2 Bishops Resign in Minnesota Over Sexual Abuse Scandal, Vatican ex-envoy Wesolowski faces child sex abuse trial

June 16, 2015 Comments Off on 2 Bishops Resign in Minnesota Over Sexual Abuse Scandal, Vatican ex-envoy Wesolowski faces child sex abuse trial

2 Bishops Resign in Minnesota Over Sexual Abuse Scandal
By MITCH SMITH and LAURIE GOODSTEIN JUNE 15, 2015

CHICAGO — Two bishops in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis resigned their posts Monday, the second time this spring that American church leaders have stepped aside after complaints over their handling of sexual abuse claims involving priests.

In Minnesota, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and an auxiliary bishop, Lee A. Piché, announced their departures less than two weeks after prosecutors in St. Paul accused the archdiocese of willfully ignoring warning signs of a pedophile priest. Their resignations followed the April exit of Bishop Robert W. Finn from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri, who had been convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report a priest who took pornographic pictures of girls….

John J. Choi, the prosecutor in Ramsey County, Minn., said the resignations would not affect his office’s criminal and civil cases against the archdiocese, which accused church leaders of failing to intervene against a priest despite repeated complaints of misconduct. That priest, Curtis Wehmeyer, has since been defrocked and imprisoned on sexual abuse charges involving boys in his parish.

“While today’s resignation will be viewed as a positive development by many in our community, the pending criminal action and civil petition and the ongoing investigation will continue,” Mr. Choi said in a statement. “As we have said, the goals of our actions are to hold the Archdiocese accountable, seek justice for the victims and our community, and to take appropriate steps to ensure that what we have alleged and intend to prove about the past conduct of church officials will never be repeated.”….

The Minnesota and Missouri church leaders are hardly the first bishops to resign under scrutiny or accusations that they failed abuse victims. Since the papacy of John Paul II — now St. John Paul — began in 1978, 16 other bishops have resigned or been forced from office under a cloud of accusations that they mishandled abuse cases, according to research by BishopAccountability.org, an advocacy group in Waltham, Mass. Archbishop Nienstedt is the 17th, by that group’s count.

Archbishop Nienstedt had become one of the most embattled figures in the American Catholic hierarchy, under fire in the courts, in the pews and on newspaper editorial pages. He had refused to resign about a year ago after coming under sharp criticism from his own former chancellor for canonical affairs, Jennifer M. Haselberger, who charged that the church used a chaotic system of record keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment….
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/15/us/archbishop-nienstedt-and-aide-resign-in-minnesota-over-sex-abuse-scandal.html


Catholic Archdiocese in Minnesota Charged Over Sex Abuse by Priest

By MITCH SMITH JUNE 5, 2015

CHICAGO — Prosecutors in Minnesota filed criminal charges on Friday against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, accusing church leaders of mishandling repeated complaints of sexual misconduct against a priest and failing to follow through on pledges to protect children and root out pedophile clergymen.

The charges and accompanying civil petition, announced by the Ramsey County prosecutor, John J. Choi, stem from accusations by three male victims who say that from 2008 to 2010, when they were under age, a local priest, Curtis Wehmeyer, gave them alcohol and drugs before sexually assaulting them.

The criminal case amounts to a sweeping condemnation of the archdiocese and how its leaders have handled the abuse allegations — even after reforms were put in place by church leaders to increase accountability — and the charges are among the most severe actions taken by American authorities against a Catholic diocese….

Mr. Wehmeyer, 50, who was dismissed as a priest in March, was sentenced to five years in a Minnesota prison in 2013 for criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography. He also has been charged with sex crimes in Wisconsin.

The six criminal charges filed Friday, misdemeanors with a maximum fine of $3,000 each, accused the archdiocese of failing to protect children. Mr. Choi also filed a civil petition against the archdiocese that he said was intended to provide legal remedies to prevent similar inaction from happening again.

The 44-page criminal complaint states that concerns about Mr. Wehmeyer date to the 1990s, when he was in seminary and supervisors suggested that his past sexual promiscuity and alcohol abuse made him a poor candidate for the priesthood….

The charging documents also say that archdiocese officials knew that Mr. Wehmeyer used a boys’ bathroom at a parish elementary school instead of the staff restroom; tried to give an elementary-age boy a tour of the rectory in violation of policy; and took camping trips with boys where some of the sexual abuse was said to have occurred.

