Child Abuse

Catholic Priests Abused 1,000 Children in Pennsylvania, Report Says

June 21. 2020

Victims of clerical sex abuse and their relatives reacted as Attorney General Josh Shapiro discussed the grand jury report at a news conference in Harrisburg.

Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it, according to a searing report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.

The report, which covered six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1,000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The report said there are likely thousands more victims whose records were lost or who were too afraid to come forward.

It catalogs horrific instances of abuse: a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out; a victim tied up and whipped with leather straps by a priest; and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a young girl and arranging for her to have an abortion.

The sexual abuse scandal has shaken the Catholic Church for more than 15 years, ever since explosive allegations emerged out of Boston in 2002. But even after paying billions of dollars in settlements and adding new prevention programs, the church has been dogged by a scandal that is now reaching its highest ranks. The Pennsylvania report comes soon after the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, who is accused of sexually abusing young priests and seminarians, as well as minors.

“Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” the grand jury wrote. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.”

5 Catholic priests charged in Michigan sex abuse investigation

June 21, 2020

Rev. Vincent DeLorenzo

As part of the state’s investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Friday criminal sexual conduct charges against five priests in Michigan. 

Timothy Michael Crowley, 69, of the Lansing Diocese, was charged in Washtenaw County with four felony counts of criminal sexual conduct (CSC) in the first degree, and four felony counts of CSC in the second degree. Crowley, who once was a priest at St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor, was arrested Thursday in Tempe, Arizona.

“Some of these clergy … preyed on young children,” Nessel said at a news conference about the men who were priests at the time of the alleged abuse. She said the five cases were the “tip of the iceberg” as investigators continue to track down hundreds of tips on abuse by Catholic priests. 

In some of the incidents, the priests mixed their sexual activity with references to Catholic beliefs or committed the acts during Catholic rituals such as confession, according to allegations in affidavits.

In other cases, the priests plied children with drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and alcohol before sexually assaulting them, allege prosecutors and police. In one case, a priest is accused of threatening to kill his victim if the boy reported the abuse.

Deputy Solicitor General Ann Sherman, who is helping with the investigations, said that some Catholic Church officials have alarming views on sexual abuse of children.

“I am deeply disturbed by what we have discovered,” Sherman said at the news conference. “I’m also disturbed by some attitudes of some of the hierarchy in the church … who demonstrated a serious misunderstanding of sexual assault.”

In one case, a priest “explained that this child victim needed to simply admit that he teased, enticed, or gave permission for the abuse to occur,” Sherman said. “This attitude is horrific. Sexual abuse is never the fault of the victim and it certainly can never be that sexual abuse of a child is a child’s fault.”

Retired Catholic priest in southeast Mo. pleaded not guilty on child sex abuse charges

June 21. 202

STODDARD COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) – A retired Catholic priest in the Heartland was charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse with children.

According to Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver, 76-year-old Frederick Lutz was arrested at his home in Springfield on a Stoddard County warrant for charges of forcible sodomy, two counts of statutory sodomy second degree and felony sexual abuse related to allegations of sex crimes that happened while Lutz served as the priest at St. Joseph Parish in Advance, Mo. His bond was set at $125,000 cash only.

He was taken to the Stoddard County Jail on Wednesday afternoon to be booked.

On Thursday, February 20, Lutz appeared in court in Stoddard County.

A KFVS crew in the courtroom said a formal hearing was waived on Thursday. Lutz entered a not guilty plea.

He is scheduled to reappear on Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. to address the issue of bond.

Priest Arrested for Child Rape

May 22, 2020

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A Roman Catholic priest who allegedly advocated sex between men and boys was arrested today on charges he raped a young boy over a seven-year period — with some of the assaults occurring in a church confessional.

The Rev. Paul Shanley, 71, a figure at the center of the Boston archdiocese sex scandal, surrendered to police at his home in San Diego this morning. He faces three counts of child rape in Massachusetts, Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley said.

