Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How did this happen?

How did this happen?
By Patrick McIlheran
Friday, Feb 1 2008, 11:51 PM
As wretched legacy of Franklyn Becker continues to unwind, Richard John Neuhaus writes at First Things about a forthcoming book on the clergy sex scandal in Boston. The book is "The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture" by Philip F. Lawler. Dad29 noticed the post, too, and comments.Neuhaus says the book is good:
"The account offered is devastating and the blame is clearly laid at the door of the American bishops. Lawler is outraged, but, to his credit, his outrage is controlled. ... 'The thesis of this book,' writes Lawler, 'is that the sex abuse scandal in American Catholicism was not only aggravated but actually caused by the willingness of church leaders to sacrifice the essential for the inessential; to build up the human institution even to the detriment of the divine mandate.' Bishops again and again responded to the crisis as institutional managers, employing public relations stratagems to evade, deceive, and distract attention from their own responsibility."
Lawler, again, is writing about Boston. He might as well have been describing Milwaukee, where our former archbishop, Rembert Weakland, responded to teachers turning in a sexually abusive priest by threatening them with lawyers, referred to abuse victims' accusations as "squealing" (a word he later publicly regretted), and was known for playing legal hardball against anyone making accusations against priests. Weakland, in short, managed the crisis and defended the human institution instead of pastoring his abused people. He wasn't the only one. The church hierarchy, argues Lawler, particularly the bishops, were corrupted. He calls this the most serious and least examined aspect of the scandal. They were corrupted not chiefly by doing wrong themselves but by knowing about it and tolerating it. Neuhaus again:
"Lawler adds: 'Homosexual influence within the American clergy was not in itself the cause of the sex abuse crisis. The corruption wrought by that influence was a more important factor.' He very gingerly addresses a theory proposed by a number of commentators on the crisis, namely, that bishops engaged in cover-ups and other deceptions because they were threatened with homosexual blackmail. He cites a number of instances in which this appears to be the case and bishops were permitted to resign when their misdeeds could no longer be denied. 'The blackmail hypothesis,” he writes, “provides a logical explanation for behavior that is otherwise inexplicable: the bishops’ willingness to risk the welfare of the faithful and their own reputations in order to protect abusive priests.'"
Which, again, as Dad29 notes, fits. Weakland had his own affair -- with an adult, to be sure, but still scandalous -- to hide. And during his time, in 1996, the archdiocesan abuse panel learned of the allegations against Sister Norma Gianini, who sexually abused boys in the 1960s, and apparently didn't tell authorities.That, obviously, wasn't a case of homosexual priests preying on the altar boys (which makes the case unusual). But what Lawler is arguing would imply that an archbishop who had things of his own to hide and who at the least inculcated a bluff attitude toward victims would be in no position to nail a nun who had unprosecuted wrongdoing in her past. His own wrongdoing corrupted him.For which we'll now pay more, yet again, we Catholics who depend on the parishes and schools and hospitals of an archdiocese that may be heading for bankruptcy. All these names of back-when, these bishops and priests who did terrible things 30 to 50 years ago -- all the way back to 1964, when Archbishop Cousins didn't kick Becker out of the seminary for trying to have sex with a classmate -- and even the district attorney who heard about it and advised the archdiocese to give Becker "another chance" if he stayed clean for five years, all this history is going to cost us now. The archdiocese is trying to raise about $105 million to fund education; it maintains that the money can be protected from lawyers who continue to predate on the church over old abuse. I'd like to believe that. I'm not quite certain, especially given the power of federal judges. I hear others voicing the same doubts. That I can't be sure that money I donate to support the church's educational mission won't instead end up in the pocket of some bottom-feeding legal opportunist like Jeffrey Anderson is the result of Archbishop Cousins not drawing the line in 1964 and Rembert Weakland sending threats to whistleblowers instead of doing something about the sins unfolding before his eyes. So, yes, I think I'll be reading Lawler's book.

Time won’t heal Catholic bishops’ sins

Time won’t heal Catholic bishops’ sins
Posted By Mark Stricherz On February 10, 2008 @ 3:28 pm In Journalism, Books, Religion, Catholicism Comments Disabled
Columnist Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald [1] wrote a story that blasted Catholic Bishop Richard Malone for reinstating a sexually deviant priest. Nemitz was too easy on the bishop. Instead of blasting Malone as irresponsible and tone deaf, Nemitz might easily have accused him of violating Church doctrine.
Nemitz’s story was interesting, if numbingly familiar: Bishop Malone had allowed the Rev. Paul Coughlin to resume his priestly duties, only to backtrack when local Catholics howled in protest. Nemitz’s summary is concise and revealing:
Coughlin, 73, was ordered by Malone in 2004 to resign as pastor of two South Portland churches for not reporting allegations of sexual abuse against a church volunteer.
The volunteer, John Skinner, actually lived with Coughlin in his South Portland rectory from 1999-2001 — 10 years after Coughlin first heard the abuse allegations and failed to alert his superiors. (In fact, Skinner became certified in youth ministry while living in the rectory.)
What’s more, Coughlin himself was accused in 2002 of sexual misconduct with a minor in 1985. While that never led to criminal charges, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland conceded last week that “it is reasonable to believe that there was inappropriate physical contact at that time.”
Whoa, talk about a revealing quote. Nemitz showed his readers that diocesan officials had reinstated a priest whom they believed was guilty of “inappropriate physical contact.”
So why did Bishop Malone reinstate the priest? Here is Nemitz’s answer:
“It’s been three and a half years,” Sue Bernard, the diocese’s spokeswoman, explained last week before the bishop reversed course. “I think (Malone) feels it’s been a long enough time.”
He felt wrong.
Maybe the backlash stemmed from Malone’s initial promise to keep Coughlin away from South Portland, Bangor and Wells — all places where he associated with Skinner — because his “presence could cause divisiveness within these parishes.”
Sound familiar? Back when they still thought they could contain the sex-abuse scandal, the bishops used the same shell game to keep offending priests one step ahead of the angry congregations.
In other words, Bishop Malone’s explanation was that time had healed Rev. Coughlin’s sins. His rationale might just as easily have come from Hugh Hefner or Zippy the Clown, because it bears no relation to Catholic doctrine about reconciliation or penance.
According to Church teaching, time doesn’t heal a person’s sins; God’s mercy does, as mediated through a priest. Coughlin needed to reconcile his sin first, then he could be allowed back to ministry. Yet since the sex-abuse crisis erupted, Church officials have [2] taken a dim view even of reinstating priests guilty of abuse.
Nemitz missed this essential point. Perhaps he doesn’t grasp Catholic doctrine about sin and forgiveness. Or perhaps, and more likely, Nemitz overlooked Bernard’s answer.
Nemitz’s oversight or ignorance is no small matter. Had he seen through the Bishop’s false rationale, he might have connected it with the U.S. Bishops’ cover-up of priestly sex abuse. Here is how Philip K. Lawler, author of The Faithful Departed, a new book about the decline of American Catholicism, [3] explains the situation:
While a small minority of American priests have been involved in sexual abuse, a clear majority of bishops were party to the cover-up. The priests who have been found guilty of sexual abuse have been removed from ministry, but bishops who betrayed their own sacred trust by countenancing sexual abuse remain in office. Whereas the misconduct by priests has been acknowledged and addressed, the administrative malfeasance of American bishops has still not been acknowledged— at least not by the bishops themselves— and not remedied. For all those reasons the third scandal, the scandal of episcopal misconduct, is today the most serious of all.
Nemitz wrote an informative, tough story. He just didn’t one that was knowledgeable and tough enough.
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Parishioners publicly owning church's sin of clergy sex abuse

Parishioners publicly owning church's sin of clergy sex abuseBy Ed Langlois

The sackcloth patch symbolizes repentence.

