Child Abuse

Rochester diocese, facing flood of sex-abuse claims, files for bankruptcy protection

September 18, 2019

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, facing potentially huge judgments for past sexual abuse by its priests and other ministers, filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday.

“This was a very difficult and painful decision,” Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano said at an afternoon news conference that detailed the action.

The diocese filed its petition for Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Rochester at about 9:30 a.m. The petition estimates the diocese’s assets as $50 million to $100 million – and its financial liabilities as $100 million to $500 million.

Rochester’s diocese becomes the first of New York state’s eight dioceses – and the 20th nationwide — to seek protection from creditors in bankruptcy court because of financial fallout from the Catholic Church’s decades-long child sexual abuse scandal.

The bankruptcy filing does not mean the diocese is penniless and does not mean its churches will close.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 12, 2019. The Diocese held a press conference talking about why they did that. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano read from a prepared statement before answering questions with Lisa Passero CFO for the diocese, and Stephen Donato, with the law firm, Bond, Schoeneck, and King that is representing the diocese in the bankruptcy, beside him.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 12, 2019. The Diocese held a press conference talking about why they did that. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano read from a prepared statement before answering questions with Lisa Passero CFO for the diocese, and Stephen Donato, with the law firm, Bond, Schoeneck, and King that is representing the diocese in the bankruptcy, beside him.

The intent of a Chapter 11 filing such as this is to reorganize the diocese’s finances, marshal funds to pay fair compensation to sex-abuse accusers and create a plan for the diocese to continue operations much as they were before.

Matano made it clear that the diocese sought Chapter 11 protection to shield itself from the impact of the legal claims, which he said could “exceed our resources.”

The diocese encompasses 12 counties in upstate New York. An estimated 360,000 Catholics live within the diocese.

The bankruptcy filing is the direct result of a long-anticipated flood of litigation triggered by New York’s Child Victims Act.

The act, adopted by the state Legislature early this year, carved out a one-year window during which the statute of limitations is lifted and accusers can file legal claims for sexual abuse they suffered as children, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

The window opened on Aug. 14. Since then, more than 580 lawsuits have been filed statewide, with the lion’s share of them accusing Roman Catholic priests, brothers, deacons or nuns of abuse.

Nearly all of those named as a defendant the diocese where the priest or other minister worked, arguing that diocesan officials were responsible for the abuser’s conduct.

Church sex abuse ‘far-reaching’ in Missouri: attorney general

September 18, 2019

Washington (AFP) – The attorney general in the US state of Missouri on Friday accused the Catholic Church of turning a blind eye to church sex abuse and referred a dozen former clergymen for criminal prosecution.

“Sexual abuse of minors by members of Missouri’s four Roman Catholic dioceses has been a far-reaching and sustained scandal,” said the Midwestern state’s top prosecutor, Eric Schmitt, after a year-long investigation.

“For decades, faced with credible reports of abuse, the church refused to acknowledge the victims and instead focused their efforts on protecting priests,” Schmitt told a news conference.

He said the probe into diocese records across the state revealed that 163 priests or other members of the clergy had been accused of sexual abuse or misconduct against minors.

Around 80 of the accused are already dead, but the attorney general said he will refer a dozen men for prosecution by local authorities.

“The standard response to reports of abuse by church leadership was to move an offending priest into a short-term period of treatment and then reassign him to public ministry in a new parish,” Schmitt said.

“Members of an offending priest’s old and new parishes were not notified of the reason for a transfer in these cases. At best, victims were offered limited counseling services to help recover from the abuse.”

A spokesman for Schmitt’s office told The New York Times that investigators had heard from more than 100 victims of abuse and had spoken directly to 45 victims or their families.

“We did have one priest who had 21 victims come forward, so we can assume the number is in the hundreds,” said the spokesman, Chris Nuelle.

The Vatican is struggling to deal with a global epidemic of sexual assault by priests, in particular of minors. Much of the abuse has gone on for decades.

Faced with widespread criminal investigations, Pope Francis announced in May that every Catholic diocese would have to come up with a plan for reporting abuse.

Chicago Catholic Church paid $80m to sex abuse victims

September 18, 2019

Victims' rights attorney Jeff Anderson, pictured in April, 2019, said the payouts varied from five figures for some victims to more than $1 million (AFP Photo/EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ)

Chicago (AFP) – A victim of clergy abuse urged other survivors to come forward Tuesday as lawyers revealed that the Catholic Church in Chicago had paid out more than $80 million in sexual assault cases.

