Posts Tagged Associated Press

Vatican says bishops should report sex abuse to police

While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. (Associated Press)

“The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday (Jul. 16) they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests.

“The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws continue to be ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favor of protecting their priests.

“While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. That policy requires bishops and religious superiors to report allegations of sex crimes with minors only where local laws require it.

“The manual says: ‘Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.’

“And it says church leaders must comply with ‘legitimate’ subpoena requests.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Judge says parents can sue diocese over abuse reporting / Associated Press

“Lawyers for the parents and survivors said the order issued late Tuesday (Jan. 7) is the first time private citizens have been allowed to challenge the church to prove it is complying with a reporting law.” (Associated Press)

 Pennsylvania judge has ruled that parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can move forward with a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging that it has not fulfilled its obligations under state law to report child sexual abusers.

“The parents and survivors claim that the Pittsburgh diocese along with the other seven Pennsylvania dioceses have created a public nuisance by failing to report every allegation of child abuse and are asking that they be compelled to release information about all known allegations. Lawyers for the parents and survivors said the order issued late Tuesday is the first time private citizens have been allowed to challenge the church to prove it is complying with a reporting law.

“The order, issued by Allegheny County Judge Christine A. Ward, also sustained the objections from the state’s other seven dioceses to being parties in the lawsuit because there were no specific allegations against them. Ward gave the attorneys for the parents and survivors 30 days to amend the lawsuit before she will consider whether to dismiss the other dioceses as defendants.”

By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press — Read more …

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Hundreds of abused clergy left off church’s sex abuse lists / Associated Press

An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served. (Associated Press)

Richard J. Poster served time for possessing child pornography, violated his probation by having contact with children, admitted masturbating in the bushes near a church school and in 2005 was put on a sex offender registry. And yet the former Catholic priest was only just this month added to a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sexual abuse — after The Associated Press asked why he was not included.

“Victims advocates had long criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not making public the names of credibly accused priests. Now, despite the dioceses’ release of nearly 5,300 names, most in the last two years, critics say the lists are far from complete.

“An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served.

“The AP reached that number by matching those public diocesan lists against a database of accused priests tracked by the group BishopAccountability.org and then scouring bankruptcy documents, lawsuits, settlement information, grand jury reports and media accounts.

“More than a hundred of the former clergy members not listed by dioceses or religious orders had been charged with sexual crimes, including rape, solicitation and receiving or viewing child pornography.”

By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, Associated Press — Read more …

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Catholic Church could be hit by a deluge of lawsuits thanks to new state laws / Time

AP interviews with more than a dozen lawyers and clergy abuse watchdog groups offered a wide range of estimates but many said they expected at least 5,000 new cases against the church in New York, New Jersey and California alone, resulting in potential payouts that could surpass the $4 billion paid out since the clergy sex abuse first came to light in the 1980s. (Time)

A wave of new laws in 15 states that allow people to make claims of sexual abuse going back decades could bring a deluge of lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church that could surpass anything seen so far in its clergy abuse crisis.

“Associated Press reporting found it could result in thousands of new cases against the church and more than $4 billion in payouts.

“It’s a financial reckoning playing out in such populous Catholic strongholds as New York, California and New Jersey, among the eight states that go the furthest with ‘lookback windows’ that allow sex abuse claims no matter how old.

“That has lawyers fighting for clients with TV ads and billboards asking, ‘Were you abused by the church?’ And Catholic dioceses are considering bankruptcy, victim compensation funds and even tapping valuable real estate to stay afloat.”

By Bernard Condon and Jim Mustian, Associated Press, in Time — Read more …

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Church sex abuse boards often undermine victims, help clergy / Associated Press

The AP checked all the roughly 180 dioceses in the U.S. for information, reviewed thousands of pages of church and court records and interviewed more than 75 abuse survivors, board members and others to uncover a tainted process where the church hierarchy holds the reins of power at every stage. (Associated Press)

Facing thousands of cases of clergy sex abuse, U.S. Catholic leaders addressed their greatest crisis in the modern era with a promised reform: Mandatory review boards.

“These independent panels with lay people in each diocese would review allegations fairly and kindly. And they would help bishops ensure that no abusive priests stayed in ministry.

“But almost two decades later, an Associated Press investigation of review boards across the country shows they have broadly failed to uphold these commitments. Instead, review boards appointed by bishops and operating in secrecy have routinely undermined sex abuse claims from victims, shielded accused priests and helped the church avoid payouts.

“The AP also found dozens of cases in which review boards rejected complaints from survivors, only to have them later validated by secular authorities. In a few instances, board members were themselves clergy accused of sexual misconduct. And many abuse survivors told the AP they faced hostility and humiliation from boards.”