This Lent, some Portland Catholics are repenting for horrific sins they never committed.
As clergy sex abuse lawsuits emerged over the past decade, news reports said the problem was something to be addressed by “the church.” The media and the their audience, including many Catholics, thought the term referred only to diocesan officials.
But Catholics like Ann and Quenton Czuba know better.
The Northeast Portland grandparents believe in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which emphasized that the church is the whole body of believers — laity, religious, clergy and hierarchy.
For the Czubas, the doctrine implies that they, too, bear responsibility for the sin of abuse. They have decided to step forward, say they are sorry and work toward healing.
To show their personal remorse, the retirees have pinned 2-by-2-inch patches of burlap on their clothes. In the book of Jonah — the reluctant prophet carried on his mission in the belly of a fish — the king of Nineveh repents for wrongdoing by donning sackcloth and sitting in ashes. Pondering Jonah’s word that God would destroy the city, the king orders every citizen to do the same.
“What ever happened to sackcloth and ashes?” Ann asked parishioners during Masses last weekend at The Madeleine Church. “Are we being asked to atone for the sins of our church? Could we help in any way to bring about healing?”
Last weekend, the Czubas handed out hundreds of the patches after Masses at The Madeleine. No one criticized the kindly couple for the idea. Some parishioners planned to take time to think it over.
Most worshipers accepted one, with many expressing relief and gratitude for the Czubas’ plan. Visitors even took the badges, some saying they would raise the idea at their own parishes.
“It’s like a wound was festering and someone put a dressing on it,” Quenton says, surprised at the big response.
A year ago, Ann was praying just before the end of the Archdiocese of Portland’s abuse-sparked bankruptcy. It occurred to her, as she read stories, that abuse victims think most Catholics don’t care. She felt called to create a sign that expressed sorrow and sought forgiveness. About the same time, she was struck by the story of Nineveh.
“We, as a church, need to atone for the sins of these priests and to let the victims know we care about them,” she wrote in a letter last year to Archbishop John Vlazny.
The archbishop approved of the idea. Then Jesuit Father E.B. Painter, pastor of The Madeleine, consulted the lay-led councils of the parish. Consensus emerged: Lent would be an ideal time for the spiritual project.
At Masses Sunday, Father Painter presided with one of the patches strung about his neck. He invited parishioners to discern whether they should wear one, too.
“This must be a peaceful choice for you,” he said.
The patches will be available in the back of the church for several weeks.
“There are people who will say, ‘Why should I wear one of these badges? I didn’t do any of this stuff,’” Father Painter told the congregation.
He then related the tale of the Virginia Tech shooter’s sister. She apologized last year on her family’s behalf for her brother’s terrible acts.The priest insisted that it is incumbent on Catholics to show sorrow for abuse done by others in the faith family.
“Healing and forgiveness may result,” he said.
The Czuba’s idea came to fruition in their small Christian community, about 15 people who gather regularly for prayer and meals. A pod of 10 or so actually made the patches, 950 of them, cut from burlap purchased at a fabric store.
At one point in church history, penitents wore hairshirts under their clothing. But the Czubas say this patch is best worn on the outside, where it will prompt questions in the grocery store, at the doctor’s office and in the street. The pair intend to give full explanations.
Other parishioners have embraced the project.
“It was a jolt for me at first but then I thought I did have responsibility for this,” says Sharon Burke, a Madeleine parishioner for 34 years.
Clergy sex abuse hit her family in another state and she felt more like a victim than anything.
“It made me really think about reconciliation,” Burke says of the sackcloth. “It brought me to a whole new level.”
Marie Hauth, a parishioner for 45 years, helped pass out the badges after Mass. She always felt the responsibility should be shared by the whole church and is glad to have an outlet for the idea. She is convinced the Holy Spirit guided the project.
The Czubas have no direct personal connection to the scandal. Neither they nor anyone in their family was abused.
They have been married for 48 years and have five children, 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Quenton wears a sweatshirt decorated with paint handprints of many of the youngsters.
The Czuba children and descendants have gone to Catholic schools, Quenton attended a seminary high school in California and Ann went to St. Mary’s Academy. For the Czubas, the church has been a joy and a treasure.
That is one reason the steady stream of abuse cases shocked them. They recalled the infamous criminal case of Father Thomas Laughlin at All Saints Parish in the 1980s. They thought it was an isolated event. It turns out there were hundreds of accusations in western Oregon.
The Czubas have attended a group at Ascension Parish in Southeast Portland where those abused or affected by abuse can tell their stories. About a dozen people come to the gatherings.
Participants liked the burlap patch idea and have promoted it at Ascension. Franciscan Father Armando Lopez is wearing one, saying the symbol is a step in bringing peace of mind to the abused and welcoming them back to the church.
“The victims are like people who have been struck by a car,” explains Quenton, who is retired from a local aluminum factory. “They need a visible sign of hope, mercy and compassion from the church. They need to be welcomed back home. They need a flicker of light that will lead them to Christ.”
The Czubas are aware that the healing process cannot be rushed, and that the abuse is something that should not really be forgotten, lest it happen again.
That’s why they intend to wear the patches for the rest of their lives.

'Truth forum' for abuse victims

'Truth forum' for abuse victims Measures to support adults who were abused in children's homes have been set out by the Scottish Government.
Children's Minister Adam Ingram announced the creation of a "truth and reconciliation forum" to give victims a chance to discuss their experiences.
Ministers are also supportive of proposals for a national counselling service for adult survivors.
The measures come after a report on abuse in homes across Scotland, which made its recommendations last year.
The report was commissioned by the previous administration at Holyrood after revelations of abuse at Kerelaw School in Ayrshire.
In 2004, the then first minister Jack McConnell publicly apologised to the victims of children who were abused while in care.
The report by Tom Shaw, the former chief inspector of education in Northern Ireland, called for the creation of a dedicated centre to help victims find counselling services, carry out research into children's residential homes and maintain a database of all past and present children's residential establishments in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has asked the National Archives of Scotland to carry out a review of legislation on public records.
For many survivors an acknowledgement of the abuse they have suffered would be more beneficial than monetary compensation Shona Robison Public Health Minister
Mr Ingram said: "The system let these young people down in the most terrible way and it would be inexcusable for us not to confront what happened."
Public Health Minister Shona Robison will oversee the creation of the forum.
She said it would provide a platform for victims "to voice their experiences whilst also giving public acknowledgement to what happened to these children".
"Through close working with survivors and the organisations that represent them, we have come to understand that for many survivors an acknowledgement of the abuse they have suffered would be more beneficial than monetary compensation," she said.
"It is on this basis we have begun to explore the use of a truth and reconciliation model.
"I hope that through that process there will be an opportunity to give survivors a chance to speak about their experiences but also learn lessons to ensure that children in the future are better protected."
Physical abuse
Scotland has more than 220 establishments providing some form of residential care to children.
An independent inquiry is also currently being carried out into abuse at Kerelaw.
About 40 care workers abused youngsters in their care and could still be working with children, according to a report commissioned by Glasgow City Council.
Maltreatment included physical assault, restraint and sex abuse.
Two former teachers were jailed in 2006 for their part in the abuse.
Anything that helps to shine a light through this period of blackness in Scotland's history is to be welcomed Annabel Goldie Scottish Conservatives
Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "Everyone views with revulsion the abuse of children, and when its perpetrators are those who have been entrusted with the care of children and in whom those children have placed their fragile trust, it is a particularly vile and odious betrayal.
"So anything that helps to shine a light through this period of blackness in Scotland's history is to be welcomed."
However, she questioned the ability of the forum to help end the culture of silence that could often allow abuse to continue.
Hugh O'Donnell MSP, the Liberal Democrat schools spokesman, called for more details on the proposals.
He said: "I was disappointed that the Scottish Government's statement lacked clarity in relation to the additional funding being provided for the national framework and the truth and reconciliation forum.
Without clarity
"While Liberal Democrats are supportive of the Shaw Report's recommendations, we need to be clear that this government will provide the resources and facilities to ensure that the victims of institutional childhood abuse have a full opportunity to have their voices heard.
"The SNP Government cannot provide this without clarity on the issues of funding and access to records."
Labour's spokeswoman for children, Mary Mulligan, agreed that it was unclear where funding would be found for the national services framework, or to train residential care workings.
"Services for survivors of abuse are critical and they need to be funded effectively," she said. "We hope that the minister will come back to parliament and set out how the government will provide the necessary finance to ensure that services work."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Bishop asks for forgiveness in paedophile cases

February 1, 2008 - 5:04 PM
Bishop asks for forgiveness in paedophile cases

Image caption: Bishop Genoud does not want every priest to be tarred with the same brush (Keystone)
The Catholic bishop for western Switzerland has asked forgiveness from victims of paedophile priests, after several cases of abuse came to light.
Bernard Genoud, who represents the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, said the Church had set up an independent commission of experts to gather information on abuse and strengthen prevention.
In the most widely publicised case, a Swiss priest was moved to France by superiors who knew he had already sexually abused at least one child.
At a news conference in Fribourg on Friday, Genoud said cases of paedophilia involving priests "quite rightly" attracted much media attention.
"I would also like to stress our obligation to ask for pardon from the victims, pardon for the lack of transparency, clarity, communication, and indeed of courage which unfortunately led to these offences."
He added that he did not exactly know how to ask forgiveness for the "unfair suffering" of the victims.
Genoud said that a priest was expected to be exemplary and almost a "Superman" but this was difficult.
"Only the recognition of our limits allows us to ask for pardon," he said.
Genoud added there were Church laws that he as a bishop had to respect.
"But I would also note the prime importance of the work done by civil authorities. We are not able to manage everything from within [the Church]."
He said victims who came forward to the Church were encouraged to go to judicial authorities for the "best guarantee of an adequate and efficient treatment".
At the same time, Genoud called for people not to stigmatise the Church as a whole as the crimes were committed by a few of its priests.
"I want to underline that our clergy in its large majority is healthy, that it works in an exemplary manner... There are, however, painful cases [in which] priests have made grave mistakes."
"This is unacceptable but people must not see every priest as a paedophile."
He also noted that paedophilia was a sexual deviation which had nothing to do with celibacy, arguing that celibacy did not lead to paedophilia any more than marriage.
The new commission's mandate is to collect all information that arrives via hotline, letters, emails and meetings about possible sexual abuse.
It will verify allegations and draw up a report for the authorities of the diocese, as well as try to improve prevention measures.
These will be aimed at priests and, in particular, future priests.
"In this area, more than elsewhere, education and prevention are indispensable," Genoud said.
swissinfo, Robert Brookes in Fribourg
The paedophile priest scandal first erupted in Boston in 2002 when many leaders of the archdiocese were found to have moved priests who abused minors to new parishes instead of defrocking them or reporting them to authorities.The scandal then spread to almost every US Catholic diocese. It led to dozens of lawsuits, millions of dollars in payments to victims and the defrocking, resignation and jailing of priests.In July the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million (SFr730 million) to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating back as far as the 1940s. Sexual abuse scandals have also hit Catholic Churches in Ireland and other countries.
Last Wednesday, it was reported the diocese had informed the authorities of two cases of suspected sexual abuse.
Judicial authorities in Fribourg and Geneva are investigating these cases.
In the Geneva case, there are said to be two victims. In the second case, little information has as yet been given.
The Swiss Bishops Conference has said it will review its directives for handling suspected cases of paedophile crimes by priests.
Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg (French and German) (
Swiss Bishops Conference (German, French and Italian) (
Association for the protection of children (German and French) (
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Bishop says Davenport diocese abandoned him to save itself

