Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pope laments Canada school abuse

Pope laments Canada school abuse
Pope Benedict XVI has expressed his sorrow that generations of aboriginal children were abused at some Catholic boarding schools in Canada.
The Pope was speaking after a private meeting at the Vatican with an aboriginal leader and Canadian bishops.
From the late 19th Century until the 1970s, some 150,000 children were forcibly sent to church-run schools in an effort to assimilate them.
Many of the children suffered physical and sexual abuse.
Pope Benedict held a private meeting on Wednesday with Phil Fontaine, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Catholic representatives from Canada.
“ The Holy Father expressed his sorrow at the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church ” Vatican statement
Speaking afterwards, Mr Fontaine, himself a former pupil at one of the schools, said he was moved to hear the Pope says how sorry he was "that we were forced into this tragic situation".
"I sensed his anguish and pain. He acknowledged our suffering and that is important to me and that is what I was looking for," Mr Fontaine said.
A Vatican statement issued after the meeting said: "Given the suffering that some indigenous children experienced in the Canadian residential school system, the Holy Father expressed his sorrow at the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church and he offered his sympathy and prayerful solidarity.
"His Holiness emphasised that acts of abuse cannot be tolerated in society," it said.
Forcibly enrolled
The residential schools operated from the late 19th Century until the 1990s, although most of them shut in the 1970s.
Native Indian children were taken from their families and forcibly enrolled in the institutions, which were run by Christian churches on behalf of the government which pursued a policy of assimilation.
The federal government acknowledged 11 years ago that physical and sexual abuse in the schools was rampant.
Many schoolchildren recall being beaten for speaking their languages, and losing touch with their parents and culture.
The legacy of the system has been cited by aboriginals as the root cause of epidemic rates of alcoholism and drug addiction among their people.
In April 2008, the Canadian government issued a formal apology, which formed part of a compensation agreement between the government, churches and the surviving former schoolchildren.
A truth and reconciliation commission was also set up, with access to government and church records.
Individual Catholic dioceses had already apologised for their involvement in the schools.
There were about 130 schools, three-quarters run by the Catholic Church but also by the Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches, which have also apologised.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2009/04/30 10:33:25 GMT© BBC MMIX

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Friars appeal order to release records
Last updated April 27, 2009 12:33 p.m. PT
Franciscan friars appeal order to release records
LOS ANGELES -- Attorneys for the Roman Catholic Franciscan order are appealing a California court order that it release personnel files and other documents as part of a clergy sexual abuse settlement.
Lawyers for the Franciscan Friars of California Inc. filed the appeal Thursday, the same day the documents were supposed to have been released. The appeal put the release on hold.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter D. Lichtman ordered the files' release on April 2, nearly three years after the Franciscans reached a $28 million settlement with 25 people who claimed they were sexually abused.
Plaintiffs' attorney Tim Hale has said the documents could reveal details about how long ago the Franciscans knew about alleged abusers and how they dealt with them.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Church will not compensate abuse victim

Church 'not liable' for sex abuse
The Catholic Church is not liable for the sexual abuse suffered by a man over 30 years ago, the High Court has ruled.
He said he was abused as a boy by Fr Christopher Clonan while he served at Coventry's Church of Christ the King. Police believe Clonan died in 1998.
Mr Justice Jack said he was satisfied the essence of the man's evidence was true and that he was sexually abused.
But he said the Church was not liable as the man, now 45, cleaned for Clonan "which was not a priestly activity".
Mr Justice Jack found in favour of the Trustees of the Birmingham Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church, who had denied liability.
The man, who can be identified only as Maga, has learning difficulties and has never worked.
Appeal permission
He was aged 12 or 13 when he was abused by the priest over many months in about 1976, the court heard.
He sought legal action in 2006, after learning another man who was abused by Clonan had recovered damages from the Catholic Church.
Mr Justice Jack, sitting in London, said Maga had been associated with Clonan because he cleaned the priest's car, cleaned the presbytery and other houses and ironed Clonan's clothes.
The judge said it meant the assaults on Maga were not so closely connected with Clonan's employment that it would be fair to hold the Catholic Church liable.
He said: "That employment was not a priestly activity.
"Fr Clonan did not do anything to draw the claimant into the activities of the Church."
Maga, who brought the case through the official solicitor, was given permission to appeal.
Clonan is believed to have died in Australia in 1998. He was on the run from British police at the time.
He has cost the Catholic Church about £1m in compensation payments.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2009/04/24 14:48:38 GMT© BBC MMIX

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2 men sue priest who pleaded guilty to raping them
Last updated April 21, 2009 6:23 p.m. PT
2 men sue priest who pleaded guilty to raping them
NEW YORK -- Two upstate New York men have filed a $10 million lawsuit against a Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to raping them.
The men say in court papers filed Monday in New York City that the Rev. Frank Genevive abused them between 1978 and 1987, when they were teens.
The Associated Press doesn't normally name rape victims. But Mark Lyman of Stillwater and David Landfear of Cohoes asked to be identified.
They say the abuse included oral sex and sodomy. The 53-year-old Genevive and his Franciscan supervisors are named as defendants.
Genevive and Franciscan Superior Robert Campagna didn't reply Tuesday to messages seeking comment.
In July 2008, Genevive pleaded guilty in Boston to raping Lyman, Landfear and others. He received a suspended sentence.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ex-priest claims molestation by childhood priest
Last updated April 20, 2009 6:01 p.m. PT
Ex-priest claims molestation by childhood priest
ORANGE, Calif. -- A former Roman Catholic priest filed a lawsuit Monday claiming that as a teenager in Southern California he was sexually abused by a priest who was his mentor.
Ben Rodriguez, who left the priesthood in 2006, claims that Gordon J. Pillon molested him multiple times from 1978 to 1981 at Pillon's apartment in the rectory of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in La Habra.
The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, names the Diocese of Orange and the parish as defendants. Pillon is temporarily listed as "John Doe" for procedural reasons and his name will be added later, said Rodriguez's attorney, Joseph George, who held a news conference with his client to announce the legal action.
The suit seeks unspecified damages for future medical and therapy expenses, damages for physical and mental pain and suffering, lost wages and earning capacity, and punitive damages.
Ryan Lilyengren, spokesman for the Diocese of Orange, said in an e-mail that the diocese had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
Rodriguez alleges Pillon gave him muscle relaxants and sleeping pills during the abuse. Rodriguez's parents were divorcing and Pillon persuaded the teen to leave home, cut off contact with his family and join the seminary at age 18, according to the complaint.
Rodriguez said he moved into foster homes arranged by Pillon and saw the priest as a father figure and spiritual mentor, despite the abuse. He said Pillon would play pornographic movies and sexually molest him during overnight visits at the priest's apartment.
"He gave me drugs and alcohol and I remained silent about it my entire life until recently," Rodriguez said.
Pillon was defrocked in 2006 and is now a professor at the University of Northern Virginia's campus in Prague, in the Czech Republic, according to George.
An e-mail to a Gordon Pillon at the Prague campus was not immediately returned Monday. David Lee, chancellor of the school's American campus, said he could not reach anyone at the campus for comment because it was night in Prague.
Rodriguez, now 45, graduated from seminary in 1991 and became a priest in the Diocese of Peoria in Illinois. Pillon, who already was in central Illinois working at a Catholic university, began serving in the Peoria diocese shortly thereafter, George said.
Rodriguez said he was forced out of the diocese in 2006 after telling his superiors about the abuse. He now works as a substitute teacher in Riverside County.
Messages left Monday at the Diocese of Peoria after business hours were not immediately returned.
In 2006, however, a spokeswoman said Bishop Daniel Jenky asked Pillon to step down after allegations surfaced that Pillon molested a minor 25 years earlier in Orange County.
In addition to serving in Orange County and in six parishes in central Illinois, Pillon also served at the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., and was in ministry at Bradley University in Peoria.

