Thursday, February 26, 2009

Northwest Jesuits file for bankruptcy protection

Last updated February 18, 2009 3:32 a.m. PT
Northwest Jesuits file for bankruptcy protection
By STEVEN DUBOISASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Confronted by scores of lawsuits alleging sex abuse by priests, the Jesuits of the Oregon Province have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The petition was filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Portland. The province of the Roman Catholic order listed assets of less than $5 million and liabilities of almost $62 million.
"Our decision to file Chapter 11 was not an easy one, but with approximately 200 additional claims pending or threatened, it is the only way we believe that all claimants can be offered a fair financial settlement within the limited resources of the Province," The Rev. Patrick J. Lee, the current provincial, said in a statement late Tuesday.
The religious order - officially The Society of Jesus - has 10 provinces in the United States. The Oregon Province covers Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.
Many of the lawsuits involve Alaska Natives who say they were sexually abused as children while living in remote villages.
Ken Roosa, an Anchorage-based attorney who has filed claims on behalf of more than 60 Alaska Natives, said Tuesday night the Oregon Province is vastly underestimating its assets. Roosa said he believes the Oregon Jesuit province has assets of "more than a billion dollars."
The Portland-based province contends it has worked "diligently" to resolve claims of misconduct, saying it has settled more than 200 claims and paid more than $25 million to victims since 2001. That amount does not include payments made by insurers.
"Our hope is that by filing Chapter 11, we can begin to bring this sad chapter in our Province's history to an end," Lee said. "We continue to pray for all those who have been hurt by the actions of a few men, so that they can receive the healing and reconciliation that they deserve."

Attorneys want claims against priest thrown out

Attorneys want claims against priest thrown out
By Molly Montag Posted: Friday, February 06, 2009
SIOUX CITY -- Two sexual abuse claims against a former Siouxland priest should be dismissed because they were filed well after the statute of limitations expired, his attorneys say.Minnesota resident Joseph Kestel and Montana resident Jeffery Steinke, former Siouxland residents, filed separate lawsuits last spring against former Sioux City Diocese priest John Kurzak and John Perdue, a former seminarian.Kestel's case is scheduled for trial Sept. 29 and Steinke's for Oct. 27 in Woodbury County District Court.Both men allege the two diocesan officials abused them during separate incidents in northwest Iowa in the early 1980s. In Kestel's case, he claims Sioux City diocese officials were given videotapes of the abuse and failed to take action.Kestel and Steinke are suing the diocese, Kurzak and Perdue for damages caused by physical and emotional suffering, past medical expenses and future related medical costs.Attorneys Erin Redmond and James W. Redmond, representing Kurzak, filed documents Monday asking a judge to dismiss both cases because they were filed more than 20 years after the alleged abuse occurred.In past court filings, Kurzak asserted he had never met Kestel.The plaintiffs failed to supply evidence that they were too mentally disabled to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, Kurzak's attorneys wrote, so their cases should be dismissed.

Polygamist leader quietly awaits trial in jail

Last updated February 14, 2009 4:01 p.m. PT
Polygamist leader quietly awaits trial in jail
By FELICIA FONSECAASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
KINGMAN, Ariz. -- He's the most notorious inmate at the Mohave County Jail, segregated for the crimes he's accused of and the name he's built for himself. Most of his fellow prisoners know him from the news, though they've never seen him in person.
Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was brought to the Arizona jail nearly a year ago, far from his followers, to await trial on four counts of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor. The charges stem from two arranged marriages between teenage girls and their older male relatives.
But Jeffs' journey through the justice system won't end here. As he awaits his day in an Arizona court, Texas is building an unrelated case against him, and he's already been convicted in Utah.
For now, though, his life is a 7-by-12-foot cell where he spends his days poring over religious material and talking with attorneys over what lies ahead.
Once a fugitive on the FBI's Most Wanted List, he's now described as respectful and polite and his habits are held up as a model for fellow inmates. In past jail stints, Jeffs refused to eat, banged his head against walls, attempted suicide and was restrained to his bed for spending too much time on his knees praying.
"I'm having better luck with him," said Jeff Brown, deputy director at the Mohave County Jail.
Jeffs lived a lavish life as the charismatic leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect based in the twin border towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, that believes polygamy brings glorification in heaven.
The Mormon church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, renounced polygamy more than a century ago.
Jeffs was revered as a prophet among his 10,000-plus followers, but his lifestyle started to unravel in June 2005 when he was charged in Arizona and went on the run.
In April 2006, officials in Utah accused him of rape by accomplice in the arrangement of a 2001 marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.
After more than a year as a fugitive, authorities caught up with him in Las Vegas; he was traveling in a red Cadillac Escalade with $57,000, cell phones, prepaid credit cards, wigs and sunglasses.
A jury convicted Jeffs on two felony counts of rape by accomplice in Utah in 2007. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison, though the convictions are being appealed.
Jeffs' troubles extended into Texas when he was indicted on charges of sexual assault of a child and bigamy, months after authorities raided the FLDS' Yearning for Zion ranch at Eldorado in April.
Defense attorney Mike Piccarreta said the Arizona case against Jeffs was "religious persecution."
"It's sort of a concerted effort to try and persecute an unpopular religious group," he said. "I think there's a belief that if you can prosecute its leadership, that will decimate the religion."
County Attorney Matt Smith, the prosecutor, said Jeffs broke the law and that his case had nothing to do with religion.
"To call it religious persecution is ridiculous," Smith said.
While the cases play out, Jeffs maintains his quiet existence, although the number of people wanting to see him in jail during twice-weekly visits has created a circus at times. Jail staff has had to coordinate the visits, each limited to two people, with the FLDS church.
Jeffs' most frequent visitor has been Naomie Jessop, who was traveling with Jeffs when he was arrested in Las Vegas. On a recent afternoon, she and another follower huddled in a booth, separated from Jeffs by a window.
Piccarreta said neither Jessop nor Jeff are interested in speaking to the media.
It's not often the Mohave County Jail houses an inmate of Jeffs' notoriety, said Brown, the deputy jail director. When Jeffs is moved from his cell, all movement on the jail floor is halted. When he's due in court, Jeffs hops in a van with a security detail instead of walking across the street as other inmates do.
"We just have to be safe, because there are people who don't like him and would harm if they could," Brown said.

