Victim advocates take anger over Lynn decision to church

Victim advocates take anger over Lynn decision to church

Under a steady rain Sunday, Judy and Chuck Miller took up spots that have often been occupied by child-abuse victim advocates: the steps of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

Judy Miller leads the Delaware branch of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a group that hosted regular protests after the 2011 grand jury report about clergy sex-abuse in Philadelphia.

Her return Sunday was prompted by last week’s Superior Court ruling that overturned the conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn, the central figure in the case.

“In my humble opinion, he was certainly guilty,” Miller, 74, said as she and her husband handed leaflets to attendees at the Mass.

Theirs was not the only protest planned.

Another victim advocate, Robert M. Hoatson, said he and others would demonstrate Monday outside the Criminal Justice Center, where Lynn’s lawyers will ask a judge to free him on bail.

“For some reason, the abusers and their enablers continue to get off the hook while the victims suffer,” said Hoatson, 61, a former Catholic priest from West Orange, N.J., and president of the victim support group Road to Recovery Inc.

Lynn, 62, was the archdiocesan secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. Prosecutors say he let a priest with a history of abuse live at a Northeast Philadelphia parish, enabling that priest to assault an altar boy.

The Superior Court on Thursday reversed Lynn’s conviction for child endangerment, finding that prosecutors and the trial judge who presided over Lynn’s 2012 case had misapplied the law.

The panel said Lynn should not have been charged with endangering the welfare of children because the law until 2007 applied only to people who were guardians or who directly supervised children.

But Chuck Miller, 76, called Lynn “responsible for those children who were molested as a result of the assignments he made.”

The couple urged people leaving Mass to press Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to keep Lynn from ministry and to back District Attorney Seth Williams’ decision to appeal the ruling.

The Millers found few supporters among the crowd. “Their anger should be at the court, not the church,” said one woman who accepted the handbill but who declined to give her name. “People are celebrating love and families and peace. I feel like they are directing their anger toward people who are attending Mass.”


MO – Victims blast archdiocese’s “self-serving secrecy”

MO – Victims blast archdiocese’s “self-serving secrecy”

Twice recently, St. Louis Catholic officials have violated a local judge’s order. Archbishop Robert Carlson is choosing to keep information about years of horrific clergy child sex crimes and church cover ups hidden, like he and his predecessors have done for decades.

They are refusing to obey this judge’s ruling even though he gave them more than six months to comply and even though there’s a protective order that would prevent anyone but two attorneys from seeing the information.

Today’s Post-Dispatch story is long but here’s the key phrase: “The archdiocese is fighting . . . to keep accused priests’ names secret.” That strategy – keeping accused priests’ names secret – has long been the goal of virtually every Catholic official. And despite years of promises of reform, it still is.

Earlier this month in Minnesota, a judge forced two Catholic bishops to make names of predator priests public. But here in St. Louis, a judge apparently can’t even force one Catholic bishop to turn over such names in private (with a protective order, so no one can see who they are).

And, in an Orwellian twist, Carlson claims he is now suddenly concerned that obeying the judge might somehow hurt abuse victims.  That is a clever – but patently false – claim. It’s one that he had six months to make but neglected to make until the judge’s deadline was upon him.

Carlson and his cronies are afraid for themselves, their reputations and their power, not for victims’ privacy. It’s preposterous for Carlson to claim that if one veteran clergy sex abuse attorney – who has helped hundreds of victims – were to be given, under seal, pedophile priest records that contained names of victims, he would somehow hurt those same victims.

Finally, it’s deceitful and self-serving for Carlson to claim, through one of his PR staff, that “All of the information sought is from a timeframe years before (Carlson) was installed as archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The Archdiocese, under Archbishop Carlson, takes allegations of abuse extremely seriously.”