Monday, April 20, 2009

YMCA employee on 20 criminal charges including child rape Melrose YMCA employee indicted today on 20 criminal charges, including child rape
Photo courtesy Melrose Police Department James Conner, 51, assistant director of the Melrose YMCA After School program at the Beebe School and a YMCA girls basketball coach, was arrested Thursday, Feb. 12 at his home in North Reading. Loading content... Related Links Melrose YMCA employee arrested on child rape charges (02/19/09) By Daniel DeMaina GateHouse News Service Posted Apr 02, 2009 @ 05:30 PM
Melrose — James Conner, the former site director of the Melrose YMCA’s after-school program at the Beebe School for children in grades 3-6 and a YMCA youth sports coach, was indicted today on 20 criminal charges, including forcible child rape — and assaults on a second victim — according to the office of Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone. Investigators say they have also uncovered evidence that Conner secretly videotaped some of the sexual assaults over the course of several years. Conner, 51, a North Reading resident and a girls basketball coach for the Melrose YMCA, allegedly assaulted the two girls, whom he coached, at both his home in North Reading and at various locations of the Melrose YMCA’s after-school program, according to information from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. Both the victims were under the age of 14 at the time of the alleged assaults. According to allegations by the DA’s office, Conner used hidden cameras to film his sexual assaults of both victims without their knowledge. The recordings were discovered at Conner’s home when he was arrested the evening of Feb. 12, after one of the victims came forward earlier that day with allegations that Conner had assaulted her. Conner was arraigned the next day in Woburn District Court on two counts of rape of a child by force and one count of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. The new charges handed down in the indictment today include three additional counts of rape of a child by force; three additional counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14; two counts of posing a child in a state of nudity; two counts of posing a child in sexual conduct; photographing or videotaping a nude person without their knowledge; interception of oral communications; and intimidation of a witness, according to the DA’s office. Prosecutors also charged Conner with four counts of possession of child pornography after they discovered “several thousand images and videos” on an external computer hard drive at Conner’s home, according to the DA’s office. Those images and videos have been “widely disseminated by others in the past” and depict children "unrelated to the investigation" involving the two local victims, but "previously known to and identified by law enforcement officials worldwide." Conner posted a $25,000 bail on Feb. 23 and has been monitored by GPS as a condition of his release. Melrose and North Reading Police, along with members of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Child Abuse and Cyber Enforcement Units, investigated the case, leading to Conner’s indictment. The Melrose Free Press

Melrose YMCA accused child rapist free on bail
Thu Apr 09, 2009, 11:10 PM EDT
Melrose -
James Conner, the former site director of the Melrose YMCA’s after-school program at the Beebe School and a YMCA youth sports coach, will continue to wear a GPS monitoring device, but walked out of Middlesex Superior Court free on bail Tuesday morning, April 7, after his arraignment on 20 criminal charges including child rape of two victims under the age of 14.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pastor/teacher's career of abuse

The Tennesean 4.12.09
Ronald Boykin Jr.'s teaching career did not end when he was charged with raping a child. It did not end when he listed on a job application that his last employer suspended him for misconduct. It did not end when he submitted to three criminal background checks. Instead, Ronald Boykin Jr.'s teaching career ended on March 22 when he disobeyed a traffic sign. Metro police caught Boykin, 40, trying to merge onto Interstate 24 from the Second Avenue ramp. In minutes, an officer was able to catch what local and state safeguards missed for three years: Boykin, a Donelson Middle School teacher, was wanted in Chattanooga on charges of sexually abusing children. The ensuing investigation uncovered more potential victims in Nashville. Boykin now is charged with abusing two former students here. But Boykin's story isn't just about a man fleeing from prosecution. It's about how failures in the law and the negligence of school employees allowed someone charged with molesting children leave one school district and move to another, where a fresh start and even a promotion awaited him. Boykin's personnel records show he built a career on working with inner-city students and troubled youth. He earned a bachelor's degree in religious education from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Georgia and spent time working as a pastor and as a supervisor at a Chattanooga boys home where he coordinated classes

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Role of Church in Canadian Abuses

April 15, 2009. New York Times
Pope Expected to Address Role of Church in Canadian Abuses
OTTAWA — Pope Benedict XVI is expected this month to acknowledge the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the forcing of about 150,000 Native Canadians into residential schools where many were sexually and physically abused, the country’s most prominent native leader said Tuesday.
Last June the government of Canada, which financed the schools, apologized to former students through a special parliamentary ceremony. Three Protestant denominations that operated some of the schools have also offered apologies. That left the Roman Catholic Church, which ran the majority of the schools, as the only unheard voice.
“This has been a source of major tension between the church and our people,” Phil Fontaine, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the national association of native groups, said in an interview on Tuesday. “The missing piece in all of this has been an apology from the Catholic Church.”
Aside from abuse, the government acknowledged that the schools were intended to eradicate native culture through a program it called “aggressive assimilation.” Attendance became compulsory in 1920 for native children between the ages of 7 and 16. The last of the schools closed during the 1970s, and in 2006 the government agreed to pay 1.9 billion Canadian dollars, about $1.73 billion at the time, to the surviving students.
Mr. Fontaine, who attended two Catholic residential schools where he said he was sexually abused, said that he and four other former students and native leaders had been invited to meet the pope at the Vatican on April 29.
Exactly what statement the church will make afterward is unclear.
Mr. Fontaine said he hoped the pope “will acknowledge the role of the church and his statement will reflect the harms that were inflicted.”
A spokesman for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said that Archbishop James Weisgerber, whom Mr. Fontaine credited with arranging the meeting, would formally announce the papal audience on Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Abuse warnings were ignored