By Reese Dunklin, Mitch Weiss and Matt Sedensky, Associated Press — Read more …

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Unsupervised accused priests teach, counsel, foster children / Associated Press

“A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.” (Associated Press)

Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found.

“These priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach middle-school math. They counsel survivors of sexual assault. They work as nurses and volunteer at nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk kids. They live next to playgrounds and day care centers. They foster and care for children.

“And in their time since leaving the church, dozens have committed crimes, including sexual assault and possessing child pornography, the AP’s analysis found.

“A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.”

By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, Associated Press — Read more …

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In Mississippi Delta, Catholic abuse cases settled on the cheap / Associated Press

The abuse they say they endured at the hands of two Franciscans, Brother Paul West and Brother Donald Lucas, included beatings, rape, and other sexual violations beginning when they were nine and 10 years old. (associated Press)

As La Jarvis skimmed the four-page agreement, his thoughts flickered back more than two decades to the physical and sexual abuse he says he suffered at the hands of a Franciscan Friar at a Catholic grade school in Greenwood. He told Gannon he wasn’t sure $15,000 was enough.

“‘He said if I wanted more, I would have to get a lawyer and have my lawyer call his lawyer,’ La Jarvis recently told The Associated Press. ‘Well, we don’t have lawyers. We felt like we had to take what we could.’

“La Jarvis considered his mounting bills, his young family and, with his wife’s consent, signed the agreement, dating it Jan. 11, 2019.

“Then Gannon announced it was time to eat.

“‘He was all smiles then,’ La Jarvis said.

“At the time, La Jarvis didn’t understand that the agreement he signed is unusual in several respects. It includes a confidentiality requirement, even though American Catholic leaders have barred the use of non-disclosure agreements in sex abuse settlements.”

By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press — Read more …

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Unmarked buildings, quiet help for accused priests / Associated Press

And while powerful clerics have publicly pledged to hold the church accountable for the crimes of its clergy and help survivors heal, some of them arranged meetings, offered blessings or quietly sent checks to this organization that provided support to alleged abusers, The Associated Press has found. Though Catholic leaders deny the church has any official relationship with the group, Opus Bono successfully forged networks reaching all the way to the Vatican. (Associated Press)

Stripped of their collars and cassocks, they went unnoticed in this tiny Midwestern town as they were escorted into a dingy warehouse across from an elementary school playground. Neighbors had no idea some of the dressed-down clergymen dining at local restaurants might have been accused sexual predators.

“They had been brought to town by a small, nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii. For nearly two decades, the group has operated out of a series of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse across the country.

“Again and again, Opus Bono has served as a rapid-response team for the accused.

“When a serial pedophile was sent to jail for abusing dozens of minors, Opus Bono was there for him, with regular visits and commissary cash.

“When a priest admitted sexually assaulting boys under 14, Opus Bono raised funds for his defense.

“When another priest was criminally charged with abusing a teen, Opus Bono later made him a legal adviser.”

By Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman and Garance Burke, Associated Press — Read more …

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U.S. Catholic Church reports big rise in sex-abuse allegations / Associated Press

The findings were evidence of “complacency and lack of diligence on the part of some dioceses,” said a letter included in the report from Francesco Cesareo, who chairs a review board created by the bishops in 2002 to monitor sex abuse prevention efforts. (Associated Press)

Quantifying its vast sex-abuse crisis, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church said Friday (May 31) that allegations of child sex abuse by clerics more than doubled in its latest 12-month reporting period, and that its spending on victim compensation and child protection surged above $300 million.

“During the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 allegations of abuse, according to the annual report of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. That was up from 693 allegations in the previous year. The report attributed much of the increase to a victim compensation program implemented in five dioceses in New York state.

“According to the report, Catholic dioceses and religious orders spent $301.6 million during the reporting period on payments to victims, legal fees and child-protection efforts. That was up 14% from the previous year and double the amount spent in the 2014 fiscal year.”

By David Crary, Associated Press — Read more …

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Founder, board of Vatican women’s magazine quit / Associated Press

“We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization,” founder Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in the open letter. (Associated Press)

The founder and all-female editorial board of the Vatican’s women’s magazine have quit after what they say was a Vatican campaign to discredit them and put them ‘under the direct control of men,’ that only increased after they denounced the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy.

“The editorial committee of ‘Women Church World,’ a monthly glossy published alongside the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, made the announcement in the planned April 1 editorial and in an open letter to Pope Francis that was provided Tuesday (Mar. 26) to The Associated Press.

“‘We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization,’ founder Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in the open letter.

“In the editorial, she wrote: “We believe there are no longer the conditions to continue our collaboration with L’Osservatore Romano.'”

By Associated Press — Read more …

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