News Story of the Day

Lawsuit pins down bishop in abuse case

Tyler Whetstone


Bishop Richard Stika admitted that he told a room full of priests that the man who says he was raped by a seminarian was actually the one who was the predator, not the other way around. The admission was revealed in new court filings in a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville.

The man who filed the suit says the diocese worked to discredit him and that Stika’s comments to the priests back up that claim. The man also says in the suit that church leaders failed to properly investigate when he reported the abuse.

Stika made the comments at a May 2021 meeting at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, according to the lawsuit. The account came from someone who attended the meeting.

The following month, Stika again told a meeting of priests in Gatlinburg that the man groomed the seminarian for sexual abuse, the suit says.

In a filing made April 11, the diocese did not dispute Stika’s comments, saying he “accurately reflected his opinion and understanding of the underlying circumstances and events based upon the information that was available to him at the time.”

Stika declined, via a diocesan spokesperson, to say whether he still thinks – nearly two years later – that John Doe is a predator and someone who groomed the seminarian for abuse.

How we got here

The comments were included in an amended complaint filed earlier this year, when the alleged victim was forced to refile the suit under his legal name instead of using a pseudonym to protect his identity. The requirement was a result of the church convincing a judge to sign off on the order. Church watchers said this was meant to intimidate the victim and could persuade future victims from reporting their abuse.

In the original lawsuit, the man was identified as John Doe to protect his privacy. Knox News will continue to identify him as John Doe because he says he was the victim of sexual assault.


Washington bill takes away confession exception in abuse reporting

Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]

April 15, 2023

By Kate Scanlon, OSV News

Read original article


The Catholic Church strictly forbids priests from divulging what penitents tell them during confession

A bill that would require clergy to report child abuse or neglect in Washington was advanced by the state’s House, prompting concern from some Catholics who are seeking a clergy-penitent exemption to protect the seal of the confessional.

Catholics in the state have expressed concern the House’s version of the bill could force priests to violate the civil law in order to uphold church law regarding the seal of confession.

The bill passed the House on April 11 in a 75-20 vote.

Bangor woman shares story of abuse from former Catholic priest

WPOR [Portland ME]

April 16, 2023


A Bangor woman wants to warn others of the abuse she endured from former Catholic priest Anthony Cipolle, who was a Reverend at St. John’s in Bangor from 2017 until 2020.

Melissa Kearns, who shared her story with the Portland Press Herald, claims Cipolle sexually, emotionally and psychologically abused her in 2018. The Press Herald says it reviewed numerous texts and emails between Cipolle and Kearns that support her claims.

Cipolle was expelled from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland in 2020 after a Maine judge accused Cipolle of “inflaming” a situation that led to the murder of Renee Henneberry Clark in 2018, who he was a spiritual adviser for.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Cipolle had gotten into a fight with Clark’s brother-in-law, who shot Clark 10 times hours later.

Commentary: Forsaken again

Times Union [Albany NY]

April 2, 2023

By Daniel Thompson

Read original article


For survivors of sex abuse, the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese’s bankruptcy filing is just one more betrayal.

On March 15, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That day I watched in despair as Bishop Edward Scharfenberger justified his decision as “the best way to protect everyone” while acknowledging “it may cause pain and suffering.”

The public has the right to know exactly what that pain and suffering looks like. Not from the loudest attorney or a diocese spokesperson, but from a victim of clergy sexual abuse.

I was one of over 400 plaintiffs under the New York Child Victims Act seeking civil relief from the Albany diocese. As imperfect as it was, the process was providing tangible justice through early releases of documents and depositions. Most notable to me, the 2021 testimony of Bishop Howard Hubbard admitting to sheltering criminal priests: moving them from parish to parish, never notifying the public of their danger. The legal process under the CVA was a godsend. I was finding answers and learned my sadistic priest wasn’t an aberration; he was protected by the church that raised me. I never really stood a chance. 

RI lawmaker renews fight to remove statute of limitations on child sexual-abuse lawsuits

Katherine Gregg
The Providence Journal
March 16
  • Rep. Carol McEntee's new bill would totally remove time limit on filing suit for child sex abuse by clergy
  • Alleged victims rallies in support of the bill
  • RI Catholic Church, ACLU and insurance lobby oppose bill
  • Case working through courts would determine if RI Diocese was a 'perpetrator' of abuse

PROVIDENCE – The war has begun anew over legal responsibility – and more specifically, who should be made to pay – for the sexual abuse of children, with the Rhode Island Catholic Church, the state's insurance lobby and the ACLU on one side and alleged victims on the other.

A legal challenge to the state's current law is still winding its way through state court, but Rep. Carol McEntee has revived her campaign for the total repeal of the current time limit on the filing of lawsuits against pedophiles and the institutions that shielded them.

And once again, McEntee's sister, Ann Hagan-Webb, a licensed psychologist who specializes in work with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, has told an abridged version of the story she has told Rhode Island lawmakers year after year, for six years.

