Tag: Clergy Sex Abuse

Don’t Just Make a List of Predator Clergy! Give Their Names Quickly & One-by-One.

In any newspaper, the “Letters to the Editor” section is a real grab bag – sometimes goofy, sometimes confusing, and sometimes really perceptive.

In that latter category falls this one which appeared under the headline: “There’s no excuse for delaying Marianists’ victims list.” Here it is:

After decades of protecting predators, a locally based religious order recently released the names of dozens of child molesters it employed at area high schools.

 

I wondered why they are just disclosing this now. So I checked the website of the group, the Marianists. It said, ‘Our intent was to publish the list during the recent Lenten season. However, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the provincial council discerned it was in the best interest of the Province and our institutions to postpone the announcement to a more prudent time. The decision was later made to publish this list in June 2020.’ Huh?

 

What’s prudent about hiding — for even just weeks or months — the identities of 46 clerics that their own colleagues and supervisors publicly acknowledge are or were “found to have sexually abused a minor?” Those aren’t my words. That’s straight from the Marianist website.

 

That deliberate delay is irresponsible, not “prudent.” That gives criminals more time to hide their tracks, intimidate their victims, change their names, move overseas and take more and smarter steps to evade justice.

https://www.stltoday.com/opinion/mailbag/letter-theres-no-excuse-for-delaying-marianists-victims-list/article_a720fe16-b9a2-5e37-84a8-bd11b3b6ce70.html

 

Kudos to this letter writer, Dan Mosby of St. Louis Missouri. He nails it when he points out that it’s ‘irresponsible,’ not ‘prudent,’ to spend ‘weeks or months’ hiding the names of men who have hurt kids and may be hurting kids right now.

Church defenders brag that most US bishops and some religious orders (like the Marianists) have now posted lists of predators’ names and that few institutions do this.

What they neglect to admit, however, is that

—these lists are often vague and unusually incomplete,

—victims and advocates pushed for these lists for decades, and

these disclosures should never have been made in list form. They should have been done one by one.

Bishops should release the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics ONE AT A TIME, on the same day their wrongdoing has been made or proven clear or likely.

Because that’s how these determinations are made (or should be) – one at a time – in meetings in church offices. So waiting to put together a list, long or short, inevitably means information that might spare a child from a devastating crime stays hidden. And only wrongdoers benefit from such delays and secrecy.

Few outside the church hierarchy know this, but every month, a newsletter of sorts is sent out to all US bishops from their national conference in Washington DC. In it, names of problematic priests are given: priests who are con artists or embezzlers or preach wrong doctrines or (sometimes) assault kids or adults. What this means is that privately, about every 30 days, bishops are warned about troublesome clerics who might hurt their flock, their finances or their public images should these clerics move to or pass through their dioceses.

But that information is rarely shared with the pubic, leaving the public vulnerable to financial scans and sexual abuse.

(As an example, see the case below of Fr. Peter Balili, an Opus Dei priest who attended Notre Dame, worked in California, worked with “Shrines of Europe Pilgrimage,” spent time in three dioceses in California and Illinois and may be in the Philippines now.)

http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/removal-of-international-catholic-priest-from-belleville-diocese-kept-quiet/article_3314b603-a2fc-5406-b62e-e59d6f32b691.html

https://www.snapnetwork.org/il_snap_bishops_warn_bishops_about_him_but_not_the_public

And that leads to an obvious, simple question: why aren’t bishops’ public lists of credibly accused child molesters updated at least monthly? If one genuinely cares about vulnerable kids and wounded adults, that’s the least one would do.

Until the Catholic hierarchy starts warning the public about predators as often and as effectively as it warns its bishops about problematic priests, boys and girls will remain at risk in this institution.

