Financial records sought from Franciscan Friars

Financial records sought from Franciscan Friars

An attorney representing alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Gallup bankruptcy case is seeking insurance and financial records from the Franciscan Friars, which for years posted members at parishes in New Mexico and Arizona.

Twelve sexual abuse claims filed as part of the bankruptcy identify seven Franciscan priests as the alleged abusers, according to court records.

In addition, many of the sexual abuse claims allegedly took place during the tenure of Bishop Bernard Espelage, a Franciscan priest who served as the first bishop of the Gallup diocese from 1939 until 1970, records said.

The Diocese of Gallup filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy in November 2013, making it the ninth U.S. diocese to file for bankruptcy in response to sexual abuse lawsuits.

James Stang, a Los Angeles attorney representing 56 alleged abuse victims who filed claims in the case, filed motions asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma to order two Franciscan provinces to provide records in the case.

In July, Thuma ordered the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, to turn over insurance and financial records to claimants in the case.

Stang sought the records from the Texas diocese because the late Rev. Clement Hagaman was transferred to Gallup from the Diocese of Corpus Christi in 1940, court records said.

Hagaman, who served as pastor in several Gallup parishes until his death in 1975, is alleged to have sexually abused 18 people who filed claims in the bankruptcy case, Stang said in a recent interview.

The diocese ultimately must rely on revenue from insurance policies and real estate sales to pay bankruptcy settlement costs, including legal costs and payments to victims, Stang said.

Stang is seeking records from two provinces of the Franciscan Friars – the Ohio-based Province of St. John the Baptist, and the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe, based in New Mexico and Arizona.

Before 1985, all Franciscan priests serving in the Diocese of Gallup were members of the Province of St. John the Baptist, according to court records.

Since the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe was formed in December 1984, virtually all Franciscan priests serving in New Mexico and Arizona have been members of the new province.

In a motion filed on Monday, an attorney said that the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe should not be required to turn over records because the alleged abuses occurred from 1960 to 1979, ending several years before the province was formed.

Thuma had not ruled on the motions as of Tuesday.


Archbishop plans to file defamation lawsuit

Archbishop plans to file defamation lawsuit

Guam – The archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana is, by nature of the position, the highest-ranking Catholic locally – and as such, the person who takes the cloth in that role is usually the biggest target for scrutiny. But while it’s taught to turn the other cheek and solve disputes through reason and prayer, it seems the leader of the Guam’s Catholic faithful is intending to file a defamation lawsuit amid recent controversies involving the church.

t’s been long and rough road for the island’s Catholic church. This year, for example, the removal of Father John Wadeson stemming from allegation of child molestation prior to coming to Guam. Then there was the sudden removal of Monsignor James Benavente as rector of the Archdiocese of Agana, which was received with outrage and disappointment. Then just recently media reports about a man accusing the archbishop of sexual molestation, and then talks about why Archbishop Anthony Apuron really met with Pope Francis in the Vatican last week.

The head of the island’s Catholic Church, is back on island and issued a statement exclusively to KUAM – Apuron requested to meeting with the pope and he was granted an audience on November 21.

“I wanted to speak with the Holy Father about the situation of the church in Guam and the critical role we play in the evangelization of the Pacific, we spoke of the challenges and the joys of our church. Pope Francis showed interest to know about Guam and the Pacific,” stated his Excellency.

Apuron says that he also invited the pope to visit our island on his way to the Philippines. As for recent allegations of sexual molestation Apuron says nothing could be further from the truth. “It is a horribly calumny and I am obliged to defend not my person but the church. On the advice of legal counsel I will not answer any questions. However defending the church compels me to a suit – a defamation suit – any damages that I receive I will not keep for myself but will be given to the charitable causes of our church.”

He adds that he has dedicated his life to spread the Catholic faith through his words and actions and leads through example in his own behavior. “I trust that the members of our Guam Catholic family who have observed my actions and leadership for the last thirty years will know in their hearts and spirits that these allegations are false,” he expressed.

The archbishop did not provide any specifics as to who he will file the lawsuit against, but said he will be filing it shortly and will provide that information when its available. The archbishop would not take any further questions.

Further accusations made against paediatric doctor from Bury St Edmunds

Further accusations made against paediatric doctor from Bury St Edmunds

Cambridgeshire Police confirmed they have received the additional complaints alleging abuse following the paediatric oncologist’s guilty pleas in September to a raft of sex offences against young cancer sufferers in his care, and child pornography charges.

Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where Bradbury, of Herringswell, near Bury St Edmunds, worked has also said it has now received more than 200 calls to its helpline for patients set up following the case being made public.

In addition it has emerged that in November 2012 Bradbury flew out to an African orphanage in Swaziland on a church mission to help children with Aids. This was months after the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in Britain was warned he was a possible suspect in a worldwide child pornography inquiry.

Detectives in Cambridge said they became aware of the trip during their probe which began in November 2013 and looked into the matter. There was no evidence suggesting he had abused any children while in Africa.

Bradbury is due to be sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on Monday, with his mitigation being put before the court today.

The disgraced doctor, who treated child cancer patients from across the region, is due to receive a substantial prison sentence. Neil Franklin, a spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said two further complaints have now been forwarded on to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. He also confirmed officers were aware of Bradbury’s trip to Africa.

Bradbury admitted six counts of sexual activity with a child in September.

Bradbury, who held clinics at Colchester General and Ipswich hospitals, also admitted three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. He pleaded guilty to one count of voyeurism and two counts of making indecent images of a child.

Police confirmed that more than 16,000 indecent images of children were also found on a disk at his home when it was visited by Suffolk Constabulary. Two pens with cameras inside were also discovered. One had images on, the other did not.

A laptop belonging to Bradbury was traced to a recycling plant in Thetford after it had been taken to Mildenhall recycling centre. The hard drive was missing.

Bradbury’s sex offences involved 18 victims aged from eight to 17 and took place between 2009 and last year.

Bradbury denied a count of sexual activity with a child and a count of sexual assault. He is currently on court bail.

New book reveals ‘strong gay scene’ in Irish Catholic church

New book reveals ‘strong gay scene’ in Irish Catholic church

‘Thirty-Three Good Men: Celibacy, Obedience and Identity’ publishes new analysis of priests’ views from a series of interviews conducted by Dr John Weafer, a former seminarian who is now married with children.

The book, which has just been published by Columba Books, reveals that one parish priest interviewed confidentially by Weafer is in a long term gay relationship.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, the author said ‘Fr C’ was “very happy with his life as a priest and a person”.

Another priest interviewed, ‘Fr L’ was ordained in the 1990s. It was only when he was ordained that he finally ended up ‘sleeping’ with another priest.

“Although we both vowed it would never happen again, it did and I was really very confused,” he said.

When he ended up in bed “fumbling around” with another priest, he decided to try the gay scene.

Fr L then “discovered a strong clerical gay scene in Ireland”, although it was not easy to access because of the clerics’ need for secrecy.

He believes that there are “quite a lot of gay guys in the priesthood” and on one occasion when he went into a gay bar in Dublin, he recognised at least nine priests in the bar.

Read more: Bishop supports inheritance rights for gay couples

Dr Weafer said he did not think that the Irish hierarchy would be shocked by the revelations in the book as the interviews showed that the “hierarchy are aware” of what is going on.

“As long as priests don’t go public and don’t flaunt those actions that don’t correspond with being a celibate priest” they turn a blind eye, he claimed.

This will shock many as the official church’s attitude on homosexuality deems it as intrinsically disordered.

According to Dr Weafer: “If a priest was to say in the morning ‘I am gay’, he would be fired. Priests have learned to keep their heads down”.

The researcher, who was the first lay director of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Research and Development in Maynooth, said that while most of the priests he interviewed lived celibate lives, and some are enthusiastic about their priesthood, others have become disillusioned.

The new research shows that the majority of Irish priests are unhappy with mandatory celibacy.

Those most enthusiastic about the retention of celibacy are younger, more conservative priests, the research shows.

Many of the priests were highly critical of the fact that sexuality was a taboo when they were training to be priests in the seminary.

The majority of 33 priests interviewed by Dr Weafer for the book were heterosexual.

One former priest had married and joined the Church of Ireland while Fr L has since decided to leave the priesthood, as he found the double standards too much. Another gay priest Fr G had opted to remain in the priesthood and was not sexually active.

Judging and firing bishops and due process in the church

Judging and firing bishops and due process in the church

When people do not like their bishop, they often call for the pope to fire him and appoint another. Such requests have come from the right and the left in the church. The right has asked for the removal of bishops it considers unorthodox while the left has wanted to remove bishops who lack pastoral qualities. In recent years, many have demanded the removal of bishops who have not responded adequately to the sexual abuse crisis.

In Catholic theology, a bishop is considered the vicar of Christ in his diocese. He is not the vicar of the pope or simply a branch manager in the multinational corporation called the Catholic church. As a result, theologians and canon lawyers get nervous when Catholics talk about the pope firing bishops.

