News Story of the Day
More than 850 sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed as deadline approaches for past claims
More than 40 years after a 15-year-old boy was reportedly sexually abused by the Rev. John Capparelli, the alleged victim filed a lawsuit in Essex County Superior Court against the Archdiocese of Newark and the church where the disgraced, defrocked priest — who was murdered in 2019 — once served.
The plaintiff in the case, not identified by name, spoke of being raised in a devout Catholic family and participating in youth and church activities at Holy Trinity Church in Westfield, before ultimately becoming a victim to what was described only as “unpermitted sexual contact.”
It is just one of hundreds of civil lawsuits that have been filed in New Jersey since the state opened a two-year window that greatly extended the amount of time victims of sexual abuse had to sue.
And now, that window is closing. At the end of the month, a two-year extension allowing such lawsuits on decades-old allegations comes to an end.
Advocates, however, say the COVID pandemic has made it difficult for victims to meet with attorneys and build their cases and have called for more time to allow others to seek justice.
“The pandemic closed our courts for some time and it delayed in many ways the statewide investigation of the five Catholic Dioceses in New Jersey,” said Mark Crawford, a clergy abuse survivor and state leader of SNAP — Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The New Jersey law, passed in 2019 and signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, waived the statute of limitations to sue under a 24-month time period ending on Nov. 30, 2021. The law also allowed adults who were assaulted as children to file civil suits until they turn 55, or seven years after they discover that they were abused. It targeted not only individuals who allegedly committed sexual assault, but the churches, athletic organizations, schools and community organizations for whom they had worked.
Former RI Catholic priest indicted on child-molestation charges
PROVIDENCE — A grand jury has returned an 11-count indictment against former priest James Silva alleging he sexually assaulted a boy younger than 14 between 1989 and 1990 while an administrator in the Office of Ministerial Formation within the Diocese of Providence.
Silva, now 81, faces two counts of first-degree child molestation and nine counts of second-degree child molestation.
SNAP and leading advocacy organizations, such as Darkness 2 Light, RAINN, Together for Girls, and the Army of Survivors, will recognize November 18th as the international #EndChildSexAbuseDay.
This November we have a great chance to bring the needs, wants, and asks of survivors to the world stage in a big way! SNAP and leading advocacy organizations, such as Darkness 2 Light, RAINN, Together for Girls, and the Army of Survivors, will recognize November 18th as the international #EndChildSexAbuseDay.
More than 50 countries will be joining us as we make noise on social media and in the streets to draw attention to the needs of survivors, the ways we can prevent abuse, and the action that we are demanding our leaders and elected officials take. We need your voice to join the chorus!
On November 18 we, as part of the steering group for the Keep Kids Safe coalition, will release our Federal Blueprint for action (click here to read the blueprint in full). A key part of this blueprint, and something that SNAPpers have demanded for years, is the importance of a federal investigation into institutions that perpetuate abuse and cover-up, like the Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and others.
Top Catholic predator cleric who lives in St. Louis is in court today
By David Clohessy
An ex-priest in the St. Louis area, who is the most highly ranked and prominent US Catholic official to ever face criminal charges of child sexual abuse is back in a courtroom today.
Very few St. Louisans know that he and dozens of other predators from all across the US are living here. Sure, he’s old. Sure, the church center that houses him is ‘out in the boondocks.’ But that doesn’t mean he’s ‘cured’ and is now safe, nor that we should care less about the safety of rural kids. And virtually none of those predators in Dittmer - who’ve been deemed too dangerous, by their own church supervisors, to live back in their home dioceses - are known to St. Louis parents, police, prosecutors, or parishioners.
The cleric in court today is Theodore McCarrick, the only US Catholic cardinal, current or former, ever to be charged with child sex crimes. We hope his prosecution happens quickly. We hope that his victims feel some measure of relief and validation that he’s finally facing justice. And we hope that Catholic officials in St. Louis finally begin honoring their pledges to be ’open’ about abuse and disclose the names of the hundreds of out-of-state child molesting clerics who’ve been secretly welcomed into our archdiocese for decades.
What if you experience harm instead of healing in the confessional?
SOUTH BEND (IN)
National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]
October 26, 2021
By Flora x. Tang
“I just had the worst confession ever. I confessed a sexual sin, something I haven’t confessed in a long time, and the priest … asked me if I was a toy,” Zuri Davis wrote on Twitter Oct. 17 about her experience of going to confession in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Davis described how the priest, whose name she still does not know, hounded her to ask if she was raped (an inappropriate and invasive question in this setting), and proceeded to tell her to take ownership of her role in the situation.
Within hours, Catholics from different walks of life shared in Davis’ anger about this situation and encouraged her to report the priest for spiritual abuse and misconduct. Davis’ story of the invasive priest and the sheer logistical difficulty she experienced trying to report a nameless priest behind a screen for misconduct sparked countless other Catholics to share similar experiences of harm in the confessional booth in the next several days on social media.
Liberty University threatened to punish students who reported being raped with conduct violations: report
THE HILL -
BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL - 10/25/21 11:30 AM EDT
Liberty University threatened to punish students who came forward with reports of being raped for violating the school’s code of conduct, according to a new report published Monday by ProPublica.
ProPublica spoke to more than 50 former students and staffers at Liberty University and reviewed records from more than a dozen cases, which accused the school of discouraging and dismissing students who came forward with allegations of rape, reporting that in some cases they said they were threatened with punishment for breaking the school’s moral code, known as the Liberty Way.
READ THE FULL STORY HERE: https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/578278-liberty-university-threatened-to-punish-students-who-reported
Pope releases shocking letter from Church sex abuse victim
The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors publishes a "letter to seminarians" written by a woman who, as a little girl, was sexually abused by a priest
‘The Problem Remains’
William Casey Post-Conviction Relief Denied By Panel
William Casey’s bid for post-conviction relief in connection with the former Catholic priest’s 2011 conviction on charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of aggravated rape was denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville.
In a filing Wednesday, the appeals court affirmed the judgment of a post-conviction court denying Casey’s challenges to the convictions for actions committed in 1979 and 1980.
Casey’s bid for a new trial was denied in 2020 by Sullivan County Criminal Court Judge James M. Goodwin. Casey, a Greene County resident, was convicted in 2011 by a Sullivan County Criminal Court jury of the criminal sexual conduct and aggravated rape counts.