Former priest gets 25 years on sex charge with boy

Last updated February 11, 2009 3:19 p.m. PT
Former priest gets 25 years on sex charge with boy
By DON BABWINASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
CHICAGO -- A former Roman Catholic priest convicted of taking a boy on religious retreats to have sex with him was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison.
Donald McGuire, of Oak Lawn, displayed no emotion as U.S District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer imposed a 300-month sentence that likely means the 78-year-old former priest will die in prison.
Pallmeyer said McGuire used his stature, his international reputation that included being a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa and the trust parents had in him that he would care for "the finest gifts God ever gave them: their children."
She said the boys' confidence, faith, innocence and sexual desire were destroyed.
"You robbed them of all these things," she said after a hearing that included statements from victims, including McGuire's godson.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Ruder told the judge that it was "a horrific and monstrous crime."
McGuire was convicted in October of charges of traveling outside the United States and across state lines to have sex with a teenager between 2000 and 2003. The Vatican ordered McGuire out of the priesthood last year.
In 2006, McGuire was convicted in Wisconsin of child molestation and sentenced to seven years in prison. He has appealed that conviction.
McGuire also has been indicted in Arizona on child molestation charges and faces lawsuits on new child molestation accusations.
Victims and their parents testified before the sentencing Wednesday that they felt guilty for not coming forward sooner with their allegations.
"I apologize to the other victims," said one man who told the judge he was abused by McGuire for six years beginning in the late 1970s. "I apologize that I didn't come forward."
Many of those who testified also asked McGuire to apologize to them, which Pallmeyer noted the former priest didn't do.
McGuire has maintained his innocence throughout the trial. At the hearing, he told the judge he would continue to pray for everyone connected to the trial and spoke of being near the end of his life.
"I see that horizon, it's heaven, where every tear will be wiped away," he said.
McGuire would have to serve most of his sentence before he is eligible for release.

Former priest gets 25 years on sex charge with boy

Last updated February 11, 2009 3:19 p.m. PT
Former priest gets 25 years on sex charge with boy
By DON BABWINASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
CHICAGO -- A former Roman Catholic priest convicted of taking a boy on religious retreats to have sex with him was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison.
Donald McGuire, of Oak Lawn, displayed no emotion as U.S District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer imposed a 300-month sentence that likely means the 78-year-old former priest will die in prison.
Pallmeyer said McGuire used his stature, his international reputation that included being a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa and the trust parents had in him that he would care for "the finest gifts God ever gave them: their children."
She said the boys' confidence, faith, innocence and sexual desire were destroyed.
"You robbed them of all these things," she said after a hearing that included statements from victims, including McGuire's godson.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Ruder told the judge that it was "a horrific and monstrous crime."
McGuire was convicted in October of charges of traveling outside the United States and across state lines to have sex with a teenager between 2000 and 2003. The Vatican ordered McGuire out of the priesthood last year.
In 2006, McGuire was convicted in Wisconsin of child molestation and sentenced to seven years in prison. He has appealed that conviction.
McGuire also has been indicted in Arizona on child molestation charges and faces lawsuits on new child molestation accusations.
Victims and their parents testified before the sentencing Wednesday that they felt guilty for not coming forward sooner with their allegations.
"I apologize to the other victims," said one man who told the judge he was abused by McGuire for six years beginning in the late 1970s. "I apologize that I didn't come forward."
Many of those who testified also asked McGuire to apologize to them, which Pallmeyer noted the former priest didn't do.
McGuire has maintained his innocence throughout the trial. At the hearing, he told the judge he would continue to pray for everyone connected to the trial and spoke of being near the end of his life.
"I see that horizon, it's heaven, where every tear will be wiped away," he said.
McGuire would have to serve most of his sentence before he is eligible for release.

Abuse lawsuit ruling endangers Church’s equality

February 20, 2009
Abuse lawsuit ruling endangers Church’s equality under law, bishop says
Peoria, Ill., Feb 10, 2009 / 03:44 am (CNA).- Following a ruling in Illinois’ Third District Appellate Court that could reinstate dismissed sexual abuse cases, Bishop of Peoria Daniel R. Jenky warned that the decision makes the diocese’s legal position even more difficult and voiced his concern that the Catholic Church “in effect, no longer enjoys equal justice under the law.”
The district court in January reversed a Peoria County court’s ruling that alleged victims of clerical sexual abuse had filed lawsuits against the diocese after each of them was older than thirty years of age.
Lawyers for the diocese and the accused priests argued that the deadline for filing the lawsuits had expired according to state law, Pantagraph.com reports.
In a weekend message to priests, deacons, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Peoria, Bishop Jenky discussed the legal cases.
He began by saying the saddest part of his ministry has been dealing with “our part of the immense societal issue of sexual misconduct with minors.”
In cases of “credible accusations” against individuals, the bishop said, he has not hesitated to remove them from ministry while trying “attentively” to follow the anti-sexual abuse charter set by the U.S. bishops.
“I have not discovered any evidence in this Diocese that priests guilty of misconduct were ever moved from assignment to assignment,” Bishop Jenky wrote.
Saying that his diocese normally offers counseling to victims instead of large cash settlements, he added “our Diocese resists supporting those claims that simply cannot be sustained by the facts.”
“I take very seriously my responsibility to protect all the children entrusted to our care, and I am absolutely convinced that today the programs of our Church now provide the safest possible environment in America for your children,” the bishop continued.
Noting his duty to work as a “prudent steward” of diocesan finances, Bishop Jenky charged that attorneys representing some clients and some “victims groups” obviously have “a significant financial stake in trying to overturn our Diocesan policies.”
The recent Illinois court decisions “may make our legal situation even more difficult in the future.”
He also charged the State with exempting its own institutions from civil litigation, claiming that the Catholic Church is being unfairly treated.
“Amid all the tensions of our nation's culture wars and in the face of the media's intense hatred for our Catholic Faith, I am increasingly concerned that our Church in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law.”
Turning to his critics, the bishop insisted “I will not be intimidated by choreographed demonstrations or the abuse that is sometimes personally directed against me.”
“I remain immensely proud of the zealous and holy priesthood of our Diocese,” his statement concluded. “May God guide and protect his Holy Church and bless us all in his service.”
After the 10:30 am Mass at Peoria’s St. Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday, supporters of the group Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) handed out fliers to people leaving Mass encouraging them ask the Bishop to tone down his criticisms.