Joe Iacono, who says he was abused by his parish priest when he was 11, spoke at a news conference as Jeff Anderson and Associates announced it had won compensation totaling $80,080,000 for 160 victims over two decades.

“I know today that there are still a lot of survivors that are suffering in silence. Those individuals need to reach out,” Iacono said as he opened up about his recovery, appearing at times choked with emotion.

Attorney Jeff Anderson said the payouts in cases involving 48 priests in total varied from five figures for some victims to more than $1 million.

In each case the cash failed to bring closure, he added, although the abusers were removed from their positions.

“Payment of money in a case does not bring healing, it does not make their pain go away,” Anderson said.

“But standing up for yourself and giving voice to your truth as a survivor, and knowing you have done something to protect other kids, is helpful.”

The Catholic Church has been rocked by thousands of reports of sexual abuse by priests and accusations of cover-ups by senior clergy, starting in the Boston archdiocese in the United States in 2002.

The Boston Globe won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for exposing the abuse, and its investigation was turned into Oscar-winning Hollywood movie “Spotlight” (2015), starring Rachel McAdams.’Much work to do’

Faced with a growing number of cases worldwide and repeated criticism over the Church’s response, Pope Francis in 2013 introduced legislation covering child sex abuse on Vatican grounds and allowing for sentences of up to 12 years.

Since the crisis became public in the 2000s, the US church has spent more than $3 billion in settlements, according to abuse tracking site Bishop Accountability.

The group has documented settlements for 5,679 alleged victims of Catholic clergy — only a third of 15,235 allegations through 2009 that bishops say they have received. One estimate suggests up there were 100,000 US victims.

Iacono, who settled his case against the Chicago Archdiocese 15 years ago, came forward after reading about the Boston scandal.

Former priest arrested on child sex abuse charges in Pennsylvania

September 5, 2019

A former priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a minor in the early 2000s at St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Levittown.

Francis X. Trauger, 74, had been removed from ministry in 2003 then laicized, or removed from the priestly state, in 2005 following allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

A new allegation against Trauger from the early 2000s when he was parochial vicar at St. Michael’s was the basis for his arrest on Tuesday, Sept. 3 in Bucks County on charges of indecent assault and corruption of minors.

He remains free on bail awaiting a Sept. 10 court hearing.

Trauger, currently a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., was named in the 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report on sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests. He appears on the archdiocese’s website listing priests with credible allegations against them. The site was developed in 2005 and continues to be updated over time as priests on it are laicized or die.

Ordained in 1972, Trauger had nine parish assignments and two leaves of absence during his 31 years of ministry before he was suspended in 2003. The longest assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Michael’s from 1993 to 2003.

A Sept. 3 statement from the Philadelphia Archdiocese said an allegation of sexual abuse against Trauger was received in August 2018 and immediately forwarded to Bucks County law enforcement.

According to court documents, Trauger is alleged to have sexually assaulted two boys at St. Michael’s in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office believes more minors may have been assaulted by Trauger and it encourages any other victims to come forward.

The archdiocese recognizes that news of Trauger’s arrest is “painful to victims of sexual violence and exploitation,” said spokesman Ken Gavin in a statement.

NJ rabbi gets 18 months in prison for sex with underage prostitute

September 4, 2019

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A New Jersey rabbi was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his involvement in the human trafficking and prostitution of a 17-year old girl.

Rabbi Aryeh Goodman, 37, of East Brunswick, New Jersey, also will have to undergo a year of supervised release. The sentence was announced on Wednesday.

Goodman met the teen at the hotel on February 1, 2018 and paid to have sex with her after answering an online advertisement for the girl, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. He turned himself in nearly a week later to the East Brunswick Police Department while accompanied by his attorney.

At the time of his arrest, he was running a religious learning center out of his home.

Goodman is registered as a Tier 3, or high-risk sex offender, after being arrested in 2013 for molesting a youth while serving as a camp counselor in 2001. He accepted a plea deal and served prison time for that incident.

Jury finds Washington priest guilty on four counts of child sexual abuse

September 2, 2019

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Capuchin Franciscan priest was found guilty Aug. 15 of four counts of child sexual abuse stemming from when he served as a parochial vicar at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington.

