Tag: Clergy Sex Abuse Attorney

Fr. John Danilak – Eparchy of Passaic

Fr. John Danilak

Byzantine Priest in Eparchy of Passaic

John Danilak Horowitz Law
Ordained: 1961

Removed: 2002

Indicted: 2002

Died: 2003

Assignment History:

  • 1961-1963: St. Michael’s Cathedral (Passaic, NJ)
  • 1963-1965: Holy Spirit Byzantine Church (Passaic, NJ)
  • 1970s: St. Gregory of Nyssa Church (Beltsville, MD)
  • 2002: St. Michael’s Parish (Montclair, PA)
  • UnknownSt. Ann’s Church (Harrisburg, PA)

Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Father John Danilak:

Fr. John Danilak was a Byzantine Catholic priest in the Eparchy of Passaic who worked in several New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania parishes. In 2002, Fr. Danilak was indicted by two separate grand juries in Ocean City, MD, on 21 counts relating to the sexual abuse of three victims. 

According to court documents, Fr. Danilak was first indicted by the Worcester County grand jury on September 23, 2002. He was charged with two counts of sodomy, one count of child abuse, and 11 counts of perverted or unnatural sexual acts that allegedly occurred with a 15-year-old boy in the priest’s Montego Bay trailer home from April 1978 to December 1978. The teen was an altar boy at St. Gregory of Nyssa Byzantine Catholic Church in Beltsville, MD, where Danilak worked. Police records stated that the victim allegedly traveled to Ocean City with Danilak on several occasions to help him build an addition to his mobile home, which he owned from 1972 to 1998. Prosecutors claim the victim came forward 24 years after the abuse occurred because he had heard Danilak was a substitute priest at St. Michael’s Parish in Montclair, PA, and had contact with children. 

According to media reports, Beltsville Police said the victim reported the incidents numerous times, but law enforcement and church officials were not convinced the abuse occurred. In fact, the victim’s attorney wrote a letter to the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, which stated that the victim did report the incidents to church officials shortly after they allegedly occurred, but Danilak was transferred to several parishes in Maryland and then Pennsylvania.

In November 2002, a Worcester County grand jury charged Fr. John Danilak with seven counts of unnatural and perverted sex practices with two boys aged 6 and 9 between 1974 and 1979 in Ocean City, MD. They were also altar boys at St. Gregory of Nyssa Byzantine Catholic Church. The victims came forward 28 years later after hearing that Danilak was indicted on similar crimes two months prior.

According to diocese officials, the Eparchy of Passaic, the diocese in which Danilak had been serving, reported the alleged offenses to the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office in late spring 2002 after receiving a letter from the victim’s attorney. Fr. Danilak was stripped of his duties on July 1, 2002.

It is reported on the SNAP Network that allegedly multiple people committed suicide as a result of Fr. Danilak’s abuse. Fr. Danilak died in 2003, just three weeks before his trial date. His charges died with him.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergies nationwide If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest or clergy, contact our office today. Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

Archdiocese of Denver Horowitz Law

Surprising Secrecy in the Denver Archdiocese

Secrecy in the Denver Archdiocese? We at Horowitz Law hope we’re misreading the news out of the Denver Archdiocese, but we suspect and fear that we aren’t. A Colorado television station reported that a Denver archdiocesan priest had been accused of inappropriately touching a child in 2018. More specifically, a media report states that a priest in the Archdiocese of Denver inappropriately touched a minor in a public space when the young girl was exiting church immediately after Mass. Denver church officials supposedly followed their “Code of Conduct” and “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” by immediately reporting the allegation to authorities (or so they say). The cleric was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. So far, this sounds like they are actually following the correct protocol, right? Well, not really.

Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila is NOT revealing the name of the priest. At a bare minimum, this contradicts the promise and practice of Catholic officials across the country for a few decades.