Bishop says Davenport diocese abandoned him to save itself
Associated Press - February 2, 2008 7:04 PM ET
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - An attorney for former Roman Catholic Bishop Lawrence Soens says the Davenport diocese has abandoned the bishop to save itself in its bankruptcy case.
Soens, who was bishop in Sioux City from 1983 to 1998 and principal at Iowa City Regina school from 1959 to 1967, has been accused of many acts of sexual abuse but has not been charged with any crime.
Soens maintains his innocence. He's now in his 80s and has removed himself from public ministry.
Soens is mentioned by name in documents filed Thursday as part of the Davenport diocese's bankruptcy reorganization plan.
The $37 million proposed settlement included 18 non-monetary items, which require the diocese to acknowledge and apologize for abuse by its clergy. One item requires the diocese to issue a report to the pope's diplomatic representative in the United States about Soens so that "appropriate action be taken."
The diocese had previously investigated claims against Soens and said that although his actions were inappropriate, they were not sexual.
Soens' attorney Timothy Bottaro says for the diocese to switch gears now is shocking and irresponsible. He says the diocese leaders are doing it only to save themselves in bankruptcy.
Diocese spokesman Deacon David Montgomery says the diocese sends reports as it uncovers new information.
Victim advocates says they hope the new report would result in Soens being defrocked, which would force him to leave the priesthood.

Nun Accused Of Sexual Assault To Spend 1 Year In Jail

Nun Accused Of Sexual Assault To Spend 1 Year In Jail
Sister Norma Giannini Admits To Other Offenses
POSTED: 9:10 am CST February 1, 2008
UPDATED: 6:15 pm CST February 1, 2008
MILWAUKEE -- A Roman Catholic nun who pleaded no contest to sexually abusing two Milwaukee boys years ago will spend a year in jail.
A judge sentenced Sister Norma Giannini, 79, to one year in jail and nine more years on probation She has 60 days to report to the House of Correction in Milwaukee County.
It has been a four-decade-long struggle for the two victims who first came forward to the church in 1996, but it took 10 more years before their allegations developed into criminal charges and then a conviction, 12 News reporter Nick Bohr said.
In the late 1960s, St. Patrick's church and school was ruled by Giannini. It's still not clear how many boys she used that power to take advantage of at the school, but two of them -- now in their 50s -- finally had their day in court at her sentencing.
"You know, I never thought the day would come when someone with the power for justice to occur would listen to me," victim Jim St. Patrick said.
St. Patrick said Giannini sexually assaulted him more than a 100 times.
"She has no soul and no morality. Creatures like this belong in prison, not walking free among the innocent," St. Patrick said.
"Norma Giannini's idea of an education was to use me to satisfy her own sexual needs and wants," victim Gerry Kobs said.
Kobs said the nun used her friendship with his mother to sexually abuse him.
"Norma Giannini was what my mother thought was her only friend. I could never tell her, never hurt her. And Norma Giannini knew that," Kobs said.
For the first time in the 14-month process, Giannini answered the allegations.
"Long before this trial, I realized how certain actions of mine have caused pain, confusion and emotional trauma. I ask forgiveness from the bottom of my heart," Giannini said.
The victims said they had hoped the sentencing would be tougher.
"I never heard Norma Giannini say she was sorry," Kobs said.
"She didn't call me for 40 years to see how I was doing. So, now she's sorry. Not," St. Patrick said.
Giannini has admitted to a church panel that she also molested a Chicago boy and at least three other minors.
Court documents show that a psychologist told prosecutors in 2006 that Giannini identified other victims to a Milwaukee archdiocese panel, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. Prosecutors subpoenaed the psychologist, Elizabeth Piasecki, who read into the record the notes she wrote during an interview in 1996 after abuse allegations emerged.
The notes indicate Giannini discussed molesting three other boys in Milwaukee and one in Chicago, where she worked before and after her stint in Wisconsin.
According to a transcript, Piasecki's notes indicated Giannini described an incident with a 14-year-old that included kissing and petting.
Sheila King, a spokeswoman for the order Sisters of Mercy of the Chicago Regional Community, said she could not confirm the existence of additional victims because the sister who was president at the time of those allegations is unavailable. The current president, Sister Betty Smith, assumed her title in 2006.

Senior clerics clash over inquiry

Senior clerics clash over inquiry The former Catholic archbishop of Dublin is taking legal action against the inquiry into the handling of complaints of child abuse by clergy.
Cardinal Desmond Connell has said his successor should not have given files to the inquiry.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has told the inquiry he would be willing to hand over all diocesan files on abuse claims including those with legal exemption.
His predecessor argues they are covered by client/solicitor confidentiality.
Cardinal Connell says he is the client, not the archdiocese of Dublin.
It is understood the 5,000 files in question relate to both legal advice after allegations were made against priests as well as the insurance implications.
Cardinal Connell initiated High Court proceedings on Thursday.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Judge allows lawsuit against former bishop to continue

Judge allows lawsuit against former bishop to continue
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
SARASOTA — A Sarasota circuit court judge heard a number of motions in a lawsuit against a retired Catholic bishop accused of sexual assault Wednesday and the suit against the Most Rev. Priamo Tejeda will continue with some modifications.
Tejeda, who assisted at St. Peter the Apostle parish in East Naples from 2004 until his faculties were removed following the allegations surfacing last April, is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a now 42-year-old Cuban man over an 11-year period, most recently in Broward County in 2005.
None of the alleged assaults took place in Southwest Florida.
The suit also contends that the local Diocese of Venice where Tejeda had served since 1997 after retiring from the Diocese of Baní in the Dominican Republic was negligent and liable for Tejeda’s activities.
Judge Robert Bennett denied motions by Tejeda’s Melbourne-based attorney George Ollinger to dismiss the case and took under advisement a motion to identify the plaintiff by his full name. Currently, the plaintiff is named in the suit by his initials, “J.G.”
Ollinger said a public record of J.G.’s name was an issue of equity and contended J.G. had a history of trying to extort clergy for money and shelter. Ollinger added that J.G. has had mental issues, homelessness and drug addiction in his past.
J.G.’s Miami-based attorney Ronald Weil argued that Ollinger’s real goal was to humiliate his client.
“The idea that the victim should be outed, that is that he should be made to reveal his identity, I suppose is part of a strategy that’s simply embarrassing,” Weil said.
After hearing from diocese attorney Robert Radel, Bennett dismissed the diocese from the complaint, while allowing Weil to resubmit a more definite statement against the Church. Weil had argued that an investigation by City of Venice police in 2000 showed that the local Catholic hierarchy should have been aware of aberrant behavior by Tejeda and acted accordingly. Weil added that he believed Tejeda left his previous position in the Dominican Republic because of similar issues.
But Radel argued that parts of the complaint were written simply to attract media attention. One allegation in the complaint called the diocese a “toxic dumping ground and refuge for pedophilic priests.”
“A complaint is not a press release,” Radel said.
Bennett agreed, calling sections of the complaint “excessive,” “inflammatory” and “over the top.”
After the ruling, Weil said he planned to re-file a new complaint against the diocese.
A Diocese of Venice spokeswoman has said that the Church acted appropriately by withdrawing Tejeda’s faculties once it learned of the allegations.

No appeal for 'abuse cash' priest

No appeal for 'abuse cash' priest A priest who financed the grooming of a young girl for sex has lost his bid to appeal against his five-year sentence.
Father Jeremiah McGrath, 64, who had worked as a missionary in Africa, gave £20,000 to paedophile Billy Adams.
Adams used the cash in 2005 to shower a 12-year-old with gifts then raped her repeatedly over a six-month period.
The appeal court said McGrath's conduct had "facilitated the continuation of extremely grave offences and required no lesser sentence".
After a trial at Liverpool Crown Court last May, McGrath, from Rosslea, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, was jailed when a jury found him guilty of one count of facilitating the abuse from August to November 2005.
McGrath had insisted he had no idea that Adams, with whom he had had a brief sexual relationship, was abusing the girl and claimed that the money was linked to his gambling habit.
Having bought her silence and trust, Adams, 38, originally from Belfast but latterly of Merseyside, raped her repeatedly over a six-month period in 2005.
He admitted raping the girl and was sentenced to life, with a minimum term of seven-and-a-half years before he is considered for release.
He had a previous conviction for child rape.
McGrath's application for leave to appeal against his sentence was refused by three judges at the Court of Appeal in London.
Mr Justice Underhill, sitting with Lord Justice Hooper and Mr Justice Silber, said McGrath's conduct had facilitated the continuation of extremely grave offences and required no lesser sentence.
He said it was McGrath's money which funded three holidays to Blackpool on which Adams took the girl, who he presented as his daughter, and other members of her family.
McGrath accompanied them on two of these and his status as a priest added extra respectability to the enterprise.
Although McGrath knew about Adams's past and proclivities, he said nothing to the girl's family.
The judge said: "He was very aware of what was going on and prepared to facilitate it in the way he did because of his obsessive desire to maintain his own relationship with Adams."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Vicar arrest over indecent images

