Tag: Clergy Sexual Abuse

Cardinal Bernard Law

Two Anniversaries That Give Us Hope

For our own mental health, given the wealth of bad news in the world, we at Horowitz Law try hard to take note of good news and anniversaries of good news.

Today, Dec. 14, marks the anniversary of the resignation of the poster child for the US Catholic church’s abuse and cover-up crisis – Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston.

Never mind that he retained many other powerful positions and was sent to Rome to head an important and historic basilica (and evaded criminal prosecution). The fact that an incredibly influential prelate was forced to step down for endangering kids and enabling abuse is worth remembering and celebrating.

And next year, 2021, will mark the 20th anniversary of a wonderfully transformative event in terms of children’s safety.

Twenty years ago, in 2001, a Massachusetts judge issued a landmark ruling. The choice she faced was this: side with vulnerable kids, wounded victims and betrayed Catholics. Or side with Catholic clerics who committed, concealed and were STILL committing and concealing heinous child sex crimes.

Judge Constance Sweeney clearly did the right thing. She ruled on a motion brought by the Boston Globe seeking to open long-hidden records about how Cardinal Law and his staff and predecessors in the Boston Archdiocese handled serial predator priest John Geoghan case.

She lifted the seal and ordered all the documents filed with the court and made accessible to the public.

The nearly-overwhelmed floodgates were finally opened. The decades-old cover ups began to be exposed. The suffering felt vindicated. And the vulnerable were made safer.

And then, the courageous leadership of Judge Sweeney, the Globe and – most of all – Geoghan’s victims – inspired action all across the US.

(If you haven’t seen it, the award-winning film Spotlight does an incredible job of recounting this history, and much more. It’s available on Netflix.)

There is no “Nobel Prize for Kids’ Protection.” But if there were, Judge Sweeney would be a perfect nominee.

And while we’re remembering and praising her, let’s also thank all of the judges across the United States who have helped make our nation safer by ruling more and more often in favor of kids and victims, and against predators and enablers.

Their wisdom and hard work often goes unrecognized, though they deserve kudos for playing a big role in exposing and preventing more crimes and coverups.

Florida Attorney General Report on Clergy Abuse & Cover Up Disappoints

The more we read the just-released report by Florida state authorities into Catholic child sex crimes and cover ups, the more disappointed we are at Horowitz Law. Here are some of the reasons why:

—-Unlike reports issued in other states, Florida officials refused to make even one recommendation to reduce the chances of abuse and cover up in the future (neither for external reforms through the legislature nor internal church reforms).

—-The report misleadingly implied that one recently-adopted legal change (extending the criminal statute of limitations) was sufficient to prevent scandals like this in the future.

—-While 97 accused Florida predator priests are mentioned by name in the report, almost no details about them are given – no photos, work histories, last known whereabouts,

—-While dozens of accused priests from other states, who came to or were sent to Florida, are listed by name, almost no details about them are given, not even the names of the dioceses in which they offended or were ordained.

—-Almost no ‘enablers are mentioned by name, the non-offending church staff and supervisors who ignored suspicions or reports of abuse and/or hid those suspicions or reports from police, prosecutors, parents, parishioners and the press.

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/SSWN-BV4R8E/$file/Report.pdf

—-Only two child molesting clerics – Fr. Rocco D’angelo and Ernesto Garcia-Rubio – are examined in any depth.

In fairness, there are some positive parts of the report:

–It did list more than 170 accused child molesting Catholic clerics in Florida by name.

–It concluded what many of us have known for years, that “Florida was one of the states to where (accused predator) priests were routinely relocated.”

–It noted that sometimes, though not always, noting that sometimes Florida bishops were warned (by bishops elsewhere) of the clerics’ criminal pasts.

–It include the names of those pedophile priests from up north who came down here. (Some are notorious serial predators, like Romano Ferraro, now serving a life sentence in Massachusetts, and Norman Rogge, who may be the only priest who was put back into ministry twice, after two child sex abuse convictions.)

https://www.snapnetwork.org/ma_mo_victims_applaud_tough_sentence_for_abusive_priest

https://www.snapnetwork.org/a_priest_on_his_way_to_breaking_an_abuse_record

–At least one ‘enabler’ — Bishop (later Archbishop) Coleman Carroll of Miami – is named.