Carlson’s clearly implying that he somehow differs from his predecessors. He does not. In this case, involving Fr. Joseph D. Ross, Carlson is “fighting to keep names of accused priests secret,” just like his predecessors. And in another recent case, involving Fr. Joseph Jiang, Carlson is accused of trying to tamper with evidence (by trying to get from a victim’s family a $20,000 check that Fr. Jiang gave them).

And just like May, Rigali, and Burke, Carlson imports dozens of dangerous clerics to the St. Louis archdiocese, letting them secretly live at church facilities with little or no warning to parishioners or the public.

When it comes to clergy sex crimes and cover ups, Carlson is different from his predecessors in only one respect – he’s even more determined and shrewd about keeping secrets secret.

We hope that Carlson’s clumsy and selfish posturing – throwing his predecessors and their advisors under the bus – will backfire. We hope it will prompt even one current or former Catholic official to become a whistleblower and voluntarily step forward with information about this on-going crisis that might spare even one child the devastation of child sexual abuse at the hands of a religious figure.

We are deeply grateful to the young woman who was so severely hurt by Fr. Ross and yet who has the courage and wisdom to seek justice and expose wrongdoers. In this horrible saga, her strength and bravery and persistence are the one bright sliver of hope.

We urge Judge Dierker to sanction Carlson for disobeying his order. We also urge him to realize that secrecy, not disclosure, is most harmful and dangerous, to both adults who have been hurt and kids who might be hurt.

Argentine priest serving time for sex abuse loses bid for freedom pending appeal

Argentine priest serving time for sex abuse loses bid for freedom pending appeal

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – An Argentine priest serving 15 years in prison for sexually abusing a boy has lost another appeal.

Father Julio Cesar Grassi lived freely across the street from the orphanage where the crimes took place even as courts repeatedly found him guilty. He began serving the sentence behind bars in September after the provincial Supreme Court in Buenos Aires upheld the verdict.

The ruling published Monday on the justice system’s website said the appeals court turned down his lawyer’s request to free him pending a final appeal to the national Supreme Court, saying his arguments were unfounded.

Grassi was a celebrity priest who channeled big money donations to his Happy Children Foundation until he was accused of sex abuse in 1996. He was first convicted in 2009, and still maintains he is innocent.

PA – Victims want Catholic official to stay locked up

PA – Victims want Catholic official to stay locked up

We support DA Seth Williams’ effort to keep Msgr. William Lynn behind bars for now. We too worry that he might flee overseas, like hundreds of predator priests – and several corrupt church officials – already have. Why take the risk that a complicit Catholic cleric might escape justice?

Shortly after Archbishop Charles Chaput came to Philly, he was meeting with hundreds of priests and they gave Lynn a rousing round of applause, even though he’d already been charged with endangering children’s safety. And since he was convicted, virtually no Philly Catholic official has clearly denounced his wrongdoing.

So it’s clear that Lynn continues to enjoy the support of many of his Catholic supervisors and peers, any of whom could help him flee.

For decades, many in the justice system – like many in the pews – have trusted the Catholic hierarchy to act responsibly. That trust has been, and continues to be, repeatedly and egregiously violating, bringing more and more harm to still-vulnerable kids and already-wounded adults. We hope that in this case, the judge takes a more prudent course and keeps Msgr. Lynn locked up until there’s a final resolution.

St. Paul archdiocese whistleblower lauded by Catholic newspaper

St. Paul archdiocese whistleblower lauded by Catholic newspaper

A national independent Catholic newspaper has named Jennifer Haselberger of St. Paul its person of the year for 2013.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based National Catholic Reporter said Monday on its website that Haselberger was one of few who dared to speak out against an archbishop.

“Thank God for the courage of abuse survivors and the families of victims who will not let our bishops and leaders forget the abuse and their complicity in it,” the editorial staff wrote. “Thank God for activists who stand with survivors. But most of all, thank God for one very special class of people: the priests and church personnel who do stand up to their leaders and cry out for justice.”

Finally, they wrote, “thank God for Jennifer Haselberger.”