Vicar arrest over indecent images A Church in Wales vicar and his wife have been questioned by Dyfed-Powys Police over alleged offences relating to indecent images of children.
The Reverend Richard Hart, 58, and Julie, 40, a primary school assistant, were arrested at the vicarage in Beguildy in Powys on Friday.
A computer and paperwork were removed from the house and the pair were bailed until February after questioning.
The vicar has been suspended indefinitely from his pastoral duties.
The Church in Wales confirmed the suspension after the vicar's arrest on Friday for alleged internet offences.
Dyfed-Powys Police said a man, 58, and a woman, 40, were arrested and later released on police bail after questioning at Brecon police station.
'Thoughts and prayers'
A force spokesman said the arrests were "in connection with offences relating to indecent images of children".
He added: "They have been released on police bail pending further enquiries. Dyfed-Powys Police are working closely with Church in Wales authorities and other individuals in the area to support local communities."
It is understood Mr Hart has been a vicar in the area for more than 20 years. He is responsible for five parishes - Beguildy, Llangunllo, Heyope, Bleddfa and Llanbister - in the position which he took up in 2001.
Mr Hart has also been suspended from his position as chairman of governors at Beguildy voluntary controlled Church in Wales school, where his wife works as a part-time assistant.
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Rt Rev Anthony Pierce, said: "We are deeply saddened as a diocese to learn of the recent allegations concerning the Rev Richard Hart."
He said they would be seeking to offer pastoral care to the whole community as the investigation continued.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all who live in these communities at this time."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Senior molester claims 4-year-old provoked him

Senior molester claims 4-year-old provoked him

Sherri Zickefoose
CanWest News Service; Calgary Herald
Saturday, December 29, 2007
CALGARY -- A Calgary man convicted of molesting a four-year-old Illinois girl blamed the child for acting sexually provocative toward him, before a judge sentenced him Friday to three years in prison.
Kenneth Cooke, a 73-year-old retired pastor, told Judge Joseph Condon in a U.S. courtroom he tried to avoid the encounters.
"On a couple of times, I thought I was being sexually harassed. I think there is psychological evidence today that children, even in their younger years, could become interested in sex," Cooke told the judge, according to the Northwest Herald newspaper.
"He is not accepting responsibility for his actions. He could have gotten probation on this. But the judge said to give probation would deprecate the seriousness of the offence," said Sharyl Eisenstein, an assistant McHenry County state's attorney.
During the hour-long sentencing hearing, Cooke expressed remorse and said he was misrepresented and misunderstood, the Northwest Herald reported.
"I never touched that child in an inappropriate manner," Cooke said.
Cooke said he pleaded guilty because of his ailing health.
"My family felt I'd have a nervous breakdown or heart attack, so I had no other choice."
Cooke is being sent to Joliet Correctional Center in Illinois, the McHenry County Circuit Court clerk's office has confirmed.
Cooke faced seven years in prison for pleading guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under 13, said the clerk's office.
Now, with good behaviour, he would only have to serve half his sentence, or 18 months in prison.
Cooke molested the child while visiting the community of Lake in the Hills in June 2003. He reportedly met the child while one of his relatives was caring for her.
Calgary Herald

Priest accused of molesting young addicts

Priest accused of molesting young addicts
By Peter Popham in MilanSaturday, 29 December 2007
One of Italy's most colourful priests and the founder of a network of drug rehabilitation centres is expected to be charged with sexually molesting young recovering addicts at the headquarters of his organisation near Perugia in Umbria.
Monsignor Pierino Gelmini, 82, is a household name in Italy, a strong supporter of the political centre-right and a frequent guest on television chat shows. Politicians have warmly reciprocated his support, and in 2005, the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi famously handed over a cheque for 10 billion lire (equivalent to 1m) to the priest, known as Don Gelmini, on television for the charitable work of his organisation, Comunità Incontro.
Rarely mentioned during his television appearances is the fact that decades ago he was sent to jail for fraud, issuing dud cheques and other offences. And now another scandal appears to be beckoning.
The shadow of accusations of sexual abuse fell across Don Gelmini in the summer when it emerged that he was under investigation for allegedly exploiting some of the charges in his care. It was reported that one of them, Michele Iacobbe, now 34, had first filed a complaint against Don Gelmini in 2002. No action was taken, but he continued to complain about the priest's misbehaviour, which he said dated back to 1999.
Eight other former wards of the organisation added their voice to his, with great detail. Two of them were minors at the time the alleged abuse happened.
The main Italian newspapers reported yesterday that the preliminary judge in the case was on the verge of committing Don Gelmini for trial on a charge of sexual violence.
When the accusations were first made public, Don Gelmini responded angrily that he was a victim of "the Jewish-radical chic lobby". The Vatican has advised the priest to give up his role as head of the organisation only if he is sent for trial. But Silvio Berlusconi has again spoken up for him, and Maurizio Gasparri, a member of the right-wing National Alliance party and a minister in Mr Berlusconi's last government, said the priest's accusers were "very few and of scant credibility".
He was jailed Italy in 1971 after being sentenced to four years for fraud. But, according to an article in Il Messaggero at the time, he "often obliged the prison director to put him in solitary confinement to prevent 'promiscuity' with other inmates".
"These accusations will certainly not prevent me from continuing to embrace my boys," Don Gelmini said, "as I have done for the past 50 years."

Scout Leader in California Accused of Abuse

December 7, 2007
Scout Leader in California Accused of Abuse
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 6 — A scout leader who once sued the City of Berkeley for challenging a national Boy Scout ban on members who are gay or atheist has been arrested on felony charges that for at least five years he sexually abused young males in the troops he led.
Sgt. Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley police said the scout leader, Eugene A. Evans, 64, a retired high school teacher and for 35 years leader of the Berkeley Sea Scouts, was arrested at his home in nearby Kensington on Tuesday after investigators identified four youths, ages 13 to 17, who said they had been sexually abused by him.
Sergeant Kusmiss said the police began an investigation after a boy and his mother came to them with accusations on Nov. 14.
Mr. Evans is scheduled to appear in Alameda County Superior Court on Friday to enter a plea on 19 felony counts of sexual assault.
Mr. Evans’s lawyer, Philip Schnayerson, said Thursday that “hundreds” of former scouts and friends had called to voice support.
“There have been no complaints of improper or criminal behavior in any of the communities he has lived in,” Mr. Schnayerson said of his client.
Mr. Evans sued the city in his role as a leader of the Sea Scouts, an affiliate program of the Boy Scouts. The city, after providing free berthing for a Sea Scouts boat for 60 years, said in 1998 that a Boy Scout policy barring gay scouts and atheists violated Berkeley’s rules against discrimination. The city said the Scouts would have to leave the berth or pay $500 a month rent.
Mr. Evans sued for discrimination and for violating the Scouts’ First Amendment rights. The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of Berkeley.

Young man's suicide blamed on mother's cult

Young man's suicide blamed on mother's cult
Story Highlights
Ricky Rodriguez's mother is the leader of "The Family International"
Rodriguez said on tape that he planned to kill his mother
Rodriguez ended up killing his nanny, then killed himself
Witnesses say they saw Rodriguez having sex with his mother
By Randi KayeCNN
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The suicide of a young man and the murder he committed before he killed himself are being blamed on a cult led by his mother.
Also disturbing, former members who spoke to CNN say they witnessed Ricky Rodriguez having sex with his mother, Karen Zerby, the leader of the sect now known as "The Family International."
The sect's activities and history are detailed in a newly released book, "Jesus Freaks." The sect was founded in California in the 1960s by David Berg, who referred to himself as "Mo," short for Moses. Berg was a self-proclaimed prophet.
Former sect members tell CNN Berg encouraged adult-child sex. More often than not, they say, the chosen child was Rodriguez, the son of Karen Zerby, who Berg called his queen. Zerby became the leader of the sect when Berg died in 1994.
"Jesus Freaks" author Don Lattin says Berg "wanted his child to embrace sexuality, to be a sexual being as an infant and growing up."
Former members say Berg and Zerby wrote about their beliefs in papers distributed to members. It was Berg's how-to guide for raising sexual children. The Family International now says all "questionable publications were officially renounced and expunged between the late 1980s and early 1990s."
In Berg and Zerby's manifesto, Rodriguez was the main character.
Former member Davida Kelley told CNN, "I actually witnessed Karen Zerby having intercourse with her own son, Rick Rodriguez, at age 11." Kelley says she, too, had been abused by Berg, starting at age 5. "You were only required to have actual intimate intercourse with David Berg once you were, like, the mature age of, like, 12," she says sarcastically.
Berg was apparently so obsessed with sex he used it to expand his group around the world. Lattin says Berg sent women out to seduce men and lure them in to accept his gospel of Jesus. Lattin says Berg called the practice "Flirty Fishing."
CNN made several attempts to interview The Family International, but it refused. In a statement, the group acknowledged Berg taught sexual liberty without "instituting safeguards for the protection of minors." But it says that was corrected in 1986 and any infractions are an "excommunicable offense." The group also told CNN all of Davida Kelley's allegations are false and Zerby never abused her son.
Rodriguez, who escaped from "The Family International" in 2001, apparently was so deeply scarred that he was making plans to kill his mother. CNN has obtained a copy of a videotape he made two years ago, in which he warned, "She's gonna pay dearly, one way or the other," while brandishing a knife and loading guns at his kitchen table. Watch Kelley's troubling memories, Rodriguez's video »
Within hours of finishing the tape, in January 2005, Rodriguez tracked down his childhood nanny, Angela Smith. Former member Kelley says "she was one of the many female adults that had intercourse with Rick Rodriguez."
In his first bloody act of revenge, Rodriguez murdered his nanny. He cut her throat and left her body in his Arizona apartment. But he was still on the hunt for his mother. Lattin says Rodriguez felt the need to take justice into his own hands because "most of the abuse was, like, 20 years ago, so the statute of limitations had expired. Most of it happened outside the U.S., so it's very difficult to prosecute."
A spokesman for the group told CNN its "policy for the protection of minors was adopted in 1986. We regret that prior to the adoption of this policy, cases occurred where minors were exposed to sexually inappropriate behavior between 1978 and 1986."
Some of those exposed to the alleged abuse may have chosen suicide to escape the pain. A Web site set up by people who grew up as children in the cult says at least 30 of them have committed suicide, though CNN has no way of verifying that.
Rodriguez became a part of that group. He failed to find his mother, something his wife says he couldn't live with. Elixcia Munumel remembers their last phone call: "He's like 'Baby, I love you.' He said, 'Come die with me.' "
Rodriguez died alone at age 29 in January 2005 on a deserted road, four years after he fled the sect. A single shot to the head ended the misery he fought so hard to escape. His mother is still the leader of the family. She has not been charged with a crime and lives in seclusion.