The alleged victim, now 24, accuses Shanley of abusing him repeatedly from 1983 to 1990, starting from the time he was 6. The unidentified accuser told police Shanley regularly removed him from his religion class and took him to a bathroom, across the street to the rectory or to the confessional at St. Jean Parish in Newton, Mass., where the priest allegedly abused the boy, Coakley said.

The alleged victim said Shanley told him, “if he told, no one would believe him,” according to the prosecutor.

“He was 6 years old and was fond of Shanley,” Coakley said.

An extradition hearing is set for either Friday or Monday.

Shanley was arrested after television crews tracked him down in San Diego. Fearing Shanley might flee, the prosecutor said she moved fast to detain him.

“We’re pretty relieved. We were concerned,” she said. “We are always concerned when there is an individual outside the state who has the means to flee.”

Shanley’s First Criminal Charges

The new allegations surfaced in the last few months, Coakley said, amid growing publicity about the sex-abuse scandal in the Boston archdiocese, first centered on priest John Geoghan, who is serving a prison sentence for fondling a boy and who is accused by more than 130 other people of abuse.

These new criminal charges are the first to be filed against Shanley, who has already been the focus of a civil lawsuit against the archdiocese.

Although many child sex-abuse charges against priests are too old to prosecute, the statute of limitations has not run out in this case. The current statute extends 10 years from the victim’s 16th birthday, and the alleged victim is 24.

“This very clearly falls within the statute of limitations,” said Seth Horwitz, spokesman for the Middlesex County district attorney’s office.

Shanley faces a possible life sentence if convicted of the charges.

Law, Church Criticized

The district attorney’s office is looking into several other “credible” allegations of abuse by Shanley from victims who came forward after intense media scrutiny of the church sex scandal in recent weeks.

Neither Shanley’s attorneys nor the Boston archdiocese have commented so far.

Both the Boston archdiocese and Cardinal Bernard Law have come under criticism for their handling of the Shanley case.

After receiving dozens of allegations of abuse by Shanley, officials did not warn a California diocese when he moved there in 1990.

Documents associated with the civil lawsuit and released last month showed archdiocese officials knew about Shanley’s attendance at a 1979 meeting in Boston at which the North American Man Boy Love Association was apparently created.

Shanley was appointed to the Newton parish in 1980 after church officials ended his “street ministry” because they did not approve of his views on homosexuality.

Priest Ran Palm Springs Hotel

The alleged victim in the criminal case said Shanley began abusing him months before the priest was promoted from parish administrator to pastor of the Newton parish in December 1984.

“I am confident that you will have a zealous and fruitful ministry in your new appointment,” Law wrote Shanley at the time.

In recent weeks, the archdiocese has released 1,600 pages of records in the civil case.

Gregory Ford, 24, and his parents, Paula and Rodney Ford, are suing the archdiocese and Law for negligence for allowing Shanley to be posted to the Newton parish where Gregory Ford was allegedly repeatedly abused and raped as a child.

Shanley was ordained in 1960 and worked as a street priest until 1979. He was transferred to the San Bernardino Diocese in 1990. While serving as a pastor part time, he also owned a hotel that catered to gay clients in Palm Springs, Calif.

Australian Court Dismisses Cardinal George Pell’s Sex Abuse Convictions

April 8, 2020

Proving once again that nobody gives a shit about abuse survivors but only about the rich and powerful.

George Pell High Court ruling on appeal against child sex abuse ...

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court has dismissed the convictions of the most senior Catholic found guilty of child sex abuse.

The High Court Chief Justice Susan Kiefel announced the decision of the seven judges on Tuesday in the appeal of Cardinal George Pell. The decision means he will be released from Barwon Prison outside Melbourne.

Pope Francis’ former finance minister was convicted by a Victoria state jury in 2018 of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in a back room of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in December 1996 while he was archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city.

Pell was also convicted of indecently assaulting one of the boys by painfully squeezing his genitals after a Mass in early 1997.

The 78-year-old cleric has served more than a year of a six-year sentence. He was ordered to serve three years and eight months behind bars before he became eligible for parole.

The High Court examined whether the Victorian Court of Appeal was correct in its 2-1 majority decision in August to uphold the jury verdicts.

