In a new decision, Vatican officials are refusing to defrock a serial predator priest, Msgr. Wallace A. Harris, and NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan is quietly going along with the reckless decision.
In 2010, Dolan quietly let this prominent and powerful priest quietly resign from his Harlem parish, deliberately and deceptively leaving the impression that he was stepping aside because of alleged health problems. Dolan knew then that Harris had been accused by at least ten men of sexually assaulting them when they were kids.
Still, despite repeated promises to be “transparent” in child sex cases, Dolan only hinted to only one group of parishioners at only one church that the accusations against Harris were credible, letting many of them believe their pastor was innocent but beset with health issues and leaving for that reason.
And now Dolan, who so vigorously pledges to be “open” about clergy sexual abuse, refuses to even disclose where Harris is.
Catholic officials often claim to be “monitoring” or “supervising” child molesting clerics. Hundreds of times, however, those promises have been broken and more innocent lives have been devastated. If Harris is truly in a secure, remote and professionally run treatment center, why won’t Dolan clearly say so and tell his flock where it is?
It’s very likely that many of Harris’ former flock believe he’s innocent. Dolan can and should dispel this dangerous myth. But he hasn’t and he won’t.
And it’s likely that Harris could be criminally prosecuted for child sex crimes. Dolan should try to make this happen, by using his massive resources and bully pulpit to beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police. But he hasn’t and he won’t.
Like most of his peers, in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, Dolan continues to do the absolute bare minimum.
Here are two other recent clergy sex cases in which Dolan has acted irresponsibly.
--Several months ago, Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx, the public learned that there was child porn on an assistant principal Lawrence Gordon’s school computer.
But Catholic officials – including Dolan - kept silent for nine months about the child porn, giving the criminal and his supervisors ample time to destroy evidence, fabricate alibis, intimidate witnesses, threaten whistleblowers and thwart law enforcement.
For a solid decade, Dolan and his peers have promised to be “open” about child sex crimes. But for most of last year, he was keeping such crimes secret. There’s just no excuse for Catholic officials keeping parents in the dark about child porn at their kids’ school month after month.
--Last August, Dolan similarly made no moves to help resolve child sex accusations against Fr. Jaime Duenas.
In a short statement on the archdiocesan website, Dolan didn’t ask Catholics or citizens to do a thing when Duenas was arrested. It is crucial that victims, witnesses and whistleblowers be urged to call police and prosecutors. Dolan is not dumb. He knows appeals like this are often effective. But instead of begging anyone with information or suspicions to call the cops, he said nothing.
Dolan suspended Duenas. Big deal. That’s the absolute bare minimum a Catholic official should do when an alleged child predator is arrested. Any other employer would do the very same thing (and likely more).
Dolan also posted on his blog a mean-spirited statement which attacked the teenaged victim:
Years ago in Milwaukee, Dolan posted names of child molesting clerics on his archdiocesan website. In New York, he refuses to take even this simple, inexpensive step toward protecting kids. He’s going backwards, not forwards, regarding child safety.
Dolan clearly enjoys talking with reporters and has been praised as ‘a good communicator. ‘Yet in child sex cases – this one and others - he says little or nothing and has his public relations professionals say little or nothing substantive or helpful.
Dolan has an awful – but carefully hidden - track record on child safety and is not making children safer.