In ancient times, bishops were sometimes judged by provincial or regional councils of bishops who could depose them. As time went on, these judgments were appealed to Rome, which acted as an appeals court rather than a corporate central office.

Civil authorities (emperors, kings and nobles) might also intervene against a bishop, although the church usually fought such interference.

On the other hand, people sometimes complain when bishops are removed. Most recently, conservative Catholics have objected to the removal of Cardinal Raymond Burke as head of the Apostolic Signatura and the removal of Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano from his diocese in Paraguay. Earlier, liberals complained about the removal of Bishop William Morris from his Australian diocese.

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It is important, however, to distinguish between the firing of a bishop from an office in the Roman Curia and removing a bishop from his diocese.

Members of the Roman Curia are not vicars of Christ; they are vicars of the pope. They are part of the pope’s team and are required to publicly support his policies. If they do not, they should not be surprised when they are fired or demoted to less important offices. Popes have been doing this for centuries without any theological or canonical objections.

I have argued elsewhere that members of the Curia should not be made bishops or cardinals, which would make it easier for a pope to hire and fire members of his staff.

The removal of a diocesan bishop is another matter. Today, because the pope appoints bishops, we tend to think that he can fire them. Prior to the 19th century, however, the pope appointed few bishops. Most were either elected by their clergy or appointed by kings. Pope Leo I (440-461) said that to be a legitimate bishop, a man had to be elected by the priests, accepted by his people, and consecrated by the bishops of his province. The pope’s role was minimal or nonexistent.

Earlier this month, the Vatican announced new provisions for the removal of bishops and holders of papal offices. The “rescript” begins with a quote from the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops (Christus Dominus, No. 21):

Since the pastoral office of bishops is so important and weighty, diocesan bishops and others regarded in law as their equals, who have become less capable of fulfilling their duties properly because of the increasing burden of age or some other serious reason, are earnestly requested to offer their resignation from office either at their own initiative or upon the invitation of the competent authority.  

The rescript goes on to reaffirm Pope Paul VI’s 1966 motu proprio, whereby bishops are “invited” to submit their resignations at age 75. Although some canon lawyers argue that bishops are not required to resign at 75, this invitation has for all practical purposes become impossible to decline. It’s an offer you can’t refuse.

Article 5 of the rescript is new: “In some particular circumstances, the competent authority can consider it necessary to ask a bishop to present his resignation from pastoral office, after having made known the reasons for the request and listening carefully to the reasons, in fraternal dialogue.”

This rescript does little more than put in writing what popes have been doing. But it is noteworthy that it avoids language like “fire” or “dismiss”; rather, it speaks of “inviting” or “asking” a bishop to “offer his resignation.” It also requires that the “reasons for the request” be made known to the bishop and the process involve a “fraternal dialogue.”

In reality, bishops are not fired, but talked into resigning.

Cardinal Bernard Law, for example, resigned as archbishop of Boston after he failed to protect children from abusive priests. A couple of Irish bishops also resigned under pressure after being accused of mishandling the sexual abuse crisis.

We have also seen bishops resign because of sexual activity with adults. Others resigned after being accused for sexual abuse with minors. Some, like Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany, aka “Bishop Bling,” resigned because of financial scandals.

Bishop Thomas O’Brien of Phoenix resigned after being involved in a hit-and-run accident. At least one U.S. bishop resigned after a drunken driving arrest, but others, like Archbishops John Roach of St. Paul-Minneapolis and Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, survived such arrests. Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton, Pa., resigned “for reasons of health” after a series of bizarre confrontations in his diocese. Many believe he was pushed to resign

In the few instances where bishops publicly resisted, it is not clear whether they eventually resigned or were dismissed. The process is not transparent, and the participants’ language is often ambiguous.

Bishops who have fought resigning include Livieres, who, according to Catholic News Service reports, “was told to step down as head of the diocese of Ciudad del Este” for, according to a Vatican statement, “serious pastoral reasons.”

The bishop had appointed as vicar general Msgr. Carlos Urrutigoity, who had been suspended from the priesthood by Bishop James Timlin of Scranton because of allegations of sexual abuse. In addition, the bishop had accused the president of the Paraguayan bishops’ conference of homosexuality. Vatican press spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi told CNS: “There were serious problems with his management of the diocese, the education of clergy and relations with other bishops.” 

Likewise, Morris was forced out after he said in a 2006 pastoral letter that he would be open to ordaining women if the church changed its rules. His difficulties with the Vatican began years earlier over his authorization of general absolution in his diocese. According to news reports, he was asked six times to resign by three different Vatican congregations before his removal in 2011. He left only when he got a letter directly from Pope Benedict XVI.

“What was at stake was the church’s unity in faith and the ecclesial communion between the pope and the other bishops in the College of Bishops,” said a statement by the Australian bishops’ conference. “Eventually Bishop Morris was unable to agree to what this communion requires and at that point the pope acted as the successor of Peter, who has the task of deciding what constitutes unity and communion in the church.” Morris said the Australian bishops’ statement “contains inaccuracies and errors.”

Whether Morris and Livieres resigned or were fired is unclear. The bishops either resigned or accepted the right of the pope to dismiss them. It is almost impossible for a bishop to withstand pressure from a pope who has the backing of the local hierarchy. To fight such a united front would tear the church apart, which no bishop wants to happen. We don’t see bishops barricading themselves in their offices and refusing to leave.

In reviewing these cases, certain patterns can be observed.

  1. Bishops involved in personal scandals tend to resign quickly and fade away.
  2. Bishops in conflict with their priests and people tend to stay in office until retirement age.
  3. Bishops accused of violating church discipline or doctrine, like Morris, can mend fences by revising their statements or policies, but if they refuse, they will be subjected to heavy pressure to resign.
  4. Bishops who lose the support of their brother bishops — for example, Law, Morris, Livieres, and Tebartz-van Elst — are in trouble. One observer noticed that during the breaks at this month’s USCCB meeting in Baltimore, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., was standing alone while other bishops were in clusters talking. Finn was convicted of not reporting to the police a priest who had child pornography on his computer. 
  5. As part of the process, the Vatican will often send a foreign cardinal or archbishop to investigate the situation: Archbishop Charles Chaput for Morris; Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló for Livieres; Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo for Tebartz-van Elst; Archbishop Terrence Prendergastfor Bishop Robert Finn.
  6. The process is not transparent. The investigator makes a confidential report to Rome, which is not shared with the bishop or his diocese.
  7. The Vatican does everything possible to avoid using terms like “fire” or “dismiss” but talks of “resignations.” It is not clear what would happen if a bishop simply said, “No. I am not leaving.” Would he be excommunicated or declared schismatic? Would the church end up fighting over the control of church property in civil court?

There is a temptation to support or oppose the removal of a bishop based on whether you like him or not and ignoring all due process questions. Conservatives who cheered the removal of Morris now say that Livieres was railroaded, while liberals take exactly the opposite position.

In civil and criminal court, there are accepted procedures (a written indictment, a right to confront one’s accusers, a right to a lawyer, etc.) and a separation of roles (police, prosecutor, judge, jury, etc.). Such procedures and separation of roles are not welcomed by a paternalistic church that believes it always knows what is best for its children. If the church’s procedures were followed in civil society, they would be condemned as contrary to due process.

There is a need for greater clarity on questions of due process in the church, whether it applies to bishops, theologians, sisters, priests, or laity who are under investigation and charged with offenses. The Canon Law Society of America called for better due process procedures prior to the reform of the Code of Canon Law in 1983, but its recommendations were ignored. It is time to take another look at due process in the church.

Priests tell of the “ordeal” of coming to terms with being gay

Priests tell of the “ordeal” of coming to terms with being gay

New research into the sexual lives of Irish Catholic priests shows many are sexually active or have been in the past, and that there is a gay scene within the church.

‘Thirty-Three Good Men: Celibacy, Obedience and Identity’ publishes new analysis of priests’ views from a series of interviews conducted by Dr John Weafer, a former seminarian who is now married with children.

The book also reveals that the bishops are often aware of the situation.

Dr Weafer says one priest he spoke to told about his struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality:

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Dr Weafer says “if a priest was to say in the morning ‘I am gay’, he would be fired. Priests have learned to keep their heads down”.

A majority of the study’s 33 interviewees were heterosexual.

The research found that a majority of priests in Ireland are not happy with mandatory celibacy, while some younger, more conservative priests are most in favour of the rule’s retention.

Trying To Peddle The Ultimate Contrarian Story

Trying To Peddle The Ultimate Contrarian Story

By Ralph Cipriano for

When I was a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer and had a story to pitch, I used to go editor shopping.

Back in the 1990s when the newspaper had 600 journalists, there were so many departments to shop in — news, features, sports, the projects desk where they did long, investigative stories, and the Sunday magazine. And so many different editors to pitch a story to. If one editor said no it was on to the next one until I made a sale.