Porn images vicar faces expulsion

Porn images vicar faces expulsion

A vicar jailed for making, taking and possessing more than 56,000 indecent images of children should be expelled from the clergy, a tribunal has ruled.
Richard Hart, from Beguildy, near Knighton, Powys was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years at Cardiff Crown Court last September.
A disciplinary tribunal made the recommendation to depose Hart, 59 from Holy Orders.
It also recommended he be expelled as a cleric of the Church in Wales.
It ruled that an allegation Hart was guilty of conduct giving rise to just cause for scandal or offence was overwhelmingly proved.

The president of the tribunal Gerard Elias QC said the recommended decision was considered after the "immense seriousness and depravity" of the offences coupled with the absence of "regret or apology".
"We were unhesitatingly of the view that by reason of his conduct it was wholly inappropriate for Richard Hart to remain a cleric and accordingly we order that Richard Hart be deposed from Holy Orders and expelled from the office of cleric of the Church in Wales," he said.
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Rt Rev John Davies, said the tribunal's order reflected the seriousness of Hart's offence.
He added: "It sends out the very clear message that there is no room for any form of child abuse in the Church in Wales."
In September last year, Cardiff Crown Court was told how Hart had a collection of more than 56,000 indecent images, 97 films and fictional stories about sex with children.
He admitted all 21 charges against him, and the offences dated between 1991 and 2007.
His vast collection of images came from websites in Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK, the US, Denmark, Russia and other eastern European countries.
Hart was ordained in 1986 and was priest-in-charge of four parishes in south Powys.

Clerics to take child commitment

Clerics to take child commitment

Every cleric in Ireland must commit in writing that they will implement child protection guidelines, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said.
Cardinal Sean Brady said a report into abuse allegations in the Diocese of Cloyne in County Cork had brought more "anxiety to victims of abuse".
The report by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBS) was published last month.
It said abuse allegations had not been properly responded to.
Cardinal Brady said the NBS will seek a written commitment from every bishop, religious congregation and missionary society to implement all the statutory guidelines.
Just before Christmas, a report compiled by NBS found the Catholic Church had not responded properly to abuse allegations.
A review of child abuse inquiries in the Diocese of Cloyne found that Church authorities broke their own rules on reporting allegations.
"The findings of the recent report of the National Board into the handling of allegations by the Diocese of Cloyne have brought further anxiety to victims of abuse," the cardinal said.
"For many, these findings have brought into question the efforts of thousands of volunteers and trained personnel who are fully committed to implementing statutory guidelines and agreed Church policies on safeguarding children throughout the Dioceses and parishes of Ireland.
"I realise the extent to which so many people now feel let down, angry and bewildered by recent events."
He said he had suggested that the board examine the possibility of conducting a "review of current child safeguarding practice in every diocese across the island in cooperation with the relevant statutory authorities".
"At all times the welfare of children must be the paramount consideration," the cardinal added.

Vatican to be sued over sex abuse claims

Vatican to be sued over sex abuse claims
Three men who claim they were abused by Catholic clergy in America have succeeded in naming the Vatican as sole defendant in a lawsuit and are hoping to force Pope Benedict XVI to give evidence in the case.
The 6th US circuit court of appeal recently ruled that although the Holy See, as a sovereign state, was immune from most lawsuits, the plaintiffs could proceed with their argument that its officials were involved in a deliberate effort to cover up evidence of sexual abuse by American priests.
Their case centres on a 1962 directive from the Vatican telling church officials to hide sex abuse complaints against clergy.
William F McMurray, a lawyer representing the men, who claim they were abused in Louisville, Kentucky, says the document, which became public in 2003, makes the Vatican liable for the acts of clergy whose crimes were kept secret because of the directive. He says the pope, at 81, is the only living witness to the establishment of the 1962 policy. Before his election to the papacy, Joseph Ratzinger spent 24 years heading the Vatican department charged with investigating and disciplining abusive priests, a role that would have led him to brief his predecessor, John Paul II, on the situation.
McMurray, who has spent four years working on the case, told the Guardian that the pope was the best-placed individual to reveal what was reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, when and by whom.
"The fact he is pope does not change anything. He knew what nobody else knew and what the Vatican knew is crucial. They were supposed to be disciplining priests: how were they doing it? We would call him as a witness so I could find out what he did for two and a half decades."
The three men, who allege they were abused between the 1920s and 1970s, are seeking class action status on behalf of all US abuse victims. The US Catholic church has already paid out more than $2bn (£1.3bn) since 1950.
Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican's attorney, has said the plaintiffs would find it difficult to establish the Vatican's liability for the sexual misconduct of US clergy.

