In the settlement reached by the Church in the case of John Scorfina and the Rev. Larry Valentine, the St. Louis Archdiocese is accused of breaking its end of the deal by allowing Valentine to continue to be in proximity of children. Isn't the settlement payout tantamount to an admission that Valentine is an offender? How can Archbishop Rigali, with a case such as this, continue to assert that "the safety of our young people is and must be our highest priority?"
The Valentine case clearly shows the huge gap between what Archbishop Rigali promises and what he delivers. At least five accusers have publicly come forward, three of whom sued and settled for $20,000 each. Yet church officials maintain Valentine's innocence. They could be safe and reopen their "investigation" (which, by the way, did not include interviewing the accusers). They could move Valentine to a "desk job" or a position with less access to kids. They could publicly ask parishioners to come forward with information that might indicate Valentine's innocence or guilt. They could ask a third party to investigate. They could publicly explain what has led them to conclude Valentine is innocent.
But sadly, archdiocesan officials have taken none of these steps. So John Scarfino courageously overcame his fear and shame, eloquently expressed his concern for other kids at risk, took a legal gamble and violated his "gag order." At an emotional news conference, John and his mother begged Archbishop Rigali to remove Valentine. Rigali has not even offered a response, other than issuing a vague statement about standing behind his priest. In the meantime, the Scarfino family and others remain hurting and confused. And children, in our view, remain at risk.
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