News Story of the Day

U.S. counts Indian boarding school deaths for first time, but leaves key questions unanswered

At least 500 Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children died while attending Indian boarding schools run or supported by the U.S. government, a highly anticipated Interior Department report said Wednesday. The report identified over 400 schools and more than 50 gravesites and said more gravesites would likely be found.


Liberty University’s Handling of Sexual Assaults Under Investigation by Department of Education

ProPublica previously detailed how the evangelical school had dismissed reports of rape and threatened to punish accusers for running afoul of its moral code. Investigators are now looking into whether Liberty violated federal law.

April 29, 6 a.m. EDT

The federal Department of Education has begun investigating Liberty University’s handling of student reports of sexual assault. In a statement to ProPublica, the school pledged its “full cooperation” with the investigation.

Federal law requires that universities receiving federal funds properly handle claims of sexual assault. Liberty students receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid. Following our story, senators urged the U.S. Department of Education to investigate.

Liberty students told ProPublica that federal agents have been at the school’s campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, this week. In an email viewed by ProPublica, a Department of Education official reached out to student advocates to arrange meeting times. An agency spokesperson declined to comment, citing a policy not to discuss ongoing investigations.


Knoxville priests asked nuncio for ‘merciful relief’

KNOXVILLE (TN)
The Pillar [Washington DC]

May 3, 2022

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“Our experience of our appointed bishop varies among us, but the undersigned do share a common awareness that the past twelve years of service under Bishop Stika have been, on the whole, detrimental to priestly fraternity and even to our personal well-being.” 

“While we acknowledge the reality of suffering that comes with bearing our daily crosses, our appointed bishop seems determined to increase that suffering for his own purposes, purposes which seem unrelated to the demands of the Gospel,” wrote 11 Knoxville priests in a Sept. 29 letter to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. 


Monk Sexually Abused Former Marmion Academy Student: Aurora Police

Joseph J. Charron, 66, turned himself into police following detectives' extensive investigation into allegations made in September 2021.

Police's extensive investigation included interviewing multiple potential witnesses, collecting evidence and presenting the case to the Kane County State's Attorney's Office, officials said.
Police's extensive investigation included interviewing multiple potential witnesses, collecting evidence and presenting the case to the Kane County State's Attorney's Office, officials said. (Google Maps)

AURORA, IL — A 66-year-old Marmion Abbey monk surrendered to Aurora police Wednesday morning after police determined he sexually abused a former Marmion Academy student, officials said.

Police charged Joseph J. Charron, also known as Brother Andre, with eight felonies, including three charges of criminal sexual assault (force), three charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (sexual conduct by a person in a position of authority of a victim under 18), and two charges of criminal sexual abuse (non-consensual sexual conduct).

In September 2021, Aurora police took a report from the former student detailing several instances of sexual contact with the monk while the person was a student at Marmion Academy, 1000 Butterfield Road, police said.


The monk, who taught at Marmion, didn't stop after the student graduated, according to Aurora police.

Charron was placed on administrative leave after school officials were notified of the allegations, and the monk was barred from the school's campus and other ministerial functions, police said.

Marmion Academy and Marmion Abbey both cooperated with the police's extensive investigation, which included interviewing multiple potential witnesses, collecting evidence and presenting the case to the Kane County State's Attorney's Office, officials said. Marmion's internal investigation into Charron's conduct continues, police noted.

Detectives have not yet determined if Charron had sexual contact with other Marmion Academy students, officials said. Police are asking anyone with information or anyone who might have been victimized by Charron to call the police department's investigations division at 630-256-5500 or email [email protected]


Irish priest appointed to senior Vatican role investigating abuse

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Irish Times [Dublin, Ireland]

April 25, 2022

By Patsy McGarry

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An Irish priest, Msgr John Kennedy has been put in charge by Pope Francis of leading investigations into child abuse allegations against the Catholic clergy worldwide.