'Bishop' who claimed he'd killed 110 child 'witches'

'Bishop' who claimed he'd killed 110 child 'witches' is arrested in Nigeria
By Mail Foreign ServiceLast updated at 3:59 PM on 04th December 2008
A Nigerian man who claims to have killed 110 child "witches" has been arrested by police in south-east Nigeria.
"Bishop" Sunday Ulup-Aya told a British documentary film team he "delivered" children from demonic possession.
But after his arrest, he reportedly told the police he had only killed the "witches" inside, not the children.
Mr Ulup-Aya was arrested after a child rights campaigner led police to his church and negotiated a consultation fee for an exorcism.
He has now been charged with murder.
Five others have been arrested since the weekend and the state government says more arrests are planned
Sam Ikpe-Itauma, of the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network, said: "So many people here believe that children can be possessed by demons that there is rarely any action taken against those who claim to deliver the children in violent exorcisms."
He says he has been working for six years to bring the attention of the state government to the children being abandoned, sold to traffickers, or murdered, but it was not until a documentary team from the UK showed the film last month that an arrest was made.
Rights campaigners say fraudulent pastors or "witch doctors" in some parts of Nigeria convince parents that their children are possessed and will bring misfortune such as divorce or disease so they can extort money to perform exorcisms.
Some accused children fall into the hands of child trafficking networks after being handed over by their parents.
"We are working on the orders of the state governor to arrest all those involved in all forms of child abuse and trafficking," Akwa Ibom state's commissioner for information, Aniekan Umanah, said.
Umanah said "Bishop" Sunday Ulup-Aya, arrested in Mbo close to the Atlantic coast with six other suspects, had claimed in a documentary to have killed 110 children beset by evil spirits.
"I am not denying that I am a witchdoctor, but what I killed are witches in my patients with herbs, not children," Ulup-Aya said while in detention.
Akwa Ibom is one of Nigeria's top oil-producing states but poverty is pervasive and many are superstitious.
The state has the highest incidence of child-trafficking in Africa's most populous nation and belief in witchcraft is widespread.
Child Rights Rehabilitation Network, which is spearheading the rescue of children accused of witchcraft in the state, said Ulup-Aya may be part of a network of human traffickers.
"No corpses were discovered in his church, but two kids held captive for supposed deliverance, as well as some fetish items, were taken from there by the police," said Ikpe-Ituama, who led a security team that raided the building.
Akwa Ibom State spokesman Aniekan Umanah denied they had been embarrassed by the documentary into acting.
"Nobody knew about him, he lives in a very remote village," he said.
The state has cared for child victims of abuse, but has not been able to track down abusers because of "lack of documentation", he said.
Exorcism victims seen by CRARN in the past include a child who had nails driven into his head.
Earlier this week Mr Ikpe-Itauma said a six-year-old child was brought to their rescue centre after clambering out of a fast-flowing river.
"The boy's uncle was experiencing painful swelling in his legs," Mr Ikpe-Itauma told the BBC.
"He concluded the child was a witch and had placed a curse on him, so he took him on his bicycle to the river and threw him in."

Abuse of India's boys 'is rising'

Abuse of India's boys 'is rising'
By Jyotsna Singh BBC News, Delhi
Sexual exploitation of boys as young as six is on the rise in India, researchers say.
Abuse is becoming particularly more common in places of religious tourism, according to the study by non-governmental organisation Equations.
Children interviewed said the abusers were foreign and domestic tourists, as well as local residents.
Civil rights groups say there is an urgent need for the government to address the issue.
The study was carried out in the temple towns of Puri in Orissa, Thirupathi in Andhra Pradesh and Guruvayoor in Kerala.
The report says the abuse starts at about age six and by the time the boys turn nine they get drawn into full time prostitution.
The new findings come nearly a week after an Australian national was arrested on charges of paedophilia in Puri.
Boys unprotected
S Vidya, who compiled the report and is the programme co-ordinator for a Bangalore-based NGO, Equations, told BBC News that the incident was not an isolated case.
"The children interviewed mentioned that the foreign tourists relationships with them was very easy and the abusers were foreign tourists, domestic tourists and the locals also," Ms Vidya said.
"The foreign tourists stay in a particular place for very long and then they get used to the child and the child's family and they stay with the children and they try to abuse the children. With domestic tourists they go to brothels or middle men to abuse the child. Sometimes they are already abused by family members and later they are forced into it."
Ms Vidya says the current government policies are only geared towards addressing the abuse of girls. She says boys are equally vulnerable but they are being left out of their ambit.
Ms Vidya's organisation says the government must come up with what it calls zero tolerance towards any form of child abuse.