Besides Haselberger, the editorial names two others who “sacrificed promising ecclesiastical careers because they sided with the victims of abuse and not with those who would cover it up.” They are Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk who joined the firm of attorney Jeff Anderson in St. Paul this year to work on clergy lawsuits, and the Rev. Thomas Doyle of Vienna, Va., who studies priests’ sexual activities and works with abuse victims.

Haselberger, 39, sparked a firestorm of criticism against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis when she went public with accusations that top officials had covered up possible child sexual abuse and other misconduct by priests.

Haselberger worked as chancellor of canonical affairs for the archdiocese from 2008 until April, when she resigned in protest.

“I was not prepared for this disregard for the requirements of canon law, nor for what appeared to be an equal disregard for civil law, especially in regard to the obligation to report to the civil authorities,” she told the National Catholic Reporter.

She had tried to persuade the archdiocesan administration to “take the necessary steps” to address sexual misconduct by priests, she said in an October statement to the media.

Patrick Wall (Courtesy of Jeff Anderson and Associates)

Patrick Wall (Courtesy of Jeff Anderson and Associates)

Among the cases disclosed by Haselberger was that of the Rev. Jonathan Shelley, 52, who previously served St. John the Baptist Church in Hugo and St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi. A computer he owned in 2004 was found to have thousands of pornographic images on it. Haselberger believed some of those were child pornography. The case was not referred to police until she brought it to the attention of the Ramsey County attorney’s office.

Shelley has not been charged in the case. An initial review of computer data turned over by the archdiocese showed no child pornography, St. Paul police said in September, but a Hugo man who had alerted the archdiocese to the computer in 2004 turned over a copy of its hard drive Oct. 4. Police are reviewing it.

Haselberger also exposed church officials’ inaction in the face of troubling behavior by the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer in the years leading up to his conviction on child molestation and child pornography charges. Wehmeyer is serving a five-year prison term.

She repeatedly took her concerns to Archbishop John Nienstedt, but they were ignored, she said.

The archdiocese has said it is committed to handling clergy misconduct matters “aggressively and consistently.”

In November, it hired Los Angeles-based Kinsale Management Consulting to review files of all clergy in active ministry.

On Sunday, the archdiocese said that priests from Catholic churches in Minneapolis and Mendota were taking leaves of absence after Kinsale’s review of files disclosed past inappropriate conduct with minors.

The Rev. Joseph Gallatin of the Church of St. Peter in Mendota and the Rev. Mark Wehmann of St. Boniface Catholic Church in Minneapolis had engaged in “boundary violations” with the minors, the statements said. Wehmann was accused in several incidents; as for Gallatin, there was one incident “many years ago,” the archdiocese said.

Founded in 1964, the National Catholic Reporter describes itself as “one of the few independent journalistic outlets for Catholics and others who struggle with the complex moral and societal issues of the day.”

Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522. Follow her at

Archdiocese: Two priests reported to police

Archdiocese: Two priests reported to police

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has forwarded information about two parish priests to law enforcement. The two priests in question are taking leaves from active ministry.

An outside firm found that the Rev. Joseph Gallatin and the Rev. Mark Wehmann were involved in incidents of “inappropriate conduct” with minors. The archdiocese didn’t say how the firm reached its decision. No information about the allegations has been released.

• MPR News investigation: Archdiocese under scrutiny

The archdiocese said it reported the information to police recently. An official with the archdiocese described the acts by both men as boundary violations that “do not constitute criminal activity or sexual abuse” but didn’t provide additional information.

“It could have been anything, but the fact that it had not been brought to our attention is horrifying.”

parishioner Deb Mack of Fridley

Officials also didn’t say why no one removed the men from ministry sooner. Church leaders have claimed for years to have zero tolerance for any sexual abuse of minors. Any priest with a credible allegation of child sexual abuse is supposed to be removed from ministry right away.