Sadly, throughout the document, nearly all other enablers remain concealed. When discussing the cover ups, the authors use the passive voice: “Law enforcement was not notified of the crimes.” Or the enablers are identified as institutions, not individuals: “.”

Maybe the most upsetting parts of the report, however, are one likely outcome and one glaring omission.

The outcome

First, for wounded victims, there’s usually relief when long-hidden crimes and cover ups like this are revealed (especially if names and details of predators and enablers are disclosed).

For innocent children, however, there’s risk when revelations like this happen. The risk (as we explained in our earlier post) can be summed up in one word: complacency.

We tend to assume that once scandals have been publicized, those in charge are already taking steps to prevent future scandals. And of course, in the worlds of business, politics and non-profits, that often happens.

But the Catholic church is different. It’s an ancient, resilient, secretive kingdom headed exclusively by unelected, elderly, hand-picked “don’t rock the boat” men (the pope and his bishops) who hold their rarified positions in this rigid hierarchy until they die. People literally kneel before them, kiss their rings, and call them ‘your excellency,’ ‘your grace’ and similar titles. And neither their paychecks, their power, their prestige nor their perks are hurt when they perform poorly.

That’s NOT a recipe for reform. That’s a recipe for continued irresponsible behavior. And that’s still the practice, culture and climate in Catholicism.

(For more reasons to stay vigilant, avoid complacency and basically ignore the church hierarchy’s claim that ‘all’s now well,’ check out this report done by an independent non-profit).

https://childusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Archdiocesan_Policies_WhitePaper_10-1-20s.pdf)

The omission

The report should have been replete with sentences like these:

“We beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to keep calling us.”

“Disclosing such horror is tough, so we commend the brave survivors who have spoken up.”

“Our hearts ache that none of these selfish and callous clerics can be criminally charged.”

“Police and prosecutors are getting more aggressive and skilled at pursuing crimes, even ones that happened long ago. So please pick up the phone.”

“We know only a small minority of victims ever come forward, so no one should consider this a thorough document.”

These omissions, tragically, send precisely the wrong message to still-suffering victims who feel trapped in silence and hopelessness. That message is “All’s OK now. We don’t particularly care about your pain. And we’re not especially anxious to hear from you.”

Please know, however, that we at Horowitz Law feel differently. We are ALWAYS anxious to hear from those who hurt and who seek justice, healing and prevention.

https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/state/florida-closes-investigation-into-catholic-church-alleged-sexual-abuse-by-priests

 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in Florida.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a Catholic priest, clergyman or other lay employee of a Diocese or Archdiocese in Florida, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in Florida  have legal options, but statutes of limitations will apply so do not delay in contacting us now.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Florida and nationwide.

diocese of buffalo sexual abuse priest

The Buffalo Diocese: Another Boston?

In 2002, cracks emerged in the nearly ironclad shield constructed by the Boston Catholic hierarchy that had securely hidden thousands of child sex crimes by hundreds of clerics.

Thanks to brave victims, whistleblowers and journalists, eventually a horror was revealed that few thought possible.

Now, almost two decades later, the same seems to be happening in the Buffalo diocese.

In both cases, after each stunning revelation of wrongdoing, parishioners, victims and observers were left wondering “When will this ever come to an end?

And in both cases, ‘the end’ almost never seems to come.

Let’s look more closely at the disturbing parallels.

In both cities, a seemingly disproportionate number of abuse and cover up lawsuits were filed (Right now, the Buffalo diocese faces more than 250 cases.)

https://www.wkbw.com/news/i-team/facing-250-sex-abuse-lawsuits-diocese-of-buffalo-declares-bankruptcy

In both cities, church officials deceptively played down the number of accused priests.

In both cities, much of the credit for shedding light into these dark places goes to determined journalists (in Buffalo, Charlie Specht and Jay Tokasz; in Boston, the Globe’s Spotlight Team and later, the staff of the Boston Herald and other outlets).

In both cities, courageous women church employees who saw deceit and corruption and became influential whistleblowers by ‘going public’ with incriminating evidence when their consciences could no longer bear silence (Sr. Catherine Mulkerrin in Boston and Siobhan O’Connor in Buffalo).