Let’s start by noting the following facts:
1. This is an allegation of a serious crime
2. This allegedly happened recently
3. The alleged abuser is a still-living priest
4. This act is a possible cause for criminal prosecution

In other words, it’s NOT a decades-old allegation against a long-deceased cleric who can no longer hurt someone or be pursued by police and prosecutors. This priest is still alive and could still be abusive.

So, while a bishop should be prompt, honest, and thorough in publicly disclosing ALL reports of abuse, he should be particularly prompt, honest, and thorough in these circumstances. But again, we at Horowitz Law can find nothing on Aquila’s website indicating the name of the just-suspended cleric. Secrecy in the Denver Archdiocese? We think so.

What the Archdiocese of Denver DOES disclose is:
1. When it allegedly happened (in 2018, after Mass)
2. How often it allegedly happened (once)
3. What the incident involved (touching)
4. Where the incident happened (in a public space)

Clearly, the archdiocese does not take the position, “It’s just an accusation, so we can’t offer any details.” Instead, it takes the position, “The ONLY details we’ll offer are the ones that portray us in the best possible light.” Why aren’t they disclosing the priest’s name?

This just feels wrong to us, like there is secrecy in the Denver Archdiocese. It also contradicts the Catholic Church’s 20-year-old national abuse policy that supposedly mandates ‘openness’ in abuse cases. In fairness, let us admit that maybe we’re not seeing the whole picture here. Perhaps Aquila DID reveal the accused priest’s name, but local media is withholding it. But while sometimes one or two media outlets might act so cautiously, rarely, every news outlet in a relatively large metro area like Denver refuses to name an alleged offender.

A second possibility is that maybe Aquila has told his parishioners, but not the press, who this accused cleric is. That, too, sometimes happens, but it’s rare. When a Catholic official tells a few hundred people that a priest has been accused of child sex crimes, almost always, at least one of them passes the word along to one or more media outlets and the identity accused surfaces. So our very strong hunch is that Aquila is deliberately – and recklessly – keeping the alleged predator priest’s name hidden.

Let’s also note other worrisome choices of words in the archdiocesan announcement. It seems designed to minimize the possible crime, using words like ‘touching’ (instead of assaulting or molesting), ‘minor’ (instead of boy or girl), and ‘in a public space’, as if to suggest that if it were done there, it must not be too bad or someone would have seen it happen.

The archdiocese further says that the priest has been a ‘priest in good standing’ and has denied the allegation, neither of which adds anything helpful here. (After all, almost EVERY child molester is ‘in good standing with his employer BEFORE he’s accused of sexually violating a child.)
The only way to potentially decide whether Aquila is being secretive or disingenuous in this matter is to look at whether he’s been secretive or disingenuous in the past.

And we submit that the best measure of this is his archdiocesan list of child molesting clerics. Compare that list with the one put out by the independent and reliable archive BishopAccountability.org.

Here’s the archdiocese’s list:
https://archden.org/protection/history/historical-list/
Here’s BishopAccountability’s list:
https://www.bishop-accountability.org/dioceses/usa-co-denver/

The archdiocese’s list claims 27 offenders, while the latter includes 42. It becomes pretty clear that Aquila is being secretive once again.

Finally, it’s troubling that Aquila’s list provides so little information about the predators. In fact, under each priest’s name, it gives only three dates: when they were born, when they were ordained, and their status.

Is it helpful to know when a child molesting cleric began his life? Not really. Is it helpful to know when he/she officially became a priest or nun or bishop? Maybe, but not really. Is it helpful to know when he/she died or was defrocked or was excardinated? Somewhat. but again, it would be MUCH more helpful to know:

  1. Where he/she worked, every location, both inside and outside the diocese.

2. How much time did church officials protect the predator between the first abuse report and his/her suspension and/or exposure.

And, of course, it would be beneficial to see, on church credibly accused cleric lists, a strong appeal from the Catholic hierarchy to victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers to come forward. Who knows if language like this might gently prod someone scared or pessimistic to pick up the phone and call law enforcement: “As your bishop, I implore you to take one step toward reversing centuries of hurtful secrecy in our church by calling police or prosecutors if you have any information or suspicions that might help them determine the truth of allegations against these clerics, whether they’re alive or dead, in our diocese or elsewhere.”

Again, who knows what impact this might have? But if this kind of language nudges even one witness, or whistleblower to call secular authorities, isn’t it worth it? And how will we know if a clear, strong appeal like this is practical unless bishops give it a try?

Last but not least, how about a middle name, or at least an initial for credibly accused clerics like Charles Brown or Tim Evans or Greg Smith or John Stein? There must be dozens of them in Colorado.
Let’s say you’re a single mom with kids in an apartment building. A guy with one of these names lives next door to you. Thanks to Archbishop Aquila’s ever-so-limited disclosure, it won’t be easy for you to figure out whether he is actually the credibly accused child molesting cleric or not.
And Aquila could remedy this very easily, but once again, he chooses not to. So, yes, there seems to be secrecy in the Denver Archdiocese, but that isn’t surprising at all.

Suing the Church Horowitz Law

Top Reasons Why Suing the Church Can Ultimately Help It

This is what a hypothetical Q & A with a still-church-going Catholic who was abused by a priest, nun, seminarian, bishop, brother, or any other clerics when asked about suing the church.

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “Sue my church? Heavens no! Surely there are other ways to make the church safer that are not so confrontational and adversarial.”

Follow-up: One would like to think so. But when it comes to children’s safety, why take any chances and waste time? Time and time again, history has shown that litigation is often the quickest way to shed light where it’s needed and prod slow-moving or recalcitrant decision-makers to act. If your goals include publicly exposing predators, getting them away from kids, stopping cover-ups, deterring deceit, or bringing comfort to those hurt in childhood, suing the church almost always works.

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “But I love my church, and I would not want to do anything to hurt it.”

Follow-up: This may be precisely why you should consider stepping forward and taking action. Doing nothing about abuse or possible cover-up will likely HURT your church than speaking up. Of course, exposing horror will indeed be painful for a few church officials in the short term. But it may be the single most effective thing you can do for the church itself to make your church members safer and your church more transparent and healthy.

And let’s not confuse your church with its hierarchy. Exposing wrongdoing may hurt wrongdoers. But those wrongdoers are NOT the church. Nor do they belong in positions of power in the church. Your church is made up of moms, dads, grandparents, and children. Doesn’t their well-being and safety take precedence over the feelings or reputations of a few individuals high up in the church?

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “But I don’t want revenge or punishment or compensation.”

Follow-up: Neither do most survivors. Your view is in fact admirable. Each of these – revenge, punishment, and compensation – can be problematic. Revenge often hurts the person who tries to inflict it more than the intended recipient. Punishment is only sometimes a worthy goal. And compensation isn’t always necessarily a good thing. But there are plenty of reasons to speak up that don’t relate to revenge, punishment, or compensation. These include prevention, justice, healing, and reform.

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “I don’t want people to think I’m angry and bitter.”

Follow-up: That’s understandable. But maybe what other people might think of you shouldn’t be your top priority. Maybe stopping others from committing or concealing heinous crimes against kids should come first. Besides, if you have the personal wherewithal to survive horrible crimes and reach a level of maturity and success in your life, then you may be much more able to look beyond your own personal needs and wants. You may have a greater capacity to focus on the bigger picture: those who may have been hurt already or maybe in the throes of an abuser right now but are not so fortunate or don’t have the personal strengths you have.

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “Basically, I feel like I’ve recovered from my abuse, so why would I sue now?”

Follow-up: Congratulations on your progress and hard work! We commend you for rebuilding your life. Others, however, are likely not so successful in overcoming abuse. Please think about them and how your taking action may well help them move further along in their own recovery. Think about the fact that self-serving clergy may still be in positions of power, both those who perpetrated and those who concealed your abuse. The fact that you’ve healed does nothing to hold these clerics accountable or decrease the chances that they’ll act hurtfully to others in the future.