Pastor and wife jailed after he raped children in bogus religious ceremony over 20 years

March 6, 2020

Michael Oluronbi has been jailed. (PA Images/West Midlands Police)

He did this for 20+ years before there was an outcry?

A “feared” pastor who raped children in a bogus religious ceremony over a 20-year period has been jailed.

Self-styled prophet Michael Oluronbi was found guilty in January of offences against six women and a man. Five of those attended his church.

He carried out his attacks by convincing his victims to take part in a “spiritual bathing” ritual, which he told them would “cleanse” them of evil spirits.

Judge Sarah Buckingham, sentencing him to 34 years behind bars, said his case was “one of the worst cases of sexual abuse of multiple children to come before the courts” and described him as an “arrogant, selfish and vain man”.

She said the “spiritual baths” were actually designed to “fulfil (his) insatiable sexual appetite”.

“The children feared you and this enabled you to continue your grip,” she said, sentencing Oluronbi on Friday.

“Your offending has had an extreme and severe impact on all of your complainants.

He“You abused your position of trust – they trusted you like God.”

In statements read to the court by the prosecution, one of the victims said Oluronbi’s actions made her “question if my life was worth living”.

Oluronbi, who had blamed the devil for his actions, was convicted of 15 counts of rape, seven counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault, at Birmingham Crown Court.

Oluronbi’s wife Juliana was also convicted of three counts of aiding and abetting rape and helping arrange some of the abortions of his victims, with some becoming pregnant multiple times. She was jailed for 11 years.

As a pharmacist, he would take them to clinics to end the pregnancies.

During the trial, the jury was told how Oluronbi was linked to a Christian church in Birmingham, where he formed a splinter group for about 40 adults and children, separate to the church and in another location.

In that group, he had the victims take part in “spiritual bathing”.

During the trial, Phil Bradley QC, prosecuting, told the jury: “The main tactic he employed was to claim that God had instructed him to administer ‘holy baths’ to some of his congregation in order to ‘cleanse’ them and protect them from evil influences.

Buffalo Roman Catholic Diocese seeks bankruptcy protection

March 1, 2020

Buffalo Diocese Bankruptcy

Another one bites the dust.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The embattled Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, taking another major step in its effort to recover from a clergy misconduct scandal that’s been the basis for hundreds of lawsuits, Vatican intervention and the resignation of its bishop.

With its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the western New York diocese became the second in the state to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, and one of more than 20 dioceses to seek bankruptcy protection nationwide. Most recently, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, filed Feb. 19.

The Buffalo diocese has faced particular turmoil in recent months, culminating in the Dec. 4 resignation of Bishop Richard Malone following a Vatican-mandated investigation. Malone had faced intense pressure from members of his staff, clergy and the public to step down amid criticism that he withheld the names of dozens of credibly accused priests and mishandled reports of misconduct against others.

Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger called the bankruptcy filing “a path forward to healing.”

“My hope is that, going forward, regardless of the mistakes we have made, regardless of the suspicions that may rightfully have been raised about the way things were done, going forward, we’re going to see a lot of action that will result in very fair resolutions as much as we can,” Scharfenberger, who is temporarily overseeing the Buffalo diocese, said at a news conference.

Scharfenberger said the process, expected to take more than a year, will enable the highest possible number of victims to be compensated while allowing the work of the diocese to continue. The diocese includes 163 parishes and missions across eight western New York counties.

The Chapter 11 filing estimates between $10 million and $50 million in assets and between $50 million and $100 million in liabilities. The number of creditors is estimated at between 200 and 999.

The diocese already has paid out about $18 million — including $1.5 million from the sale of the bishop’s mansion — to more than 100 victims under an independent compensation program established in 2018. It faces more than 250 new lawsuits filed since August, when the New York’s Child Victims Act suspended the statute of limitations to give victims of childhood abuse one year to pursue even decades-old allegations. The number of suits is expected to grow to more than 400, financial director Charles Mendolera said in a court filing.

Fire Kills 17 at Unaccredited Orphanage in Haiti

February 15, 2020

God hates orphans.

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A burning candle is regarded as a possible cause. A Pennsylvania group, which runs the orphanage, lost government accreditation several years ago.