The archdiocese placed Mr. Wehmeyer in a monitoring program for priests facing complaints of abuse or other problems, but prosecutors said in court documents that the supervision and follow-through was “lax or nonexistent.”….
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/06/us/catholic-archdiocese-in-minnesota-charged-over-sex-abuse-by-priest.html

Vatican ex-envoy Wesolowski faces child sex abuse trial
15 June 2015

The Vatican is to put its former envoy to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, on trial on child sex abuse and child pornography charges.

Pope Francis has also accepted the resignations of a US archbishop and his deputy, accused in Minnesota of having ignored a priest’s child abuse.

Jozef Wesolowski is accused of sexually abusing children in the Dominican Republic from 2008 to 2013. He is under house arrest in the Vatican.

The trial is to begin on 11 July.

Wesolowski, 66, is also charged with possession of child pornography, dating from his return to Rome in 2013….

Wesolowski, who is originally from Poland, was recalled from the Dominican Republic in 2013, after allegations surfaced accusing him of abusing Dominican boys.

He had spent five years in the Caribbean country as the papal envoy.

He was defrocked in June last year after he was found guilty by a Church tribunal – he is the highest-ranking church official to be defrocked for such abuse.

He will now be tried by a Vatican criminal court….
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33136393

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Rochdale child sex ring – No officers to be charged over Rochdale child abuse failure, say police, Clergy Sex Abuse Victims In Montana’s Diocese of Helena To Receive $20 Million In Payments

March 13, 2015 Comments Off on Rochdale child sex ring – No officers to be charged over Rochdale child abuse failure, say police, Clergy Sex Abuse Victims In Montana’s Diocese of Helena To Receive $20 Million In Payments

Rochdale child sex ring
No officers to be charged over Rochdale child abuse failure, say police

Greater Manchester police examined the conduct of 13 officers between 2008 and 2010 but found only one warranted disciplinary action
Nigel Bunyan

Thursday 12 March 2015

No police officer will be disciplined over a force-wide failure to tackle the sexual abuse of teenage girls in Rochdale, according to a report by Greater Manchester police (GMP).

The force looked at the conduct of 13 officers between 2008 and 2010, but served notices of misconduct on only seven. Ultimately only one officer, an inspector, was found to have warranted disciplinary action but he was able to retire without any sanction being taken against him. The remaining six officers were given “words of advice” by superiors.

GMP took four years to complete the investigation under the supervision of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The officer who retired had been in a supervisory role in 2008 when Girl A, the teenager at the heart of the landmark 2012 trial of nine paedophiles, made her allegations of abuse. He had been in the force for 30 years.

A second officer failed to serve an abduction notice on Shabir Ahmed, the leader of the gang who preyed on girls visiting two takeaways in Heywood. A third was criticised for yawning while interviewing Girl A about her allegations.

The assistant chief constable of Greater Manchester police, Dawn Copley, acknowledged “mistakes were made and victims let down”. She laid some of the blame at the force’s focus in 2008–10 on targeting such crimes as burglary.

There was also a widespread lack of understanding about the complexities of child sexual exploitation. But she insisted that lessons had been learned in the aftermath of the failings.

Nine men from Rochdale and Oldham were found guilty of offences that included rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. Eight were of Pakistani origin, the other from Afghanistan. The court heard the group had plied five victims with drink and drugs and “passed them around” for sex.

Girl A reacted with fury at the report. “I’m fuming,” she said. “It’s taken them four years and it reads like a whitewash. These policemen have done wrong and yet none of them has been named and the one they wanted to discipline has been able to retire. It just seems very, very convenient.”…. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/13/no-officers-charged-over-rochdale-child-abuse-failure-greater-manchester-police

Clergy Sex Abuse Victims In Montana’s Diocese of Helena To Receive $20 Million In Payments
AP   By Matthew Brown 03/05/2015
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Hundreds of victims of clergy sex abuse that spanned decades in Montana stand to receive payments totaling about $20 million, after a federal judge on Wednesday confirmed the bankruptcy reorganization plan for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers approved the plan during an hour-long court hearing in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in which representatives of both victims and the diocese voiced their support.

More than 360 abuse claims will now go through an adjudication process to determine final payment amounts. Each allowed claim will receive a minimum of $2,500, and attorneys involved in the case said only a handful of the claims are considered dubious.

A $920,000 trust will be established for victims who come forward in the future.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy last year to resolve abuse claims that prompted lawsuits in state court from two groups of victims in 2011.

