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Maryland’s clergy sex abuse investigation lacks results, survivors say

Maryland Matters


Maryland’s clergy sex abuse investigation lacks results, survivors say

Archdiocese of Detroit auxiliary bishop accused of sex abuse in lawsuit

Detroit News

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Published 6:19 a.m. ET Aug 2, 2022

A man is suing the new Archdiocese of Detroit auxiliary bishop amid claims the religious official sexually assaulted him more than 30 years ago in Massachusetts.

Paul F. Russell, then a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston, is accused of abusing the 12-year-old an estimated 25 times in 1989-90, according to the civil lawsuit filed Monday in Boston’s Suffolk County Superior Court.

Archbishop Paul F. Russell in Detroit, July 7, 2022.

The alleged victim, listed as a John Doe, “has been seriously and permanently injured, and, at the present, continues to suffer from a psychological disease that impairs and affects all aspects of his life,” the court filing said.

Now in his 40s and living outside Massachusetts, the man “still has nightmares about this stuff,” his attorney, Carmen Durso, told The Detroit News.

Reached Monday night, Ned McGrath, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said Russell "is shocked and saddened by the claims that have been made, and states that his conscience is perfectly clear. He holds in prayer all those who have ever been victimized by a member of the clergy."

The youth volunteered at a food bank there and Russell lived in the rectory, where the priest “began to groom him and then sexually assaulted him,” Durso wrote.

The complaint also alleges the abuse occurred due to the negligent supervision of the parish supervisor. Archdiocese of Boston officials, who are also named in the suit, “should have known that defendant Russell was not fit to be retained in a position in which he would have access to young children.”

In 2002, the Boston Globe launched a series of reports that used church records to reveal that abusive clergy had long been transferred among parish assignments for years without alerting parents or police. The scandal, recounted in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” led to a U.S. clergy sex abuse crisis. 

Archdiocese of Boston representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case Monday night.

The Russell lawsuit came less than three months after Pope Francis named him the 31st auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit. A welcome Mass was celebrated last month.

Russell serves Archbishop Allen Vigneron, who leads the archdiocese and its more than 1 million Catholics in southeast Michigan.

He spent part of his youth in Michigan and was appointed Apostolic Nuncio, a Vatican diplomat, to Turkey and Turkmenistan in 2016.

Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, then apostolic nuncio to Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, greets Pope Francis at the Vatican on Sept. 13, 2018.

The plaintiff in the Massachusetts lawsuit “did not have a clue” about Russell’s status and only reached out for legal help in recent years, Durso said. “Male victims of sexual abuse find it the most difficult to come forward and say these things.”

In a statement Monday, officials with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said they hoped the lawsuit would “help provide hope and healing to this victim and that it will also inspire others who have been hurt to come forward and make a report.”

The group added: “Given Bishop Russell’s high position in the Catholic Church … we believe true transparency and accountability will only come when the files on the clergyman held by the church are publicly disclosed.”

Native American survivors of alleged boarding school sex abuse want justice

Reuters- The Wider Image 

Photography by Callaghan O'Hare

Reporting by Brad Brooks

Filed July 26, 2022, 11:00 a.m. GMT


he United States in May acknowledged the damage inflicted on generations of children at federal Indian boarding schools, a system built to assimilate indigenous kids into white society by cutting them off from their parents and tribes.

Geraldine Charbonneau Dubourt, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, welcomed that admission, part of a report released by the Department of the Interior . But what she really wants is justice.

The septuagenarian has waged a so-far fruitless effort to seek restitution for the rapes and other abuses she says she, her eight sisters and scores of other Native American children endured for years at the former St. Paul's Indian Mission School in Marty, South Dakota.

A 2010 state law barred victims of alleged sexual abuse aged 40 or older from filing civil lawsuits against any institution that knew or should have known about it. That legislation, which amended an earlier state law on sexual abuse, effectively shortened the statute of limitations for victims to seek damages. It was aimed largely at protecting the Catholic Church, whose priests and nuns ran St. Paul's and at least four similar schools in South Dakota - a motive acknowledged by the attorney who crafted the amendment.