Retreat seeks to help female victims of sexual abuse

Retreat seeks to help female victims of sexual abuse
By Shelley Metcalf,l’,
Austin, Texas, Nov 29, 2008 / 02:10 pm (CNA).- In January, the Diocese of Austin, Texas will offer a retreat for female victims of sexual abuse. The retreat, entitled “The Healing Heart Retreat,” is designed to begin healing the participant’s relationship with God.
Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton, Texas held its first-ever retreat for victims of sexual abuse earlier this month. Due to the success of the weekend, organizers scheduled a second retreat to be held January 30 – February 1.
Beverly Collin and Patricia Stankus, who are trained spiritual directors and veteran retreat presenters, will lead the January retreat. Both women have worked at the parish and at the diocesan level for many years and they have been trained to work with those who have suffered sexual abuse.
Collin said such abuse often shatters a woman’s intimacy with God.
“The abuse can cause a person to reject God, to withdraw from God, to cower from God or to deny God exists,” she said. “This retreat is designed to begin healing the participant’s relationship with God.”
Sexual abuse can range from sexual assault to incest to date rape to being inappropriately spoken to or touched. Stankus said the trauma of sexual abuse is often buried in one’s heart for years and the first step to healing is admitting one is a victim of abuse.
“Sexual abuse can affect every aspect of life,” she said. “Often 10, 20 or even 40 years later, the coping mechanisms people create to deal with it just stop working and their world falls apart.”
At that point, abuse victims have a choice, they can either remain victims or seek help and become survivors, she said.
Stankus said the road to healing can be a long journey, but in her experience with working with victims, what often helps the most is knowing that one is not alone on the journey to healing. And that is where the retreat comes in, Collin said.
“Through this retreat, we hope to provide a very safe, comfortable place for people to share as much or as little as they are ready to share,” she said.
Licensed therapists will be available to help participants deal with the emotional and psychological effects of the abuse. A maximum of 10 women will be allowed on the retreat because of the sensitive nature of sexual abuse.
“We want to be able to care for each participant spiritually, emotionally, prayerfully and lovingly, so we have to keep our numbers low,” Collin said.
Stankus and Collin have led many retreats together and they trust the Holy Spirit to lead the retreat in the right direction.
“We want to provide a gentle, supportive and loving atmosphere,” Stankus said. “We can’t force things to happen and we can’t fix everyone, but we can provide the environment and invite the Lord in to do his work.”
The idea for a retreat of this nature was born when a young woman who had been sexually abused approached the Austin Diocese about helping victims of sexual abuse.
“She was looking for some type of spiritual support, but found nothing,” Collin said. The diocese formed a task force and sent Stankus and Collin to workshops designed to help retreat leaders work with victims of abuse. Yet, even after attending the trainings, the women were not convinced that they were ready to lead this type of retreat.
“I think it took both of us a while to realize we were being called to do this,” Collin said.

"Miracle" pastor appeal refused

27 November 2008
'Miracle' pastor appeal refused
A controversial pastor who claimed he could give infertile couples "miracle babies" is a step closer to extradition on child abduction charges.
Two High Court judges have refused to give Gilbert Deya permission to appeal to the House of Lords against the order to extradite him to Kenya.
Mr Deya, the self-proclaimed bishop of a church in Peckham, South London, says he faces torture in his native Kenya.
The Kenyan government alleges he stole five children between 1999 and 2004.
Deya's lawyers argued his case should be certified as one raising issues of general public importance that should be considered by the Law Lords, but this was rejected by Lord Justice Dyson.
Mr Deya has no more avenues of appeal in the UK and his lawyers are considering a last-ditch application to the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr Deya, 55, runs Gilbert Deya Ministries, which claims a UK membership of 36,000.
'Political vendetta'
The five children that he is accused of stealing have all been taken into care in Kenya.
Police in Nairobi say their investigation revolves around the disappearance of babies from Nairobi's Pumwani Maternity Hospital and involves suspects in Britain, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.
In fighting extradition, Mr Deya has argued that he is the victim of a political vendetta in Kenya and said his human rights would be compromised by the poor conditions in a Kenyan prison.
The High Court rejected his fears of ill treatment and accepted the Kenyan government's assurance that the country's new coalition government was committed to improving jail conditions.
It refused to certify the case was fit for the House of Lords.
Lord Justice Dyson said the court found it "very difficult to believe Mr Deya would be incarcerated in any prison conditions" which were in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights as his lawyers had argued.
A district judge ordered Mr Deya deported last year, a ruling which was later confirmed by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Leader of polygamist sect faces charges

Leader of polygamist sect faces charges over marriage of underage girls
By Daily Mail ReporterLast updated at 6:23 PM on 25th November 2008
An elder of a polygamist sect and two other church members have surrendered to authorities to face charges relating to the marriage of underage girls to older men.
Fredrick 'Merril' Jessop, 72, a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who oversaw its Yearning For Zion Ranch in west Texas, faces one count of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor on July 27, 2006 - the same day one of his daughters was allegedly married to jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.
The girl was 12 at the time and is now the only child from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in foster care after her mother refused to co-operate with child welfare authorities.
Law enforcement officials escort members of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on to a school bus in Eldorado, Texas, in April
In all, 12 FLDS men have been indicted since Texas authorities raided the ranch in April looking for evidence of underage girls forced into marriages and sex with older men.
Hundreds of children were placed in state custody for weeks before they were ordered to be returned to their parents.
Polygamist Warren Jeffs, a Mormon sect leader. Jeffs was convicted in Utah in 2007 and sentenced to ten years for being an accomplice to rape
A grand jury in Eldorado, Texas, indicted Jeffs, Jessop, Wendell Loy Nielsen and Leroy Johnson Steed on November 12. Only Jeffs' name had been released before Monday, when the other three men were booked and released after posting bond.
'We've said all along we're not running. We're going to take it head on,' said FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop. 'The allegations they're making and what they're trying to do is nothing more than harassment.'
Nielsen, 68, is charged with three counts of bigamy. The indictment includes few details, but church records released as part of a separate child custody case list 21 women married to Nielsen in August 2007.
Leroy Johnson Steed, 42, is charged with sexual assault of a child, bigamy and tampering with evidence. Church records show that Steed was married to a 16-year-old girl in March 2007.
Jeffs was convicted in Utah and is awaiting trial in Arizona on charges related to underage marriages of sect girls. He faces charges in Texas of sexual assault of a child and bigamy.
Church records and journal entries released in the custody case indicate several of Merril Jessop's daughters were married to men in the church when they were 16 or younger.
One of Merril Jessop's wives, Carolyn, fled the FLDS community on the Arizona-Utah line with her children in 2003 and wrote a best-selling book, Escape.
Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Police raided the ranch last April and took 400 children after claims of abuse and forced marriages
Generally, teens younger than 17 cannot consent to sex with an adult under Texas law. Bigamy is also illegal. While the FLDS plural marriages are not legal marriages, Texas law forbids even purporting to marry.
Willie Jessop said the state is making criminal cases to justify what he called a botched child custody case. Child welfare authorities have dropped most of the cases involving the 439 children taken from the YFZ Ranch; only about three dozen remain under court oversight.
The child welfare case was prompted by calls to a domestic abuse hotline from someone claiming to be a teen mother who was abused. Those calls are now being investigated as a hoax.
The FLDS, which believes polygamy bring glorification in heaven, is a breakaway sect of the Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon church renounced polygamy more than a century ago