Disagreement on why abuse warnings were ignored
Apr. 13, 2009
By Tom Roberts

The Servants of the Paraclete complex in Jemez Springs, N.M., in 1993 (Jeffrey D. Scott) PDF versionSend to friendPrinter-friendly version
Two priests who have played prominent roles in attempting to understand the clergy sex-abuse crisis come to very different conclusions about why the early warnings regarding sexually abusive priests by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paracletes, went unheeded.
Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, president and CEO of St. Luke Institute, a facility that treats problem priests, believes Fitzgerald was ignored because he was a lone voice speaking out of an emotional reaction to the abuse, not from scientifically sound information. Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, on the other hand, long a critic of the church’s handling of the crisis, said Fitzgerald was ignored because the bishops preferred not to confront the problem.
During the 1950s and 1960s when Fitzgerald headed the Paracletes, an order founded to assist wayward priests, he repeatedly pleaded with U.S. bishops and the Vatican not to allow them to return to their ministries, firmly holding that they would offend again.
Yet Fitzgerald’s insistent warnings never seemed to make the necessary impression and never were taken into consideration as bishops formed policy.Since early coverage of the clergy abuse scandal in the mid-1980s, which appeared largely in the National Catholic Reporter, until 2002, when the bishops took up the issue during a meeting in Dallas following new media revelations about clergy abuse and cover-up in Boston, church leaders routinely transferred abusive priests from parish to parish and diocese to diocese. The bishops said they thought the priests would amend their ways.
Meanwhile, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, “As I looked at the documentation, it shows certainly the insidiousness of the disease, and it reinforces current church policy” as outlined in a charter developed during the Dallas meeting.
She noted that Fitzgerald was not consulting the psychological community at the time. “The bishops from everything I can tell were trying to do the right thing by taking the advice of the psychological and medical community,” she said. “When it became clear they couldn’t, we have the charter,” a document drawn up at the Dallas meeting.
Walsh, in a phone interview, was speaking of Fitzgerald’s correspondence, first made widely public in NCR’s April 3 issue. Fitzgerald founded the Paracletes in 1947 initially with the aim to care for priests who had problems with alcohol. Soon he began to receive requests from bishops to care for priests with sexual disorders, especially those who had abused children.
By at least 1952, according to documents that NCR secured from a California law firm, Fitzgerald had come to the conclusion that “I myself would be inclined to favor laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tampering with the virtue of the young. … Leaving them on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese is contributing to scandal or at least to the approximate danger of scandal.”
Fitzgerald became so convinced of the danger and of the possibility of widespread scandal that he pursued the purchase of an island on which to sequester offenders so they could live their priestly lives far from any opportunities to molest children. Though he actually placed a down payment on a remote island in the Caribbean, his bishop blocked the idea and made him sell it.
Fitzgerald’s views, as outlined in letters to numerous bishops, Vatican officials and Pope Paul VI, seem to contradict the consistent explanation by contemporary bishops that they moved abusive priests from parish to parish because they were acting on the best information of the day — that priests could be cured — and because no one at the time realized the potential dangers.
“I think people need to be reasonable about what we knew and what we didn’t know” in the ’50s and ’60s, said Rossetti of St. Luke Institute, which has treated hundreds of priests who have abused children.
Back then, he told NCR in an April 7 interview, psychiatric therapies amounted to “thorazine in the hip and free association.” He said he “had never heard of this guy [Fitzgerald] or what he was saying” prior to the recent reports in NCR, but “to say that the field of child sex-abuse prevention has not made light-years of progress” since the Fitzgerald letters “is not the truth.”
He said Fitzgerald’s statements regarding relapse “are not always accurate. … Some of the men are very likely to relapse and some of them are not.”Rossetti, who has written and spoken extensively about the clergy sex-abuse problem, said, “The notion that we should send them all to an island is basically nonsense. We need to find out who is going to relapse and who is not.” Limited resources, he said, should be focused on those “not likely to relapse.”
According to St. Luke statistics, he said, from 1985 through 2008, a total of 365 priests went through treatment for child sex abuse at the facility, and 22 of them, or 6 percent, relapsed, he said.
“I think the problem is if you take Fr. Fitzgerald’s statements as somehow intellectually sound research statements, they’re not. They’re emotional, non-scientifically made statements.”
Fitzgerald actually was opposed to consultation with psychologists and other experts, preferring more spiritual means of dealing with the problem. But he clearly recognized the danger to children and to the reputation of the church and the priesthood if such men were allowed to return to normal ministry.
In 1957, Fitzgerald wrote of the Paracletes’ intent to stop taking sexual abusers, a resolve that did not last. “Experience has taught us these men are too dangerous to the children of the parish and neighborhood for us to be justified in receiving them here.” Of such men, he wrote to another bishop explaining that their repentance “is superficial and, if not formally at least subconsciously, is motivated by a desire to be again in a position where they can continue their wonted activity.”
Rossetti, in response to a question, said he didn’t know how the warnings had been lost in the church’s attempt to understand the problem. He added, however, that awareness about sexual abuse of children, like other social threats such as destruction of the environment whose dangers may at first be misunderstood or go unnoticed, ultimately reached “a tipping point.”
One person talking about such a danger may not be persuasive, he said, but larger numbers joining in recognizing the threat may bring about change. “One article in The New York Times is not going to change perspective. If there’s a slew of articles, they could be persuasive,” he said.
The awareness of the sex-abuse problem grew over time, he said. “To say that the bishops were doing nothing, hearing nothing, is not true.” He said the bishops listened as a group to reports from experts for the first time in 1985 and again in 1992 and ’93 and during the Dallas meeting of 2002, following a series of articles in The Boston Globe based on documents showing the extent of the sex-abuse crisis and cover-up of the problem by the hierarchy in the Boston archdiocese. The meeting resulted in strict new rules and procedures for dealing with the problem, for protecting children and for beginning to determine the problem’s extent and causes.
Doyle, one of the few clerics to warn church officials early on of the dangers of priests who were sexual predators, first saw some of the Fitzgerald letters when they showed up during legal proceedings in several cases against priests. Doyle, a canon lawyer, for years has served as an expert witness for victims suing the church.
“They showed that Fitzgerald knew these men need to be defrocked,” said Doyle, “and he said it explicitly because of the damage they would do to the body of Christ. And he was ignored and resisted by the bishops.
“I don’t think the bishops ever wanted to confront this head-on,” he said. “Whatever the direction of the response of the clergy to sex abuse, it has to be on their terms and their terms only.”
Doyle said the documents show the bishops were put on notice “five decades ago that this is a very serious problem.” He said the only reason they acted in 2002 “is because they were forced to take action because of public outrage — of the media and the courts. If those things had not come into play, nothing would have happened.”
The documents will have a future effect on court cases, said Doyle, “because they will be used more and more by attorneys to counteract the bishops’ claim that they never knew anything, and they will play a part in the growing realization on the part of the laity that this problem is much deeper and broader than anyone thought.”

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Defrocked priest back in prison

Defrocked priest back in prison
Sex offender Campobello picked up for probation violation
April 9, 2009
By MATT HANLEY Beacon News
Mark Campobello, who was defrocked as a Catholic priest after being convicted of molesting teenage girls, is back in prison for violating his parole.
Authorities said today that Campobello, who was a priest in Aurora and Geneva, had been living in McHenry County but had to move out of his house and no longer had a permanent address. Not having a permanent residence is a parole violation.
Campobello was imprisoned for three years and eight months after he pleaded guilty in 2004 to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl over five months in 1999, while he lived at the rectory of St. Peter Church in Geneva.
He also pleaded guilty to molesting a 15-year-old girl while she was a student at Aurora Central Catholic High School between November 1999 and March 2000. He was assistant principal of the school.

Sunday school teacher booked in child death
Last updated April 11, 2009 4:20 a.m. PT
Calif. Sunday school teacher booked in child death

A girl places a stuffed animal at a memorial for Sandra Cantu in Tracy, Calif., Thursday, April 9, 2009, near the home of Cantu. The body of Cantu, 8, was discovered inside a suitcase in an irrigation pond on Monday, April 6, 2009 after she was last seen at her home on March 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
TRACY, Calif. -- A California Sunday school teacher was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and killing an 8-year-old girl whose body was stuffed into a suitcase found in an irrigation pond.
Melissa Huckaby, 28, was arrested at 11:55 p.m., about five hours after she drove herself to the station at the request of police, according to Tracy Police Sgt. Tony Sheneman.
"She gave enough information to us during the course of the interview that probable cause was there to arrest her," said Sheneman.
A massive search for the child, Sandra Cantu, included hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement officials. The search ended April 6 when farmworkers who were draining the irrigation pond to water fields found a suitcase.
Pictures of the girl with dark brown eyes and light brown hair were posted all over Tracy, a city of 78,000 about 60 miles east of San Francisco.
The slain girl's aunt, Angie Chavez, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press early Saturday that she was happy to learn of the arrest.
"I want to know why she did it, if she did it," Chavez said.
Huckaby previously told a local newspaper that Sandra visited her home March 27, the day she disappeared. Huckaby also said she had left her suitcase in the driveway that day, and that it was missing.
Huckaby is the granddaughter of Pastor Clifford Lawless, whose Clover Road Baptist Church was the subject of a police search. Huckaby taught Sunday school at the church.
Huckaby's family had been questioned at length during the investigation, and their homes and vehicles had been searched, Sheneman said.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pastor porn case