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/Whistleblowers/#Mulkerrin

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2018/09_10/2018_10_28_Bill_Minutes_Whistleblower_says.htm

In both cities, clergy themselves ‘turned on’ their boss, the bishop. (In Boston, nearly 60 priests publicly called for Law to resign. In Buffalo, Fr. Ryszard Biernat secretly recorded private conversations with Bishop Malone and shared information with reporters. Other Buffalo priests were openly critical of Malone.)

https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2020/03/whistle-blower-priest-seeks-lifting-of-suspension-imposed-by-disgraced-bishop/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/19/obituaries/cardinal-bernard-law-dead.html

In both cities, priests who were promoted to higher positions elsewhere were dogged by allegations of their wrongdoing in their home dioceses. (Several former Boston priests became bishops – including John McCormack of New Hampshire and William Murphy of Long Island – and came under serious fire for their actions back in Massachusetts. Fr. Donald Trautman of Buffalo later became the Bishop of Erie and was accused in a lawsuit last year of protecting an accused Buffalo molester, Fr. Michael Freeman.)

https://www.goerie.com/news/20190618/eries-trautman-accused-over-buffalo-abuse-complaints

In both cities, a veteran prelate ended up resigning (Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston, Bishop Richard Malone in Buffalo).

In both cities, their short-term replacements struggled to ‘right the ship’ but were also embroiled in controversies.

(In Boston, Bishop Richard Lennon argued on camera with the brother of an abuse victim, telling him “You’re a sad little man.”

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/01_02/2007_01_31_ClevelandScene_TheGodly.htm

And in Buffalo, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger is being attacked for not returning calls to a survivor and letting suspended and accused predator priests say Mass.)

https://www.wkbw.com/news/i-team/survivors-stunned-after-bishop-scharfenberger-celebrates-mass-with-abusive-priests

We could go on and on.

But there’s a key difference between the two dioceses. Boston’s crisis erupted nearly two decades ago. Buffalo’s erupted much more recently.

So current and former Buffalo church staffers (especially Bishop Robert Cunningham, Bishop Edward Kmiec, Bishop Joseph Mansell, Bishop Edward Grosz) had years to learn from their Boston colleagues and predecessors (Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, Cardinal Sean O’Malley and of course Cardinal Law).

Sadly, they didn’t. And they still aren’t.

ADDENDUM: Since we at Horowitz Law began writing this blog, another Buffalo priest has been suspended because of a credible report that he molested a child in 2011. He’s Fr. Peter J. Karalus, essentially the second-in-command at the diocese as its ‘vicar general.’

https://www.wgrz.com/article/news/religion/diocese-of-buffalo-puts-priest-on-leave-over-2011-allegation/71-65dd8f3b-660b-46a5-9f79-f82d193967c0

https://www.wnycatholic.org/news/article/current/2020/03/21/103906/bishop-sharfenberger-places-fr.-peter-karalus-on-administrative-leave

bishop sexual abuse horowitz law

Don’t Fall For the Claim That Bishops are Being More Open

More bishops are being more open about abuse, right?

Nope. Not really.

Consider these cases from Mississippi, Virginia and Missouri publicized just this week.

—–Case One: Fr.  Paul Victor Canonici just died. He’s a credibly accused child molesting cleric who was ‘outed’ by Bishop Joseph Kopacz.

https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/local/2020/02/19/priest-abuse-father-paul-canonici-dies-mississippi-diocese-jackson/4805857002/

But according to the local newspaper in Jackson:

Over the course of his tenure, Fr. Canonici served as the diocesan superintendent of education, assistant principal and then principal of St. Joseph High School in Madison, as well as the priest for multiple parishes throughout the Jackson metro area.

He retired when he was in his mid 70s. Despite his five decades with the diocese, he’s not listed on the church’s website of retired priests.

What possible reason would Bishop Kopacz have for keeping Fr. Canonici OFF his ‘retired priests’ list?

Well, here’s a theory. Say you were molested as a kid in Mississippi by a priest you think was named Fr. Canonici. But you’re not sure if you recall his name correctly. Since it was long ago, you go to the Jackson diocese’s website, and look for him under ‘retired priests’ but don’t see his name. And you think “Well, I’m obviously wrong about his name, so I probably can’t or shouldn’t try to do anything. . .” That keeps one more predator priest hidden, which is what bishops have done for years and benefit from even now.

So it’s in the Jackson bishop’s interest to hide as much info about Fr. Canonici as he can.