(Here is the Marianists’ credibly accused clerics list: https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/marianists-release-names-of-members-they-say-abused-children-including-17-in-st-louis/63-97e86604-8fc7-4ae1-a032-51579fb1f678

SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUIT FILED IN POLK COUNTY AGAINST RETIRED PRIEST

SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST RETIRED CATHOLIC

PRIEST FRED RUSE

On Monday, April 27, 2020 sex abuse attorney Adam Horowitz filed a Complaint in Polk County Circuit Court against  Catholic priest Father Fred Ruse, who in 2018, suddenly retired from the active ministry. The suit, filed on behalf of a Sarasota County man, alleges that in 2001 and 2002, he was sexually abused multiple times by Father Ruse in a classroom and in the chaplain’s office at the Demilly Correctional Institution in Polk City, Florida when the plaintiff was approximately 14 and 15 years old.

The lawsuit claims that Father Ruse of the Diocese of Orlando, then pastor of St. Matthews in Winter Haven, Florida, used his status as a clergyman to meet privately with the plaintiff. He actively groomed the boy and gained his trust by showering him with attention and giving him gifts such as Harry Potter books according to the lawsuit. As their relationship developed Father Ruse allegedly began to fondle the plaintiff’s genitals and masturbate himself to ejaculation. The Complaint states that the sexual contact progressed to Father Ruse giving oral sex to the boy and receiving oral sex from him.

As a minor, the plaintiff did not have the legal capacity to consent to any sexual contact by Father Ruse. He was horrified and in shock.  The Complaint states that his isolation in the Correctional Institution coupled with the priest’s status compounded his trauma and distress, resulting in continual severe emotional, physical and psychological suffering.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Diocese of Orlando. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a priest or other clergy, 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.

cover up sexual abuse catholic church - Horowitz Law

The Catholic Bishops’ Lists of “Credibly Accused Priests” is Not What it Appears to Be

A fascinating story has just come out showing how deceitful and self-serving Catholic bishops are when it comes to their lists of ‘credibly accused’ child molesting clerics. In short, it shows that most bishops provide inadequate and inaccurate information about these predator priests.

https://www.propublica.org/article/catholic-leaders-promised-transparency-about-child-abuse-they-havent-delivered

Why?  Well, Mary Gautier, a Catholic researcher at a Catholic school, wants us to believe that one reason is that “smaller dioceses with limited budgets” supposedly “lacking the money or staff to dig through their archives.”

https://cara.georgetown.edu/AboutCARA/GautierCV.pdf

That’s bunk. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Any bishop who wants to compile a thorough list of predator priests, their work assignments and their whereabouts has or can get the resources to do that.

Consider this analogous situation: One Michigan official must wade through 1.5 million paper documents and 3.5 million electronic documents about abuse. That official recruited and trained 32 volunteers who put in over 1,400 hours at night and on weekends to help.

Which Michigan bishop showed such dedication to protect kids and expose wrongdoers? None of them. The official with this impressive dedication is Attorney General Dana Nessell.

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/12/23/michigan-nessel-clergy-abuse-probe/2737645001/

So let’s be real. There are lots of reasons bishops still refuse to ‘come clean’ about brothers, nuns, seminarians and priests who sexually violate kids. But “limited budgets or staff” isn’t one of them.

Gautier also makes another claim, one that’s somewhat more credible: “The church is very good at is recordkeeping but it’s very, very time consuming and labor intensive to really go through years and years and years of personnel records. . .”

OK, maybe she’s right. It takes hard work to comb through these documents.

But we’re talking about preventing boys and girls from being raped. We’re talking about possibly helping police and prosecutors lock up dangerous predators. We’re talking about a scandal-ridden institution helping to rebuild trust.

If all that’s not reason enough to put forth a sincere and serious effort to create and reveal complete and helpful lists of child molesting clerics, we can’t imagine what would be.

The Vatican Struggles To Keep Up With A Record Number of Sex-Abuse Cases Reported This Year

The Vatican Struggles To Keep Up With A Record Number of Sex Abuse Cases Reported in 2019

Late December 2019, the Associated Press reported that the Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has seen a record 1,000 cases reported from around the world this year. The CDF said there are four times more complaints this year than a decade ago, with many coming from countries that had no previous reported history of sexual abuse cases.

Monsignor John Kennedy said that he plans to expand his struggling, skeleton staff of 17 and add more people to help with the onslaught of cases.  “We’re effectively seeing a tsunami of cases at the moment, particularly from countries where we never heard from (before),” Kennedy said, referring to allegations of abuse that occurred years ago. 

