A twist on the old "accused priest flees overseas"pattern
By David Clohessy
In a lot of ways, the new Fr. Manuel Gallo Espinoza case is much like the Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul case. But it’s worse.
Fr. Jeyapaul generated international headlines when he was pled guilty this summer – after a long, hard extradition process - to sexually assaulting a Minnesota girl in the Crookston diocese. (Thanks to the courage of another victim, Megan Peterson.)
Now comes Fr. Espinoza who, like Fr. Jeyapaul, fled overseas after abuse reports against him were made. (He worked in Newark and taught in Virginia, Maryland and Equador.)
Here’s the difference.
First, Fr. Jeyapaul claims it was coincidental that he was home in India before law enforcement could nab him. But Fr. Espinoza says two Catholic colleagues urge him to escape abroad before law enforcement could nab him.
And Fr. Jeyapaul denied his guilt for years. Just weeks ago, Fr. Espinoza admitted his guilt.
Fr. Espinoza is, frankly, just a run-of-mill predator making the same sorry excuses predators make. (He “was drunk,” “made a mistake,” “only did it once,” the boy “wanted it,” and “wasn’t so innocent” and “now wants money.” Bla, bla, bla.)
Let’s focus instead on the Catholic hierarchy.
At least four bishops are involved: Newark Archbishop John Myers, Maryland Archbishop William Lori, Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde and Equador Bishop Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus. When did they know that Fr. Espinoza:
--was accused of abuse,
--returned to the US,
--was teaching in two more states,
--fled overseas again, and
--admitted his crimes?
And when did those bishops issue strong, clear public warnings to police, prosecutors, parents, parishioners in the public? (The answer, of course, is basically NEVER.)
We’ll soon get answers to all these questions, of course. Why? Because bishops are “open and transparent” in clergy sex cases these days, right? Because the days of secrecy by bishops are over, right?
Don’t hold your breath.
How about Fr. Jevie Hercules and Antonino Salazar. They’re the two Newark archdiocesan staffers who reportedly told Fr. Espinoza to hightail it out of Dodge. Think Catholic priests and employees and church members will defrock, demote, discipline or denounce them?
Again, don’t hold your breath. That continues to be the Rubicon that the Catholic hierarchy refuses to cross: punitive action against those who conceal abuse.
It’s also worth noting when all this took place. As New Jersey SNAP leader Mark Crawford pointed out, “The ink wasn’t even dry on the new US church abuse policy when these two Catholic officials were telling an accused pedophile to hop on a plane and escape.”
Next month, millions will gush over Pope Francis when he comes to the US. I’ll gush too, **IF** he uses the world’s biggest bully pulpit to blast corrupt Newark Catholic officials and then harshly punishes them for helping an admitted predator escape justice and keep teaching. But not until then.
Here are our statements about this case:
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.