Dubourt and other Native Americans want the legislation overturned. They say it penalizes sexual abuse survivors for enduring trauma that often renders them unable to speak out until late in life. For more than a decade, they have held rallies in the capital of Pierre and purchased billboard ads aimed at shaming South Dakota lawmakers into action, to no avail.

At the center of the battle is the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, whose jurisdiction includes the eastern half of South Dakota, where the old St. Paul's boarding school is located. The diocese has apologized publicly for child sexual abuses it said were committed by some of its priests decades ago. But it has been largely silent on allegations lodged by Native Americans who attended St. Paul's: At least 108 former students have sued the diocese since 2003.

The diocese for years has contended in court proceedings that it's not responsible for any alleged harm done there because it didn't operate the school or have direct oversight of the priests and nuns who staffed it.

It's an argument that has found favor with South Dakota's Supreme Court. Plaintiffs' attorneys and advocates, however, say it's a common legal tactic embraced by Catholic authorities to avoid accountability for allegedly criminal actions of its priests and nuns.

Julia Gonzalez, once a student at the former St. Paul’s Indian Mission School, sits at her dining room table near Lake Andes, South Dakota, U.S., September 12, 2021. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

"Bishops and archbishops have ultimate authority over who operates in their jurisdiction," said Zach Hiner, the executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which claims 25,000 members worldwide. "All this is a diffusion of responsibility to protect the diocese."

Time is running out for Dubourt and her elderly sisters, known across Indian Country as the 9 Little Girls. Three of the siblings have died in the past year. Those still living are in their 70s and 80s. Dubourt no longer lives in South Dakota full time, spending part of the year in Pennsylvania, where her daughters live.

South Dakota legislators are "waiting for the rest of us to die," Dubourt, 73, says matter-of-factly. She vows to keep fighting.


Dubourt last year traveled by car with a Reuters reporter to provide a glimpse of her past at St. Paul's, which she attended from 1955 to 1967.

She said the abuse began as inappropriate touching by priests and nuns shortly after she arrived as a six-year-old, then escalated. As the SUV descended into a verdant valley of corn and bean fields a towering white steeple came into view. Dubourt's face tightened.

"It's the first damn thing you can see - look at it!" she said.

Perry Little rides a horse near the Marty Indian School on the Yankton Indian Reservation in Marty, September 10, 2021. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

The steeple is part of the Church of St. Paul Apostle of the Nations, situated on the Yankton Indian Reservation. Local residents refer to it simply as St. Paul's Catholic Church. Services are still held there. But adjacent buildings belonging to what was once the Catholic boarding school, founded in the early 1920s, are weathered and rotting.

It was in the church basement that Dubourt says she was raped multiple times at age 16 by a priest and forced to undergo an abortion, according to her deposition for a 2008 civil suit seeking damages. She and her sisters sued four priests, six nuns and two school workers - all now deceased - whom they alleged took part in the abuse. Also named as defendants were the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls and three religious groups whose nuns and priests staffed the school.

The diocese and the religious organizations - Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Blue Cloud Abbey - all denied wrongdoing in court filings. Blue Cloud Abbey was a former Benedictine monastery in South Dakota that organized a nonprofit entity to take over operation of the boarding school from another Catholic group in the 1950s, court documents and state incorporation records show.

To establish that the diocese had some authority over the school, the sisters' lawyers filed hundreds of pages of internal documents from the 1940s to 1960s related to the institution. They included records showing that St. Paul's provided the diocese with an annual count of its students and teachers and information about its finances. There was also correspondence from the Oblate Sisters order to then-Bishop Lambert Hoch, now deceased, reporting on the comportment of nuns at the school and seeking his assistance with personnel matters.