For decades the United States has reported the most cases of clergy sex abuse. Now, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Italy and Poland are among the countries with the most cases being sent to the CDF. 

For nearly 20 years the CDF has processed 6,000 abuse cases. Pope Francis has said that it still had a backlog of 2,000. Now, the CDF must manage with the globalization of the sex abuse scandal.

Kennedy said the Vatican was committed to fighting clergy sex abuse and just needed more time to process the cases. “We’re going to look at it forensically and guarantee that the just outcome will be given,” he said.

In an attempt to streamline the project, the CDF is working on a database to access statistics from cases previously processed. It will also publish a guidebook for bishops and religious superiors to use so they can more efficiently process cases.

The role of priests in the church is to support the spiritual needs of their parishioners. Education, counseling, and guidance in times of need are responsibilities with which they are entrusted. A clergyman who sexually violates children has no place working in the Church. Any ministry in which such a crime is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential priests and protect their parishioners. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a priest or other clergy, 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.

New Poll Reveals American Catholics Displeased with Handling of the Sex Abuse Scandal

New Poll Reveals Catholics Displeased with Bishops’ Handling of Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal

EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research partnered to conduct an in depth survey on Catholic voters’ attitudes prior to the 2020 election. When it came to the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the survey reveals that American Catholics are overwhelmingly displeased with the handling of the scandal by their local Bishops. Only 30% of Catholics approve of the Bishops’ handling of the scandal, compared to 55% who disapprove. Their view of the Pope’s handling of clergy sexual abuse was only slightly  better than their ranking of their own local Bishops. 44% of Catholics approve of the Pope’s handling of the crisis, while 41% say they disapprove.  This data reflects the vast amount of American Catholics who are angered by the sexual abuse crisis and the inability of Church leadership to address the problem and the spiritual needs of their parishioners. 

As the American Catholic landscape has evolved there has been a sweeping desire for modern reformation in the Church beyond just controlling the rampant sex abuse crisis. According to the poll, the majority of Catholic voters are in favor of allowing priests to marry (64% of all Catholic voters) and for women to be ordained as deacons (69% of all Catholic voters). 

“This data poll confirms the differences in ethnicity, age, and ideology within the Catholic community that make it such a pastoral challenge for bishops and such an electoral opportunity for politicians,” said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University.

The role of pastors in the church is to support the spiritual needs of their parishioners. Education and often counseling and guidance in times of need are responsibilities with which they are entrusted. A trusted clergyman who sexually violates young children has no place working in the Church. Any ministry in which such a crime is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential priests and protect their parishioners. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a priest or other clergy, 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.

Washington D.C. Priest Urbano Vazquez Sentenced to 15 Years for Sexually Abusing Girls

Washington D.C Priest Sentenced to 15 Years for Sexually Abusing Young Girls

Urbano Vazquez Horowitz Law

Washington D.C. Catholic priest Urbano Vazquez, age 47, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday, November 22 after he was found guilty of sexually abusing two young girls. In August of 2019, he was found guilty on one count of second-degree child sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl, and two counts of second-degree child sexual abuse and one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse of a child against a 9-year-old girl. Both girls were his parishioners. The crimes were committed between 2015 and 2017, while he was an assistant pastor at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart.  This parish belongs to the Archdiocese of Washington.  Vazquez is a priest from a Religious Order of Friars known as the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

Vazquez groped the 13-year-old and kissed and groped the 9-year-old. He denied the charges and has maintained his innocence. Earlier in the week, he submitted a nine-page written letter to the judge asking for mercy at his sentencing saying he “was too busy to do a crazy thing.” He never mentioned his victims, or the crimes he was convicted of committing.

Both victims testified at the trial. The younger girl testified that her desire to be a nun died when Vazquez kissed her in 2016 and groped her “a lot of times,” including in the church’s sacristy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Matt Williams wrote, in his own letter to the judge, that “each victim testified that when the defendant was touching them, he acted like there was nothing unusual or wrong with what was going on. He did not speak, did not apologize, and did not react.”