Assumption donates more than $30,000 given by priest named in sexual abuse report to survivors

Marco Cartolano
Telegram & Gazette
Published March 6, 2023 

WORCESTER — Assumption University has donated more than $30,000 in contributions to the university from a retired priest named in a public 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on clerical sexual abuse of children in the state to abuse survivors, Assumption President Gregory Weiner said in a message to the university community.

According to Weiner, the unnamed priest made a bequest commitment to Assumption University's capital campaign in September 2021.

Gregory S. Weiner, Assumption University president

Weiner, who was named university president in October after serving as its interim leader since April 2022, said he learned in the fall of the gift and the priest's appearance in the grand jury report as someone credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

Weiner said he has since directed the university administration to both review its internal processes for evaluating major gifts and to formally inform the priest that the university will not accept the bequest.

"While the University is in no position to adjudicate allegations made against any individual, we are in a position to say — and do say — that Assumption has no tolerance for association with anyone credibly accused of heinous crimes against children," Weiner said.  

The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report is one of the broadest inquiries into clerical sexual abuse in the U.S.

Conducted from 2016 to 2018, the redacted report lists over 300 clergy members in from six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses as facing credible accusations of sexually abusing children.

Names from the dioceses of Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Erie, Greensburg and Harrisburg were included in the report. The dioceses of Philadelphia and Altoona–Johnstown were subject to earlier grand jury investigations and were not part of the 2018 report.

The names of about two-dozen of the listed priests are redacted from the report released to the public.

In a statement, SNAP applauded Assumption's handling of the revelation.

"Through their actions, Assumption University officials are setting an example for Catholic institutions around the world," the statement read. "They are demonstrating an earnest and thoughtful way to go beyond platitudes and take serious and significant action to help survivors heal."

San Diego Roman Catholic diocese facing yet another lawsuit — from its insurance company

Los Angeles Times

March 4, 2023

By Greg Moran

Read original article

The lawsuit was filed in San Diego federal court by Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America, the insurance provider for San Diego and other Catholic dioceses. The company wants a judge to order that it has no duty to “defend or indemnify” the diocese or any parish against claims of sexual abuse by clergy from 1958 through 1990.

It is not clear why the lawsuit gives that time frame. The lawyer for Catholic Mutual did not respond to messages seeking comment Friday.

Knoxville priests wrote scathing letter about Bishop Stika as last resort in 2021

Knoxville News Sentinel [Knoxville TN]

March 2, 2023

By Tyler Whetstone

Read original article


  • In 2021 11 priests sent a letter to the highest reaches of the U.S. Catholic Church regarding the leadership of Bishop Richard Stika.
  • “We do not wish, in hindsight, to be accused on remaining silent, or of not having done enough in the interests of justice and charity,” they wrote.
  • Priests are known to speak mostly behind closed doors about church issues. This group, however, felt Stika was not responding to their requests and complaints. They felt they had no other recourse.

Long before the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville received an investigative visit from high-ranking church leaders, a group of priests sent a blistering letter about Bishop Richard Stika’s leadership to the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church in America, Knox News has learned.

Church Sex Scandal Widens: Hundreds More Catholic Clergy Accused Across CA

KNTV - NBC Bay Area [San Jose CA]

February 22, 2023

By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott, Mark Villarreal, and Michael Horn

Read original article


Plaintiffs’ attorneys say 1500 new lawsuits have been filed against the Roman Catholic Church in Northern CA alone. The Investigative Unit has independently reviewed nearly 700 of them.

An NBC Bay Area analysis of nearly 700 lawsuits filed against Catholic institutions across Northern California over the past three years suggests the church’s child sexual abuse scandal in the region is significantly worse than the public previously knew.

More than 200 of the clergy and lay employees of the Catholic Church named in the wave of lawsuits have never been publicly accused of being sexually abusive towards children and teenagers until now, NBC Bay Area’s investigation found. Some of the newly accused continue to work as priests.

Other alleged perpetrators named in the civil filings have faced previous accusations but now face new claims, some of them dozens.

Judge rules against Portland diocese, allows childhood abuse lawsuits to move forward

Press Herald

Read Full Article Here>>>

A Maine judge gave the diocese 21 days to appeal his decision to uphold a law that allows Mainers with previously expired claims of child sexual abuse to sue their alleged abusers.


A judge has found that a Maine law removing the statute of limitations for civil claims of childhood sexual abuse claims is constitutional.

The 2021 law has prompted more than a dozen people to sue the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, with claims stretching as far back as the 1950s. The diocese argued the law is unconstitutional because it creates new liability and exposes the church to “tens of millions of dollars” in potential claims.

Cumberland County Superior Justice Thomas McKeon’s ruling Tuesday means the cases could proceed to trial, but the diocese has 21 days to file an appeal with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. In the meantime, the pre-trial discovery process is still paused.

An attorney and a spokesperson for the diocese did not respond to emails Tuesday afternoon asking about their plans to appeal, but the church has previously said it plans to take the issue to the state’s highest court.

“The court agrees that these questions are important, given the number of related cases already docketed,” McKeon wrote, with “a large number of new cases anticipated.”

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant