The disturbing new revelations about Cardinal Dolan raise a troubling question: What other secret deals and 'incentives' did and does he offer to pedophile priests?
Does he promise cash if they plead guilty in court and avoid long, embarrassing trials? Does he pledge to keep paying them if they'll settle civil lawsuits quickly and quietly, without disclosing how church officials hid their crimes? Does he offer money if foreign-born sex offender priests flee the US and return to their native lands?
This new revelation is disturbing on two levels: process and content.
First, it's disturbing because Dolan lied. And he's had years to 'come clean.' Six years ago, he emphatically denied paying predators to go away. At any point since then, he could have said "I'm sorry. I must confess. I deceived parishioners and the public when I denied paying child molesting clerics to leave." But he didn’t.
Second, it’s disturbing because it’s irresponsible for Catholic officials to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, transfer, and shield predators priests, then suddenly and quietly let them loose on an unsuspecting public with no warning or restrictions.
If these child molesting clerics are too dangerous to have in parishes, they’re too dangerous to have walking free and working among neighbors and colleagues and relatives who are told nothing of their crimes.
If Dolan believes a priest assaulted a kid, he should do everything humanly possible to help get him prosecuted. He should promptly give the priests personnel files to law enforcement. He should have used his vast resources and bully pulpit to beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call the police. He should personally visited every parish and school where the priest worked, urging people with knowledge or suspicions to speak up. He should put the priest’s name, photo, whereabouts and work history on every archdiocesan and parish website and in the archdiocesan newspaper and parish bulletins.
If Dolan is convinced his approach – paying predators off – is morally responsible, he should be up front about it, and not deny it. And he should be honest about where the money for predator priests comes from.
And if Dolan thinks the Vatican defrocks child molesting clerics too slowly, then he should rally his brother bishops to fight for a more streamlined process.
But he surely knows that prison time for predators, not a speedier defrocking process, is what really protects children.
The Vatican moves slowly with child molesters. But the police usually don’t. And Dolan knows this. But rather than call 911 and risk publicity about another predator priest, Dolan prefers to quietly pay them to go away (and calls it “charity.”)
As disappointing as it may be to some, despite his affable demeanor and considerable charm, Dolan deals with clergy sex crimes and cover ups the same way his colleagues have and do – trying to keep everything quiet so that the jobs and reputations of top church staff are preserved. The safety of kids, the healing of victims, and the telling of truth are secondary concerns.
For evidence of this, please read the statements below about Dolan’s handling of two NY predator priest cases- Fr. Jaime Duenas and Msgr. Wallace Harris - in recent years.
Victims blast Dolan & Vatican over serial predator priest ruling
Statement by Mary Caplan, SNAP Board Member - February 2, 2012
In a new decision, Vatican officials are refusing to defrock a serial predator priest, Msgr. Wallace A. Harris, and NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan is quietly going along with the reckless decision.
In 2010, Dolan quietly let this prominent and powerful priest quietly resign from his Harlem parish, deliberately and deceptively leaving the impression that he was stepping aside because of alleged health problems. Dolan knew then that Harris had been accused by at least ten men of sexually assaulting them when they were kids.
Still, despite repeated promises to be “transparent” in child sex cases, Dolan only hinted to only one group of parishioners at only one church that the accusations against Harris were credible, letting many of them believe their pastor was innocent but beset with health issues and leaving for that reason.
And now Dolan, who so vigorously pledges to be “open” about clergy sexual abuse, refuses to even disclose where Harris is.
Catholic officials often claim to be “monitoring” or “supervising” child molesting clerics. Hundreds of times, however, those promises have been broken and more innocent lives have been devastated. If Harris is truly in a secure, remote and professionally run treatment center, why won’t Dolan clearly say so and tell his flock where it is?
It’s very likely that many of Harris’ former flock believe he’s innocent. Dolan can and should dispel this dangerous myth. But he hasn’t and he won’t.
And it’s likely that Harris could be criminally prosecuted for child sex crimes. Dolan should try to make this happen, by using his massive resources and bully pulpit to beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police. But he hasn’t and he won’t.
Like most of his peers, in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, Dolan continues to do the absolute bare minimum.
Here are two other recent clergy sex cases in which Dolan has acted irresponsibly.
--Several months ago, Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx, the public learned that there was child porn on an assistant principal Lawrence Gordon’s school computer.
But Catholic officials – including Dolan - kept silent for nine months about the child porn, giving the criminal and his supervisors ample time to destroy evidence, fabricate alibis, intimidate witnesses, threaten whistleblowers and thwart law enforcement.
For a solid decade, Dolan and his peers have promised to be “open” about child sex crimes. But for most of last year, he was keeping such crimes secret. There’s just no excuse for Catholic officials keeping parents in the dark about child porn at their kids’ school month after month.
--Last August, Dolan similarly made no moves to help resolve child sex accusations against Fr. Jaime Duenas.
In a short statement on the archdiocesan website, Dolan didn’t ask Catholics or citizens to do a thing when Duenas was arrested. It is crucial that victims, witnesses and whistleblowers be urged to call police and prosecutors. Dolan is not dumb. He knows appeals like this are often effective. But instead of begging anyone with information or suspicions to call the cops, he said nothing.
Dolan suspended Duenas. Big deal. That’s the absolute bare minimum a Catholic official should do when an alleged child predator is arrested. Any other employer would do the very same thing (and likely more).