Sadly, one rule applied to too many editors I dealt with. If you told them something they already knew, something that squared with the prevailing wisdom, you were in good shape. But if you told those same editors something new, especially something that might challenge the prevailing wisdom, that’s when the trouble started.

On this blog for the past two years, we’ve been dealing with the ultimate contrarian story. A junkie criminal scheming to get out of prison poses as a victim of clerical sex abuse. A politically ambitious district attorney drafts that junkie criminal as his star witness to put men in collars behind bars while the media and public cheer him on. Even though people in the D.A.’s own office privately agreed with defense lawyer Michael J. McGovern’s characterization of star witness Billy Doe as a “lying sack of shit.”

It’s the story nobody wants to hear because it runs counter to the cult of victimology and current, pervasive prejudices against Catholic clerics. But in Philadelphia, with three courts prying into the local district attorney’s self-described “historic” prosecution of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the truth is lurking out there. Especially in the civil case beginning next month when certain current and former members of the district attorney’s office are placed under oath and have to answer some tough questions about a bogus investigation rigged from day one.

Remember My Cousin Vinny, the 1992 movie starring Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei?

In the movie, would-be lawyer Vinny Gambini, played by Joe Pesci, brags to his girlfriend that he just fleeced the local district attorney out of all of his prosecution files in the murder case against Vinny’s cousin and his best friend.

It’s the Marisa Tomei character, Mona Lisa Vito, who explains to Vinny that he’s legally entitled to those files because of the discovery process. In a criminal trial the prosecution has to turn over all its files to the defense lawyers, so they know exactly what they’re up against.

It’s the formerly confidential grand jury transcripts and police records in the D.A.’s historic prosecution that have fueled the stories on this blog for the past two years.

Reporters usually love documents, especially confidential ones, because court documents are privileged and carry a legal protection. If you’re a reporter, you can quote from those documents without fear of anyone being able to sue you for libel. We also have a shield law in this state that protects a reporter from having to give up his or her sources.

I figured out a while ago that if I remained the only reporter in town chasing this story the search for truth wouldn’t get far. Especially when you’re dealing with a district attorney, Seth Williams, who has been stonewalling you for two years, refusing to answer any questions.

Seth Williams may be able to stiff this blog, but could he afford to ignore the Inquirer, or the Daily News, or the local TV stations? How about 60 Minutes? I decided to give it a shot by going editor shopping.

I began pitching the formerly confidential records in this case to other media outlets, no strings attached, in hopes that they’d jump on the story. But they wound up looking a gift horse in the mouth.

A high-ranking editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer said thanks but no thanks. A columnist at the Philadelphia Daily News didn’t even respond.

A writer for a magazine said hey, that sounds like a great story, but I have to talk to my editors first. Bet you can guess how that worked out. A star reporter for a local TV station said don’t bother giving me any documents. Her news director looked at the stories I wrote and couldn’t figure out how to present that kind of material to a TV audience.

At the height of editor shopping, I even had a day-long audience in New York with a producer for 60 Minutes. He took me in for a brief meeting with correspondent Scott Pelley. Pelley, munching on a bowl of granola at his desk, succinctly summarized the problems with the Billy Doe story by saying, hey, you’ve got two contrary jury verdicts going against you. How do you scale that mountain?

At the time, the state Superior Court hadn’t overturned the conviction yet of Msgr. William J. Lynn. That same Superior Court is currently mulling the appeals of the convictions of the late Father Charles Enghelhardt and Bernard Shero. Hey Scott, if the Superior Court overturns the convictions of Engelhardt and Shero, can I get a do-over?

The only news media outlet that bit on the story was the National Catholic Reporter, famous for decades of exposes about sexually abusive priests. The editors at NCR correctly figured that they had a moral obligation to look at the other side of the story, and the possibility that one alleged victim of sex abuse might be lying.

But as far as the rest of the news media is concerned, nobody wants to hear a story about three priests and a Catholic school teacher accused of sexual abuse who might be innocent. I can’t give it away, and they won’t even print it if you offer them money. The Inquirer, the city’s paper of record, turned down $58,000 to print a couple of ads from the Catholic League that would have quoted the reporting on this blog raising questions about the D.A.’s historic prosecution.

So the citizenry should be cheering about three courts simultaneously examining the convictions in the investigation of the church because they could use some scrutiny. For the past several years, the local D.A. has been conducting a witch hunt in this town masquerading as justice. It’s so out of whack  that local prosecutors are using tactics that were protested during the Salem witch trials.