—–Case Two:

Richmond Virginia Bishop Barry Knestout claims he reported child sex abuse allegations against Fr. Raymond Barton to “civil authorities.”

https://www.richmond.com/news/local/retired-priest-who-previously-worked-at-sacred-heart-in-richmond/article_1cd42a98-d176-5136-9b9e-7165dfebfa9b.html

But the local newspaper reports the bishop “did not identify the location of the alleged crime or the agency that it notified.”

What?
This is a still-living, just ‘outed’ accused child molester.

What possible reason would Bishop Knestout have for NOT saying which prosecutor, sheriff or police he told about the accusation?

Well, here’s a theory: Imagine you were molested as a kid by Fr. Barton  (or saw or suspected one of his crimes). You might want to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute him. But if you don’t know which agency to call, you might make three or four or five calls and eventually give up. That might help this accused predator – and current or former diocesan staffers who ignored or hid his crimes – from being publicly exposed.

So it’s in the Richmond bishop’s interest to hide as much info about Fr. Barton as he can.
(Ironically, Knestout “remains committed to transparency and accountability when allegations of child sexual abuse are reported,” his PR staff wrote in a recent press release.”)

—-Case Three: In Missouri, Fr. Frederick Lutz has just been charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse with children.

According to one news account “The Missouri Attorney General’s Office discovered the allegations in church documents  they received during a (statewide) investigation of Catholic priest abuse in September 2019.”

https://www.kfvs12.com/2020/02/19/retired-catholic-priest-southeast-mo-charged-with-multiple-counts-child-sex-abuse/

“According to court documents, the victim made a formal complaint about the alleged incident with the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese in 2006.” That’s almost 15 years ago!

Can we REALLY think that Bishop Edward Rice, who’s headed the very small Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese for nearly four years, did not know about these accusations? That his predecessor, Bishop James Johnston – who now heads the national bishops USCCB child protection committee – didn’t tell Rice about this accused predator?

What possible reason would Rice have for NOT turning over this report to law enforcement long ago, before the Missouri AG asked for abuse records?

Well, here’s a theory: Imagine you were molested as a kid by Fr. Lutz. You might be able to prosecute him criminally or sue him civilly, if you came forward quickly enough. But if enough time passed and you didn’t act, maybe Fr. Lutz – and his bishop – would escape controversy and consequences. That saves the bishop time, money and embarrassment.

So it’s in the Springfield bishop’s interest to hide as much info about Fr. Lutz as he can.

Here’s the bottom line: Bishops don’t like to deal with child molesting clerics or their suffering victims. Bishops don’t like the headlines, headaches and court and legal complications victims and predators cause them (from the bishops’ point of view). And bishops are virtually never rewarded by their supervisors or peers for being open about abuse.

Therefore, when it comes to abuse and cover ups, it continues to be most comfortable for bishops to divulge only what they have to divulge. And it continues to safest and easiet for bishops to keep secret what they can keep secret.

So please remember this: When a bishop posts names of child molesting clerics on his website, that’s good. But that is NOT an indication that centuries of self-serving deceit has suddenly been reversed.

(And here’s more irony: Decades ago, the Jackson diocese ordained disgraced Boston Cardinal Bernard Law a priest. And Law’s first promotion was to become the head of the Springfield diocese.)

It’s CALL YOUR ATTORNEY GENERAL time!

It’s CALL YOUR ATTORNEY GENERAL time!

In practically every state, the top law enforcement official is called the state attorney general.

In the last two years, about half of them have started investigations into the Catholic abuse crisis.

If you have not called YOUR AG to share what you know or suspect about clergy crimes or cover ups, you should. Here’s why.

If your AG is already DOING an investigation, who knows when it will end? (So best to act now before it’s too late.)

If your AG is NOT DOING an investigation, s/he should be prodded to do so ASAP, before even more evidence is lost or destroyed, even more memories fade and witnesses die, even more predators hurt even more kids, and even more deadlines (like the statute of limitations) expire.

There are many reasons to stay quiet: “Nothing will be done, so why waste my time.” “I don’t have first hand information.” “I tried once before to talk with law enforcement but it wasn’t helpful.” “It’s probably too late for anyone to do anything.”

None of these should stop you, however, from picking up the phone or sending an email to your AG.

Why?

Because it’s our moral duty to tell law enforcement what we know or suspect (and it’s THEIR duty, not ours, to figure out whether something can be done).

Because that’s also our civic duty.

Because sometimes a tidbit of information (even if it’s old or seemingly small) can make a big difference to law enforcement.