Finally, please think about children who are at risk right now. Your speaking up through litigation might stop a child molesting cleric or a deceitful church supervisor. Filing a lawsuit might prevent another girl or boy from being severely violated by a supposed ‘Man of God’ like you were. Catholic church corruption has been going on for decades and it needs to stop. Check out Bishop Accountability for more info on your diocese.

Attorney Adam Horowitz represents children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by a priest, minister, rabbi, deacon, nuns, or other clergies in civil lawsuits. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

Catholic Church Corruption Horowitz Law

Catholic Church Corruption – Bishops Tout Their Screening Process of Priests, But We’re Skeptical

It is no secret that clergy sex abuse and coverups are on the rise. In response to the hundreds of lawsuits filed regarding Catholic Church corruption and sexual abuse, Bishops are touting their screening process of new hires, claiming “We do much more now to screen our seminarians to stop predators from becoming priests.”  But we are skeptical, as predators are still getting into the priesthood.

If you’ve followed the clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis, you’ve seen some variation of this many times over the past 20 years. . .But here’s what you have NOT seen over those years:

  • “School districts adopt Catholic abuse screening”
  • “On abuse, Protestant officials are learning from Catholic ones”
  • “Summer camps, learning from the church, weed out molesters”
  • “Daycare centers emulate Catholic dioceses on abuse”

The obvious point here is, that if Catholic bishops are doing such a great job of preventing abuse and “screening out” molesters, officials in other institutions and denominations would be beating down their doors to learn how bishops are making such phenomenal progress. There’s no evidence, however, that this is happening and we still see Catholic Church corruption.

Evidence Suggests That Catholic Officials Are Still Ordaining Molesters

In fact, the evidence suggests that Catholic officials, sadly, are STILL ordaining sexually troubled men.
Fr. Bryan W. Medlin of Gaylord, MI, ordained in 2013, came under investigation by the state attorney general just three months ago because he allegedly sent inappropriate texts to high schoolers. At the time, he was the assistant director of vocations for the diocese, which of course put him in close contact with devout teenagers and young adults, many of whom no doubt felt ‘called’ to become priests and realized that Fr. Medlin could make or break their potential careers in the church.

Fr. Kevin Lonergan of the Allentown PA, ordained in 2014, the diocese was charged with molesting two girls, one of whom he abused in 2018.

Also ordained in 2014, Fr. David Marcotte of the Indianapolis archdiocese was charged with child sex crimes in 2019. In his relatively brief priesthood, Fr. Marcotte has worked at more than half a dozen churches across Indiana.

Ordained in 2015, Fr. Geoffrey Brooke of Jefferson City MO diocese was put on leave in 2019 for “possible boundary violations.” Also, Fr. Charlie Richmond, a former chaplain for a middle school and high school in the LaCrosse WI diocese, has since been charged with repeated sexual assault of a child.

Ordained in 2017, Fr. Marcin Nurek of the Paterson NJ diocese, has since been “accused of groping a 13-year-old girl’s buttocks under her skirt.”

Ordained in 2018, Fr. David Huneck, a former high school chaplain in the Ft. Wayne-South Bend IN diocese, has since pleaded guilty (just weeks ago) to two felony charges of child seduction and sexual battery after six allegations were brought against him for sexual crimes against teenaged girls.

And in perhaps the most alarming case, a one-time Knoxville, TN is being sued for reportedly abusing and harassing a young church employee in 2019. Knoxville’s Bishop Richard Stika has also been named in the lawsuit which alleges that sexual abuse allegations against a former employee weren’t investigated properly. The lawsuit claims that Stika overreached in his response to the abuse complaint. It says the diocese hired an outside consultant to investigate the claims, but the bishop replaced the initial investigator with someone who only interviewed the former assistant and not the employee who made the allegation.

We at Horowitz Law are realists. We believe it is tragic, but not necessarily shocking, that predators still getting into the priesthood. Let’s admit two sad and scary realities.