I kid you not.

During the Salem witch trials of 1692 and 1693, Cotton Mather, a leading minister of the day, wrote a letter to one of the magistrates while the courts were in the process of hanging 19 witches. Mather, a former medical student, urged caution in the court’s admission of “spectral evidence” because he didn’t think it was reliable. Spectral evidence was defined as dreams and visions where the alleged perpetrators appeared to the victims in bodily form. Think that’s far-fetched?

Here in Philadelphia, the alleged victim in this year’s “Father Andy” sex abuse case was permitted to tell the story on the witness stand about the nightmare he had that prompted him to come forward and publicly accuse the priest.

The alleged victim told the jury he was watching the news on TV when he saw a picture flashed on the screen of Father Andy. That night, the alleged victim testified, he had a dream about the priest, Father Andrew McCormick. In the dream, Father Andy was sexually attacking the victim’s five-year-old nephew and the victim couldn’t do anything about it.

Father Andy’s case ended on March 12th, 2014, with a hung jury, but the D.A. has already announced the case will be retried. How much you want to bet that the alleged victim gets to tell another jury about his nightmare starring Father Andy?

In the Father Andy case, the victim came forward 15 years later after the alleged crime. As in the case of Billy Doe, there was no physical evidence, no corroborating witnesses. I have no idea to this day of whether the alleged victim was telling the truth about Father Andy. But it’s scary when you’re on a witch hunt, you don’t necessarily need any evidence. As in the case of Billy Doe, you can just make it up as you go along.

But the good news is that the state Supreme Court is now deliberating the fate of Lynn, and whether to uphold the reversal of his conviction. We could have that decision in a few months.

Meanwhile, at the funeral of Father Engelhardt, the leader of Engelhardt’s religious order, Father James J. Greenfield, announced from the altar, a few feet away from Charlie’s coffin, that the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales would continue their appeal of the priest’s conviction  in state Superior Court. Even though Father Engelhardt was dead, the oblates, Greenfield pledged, would do everything legally possible to clear his name.

The other defendant convicted with Engelhardt, former Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero, is still in jail and pursuing his appeal. So the Superior Court may have to weigh in on the various allegations in the case involving judicial errors and prosecutorial misconduct.

And, in the Lynn case, if the state Supreme Court decides to send Lynn back to jail, the Superior Court would then have a second crack at all the other appeal issues raised in the Lynn case. Such as whether the defendant had any chance of ever receiving a fair trial after the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, allowed into evidence 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to 1948, three years before Lynn was born.

But the most interesting legal battle is going on in the civil courts, where Billy Doe is suing the archdiocese, Lynn, Engelhardt and Shero for alleged pain and suffering. The other two defendants in the case, originally filed in July 2011, are the late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua and Ed Avery. He’s the former priest who pleaded guilty to conspiring with Lynn to endanger the welfare of a minor, and raping Billy Doe, only to publicly recant in court.

At the Engelhardt funeral, a lawyer for Avery told the Engelhardt family this was why he had urged Avery to plead guilty to something he claimed he didn’t do just to get a sweetheart deal of a plea bargain. The lawyer told the Engelhardt family it was better for “Eddie” to take the plea bargain rather than suffer Father Engelhardt’s fate of dying in jail.

The proceedings in the civil case are being fought under a voluntary confidentiality stipulation that has had the effect of gagging the participants. The docket in the case, however, as well as court filings, sheds some light on what the litigants have been fighting over.

Lawyers for Billy Doe have repeatedly sought summary judgment against the defendants in the civl case, only to be denied by the court.

Lawyers for the archdiocese successfully argued that the archdiocese was not a party to the first criminal case against Lynn and Avery, and the second criminal case against Shero and Engelhardt. Lawyers for the archdiocese also argued that when Lynn was tried in 2012, he had “no managerial or supervisory responsibilities of any kind” with the archdiocese. So Lynn didn’t represent the archdiocese.

During the trial, Lynn “took a position adversarial to the Archdiocese, claiming he had been ‘hung out to dry'” by colleagues and superiors who had been part of “an overarching Archdiocesan conspiracy … in Philadelphia during the 1990s,” lawyers for the archdiocese argued.

The civil case is still in discovery. According to the docket, Engelhardt, Shero and Avery were deposed in prison. So whatever Father Engelhardt had to say has been preserved for the record on videotape.

Msgr. Lynn has already been deposed. So has Billy Doe, several times, as have his his father, mother and brother.

Meanwhile, as a public service, I’d like to suggest some questions to ask the D.A.’s guys when they’re placed under oath.

Why not ask Detective Drew Snyder why he allowed Billy Doe’s father, a Philadelphia police sergeant, and his mother, a registered nurse, to sit in on Billy’s initial interview on Jan. 28, 2010 with the district attorney’s office, even though Billy was 21, and not a minor? The usual policy in the Philadelphia police department and the district attorney’s office would have been to interview an adult complainant and his parents separately.

Why not ask former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen who was present for the initial interview with Billy, what became of her notes, which were never turned over to defense lawyers?

While you’re at it, why not ask Sorensen, author of that 2011 grand jury report, why there were so many factual errors in it, and why the D.A.’s rewrote the facts to fit their theory of the case.

For example, here’s what the grand jury report had to say about when Billy’s mother noticed a personality change in her son:

Billy’s mother also told us of a dramatic change in her son’s personality that coincided with the abuse. His friends and their parents also noticed this personality change. Billy’s mother watched as her friendly, happy, sociable son turned into a lonely, sullen boy. He no longer played sports or socialized with his friends. He separated himself, and began to smoke marijuana at age 11. By the time Billy was in high school, he was abusing prescription painkillers, and eventually he graduated to heroin. [page 17].

If only that were true. Here’s what Billy’s mother actually told the grand jury on Nov. 12, 2010:

  1. Did there come a time when you noticed a change in [Billy’s] behavior?

A. Yes. At age 14, as he entered high school, freshman year at high school, he wasn’t the same child. He was very troubling to us.

Q. Ok. Prior to that, what was his personality?

A. He was basically a very pleasant, active, happy person prior to that and he was defined by some people as either Dennis the Menace or the All-American boy up to that point.

Q. Ok. So he’s leaving St. Jerome’s and entering into high school?

A. Uh-huh.

So which is it? Did poor little 10 and 11-year-old altar boy Billy Doe turn into a dope-smoking, anti-social loner in grade school as the grand jury report says? Or was he Dennis the Menace or the All-American boy, as his mother testified before the grand jury?

In the civil case, we finally have a forum to get some answers to the questions that the D.A. has been stonewalling. Questions about his witch hunt that has ruined countless lives and already taken the life of one defendant. Questions that the rest of the news media doesn’t want to ask him.

Abuse survivors are showing Theresa May’s inquiry the way

Abuse survivors are showing Theresa May’s inquiry the way

The Home Office’s planned inquiry into child sexual abuse across all areas of British public life has had a troubled start to say the least. While its panel has at last begun to meet and hear evidence, its terms of reference and geographical scope are still under review, and the hunt for a suitable chair has been a major embarrassment.

Yet still, the inquiry is a vital attempt to challenge the vast scale of child abuse across the UK. The need for it has only been driven home since the inquiry was mooted; just recently, 13 men were jailed for a running a grooming operation in Bristol that sexually exploited teenage girls for financial gain.

As other huge cases in Rotherham and Northern Ireland have shown, one of the most challenging aspects of confronting the sexual abuse of children is that it is concertedly hidden. Those who purposefully use children for sexual gratification deploy power, fear and silence to protect their behaviour.

It is precisely our reluctance to think about the reality of child abuse and how it is able to persist that allows it to continue. If we want to eradicate it from our society, we all need to contribute to changing that.

Of course, based on what we do already know, the challenge is immense.

Dark figures

The NSPCC suggests that 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused, with 23,000 sexual offences reported against children in 2013 – a figure widely thought to represent a serious under-report.

Too many children have not been safe in their families or in the “care” of both state and religious institutions.

We’re becoming more aware than ever of other modes of abuse, but our responses have been slow. For example, the UK action plan to respond to the needs of human trafficking was only launched in 2007.

Meanwhile, the proliferation of online child sexual abuse is almost beyond comprehension. As demonstrated by the vast haul of data captured by Canada’s Project Spade in November 2013, we’ve just started to see just how immense the task of policing the internet is, and the time needed to process data can leave children at risk of further abuse. The most worrying depths of the dark web, designed to protect its users’ activity from detection, are yet to be fully explored and understood.

Right to the top

The recent atrocities highlighted in Derby, Greater Manchester,Rotherham and Oxford, in addition to the acts of high-profile individuals such as Jimmy Savile, have all found core social institutions impotent in the face of child abuse. One response is to hold individuals to account, as happened to Shaun Wright in the Rotherham case.