The majority of abuse occurred at the hands of Jesuit priests at the Ursuline Academy and the St. Ignatius Mission, both in St. Ignatius, Montana. The abuse ranged from rape and fondling, to perpetrators taking sexual photographs of children. It began in the 1930s and continued through the 1970s, according to court documents.

The average age of the victims at the time of abuse was 10 years old…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/05/diocese-of-helena-bankruptcy-sex-abuse_n_6808486.html

Cardinal George Pell compares priests to truck drivers as he claims Catholic Church leaders should not be held responsible for child sex abuse

August 22, 2014 Comments Off on Cardinal George Pell compares priests to truck drivers as he claims Catholic Church leaders should not be held responsible for child sex abuse

Cardinal George Pell compares priests to truck drivers as he claims Catholic Church leaders should not be held responsible for child sex abuse

Cardinal Pell spoke at the royal commission via a video link from the Vatican in Rome on Thursday
He said the church was no more legally responsible for priests who abuse than a trucking company that employs a driver who molests women
The Vatican has refused to hand over the files of Australian priests accused of sex crimes to the child abuse royal commission

By Sarah Dean For Daily Mail Australia and Aap
21 August 2014

….When the Australian federal government announced the establishment of a Royal Commission in late 2012 into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Cardinal Pell also caused controversy when he stated that priests who hear confessions from people who commit child sex abuse must remain bound by the Seal of Confession.

‘If that is done outside the confessional (it can be reported to the police)…. (But) the Seal of Confession is inviolable. If the priest knows beforehand about such a situation, the priest should refuse to hear the confession… That would be my advice, and I would never hear the confession of a priest who is suspected of such a thing,’ he said.

On Thursday the Vatican also refused to hand over the files of Australian priests accused of sex crimes to the child abuse royal commission.

The Vatican said the commission’s request for documents on each allegation involving an Australian cleric was ‘neither possible nor appropriate’.

Reasons included ongoing church investigations, and that internal working documents were the sovereign property of the Holy See….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2731340/Cardinal-George-Pell-compares-priests-truck-drivers-claims-Catholic-Church-leaders-not-held-responsible-child-sex-abuse.html

Pell denies church responsible in abuse
Friday, 22 August 2014

The Catholic Church is no more legally responsible for priests who abuse children than a trucking company which employs a driver who molests women, Cardinal George Pell maintains.

Victims’ families say it’s a ludicrous comparison and even the chair of the child abuse royal commission thinks the situation is quite different when it comes to a priest getting access to a child.

Cardinal Pell accepts the church has a moral obligation to victims, but when it comes to its legal responsibility, the actions of its priests are not necessarily its fault.

‘If the truck driver picks up some lady and then molests her, I don’t think it’s appropriate, because it is contrary to the policy, for the ownership, the leadership of that company to be held responsible,’ Cardinal Pell told the commission via video link from Rome on Thursday.

But Cardinal Pell said if the church had been warned about a priest or had bad policies or procedures in place, ‘then certainly the church official would be responsible’….

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said priests got access to children with the parents’ consent, unlike truck drivers.

‘The relationship between the priest and a child is quite different to that between the truck driver and the casual passenger, isn’t it?’ he asked Cardinal Pell.

‘Yes, I would certainly concede that,’ Cardinal Pell responded….
http://www.skynews.com.au/news/national/2014/08/22/pell-denies-church-responsible-in-abuse.html

SNAP’s clergy abuse victims mark 25 years and eye new targets

August 4, 2014 Comments Off on SNAP’s clergy abuse victims mark 25 years and eye new targets

SNAP’s clergy abuse victims mark 25 years and eye new targets

By David Gibson Religion News Service July 29, 2014

When victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests first organized into a small band of volunteer activists in the late 1980s, reports of clergy molesting children were still new and relatively few. Most were minimized as anomalies or dismissed altogether — much the way the victims were.

But today, as the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, marks its 25th anniversary at a conference in Chicago (Aug. 1-3), its members can take satisfaction in seeing that its claims have been validated, and a few (though hardly all) of its recommendations have been implemented by the church hierarchy.

And instead of facing constant verbal attacks and the occasional angry parishioner spitting on them at a protest, SNAP’s members today are far more likely to receive a handshake and a word of thanks, and maybe even a donation.

