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.
To many, the headlines sound wonderful. To me, they’re heartbreaking:
“Pope Tightens Rules on Child Sex Abuse”
“Vatican broadens child abuse crimes in legal reform”
“Pope widens criminal punishment for child abuse in Vatican”
“Pope issues first penal laws for Vatican, criminalizes leaks of Vatican info, child sex abuse”
How can this be bad news?
1) According to BishopAccountability.org, there are 66 proven, admitted, and credibly accused predators within the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
(This number does not include the perhaps dozens of relative order predators who have lived or worked--or still live or work--in the Milwaukee Archdiocese now.)
Two words of advice to anyone who might feel down about the news about our International Criminal Court complaint: “Chin up.”
This is a bump in the road. It’s far, far, far from the end of the road.
The ICC isn’t like US courts. We can, have and will go back to the ICC, submitting more and more proof, for however long it takes. At any point, the prosecutor can say “Now, we’re opening an investigation.” We are still very confident that, at some point, this will happen.
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.