Girl, 13, blows herself up in Iraq

Girl, 13, blows herself up as bombings kill 33 in Baghdad
By Mail Foreign ServiceLast updated at 1:26 AM on 11th November 2008
A girl suicide bomber aged only 13 has killed five U.S.-backed security patrolmen and wounded 11 other people when she struck in Iraq.
The attack came at a checkpoint in Baquba, 35 miles north-east of Baghdad in the volatile Diyala province.
It came on a day when more than 30 died in Iraq. In Baghdad, another suicide bomber struck in a crowd that had gathered to help after two car bombs damaged a bus full of schoolgirls.
Nine-year-old Abdulla Mohammed is helped by a medic in a Baghdad hospital. He'd been in a crowd which was attacked by a suicide bomber. The group had gathered where an explosion went off moments earlier
It was the deadliest outrage in the Iraqi capital in weeks, with 28 people dead and 68 wounded.
The triple attack in Baghdad took place in the Kasra neighbourhood on the east bank of the Tigris River in an area of tea shops and restaurants near a fine arts institute.
Male and female students, many of whom were having breakfast at the time of the strike, were among the dead and wounded, as were Iraqi soldiers and police who had rushed to the scene.
Street-front restaurants were filled with rubble and cars reduced to twisted steel.
Such co-ordinated and massive strikes have become rare but steady reminders of the capacity of militants to unleash mayhem in Iraq, even though they no longer control whole swathes of towns and villages and violence overall has fallen sharply.
Iraqis inspect the site of the Baghdad suicide attack in a popular market area
The attack by a female suicide bomber in Baquba is part of a trend that has increased this year.
U.S. forces say al Qaeda Sunni Islamist militants are increasingly recruiting female bombers - often teenage girls - to thwart security checks.
Many of the female bombers have lost male relatives and are seen as psychologically vulnerable to recruitment for suicide missions.
Al Qaeda and like-minded groups have been driven out of many parts of Iraq after local Sunni Arab tribesmen turned against them, but they are making a stand in northern areas such as the rural areas near Baquba.
They often target the mainly Sunni U.S.-backed security patrols, whom they view as collaborators.
The continuing attacks show the determination of extremist groups to continue the fight against the U.S.-backed government and lie behind U.S. military concern about drawing down the 151,000-member U.S. military force too quickly.
A still unratified security agreement with the U.S. would keep American soldiers here until 2012.
President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw all combat troops within 16 months of taking office Jan. 20, although he has said he would consult with the Iraqi government and U.S. commanders before ordering any drawdown.

Abuse survivor wants diocese to reach out to victims

Abuse survivor wants diocese to reach out to victims
By Dolly A. Butz dbutz@siouxcityjournal.com Posted: Friday, November 07, 2008
SIOUX CITY -- A self-proclaimed clergy sexual abuse survivor and victims advocacy group leader on Thursday called upon the Diocese of Sioux City to reach out to victims who were allegedly abused by a former local bishop and aid in having him defrocked.On Monday, the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, announced that a review board had "credibly accused" former Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Soens of sexually abusing boys in the Davenport Diocese.Soens allegedly abused boys during the 1950s and 1960s while he was principal at Iowa City Regina High School. Another man said Soens abused him while serving as rector at St. Ambrose Seminary in Davenport, according to the Diocese of Davenport.Soens, who lives in a Sioux City retirement home, denied the allegations through his attorney, Tim Bottaro of Sioux City, on Monday.Kristie Arlt, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Sioux City, said Thursday that no allegations of sexual abuse were ever made against Soens while he was bishop of Sioux City, from 1983 to 1998.But Janet Clark, of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, reading a statement outside diocese headquarters, said there is no reason to believe that Soens did not molest children in Sioux City."We fear there are still many more victims trapped in silence and self-blame," she said. "We believe the diocese has a moral and a civil obligation to reach out to these deeply wounded individuals."Clark urged Sioux City's current bishop, the Rev. R. Walker Nickless, to issue an apology for allowing Soens to live in the community, to use every resource available to permanently remove Soens from the religious state and to personally visit every parish in the diocese to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward."Bishop Nickless needs to show solidarity with victims, not the perpetrators," she said.Arlt said she was hesitant to comment about Soens because the allegations against him stem from his time as a priest in Davenport."The Davenport Diocese is handling this, as well as the Vatican," she said. "Bishop Nickless and the Diocese of Sioux City have nothing to do with this process."Arlt said Nickless is committed to the diocese's Safe Environment Program, a comprehensive plan that consists of a code of ethical standards for those ministering on behalf of the church, background checks on existing and new employees and volunteers, and increased awareness and prevention of child sexual abuse."This is a sacred responsibility that Bishop Nickless upholds," she said. What does 'credibly accused' mean?It means that a review board has determined that there is reason to believe that accusations of sexual abuse against a clergy member are true and that the accused's name must be added to a list of those who are credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.A determination is based on whether the allegation is more likely than not to have occurred, is corroborated or is acknowledged or admitted to by the accused.In Bishop Soens' case, the five-member board did not investigate all 31 accusations against him because some claimants did not want their claims reviewed.Source: davenportdiocese.org