Pastor Porn Case Raises Difficult Legal QuestionsBy Tasha KatesDaily ProgressMarch 30, 2009 pastor_porn_case_raises_difficult_legal_questions/37954/
Nearly three years after being accused of possessing child pornography, a former pastor is scheduled to go to trial Tuesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court.For most of that time, lawyers have been dealing with questions about the age of the females in the images that authorities said they found on Gregory M. Briehl's computer in July 2006. An expert was brought in to try to identify their ages by sight, and the prosecution has tried to find out more information about the females in the images from an Australian Web site without success.On March 17, Circuit Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. denied a motion to dismiss the charges filed by Briehl's attorney, Rhonda Quag-liana. The judge ruled that the prosecution "pursued reasonable efforts" to find the exculpatory evidence.Quagliana said she believes there is paperwork out there to prove that the models in the pictures are 18 or older."We have felt strongly from the beginning that there is material out there that would exonerate Mr. Briehl, and that we have throughout these proceedings insisted and encouraged and done everything we can to try to follow any leads and any information that might take us to that material," Quagliana said. "There is a legitimate issue of the age of the people depicted in these Web sites."During a motions hearing earlier this month, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jon R. Zug said that the inconclusive age of the models in the pictures has complicated the issue."The reason we're having a trial is because we don't know who these people are," Zug said in court.Zug could not be reached for comment on this story. Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford declined to comment on the specifics of this case, but did say that about half of the child pornography cases that her office handles involve people who are not prepubescent. However, Lunsford said sometimes the girls depicted look older than their years despite being minors.DownloadedIn May 2006, authorities raided Briehl's Earlysville home and his Charlottesville-based First Stone Counseling Center for video equipment after getting a tip that he was filming guests at his home without their knowledge. Briehl was convicted of unlawful filming in September 2006 and sentenced to 60 days in jail.During that search, authorities said they found about 100 pornographic images that appeared to be of underage females. County police Detective Chuck Marshall has said Briehl told authorities that he liked to view images of girls who were between 14 and 17 years old.Briehl did not respond to an interview request for this story.The 15 indictments that Briehl is facing mostly involve images that came from an Australian Web site. A printed copy of the front page of that site filed in the court's records said it features models who are 18 and older. Users can submit their own images for the site to get a free membership, but the site said that it would be illegal to submit images of models under 18 years old.Under Title 18, section 2257 of the U.S. Code, pornography Web sites are required to maintain records on each performer featured on their site. That information must include the performer's age and legal and stage names.In his efforts to access those records, Zug contacted the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Center. According to court records, a department employee told Zug that the Web site's registrant was listed as Rick Chant, who had a post office box in Herndon. In early September, an Albemarle circuit judge entered an order to compel the U.S. Post Office to reveal Chant's street address. Zug hand-delivered a subpeona to the Herndon location.The address came back as a regional office of Booz Allen Hamilton, a national consulting firm. A company employee confirmed last week that the office building and address were not shared with any other companies."Once that happened, I was at a dead end," Zug said in court during the March 9 hearing.During that hearing, Zug said in court that he requested assistance from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the state's Attorney General's Office. However, he doesn't have the power to make those agencies investigate, nor can he issue a subpeona outside of the state."I don't know what to do, judge," Zug said in court earlier this month. "I have done what is in my power to do, and what I know how to do."Forbidden imagesChild pornography has become more widespread because of the Internet. David Greenfield, a psychologist and director of the Center for Internet Behavior in Connecticut, said the Web has created a new marketplace with a large inventory and easy access.According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, the main sex exploitation offense prosecuted in federal courts in 1994 was sex abuse, which made up 73 percent of cases. By 2006, it had shifted to child pornography, which made up 69 percent of sex exploitation cases.Greenfield said child pornography usually is traded on the Internet between individuals. The inventory that is available may include some images that are decades old, but the pictures are difficult to date because there isn't any clothing to indicate when the picture when taken.The psychologist said there is a correlation between arousal from images of child pornography and a pedophiliac arousal pattern, although being aroused by the images doesn't necessarily mean the viewer is a pedophile. The Internet hasn't created new pedophiles, Greenfield said, but it can change a person's judgment and behavior when it comes to sexual behavior.Greenfield said that child pornography is very powerful, not unlike drugs."This information and these images are extremely powerful and psychoactive," he said. "They can be arousing even if you don't want them to be, and they can also be quite disturbing, especially if you have a history of being sexually abused."Greenfield said child pornography laws are about who looked at the images and not someone's status as a pedophile. The only way to tell if someone is a pedophile is through an evaluation, he said, which doesn't always happen during a child pornography case.In Virginia, a person convicted of possession of child pornography can face one to five years in prison. Greenfield said he's usually seen defendants get three to five years in prison per conviction."The question is, is it the most appropriate sentence for a person who has no prior history who downloaded some images and doesn't have a history of pedophilia or predatory behavior," Greenfield said. "Should you lock them up for five years? I don't know, I think it's extreme. On the other hand, the courts have no way of weeding out who is a predator and who is not."

Buddhist tries to beat demon out of 3-year-old son

Deputies: Houston man tried to beat 'demon' out of 3-year-old son
05:06 PM CDT on Monday, April 6, 2009
By Courtney Zubowski / 11 News
HOUSTON—A Houston man who allegedly thought demons had invaded his home was jailed Monday, charged with critically injuring his 3-year-old son.
Neighbors said the whole ordeal started with a statue.
Jacky Tran, 35, reportedly brought the statue into his southwest Harris County home, but then decided it had a demon in it.
“He said he got a statue and there was a demon inside or something, and then he took it to the Buddha, and the Buddha buried it in the cemetery,” neighbor Abdul Padat said.
That happened last Wednesday. Neighbors said by Friday, Tran had become a vegetarian and started throwing all of his belongings out of his second-story window, littering his yard with furniture and paintings.
But investigators believe that strange behavior took a decidedly darker turn on Saturday, when they say Tran beat his young son bloody.
When deputies arrived at Tran’s home, they found all of the windows open and loud music blaring from within.
When they looked through a second-story window, investigators said they saw Tran swinging something – possibly the child -- around a room.
They said they heard a child screaming, so they forced their way into the home.
Investigators said when they found the boy, he had suffered severe head injuries and was unable to speak.
Tran reportedly told investigators he was trying to beat a demon out of his son.
“When they found the child, he was beaten with blood all over his body – real, real bad,” neighbor Carlos Olivari said.
The boy was rushed to Texas Children’s Hospital. Doctors said he sustained multiple skull fractures, but they expect him to survive.
The news came as a surprise to Tran’s close-knit community. Neighbors said they’d always known Tran as a good dad who was happy to lend his neighbors a helping hand.
“We never heard anything strange. We haven’t seen anything strange,” Padat said.
Tran is facing felony child endangerment charges. He appeared in court Monday and was assigned a court-appointed lawyer. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 14.
If convicted, he could face from 5 to 99 years in prison.
CPS has since taken custody of Tran’s 6-year-old daughter and placed her in foster care.
Tran’s wife, Phung, who was home when the alleged beating occurred, was charged with critically injuring her 3-year-old son Monday evening.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Honour" crimes increasing