SNAP’s advocacy on the Catholic scandal also helped push the reality of sexual abuse into the public consciousness to the point that victims can regularly win in courts and get a hearing in the media, and they are much more likely to come forward to tell their stories, whether they were abused by clergy or by athletic coaches or Boy Scout leaders….

The group began life in the late 1980s, a couple of years after journalists — led by Jason Berry’s reporting on abusive clerics in Louisiana — began to pull back the veil of secrecy on the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy.

As the reports came to light, Barbara Blaine, a lawyer and social worker who had been molested by a priest when she was growing up in Toledo, Ohio, started contacting as many other victims as she could find, posting ads and asking prosecutors and attorneys to put her in touch with other victims.

SNAP soon developed a core membership of a few thousand people, mainly victims, who met in small support groups while also trying to push the issue onto the public agenda. It was a tough slog in the face of public indifference or outright hostility.

Then in January 2002, The Boston Globe began its groundbreaking series of exposes on the widespread abuse of children by priests in the Boston archdiocese, and the cover-up by bishops. The story caught fire and led to similar revelations across the nation and to an unprecedented level of media coverage, prosecutions, lawsuits and billions in payouts by dioceses….
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/snaps-clergy-abuse-victims-mark-25-years-and-eye-new-targets/2014/07/29/6bc92466-1752-11e4-88f7-96ed767bb747_story.html

Italy’s bishops pass Vatican-backed rule that child molestation does not have to be reported, Harris pleads not guilty to 2011 murder charge (practiced voodoo), Children of serial killer Robert Pickton’s victims will split $4.9M in compensation fund

April 2, 2014 Comments Off on Italy’s bishops pass Vatican-backed rule that child molestation does not have to be reported, Harris pleads not guilty to 2011 murder charge (practiced voodoo), Children of serial killer Robert Pickton’s victims will split $4.9M in compensation fund

Italy’s bishops pass Vatican-backed rule that child molestation does not have to be reported
Kashmira Gander Friday 28 March 2014

Italy’s bishops have adopted a policy, with backing from the Vatican, that states they are not obliged to inform police officers if they suspect a child has been molested.

The Italian Bishops’ Conference said the guidelines published on Friday reflected suggestions from the Vatican’s office that handles sex abuse investigations.

Victims have denounced how bishops systematically covered up abuse by moving priests while keeping prosecutors in the dark.

Only in 2010 did the Vatican instruct bishops to report abuse to police — but only where required by law.

Italian guidelines cite a 1985 treaty between the Vatican and Italy stipulating that clergy aren’t obliged to tell magistrates about information obtained through their religious ministry. The guidelines remind bishops, however, they have a ”moral duty“ to contribute to the common good….
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/italys-bishops-pass-vaticanbacked-rule-stating-they-do-not-have-to-report-if-a-priest-has-molested-a-child-9222501.html

Harris pleads not guilty to 2011 murder charge
Harris trial in late June could take a week and a half

March 31, 2014

By Steve Fry

LYNDON — A defendant charged with using a garrote to kill an older man in 2011 pleaded not guilty to the murder charge Monday in Osage County District Court.

The trial of James Paul Harris, 29, will start June 23, and is expected to require 11/2 weeks….

A part of the victim’s skull was discovered March 24, 2012, at a house in rural Carbondale in Osage County. Shirley Johnson, who lives with Jeff Harris, the defendant’s father, testified she was searching for mushrooms when she found a “ball” — the top of Gerety’s skull — and took it inside to show Jeff Harris. He called police. Another witness, Topeka police Detective Brian Hill, testified Bobbie Williams, Harris’ girlfriend, told him during questioning that Harris kept the victim’s head nearby so he could talk to it. Harris was into voodoo and practiced it, Hill said Williams told him.
http://cjonline.com/news/2014-03-31/harris-pleads-not-guilty-2011-murder-charge

Children of serial killer Robert Pickton’s victims will split $4.9M in compensation fund
THE CANADIAN PRESS March 18, 2014
VANCOUVER — A man whose mother was the last to be reported missing in connection with serial killer Robert Pickton says $4.9 million in government compensation for the 98 children of women who disappeared provides some recognition for decades of pain.

“It’s been a long battle to get this far,” Troy Boen, 28, said Tuesday after the federal, B.C. and Vancouver governments announced the fund that will provide $50,000 for each of the children of 67 missing and murdered women, mostly Pickton’s victims.

