Priest apologizes after sex abuse comments draw ire


(CNN) - A prominent Catholic friar has apologized for saying that child victims of sex abuse may at times bear some of the responsibility for the attacks because they can seduce their assailants, and that first-time sex offenders should not receive jail time.

"I did not intend to blame the victim," the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, said Thursday. "A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible."

As founder of the Trinity Retreat House, which operates "to provide spiritual direction and retreats for clergy," Groeschel has worked with priests involved in abuse.

His initial comments were published by the National Catholic Register, a conservative Christian publication, which also issued an apology.

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adamonFriday 31 August 2012 - 11:48:07

U.S. monsignor found guilty on one count in church abuse case


PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A monsignor who oversaw hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese was found guilty on Friday of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, making him the first senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be convicted for covering up child sex abuse.

The jury acquitted Monsignor William Lynn on two other counts - conspiracy and another charge of child endangerment.

Lynn was accused of what prosecutors said was an effort to cover up child sex abuse allegations, often by transferring priests to unsuspecting parishes.

Removing his black clerical jacket but leaving on his collar, a stoic Lynn, 61, was led out of the courtroom and into custody by deputy sheriffs as his family members wept.

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adamonFriday 22 June 2012 - 22:09:21

Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits


While the first criminal trial of a Roman Catholic church official accused of covering up child sexual abuse has drawn national attention to Philadelphia, the church has been quietly engaged in equally consequential battles over abuse, not in courtrooms but in state legislatures around the country.

The fights concern proposals to loosen statutes of limitations, which impose deadlines on when victims can bring civil suits or prosecutors can press charges. These time limits, set state by state, have held down the number of criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits against all kinds of people accused of child abuse — not just clergy members, but also teachers, youth counselors and family members accused of incest.

Victims and their advocates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York are pushing legislators to lengthen the limits or abolish them altogether, and to open temporary “windows” during which victims can file lawsuits no matter how long after the alleged abuse occurred.

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adamonThursday 14 June 2012 - 19:14:16

Cases Close for Philadelphia Diocese Official


PHILADELPHIA — In an emotional summary after more than two months of testimony, the prosecution in a landmark sexual-abuse trial said here on Thursday that overwhelming evidence showed that a Roman Catholic Church official had shielded predatory priests, lied to parishioners and victims, and exposed innocent children to abuse.
But a defense lawyer for the official, Msgr. William J. Lynn, told the jury that Monsignor Lynn had done all he could to protect children within his limited powers and that he deserved praise rather than condemnation.

Monsignor Lynn, 61, as secretary of the clergy for the Philadelphia Archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, was responsible for priests’ assignments and for investigating abuse allegations. He is on trial for endangering minors and conspiracy to keep an accused priest in active ministry, charges that could carry a sentence of 10 ½ to 21 years.

He is the first Catholic Church official in the country to face criminal charges not for committing abuses himself, but for enabling abuses by playing down credible accusations and reassigning suspect priests to new parishes.

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adamonFriday 01 June 2012 - 00:52:48

Top U.S. archbishop linked to abusive priest payout plan


One of the most powerful Catholic Church leaders in America approved payments of $20,000 to get abusive priests to leave the church, abuse victims and the archdiocese in question said Thursday.

Victims feel "considerable dismay" that leaders of the church in Milwaukee "have been apparently engaged in paying off those who betrayed the children of our archdiocese," they said in an open letter to the current head of the church in Milwaukee, Archbishop Jerome Listecki.

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adamonThursday 31 May 2012 - 23:10:36

Bishop Denies Testimony Alleging He Abused Youth


Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston issued a statement saying that to hear the “horrific” allegations against him was “unbelievable and shocking.”

Bishop Bransfield, 68, a native of Philadelphia, was formerly a priest in the city’s archdiocese, which grand juries in 2005 and 2011 said had failed to stop the widespread abuse of children by its clergy. He was named the bishop for the West Virginia diocese in 2004.

A man alleging sexual abuse by a member of the clergy testified in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday that Stanley Gana, a former priest in the city, once told him that Bishop Bransfield was having sex with a teenage boy. The conversation occurred when the man was in high school.

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adamonThursday 19 April 2012 - 22:11:51

Dutch Roman Catholic Church 'castrated at least 10 boys'


Evidence of the castrations has emerged amid controversy that it was not included in the findings of an official investigation into sexual abuse within the church last year.

The NRC Handelsblad newspaper identified Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home.

Joep Dohmen, the investigative journalist who uncovered the Heithuis case, also found evidence of at least nine other castrations. "These cases are anonymous and can no longer be traced," he said. "There will be many more. But the question is whether those boys, now old men, will want to tell their story."

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adamonMonday 19 March 2012 - 09:27:44

Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group


Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church and priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists.

The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. A judge in Kansas City ruled that the network must comply because it “almost certainly” had information relevant to the case.

The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims, and a relentless adversary, for more than two decades. “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced,” said Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes, “it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”

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adamonMonday 12 March 2012 - 14:38:03

Attorneys: Cardinal ordered memo on priests destroyed


(CNN) -- A Philadelphia archdiocese official on trial for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of children has asked a court to throw out charges against him based on a 1994 memo showing Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua ordered a list of suspected abusive Catholic priests to be destroyed.