Dolan also posted on his blog a mean-spirited statement which attacked the teenaged victim:
Years ago in Milwaukee, Dolan posted names of child molesting clerics on his archdiocesan website. In New York, he refuses to take even this simple, inexpensive step toward protecting kids. He’s going backwards, not forwards, regarding child safety.
Dolan clearly enjoys talking with reporters and has been praised as ‘a good communicator. ‘Yet in child sex cases – this one and others - he says little or nothing and has his public relations professionals say little or nothing substantive or helpful.
Dolan has an awful – but carefully hidden - track record on child safety and is not making children safer.
For immediate release: Thursday, August 4, 2011
NYC archbishop Dolan blasted over pedophile priest
Statement by Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director 314-862-7688 SNAPdorris@gmail.com
There are two important lessons here.
First, Archbishop Dolan and his brother bishops continue breaking their decade-old pledge to be “open and transparent” about clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
Dolan could and should have disclosed Fr. Jaime Duenas’ arrest and warned parents, parishioners and the public about him. Instead, only through the news media did Duenas’ arrest become known.
Just like Dolan did with Msgr. Wallace Harris, he’s acting secretively now in a child sex case just like Catholic officials have done for centuries.
Second, there’s no magic age at which a pedophile is cured. We must stop thinking that because a man may be bald, stoop-shouldered and slow-moving, somehow he’s automatically “safe.” It’s just stupid for us to endanger kids by assuming an adult is “harmless” simply because he or she is older. Losing hair, wearing glasses, using hearing aids or walking with a cane can be signs of advancing age. They are not signs that an individual is safe around kids.
Some crimes require physical strength or speed. Not pedophilia. Child molesters use their cunning, not their brute power, to abuse kids. So as child molesters get older, they often get more dangerous, not less dangerous.
We call on Dolan to stop acting passively and secretly, and start acting compassionately and aggressively. We urge him to personally visit every parish where Duenas worked, begging anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes to contact police and prosecutors.
For immediate release: Friday, August 5, 2011
Victims to NY archbishop: “Help cops, do outreach”
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPclohessy@aol.com, 314-566-9790)
We’re very disappointed by how Archbishop Timothy Dolan is responding to the arrest of an alleged predator priest. We call on him to use his vast resources and powerful post to help police and prosecutors get the full truth about the accusations against Fr. Jaime Duenas.
In a short statement on the archdiocesan website, Dolan’s public relations staffer doesn’t ask Catholics or citizens to do a thing. It is crucial that victims, witnesses and whistleblowers be urged to call police and prosecutors. Dolan is not dumb. He knows appeals like this are often effective. But instead of begging anyone with information or suspicions to call the cops, he says nothing.
So we’ll say it here: If you have knowledge or suspicions - however old, small or seemingly insignificant - about clergy sex crimes, it's your moral and civic duty to call police. Please summon the courage to do what's right, call law enforcement and hopefully prevent more devastated lives.
Dolan’s spokesman says Dolan has suspended Duenas. Big deal. That’s the absolute bare minimum a Catholic official should do when an alleged child predator is arrested. Any other employer would do the very same thing (and likely more).
Incidentally, a news report out today quotes two women who say that they felt uncomfortable around Fr. Duenas:http://www.wpix.com/news/wpix-priest-abuse-victims-speak,0,3795670.story
Finally, we stand by our criticism of Dolan yesterday.
The first media report of Duenas’ arrest was around 7 p.m. on Wednesday. That means the priest was likely arrested at least an hour, and most likely several hours, earlier. The first indication that someone learned of the arrest from the archdiocese came at 2:21 p.m. on Thursday, when an Associated Press story said "the New York Archdiocese reports. . . "
So it evidently took 20 to 24 hours after the priest’s arrest to see any evidence that the archdiocese notified anyone.
(A Dolan public relations staffer says a statement was posted on the archdiocesan website Thursday morning. We checked three times early on Thursday and nothing was posted by the time we issued our statement. There IS a brief statement posted there now and is copied below.)
Why does this matter? Because minutes and hours and days are crucial in a criminal investigation. Every second a predator's crimes are kept secret gives him and his allies time to destroy evidence, fabricate alibis, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses and discredit whistleblowers.
Just yesterday, in North Carolina, a Catholic priest “pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice after trying to foil a police investigation by deleting pornographic images of children from the parish music minister's home computer.” http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20110805/NEWS/308050026/Former-Asheville-pastor-guilty-obstruction-child-porn-case?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage
A California child molesting cleric successfully fled overseas during the time between his admission of guilt to his bishop and the bishop’s late call to police. (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2006/05_06/2006_06_22_Kovner_OfficialsFault.htm)
The minute he made bail, it’s not hard to imagine Fr. Duenas calling
---a church secretary or a fellow priest and asking them to throw away or destroy a CD or a file that contains evidence of his guilt,
---a victim and threatening her to keep quiet, or
---a potential whistleblower and threatening to have him fired.
So it’s important, in criminal cases especially, that Dolan and other church officials move quickly to protect kids, preserve evidence, help law enforcement and potentially thwart a criminal trying to cover his tracks. Dolan hasn't done and isn't doing this.
(Dolan clearly enjoys talking with reporters and has been praised as a good communicator. Yet he’s apparently said nothing about Fr. Duenas’ arrest. The archdiocese has issued one brief statement in the name of one of Dolan’s public relations professionals.)
Annette Nestler-SNAP Southern New Jersey