Boen’s mother, Yvonne Marie Boen, went missing on March 16, 2001, soon after they’d planned to spend spring break together. He called her back repeatedly, but there was no answer.

A 2012 report from a public inquiry that outlined years of police failures made 63 recommendations, including compensating the offspring of the women who’d disappeared up to 2002, when Pickton was arrested.

Boen’s DNA was later found on Pickton’s pig farm in Port Coquitlam, where the killer lured vulnerable women from Vancouver’s impoverished Downtown Eastside….
http://www.theprovince.com/news/Children+serial+killer+Robert+Pickton+victims+will+split/9631594/story.html

Clergy Abuse Victims Criticize Cardinal Dolan’s Lobbying Efforts In Albany, Archdiocese must make priest abuse files public, judge rules, Clergy Abuse Documentary ‘BASTA’ to Premier at Boston International Film Festival on Easter Sunday

March 21, 2014 Comments Off on Clergy Abuse Victims Criticize Cardinal Dolan’s Lobbying Efforts In Albany, Archdiocese must make priest abuse files public, judge rules, Clergy Abuse Documentary ‘BASTA’ to Premier at Boston International Film Festival on Easter Sunday

“This is a global epidemic which needs, and deserves, global awareness. There are 60 million adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse living in the United States alone. Survivors need to know that they are not alone and above all, there is always hope.”

Clergy Abuse Victims Criticize Cardinal Dolan’s Lobbying Efforts In Albany  BY Glenn Blain  March 19, 2014

Victims of clergy sex abuse are criticizing  Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s efforts to boost charitable donations to schools.

Mary Caplan, co-director of the New York City chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued a statement Wednesday blasting Dolan for lobbying Albany lawmakers this week to approve tax credits for those who donate to schools or other education-related groups.

“When they want money for their institutions, Catholic officials lobby hard and say they care deeply about kids,” Caplan said. “But when kids who were abused want a chance for justice, Catholic officials lobby hard to deny those kids their day in court. All across the US, Dolan and his brother bishops use all their political will and power and resources to block moves to reform archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations laws that endanger kids and protect those who commit and conceal heinous child sex crimes.”
http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2014/03/clergy-abuse-victims-criticize-cardinal-dolans-lobbying-efforts-in-albany

Archdiocese must make priest abuse files public, judge rules
JEAN HOPFENSPERGER , Star Tribune March 19, 2014

Judge tells the Twin Cities archdiocese to release all info about those credibly accused of sex abuse from 1970 to 1985.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis must reveal hundreds of pages of information on priests accused of sexually abusing children, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North rejected church efforts to keep most of the documents under court seal, ordering that all information on priests who were “credibly accused” of abuse between 1970 and 1985 be filed with the court by March 31.

Information on priests whom the church determined were not “credibly” accused will remain sealed, Van de North ruled….
http://www.startribune.com/local/east/250859931.html

Clergy Abuse Documentary ‘BASTA’ to Premier at Boston International Film Festival on Easter Sunday
Merrimack Valley Production has announced that BASTA – No pity – No shame – No silence- has been selected to premiere at the Boston International Film Festival on Easter Sunday April 20th at Loews Theatre/AMC Boston Common on Tremont Street.

“This is a global epidemic which needs, and deserves, global awareness. There are 60 million adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse living in the United States alone. Survivors need to know that they are not alone and above all, there is always hope.”

Boston Massachusetts (PRWEB) March 18, 2014

BASTA, a film documenting the emotional journey taken by simple men detailing their attempts to reach into the Vatican walls in search of help, hope and aid in healing a nation reeling from the effects of the clergy abuse crisis, will premiere at the Boston International Film Festival on Sunday, April 20th.

Attempting to battle the cover-up, shame and silence of clergy sexual abuse, three survivors from Boston Massachusetts, travel to Rome reaching behind the secret walls of The Vatican. Their weeklong effort becomes a decade long mission that exposes mind blowing statistics and unexpected worldwide results.
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/03/prweb11674500.htm

Basta is a film documenting the story of the emotional journey taken by simple men detailing their attempts to reach behind and beyond the Vatican walls in search of help, hope and aid in healing a nation reeling from the effects of the clergy abuse scandal.
A decade after starting on a personal journey for justice, one man finds that success isn’t always defined by achieving his goal, sometimes, it’s defined by the attempt itself. And sometimes, in that attempt, you also find out who you are.
http://www.bastathemovie.com/About_The_Film.html

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