Father Urbano Vazquez, who served at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart from 2014 until his November 2018 arrest, was found guilty in D.C. Superior Court on three felony counts of second-degree child sexual assault with aggravating circumstances, and on one misdemeanor count of sexual abuse of a child.

The verdicts came after an eight-day trial and two days of jury deliberation. Vazquez, 46, will be sentenced in November and faces a maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison.

“The archdiocese respects the decision of the jury’s finding that Father Vazquez is guilty of the charges brought against him and will continue to support the legal system through the sentencing process and any subsequent proceedings,” the Archdiocese of Washington said in an Aug. 15 statement after the verdicts were announced. “Father Vazquez will have no authority to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington.”

Vazquez was arrested last November on charges of second-degree sexual child abuse, and was arrested again in December and charged with abusing two others, including a minor. Also in December, D.C. Superior Court Judge Juliet J. McKenna ordered Vazquez to remain in jail until his trial.

“The archdiocese has fully cooperated with law enforcement and civil authorities in their investigation” of Vazquez, the archdiocesan statement noted.

Last March, Vazquez was offered a plea deal, but he turned that down and opted for a jury trial instead. He has maintained his innocence since the accusations first surfaced.

With his first arrest, Vazquez was charged with second-degree child sexual abuse involving a 13-year-old girl in 2015. Later, when new allegations surfaced, he was charged with two additional counts – second-degree sexual assault of a minor female and assault of an adult woman – that occurred in 2016.

In a November statement issued after Vazquez’s initial arrest, the Archdiocese of Washington said “immediately upon learning of this serious allegation, the archdiocese immediately removed Father Vazquez from ministry and suspended his priestly faculties.”

All the victims were members of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, a parish that serves a predominately Spanish-speaking Catholic community.

“The archdiocese will continue to work with the Sacred Heart parish and school leadership to ensure that this community is supported and that the survivors who came forward to report the allegations are provided emotional and pastoral care through this difficult time as they continue in their process of healing,” the archdiocese said in its Aug. 15 statement.

After Vazquez’s initial arrest, the Archdiocese of Washington conducted its own investigation into what it called “this troubling matter” and determined that Capuchin Franciscan Father Moises Villalta, pastor of Sacred Heart, “failed to follow appropriate protocols related to reporting allegations of abuse to civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Washington.” The archdiocese subsequently removed Villalta as pastor and placed the parish’s child protection coordinator on administrative leave.

Vazquez still faces misdemeanor sex abuse charges stemming from another woman’s accusation that the priest groped her during confession. In addition, two other misdemeanor allegations were made against Vazquez, but they could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired.

“The Archdiocese of Washington is steadfastly committed to the protection of youth and the healing of those harmed by abuse and adheres to a zero-tolerance policy for credible claims of abuse made against archdiocesan clergy, religious orders operating in the archdiocese, staff and volunteers,” the archdiocesan statement said.

“The Archdiocese of Washington takes seriously its responsibility to protect the children entrusted to its care and the archdiocese’s Child Protection and Safe Environment Policy mandates criminal background checks, applications and education for all employees and volunteers who work with young people,” it said.

Tennessee pastor, 41, is found guilty of raping a teenage boy after citing Bible verse which said ‘holding each other is just a way to show love’ – and he now faces two more trials involving other underage accusers

August 30, 2019

Gorton testified in his own defense on Wednesday, denying that he sexually abused any children
  • Ronnie Gorton was convicted Wednesday of 24 charges, including sexual battery and statutory rape 
  • During his trial, Gorton’s accuser, now aged 18, testified the pastor sexually abused him every night for a year-and-a-half 
  • Gorton denied raping the boy, but admitted to giving him alcohol and sleeping in his bed, because he claimed the teen was suicidal 
  • He faces two more trials stemming from alleged sexual abuse of two other teens, one of whom was 12 at the time 
  • Prosecutor called Gorton a ‘ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing’  

Another malignant hypocrite bites the dust.

A Tennessee youth pastor has been found guilty of raping and sexually abusing a teenage boy on a nightly basis for more than a year.

A jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding 41-year-old Ronnie Gorton guilty Wednesday on 24 charges, including sexual battery and statutory rape.

WMC-TV reported that Gorton, who had remained stone-faced throughout the trial, put his head down as the verdicts were read in Tipton County.

The now 18-year-old victim told jurors the abuse started the day he moved in with Gorton and his then-wife, Rhonda, in 2017, and intensified over the next year-and-a-half.