Copenhagen Post
Honour crimes increasing
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 11:22 KR News
Almost three hundred percent rise in calls for help and over 400 honour crimes registered over last four years
Increasing numbers of young people are seeking help to deal with so-called honour crimes according to new figures from the National Organisation of Shelters for Battered Women and their Children (LOKK).
Since 2005, LOKK has being offering advice to young ethnic minorities who have come into conflict with their families.
Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper reports that the organisation counselled 101 people in 2005 who knew someone, or who were themselves, trapped in such a situation. In 2008 that number had risen to 397.
Lene Johannesson from LOKK said that they especially received many calls from young women subjected to honour related attacks. Many of the calls come from young immigrant women who have found a Danish boyfriend against their parents’ wishes.
‘But we also deal with those who just want to behave like other Danish kids - going out at night and making their own decisions about education and so on,’ explained Johannesson.
Many of the girls who contact LOKK have already been verbally threatened by their parents.
‘There have been threats about locking them up or sending them back to their homeland. We also see threats of violence,’ said Johannesson.
Since 2006, the National Police’s investigation unit has registered more than 400 honour crimes in Denmark, ranging from threats and violence, to forced marriages and being sent back to the home country for ‘re-educating’.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Focus on Family Bible narrator tried to lure teen for sex

Police: Focus on the Family Bible narrator tried to lure teen for sex
04/06/2009 @ 8:46 pmFiled by Stephen C. Webster

A Colorado man who works for Evangelical group Focus on the Family has been arrested after he solicited sex online from an investigator posing as a teenage girl, police have said."Juan Alberto Ovalle, 42, thought he was corresponding with a girl under the age of 15, but instead it was undercover officers with the Jefferson County district attorney's office, according to court documents," reported the Denver Post."...Ovalle was arrested on April 3rd when he drove to an undisclosed location in Lakewood to meet the person he believed to be a teen for sexual purposes," reported Colorado's News Channel 13."Between April 2 and April 3 Ovalle is alleged to have made sexually graphic statements in a chat room to a person he believed to be an underage teen, police report," the channel continued. "According to court documents Ovalles also told the teen about the sexual things that he wanted to do to her and ultimately drove from Colorado Springs on April 3 to meet her with the intention of having sexual contact.""He's scheduled to be formally charged Thursday with two felony counts of criminal attempt sexual assault on a minor and Internet luring of a child," reported the Colorado Springs Gazette. "He is being held in Jefferson County Detention Center in Golden on a $25,000 bond.""We are all shocked to hear of these allegations and just beginning to look into them," said Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger on Monday.Focus on the Family was an influential group during the Bush-era and its president, Dr. James Dobson, frequently met with President George W. Bush to lay strategy on how best to rally American Christians behind terror war policies. Similarly, after Justice Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, Dobson received a personal note of thanks from the conservative judge.To listen in on some of Ovalle's work for Focus on the Family, click over to Audio Biblia.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

CoE home overdosed children

'Sedation link' to birth defects
Hundreds of girls heavily sedated in UK care homes during the 1970s and 1980s may be at risk of having children with birth defects, the BBC has found.
Radio 4's Today found 10 ex-residents of a children's home run by the Church of England in Gravesend, Kent, have had children with a birth defect.
They were given massive doses of tranquilisers and other drugs while being restrained as teenagers.
The Diocese of Rochester says it will co-operate with any future inquiry.
One childcare expert said hundreds of children may have been drugged in the care system across the UK throughout the 70s and 80s, potentially subjecting them to the same health risks as those learnt about by the BBC.
Mike Lindsay, national co-ordinator for the Children's Rights Alliance for England, said: "Using drugs to control the behaviour of children was perfectly acceptable as far as their own professional understanding at that time went."
“ I remember, one of the girls, the first thing she said to me is that I had better take the tablets and not argue it ” Teresa Cooper Former resident
The Kendall House home in Gravesend was run by the Church of England in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s but the site is no longer a children's home.
In a statement issued through the Church of England, the diocese said it was unable to discuss individual circumstances for legal reasons.
"However, if the police, social services or appropriate legal body initiates an investigation, the diocese will co-operate fully with them," the statement said.
"It would be inappropriate for the diocese to initiate any internal inquiries since we are not qualified to do this. In any event, it would be essential for any investigation to be conducted both professionally and impartially."
'Disturbed children'
Files from the time show that girls at Kendall House were given massive doses of a number of drugs for long periods of time.
One former resident, Teresa Cooper, has had three children, all with birth defects, since leaving the home in 1984 at the age of 16.
Her eldest son was born with respiratory problems, her second born blind with learning difficulties, and her daughter was born with a cleft palate and a short lower jaw.
Files show Ms Cooper was given medication at least 1,248 times, over a 32-month period, including three major tranquilisers, drugs to counter side-effects and anti-depressants.
She was given up to 10 times the current recommended dose of the tranquilliser Valium.
Nine other former residents of Kendall House, who were all similarly drugged, have also gone on to have children with a range of birth defects, including brain tumours, learning difficulties and cleft palate.
According to Jeffrey Aronson, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Oxford University and president of the British Pharmacological Society, being given such a cocktail of drugs can cause genetic abnormalities and this in turn could cause birth defects.
"The fact that there were 10 of them affected... is quite suggestive," he said.
A former member of staff contacted by the Today programme said the home was dedicated to helping residents, but some disturbed children had to be restrained for their own good.
She added that while personally unhappy at the use of drugs, staff had been acting under the orders of a consultant psychiatrist.
Shadow children's minister Tim Loughton said he was shocked by the forcible sedation of children in care and he urged the government and Ofsted to investigate further.
"They need to look into these cases and see whether there really is a pattern of behaviour that substantiates far greater fears about widespread misuse of inappropriate drugs, forcefully imposed on young girls," he said.
"If that does turn out to be the case, then we need to have a much wider review into what actually went on and whether this affects other homes as well."
Story from BBC NEWS:

11-year-old taught to be suicide bomber

The world's youngest terror suspect... ready to blow himself up at the age of 11
By Debra KillaleaLast updated at 11:54 AM on 07th April 2009

A would-be suicide bomber aged 11 has been arrested alongside Taliban fighters.
Known only as Abdullah, the youngster was caught crossing the mountains from Pakisrtan's tribal region into Afghanistan wearing a jacket packed with explosives.
Police say he is the youngest terror recruit they have ever come across. Abdullah has also become Afghanistan's youngest prisoner but he is still being held at a top security prison in the capital, Kabul.

Abdullah has become the world's youngest terror suspect after he was caught wearing a jacket filled with explosives
Originally from Peshawar in Pakistan, Abudullah was training to be a suicide bomber and had learned the principles of jihad - holy war - at the religious school in Pakistan where he was taught.
Abdullah was interviewed by ITV News's International Editor Bill Neely, who wrote about the visit in the Mirror.
His full interview will be screened on tonight's ITV News at Ten.
Mr Neely said he was shocked at the picture of innocence before him.
'I'd been told I would meet a youth who had been arrested with a group of Taliban fighters – but I didn't expect the picture of apparent innocence that confronted me,' he said.
'I watched this little boy speak, his high-pitched voice so innocent, pouring out the detail of an adventure he had clearly relished.'