The 53-year-old monsignor is the new secretary of the disciplinary section at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which has responsibility for dealing with credible allegations against clergy.

He had been serving at the office since being appointed there by Pope Francis in 2017 and his appointment is part of a major shake-up of the Vatican curia being undertaken by Pope Francis.

The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has two new sections: a doctrinal section and a disciplinary section. Italian priest Msgr Armando Matteo has been appointed secretary at the doctrinal section.


Appellate ruling rejects Albany diocese’s efforts to keep pedophile priests’ records secret

ALBANY (NY)
Times Union [Albany NY]

April 24, 2022

By Brendan J. Lyons

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s effort to keep secret the psychological treatment records of suspected pedophile priests was rejected Thursday by a state appellate court in a ruling that could affect thousands of Child Victims Act cases in New York.

The appellate panel also upheld state Supreme Court Justice L. Michael Mackey’s decision ordering the diocese to turn over the personnel records of at least 48 priests whom the church determined had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse over a period stretching from 1946 to 1999.


Oakland priest convicted of child molestation allegedly kills federal worker while driving drunk

April 19, 2022Updated: April 19, 2022 12:22 p.m.
A defrocked Bay Area Catholic priest convicted of child molestation and accused by multiple families of sexual abuse and assault during his decades-long tenure has now been arrested for allegedly killing a man while driving drunk in a gated community.
Stephen Kiesle, the 75-year-old who was at the center of an Associated Press exposé on Pope Benedict, was arrested Sunday morning on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence, Walnut Creek police told Rossmoor.com.

The crash took place at around 9:15 p.m. in the “active adults 55+” gated community of Rossmoor, Rossmoor.com reported, when Curtis and Laurelyn Gunn were walking home from an event at the nearby Gateway Complex. While approaching an intersection, a car going above the 25 mph speed limit hit the Gunns while driving on the curb, striking Curtis head-on and scraping Laurelynn. Curtis Gunn was pronounced dead at the scene, the news site said.

Kiesle was arrested about an hour later, according to Contra Costa County records. 

 


Diocese moves to reinstate freeze on cases

ROCHESTER (NY)
Rochester Beacon [Rochester NY]

April 18, 2022

By Will Astor

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Known as adversarial proceedings or APs for short, such trials look to have a bankruptcy judge resolve differences between parties in a case. Parties not satisfied with a bankruptcy judge’s ruling can appeal the ruling to a federal district court.

As the Rochester Beacon previously reported, the expiration of a Bankruptcy Court stipulation putting the state court sexual-abuse claims against the church on hold came after one of the two parties who struck an agreement some two years ago to halt the state court cases declined to renew the pact. 

Previously, parties to that pact—the bankruptcy’s official creditors committee and the diocese—had renewed the March 2020 agreement 11 times. Late last month, one party balked.


The church needs to name and confront 'clerical fragility'

NCRonline

 

Last week two major U.S. Catholic universities hosted conferences that engaged ongoing historical and theological research on clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

The first, a symposium titled "Gender, Sex, and Power: Towards a History of Clergy Sex Abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church," was hosted March 27-29 by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame.

The second, a conference titled "'Our transgressions before you are many, and our sins testify against us' (Is 59:12a): Re-Imagining Church in Light of Colonization and Catholic Sexual Abuse," took place at Gonzaga University March 31-April 3.

Although I was out of town and could not attend the Notre Dame event, I was an invited participant in the Gonzaga conference, which was sponsored in part by the "Taking Responsibility" project based at Fordham University. The primary working group consisted of approximately 40 scholars from across North America, mostly historians and theologians (including some who had presented at or attended the Notre Dame symposium just a few days earlier). While there were two plenary sessions open to the public, most of these working sessions were closed to the invited participants.


Deposition from former Albany bishop released in diocese abuse investigation

Former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard was questioned last April by attorneys representing people who claim they were sexually abused by priests in the Albany Diocese. The deposition that Hubbard gave under oath was made public on Friday.


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