Attorneys for Monsignor William Lynn asked a Philadelphia court to dismiss charges of conspiracy and child endangerment based on documents that Lynn had informed his superiors -- including the cardinal -- that priests in the archdiocese were assaulting children.

"The recent unexpected and shocking discovery of a March, 1994 memorandum composed by Monsignor James Molloy, Monsignor Lynn's then-supervisor, on the topic of this review, clearly reveals that justice demands that all charges against Monsignor Lynn be dropped," Lynn's attorneys said in a filing.

As revealed in court papers filed on Friday, Molloy's handwritten memo dated March 22, 1994, informed Bevilacqua that the secret list of 35 priests had been shredded per his instructions.

"On 3-22-94 at 10:45 AM I shredded, in the presence of Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, four copies of these lists from the secret archives," Molloy's memo stated. "The action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua at the Issues meeting of 3-15-94 ...."

According to the filing, the document was discovered in a locked cabinet in an archdiocese administrative office. It did not elaborate on how the document came to light.

Bevilacqua, who died on January 31, testified 10 times before grand juries in 2003 and 2004. A final grand jury report said it had no doubt that the cardinal knew about the danger posed by the accused priests and that his actions endangered thousands of children in the archdiocese.

The grand jury also concluded that Lynn had carried out the cardinal's policies exactly as the cardinal directed.

"It should not be surprising to learn documents about child abusing priests were destroyed," said Marci Hamilton, an attorney who has represented victims in many clergy sex abuse cases, including suits against the Philadelphia archdiocese. "That is consistent with the pervasive pattern of secrecy and the rule against scandal."

According to the Philadelphia district attorney, this case represents the first time that U.S. prosecutors have charged not just the priests who allegedly committed the abuses, but an official who stands accused of failing to stop the assaults. Lynn had been responsible from 1992 until 2004 for investigating reports that priests had sexually abused children.

The grand jury alleged that Lynn knowingly allowed dangerous priests to continue in the ministry in roles in which they had access to children, according to the district attorney's office.

A gag order imposed by a Philadelphia judge in the case remains in effect, barring all parties involved in the criminal case from talking to the media.

adamonFriday 24 February 2012 - 22:15:25

Thousands of children abused in Dutch churches over 65 years, inquiry says


(CNN) -- Thousands and thousands of children suffered from sexual abuse in the Dutch Roman Catholic Church over more than six decades, and about 800 "possible perpetrators" have been identified, an independent Commission of Inquiry said Friday.

"Several tens of thousands of minors have experienced mild, serious and very serious forms of inappropriate sexual behavior. Victims have often suffered for decades from the effects of abuse and have received acknowledgment of the fact," the panel says in its report. "This has caused problems for them, their immediate family and their friends, who require attention and sometimes professional counseling."

The report, which covers a period from 1945 to 2010, says "the scale" of the abuse "is relatively small in percentage terms, but is a serious problem in absolute numbers." The victims were under the responsibility of the range of people working in the church -- priests, brothers, pastoral workers and lay persons, it says.

The report has widespread ramifications across the Netherlands because of the integral role that Roman Catholics play in that society, in religion, politics, media, education and trade unionism. At 30% of the population, Roman Catholics make up the largest religious group in the Netherlands.

The Commission of Inquiry says it received 1,795 reports of church-related sex abuse of minors and the "reports contained information about possible perpetrators. The 800 names of perpetrators can be traced to people "who work or worked in dioceses, orders and congregations."

"At least 105 of those 800 persons are known to be living. It is not known how many of these individuals are still in their jobs," the report says.

The church developed the inquiry after "a growing number of reports appeared" about sexual abuse in the church bureaucracy, the commission says.

"The Commission of Inquiry based its findings on empirical data from the reports of sexual abuse it received between March and December 2010, as well as historical records from ecclesiastical and other archives," it says.

Sexual abuse of minors wasn't unknown to church officials, the report says. It had "received a great deal of attention" from church hierarchy throughout its history. The commission discovered "quite a lot of information about inappropriate sexual behavior" up to the 1950s.

"Bishops and other church authorities were not ignorant of the problem of sexual abuse. Moreover, in the view of the Commission of Inquiry, in many cases they failed to take adequate action and paid too little attention to victims," the report says.

At the same time, it says the fact that "sexual abuse of minors occurs widely in Dutch society" is part of the context of the problem. And, as it searched archives, the commission found "cases of sexual abuse by perpetrators who had themselves been victims of similar abuse in their youth."

As for victims, the report says, they "gradually started receiving attention since the 1990s." It stressed the importance of "financial compensation" as "an essential element" of victim reparations. It says the church has a "moral duty" to take complaints seriously.

"In the last few years, reports of sexual abuse have regularly led to meetings between the victim and the perpetrator," the report says. "In most cases, the perpetrator or the responsible administrator has expressed regret. Apologies and compensation generally date from after 2000."

adamonFriday 16 December 2011 - 21:03:40

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