Abuse Accusations Against Priests

*FACT CHECKER* SNAP and the TRUTH About False Abuse Accusations Against Priests

David Clohessy : Barbara Blaine : Barbara Dorris

SNAP’s uneasy relationship with the truth:
(l to r) SNAP leaders David Clohessy, Barbara Blaine, and Barbara Dorris

It is an alarming and incontrovertible fact: False abuse accusations against Catholic priests, which have always been present, are on the rise. The mainstream media rarely runs stories about false accusations, and there are groups – especially the anti-Catholic group SNAP – who are desperate to hide the shocking truth about false accusations from the public.

What are the facts about Catholic sex abuse and false accusations? Consider:

    • A veteran Los Angeles attorney who has worked on over 100 clergy abuse cases recentlydeclared:

      “One retired F.B.I. agent who worked with me to investigate many claims in the Clergy Cases told me, in his opinion, about ONE-HALF of the claims made in the Clergy Cases were either entirely false or so greatly exaggerated that the truth would not have supported a prosecutable claim for childhood sexual abuse.” 

 

    • Over an 18-month period in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Archdiocesan the review board – comprised largely of law enforcement and lay experts on abuse – “did not find that probable cause of sexual abuse of a minor had occurred” in 45% of the cases it thoroughly examined, again suggesting about half of the claims were bogus;

 

    • Last year in the United States, nearly half (45%) of all priests accused of abuse were long-ago deceased and thus unable to deny the charges – and this percentage continues to rise every year;

 

  • In weighing the costs of fighting lawsuits versus settling them, dioceses routinely pay out sizable settlements even for abuse claims against long-dead priests whose records werecompletely unblemished when they were alive and where accusations were never even substantiated.

 

Therefore, contingency lawyers have been incentivized to bring claims against dioceses which are either completely bogus or greatly exaggerated, or to seek outsized sums for minor claims.

Over the recent past, we have cataloged a shocking number bogus cases against Catholic priests, but clearly this is only the tip of the iceberg.

 

Lone voices in the media wilderness: Acknowledging the fraud

 

Vincent Carroll

And indeed it is rare that the issue of false accusations against priests is even acknowledged in the mainstream media. Over the past dozen years, we have located only a couple of passing mentions in the media.

 

In truth, the media is structured in such a way that few reporters, editors, or columnists are ever brave enough to pursue a story which runs counter to the accepted narrative on an issue.

In 2010, Vincent Carroll at the Denver Post fearlesslynoted, “[F]raudulent or highly dubious accusations are more common than is acknowledged in coverage of the church scandals — although they should not be surprising, given the monumental settlements various dioceses have paid out over the years.”

In 2005, Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal, writing about abuse lawsuits against the Church, asserted, “People have to come to understand that there is a large scam going on with personal injury attorneys, and what began as a serious effort [to help genuine victims] has now expanded to become a huge money-making proposition.”

In addition, in 2001 (!), an East Coast attorney wrote, “I have some contacts in the prison system, having been an attorney for some time, and it has been made known to me that [accusing a Catholic priest of abuse] is a current and popular scam.”

Who knows how many more such scams are being perpetrated today while the mainstream media sleeps?

We may never know unless a news organization is finally brave enough to run with a counter-narrative and expose the ever-widening scandal of bogus claims against priests.

http://www.themediareport.com/2013/11/26/false-accusations-catholic-priests/

Owner of alleged Satanic sex abuse daycare released as case against her falls apart

Owner of alleged Satanic sex abuse daycare released as case against her falls apart

 

The Texas woman who served 21 years in prison for allegedly molesting and abusing children as part of a series of Satanic rituals was released on Tuesday in Austin. TheAustin American Statesman reported that Fran Keller, now 63, is being released as key components of the case that put her behind bars have unraveled.

The former Austin daycare owner and her husband Dan Keller were convicted of shocking crimes against three children left in their care, charges that were part of a wave of hysteria that gripped the country in the 1990s that later proved to be mostly groundless. While the Travis County District Attorney’s office stopped short of saying the Kellers are innocent of all charges against them, it did not oppose the couple’s release.

The Kellers’ attorney Keith Hampton said that Dan Keller is set to be released as early as next week.

 

In 1991, a 3-year-old girl left in the Kellers’ care at the Fran and Dan Day Care Center in Southeast Austin told her parents that Dan Keller had hurt her. At the prompting of a counselor, the little girl spun terrifying stories of ritual abuse that were purportedly corroborated by two other children who attended the preschool.

As the case wore on, the children’s allegations became ever more outlandish, including charges that the Kellers sexually molested them and allowed other adults to do so. The Kellers were accused of forcing the children to watch as they dismembered cats, dogs and another child.

The children even told investigators that they had been flown to Mexico, where they were abused by soldiers, then returned to the daycare in time to be picked up by their parents at the end of the day.

In spite of the far-fetched nature of the charges, the Kellers were found guilty and sentenced to 48 years in prison each. Now it appears that the two child care workers were the victims of an investigation run amok, a fraudulent child psychologist, reckless fact-finding and an overall atmosphere of media hysteria.

Hampton is working for Dan and Fran Keller pro bono, going back over archived court records and testimony to expose the holes in the case. The one piece of physical evidence in the case, he said, has now been proven to have been a medical error.