When asked to describe the frequency of the abuse, the victim said Gorton raped him every single night.

‘It just never stopped,’ he said from the stand, according to a report from Covington Leader.

The 18-year-old said Gorton justified his actions by citing a Bible verse which said ‘holding each other is just a way to show love.’

He accused the married pastor of isolating him from his family and friends, manipulating him into thinking everything was his fault and taking control of his life.

When on one occasion the teen invited two friends over to stay the night, he said the pastor plied them with alcohol and engaged in inappropriate behavior towards them.

Gorton took the stand in his own defense on Wednesday and vehemently denied molesting the victim during two hours of testimony, though he admitted providing alcohol to the youth and other teens.

He also admitted to sleeping in the boy’s bed, but claimed he only did it because at the time the teen was in a ‘dark place’ following his mother’s arrest and spoke of suicide.

As reported by WMC Action News 5, prosecutor Walt Freeland called the victim’s bedroom in the Gorton family’s house ‘a chamber of horrors’ and described the pastor as a ‘ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing’ who preyed on his flock.

Gorton’s ex-wife took the stand as a witness for the prosecution during the trial, painting an unflattering portrait of her former spouse as a man with a volatile temper who cultivated a facade of respectability.

‘I was very quiet when it came to the way I portrayed Ronnie,’ Rhonda Gorton told the court on Tuesday. ‘He was supposed to be a man of honor and I tried my best not to tarnish his reputation.’

The couple married in 2001 as virgins. There was little intimacy in their relationship and they had no children of their own, according to the ex-wife’s testimony.

Rhonda said she knew since 2012 that her husband had an addiction to pornography and served alcohol to minors, but she kept mum, telling herself he was just mentoring troubled boys.

‘I blame myself for not seeing it because I didn’t want to or because it was hidden, either way.’

Gorton’s sentencing hearing will start in November.

Gorton still faces trials involving two other teenagers who accused him of rape. One was 12 at the time of the alleged abuse

The pastor at the now-defunct Awakening Church in Atoka still faces trials involving two other teenagers who accused him of rape. One was 12 at the time of the alleged abuse.

The sexual abuse allegations against Gorton first came to light when Tipon County deputies responded to a report of a suicidal man at his home on January 31, 2018.

During the course of their investigation, Gorton was given a psychiatric evaluation and taken in for questioning.

Meanwhile, deputies learned that Atoka police were investigating an underage boy’s accusation that Gorton had raped and sexually assaulted him multiple times at Gorton’s home earlier in the month — the accusation was said to have made Gorton suicidal.

Following the initial investigation, two additional alleged victims came forward with accusations against Gorton.

Gorton was indicted in March of that year on charges, among them one count of rape, 16 counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, 17 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and five counts of aggravated sexual battery.

Five months later, a grand jury returned another 44-count indictment against him.

West Michigan priest held teen against his will, wrapped him in plastic and sexually assaulted him

August 24, 2019

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In 2013, a couple of concerned Otsego parents asked their priest, Father Brian Stanley, to counsel their son.

Instead, authorities said, he bound the teenage boy with plastic wrap and held him against his will.

The Attorney General’s office said Stanley coerced the boy into following him into the janitor’s room, where he immobilized him with plastic wrap and used masking tape to cover his eyes and mouth.

He then left the young man alone for an hour in the janitor’s room of their Otsego church, St. Margaret’s parish, officials said.

Now, six years later, Stanley was arrested by special agents from the Attorney General’s office, who believes his conduct was an ongoing, sexually motivated crime.

He is being charged with one count of false imprisonment, facing up to 15 years in prison and an obligatory registration as a sex offender. His bail was set at $100,000.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo says it reported multiple allegations regarding Stanley to the authorities, including the one in 2013 and another in 2017.

The diocese says it reached out to Child Protective Services and the Otsego Police Department in 2013, when it learned about the incident involving the young boy, but the police never filed any charges.

It placed Stanley on administrative leave both times.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to promote greater protection and safeguards of all people, particularly for children and vulnerable adults. We adhere to the National 2002 Charter for the Protection of Young People, which guides all that we do,” said the Diocese in a statement to the Free Press.

Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office seized files from seven Michigan dioceses, including the Diocese of Kalamazoo, in October 2018.

Officials said it was apparent from records that Stanley had been using plastic wrap and tape in similar behavior for many decades.

“This is about taking on large-scale institutions that turn a blind eye to victims and making certain we hold them accountable – that includes unapologetically pursuing any and all individuals who abuse their power to victimize our residents,” said Nessel.

An attorney for Stanley could not immediately be reached for comment.

Teacher in Islamic school arrested for raping 11-year-old student

August 22, 2019

Skokie teacher accused of sexual assaulting a child.

A 32-year-old teacher is accused of sexually assaulting a student in north suburban Skokie.

Mohammedimran A. Mulla is charged with predatory sexual assault of a child, attempted predatory sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

On July 5, Skokie police were alerted to an alleged sexual assault of an 11-year-old student, the state’s attorney’s office said. Mulla, a teacher at Noor Learning Center, was arrested the next day.

He was ordered held without bail and is scheduled to appear in court July 30.

Costa Rica Priest Wanted For Rape Of Minors Arrested In Mexico

August 22, 2019

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Costa Rican Catholic priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano, on the run since January of this year, was arrested this Sunday at dawn in San Nicolás de Los Garza, Monterrey, in the Mexican state of Nuevo León.

The priest, 55, was wanted in 194 countries since he fled Costa Rica for alleged sexual abuse, qualified rape and aggravated corruption against minors.

The Attorney General of Mexico confirmed the detention.

Michael Rodríguez and Anthony Venegas, who denounced Víquez Lizano for alleged sexual abuse, traveled to Mexico City in early August to ask the people of that country to notify the authorities if they knew his whereabouts.

“He was arrested in the early hours of the morning, it was confirmed by the boys who I represent, who were invited to Mexico and carried an urgent message that he (the priest) detained,” said Rodolfo Alvarado, the lawyer for two of the men.

Costa Rica has begun its request extradition.

Lawyer Alvarado believes the former Catholic priest, who has been a fugitive from Costa Rican justice since Monday, January 7, when a complaint was filed against him for alleged sexual abuse against a minor, could be back in Costa Rica as early as September 15.

Iowa pastor arrested in Minnesota, faces Omaha child sex abuse charges

August 18, 2019

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OMAHA — Authorities in Minnesota have arrested an Iowa pastor on charges that he sexually assaulted two girls at a home in Omaha.

Police in Carlton County, Minnesota, arrested 44-year-old Emanuel J. Rodriguez on Saturday morning on a Douglas County arrest warrant that charged him with two counts of third-degree sexual assault of a child. The website for the Calvary Assembly of God Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa, lists Rodriguez as a pastor.

An affidavit filed Friday accused Rodriguez of fondling two girls between Jan. 1, 2017, and May 17, 2019, inside two homes in Omaha previously owned by Rodriguez. The girls are now ages 12 and 11.

It’s unclear when Rodriguez will be returned to Omaha.

Priest who starred in ‘The Exorcist’ is accused of repeatedly raping one of his students in New York during the 1980s

August 15, 2019

He raped children. That’s how we knew he was really a priest, said the producer of The Exorcist.

Image result for Father William J. O'Malley
  • A priest who starred in the 1973 horror ‘The Exorcist’ is accused of sexually abusing one of his students at a school where he taught in New York
  • Father William O’Malley taught at McQuaid Jesuit High School for 20 years
  • He is accused of sexually abusing one of his students there during the 1980s  
  • The complaint came to light after The Child Victim’s Act came into effect in New York allowing victims of child sex abuse to bring their cases to court 

A real-life priest who starred in ‘The Exorcist’ is accused of sexually abusing one of his students at a school where he taught in New York.

Father William J. O’Malley was a teacher at McQuaid Jesuit High School both before and after he starred as Father Joseph Dyer in the 1973 horror classic.

Father O’Malley joined the McQuaid faculty in 1965 and left the school in the mid-1980s, becoming well-known within the community.

He is now 87 and lives in in the Jesuit community at Fordham University in the Bronx.

O’Malley also wrote more than three dozen books and was a vocal representative Jesuit order and Catholic faith.

A lawsuit seen by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle states that O’Malley is accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old McQuaid student ‘multiple times’ in 1985 and 1986.

Some acts of abuse allegedly happened at the school, in a classroom or in hallways. Some occurred at school-sponsored activities, according to the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, the abuse caused the alleged male victim to suffer ‘severe emotional and psychological distress, humiliation, fright, dissociation, anger, depression, anxiety, family turmoil and loss of faith.’

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