ITN journalist Bill Neely said he was shocked at how innocent Abdullah appeared
Mr Neely said Abdullah's days were spent reading the Koran and his evenings were taken up learning how to load weapons and how foreigners came to Muslim lands to kill them.
Abdullah's younger brother Amin, 10, is also a student at the same school.
Abdullah told the journalist, his favourite weapon of choice was the Kalashnikov because he found the trigger of the pistol hard to pull.
When Mr Neely asked the 11-year-old how felt about becoming a suicide bomber he said he knew he 'would end up in pieces.'
He also said he knew the difference between suicide and sacrifice and that he wanted to kill non-Muslims when he grew up 'so they can't come to our homes and kill us.'
It is not yet clear what authorities will do with the boy but it is likely he will be returned back to his religious school.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Corrupt "Legionaries of Christ" exposed

From Times Online
April 3, 2009
Corrupt Legionaries exposed
Press calls Father Maciel 'the Aztec Rasputin' after details emerge of abuse carried out by his Legionaries of Christ
Richard Owen in Rome

The Italian press yesterday dubbed the late Father Marcial Maciel, the Mexican founder of the conservative "Legionaries of Christ", "the Aztec Rasputin" as allegations emerged that other members of the order imitated his sexual misbehaviour and abuse.
This week Pope Benedict XVI ordered an investigation - known as an Apostolic Visitation - into the Legion of Christ - following sexual and financial scandals linked to Father Maciel, who died last year at the age of 87.
Jose Barba, lawyer for eight former Legionaries who started court proceedings against Father Maciel in 1998, said, "We have testimonies that there have been other Legionaries who followed Maciel's example. The ramifications of the problem exist throughout the Legionaries of Christ".
Mr Barba, who says he was abused by Maciel as a teenage seminarian, told Reuters: "What they have to investigate is to what extent the evil, the gangrene, was spread through the Legionaries of Christ and didn't end just because Father Maciel died".
Allegations against Father Maciel have long existed, but were dismissed by the order and its powerful supporters. However, in February the order admitted there was evidence that Father Maciel had lived "a double life" for decades, indulging in sexual relations with both women and boys.
"The Secret Life of a Legionary of Christ: A Tale of Sex and Money" ran the headline in La Stampa, which described Father Maciel as "a sacriligious tombeur des femmes".
It said that although he imposed vows of celibacy on the order, which he founded in 1941, Father Maciel had a series of often-wealthy mistresses and fathered at least one child, a woman now aged 30 who lives in Spain. In 2006 Pope Benedict ordered Father Maciel to retire to a life of "prayer and penitence" after accusations emerged that he had molested seminarians for decades.
The order, admired for its drive and discipline, has 650 priests and 2500 seminarians in more than 20 countries, and runs the Regina Apostolorum pontifical university in Rome. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, said Vatican inspectors would visit and evaluate all seminaries, schools and other institutions run by the Legion around the world.
The order and its lay affiliate, Regnum Christi, which claims 50,000 members, regard Father Maciel as a saintly man whose life should be studied and emulated. The order was admired by the late Pope John Paul II, and is backed by Catholic financiers and businessmen.
However, some Vatican officials are increasingly uncomfortable with its "cult like" practices, including its secretiveness and the limits it imposes on contact between seminarians and their families. Father Alvaro Corcuera, head of the order, said the Legionaries welcomed the Vatican inspection "with deep gratitude" and hoped it would resolve "our present vicissitudes related to the grave facts in our father founder's life."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Early Alarm for Church on Abusers in the Clergy

New York Times
April 3, 2009
Early Alarm for Church on Abusers in the Clergy
The founder of a Roman Catholic religious order that ran retreat centers for troubled priests warned American bishops in forceful letters dating back to 1952 that pedophiles should be removed from the priesthood because they could not be cured.The Rev. Gerald M. C. Fitzgerald, founder of the order, Servants of the Paraclete, delivered the same advice in person to Vatican officials in Rome in 1962 and to Pope Paul VI a year later, according to the letters, which were unsealed by a judge in the course of litigation against the church.The documents contradict the most consistent defense given by bishops about the sexual abuse scandal: that they were unaware until recently that offenders could not be rehabilitated and returned to the ministry.Father Fitzgerald, who died in 1969, even made a $5,000 down payment on a Caribbean island where he planned to build an isolated retreat to sequester priests who were sexual predators. His letters show he was driven by a desire to save the church from scandal, and to save laypeople from being victimized. He wrote to dozens of bishops, saying that he had learned through experience that most of the abusers were unrepentant, manipulative and dangerous. He called them “vipers.”“We are amazed,” Father Fitzgerald wrote to a bishop in 1957, “to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the cura animarum,” meaning, the care of souls.His collected letters and his story were reported this week by The National Catholic Reporter, an independent weekly. Father Fitzgerald’s papers were unsealed by a judge in New Mexico in 2007 and are now becoming public in litigation, although some letters were public before now, said Helen Zukin, a lawyer with Kiesel, Boucher & Larson, a firm in Los Angeles. The letters were authenticated in depositions with Father Fitzgerald’s successors.The scandals, which began in the 1980’s and reached a peak in 2002, revealed that for decades bishops had taken priests with histories of sexual abuse and reassigned them to parishes and schools where they abused new victims.It was not until 2002 that the American bishops, meeting in Dallas, wrote a charter requiring bishops to remove from ministry priests with credible accusations against them.Asked why Father Fitzgerald’s advice went largely unheeded for 50 years, Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., chairman of the United States Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, said in a telephone interview that in the first case, cases of sexually abusive priests were considered to be rare.Second, Bishop Cupich said of Father Fitzgerald, “His views, by and large, were considered bizarre with regard to not treating people medically, but only spiritually, and also segregating a whole population with sexual problems on a deserted island.”And finally, he said, “There was mounting evidence in the world of psychology that indicated that when medical treatment is given, these people can, in fact, go back to ministry.” This is a view, he said, that the bishops came to regret.A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he could not comment because he did not have enough information.Responding to Bishop Cupich’s comment about Father Fitzgerald, Ms. Zukin, who represents abuse victims, said: “If the bishops thought he was such a bizarre crackpot, they would have shut him down. In fact, they referred their priests to him and sent him financial contributions.”She also said the psychiatrists who worked at the Servants of the Paraclete’s centers said in legal depositions that they had rarely recommended returning sexually abusive priests to ministry, and only if the priests were under strict supervision in settings where they were not working with children.From the 1940’s through the 1960’s, bishops and superiors of religious orders sent their problem priests to Father Fitzgerald to be healed. He founded the Servants of the Paraclete in 1947 (“paraclete” means “Holy Spirit”), and set up a retreat house in Jemez Springs, N.M.He took in priests who were struggling with alcoholism, drug abuse or pedophilia, or who had broken their vows of celibacy, whether with men or women. He called them “guests.” His prescription was prayer and spiritual devotion to the sacraments, which experts say was the church’s prevailing approach at that time.At one point, he resolved not to accept pedophiles at his center, saying in a letter to the archbishop of New Mexico in 1957, “These men, Your Excellency, are devils, and the wrath of God is upon them, and if I were a bishop I would tremble when I failed to report them to Rome for involuntary layization.”Laicization — or removing a priest from the priesthood — was what Father Fitzgerald recommended for many abusive priests to bishops and Pope Paul VI.But that step was rarely taken, said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a whistle-blower who often serves as an expert witness in cases against the church, “because the priesthood was considered to be so sacred that taking it away from a man was something you simply did not do.”The Paracletes did not return calls for an interview.After Father Fitzgerald died, his order grew and established retreat centers around the country and overseas, which became regular way stations for priests with sexual disorders.His successors added psychiatry and medical treatment to the prayer regimen. They sent priests back into ministry, at the request of bishops. The Paracletes later became the target of lawsuits, and had to close most of their centers.

