When Timothy Dolan was appointed to run the Archdiocese of New York in 2010, he expediently left behind him a Milwaukee Archdiocese on the verge of bankruptcy for fraudulently concealing and transferring scores of known clerical child sex offenders.
Finally, ten years after coming to Milwaukee and failing to resolve the sex abuse crisis here, Dolan is under oath today in a deposition for the Milwaukee Federal Bankruptcy Court. In it, Dolan is going to hopefully have to answer many disturbing and detailed questions about how handled abusive clerics, their victims, and the tens of millions of dollars he transferred and took off the books before the archdiocese declared the bankruptcy.
Since the bankruptcy filing and following the blueprint and blessing left by Dolan before going to New York, church attorneys have launched an unprecedented legal attack on victims, attempting over the last two years to do little else than throw out every single case filed by victims and, in hearing tomorrow, claiming that the 10 million dollars the church has spent on the sex abuse bankruptcy has gone entirely into the pockets of lawyers and consultants. There is no money left, they now claim, to provide any restitution for victims.
It is absolutely essential that Dolan’s deposition is not placed under court seal at the request of church lawyers. In fact, Dolan himself should insist that his testimony be made public. The 570 victims of priest sex offenders who filed cases, Catholics of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, and the public deserve to read and see Dolan’s testimony.
Dolan, while in Milwaukee, did a lot of creative maneuvering of priest sex offenders and creative accounting of church money. In the Catholic Church, money and sex crimes are deeply interwoven, of course. And no person among the new elite of Cardinals and Bishops appointed by the exiting Benedict XVI exemplifies this more than Dolan, especially during his eight years as head of Milwaukee archdiocese.
For instance, Dolan, only months after arriving in Milwaukee and according to court documents filed last year, devised an incentive scheme in 2003 to pay “signing bonuses” to priests who had raped and sexually assaulted children to complete Vatican paperwork so they would quickly and quietly leave the priesthood, be dumped into unsuspecting communities, and find new jobs. Some of these priests we now know landed in new work with children and families. When victims questioned Dolan in 2007 about one notorious pedophile priest who had been paid to leave the priesthood, Dolan called the charge “false, preposterous and unjust.”
Dolan’s legacy in Milwaukee also includes leaving scores of sex offender clerics, many of them religious order priests, unidentified in Wisconsin communities, some likely in ministry. He did not forward to Wisconsin police direct admissions of guilt from clergy child rapists, even from clergy who were subsequently criminally charged and convicted. He created a highly questionable “mediation program” for victims now under court scrutiny, led the fight against child sexual abuse reform legislation at the state capitol, and left secure at their chancery posts are virtually every single member of the senior management who plotted and executed the cover up of child sex abuse under Dolan's disgraced predecessor, Rembert Weakland.
At particular issue in today’s deposition is the transfer by Dolan of tens of millions of dollars into newfangled trusts and accounts before the bankruptcy filing, including 55 million dollars into a specious new “cemetery trust”.
Perhaps what is most painful, Dolan directly promised transparency and truth to the victims of the now infamous Fr. Lawrence Murphy, whom Milwaukee church officials had determined sexually assaulted at least 200 deaf children at a church operated boarding school. Instead, victims say Dolan or archdiocesan officials told them in mediation that the archdiocese had no prior and extensive knowledge of Murphy’s crimes before they were assaulted. Recently obtained church documents since then now show this is clearly false.
Dolan’s testimony is going to give him an unparalleled opportunity to address the long standing issues and pain related to clerical sex crimes and cover up that he left with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. By Dolan insisting his testimony not be sealed, he can finally explain himself, and we all need to hear it.
For a SNAP Fact Sheet on Dolan’s record on sex abuse cases in Milwaukee and St. Louis, click here.