Of course, individual responsibility must be taken, but there is a far greater need to look fundamentally at governance at a societal level. Tellingly, this leviathan of an inquiry is increasingly regarded with something approaching alarm by the political and media establishment.

The Sunday Telegraph’s Andrew Gilligan, for instance, providesthree core misgivings: that inquiries often “fail to uncover – or indeed conceal – the facts”, that even when they establish truth and target criticism, no one is held accountable, and that even inquiries deemed “successful” often make little real impact.

It’s difficult to entirely refute his reasoning on the face of it – but if we want to stand a chance at changing the abjectly poor situation, giving in to this desolate worldview is not an option.

That’s why it is so inspiring to see adult survivors of abuse, such as Peter Saunders, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC, defiantly and publicly demanding a serious response to their needs.

Saunders and other survivors are now ably supported by legal representatives, who are using traditional and social media platforms to communicate their message.

As they well know, we need to be mindful that people in positions of power in our society will work hard to keep the extent of this abuse a secret – and it is their persistence and leadership role in the inquiry that is challenging that old habit.

Forging ahead

Only six months away from a general election, it’s no surprise that the fiasco of Fiona Woolf’s resignation saw various MPs lining up to be extravagantly supportive or critical of Theresa May.

Still, the chamber was unusually quiet during May’s ensuing address to the Commons, demonstrating a welcome respect for victims and survivors. May offered an apology to those affected, and invited them to participate in the selection of the next chair – a demand that survivor groups have been making for some time.

That was a sign that survivors are beginning to command serious respect from the public figures behind the inquiry. Their respectful and considered conduct (and their representatives’) must be honoured by determination on the part of the panel, who will need to be extremely tenacious and brave to achieve the inquiry’s stated goals.

There is still much to be done to make that happen. Among other things, survivors are now demanding the inquiry be given statutory powers, giving it the full force of the law and legally preventing public bodies from withholding relevant documents from its investigation.

The task of establishing a worthwhile inquiry and its ability to find truth and assert accountability has already proven an enormous challenge. The questions they ask are simple – but whether they can find the answers will be depend on the level of institutional complexity and subterfuge it is forced to grapple with.

Top prosecutor off to Europe in Catholic prelates’ pedophilia cases

Top prosecutor off to Europe in Catholic prelates’ pedophilia cases

Santo Domingo.-  Justice minister Francisco Dominguez on Thursday flew to Warsaw and then to the Vatican to gather evidence in the pedophilia cases against the Pope’s former envoy Józef Wesolowski and Catholic priest Wojciech Waldemar Gil (Padre Alberto) in the Dominican Republic.

In a statement the official said he plans to reaffirm the charges against the Polish prelates in his country.

Dominguez is slated to meet separately with Polish Attorney General Andrzy Seremet, as well as the prosecutor fpr the case against Gil, Malgorzata Adamjtys.

He will also meet with prosecutors Radolsaw Domalerowski and Marta Chmielewska, who represent two Dominican minors allegedly victims abused by Gil.

The priest, who also faces charges in Poland , is accuse of sexually abusing at least seven boys in the highland village of Juncalito near Janico, Santiago province (north).

Domínguez will then travel to Vatican City where he has meetings planned relating to the case against Wesolowski.

Press Vatican on Aust child abuse: UN

Press Vatican on Aust child abuse: UN

The UN wants the Abbott government to take on the Vatican over documents relating to child abuse by Catholic clergy.

In a report handed down in Geneva on Friday, the United Nations Committee Against Torture welcomed the work of the national royal commission into child sexual abuse.

However, the Australian government should take “all appropriate measures” to get “all evidence” from the Vatican to ensure meaningful investigations can be carried out.

Cardinal George Pell has told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse such a request is unreasonable because some documents are private and internal to a sovereign state – the Vatican.

Earlier in November, a delegation from Canberra told the UN the royal commission was independent and it was up to it to pursue the Vatican.

However, the committee said Australia “has the responsibility to ensure that all reports of breaches of the convention are promptly and impartially investigated”, and it should seek help from the Vatican when it was necessary to do this.

It also “remains concerned as to whether the outcome of its (the royal commission’s) work will result in criminal investigations, prosecutions and redress and compensation for victims”.

It urged Australia to ensure the work of the commission supplemented criminal prosecutions and court proceedings and “is not a substitute for them”.

A royal commission spokesman told AAP this week it was pursuing further documents from the Vatican, which has supplied some material relating to specific cases.

He was unable to say if the inquiry was seeking government help to press the issue with the Vatican.