MPR News could not reach Wehmann for comment at his parish but the statement from the archdiocese said an independent review of Wehmann’s file found several incidents of inappropriate conduct with minors involving boundary violations. The statement did not define what amounts to boundary violations.

The archdiocese said it reported some of Wehmann’s alleged acts to police but that no criminal charges were filed. The archdiocese didn’t say when it made the initial report. The archdiocese revealed it reported more information about Wehmann to police recently.


“It could have been anything, but the fact that it had not been brought to our attention is horrifying,” said parishioner Deb Mack, of Fridley, about Wehmann. She said she has attended St. Boniface her entire life and she’s upset church leaders didn’t inform the parish about the allegations against Wehmann when he started serving there in July.

“Who do you trust?” Mack said.

Wehmann informed parishioners at weekend mass about his decision to take a leave of absence, according to Mack. She said her 13-year-old son is an altar boy and was scheduled to be by Wehmann’s side on Sunday, but he declined to perform his duties on Sunday in light of the allegations.

“It bothers me to think that something could have happened and I put my child at risk.” Mack added, “I’m horrified.”


In a separate statement, the archdiocese said there is one allegation of inappropriate conduct with a minor against the Rev. Joseph Gallatin that occurred “many years ago.” The statement also said the outside firm concluded no crime occurred but the archdiocese decided to report it the police anyway. The archdiocese wouldn’t say how the firm decided it wasn’t a crime. Gallatin did not return a phone call for comment.

MPR News has reviewed a 2002 internal church document that said Gallatin had been accused of inappropriate interactions with a minor. The memo written by top church deputy Kevin McDonough said Gallatin was the subject of “disputed claims, marginal behavior, or undue attention.” Gallatin has served at the Church of St. Peter in Mendota since 2008.

Church leaders have already disclosed the names of thirty priests they believe have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. Since that disclosure in early December, MPR News has found that internal documents show that at least four other priests had credible accusations but were left off the list.

A spokesman for the St. Paul police could not be immediately reached to confirm whether the archdiocese reported the information to them. Police are already investigating allegations against several priests in the archdiocese, including Archbishop Nienstedt. The archbishop temporarily stepped away from public ministry earlier this month after the archdiocese released a statement saying it received a complaint saying Nienstedt allegedly touched a boy on the buttocks during a group confirmation photo in 2009. Nienstedt calls the allegation “entirely false.”

Peter Bryce and Duncan Campbell Scott: the road not taken on residential schools

Peter Bryce and Duncan Campbell Scott: the road not taken on residential schools

This past fall, I was involved in the musical-historical projectFour Horses that tells the story of a dark chapter in Canadian history. Working with University of Regina Press (publishers of Clearing the Plains) we set out to introduce a new generation to the story of how the federal government used disease and famine in an attempt to destroy First Nation identity in Canada. Until I was involved in this project, I would have thought that such accusations couldn’t be true in a country such as ours. The Four Horses project forced me to look closer, and the closer I looked, the starker the picture became.

So let’s look at the residential schools and the legacy of two men: one famous and one obscure. The famous man is Duncan Campbell Scott — the architect of the 20th century’s brutal residential school regime. The obscure figure is a crusading bureaucrat named Peter Henderson Bryce.

Bryce was the Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Indian Affairs at the turn of the 20th century.  In 1907 he released an explosive report On the Indian Schools Of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories that exposed the atrocious death rates of tuberculosis among children in the residential school system.

He laid the blame on both the Churches and the Federal government. To Bryce, it wasn’t simply a case of negligent local school officials but a systemic failure of the federal government to ensure adequately funded education and health support for Aboriginal children. He pointed out that a number of institutions didn’t even bother to provide soap or clean water for the children.

Bryce insisted that all Indian Affairs officials under his watch begin tracking the monthly rates of illness in First Nation communities. This compilation of statistics showed that students were dying at rates between 24 and 69%.