Former bishop's accusers credible

Sioux City Journal
Diocese: Former bishop's accusers credible
By Molly Montag Posted: Tuesday, November 04, 2008
DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Former Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Soens has been "credibly accused" of sexually abusing boys in the Davenport diocese, a church review has found.The Diocese of Davenport announced Monday that Soens was one of four church officials found by a review board to be credibly accused of sexual abuse. The others are Joseph Hines, Eugene Smith and Gerald Stouvenel.However, the review board determined that the Rev. Martin Diamond was not credibly accused.Davenport diocese officials said Monday that a church review board found that some of the 31 accusations against Soens are credible. The review board did not investigate all the accusations at the request of some of the victims.Soens is accused of abusing boys during the 1950s and 1960s while he was a principal at Iowa City Regina High School. According to the Davenport diocese's statement, another man said Soens abused him while serving as rector at St. Ambrose Seminary in Davenport.Kristie Arlt, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Sioux City, said Soens is not accused of committing abuse while in Sioux City."There have never been any allegations against him in Sioux City," she said.Soens served as bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City from 1983-1998.He lives in a retirement home in Sioux City. His attorney, Tim Bottaro, said that he is disappointed by Monday's announcement and that Soens denies the allegations.A victims advocacy group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was critical of the timing of the diocese's announcement, saying it would receive little media coverage, but urged abuse victims and witnesses to come forward."We hope now that finally the Iowa church hierarchy will use its considerable resources to seek out and help Soens' dozens of victims," the group said Monday in a statement.The Davenport diocese also announced Monday that a three-person panel of church attorneys found Monsignor Drake ShaferEarlier this year, the Diocese of Davenport not guilty of committing abuse. He will be restored to active ministry. named 22 clergy members with 150 abuse claims to the "credibly accused" list. Four of the priests -- James Janssen, William Wiebler, Francis Bass and Thomas Feeney -- accounted for nearly 100 of the cases.Quad-City Times Reporter Ann McGlynn contributed to this report.

My preacher father frightens me

From The Times
November 4, 2008
Family secrets: My preacher father frightens me
We may look the picture of a happy family and he may be a popular, charismatic priest but he has monstrous moods
I've seen a photo of my father in a newspaper. He christened my younger brother's children and my daughter, and was beaming into the camera with an armful of babies, emanating warmth, kindliness and Christian love. The rest of our family was behind him, all apparently smiling in delight.
We were actually smiling in pathetic relief that he was finally speaking to us all again after three months of sulking. It had sprung from something minor: my brother had asked him to christen the children, but suggested that he came to their church rather than everyone return to my father's parish - which made sense to everyone except him. My brother made the mistake of arguing his case rather than instantly capitulating, which was the beginning of three months of misery for all of us, especially my mother. My father immediately stopped talking to us, eating his meals alone, leaving us to console our mother, a trembling, weeping wreck.
Two weeks before the planned christening date he phoned my brother and acted as if nothing had ever been amiss. So there we were at church, as elderly ladies cooed over his grandparenting skills, pillars of the church shook his hand and a reporter asked for a quote. “Of all God's great gifts, there is nothing so important as family,” he pronounced.
When I was small I thought he was God - standing at the altar in his robes, telling people how they should lead their lives. He's a charismatic preacher and radiates bonhomie.
I must have been 10 when I remember things changing. He rarely raised his voice in public, but my older brother wanted to go to a football match with his friends and my father didn't want him to go. My brother pleaded a little and then got really obstinate, at which point my father went mad, screaming and shouting. The rest of us watched in fascinated horror, with my mother wringing her hands and begging him to stop, until he dragged my brother upstairs and threw him into his bedroom. He didn't speak to any of us for a week, only once saying to my mother that she had let him down by not supporting him.
That set the tone for my childhood and teenage years, though the worst thing was what fantastic fun he could be. But I remember standing shaking in the garden one beautiful summer morning, feeling sick to my stomach at the torrent of abuse we'd all just endured.
We were very restricted as teenagers. I tried to tell my best friend about it, but she didn't believe me, maintaining that my dad was just sweetly eccentric. “I know you think I'm old-fashioned,” he'd say to her with a big sheepish grin, “but I love my little girl and can't bear anything to happen to her, so she's staying home till she's ready to face the world.”
When I left for university I believed that I was free to live my life as I pleased but, like my siblings, I love my mother dearly and couldn't break free. My youngest sister simply tells him what he wants to hear, but the rest of us have all made the stupid mistake of trying to reason with him as adults. Once I told him that I would tell everyone what he was really like and I swear he looked at me in genuine amazement.
“No one would ever expect me not to chastise my children,” was his response. “Any loving father would do the same.” I stand in church and hear him say the blessing “The Lord bless thee and give thee peace” and I think of my ten-year-old self shaking in the garden.
Do you have a secret? E-mail familysecrets@thetimes.co.uk

Former priest gets 25 years

Former priest gets 25 years on sex charge with boy
By DON BABWINASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