  1. Child predators always have and always will seek out positions of power and trust so they can assault kids.
  2. There is no sure-fire test, process, or diagnostic tool that is really effective at identifying, in advance, adults who may later prey on children.

What IS, however, a real scandal and tragedy are how most Catholic officials continue to respond to these realities. Many of them, hoping to mollify their parishioners, keep claiming they’re doing what most can’t be done: screening and rejecting predators before they get ordained. They are still reacting slowly, recklessly, and callously when recently ordained abusers are caught. (See the Knoxville case mentioned above.)

We all abhor abuse. We want to prevent it. We want to believe, despite plentiful evidence to the contrary, that we’re smart enough to spot the bad guys before they get access to our kids. But that’s wishful thinking. Catholic bishops should admit this. And they should focus on what they CAN do: quickly oust potential predators at the very first ‘red flag,’ fully cooperate with law enforcement and widely publicize allegations so that others who may have suffered abuse can begin to recover from their horrific experiences.

Horowitz Law represents children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by a priest, minister, rabbi, deacon, nuns, or other clergies in civil lawsuits. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

William Riley Horowitz Law

Worcester Diocese Places Food Pantry Director William Riley on Leave After Multiple Complaints of Sexual Misconduct

A well-known advocate for the homeless in Worcester, Massachusetts, William “Billy” Riley, was placed on administrative leave from his job as Director of St. John Church’s Food for the Poor program due to multiple allegations of illegal sexual misconduct. Riley has been the director of the food pantry since 2013 after retiring from the Worcester Country Jail and House of Correction. 

According to media reports, the Diocese of Worcester has received at least three recent complaints that Riley sexually abused homeless women by exploiting his position at the food pantry. On March 11, 2022, a complaint was received by the victim’s assistance coordinator for the Worcester Diocese stating Riley coerces vulnerable women from the soup kitchen into sexual encounters in exchange for food and clothes. The Bishop was immediately informed, and Riley was placed on leave pending a third party investigation by the Diocese. This investigation comes years after the Diocese allegedly received other abuse allegations about Riley from women in the Worcester area. The Worcester Police Department stated that Riley is currently under criminal investigation. 

According to a statement posted on the Diocese of Worcester’s website“Billy Riley was placed on administrative leave, and given the seriousness of the allegations, Bishop Robert Joseph McManus authorized hiring an independent third-party investigator by the diocese for a thorough investigation of this complaint.” Bishop McManus declined to comment on the specific allegations received. 

According to media reports, the initial complaint to the Diocese was made by a woman who worked as a sex worker until about eight years ago, and now is the CEO of an organization that supports women leaving prostitution. The victim said she first met Riley through the soup kitchen in 2011, at which time she was homeless. She claims that he “took an interest in her” and offered to let her shower at his house. She took him up on his offer as she was homeless and had nothing. The victim said that in exchange for food and a hot shower, Riley demanded sexual favors. Riley told the victim that if she didn’t oblige, she wouldn’t be able to access the soup kitchen anymore. The victim says this went on for three years. 

Since the first allegation was received but the Diocese a week ago, two other women have come forward to report similar experiences with Riley between 2014 and 2021. One woman stated that she met Riley after becoming sober and in withdrawal from an opiate addiction, and he offered to help her if she would go on “dates” with him as an escort. The woman explained that she would go to the soup kitchen daily to eat, and while there, Riley would set up a time to meet after he finished work, which always ended at his apartment. He would offer her use of his bathroom and shower and also give her money to perform oral sex on him. The victim explained that she never went to the authorities because he was important to her survival. The third woman told a nearly identical story of Riley coercing her into sexual acts in exchange for assistance with her daily needs.

