News Story of the Day
New filings in a suit to stop the release of a Pennsylvania attorney general’s report on clergy sex abuse offer a window into who is seeking to keep the report secret and why.
The documents were made public Friday by the state Supreme Court, which blocked the release of the grand jury report until the appeals could be heard.
For decades, the Roman Catholic Church has gone to extremes to ignore, cover up and downplay the widespread sexual abuse and rape of boys and some girls across the world. So it comes as no surprise that nearly two dozen current and former priests are seeking to block the release of a grand jury report detailing serial sexual abuse in Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania.
Fight, deny, and delay have been the Catholic Church’s playbook when it comes to clergy sexual abuse. When all else fails, the church quietly pays confidential settlements to sweep cases under the rug.
Allegations against former area priest ‘not substantiated,’ diocese says, as alleged victim’s attorneys protest
By MATT SURTEL AND MALLORY DIEFENBACH, July 3, 2018. The Daily News
DUNKIRK — A former Batavia priest has returned to active ministry after sexual abuse allegations against him were found to be “not substantiated.”
Rev. Dennis G. Riter was placed on administrative leave in March. He returned to his duties at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Dunkirk this past weekend.
The complaints against Riter had been investigated by former Erie County assistant district attorney Scott F. Riordan on behalf of the Buffalo Diocese. Riordan was assistant chief of the Sexual Assault Bureau in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and is currently a village justice in Kenmore.
Riter was pastor from 2002 to 2009 at the former St. Mary’s Church in Batavia.
By Adam Baidawi, July 2, 2018, New York Times
MELBOURNE, Australia — The highest-ranking Catholic official to have been found guilty of concealing sexual crimes against children was sentenced to 12 months in detention by an Australian court on Tuesday.
The official, Philip Wilson, the archbishop of Adelaide, was sentenced a month after being found guilty of failing to report child sexual abuse. Archbishop Wilson is expected to serve his sentence under home detention, if a court agrees to the arrangement.
After his conviction, the archbishop gave up his duties but refused to resign. He was convicted of covering up abuse by a priest, Jim Fletcher, in the state of New South Wales in the 1970s.
July 1, 2018, Buffalo News
Special agents with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office used search warrants and subpoenas last year to seize evidence of a massive cover-up of clergy sex abuse in six Catholic dioceses in the state.
But despite growing revelations of sex abuse by priests in the Diocese of Buffalo, law enforcement authorities in New York aren't investigating whether crimes were committed in keeping the abuses hidden for so long.
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn and a spokeswoman for the state attorney general both said that their offices don't have the authority to investigate a diocese for criminal matters, although district attorneys in Westchester and Suffolk counties used grand juries to do that 16 years ago.
The Morning Call, June 21, 2018
These priests have been accused in court cases or published reports over the past two decades. This listing includes summaries of their cases and their status with the Allentown Diocese.
The Rev. Thomas Bender, former pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament in Bally, was sentenced to seven years' probation in 1988 for molesting a teenage Pottsville boy in the 1980s. A civil case with the boy and his family was settled by the diocese out of court. Bender was laicised, or defrocked.
Monsignor Lawrence J. Bukaty, former pastor of St. Katharine Drexel in Carbon County, was charged with public lewdness after a park ranger saw him fondling himself on a nude New Jersey beach in 2008. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and received probation. The diocese at the time said he was sent for treatment. He is no longer in ministry.
Written by: Rob Masson, June 29, 2018, Fox8
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The lawyer for a sexual abuse victim who landed a large settlement against the Archdiocese said more potential victims are coming forward. The victim said things should have never gone this far.
Attorney Roger Stetter has litigated nearly 80 cases against the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Last week, Stetter landed a half-million-dollar settlement from the Archdiocese for a man who said teacher and former Deacon George Brignac raped and sexually abused him at Holy Rosary Church.
WFMZ-TV 69, June 28, 2018
Civil lawsuit filed against Allentown Diocese
BATH, Pa. - The Allentown Diocese has removed a Catholic priest from ministry following allegations that he encouraged a teenage boy to masturbate while being counseled online by the priest.
Florida-based attorney Jeffrey Herman filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia Tuesday against Monsignor Francis Nave, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown and Bishop Alfred A. Schlert in connection to the alleged 2012 incidents.
Pa. Supreme Court explains why it blocked release of clergy sex-abuse report, citing challenges from 'many' people
By by Angela Couloumbis & Liz Navratil, June 25, 2018, The Philadelphia Inquirer
HARRISBURG — After being criticized for halting the release of a long-awaited grand jury report into clergy sex abuse, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday offered the first explanation of its decision, saying it needs to resolve legal challenges by “many individuals” named in the report who fear their reputations will be harmed.
In a five-page unsigned opinion, the justices offered no clues as to the identity of the petitioners, or the specifics about the circumstances of their objections. Instead, they explained that concerns had been raised about the secretive nature of the grand jury process and the ability of some people to address or respond to the allegations contained in the more than 800-page document, which details decades of abuse in six of the state’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses.
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.