Because sometimes even just rumors or suspicions or ‘second hand’ information can be helpful.

Because times are changing and law enforcement is being more creative and aggressive than ever about going after both predators and enablers (their supervisors and colleagues who ignore or conceal known or suspected crimes).

Because laws have changed and technology has improved, both of which enable police and prosecutors to purse wrongdoing from even decades ago.

Because AGs, if they can’t take action, will know best which local law enforcement to forward your information to – whether it’s a county sheriff or a local prosecutor or a police department or the FBI.

Because going after institutional wrongdoers – the higher-ups who hide or turn a blind eye to possible abuse – often requires more resources than local law enforcement may have (and a lot of AGs wield a LOT of power).

Because taking action to help others almost always helps you sleep better at night!

So, we at Horowitz Law beg you: “lease stop stalling. Contact your AG. Share what you know or suspect. Or prod your AG to step up and join the 20+ AGs who are investigating this crisis.

(This link might save you a little searching: https://www.snapnetwork.org/ag_investigation_hotlines)

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in many states now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

Florida Catholic Bishops sexual abuse

Catholic Bishops Promised Transparency, But Apparently Not in Florida

We love our home state but have to ask: What’s wrong with Florida?

We just blogged about how Florida’s Attorney General is – to put it kindly – ‘behind the curve’ on releasing information about Catholic wrongdoers, both offenders and ‘enablers.’

Now, a new investigation confirms what we at Horowitz Law have long said: Florida’s bishops are also ‘behind the curve’ in disclosing what they know about their staff and colleagues who assault kids and hide the crimes.

Here’s the take-away: Five of seven dioceses in Florida, home to many millions of Catholics, STILL have not released names of credibly accused child molesting clerics.  (Most bishops across the US have done so, about 170 of them, have done this already, some as far back as 2002.)

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

What’s the excuse from Florida’s bishops?

Essentially, they’re saying “Well, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is investigating us, so we’ll sit tight for now.”  That might be acceptable in lots of other contexts. But remember: we’re talking about clerics who commit and conceal heinous crimes against children. Many of those clerics are still alive. Some, maybe most, have never been identified publicly (much less , much less criminally charged or convicted).

So there’s a very real and very urgent need to, at the very least, immediately reveal the names of the living priests who are ‘credibly accused’ of assaulting kids.  Every day a predator enjoys secrecy, he or she has a much better chance of being able to assault someone else. It’s little consolation, of course, but Pro Publica’s report shows that partial, deceptive and self-serving disclosures are happening all across the country.

–The Boston Archdiocese, for instance lists 171 ‘credibly accused’ clerics. But a far more impartial source, BishopAccountability.org, lists 279, including dozens of religious order priests omitted from the official archdiocesan list.

–The Rockville Centre diocese, home of 1.5 million Catholics (and one of the nation’s most scandal-ridden dioceses) still has listed no names whatsoever.

–Roughly 90% of all bishops refuse to reveal how many victims each of their predator priests has hurt.

Back to Florida’s bishops. A note of irony: These prelates are lobbying for a bill in Tallahassee to restrict payday lending, also called “predatory lending.”

https://flaccb.org/news/predatory-lending-bill-passes-senate-committee

That’s a noble cause, of course. But they should keep their eyes on the prize

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.

priest sexual abuse

Sexually Abusive Behavior Can Come in All Different Forms

An odd and disturbing Michigan story serves as an important reminder to parents, police and in fact, all of us:

Some sick adults get sexual satisfaction from acts that may not seem to be sexual at all. In other words, “weird” behavior may not just be weird. It may also be abusive.

A Detroit area priest must spend 60 days in jail and register as a sex offender after he pleaded guilty to covering a boy – including his eyes and mouth – in bubble wrap for an hour.

https://apnews.com/9f261990f62e57dec65971af706fa5da

While his defense lawyer disagrees, the Michigan Attorney General’s office convinced a judge that the cleric derived sexual pleasure from this twisted move.

Our firm once handled a similarly unusual and unsettling case against a Colorado cleric, Andrew Burke, who rubbed ice on kids blindfolded them, and stroked a feather on their skin.