In the larger Aboriginal population, Bryce found that tuberculosis was killing an estimated 34.7 per 1,000, compared to the non-Native rate of approximately 1.8 per 1,000 people. On the prairies the death rate was closer to 90 per 1000.

Medical authorities knew the importance of public health initiatives to fight the spread of TB but federal officials did little to stop the devastation in First nation populations. Bryce pointed out that the Department of Indian Affairs was spending a mere $10 annually on TB prevention to cover off three hundred First Nation bands. By comparison, the City of Ottawa was spending $342,000 annually on programs to stop the disease.

DA to appeal superior court decision to free Msgr. Lynn on bail

DA to appeal superior court decision to free Msgr. Lynn on bail

District Attorney Seth Williams is taking an appeals court ruling to the state Supreme Court in attempt to keep Msgr. William Lynn behind bars.

Lynn could be sprung any day this week with the posting of 10 percent of $250,000 bail, granted yesterday by Superior Court Judge Teresa M. Sarmina, after his child endangerment conviction was overturned a day after Christmas.

“We can say with great confidence that the way the superior court read this law is not how this law is supposed to work,” Williams said during a press conference yesterday.

“I am disgusted by the ruling of the superior court panel that was persuaded by the defense argument that Monsignor Lynn did not have a duty to protect children. I have no doubt that a misguided, wealthy benefactor will pay for his release.”

In June 2012, a jury found that Lynn was solely responsible for allowing pedophile priests to have contact with young boys and shuffled them from parish to parish to keep it quiet.

Williams called the reversal a “puzzling” and “disappointing” conclusion.

“If you are having trouble understanding this result, there is nothing wrong with you,” he said.

“There is something wrong with this superior court panel, and rest assured, we will fight it as long and as far as we must.”

Lynn, 62, has spent the last 18 months behind bars in Wayne County – about 160 miles north of Philadelphia – serving out a three- to six-month sentence handed down last year.

Prosecutors alleged Lynn, whose job it was to report cases of child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese, protected a number of pedophile priests during his tenure. One of them, the now-defrocked Edward Avery, pleaded guilty in March 2012 to raping a 10-year old boy at a St. Jerome’s Parish in the northeast section of the city.

Lynn was tasked with supervising Avery and others in his role as Secretary for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In its opinion, the superior court panel found that Lynn’s conduct was not within reach of the Endangering the Welfare of a Child statute, either as a principal player or an accomplice.

Lynn’s attorneys hailed the ruling as a victory, claiming the court abused its discretion a number of times at trial.

“While the fight to keep him behind bars may be over, the battle to get him back behind bars, where he belongs, has just begun,” said Williams.

The district attorney’s office has until the end of January to file its appeal.


Church asks judge to loosen requirements for disclosing priest abuse allegations

Church asks judge to loosen requirements for disclosing priest abuse allegations

Lawyers for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have asked a judge to loosen an order requiring it to disclose the names of all priests accused of child sexual abuse since 2004.

The archdiocese now argues that it doesn’t want to release the names of all priests accused of abuse. Rather, it wants time to investigate the allegations first and release the names of the accused priests only if Catholic Church officials determine the claims are credible.

Ramsey County Judge John Van de North ordered the Twin Cities archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona to release the names of all recently accused priests by Jan. 6. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday — three days before the Jan. 6 deadline.

In a Dec. 18 letter to Van de North, archdiocese attorney Tom Wieser asked the judge to grant the archdiocese “30 days upon learning of an accusation of sexual abuse of a minor to investigate the claim. If The Archdiocese determines that the claim is not credible, it shall be permitted an opportunity to seek an independent review and determination from the Court regarding The Archdiocese’s obligation to publicly disclose the accusation,” Wieser wrote.

The Diocese of Winona submitted a similar letter to Van de North, in which attorney Thomas Braun explained, “The Diocese shares concerns that a wholesale public disclosure of incredible, unsubstantiated, frivolous or malicious accusations would do irreparable harm to the reputations of those individuals without good cause.”