Anyone who has experienced abuse and exploitation by Billy Riley should contact police or a rape victims’ advocacy group like RAINN.  You may also have legal options against the Diocese of Worcester, and our attorneys are ready to speak with you confidentially.  Please contact us by emailing our managing partner, Adam Horowitz, or calling (888) 283-9922.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergies around the country. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help. Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or  adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

Junior Augustin Deerfield Beach Preacher

A South Florida Preacher Charged With Sexual Battery of a Minor

A 34-year old South Florida preacher, Junior Augustin, has been charged with sexual battery and lewd and lascivious behavior of a minor. The criminal investigation began after a mother found sexually explicit messages and photos on her teen daughter’s cell phone from the preacher.  Augustin lives in Deerfield Beach and works at Solid Rock the Seventh Day Church, located at 3520 W Broward Blvd #215, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312.

According to the Broward County Sheriff’s office, on March 30, 2021, the Broward Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit detectives arrested the preacher on charges of sexual battery on a minor 16 or 17 years of age and sex offense of a victim over 12 and up to 15 years of age.  The victim, Augustin’s goddaughter, stayed at Augustin’s home to assist with babysitting his eight children (ages 2-10) while the preacher’s wife was in the hospital. The police report states that she stayed at his home all of January and February 2021. 

In March, the teen returned home, and her mother noticed her behavior seemed off, which made her mother suspicious, the Sheriff’s Office said. The teen’s mother took her daughter’s cellphone and saw sexually explicit photos and messages of her daughter and Junior Augustin expressing their love for each other sent in the Whatsapp and Telegram apps.

Augustin later admitted to the sexual acts and made a voluntary confession during two regularly recorded meetings at a his church. Detectives received the recordings of Junior Augustin’s confession. In the first recording, Augustin admits to receiving the nude pics and video or his god-daughter. The second meeting recording revealed that one morning he came home from work, got undressed and went to bed and left his bedroom door open. Augustin claims the victim entered his bedroom and initiated sexual activity with Junior who was asleep. Half asleep, Augustin says he believed that he was having sex with his wife. Once Augustin opened his eyes he says he realized that he was having sex the teen, not his wife. Augustin said he then pushed the girl away and told her not to tell her mother so she would not get in trouble. 

The preacher is now behind bars for sexually battering the 16-year-old girl on a $50,000 bond for each charge. The investigation is ongoing.

Sexual abuse by a member of the clergy is a breach of trust at the highest level. The lawyers at Horowitz Law have been representing survivors of clergy abuse for more than twenty years. In cases across the country and in almost every state, our lawyers advocate for sexual abuse victims by priests and other clergy. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

New Orleans sexual abuse attorneys

After 227 years of serving half a million New Orleans-area parishioners, the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for bankruptcy on Friday, May 1, 2020.  Citing the increasing cost of clergy sex abuse lawsuits and the budget challenges of the coronavirus shutdown of church services, the Archdiocese joined an increasing number of dioceses seeking financial protection under Chapter 11. 

Archbishop Gregory Aymond said bankruptcy would give the church a chance to reorganize and be more efficient and effective. He admitted the church cannot afford the high cost of litigation of the increasing number of clergy sex abuse claims. 

All pending lawsuits and mediation requests from victims and survivors are expected to be suspended in state court, and then decided by a federal bankruptcy judge. The federal judge will appoint a trustee, form a committee of creditors and examine the archdiocese’s assets as well as its liabilities. Last year, The church disclosed that $8.5 million had been put aside for clergy abuse-related claims.

“The Archdiocese of New Orleans is solvent,” Aymond said. “We have money, but if this were to play itself out it would be very difficult to be able to do what we’re supposed to do.”

A statement released by The Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP) said declaring bankruptcy is less about protecting assets and more about protecting secrets.  The president of SNAP, Tim Lennon, said “Bankruptcy allows the church to control information and continue the cover up. (It) protects power and prestige of church hierarchy.”   

Horowitz Law represents survivors of sexual abuse by clergy of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.  Attorney Adam Horowitz said, “Bankruptcy is the latest ploy by the Catholic Church to reduce its legal exposure for covering up clergy sexual abuse nationwide.  In a bankruptcy proceeding the Church can also conceal evidence of its neglect in the handling of sexually abusive priests.”

