Audacious is a word I don’t use often. But it leapt to mind this morning when I read that a child molesting cleric at a New York archdiocesan parish is being ousted from ministry.
“Audacious” is the best way I can describe Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s letter to the flock at Church of the Holy Name of Mary parish in Croton-on-Hudson.
Here’s how the dictionary defines “audacious” – “extremely bold or daring; recklessly brave; fearless” or “recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like; insolent; brazen.”
A Detroit predator priest was recently ousted. Archbishop Allen Vigneron made a formal announcement. It implied this was the first allegation against the priest.
But it wasn’t.
Today, an Ohio jury found Fr. Robert Poandl guilty of molesting a boy years ago.
But in the most crucial sense, this brave victim and his family won long before today.
It feels like justice for child sex abuse comes in waves. There will be a string of stunningly negative court decisions over days and then there’s a sudden reversal, and a series of positive legal developments will happen.
In Canada, for instance, a judge recently ruled that two sisters from Ontario must pay their uncle $125,000 in libel damages for allegedly accusing him - falsely - of sexually assaulting them when they were children.
And in Montana, a judge recently gave a child molesting teacher a depressingly light sentence, claiming that his 14-year-old victim is “older than her chronological age” and “as much control of the situation” as the teacher.
Last week, another child molesting nun was publicly exposed. She’s Sister Agnes Daniels, who worked at St. Mary School in Boston when she reportedly committed the abuse. (Thanks to attorney Mitchell Garabedian for disclosing the accusations.)
In July, two other abusive nuns were publicly exposed: Sister Agnes Santomassimo and Sister Mary Joseph. Both allegedly molested in California. (Santomassimo also worked in Chicago. Joseph also worked in Idaho, Arizona and Washington state.)
Smart, brave victims of Dubuque area predator priests have forced Catholic officials there – as part of lawsuit settlements - to post names of child molesting clerics on the archdiocesan website. We’re always thrilled when survivors use lawsuits to pry information from the church hierarchy and use that information to warn parents about pedophiles.
But there is helpful information that illuminates and less helpful information that obfuscates.
The Dubuque Archdiocese seems committed to less helpful information that obfuscates.
A month ago, writing about the recent and troubling criminal and civil cases against a St. Louis priest, the Post-Dispatch urged Archbishop Robert Carlson to “live up to his promise to be open and transparent.”
This week, Carlson basically thumbed his nose at the Post’s advice, proving, again, that his pledges to be “open” in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases are phony.
Tomorrow, a California legislative panel will vote on SB 131, a measure that would make it easier for child sex abuse victims to expose child molesters in court.
Leading the charge against the measure: California’s Catholic bishops.
The highest ranking prelate in the state, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, claims that the bill
--“fails to protect all victims of childhood sexual abuse” (So if a bill doesn’t protect EVERYONE or fix EVERYTHING, it should be defeated?)
--“discriminates against Catholic schools” (Really? The bill doesn’t mention Catholic schools.)
--“discriminates against other private employers” (No, the bill focuses on private employers because that’s where history and common sense tell us abuse is more apt to be covered up. That’s not “discrimination,” that’s smart public policy.)
--“puts the Church’s social services and educational mission at risk” (Really? That’s what virtually every bishop says every time anyone proposes reforming the archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly statute of limitations.)
After of our annual conference (which was, by the way, a smashing success), I came home to a short stack of unread New York Times. Two stories in last Saturday's edition struck me.
One featured this headline: "France Orders Strauss-Kahn to Stand Trial." The one-time potential presidential candidate faces "charges linked to his involvement in a prostitution ring prosecutors say was operating in France and in the United States." Along with "a small group of French businessmen and police officials," Strauss-Kahn stands accused of pimping, or “aggravated procurement in a group,” a charge that "carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of 1.5 million euros," about $2 million.
It boggles my mind, but it's clear that some value the reputations of a few adults over the safety of many kids. This includes many who oppose reforming the child predator's best pal - the statute of limitations.
UCLA professor Stephen Bainbridge seems to be one such misguided individual. But instead of trotting out the usual stale arguments, Bainbridge has come up with a few new, and bizarre claims about why SOL is allegedly so terrible and why, he opposes California's SB 131, a measure we support.
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