Gabriel Byrne has 'not completely healed' from growing up in Dublin

Dublin Live

Alison O' Reilly
  • 06:00, 18 JUL 2022
  • UPDATED07:15, 18 JUL 2022


Actor Gabriel Byrne has said he has “not completely healed “ from growing up in Dublin despite leaving Ireland as a young man.

The Hollywood star, 72, added that he is still coming to terms with sexual abuse, a repressive Ireland and a tough working-class background.

The father-of-three said: “They [the Church] dealt in fear and humiliation. Some of that goes deep inside you and takes a long time to get rid of – the fear of the world, the uncertainty of life and your place with it.”

Read more: Gabriel Byrne's hands to be immortalised outside Gaiety Theatre among the greats

Born in 1950 in Walkinstown, Co Dublin, the performer is best known for his role in The Usual Suspects. In 2010, he revealed had been sexually abused by a Catholic priest as a child, and then by another cleric in the seminary he attended in Liverpool aged 11.

In an interview with the Observer newspaper yesterday, he said he still relives his trauma. Byrne added: “The priest’s breath was sour and hot as he moved towards me. Then there was blackness.”

He has previously spoken about his battle with alcoholism describing it as “a major national and cultural problem”.

The star, who found fame in Irish drama The Riordans, said: “It’s only lately that I have begun to reconcile myself to Ireland and to myself when I left there. That has not been completely healed.”

Read the Full Story here--

Vatican defrocks priest who scolded Oakland Diocese over sex abuse

PUBLISHED: July 9, 2022 at 5:45 a.m. | UPDATED: July 9, 2022 at 3:34 p.m.

Tim Stier figured it was only a matter of time. Since 2005 he’s refused parish assignments as an Oakland Diocese priest over its handling of clerical sex abuse claims and spent more than a decade outside its cathedral on Sundays calling for church accountability and justice for the victims.

He had no plans to end his self-imposed exile and resume work as a parish priest. But when the Vatican finally came for his collar a few months ago, removing him from the Roman Catholic priesthood, Stier said it still felt like a blow.

“It hit me harder than I’d expected,” said Stier, 73, whose removal was disclosed this week. “I felt sad and angry. If I’d been raping kids, I wouldn’t be thrown out of the club.”

The Diocese of Oakland said in a statement Friday only that “we wish Mr. Stier all the best in this new chapter of his life.”


Farewell letter from a whistleblower to former fellow priests

[Tim Stier served for decades as a priest in the diocese of Oakland CA. He sent this letter on May 31, 2022.]

Dear No-Longer-Fellow Priests,

This will likely be my farewell letter to most of you, which may be glad tidings to those of you who do not enjoy hearing from me.

Last week, I learned from David Staal, a canon lawyer for the Diocese of Oakland, that the Vatican had officially laicized me as of March 19th.  The grounds for my ouster from the priesthood was my persistent refusal of an assignment in 2005 after I told Allen Vigneron, then Oakland’s bishop, that I could not in good conscience accept another assignment until he was willing to open a public dialog throughout the diocese on three issues roiling the Church:  the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and its cover-up by bishops and their cronies, the refusal of the Church to recognize the full equality of women and to admit them to ordained ministry, and the cruel treatment of sexual minorities based on an outdated theory of human sexuality.  Vigneron refused such a dialog and I refused an assignment.

Four Bay Area Priests Still on the Job Despite New Sex Abuse Allegations

A months-long NBC Bay Area investigation into a wave of new clergy abuse lawsuits has uncovered a series of allegations against dozens of Northern California priests and church employees accused for the first time of sexually abusing children. Some of them continue to work here.


The findings come amid an ongoing NBC Bay Area investigation into a flood of new child sex abuse claims hitting Catholic institutions across the state. The civil lawsuits are the result of a 2019 California law that opened a three-year “lookback” window allowing new child sex abuse lawsuits based on claims typically barred by the statute of limitations.