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Boy who refused treatment on religious grounds dies

Boy who refused treatment on religious grounds dies
Story Highlights
Dennis Lindberg, 14, was a Jehovah's Witness and a leukemia patient
A judge denied a request to force the boy to have a blood transfusion
Judge: Boy knew "he's basically giving himself a death sentence"
Boy's birth parents believed their son should have had the transfusion

‘These are the voices that need to be heard’

‘These are the voices that need to be heard’
Sorry. Elizabeth McWilliams is sick of the word. She said it when she was lied to. She said it when she was beaten. She said it when she was raped aged nine. Now she thinks it's time somebody else apologised.
Ms McWilliams was one of the children - their number simply unknown - who were physically, sexually and emotionally tortured in Scottish care homes. And then told they had only themselves to blame.
Yesterday she sat through the first independent report into Scotland's "national shame", a half-century of abused youngsters whose cries for help were ignored.
"I hope society can now accept this once and for all," Ms McWilliams, 70, told the report's author Tom Shaw. "I hope I am going to get an apology."
The Shaw report - officially titled Historical Abuse Systemic Review - was not the full-fledged public inquiry Ms McWilliams and hundreds of fellow campaigners had wanted. It was certainly not an apology. But it remains the biggest public acknowledgement of children's suffering to date.
Mr Shaw, a former teacher and schools inspector from Northern Ireland, named no names. Nor did he hazard a guess at the scale of the abuse in the period he covered, 1950 to 1995. Instead he gave voice to the unheard. A whole chapter of his report was devoted to the words, anonymous but strong, of those who survived abuse.
One of those voices was Ms McWilliams. For around 16 years, from 1939 to 1954, she lived - and suffered - in the Quarriers Village in Bridge of Weir, a Christian community of cottages, each with their own mother and father, that was supposed to replace the horrors of mass orphanages.
The cottage parents, however, expected some gratitude from Ms McWilliams, then little Elizabeth Miller, and her fellow residents. Their story is typical of those abused, but always made to feel guilty on behalf of their abusers.
"All my life I kept apologising," she said last night. "Please, please, please, I am so sorry, I would say. That's why I don't like the word.
"I had such low esteem. We were children but we were told we were worthless good-for-nothings."
Ms McWilliams came to Quarriers at one. She arrived with a twin brother, but was separated from him. "He was put in Cottage nine, for the boys. I was in Cottage 11."
She only learned that the boy, Archie, was her brother when they were, she thinks, about 12. "A teacher let it slip," she said. "But we were still not allowed to talk.
"It was a really religious place. The boys and girls went to church together, but the boys came in one door and the girls another. I never got to know my brother. We have no relationship."
She can't be exactly sure that she found out about her brother when she was 12. Age was always tricky. "We never knew our birthdays," she explained. "We only knew our age by the jobs we were doing. When I was five I was the bedroom girl. When I was 15 I was the kitchen girl."
They could count on Christmas, of course, but not on Christmas gifts. "I wanted Fair Isle gloves," she said. "One year I asked for them. You would say what you wanted and you would get a slap. Think again,' I was told. A bible would suit you.' Next year I got a hymn book. I couldn't read. I was blind in one eye but only got glasses when I was eight and a half."
When she was nine - or thereabouts - she was raped by the man Quarriers called her house father. "He took his chance," she said matter-of-factly.
Some children complained of abuse. That had consequences. "Boys," she said. "Well, they were hung up on door hangers and their penises tied to doorhandles." Her worst abuse? "Having no identity," she said yesterday. "To be told, wrongly, you were an orphan. To be lied to as a child, not even being able to dream about belonging to anybody. I don't belong to anybody or any place. It's a terrible feeling."
Quarriers was just one of many institutions where children were abused. Nobody knows the scale. Records are lost - "scattered", said Mr Shaw. No-one even knows for sure how many institutions there were from the 1950s to 1990s that looked after children, many the orphans of the men and women who fought for Britain in the war.
David Whelan, however, believes Quarriers is a special case, deserving a study, a public inquiry, in its own right, such was the horror of its regime. He said: "It was not a care ethos. It was an abuse ethos."
Mr Whelan was at the Bridge of Weir village from 1969 to 1974, between the ages of 10 and 15. He kept silent about the abuse he suffered, until he was asked, by the wife of a man under investigation for child abuse, to serve as a character witness.
He refused and instead turned witness for the prosecution, helping to secure the conviction of John Porteous, who was jailed for eight years, later reduced to five on appeal, for sexually abusing Mr Whelan, now 50, and others.
Mr Shaw, from the outset of his report, had warned of the dangers of applying 21st century morals to historic abuse. Mr Whelan, however, has little time for such niceties. The abuse that took place, after all, would have been illegal at the time. "We should not make excuses for the past," he said.
Helen Holland agrees. Now 49, she was sent to Nazareth House in Kilmarnock, a children's home run by nuns, when she was five. "My grandmother had died and my father was told, by our parish priest, that it was not decent for me and my sisters to live in a house with three men.
"The three men were my dad, my uncle and my grandfather. Ironic, really, at Nazareth House I was raped by a priest."
Two days after Ms Holland was brought to the home she was beaten to a pulp by a nun after being found, lonely and frightened, snuggling up to her big sister in a single bed. "She called me a brazen hussie," Ms Holland said.
Later, when Ms Holland was eight, a nun pulled a hood over her head to help a priest rape her. The sexual abuse went on for three years until, aged 11, she fell pregnant. The same nun kicked her in the stomach until she miscarried.
Scotland, Mr Shaw announced, should have a national task force, answerable to parliament and not the executive, whose sole job should be to listen to children, young and old, in whoever's care they are in, church or state.
"I am deeply concerned about the possibility of people who were not listened to as children not being listened to as adults," Mr Shaw said yesterday, calling for a centre for historic abuse, a one-stop shop where stories - and records - could be collected, lest anyone forget.
Why? Because, Mr Shaw said, there are still children who are "out of sight and out of mind".
12:47am Friday 23rd November 2007


(ANSA) - Siracusa, November 15 - A priest has been found guilty of downloading child pornography from the Internet in the first conviction to result from a major probe by prosecutors in this Sicilian city.A court here handed Father Rigger Hansjorg, dean of a theological college in the northern city of Bressanone, an 18-month suspended prison sentence and 2,000-euro fine.On the request of the prosecution, the court also ordered that the professor's computer be sold and the pornograhic images found in his home be destroyed.Father Hansjorg was one of 186 people all over the country who were investigated by Siracusa prosecutors in 2005 after internet experts found them to be holders of passwords for a hardcore child pornography site.The site contained films of sexual abuse involving girls aged between four and eight.Telefono Arcobaleno, an organisation which campaigns against child abuse of all types, called for Father Hansjorg to be thrown out of the priesthood.The organisation, which was a civil plaintiff in the trial, noted that in Italy it is a crime to pay for access to websites hosting images of child pornography.