• MPR News investigation: Archdiocese under scrutiny

The requests come after Van de North’s order earlier this month that required the Twin Cities archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona to disclose the names of priests accused of child sexual abuse. Van de North ordered the dioceses to disclose 46 names on previously sealed lists of “credibly accused” priests by Dec. 17. The Twin Cities archdiocese and the Winona diocese responded by releasing the names of priests on the sealed lists, as well as the names of two priests accused after the lists were created.

Van de North also ordered the release of the names of all priests accused of sexually abusing children since the lists were created — even if Catholic officials decided the claims weren’t credible — by Jan. 6.

The archdiocese, in its letter to Van de North, said that releasing all of the names could damage the reputations of innocent priests.

“An anonymous, one-sentence letter (‘Fr. X is a child molester’) would have to be publicly disclosed,” Wieser, the archdiocese attorney, wrote. “Rumors spread by a mentally unbalanced individual, by a disgruntled parish employee, by conservative parishioners disliking a liberal pastor (or vice versa), or by malicious persons motivated by anti-Catholic animus, would have to be publicly disclosed without regard to credibility.”

• Related: List of Twin Cities priests credibly accused of sexual abuse

In response to the archdiocese, victims’ attorney Mike Finnegan urged Van de North in a Dec. 20 letter to reject the archdiocese’s request to narrow the release. Finnegan noted MPR News’ recent coverage of former priest Harry Walsh, whose name wasn’t disclosed by the archdiocese despite two allegations of child sexual abuse, and the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, who was kept in ministry despite violating church policy on overnight trips with children and receiving treatment for sexual addiction. Wehmeyer is now in prison for sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography.

“Any process that allows the Archdiocese or Diocese alone to be the decision-maker on what allegations are credible and which are not is a dangerous thing,” Finnegan wrote.

Finnegan and his colleague Jeff Anderson have argued for years that keeping the names secret puts children at risk. Their efforts won more support this fall after an MPR News investigation found top church officials failed to report allegations of child sexual abuse to police and gave extra monthly payments to abusive priests.

St. Paul police continue to investigate several claims of clergy sexual abuse,including one against Archbishop John Nienstedt. The archbishop stepped aside from public appearances earlier this month after the archdiocese released a statement disclosing a complaint that Nienstedt touched a boy’s buttocks during a confirmation group photo in 2009. Nienstedt has denied the allegation.

Former Los Angeles priest pleads guilty to molestation in Texas.

Former Los Angeles priest pleads guilty to molestation in Texas

A former priest convicted twice of sex crimes in California and Texas pleaded guilty Monday to a molestation charge, Texas authorities said.

John Salazar, the subject of a front-page story in The Times, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to the office of the Swisher County attorney. 

Salazar, 58, had been accused of abusing a young man who attended the Church of the Holy Spirit in Tulia, Texas, where Salazar served as pastor. Salazar’s lawyer did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The case was the fourth time Salazar has faced a criminal charge.

Salazar was ordained in Los Angeles in 1984. Within three years, he pleaded guilty to abusing two teenage boys and was sent to prison.

Upon his release, he met Bishop Leroy Matthiesen, who took him to the Diocese of Amarillo over the objections of church officials in L.A. Salazar started at the Tulia parish in 1991 and became a beloved figure in the Texas Panhandle community.

In 2002, at the height of the nationwide clergy abuse scandal, Salazar was arrested on suspicion of abusing two boys in Los Angeles in the 1980s. Those charges were dropped when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the California law used to prosecute decades-old sex abuse cases.

Not long after returning to Texas in 2003, Salazar was accused of sexually assaulting a former parishioner in a hotel room near Dallas. A jury found him guilty, but his conviction was later overturned. He took a plea deal and was released from prison last year.,0,6310951.story#ixzz2p2WVFdMH