When Vazquez took the stand in his own defense and did not acknowledge his criminal behavior, Williams added, “he swore that the young girls whose lives he changed forever were liars. It takes a depraved — and dangerously manipulative — person to do that.”

Urbano Vazquez’s abuse of these children is a disgraceful example of abuse of power.  Unfortunately, all too often, we see men with depraved sexual interests, gravitate to the clergy and other professions where they will have opportunity and access to molest children.   The victims of this crime should be commended for having the courage to report these crimes and stand up to their perpetrator in Court and hold him accountable.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Washington. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a priest or other clergy, 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 Rockville Phase 3

What Are the Details on Phase III of Diocese of Rockville Centre Clergy Abuse Compensation Program

The Diocese of Rockville Centre’s program to compensate sexual abuse victims has been expanded to include claims against Religious Order priests and nuns who were affiliated with the Diocese of Rockville Centre through its schools, parishes, or charitable agencies.  Previously, the program was limited to abuse by Diocesan Priests.  This system was unfair because it arbitrarily excluded large number of victims, including those abused by Jesuits, Franciscans, Benedictines, Maryknoll Fathers, Paulists, Salesians, Redemptorists, Passionists and Oblates among many other Religious Orders.

The deadline to register for the Diocese of Rockville Centre program is March 31, 2019. All claims must be registered to be considered for eligibility. The deadline to submit a claim is May 31, 2019.  Note that the program is completely voluntary.  Certain victims may wish to pursue their remedies under New York’s Child Victim Act.  Of course, you can register for Phase III of the compensation program, receive an offer, and then decide whether to accept the offer or file a lawsuit.

Horowitz Law represents victims of clergy sexual abuse in Phase III of the Diocese of Rockville Centre program.  In light of the approaching deadlines, contact us today at (954) 641-2100 or via e-mail at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com if you wish to participate in Phase III of the Diocese of Rockville Centre compensation program.  A properly submitted claim may include: sacrament records, school transcripts, photographs, medical records, and/or witness statements.  As these document may take significant time to assemble, it is important that you and your legal counsel begin this process as soon as possible.

 

GRAND Jury Diocese Venice sexual lawsuit

What Happens Now That Grand Jury Report on Clergy Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania Is Out?

A two-year grand jury probe into decades of sexual misconduct by over three hundred abusive Catholic priests in six Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania has produced some startling and disturbing findings. The lengthy reports details over 1100 child victims and a culture of secrecy in which the reputation of the church was valued by Bishops and Diocese officials above the safety of children.  It is now widely-expected that a compensation program will be made available to victims of clergy abuse or the statute of limitations will be repealed to allow these older claims to be brought forth.  Any victims of abuse by a priest in Pennsylvania should contact an attorney to determine if they are available for compensation under these programs.

The release of the Grand Jury report is the culmination of a hard-fought court battle pitting victims and their advocates against the church.  The Dioceses fought to keep these records confidential and out of the public record. The Court struck a compromise in which the report was released with redactions.

Child advocates and the victims themselves expressed gratitude that the report has been made public, although many still wish to have redacted information revealed to expose certain wrongdoers.  Sadly, in almost every case of abuse documented in the grand jury report, it is too late for criminal prosecution.  Nevertheless, victims and their advocates hope the transparency of the report will cause reform within the church, a heightened focus on child safety, and ultimately legislative reform to allow victims of older claims to bring civil lawsuits against the church in Pennsylvania that are otherwise barred by the civil statute of limitations. 

The lengthy report uncovers incident of sexual abuse by priests dating back to 1947 in six dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.  In some cases, children were plied with alcohol or other drugs being abused.  The descriptions of the abuse itself are both graphic and disturbing.  But equally troubling is the recklessness with which abusive priests were transferred from parish to parish or given warnings and allowed to proceed as if nothing had occurred.  By way of example, the report notes that Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who served as Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for eighteen years, would in some cases allow abusive priests to remain in the ministry working with youth in parishes.

If you were a victim or know someone who was victim of sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania, we urge you to report the crime to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office at 1-888-538-8541 to report it.

Adam Horowitz is a lawyer representing children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania who wish to pursue a civil lawsuit.  Our law firm also represents victims of abuse by clergy of all religious denominations 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 (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com