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2005_10_14_Mitchell_TwoMore_Andrew_Burke_2.htm

We also handled cases involving a Marianist brother, William C. Mueller, who spent time in Missouri, Texas and Colorado. While teaching at Chaminade school in St. Louis, he convinced at least one student that he was conducting a psychological ‘experiment’ to get his doctoral degree. Mueller blindfolded the boy “asked bizarre questions, began rubbing his neck and back and blowing in his ear, then blindfolded him, put what felt like a knife to his throat and simulated intercourse.”

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/09_10/2007_10_20_Ratcliffe_MarianistsOrder.htm

These kinds of bizarre actions are technically called “paraphilias” by professionals. They cross the victims’ boundaries, arouse perpetrators and cause harm, even if victims chalk up the experience as ‘creepy’ rather than sexual abuse or exploitation.

And, just like more conventional forms of sexual abuse, victims often can’t understand and accept the acts as abusive and hurtful until decades later.

So if you know someone who went through a ‘weird’ or ‘creepy’ experience with an adult, do them a favor.  Gently raise the possibility with them that the adult MAY have sought or gained some sort of sexual gratification from the encounter.  Urge them to talk with professionals in counseling, civil litigation and of course law enforcement to explore this possibility and perhaps stop the adult from doing it again to others.

heodore mccarrick sexual abuse

There Are Still More Questions That Need to Be Answered About Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick

Soon, supposedly, Catholic officials in Rome will release their so-called ‘investigation’ into Theodore McCarrick, a former top US prelate who’s accused of both committing and concealing child sex crimes.

https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2020/01/popes-early-2020-likely-to-be-dominated-by-documents-rather-than-deeds/

Here’s a crucial question that ‘investigation’ needs to answer: Who in the church benefitted from the roughly $600,000 in gifts McCarrick gave over 17 years to fellow clerics?

https://wapo.st/2ZZPqOf

And here’s why that matters: That sum of money can effectively silence many who know about or suspect crimes.

(The Washington Post reports that “Several of the more than 100 (church official) recipients were directly involved in assessing misconduct claims against McCarrick.”)

The parishioners and the public (and of course law enforcement) deserve to know who took cash and ignored or hid McCarrick’s crimes.

I predict, however, that the Vatican’s report will narrowly focus just on McCarrick himself. And that’s wrong. McCarrick’s been defrocked. He likely won’t ever be in a position to conceal child sex crimes again.

But most of those church figures who took his money are very likely still in power. And they’re compromised. And unless they’re exposed and punished, they’ll likely conceal child sex crimes again.

Under duress, some Catholic officials have been willing to throw their predecessors under the bus. That’s especially true if the wrongdoer is dead or has already been disciplined.

The true test of transparency is whether current employees, not just former employees, are revealed to have acted improperly.

Real reform is when all wrongdoers – past and present – are ‘outed.’ That’s what Vatican officials should do with the McCarrick case.

McCarrick’s secret fund took in more than $6 million. He wrote more than 200 checks to Catholic officials. We should know who those men are (especially the dozen or so US attorneys general who are investigating church abuse and cover ups).

https://apnews.com/343d656d7f034d58bcc4c0acceada7bc

Former Boca Raton Priest John Sutton On List of Priests “Credibly Accused” of Abusing Minors

John Sutton, a former Catholic priest who served for a time at Saint Joan of Arc in Boca Raton, Florida is included by the Diocese of Paterson (New Jersey) in its list of 28 priests who have been “credibly accused” of illegal sexual abuse involving minors.

John Sutton was born in 1943 and ordained in 1970.  Sutton served in the following assignments in the Diocese of Paterson:

  • St. Andrew (Clifton, NJ)
  • St. Agnes (Paterson, NJ)
  • Chaplain, St. Joseph Hospital
  • Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Swartswood, NJ)
  • St. Patrick (Chatham, NJ)

Sutton also took a leave of absence for unspecified reasons in 1979.  Years later, he requested to be transferred to the Diocese of Palm Beach.  The transfer was granted by the Bishop in Patterson and Susan was eventually incardinated in the Diocese of Palm Beach in January 2000 where he remained for the duration of his priesthood until his passing in August 2000.   The Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey says it investigated the abuse claim involving Father Sutton in 2005, along with their local prosecutor’s office, and found the accusation to be credible.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Paterson in New Jersey.  Although the Diocese of Paterson has identified 28 priests accused of abuse, Horowitz Law has 41 priests publicly accused in the Diocese of Paterson.

If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in New Jersey, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Paterson now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey and nationwide. We can help.