NY - Judge's ruling protects Cardinal Dolan
For immediate release: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
Statement by Peter Isely of Milwaukee, national board member of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org)
A judge’s new ruling could further shield NY Cardinal Tim Dolan from the legal and public consequences of clergy child sex abuse cases he handled for eight years in Milwaukee.
The decision comes weeks after the same judge refused to rescue himself from the Milwaukee bankruptcy case even though he and his family have strong connections to the archdiocese.
Late yesterday, Judge Rudolph Randa ruled that a deaf survivor of the Fr. Lawrence Murphy is bound by an agreement he reached with church officials even though he was deceived in order to secure that agreement.
The agreement was reached in an archdiocesan program designed by Dolan in 2003. We believe the purpose of that program was to quickly and quietly settle with victims while deliberately misleading them about the archdiocese’s prior knowledge of the criminal history of abusers. At the same time, it induced victims to accept nominal restitution in exchange for waving all future legal rights. If the victim would later discover they had been deceived by Dolan and the archdiocese, as we now know they were, they would have no legal recourse.
For instance, long-secret church documents – released by court order - show that Dolan and the archdiocese misled victims and the public about when and how much church officials knew of Murphy’s history of assaulting deaf children.
Dozens of the 570 victims who filed cases in the bankruptcy entered into fraudulently induced agreements with the archdiocese, with the direction and approval of Dolan.
In an earlier decision similarly shielding the court from investigating Dolan’s possible fraudulent conduct, Randa supported Dolan’s transfer of $57 million of archdiocesan funds into a “cemetery trust”, thus eliminating it as an asset prior to the bankruptcy filing. Overturning a decision issued earlier by bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley, Randa said Dolan’s transfer could not be examined or investigated by the court because, even if fraudulent under US law, if the archdiocese says it was legal under Catholic “canon law” it is protected by the 1st amendment of the US Constitution and the free exercise of religion. Church documents obtained since the transfer, including correspondence between Dolan and the Vatican, show that Dolan created the trust to keep US courts from compensating victims.
Both of Randa’s decisions are being appealed.