The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution. For years, church leaders have prioritized the wealth of the archdiocese over making its victims whole. Willfully keeping funds from sexual abuse victims is an outrage, immoral, and callously adds to the suffering these victims are forced to endure. 

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims on behalf of children who were sexually abused by clergy of all religious denominations.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member or employee of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

D.C. COUNCIL MEMBER DAVID GROSSO ALLEGES HE WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED BY FORMER VIRGINIA CATHOLIC PRIEST

D.C. COUNCIL MEMBER DAVID GROSSO ALLEGES HE WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED BY FORMER VIRGINIA CATHOLIC PRIEST AS A CHILD

According to media reports, on Saturday, March 14, 2020, a former Catholic priest from northern Virginia was charged with the sexual abuse of a minor between 13 and 15 years old that occurred in 1985. The following Monday, D.C. Council member David Grosso said, “The minor he assaulted was me.”

“I am making this statement because I understand the tremendous burden that victims of sexual assault and abuse carry throughout their lives,” Grosso said. “As I did many years ago, we all must find the courage to come forward, tell our stories, and seek justice and accountability from the perpetrator, as well as the churches and other institutions that have hidden or excused their behavior.”

The councilman’s alleged abuser, Scott Asalone, 63, is the former rector of St Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville, Virginia. At the time of his arrest he was a management consultant and bookstore owner in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He will be extradited to Virginia to stand trial. 

According to records released by the Diocese of Arlington last year, Asalone is a former member of the Capuchin Friars order, and was removed from public ministry in 1993. He was dismissed from the Friars in 2007. His name is included in a list of all clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse in northern Virginia.

Asalone is the first person indicted as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Virginia Attorney General’s office and State Police into Catholic clergy abuse. The probe was initiated after the Pennsylvania attorney general uncovered hundreds of unprosecuted cases and more than 1,000 child victims in 2018.

“I know that stepping forward to share your experience can be difficult or scary but I want you to know that, even if it happened years ago, we will still take it seriously and make sure you get the help and support you need,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement to the public.

In 2018, Mr. Grosso helped pass the Statute of Limitations Amendment Act, which took effect in May 2019. It opened a two-year window for child sexual abuse victims in the District of Columbia to file civil claims despite being prohibited under the previous three-year statute of limitations. A member of the city council since 2013, Grosso said the emotional turmoil caused by reopening the investigation into his childhood trauma greatly influenced his decision not to seek a third term. He said he is again in therapy and working towards recovery. 

Mr. Grosso said it was important to “get the message out that people should speak up and that there is a chance for justice to happen.”

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims on behalf of children who were sexually abused by clergy of all religious denominations.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member of any religious faith, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Diocese of Richmond Has a Compensation Fund for Victims of Pedophile Priests

Diocese of Richmond establishes financial settlement program for pedophile priest victims

On Monday, February 17, 2020, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced the creation of the Independent Reconciliation Program (IRP) to compensate those who were sexually abused as minors by clergy. With more than 50 priests who are credibly accused of sexually abusing children, this is one of the steps Bishop Barry C. Knestout promised to take as the Diocese of Richmond broadens its healing ministry to assist victim survivors.

In a letter to his parishioners Bishop Knestout said, “One of my most important pastoral responsibilities is to reach out to victim survivors of clergy sexual abuse, and to be a resource for them on their paths of healing. This program – designed and managed by a nationally recognized and highly respected, independent claims administrator – gives victim survivors an opportunity to receive monetary payment in a manner that is compassionate.”

Similar programs in other dioceses throughout the country have been established in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, and Colorado.   The Diocese of Richmond program will be administered by BrownGreer, a Richmond-based settlement firm.  The firm will determine payout amounts to be offered to each victim.  Payments shall be made by the Diocese of Richmond.