African Crucible: Cast as Witches, Then Cast Out

November 15, 2007
African Crucible: Cast as Witches, Then Cast Out
UIGE, Angola — Domingos Pedro was only 12 years old when his father died. The passing was sudden; the cause was a mystery to doctors. But not to Domingos’s relatives.
They gathered that afternoon in Domingos’s mud-clay house, he said, seized him and bound his legs with rope. They tossed the rope over the house’s rafters and hoisted him up until he was suspended headfirst over the hard dirt floor. Then they told him they would cut the rope if he did not confess to murdering his father.
“They were yelling, ‘Witch! Witch!’” Domingos recalled, tears rolling down his face. “There were so many people all shouting at me at the same time.”
Terrified, Domingos told them what they wanted to hear, but his relatives were not appeased. Ferraz Bulio, the neighborhood’s traditional leader, said seven or eight captors were dragging Domingos down a dirt path to the river, apparently to drown him, when he intervened.
“They were slapping him and punching him,” he said. “This is the way people react toward someone accused of witchcraft. There are lots of such cases.”
Mr. Bulio is right. In parts of Angola, Congo and the Congo Republic, a surprising number of children are accused of being witches, and then are beaten, abused or abandoned. Child advocates estimate that thousands of children living in the streets of Kinshasa, Congo’s capital, have been accused of witchcraft and cast out by their families, often as a rationale for not having to feed or care for them.
The officials in one northern Angolan town identified 432 street children who had been abandoned or abused after being called witches. A report last year by the government’s National Institute for the Child and the United Nations Children’s Fund described the number of children said to be witches as “massive.”
The notion of child witches is not new here. It is a common belief in Angola’s dominant Bantu culture that witches can communicate with the world of the dead and usurp or “eat” the life force of others, bringing their victims misfortune, illness and death. Adult witches are said to bewitch children by giving them food, then forcing them to reciprocate by sacrificing a family member.
But officials attribute the surge in persecutions of children to war — 27 years in Angola, ending in 2002, and near constant strife in Congo. The conflicts orphaned many children, while leaving other families intact but too destitute to feed themselves.
“The witches situation started when fathers became unable to care for the children,” said Ana Silva, who is in charge of child protection for the children’s institute. “So they started seeking any justification to expel them from the family.”
Since then, she said, the phenomenon has followed poor migrants from the northern Angolan provinces of Uige and Zaire to the slums of the capital, Luanda.
Two recent cases horrified officials there. In June, Ms. Silva said, a Luanda mother blinded her 14-year-old daughter with bleach to try to rid her of evil visions. In August, a father injected battery acid into his 12-year-old son’s stomach because he feared the boy was a witch, she said.
Angola’s government has campaigned since 2000 to dispel notions about child witches, Ms. Silva said, but progress comes slowly. “We cannot change the belief that witches exist,” she said. “Even the professional workers believe that witches exist.”
Instead, her institute is trying to teach authority figures — police officers, teachers, religious leaders — that violence against children is never justified.
The Angolan city of Mbanza Congo, just 50 miles from the border with Congo, has blazed a trail. After a child accused of witchcraft was stabbed to death in 2000, provincial officials and Save the Children, the global charitable organization, rounded up 432 street children and reunited 380 of them with relatives, the witchcraft report stated.
Eleven fundamentalist churches were shut down because of reports of child exploitation and abuse. Eight Congolese pastors were deported. Villages formed committees to monitor children’s rights. The authorities say the number of children who are abused or living on the streets dropped drastically.
Uige, about 100 miles to the south of Mbanza Congo, is another story. Surrounded by lush green hills, it is a cluster of mud-clay settlements around crumbling shops pockmarked by bullet holes. In this region, said Bishop Emilio Sumbelelo of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, persecution of children is rising.
“It is very, very, very common in the villages,” he said. “We know that some children have been killed.”
His church runs the town’s only sanctuary for children victimized as witches, a shelter barely bigger than a three-car garage. Thirty-two boys, including Domingos, occupy bunk beds stacked a foot apart, their few clothes stashed in boxes underneath. No shelter exists for girls.
Since July, all newcomers have been turned away. “Children come here to ask for protection, but we have no space,” the bishop said. “To date, we have not found any special way to fight against this phenomenon.”
Many boys describe pasts of abuse, rejection and fear. Saldanha David Gomes, 18, who lived with his aunt until he was 12, said she turned on him after her 3-year-old daughter fell ill and died.
After, he said, his aunt refused to feed him and bound his hands and feet each night, fearing that he would take another victim.
A neighbor finally warned him to flee. “I am not a witch, and I was not a witch,” Saldanha said. “But I had to run away because they were threatening to kill me.”
Afonso García, 6, took the shelter’s last empty cot in July. “I came here on my own because my father doesn’t like me and I was not eating every day,” he said matter-of-factly.
After Afonso’s mother died three years ago, he moved in with his father. His stepmother, Antoinette Eduardo, said she began to suspect that he was a witch after neighborhood children reported that he had eaten a razor. Besides that, she said, “he was getting thinner and thinner, even though he was eating well.”
Under questioning, she said, Afonso admitted that a male relative had visited him in his dreams, demanding that he kill a family member. Afonso denies ever confessing to witchcraft.
What unfolded next is typical of many cases here. Afonso’s relatives turned to a traditional healer for a cure.
The healer, João Ginga, 30, wears a fur-collared leather jacket and works out of what he calls a hospital — a cramped mud-walled room. “If someone has a bad spirit, I can tell,” he said one recent morning as clients waited on a bench. “We treat more than a thousand cases a year.”
With such a busy trade, Mr. Ginga said, he could not remember Afonso’s case. Afonso’s aunt, Isabella Armando, said her family gave Mr. Ginga $270 in cash, candles, perfume and baby powder to treat Alfonso.
Mr. Ginga performed some rituals, put a substance in Afonso’s eyes that made him sob in pain and pronounced him cured, she said. But Afonso’s father and stepmother, the only relatives who could afford to care for him, did not agree, and expelled him from their household.
“I pitied him, and I still pity him because he was living in the streets,” the stepmother explained. “But we were afraid.”
Mr. Ginga is hardly the only healer here who claims to cure child witches. Sivi Munzemba said she exorcised possessed children by inserting a poultice of plants into their anuses, shaving their heads and sequestering them for two weeks in her house.
Moises Samuel, director of the provincial office of the children’s institute, said he was concerned not only about traditional healers but also about a bevy of churches with soothsayers who claimed to exorcise evil spirits and drew crowds even on weekdays.
Once a soothsayer or healer brands a child a witch, child welfare specialists say, even the police often back away.
Officers kept Domingos, the boy who was suspended from a rafter, for one night at the station house, then sent him home, said Mr. Bulio, the settlement’s traditional leader. They never investigated Domingos’s uncle, who Mr. Bulio said led the attack.
“Of course it was a crime,” Mr. Bulio said. “But because it is witchcraft, the police do not take any responsibility.”
Domingos, now 15, insisted that he said he was a witch only to save his life. But even his 32-year-old mother, Maria Pedro, disbelieves him.
Ms. Pedro is obviously fond of Domingos, her oldest child. She beams over his academic progress and worries about further attacks by his relatives, should he leave the shelter.
Still, she said, she suspects that he was bewitched into murder. “It must be true because he himself confessed,” she said, eyeing Domingos carefully across a table in her two-bedroom house.
At that, Domingos stood up and walked swiftly from the house. Ten minutes later, he reappeared in the doorway, his face red and splotchy. “Mother, from this day on, I am no longer your son,” he declared fiercely.
Ms. Pedro wordlessly watched him go. “I just don’t know why Domingos got so angry,” she said later.

Priest jailed over boy sex abuse

Priest jailed over boy sex abuse A former Catholic parish priest has been jailed for 16 years for a string of sex attacks on two young brothers.
Retired Father Dermot Keaveney, from Hindhead, Surrey, was convicted of 15 offences against the boys in a trial last month at Lewes Crown Court.
Keaveney, 72, was serving at churches in Brighton and Hove when the offences happened between 1975 and 1982.
Judge Paul Tain said the "quite appalling breach of trust" had profound lifelong effects on his victims.
'Church and family betrayed'
He said that one victim had not married or had children, and had also been to prison, as he struggled to cope psychologically with having been abused as a child.
And the judge said Keaveney had betrayed the family, the church and the wider Catholic community.
He had also given no thought to the emotional and physical damage of his actions.
Judge Tain said he hoped the sentence would show the community and victims the courts were "prepared to put in place a protective message".
I am appalled and saddened Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton
The boys were aged between 11 and 15 at the time, the jury heard.
Keaveney, of Beacon Hill, targeted them by taking advantage of their deeply religious family who had placed their faith in him, the court was told.
Jurors heard he gave the boys treats, and took them on day trips and holidays, before sexually abusing them. He asked them not to tell anyone.
Keaveney had denied the allegations, insisting he had given support to the boys and their family.
He was banned from serving in any educational role with children.
'Shocking and horrific'
After the hearing, Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said: "I am appalled and saddened that a man who people entrusted to his care did not live up to the high standard we expect of a priest.
"I apologise most sincerely to the victims and to everyone else who has been affected by this shocking and horrific case."
He added that the Catholic church now had a "strict child protection policy" under which victims were encouraged to come forward.
And he said the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton had "co-operated fully" with the police investigation, and Keaveney, already retired, was suspended from "any form of ministry" as soon as matters came to light.
Det Con Darren Grimes said: "Our determination to bring this case to justice, despite the passage of time, is reflected in today's sentencing.
"We hope that now the brothers and their immediate families can start to rebuild their lives."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Catholic Nun, 79, Pleads No Contest to Sex With Boys 40 Years Ago

Catholic Nun, 79, Pleads No Contest to Sex With Boys 40 Years AgoMonday, November 12, 2007MILWAUKEE — A 79-year-old Roman Catholic nun pleaded no contest Monday to two counts of indecent behavior with a child for alleged sexual encounters with two male students at a church convent and school where she was principal during the 1960s.The nun, Norma Giannini, and her attorney left the courthouse without comment after entering the pleas in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.Giannini faces a maximum 10 years on each count when sentenced Feb. 1.According to the criminal complaint, the two men told authorities they had dozens of sexual encounters with Giannini, including intercourse, while attending St. Patrick's School.One man said the nun told him in 1965, when he was 13, to open the buttons of her habit, but he was shaking so badly he could not do so. He said she then unbuttoned her clothing and had him touch her breasts, the complaint said.The first incident was followed by 60 to 80 others, including two involving sexual intercourse, it said.The other man said he had sexual contact with the nun more than 100 times, beginning when he was in seventh grade. At least one incident involved sexual intercourse, the complaint said.Giannini went on to work in Illinois from 1970 to 1994.Sister Betty Smith, regional president for the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, has said the nun received extensive counseling at a St. Louis treatment facility after the order "learned of the situation" during the 1990s.Giannini, listed in online court records as living in Oak Lawn, Ill., has been closely monitored and separated from minors since then, Smith said. The nun has been retired from active work for five years because of failing health, she said.