NYC team to fight sex abuse among Orthodox Jewish
Last updated April 1, 2009 5:30 p.m. PT
NYC team to fight sex abuse among Orthodox Jewish
NEW YORK -- Prosecutors, counselors and religious leaders on Wednesday announced a program to combat sexual abuse among members of the insular world of Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jews - a problem one lawmaker says extends beyond New York.
The centerpiece of the outreach program, announced by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and Jewish community leaders, is a hot line abuse victims can call and speak to a "culturally sensitive" social worker.
The program will focus on child sex abuse. It was established partly in response to a discussion on State Assemblyman Dov Hikind's radio show in the summer of 2008.
The show prompted dozens of listeners to come forward with stories of children being molested. Hikind has said that as many as four people a day over a three-month period last year approached him with accounts of secrets often kept for decades, allegations he shared with prosecutors.
He believes the problem extends beyond Brooklyn to other insular communities in other states.
Called Kol Tzedek, which means voice of justice in Hebrew, the outreach program will allow callers to remain anonymous until they're ready to identify themselves and meet with a social worker and prosecutors who specialize in sex crimes. The social worker who will run the program has worked with the Orthodox community on domestic violence and drug use, the prosecutor's office said.
"Some people will go to jail," Hynes said of suspected abusers. "Some people will get therapy. Some people will get a combination of jail and therapy."
Currently, the DA's office is prosecuting 16 suspected felony cases of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, said Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the district attorney's sex crimes bureau. It's also prosecuting three misdemeanor cases, she said.
All the cases' alleged victims are children or were children when the alleged abuse occurred, and some of the incidents involved multiple children, Jaus said.
"Over the years we've had a few indictments" of sex abuse suspects from the Orthodox Jewish community, Jaus said. The current 16 cases are an "indication of how there's been a change in the community," she said.
Hikind said rabbis are telling accusers, more than ever before, to go to the authorities.
Prosecutors have blamed stigma, shame and cultural isolation for victims' reluctance to come forward. Hikind said victims also fear that congregations will judge them and that revelations will hurt their families, particularly children's future marriage prospects.
"These are the things we're trying to break down," said Hikind, who has represented parts of Brooklyn for 27 years.
The new team also will visit schools and synagogues, where rabbis and other leaders will be asked to encourage victims to report abuse.
Studies have found Orthodox Jews account for as much as 10 percent of Jews nationwide, and a far greater share in parts of the New York metro area. Some 37 percent of the more than 516,000 Jews in Brooklyn are Orthodox, according to the UJA-Federation of New York, a Jewish social-service group.
Critics have said sex abuse claims are sometimes handled quietly in Orthodox rabbinical courts, rather than being reported to authorities.
However, some sexual abuse cases involving Orthodox Jewish schools have spilled into the secular legal system in Brooklyn.
In one case, a rabbi was charged with sexually abusing boys at an Orthodox school. He admitted no sexual wrongdoing but pleaded guilty in April 2008 to a misdemeanor child endangerment charge, was sentenced to three years of probation and was dismissed from the school.
Last month, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted an ultra-Orthodox rabbi of molesting his now-adult daughter through much of her childhood. He claimed he was being falsely accused by a daughter who rebelled against a strict upbringing.
Rabbi Shea Hecht, chairman of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education, applauded the district attorney for "tackling a problem that has been below the radar until now."
"Until today, a sexual predator had a hiding place in the Orthodox Jewish community, while their victims were forced to live in silence," Hecht said in a statement. "We're turning the corner on sexual abuse and realizing that we are not immune to these issues."
But some who attended Wednesday's announcement were more cautiously optimistic. One of them was David Mandel, the chief executive of Ohel Children's Home and Family Services, one of the organization working with Brooklyn prosecutors.
"It's another step," Mandel said.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Worldwide clergy abuse

CBC Worldwide Clergy Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church has had to deal with many accusations of sexual abuse by their clergy in dioceses all around the world. The following is a brief overview of some notable cases.
Charles Sylvestre might be one of the worst pedophile priests in Canadian history, but he's not the first.
Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland.
More than a dozen priests were convicted after decades of abusing young boys at the former Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's, Newfoundland. The orphanage closed in 1989, just six months after allegations of sexual and physical abuse were published by the media.
In 2005, the Diocese of St. George in Newfoundland almost sold off all of its property after agreeing to pay $13 million to 40 victims of Reverend Kevin Bennett, who was convicted in 1990 of hundreds of sexual assaults dating back to 1961.
Another major Canadian scandal happened in Cornwall, Ontario, involving allegations that a ring of pedophiles had operated there since the late 1950s. In 1992, a former altar boy came forward to say he had been sexually abused by two Roman Catholic priests in the late 1960s.
Police followed up on the complaint, and in 2001, Ontario Provincial Police charged 15 people with 100 charges including gross indecency and sexual assault. Only one person was ever convicted in the scandal, but in 2005 Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty announced he was establishing the Cornwall Public Inquiry. It began on February 16, 2006, and continues today.
United States
Parishes throughout the U.S. have been rocked by sex abuse scandals in recent years. The most notorious, perhaps, is the Archdiocese of Boston, where in 2002 priest John Geoghan, facing accusations of abuse by more than a hundred alleged victims, was convicted for sexual abusing a ten-year-old boy.
His trial helped shine light on a systemic crisis of clergy sexual abuse and an institutional pattern of shuffling abusive priests from parish to parish instead of turning them over to police. Cardinal Bernard Law, who had been the Archbishop of Boston for almost 20 years, was forced to resign over his handling of the abuse allegations.
Even before 2002, however, American dioceses were discovering the widespread problem of clergy sexual abuse. Allegations that cropped up in Lafayette, Louisiana in 1985 are considered to be have provoked a wave of revelations about clergy sexual abuse that swept through dioceses in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
In 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned a wide-ranging study into the nature and scope of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. That 120-page study identified 4,392 priests accused of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002, and estimated that American dioceses had paid out more than $420 million to compensate alleged victims.
The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales faced its own clergy sex abuse crisis in the late 1990s, when 25 priests (out of 5,600) were convicted.
Though the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales had established a fledgling sexual policy in 1994, it proved ineffective, and in 2000, Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, invited British judge Lord Nolan to help examine and review arrangements made for child protection and the prevention of abuse within the Church, and to make recommendations. Those recommendations came out in 2001 and were reviewed last year.There were 132 allegations of sexual abuse clergy in 2002, but according to the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Young Adults, that number has declined steadily ever since. In 2004, for example, 111 alleged victims came forward; 56 came forward in 2005.
At least 20 Irish priests were convicted between 1992 and 2002, according to BBC reports, forcing Cardinal Desmond Connell, then the head of Ireland's Roman Catholic Church, to express "deep regret" for "inadequacies" in church responses to allegations of child sex abuse by priests. Church officials agreed to investigate all complaints of sexual abuse dating back 60 years.
Ultimately, sex scandals would force all but one seminary to close and force one bishop to resign amidst criticism of his handling of abuse by clergy in his diocese.
In 2005, the Irish Bishops' Conference published Our Children, Our Church, a set of policies and procedures for protecting children and young people within the church that is to be put into effect in every diocese.