Clergy sex abuse survivors who want to participate in the IRP, must initiate a claim by April 3, 2020 and file the claim by May 15, 2020. To qualify for compensation, victims must have been a minor when the abuse occurred. If an offer is made, the victim will have 60 days to decide whether to accept or reject it. If the settlement terms are accepted, then the victim agrees to forfeit their right to take legal action against the Diocese of Richmond. 

A leader of Virginia’s chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group that advocates for abuse victims said, “Our concern from SNAP, as far as compensation programs go, is — yes — victims may get funds that they need, but information is not exposed,” Rebecca Ianni said. “They’ll lose their right to sue. They’ll lose their right to have their day in court.”

The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution. Church leaders have prioritized the wealth and reputation of the church over making victims whole. Establishing a program that helps in the healing of child sexual abuse victims by pedophile priests is step in the right direction to get the help these survivors need.

Horowitz Law represents victims of child sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Richmond.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member of the Diocese of Richmond, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Catholic Church Hides $2 Billion in Assets from Abuse Victim Settlements

Catholic Church Hides $2 Billion in Assets from Abuse Victim Settlements

According to Bloomberg Businessweek in January 2020, a review of court filings by lawyers representing churches and victims over the last 15 years has shown that the Catholic Church in the U.S. has moved around more than $2 billion in assets in an effort to prevent the money from going to alleged abuse victims. Throughout the country churches have been aggressively transferring and reclassifying assets, and filing for bankruptcy, as more victims of sexual abuse by priests have come forward and filed lawsuits.

From the early 1980s through 2002, church leaders paid out roughly $750 million according to BishopAccountability.org, a nonprofit that tracks clergy sex abuse. Since 2004, dioceses have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy more than 20 times. This has allowed the dioceses to reach universal settle­ments and protected them from additional victim claims. 

“The survivors should have gotten that money, and they didn’t,” says Terry McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org. “The Catholic Church has behaved like a business. It hasn’t behaved like a religion that lives by the rules it espouses.”

In 2007, then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, sent a letter to the Vatican requesting permission to move almost $57 million into a trust fund originally meant for maintaining cemeteries. The letter revealed that the purpose of the move was to shield the assets. 

“By transferring these assets to the Trust, I foresee an approved protection from any legal claim and liability,” Dolan wrote.

When the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015, it said it didn’t own the parishes, schools, or the 10 cemeteries within its territory. It claimed only $50 million in assets, while lawyers for victims estimated the archdiocese was worth about $1.7 billion. Ultimately, it reached the largest bankruptcy settlement by an archdiocese giving 450 people a total of $210 million, which averages to about $467,000 each. Some of the money came from church assets and some from insurance.

In New Mexico, to protect funds from settlements, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, has distanced itself from about $178 million since 2012. On average, an archdiocese in bankruptcy will settle with clergy abuse victims for about half the value of its estate. If the Santa Fe archdiocese settles for half the value of the $49 million it says it owns, the 375 victims will each get about $65,000, about one-fifth of the $300,000 they would get if the arch­diocese hadn’t taken $178 million off its ledger.

“The bankruptcy code should not be used to re-victimize victims,” said New Mexico attorney general Hector Balderas. “They are really just trying to shield assets.”

According to a 2018 study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, victims of childhood sexual abuse experience increased mental and physical health problems. Additionally, they receive lower earnings, with the cost to a victim of more than $280,000 over a lifetime.

“We realize that nothing can ever adequately compensate those who have been victims of this terrible crime,” Santa Fe Archbishop John C. Wester said in November, 2018. “Nonetheless, we seek to do all we can by way of publicly acknowledging their pain, offering apologies and providing financial compensation.”

The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution. Church leaders have prioritized the wealth of the archdiocese over making victims whole. Moving around and hiding funds from sexual abuse victims is an outrage, immoral, and callously adds to the suffering these victims are forced to endure. 

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims on behalf of children who were sexually abused by clergy of all religious denominations.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member of any religious faith, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.