Dr. Michael Mouw was an Emergency Room doctor in 1991 when the parents of the 3-year-old girl who made the initial accusations brought her in. The doctor believed that he saw fresh tears in the girl’s hymen that were consistent with recent sexual abuse. He was wrong.

 

At a medical conference years after the Keller trial, Mouw saw a slide of a normal pediatric hymen that looked identical to the one he diagnosed in 1991.

“Sometimes it takes time to figure out what you don’t know,” Mouw said at an August appeal hearing, citing his lack of experience with pediatric sexual abuse. “I was mistaken.”

In the court filing of that appeal, Hampton wrote, “A 21st century court ought to be able to recognize a 20th century witch-hunt and render justice accordingly.”

[image of Satanic ritual supplies via Shutterstock.com]

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/11/27/owner-of-alleged-satanic-sex-abuse-daycare-released-as-case-against-her-falls-apart/

St. Paul archdiocese may not need court OK to release list of abusive priests, judge says

St. Paul archdiocese may not need court OK to release list of abusive priests, judge says

A Ramsey County judge has stated that he is not sure church officials need court permission to release names of priests accused of sexually abusing children.

John Nienstedt, archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said Nov. 11 that upon “permission of the relevant court” he would be “disclosing the names, locations and status of priests who are currently living in the archdiocese, and who we know have substantiated claims against them of committing sexual abuse against minors.”

In 2009, as a part of the case of alleged abuse victim John Doe 76C against the Rev. Thomas Adamson, Ramsey County District Judge Gregg Johnson ordered the archdiocese to release its list of 33 “credibly accused” priests to the plaintiff’s attorney, Jeff Anderson.

The archdiocese did so, but petitioned the court to seal the list. Johnson agreed. Since then, Anderson has been trying to get the names released.

The issue is now before Judge John Van de North. Van de North will preside over a hearing Monday morning in a case of another man, identified as John Doe 1, who alleges abuse by Adamson while the priest served at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Paul Park.

John Doe 1 claims the archdiocese moved Adamson from parish to parish without warning families despite his prior admissions of sexual abuse of children.

The plaintiff wants the list of “credibly accused” priests released.

In a Nov. 18 order, Van de North said, “To the extent it is required (something not entirely clear to the court), ‘permission of the relevant court’ may be obtainable from this court, or from the Honorable Gregg Johnson,” who previously sealed the list.

Johnson may be “the relevant court” for purposes of modifying his sealing order, Van de North wrote.

“The archdiocese has no interest in delaying disclosure,” the attorney for the archdiocese wrote in response to Van de North’s order. But it was concerned about the scope of disclosure sought by the plaintiff, which includes not only the names of accused priests but “each priest’s history of abuse, each such priest’s pattern of grooming and sexual behavior and his last known address,” according to the lawsuit.

And archdiocese attorney Thomas Wieser accused Jeff Anderson and Associates of publicizing on its website the names of 20 priests from the list.

“The archdiocese was not consulted before that information was publicly displayed on that website, does not agree to that disclosure, and is concerned that publication of that information is contrary to the (sealing) order,” Wieser wrote Monday to the court.

Anderson wrote to the judge Monday that the archbishop has not promised to release all 33 names on the list. Rather, he said, Nienstedt indicated he would release names pending completion of a file review of priests and that it would be only priests currently living in the archdiocese.

In addition, Anderson wrote, “the statement released by Archbishop Nienstedt is not binding on the archdiocese and there is no guarantee that any of the names will be released.”

http://www.twincities.com/crime/ci_24615726/st-paul-archdiocese-may-not-need-court-ok

Pope Francis: ‘I Believe In God, Not In A Catholic God’

Pope Francis: ‘I Believe In God, Not In A Catholic God’

Pope Francis has been making headlines ever since he was elected the Roman Catholic Church’s leader six months ago, and now he’s getting even more attention. “I believe in God, not in a Catholic God,” he said in an interview, essentially taking a dig at the Catholic Church hierarchy by condemning its “Vatican-centric view.”

Pope Francis: ‘I Believe In God, Not In A Catholic God’
Pope Francis Reuters

“I believe in God, not in a Catholic God. There is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation,” the pope said in the interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, as quoted by the Inquisitr. “Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being. Do you think we are very far apart?”

The 76-year-old Argentinean pontiff added he does not agree with everything his religion stands for: “This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us,” he said. “I do not share this view, and I’ll do everything I can to change it.”

Pope Francis plans to do so by being more involved with the community. He stated his plan: “The Church is or should go back to being a community of God’s people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God.”

Eugenio Scalfari, the co-founder and former editor of La Repubblica, was surprised to get the exclusive interview with the pope in the first place, but even more suprised at the pope’s comments.

“‘God is not Catholic,’” Scalfari quoted the pope as saying, according to NBC News. Confused, he asked Pope Francis to elaborate, and the pontiff reportedly replied, “‘God is universal, and we are Catholic in the sense of the way we worship him.’”

Pope Francis was reportedly taken aback when he was elected pope by the conclave in March. He briefly thought about refusing  but then accepted his role. “When in the conclave they elected me pope, I asked for some time alone before I accepted,” he said in the interview. “I was overwhelmed by great anxiety, then I closed my eyes and all thoughts, including the possibility of refusing, went away.”

http://www.ibtimes.com/pope-francis-i-believe-god-not-catholic-god-1415620