MD -- Victims hope Catholic abuse case goes to trial
For immediate release: Friday, March 13
We are glad that an ex-employee is suing the Baltimore archdiocese and we hope the case goes to trial so that parents and the public learn more about child sex abuse allegations at a Catholic school.
Frankly, we suspect that Annette Goodman is telling the truth and that Catholic officials are trying to cover their behinds here. We urge top staff at Archbishop Curley High School and the Baltimore archdiocese to honor their pledges of “openness” in child sex cases and be more forthcoming about the child sex abuse accusations at the school and how they were handled.
Based on initial media reports, we called on church officials to fire Ms. Goodman.
But it’s looking more and more like she was actually scapegoated. We’re anxious for the full truth to emerge in this case.
Catholic officials often tout their written abuse policies which they adopted belatedly and grudgingly in response to widespread scandal, criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits and public outrage. But those same Catholic officials often ignore and violate these policies.
And when Catholic school and parish staff see top church officials violating those policies often, it’s tempting for them to move slowly with child sex suspicions. Employees naturally watch and respond to how their bosses act more than what their bosses say. And when actions contradict words, actions are what matters.
It’s becoming clear that church abuse policies are largely for public relations purposes and bishops’ decades-old patterns of ignoring, hiding and minimizing child sex abuse remain intact.
We stress today the same comments we made last year about this case:
We urge Catholic officials to discipline two Catholic officials who are calling these crimes "a relationship."
They are wrong and callous to do so. It's misleading and hurtful to call child sex crimes "a relationship." That implies equality and consent that cannot exist between an adult and a child, especially between a teacher and a student.
Baltimore Archbishop William Lori's spokesman used that insensitive and inaccurate phrase in a radio interview. And school president Fr. Joseph Benicewicz did the same in a letter to parents.
These are well-educated church officials who have considerable experience handing child sex crimes. They know better. But they deliberately choose to use misleading and minimizing language that rubs more salt into the wounds of child sex abuse victims. Shame on them. They should be punished.
Finally, Lori's spokesman claims church officials are "doing everything” they can in this situation. That's not true either. Catholic officials say this often but evidence shows they largely do the bare minimum.
Lori should personally visit the school, urging students, staff and parents to disclose any suspicions or information they may have to law enforcement. He should post the teacher's name, face and work history on his archdiocesan website with the same plea, prodding victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers to contact secular authorities, not church officials.
We are grateful for law enforcement for getting this dangerous teacher away from kids. And we hope this victim's family will help police and prosecutors charge and convict Lynette Trotta and anyone else at Archbishop Curley High School who may have ignored or concealed her crimes.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Former librarian sues school over firing after sex abuse case
Plaintiff says she was fired for waiting too long to report Lynette Trotta case
UPDATED 7:57 AM EDT Mar 13, 2015
BALTIMORE —A Baltimore City school is being sued over a sex abuse case involving a teacher and a student by the librarian who reported the abuse.
Annette Goodman has a new job, but she's not over how she was fired from her last one as librarian at Archbishop Curley High School.
"They did it in a way that really wasn't necessary. They published her name in the newspaper and treated her as if she was a wrongdoer," said Goodman's attorney, Linda Correia.
Correia is helping Goodman sue the school and the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
On March 6, 2014, Goodman said she had heard that a Curley teacher, Lynette Trotta, was having sex with a student who was a minor. Goodman said she later confirmed it through that student. She reported it to school leadership on April 1.
Trotta, who pleaded guilty and is on probation, was fired, but Goodman was also fired because the archdiocese said she took too long to report the abuse.
"The archdiocese and its schools conduct extensive training with all employees and volunteers on child abuse prevention and reporting. Employees know that Maryland state law and school policies require immediate reports to civil authorities followed by a written report within 48 hours of learning of a suspicion of child abuse. We do not believe we should pay an award to someone who knowingly fails to report child abuse for weeks," the Archdiocese of Baltimore said in a statement to 11 News.
In the lawsuit, Goodman claims she did not know about that 48-hour reporting law. Correia said she had good reason to wait.
'She wanted to be sure that what she was reporting to the school administrators wasn't just rumor. This is a very serious allegation," Correia said.
Goodman also claims another teacher at Curley had already raised concerns to school leadership about Trotta's alleged relationship with the student.
Goodman is suing based on Title 9 federal law, which prohibits schools from retaliating against someone who reports such abuse.
"She was fired, she thinks, because the school was trying to deflect its own responsibility for not responding to known problems with this teacher," Correia said.
Goodman is seeking an undisclosed amount of money in the lawsuit.
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.