Click here to watch Part 1 of NBC Bay Area's investigation.

Among the hundreds of new Northern California legal filings are startling accusations against four Bay Area priests who still work in the region. The dioceses they serve told NBC Bay Area internal reviews did not substantiate the claims against the men, and it would be unjust to keep them out of ministry.

Dan McNevin, a local leader for the victim advocacy group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), said he's skeptical of such internal diocesan reviews.

“The bishops have an obligation to sideline these people,” McNevin said. “Not only for the victim, who is courageous, but because the bishop is on notice that this priest might be dangerous.”

Three of the accused priests – Fr. David Ghiorso, Msgr. Michael Harriman, and Fr. Michael Mahoney – work under the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Either directly or through their attorneys, all three priests refuted the allegations against them.

The other priest – Rev. James Pulskamp – is the pastor of Santa Rosa’s Star of the Valley Catholic Church. Pulskamp did not respond to NBC Bay Area’s request for comment, but Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa said in a statement he finds it difficult to give the allegation any credence given the priest’s stellar reputation over the past 50 years.

With one exception, the allegations against the priests are linked to two centers founded as homes for vulnerable children who were removed from troubled households: St. Vincent’s School for Boys in San Rafael and the Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma.

St. Vincent's School for Boys in San Rafael, where multiple new lawsuits allege children were abused there in past decades.

The claims relate to events occurring across nearly two decades, from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s. If true, the decades-old accusations expand what we know about Northern California’s clergy abuse scandal and suggest that internal lists of “credibly accused” priests released by most Bay Area dioceses in recent years are still incomplete.

The plaintiffs making the accusations have so-far declined to be interviewed, but the lawsuits, and in some cases, their attorneys, detail the allegations.

Rev. James Pulskamp & Hanna Boys Center

The oldest accusation targets Rev. Pulskamp during his time as a priest at the Hanna Boys Center. The school and residential treatment center for vulnerable children has been a hotspot for child sexual abuse accusations in recent years.

Pulskamp is accused in a new lawsuit of molesting a child there in the 1970s.

“Because [the children there] are more vulnerable, they become prey for priests and people who work there,” said Mary Alexander, a Bay Area attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of an unnamed plaintiff. “So, it is something that we see all the time.”

While Pulskamp now serves as the pastor of his Santa Rosa church, he’s listed as a Regent Emeritus on the Hanna Boys Center’s website.

Bishop Vasa said Pulskamp remains in ministry after an internal review board recommended no action be taken against the priest. However, the Bishop said the diocese will continue to investigate any new details that emerge.

Alexander said Pulskamp and any other priests facing new abuse accusations shouldn’t be working until more information comes out through the legal process.

“I think that any priest who is still active and is accused, that he should be put on administrative leave, that there should be no access to children,” Alexander said.

Dozens of Northern CA Priests Facing Child Sex Abuse Claims for the First Time

NBC Bay Area’s investigation mined a trove of new court filings, revealing startling child sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priests and institutions across Northern California. They show what the public previously knew about the scandal is potentially the tip of the iceberg.

196 priests in Germany sexually abused 610 children, dossier reveals

Correio Braziliense

Rodrigo Craveiro
posted on 06/14/2022 06:00

For seven and a half decades, at least 196 priests sexually abused 610 children in the diocese of Münster, 470km west of Berlin. However, the actual number of victims could reach 6,000. The conclusions are part of an independent report, prepared by five experts from the University of Münster and released on Monday (13/6). Experts evaluated pedophilia allegations between 1945 and 2020. The number of clergy identified as abusers represents 4% of the total in the diocese — 90% of them have never been prosecuted. 

McDonnell is skeptical of legal developments following the release of the report. "I am not confident about any criminal prosecution. I am sure that ecclesiastical authorities will suspend and remove some priests, if they are still active in the ministry, just to portray the bishop as a 'tough guy' when it comes to abuse," he added. 