Catholic diocese seeks bankruptcy protection

Nfld. Catholic diocese seeks bankruptcy protection
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 9, 2005 1:06 PM ET
CBC News
A Roman Catholic diocese in Newfoundland is filing for bankruptcy protection, saying the move is necessary in order to give sexual abuse victims the best possible compensation package.
INDEPTH: Catholicism in Canada
The St. George's diocese, based in Corner Brook and taking in the westernmost third of the island of Newfoundland, announced its action late Tuesday.
Bishop Douglas Crosby said the diocese does not have the $50 million in compensation that the 36 victims of Father Kevin Bennett are seeking, and bankruptcy protection will allow the diocese to negotiate a realistic package for the victims.
"It gives us time to work with the victims to put out all of our resources and make sure that everybody knows everything, [that] nothing is hidden, and that we can come up with a compensation package that is accepted by them and satisfactory to the court," said Crosby.
Churches, other assets might be sold
If the diocese gets bankruptcy protection, it will have 30 days to work out a deal with the victims and other creditors.
If it doesn't, the diocese will automatically be bankrupt and its assets will be liquidated. That could include churches, parish buildings and land.
Greg Stack is the lawyer who represents the 36 men whom Bennett molested over the course of 28 years while they were altar boys at his parishes.
FROM MARCH 25, 2004: Top court declines to rule on Catholic Church's liability
On Tuesday, he said he believes the diocese has enough assets to pay the $50 million in compensation without liquidating, especially since it carried insurance that should shoulder some of the cost.
"If there have to be 'For Sale' signs put on the churches and the different buildings and so on ... so be it," he said.
"But we don't think that will be called for."
Move called delaying tactic
Stack calls the diocese's move a stalling tactic that "freezes all the legal avenues we have in order to get compensation for them."
He had expected to be in court Wednesday to seek an interim payment from the diocese.
"There's an awful lot of continued disappointment with their church," Stack said in describing the reaction of some of his clients, who have been trying to get compensation since Bennett was convicted in 1990 on charges of assaulting them.
"Their church has attacked them for 15 years and has funded legal action against them... They have been vindicated at every stage of the proceedings."

Notorious orphanage closed

CBC Digital Archives

Notorious Mount Cashel orphanage to close
Broadcast Date: Nov. 27, 1989Canada's most infamous orphanage is closing its doors. For almost a century, the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John's, N.L. was a symbol of Christian charity. But by 1989, it has become synonymous with the terrible physical and sexual abuse inflicted on its residents by members of the Christian Brothers. In the wake of that scandal, the decision is made to finally close the site. In this clip, acting social services minister Chris Decker talks about the conflicting emotions the announcement brings

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Vatican to investigate scandals in religious order
Last updated March 31, 2009 2:14 p.m. PT
Vatican to investigate scandalized religious order

Pope John Paul II gives his blessing to father Marcial Maciel, founder of Legionaries of Christ, during a special audience the pontiff granted to about four thousand participants of the Regnum Christi movement, at the Vatican, Italy, in this Nov. 30, 2004 file photo. Maciel died in 2008 at age 87. Pope Benedict XVI has taken the extraordinary step of ordering an investigation into a conservative Roman Catholic order that recently disclosed that its late founder had fathered a child. The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said investigators would visit all of the institutions run by the Legionaries of Christ, one of the fastest-growing orders in the Roman Catholic church. (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri, File)
NEW YORK -- Pope Benedict XVI has taken the extraordinary step of ordering a Vatican investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, the influential, conservative religious order that has acknowledged that its founder fathered a child and molested seminarians.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the No. 2 man in the Vatican, said church leaders will visit and evaluate all seminaries, schools and other institutions run by the Legion worldwide.
Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said in a statement made public Tuesday that the Vatican was stepping in "so that with truth and transparency, in a climate of fraternal and constructive dialogue, you will overcome the present difficulties."
The Legion revealed in February that its founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel of Mexico, had fathered a daughter who is now in her 20s and lives in Spain. Maciel died in 2008 at age 87.
The disclosure caused turmoil inside the religious order and its lay affiliate, Regnum Christi. The groups teach that Maciel was a hero whose life should be studied and emulated.
The news also raised many questions - from the order's critics and defenders alike - that the Legion still hasn't publicly answered, about whether any current leaders covered up Maciel's misdeeds and whether any donations were used to facilitate the misconduct or pay victims.
There is no way to predict the outcome of the evaluation. Germain Grisez, a prominent moral theologian at Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland, has said the Legion should be shut down.
In a statement Tuesday, the director of the religious order, the Rev. Alvaro Corcuera, expressed his "deep gratitude" for the review, called an Apostolic Visitation.
Yet, the Holy See undertakes these extraordinary investigations when it considers a group unable to correct a major problem on its own. In 2002, at the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal, the Vatican ordered an evaluation of all U.S. seminaries.
"The Vatican is - in an exquisitely cautious way - trying to decide whether to keep the Mexicans who are running the order and to determine whether the Legion is a kind of cult," said Jason Berry, a New Orleans journalist who has written about the Legion for years and produced the film "Vows of Silence," about the Holy See's review of abuse claims against Maciel.
The Legion was formed in 1941 and became one of the most influential and fastest-growing orders in the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II championed the group, which became known for its orthodox theology, military-style discipline, fund-raising prowess and success recruiting priests at a time when seminary enrollment was generally dismal.
The group says it now has more than 800 priests and 2,500 seminarians worldwide, along with 50,000 Regnum Christi members. In the U.S. alone, the Legion has two dozen or so prep schools, along with a few seminaries for teenage boys, and it has been building a college - the University of Sacramento - in California.
Yet, the order and its lay affiliate, Regnum Christi, had detractors throughout its rise. Critics condemned the group's secrecy vows that barred public criticism of a superior, and its practice of limiting contact between seminarians or Regnum Christi members and their families.
Former members eventually formed support groups, such as the ReGain Network, to warn others against joining, and, in some cases, to help families get their relatives out. In 2007, the Legion sued ReGain to stop them from publicizing internal documents from the order.
The Legion was partly insulated from criticism by prominent supporters of its work, including George Weigel, the American biographer of John Paul; former U.S. drug czar William Bennett; and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard University law professor who was a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican under President George W. Bush. Legion leaders often vilified the order's critics as liberals who wanted to attack John Paul and the church.
But the group's reputation began unraveling in 2006, a year into Benedict's pontificate, when the Vatican instructed Maciel to lead a "reserved life of prayer and penance" in response to the abuse allegations. Nine men had told the Vatican that Maciel had molested them decades before when they were young adults studying for the priesthood.
Around the same time, several U.S. dioceses - including those in Atlanta, St. Paul and Minneapolis, and Baton Rouge, La. - set strong limits on the Legion's work. Last year, Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien restricted the Legion's local recruitment for the priesthood.
However, it was only after the disclosure this year about Maciel's daughter that leaders acknowledged publicly that the priest also molested seminarians.
"He (Maciel) was asked to do penance in 2006 and still they were holding him up as their hero, their icon," O'Brien said in an interview, after warning local parishioners last month they should not join the group. "That shows how insensitive they were and I think, right now, unaware of the damage that's being done not coming out and saying things."
Jay Dunlap, a former national spokesman for the Legion who now teaches in its schools, wrote an apology on his personal blog for defending Maciel.
"It is now clear that Father Maciel did, in fact, abuse his power and abuse young people in his charge," Dunlap wrote.
Weigel and other supporters of the religious order have been pressing leaders for a full disclosure of Maciel's wrongdoing so the Legion can move forward.
The end result of the global investigation depends largely on the Vatican's instruction to the bishops who are appointed to lead the review, and whether the prelates are able to pierce what Weigel has called the Legion's "institutionalized culture of defensiveness."
The team of investigators will be named by the Vatican and begin work within the next several months.