CHICAGO -- A former Roman Catholic priest convicted of taking a boy on religious retreats to have sex with him was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison.
Donald McGuire, of Oak Lawn, displayed no emotion as U.S District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer imposed a 300-month sentence that likely means the 78-year-old former priest will die in prison.
Pallmeyer said McGuire used his stature, his international reputation that included being a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa and the trust parents had in him that he would care for "the finest gifts God ever gave them: their children."
She said the boys' confidence, faith, innocence and sexual desire were destroyed.
"You robbed them of all these things," she said after a hearing that included statements from victims, including McGuire's godson.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Ruder told the judge that it was "a horrific and monstrous crime."
McGuire was convicted in October of charges of traveling outside the United States and across state lines to have sex with a teenager between 2000 and 2003. The Vatican ordered McGuire out of the priesthood last year.
In 2006, McGuire was convicted in Wisconsin of child molestation and sentenced to seven years in prison. He has appealed that conviction.
McGuire also has been indicted in Arizona on child molestation charges and faces lawsuits on new child molestation accusations.
Victims and their parents testified before the sentencing Wednesday that they felt guilty for not coming forward sooner with their allegations.
"I apologize to the other victims," said one man who told the judge he was abused by McGuire for six years beginning in the late 1970s. "I apologize that I didn't come forward."
Many of those who testified also asked McGuire to apologize to them, which Pallmeyer noted the former priest didn't do.
McGuire has maintained his innocence throughout the trial. At the hearing, he told the judge he would continue to pray for everyone connected to the trial and spoke of being near the end of his life.
"I see that horizon, it's heaven, where every tear will be wiped away," he said.
McGuire would have to serve most of his sentence before he is eligible for release.

Cannibal cult mother

Cannibal cult mother who skinned son and made him eat his own flesh gets 9 years in jail
By Daily Mail ReporterLast updated at 1:05 PM on 24th October 2008
A cannibal cult mother who tortured her son in a locked cellar while relatives skinned him and forced him to eat his own flesh has been jailed for nine years.
Klara Mauerova, 31 - a member of a sinister religious cult and her sister Katerina led the sickening torture of her eight-year-old son Ondrej and his ten year-old brother Jakub.
A court in Brno in Czech Republic heard how relatives partially skinned Ondrej and forced him to eat his own flesh.
The judge also jailed Katerina, 35, for ten years for her role in the sickening abuse.
The two boys had told judges how their mother and relatives had stubbed cigarettes out on their bare skin, whipped them with belts, and tried to drown them. They were also sexually abused and forced to cut themselves with knives.
The terrified youngsters said they were kept in cages or handcuffed to tables and made to stand in their own urine for days.
The sick sisters - both members of weird religious cult the Grail Movement - refused to reveal why they tortured the brothers.
But state prosecutor Zuzana Zamoravcova said: 'Their aim was to make the boys blindly serve their religious goals.'
Judge Pavel Goth said as he sentenced the women: 'Their aim was to create a person with a completely broken will. Ondrej and Jakub were repeatedly psychologically and physically tyrannised and held in locked rooms.'
Another defendant, 34-year-old Barbora Skrlova, was also jailed for five years for her part in the torture. Three others who took part in the abuse were also given jail terms.
Hana Basova, 28, and Jan Skrla, 25, were sentenced to seven years each while another man, Jan Turek, was jailed for five years.
Skrlova had posed as an innocent 13-year-old girl when police arrived to free the boys. She later ran away to Norway but was traced earlier this year by Czech police who brought her back to face trial.
Mauerova at first admitted abusing her children but she said she had been manipulated by her sister Katerina and Skrlova.
All three of them had been part of the Grail Movement cult which claims to have hundreds of followers in Britain as well as tens of thousands of others world wide.
The sick abuse was discovered when a neighbour installed a TV baby monitor to keep watch on his new daughter.
But it picked up the signal from an identical monitor next door showing one of the victims beaten, naked and chained in a cellar.
Mauerova had installed it so she could gloat over her victims' suffering from the comfort of her kitchen.
The defendants are expected to launch an appeal.

Witnesses testify against ex-priest

Archive for Friday, October 10, 2008
Explicit talk about abuse
Witnesses testify against ex-priest
By David HeinzmannOctober 10, 2008
While an ex-priest’s lawyer tried to present his client’s chief accuser as a gold digger pursuing a lawsuit, prosecutors bombarded jurors Friday with explicit testimony about how Rev. Donald McGuire talked constantly of sex with adolescent boys in his care and exposed them to pornography and daily nude rubdowns with baby oil.The sexual environment created by McGuire confused the boys about his advances and made them feel shameful and fearful about speaking out, two of the priest’s former teenage “personal assistants” testified at his federal trial.Jurors sat stone-faced for much of the graphic testimony, but by the end of the afternoon, many appeared to stare at the 78-year-old defendant for long periods.Once a renowned Jesuit, McGuire is charged with engaging in sex with a boy beginning when he was 13 in 1999. The boy, identified in court only as Dominick, traveled with McGuire on retreats all over the world after his family sent him to live with the priest in Evanston.The sexual abuse, including the massages, showering together and oral sex, began almost immediately, he testified.Dominick said he felt nobody would listen if he complained about abuse because of McGuire’s stature in Catholic circles. “To go against McGuire would be to go against an empire,” he said.McGuire’s attorney, Stephen Komie, peppered Dominick with dozens of questions about his personal finances, arguing that he had spent his life living off others and suggesting he concocted the accusations to win money from the Jesuits.Komie argued that Dominick did not approach law enforcement until after he had hired a private attorney to pursue damages. Dominick acknowledged that he went to authorities last year on the advice of his private attorney, Kevin McGuire, a nephew of the defrocked priest.However, Assistant U.S. Atty. Julie Ruder later showed jurors an e-mail claiming sexual abuse that Dominick sent to a psychologist in October 2006, months before he contacted an attorney.Dominick testified that he finally spoke up because he was having trouble with intimacy with his girlfriend—now his wife.McGuire is charged with sexually abusing the one alleged victim, but three other accusers have been allowed to testify. A 32-year-old California man, who was a personal assistant to McGuire in the late 1980s, testified Friday how the priest sexually assaulted him at age 14 in a motel room during a road trip to Ohio. The man described his sexual abuse in nearly identical terms as the other witnesses.dheinzmann@tribune.com