Also according to the dossier, on average, two acts of pedophilia occurred each week in the diocese of Münster between 1960 and 1970. Historian at the University of Münster and one of the authors of the report, Klauss Grosse Kracht admitted that the document "reflects an astonishing ". During a press conference, he explained that the abusers "kept silent, kept silent and only intervened superficially when necessary, in order to avoid a scandal". For Kracht, the Catholic Church engaged in a systematic cover-up of abuses.

For her part, also author of the report Natalie Powroznik considers that the real number of victims should be eight to ten times higher. "Between 5,000 and 6,000 boys and girls were sexually abused," she estimated, according to the France-Presse news agency. The pedophilia scandal within the German Catholic Church extends to other regions and seriously implicates Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, during the period in which he served as Archbishop of Bavaria between 1950 and 1977.

(credit: Personal archive)
credit: personal archive

"The cover-up of pedophile priests is a pattern globally. Church authorities protect each other, including predecessors, dead or alive. They live in a sort of echo chamber and ignore anyone not using the clergy (white collar). cassock). The brotherhood protects itself."

Mike McDonnell, Communications Manager for the Survivors of Abuse by Priests Network (SNAP)

What the McElroy Appointment Says About the Church’s Commitment to Sex Abuse Victims

Crisis Magazine [Manchester NH]

June 13, 2022

By Janet E. Smith


It wasn’t long into my study of the sex abuse crisis in the Church that I realized that many or even most bishops customarily respond to a report about abuse 1) by feeling sorry for themselves that they have another mess on their hands; 2) by feeling sorry for the priest whose priesthood may be ruined; and 3) by trying to figure out how to get the victim to remain silent and go away. There is rarely, if ever, any true concern shown for the victim; sometimes counseling is offered but more often as a way to appease than to help the victim.

It can take decades for a victim even to begin to seek justice for the abuser. And most often it is done out of a concern to prevent the abuser from continuing to abuse. Victims long to put the abuse “behind them” (as much as that might be possible) and get on with their lives. They also need to face being triggered by reports of abuse similar to theirs and sometimes need to deal with reemergence in the news of their own case.

One such victim is Rachel Mastrogiacomo, who suffered devastating life consequences because of Satanic Ritual Sexual Abuse by former priest Jacob Bertrand of the Diocese of San Diego. Bertrand ultimately confessed to abusing Mastrogiacomo and was convicted of ritual rape. The judge was very hesitant to consent to the “no jail time” agreement, but because Rachel became aware that some false narratives of the abuse would be introduced into trial she consented to extended probation for Bertrand. Bertrand’s admission of guilt became her priority.  

Recently, Rachel learned that Bertrand, despite being a registered predatory offender, is a part of a Bible study in an evangelical church where he has contact with vulnerable individuals. That, of course, has terribly shaken her and has led her to consider what more she must do to protect the vulnerable. Clearly, the Diocese of San Diego is not monitoring Bertrand for who knows what reason—indifference to abuse? Fear that Bertrand could expose more of the corruption in the diocese if he is reined in? I don’t know the reason, but can there be any good reason? Sadly, the least objectionable explanation would be neglect; but it would be criminal neglect.

What triggers Rachel now and provokes revictimization is the promotion of Bishop McElroy from San Diego to the cardinalate, for he failed to act when she reported Bertrand to the diocese and is failing to protect the vulnerable from Bertrand.

Retelling Rachel’s full story would require a book. A rather full accounting of the abuse she experienced (although some of the most disturbing details are omitted) is available in an article on Crux. It is a must read.

Here, I am interviewing Rachel about the absurdly difficult steps she needed to take to get some modicum of justice regarding her abuse, about the ongoing trauma she experiences from the mishandling of her case, and about the failure of the diocese to monitor convicted ex-priest Jacob Bertrand.  

The story makes quite inexplicable the appointment of McElroy to the cardinalate for a Church that claims to care about victims.

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