The mystery of 'miracle babies'

The mystery of 'miracle babies'
By Caroline Mallan BBC News
A UK court has ordered evangelical preacher Gilbert Deya back to Kenya to face five counts of child stealing.
The self-proclaimed bishop of a congregation with 36,000 UK members claimed he could give infertile couples 'miracle babies'
The children's true parentage remains unknown.
It is also unclear how Mr Deya and his wife convinced churchgoers that they were pregnant when they were not and how they believed that they had given birth in backstreet Kenyan clinics.
Kenyan police say Gilbert Deya Ministries is an international child trafficking ring.
A British family court judge agreed, saying infertile couples and congregation members were "deceived" by Mr Deya and that he was motivated by "the most base of human avarices: financial greed".
Mr Deya regards the children as miracles given to him by God for his followers.
"The 'miracle babies' which are happening now in our ministry is beyond a human imagination but it's not something that I can say - I can explain because they are of God and things of God cannot be explained by human beings," he told BBC Radio 4's Face the Facts programme in 2004.
Please send your donation and expect your miracle Gilbert Deya Ministries 2004 advert
He denies all charges and plans to appeal against extradition, saying he is the victim of a Kenyan political vendetta.
Kenya sought Mr Deya's return in 2005 after his wife, Mary Deya, and two other women were arrested in Nairobi on child stealing charges.
That followed a raid on the Deya home when 10 children were taken into care.
Mr Deya told British police he was the children's natural father and his 57-year-old wife was their mother - DNA tests proved negative and forged birth certificates were found in his home.
The three women were found guilty and Mr Deya's wife has been sentenced to two years in prison - she is appealing against this.
British and Kenyan officials say vulnerable church members were convinced that Mr Deya had the power of prayer to make them pregnant although they showed no outward signs.
They say he used trickery to convince women they had delivered babies.
A former stonemason who moved to London from Kenya in the mid-90s, Mr Deya developed 14 churches in Britain along with African and Asian branches.
His blend of charismatic, performance-style preaching and promises of miracle cures proved enticing and raised large sums of money.
A ministeries advertisement said: "God has blessed us with miracle babies that the world has never seen anything like before. Your donation is very useful to your miracle.
"Please send your donation and expect your miracle. Ten pounds, a hundred pounds, a thousand pounds - make cheques payable to Gilbert Deya Ministry".
Desperate women, some past the menopause and others who were infertile, were convinced that being prayed for by Mr Deya and travelling to Kenya would result in a child.
Once there, they were convinced by Mrs Deya and others that they were in labour and taken to illegal clinics where they underwent what they believed to be childbirth.
In a related case heard in a London family court, a baby was removed from a couple who belonged to Deya Ministries after their local GP alerted authorities when the woman tried to register him. The woman had not been pregnant and returned from a brief stay in Kenya with the child.
Some believe in the power of witchcraft and those who are Christian believe in the power of God Millie Odhiambo-Mabona, The Cradle children's charity
Mr Justice Ryder granted custody of the child to Haringey Council and publicly rebuked the church's practices.
"The funds of his ministry have been generated at least in part by the tithes collected from a congregation that, on the facts I have found, have been deceived by the claims that have been made about Mr and Mrs E's miracle births," Mr Justice Ryder said, referring to the couple in that case.
Mr Deya's extradition hearing was told that the women who believed they had given birth had been assaulted in illegal clinics in Nairobi slums.
Kenyan police believe this explains unclear recollections about their 'birth' experience.
Millie Odhiambo-Mabona, executive director of The Cradle, a Kenyan children's rights charity, said no-one is sure where the 'miracle babies' came from.
None of the children taken from the Deya house have been identified.
She believes the women who became convinced they had given birth were simply devout, not wilfully naive.
"Some believe in the power of witchcraft and those who are Christian believe in the power of God," said Mrs Odhiambo-Mabona of the intense level of spirituality in some African countries, including Kenya and Nigeria.
"They believe Bishop Deya is a serious man of God so if he prays for them and then they have babies for them it is a religious reality."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Monk jailed for schoolboys abuse

Monk jailed for schoolboys abuse An 80-year-old monk has been sent to prison for 15 months for sexually abusing boys at a Roman Catholic school more than 30 years ago.
Ordained priest William Manahan pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court to eight charges of sexually assaulting pupils.
The offences happened at Buckfast Abbey Preparatory School in Devon between 1971 and 1978. The school later closed.
Judge John Neligan said the victims had been groomed and were "too young, innocent and bewildered to complain".
The offences only came to light in 2006. The victims were aged between eight and 13 when the assaults took place.
The court heard Manahan entered the Benedictine monastic order in 1945 and had been ordained as a Catholic priest in 1952.
I am satisfied there was an element of grooming and favouritism among some of the boys you selected Judge John Neligan
He was elected Father Prior at the abbey from 1968 to 1976 and again in 2003 but resigned the post when he was arrested.
Prosecutor Ian Fenney said Manahan taught Latin, maths, English and religious instruction at the school and was connected with it until it closed in 1994.
The court heard Manahan, known as Father Philip, had touched the boys under cover of his desk during classes, while watching television with them in the school's boarding houses and when giving them piggy-back rides.
In sentencing, Judge Neligan said: "I am satisfied there was an element of grooming and favouritism among some of the boys you selected by giving them sweets and treats."
The judge said it was impossible to calculate the "emotional harm" that had been done.
He said: "The message must go out that those in a position of trust in schools must expect to go to prison if they prey sexually on children in their care."
Pupils questioned
An investigation began in 2004 into sexual impropriety against one of the monks at the abbey, Paul Couch.
Couch, of Wyndham Street West, Plymouth, was convicted in August of two serious sexual offences and 11 indecent sexual assaults against boys at the school and was jailed for 10 years and nine months.
The offences came to light when a former pupil alleged that Couch had systematically abused him.
The court heard that during the investigation, 700 questionnaires were sent out to former pupils of the school and disclosed sexual abuse by two of the monks.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman thanked the victims for their co-operation "in disclosing uncomfortable and traumatic experiences".
In a statement following the court case, Buckfast Abbey said: "We all have been surprised, shocked and saddened to learn that these offences were committed and our prayers go out to all those affected and their families.
"We have received many communications from a great number of former pupils stating that their times at Buckfast were happy and fulfilling and it is hoped that these findings will not tarnish those cherished memories."
The abbey said the relevant authorities in the Church would now review Manahan's position.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/11/08 15:00:37 GMT

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Church abuse case review outlined

Church abuse case review outlined Thousands of files will be examined in an independent review checking for past cases of sex abuse involving clergy, the Church of England has announced.
It follows consultation with agencies including the NSPCC on how best to investigate historic abuse cases.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has acknowledged that mistakes have been made in responding to abuse claims.
A spokesman said the Church was undertaking the review for "the care, protection and nurture of children".
Because records are not held centrally, each diocesan bishop will appoint an independent reviewer to review of files on clergy and other employees.
A "thorough and consistent" approach was being taken, the spokesman added.
Dr Rowan Williams previously told the BBC the church had "let people down in various ways over a long period" but now had policies to avoid its earlier "very inadequate" responses.
The review will include priests who have retired to their diocese as well as other church employees.
Abuse cases
The review of files comes after recent court cases into sexual abuse by a priest and a choirmaster with some incidents taking place after senior bishops and other clergy had been warned of the risk.
The Reverend David Smith, 52, of Clevedon, Somerset, was jailed for five and a half years in May for grooming and then molesting six vulnerable youngsters over a period of almost 30 years.
It emerged that concerns had been raised with the Church of England about the vicar, firstly in 1983 and then again in 2001.
And former choirmaster Peter Halliday, 61, from Farnborough, Hants, was jailed for two and a half years for sexually abusing boys in the late 1980s, amid claims the Church had covered up his crimes.
The Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS), an independent charity providing advice and support in child protection, said it welcomed the Church of England's announcement.
Executive director David Pearson said: "We welcome the developments and that the plans are going ahead to ensure an independent review is carried out in each diocese."
Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2007/10/26 08:34:40 GMT

C of E child abuse was ignored for decades

C of E child abuse was ignored for decades
By Jonathan Wynne-JonesLast Updated: 2:50AM BST 22 Oct 2007
Child abuse has gone unchecked in the Church of England for decades amid a cover up by bishops, secret papers have revealed.
Telegraph TV: Church child abuse 'unchecked'
Information that could have prevented abuse has been "lost or damaged", concerns about individuals have been ignored and allegations have not been recorded. It means that the Church has no idea how many paedophiles are in its midst.
Lawyers warned last night that the Church faces a crisis as catastrophic as the one that engulfed the Roman Catholic Church and cost it millions of pounds in damages.
Richard Scorer, a solicitor who has specialised in child abuse cases, said that the Church of England's mistakes amounted to "an appalling, shocking level of negligence" that is likely to leave it open to claims from victims who have been too afraid to speak out in the past. The Church is to launch an urgent investigation on an unprecedented scale.
It will look at the records of thousands of clergy – including those who have retired – church employees, lay workers and volunteers dating back decades in an attempt to expose those who have previously escaped prosecution and identify those who pose "current risks".
Dioceses will appoint independent reviewers with access to all of their personnel files. These are due to be examined over an 18-month period.
However, the internal Church documents – leaked to The Sunday Telegraph – show that even if churchwardens, who are lay officials, are found to have previous allegations against them, the Church has no power to suspend them.
Bishops have called for the review following two high-profile cases last spring. One of the documents, compiled by the Church's Central Safeguarding Liaison Group, concedes that "most serious concerns will have been known by the senior staff at the time".
The Church has been guilty of systemic failures on a large scale, according to the document. "Some records may have been lost or damaged," it says, adding that warnings from psychologists might also have been ignored.
The liaison group was asked to draw up a review policy by the House of Bishops, which discussed the plans at its meeting earlier this month.
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was at the meeting, has backed the need for a comprehensive review following the two child abuse cases.
"Every parish has got to have a child protection policy and it needs to work properly," he said.
The liaison group is chaired by the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, the Bishop of Hereford, and includes the Rev Pearl Luxon, the Church's child protection adviser, as well as other clergy with experience in legal, social and probation work.
The bishops agree that "there may well be gaps in the Church's collective memory" that have allowed sex offenders to go unpunished. A confidential letter to be sent out as part of the review, says: "What has emerged is that had proper risk assessments been carried out in the light of concerns that may first have come to light about particular individuals many years ago, subsequent instances of child abuse might possibly have been prevented…
"It is clear that some incidents were dealt with in a way that meant that the ongoing risk posed by the individual was not fully assessed and contained."
The review has been welcomed by one victim. He said he had confided in a bishop – now retired – that he had been abused by a serving vicar, but that no action had been taken against the vicar.
"The Church has persuaded people in the past that they don't have to take it further," he said. "There has been a long-standing tendency to just sweep things under the carpet and cover things up and just move priests on."
While the Catholic Church has been hit by dozens of sex abuse cases, the Church of England had been relatively unaffected until spring this year. But in May, the Rev David Smith, 52, of Clevedon, Somerset, was jailed for 5½ years for sexually abusing six boys over a 30-year period.
Concerns had been raised about him in 1983, and again in 2001. The complainants were assured that the matter had been "dealt with".
In April, Peter Halliday, 61, a choirmaster from Farnborough, Hampshire, was jailed for 30 months after admitting abusing boys in his church choir in the 1980s.
It emerged that leading clerics had been told of his behaviour 17 years earlier, but he had been allowed to leave the Church quietly.
A spokesman for the Church said: "We would hope that in the majority of cases things have been dealt with, but we are realistic enough to admit that mistakes have been made and there may still be some risk attached to those cases."

Ex-Monk Fails To Have Torture Conviction Overturned

Ex-Monk Fails To Have Torture Conviction Overturned
Oct 10 2007
A FORMER monk jailed for torturing schoolboys with electric shocks failed to have his conviction thrown out yesterday.
But twisted Michael Murphy, 74 - previously known as Brother Benedict - remained free pending a further appeal against his two-year sentence.
It was imposed in 2003 but he was released to await his appeal after just nine days.
The charges arose from when he was a member of staff at St Ninian's List D school in Stirlingshire in the 1960s. Pupils said he had fed them vomit and whipped him with knotted bootlaces.
Two of three judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh yesterday ruled the convictions for 10 assaults on nine boys should stand.

New Sex Abuse Settlement Renews Scandal for Orange County Roman Catholic Diocese

New Sex Abuse Settlement Renews Scandal for Orange County Roman Catholic Diocese
Monday , October 08, 2007
SANTA ANA, Calif. — Bishop Tod D. Brown was lauded three years ago for quickly handling Orange County's share of the nationwide church abuse scandal, reaching settlements totaling $100 million for some 90 victims.
But a source of nearly a fifth of those cases — two prestigious parochial high schools — continues to haunt the diocese and has now exposed Brown to old allegations of child abuse and the possibility of being held in contempt of court this week.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange settled four more lawsuits Friday for just shy of $7 million. Three were filed by former students at Mater Dei and Santa Margarita high schools who said lay teachers sexually abused them.
In a deposition in one of the lawsuits, Brown acknowledged being accused of abusing a young boy more than 40 years ago when he was a priest in Bakersfield. He said the accusation, reported in 1997, is false, but police said they can find no indication it was ever investigated.
Despite the settlement, Brown still faces a hearing Tuesday to determine whether he should be held in contempt of court for sending Msgr. John Urell to Canada for psychological treatment before he could complete a deposition.
Urell, who was responsible for handling sexual abuse allegations against the diocese, became distraught during a deposition in the case of a 27-year-old woman who said an assistant basketball coach had sex with her multiple times when she was a 16-year-old student at Mater Dei.
Brown told The Associated Press that he did not violate a court order and considers the hearing an assault on his good character.
"My only concern was for Msgr. Urell, who needed immediate attention," Brown said.
Plaintiffs' lawyers say the case involving the coach, Jeff Andrade, shows why the two schools have been a perennial problem: Warning signs were ignored and the abuse was allowed to continue.
Another teacher allegedly intercepted a note that discussed the sexual relationship between Andrade and his accuser, Christina Ruiz, but officials did nothing after interviewing Ruiz, her best friend and Andrade, she said. Andrade later admitted to the relationship in his deposition.
"They made me believe that no one would believe me, they made me believe that it was my fault. They told me that I was the one who seduced him," Ruiz said.
Another plaintiff, now a 31-year-old woman, said Monday that when she told her guidance counselor about a sexual relationship she was having with her teacher, he told her she was a "big girl" and didn't take action.
Mater Dei, widely known for its athletics program that counts Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart among its alumni, is responsible for about 15 percent of the cases the diocese has settled since 2001. Another half-dozen cases stem from Santa Margarita, which opened in 1987.
The accused at Mater Dei include a principal, a vice principal, a guidance counselor, a track coach and two choir directors.
"Any girl that came forward at Mater Dei and said that she was engaged in a sexual relationship with a teacher was regarded as a whore, a harlot, a seductress," said John Manly, the plaintiffs' attorney. "It's the 'she-wanted-it' defense."
Sarah Gray, a recent plaintiff who says she was abused about a decade ago, said some of her friends shunned her after she made her claims. She still gets angry calls and e-mails from some former classmates, said Gray, who graduated as valedictorian and went on to Notre Dame.
"This Mater Dei family and the motto 'Honor, Glory, Love' — nobody bought it like I did," said Gray, now 26. "I gave this whole speech about it and it turned out not to be true at all."
Brown insists the schools' records are no different from any other school, Catholic or secular. He said both schools are now monitored for sexual abuse by an independent organization and both received high marks at recent annual reviews.
"I'm sorry it happened in those two schools, it should not have happened there," he said. "But statistically they are not worse than anybody else."
Manly, however, says top management at the schools allowed a permissive atmosphere to flourish.
He points to former principal Msgr. Michael A. Harris, who has been accused of molesting 10 students from both schools from 1976 to 1994. The church has paid at least $30 million to settle claims against Harris, 60, who has never been criminally charged and has denied the allegations in the past. He is no longer with the church.,3566,300284,00.html

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bible-basher Beat Children With Leather Belt

Bible-basher Beat Children With Leather Belt
Oct 9 2007 By Janice Burns
Exclusive Church Official Beat Girls Aged 9 And 13 With Belt
A WEE Free church official has admitted beating two children with a leather belt.
Bible - basher Sylvia Fleming - known as The Wicked Witch of the Wee Frees - regularly hit the girls, aged nine and 13.
The 54-year-old, from Skye, pleaded guilty to child abuse charges yesterday.
Roger Webb, defending, told Portree Sheriff Court: "She is a deeply religious person.
"She had taken a fairly biblical interpretation of chastisement but she went beyond the bounds of reasonable punishment to assault."
The offences took place between June 2006 and April this year.
Sheriff Aladair MacFadyen warned Fleming not to break the law again and ordered her to return in six months for sentencing.
Fleming and her husband James, who hold official roles within the Free Presbyterian Church on Skye, were both accused of attacking children.
James, 56, a church officer and a gardener at Dunvegan Castle on the island, was originally charged with striking a 13-year-old girl on the face.
But his not guilty plea was accepted by the court.
Yesterday, locals revealed that Fleming, who keeps the books for the Vatten and Glendale Free Church, had tried to cover up her crime.
One local said: "She has been telling everyone that she has been victimised for giving the children a row.
"She said it is awful these days that one cannot even chastise a child without being hauled into court. She said it has all been a terrible misunderstanding.
"No one believed her fairy story anyway and we all knew it was a pack of lies to cover up for what she has done.
"She's got a cheek to preach to everyone else about the moral high ground.
"Many of the locals don't like her and she is nicknamed 'The Wicked Witch of the Wee Frees' which sounds about right to me."
Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Rev Dr James R Tallach, said he knew nothing about the conviction.
And he vowed to take the case to the Kirk Session, who would take "appropriate action" against her.
He said: "This is the first time I have heard of this.
"I would never have dreamed that she would do anything like that. I am the moderator for that area and a friend of the family.
"Our beliefs are that we would normally chastise children who required it but it would be an expression of love and attachment, not of violence or temper.
"There is no way I would condone belting a child." Fleming refused to comment last night.
The same church was at the centre of another scandal just a few months ago when a jilted husband attacked his love rival at the altar.
Raging Allan Rawstron, 60, put Free Church choirmaster Archie Campbell in a headlock and punched him in the face during a service at the church.