Seventeen children including infants died in Haiti after a fire broke out inside their remote unaccredited orphanage located above the hills of Port-au-Prince.
Two of the children died from burns, Haiti’s Social Affairs Minister Elyse Gelin told the Miami Herald, while 13 others died from smoke inhalation. Two young survivors are being treated for respiratory distress at a hospital in the capital.
In all, there were 61 children living inside the Orphanage of the Church of Bible Understanding’s two-story building at Fermathe 55 when the fire broke out Thursday night, Gelin said. The group home, located just south of Port-au-Prince in the town of Kenscoff, is run by a much-criticized Scranton, Pennsylvania, religious nonprofit.

The incident is strongly being condemned by child protection advocates, and highlights Haiti’s ongoing challenges in trying to regulate non-accredited children’s homes, which are a profitable business in the country despite a 2018 moratorium banning any new orphanages and the closure of nearly 200 in recent years.

Former monk who sexually abused boys as young as nine jailed for more than 20 years

February 14, 2020

A former monk at a Catholic boarding school who sexually abused boys as young as nine has been jailed for more than 20 years.

Peter Turner, 80, was removed from Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire in 1987 after he told the headteacher about having sexual contact with a pupil.

He showed the boy, who was just 10 when the abuse began, pornography, made him perform sex acts on him and himself, touched him sexually and committed buggery.

The abuse took place in a number of areas of Ampleforth, including a hermitage and during car journeys.

Tom Storey, prosecuting, said Turner told the boy it was their secret and gave him sweets and alcohol and taught him how to drive a car in the school grounds.

He said: “He described being completely dominated by the defendant and completely at his mercy, unable of saying anything and did not know who to seek help from.”

Turner — who was previously known as Father Gregory Carroll — was sent away from the school to work as a parish priest in Workington, Cumbria, where he went on to abuse two more boys.

The victims were aged between nine and 12 and were subjected to indecent assaults and gross indecency on a nearby beach and in Turner’s car.

Turner, from Redcar, North Yorkshire, was sentenced to 20 years 10 months at York Crown Court on Wednesday after admitting to 11 counts of indecent assault, two counts of buggery and one count of gross indecency with a child.

Priests on sex offender registry find home in alternative ministry

February 11, 2020

Father Jamie Forsythe has always felt his purpose was to be a priest. He pursued that calling even after he pleaded guilty in 1989 to a charge of attempting to take indecent liberties with a 15-year-old boy in Kansas, serving time in prison, and being laicized — officially removed from the priesthood — by the Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City.

Forsythe, then in his 30s, was released from prison after less than four months of his one-to-five-year sentence, and eventually found work at Metropolitan Community Church of the Black Hills, a progressive Christian church in South Dakota that primarily serves LGBTQ worshippers. Forsythe was ordained within the Metropolitan Community Church denomination in 1996, according to the Rapid City Journal, and began working at the Black Hills church in January 2000. But when the congregation discovered in 2002 he had failed to register as a sex offender in the state, he resigned from his post and made his way to Wilton Manors, Florida.

That’s where Forsythe found a job at Holy Angels, nestled in a strip mall between a tapas bar and a Peruvian restaurant.

It is part of a church system called The National Catholic Church of North America, but it is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Forsythe was hired as a priest there in 2005, according to the church. The alternative diocese is home to about 200 parishioners in seven parishes in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Washington, D.C.

Megachurch pastor, 62, is placed on leave after allowing volunteer with ‘obsessive sexual feelings’ for children to work in unsupervised roles as ‘a method of treatment’

February 11, 2020

John Ortberg, senior pastor at Menlo Church in the Bay Area, was placed on leave in November 2019 over his handling of a volunteer who confided in him a sexual attraction to children
  • John Ortberg, senior pastor at Menlo Church in the Bay Area, was placed on leave in November 2019 
  • Ortberg came under fire for his handling of a volunteer who came to him in July 2018 to confide a sexual attraction to children 
  • Instead of consulting church’s elder board, Ortberg kept the matter a secret and encouraged volunteer to continue working with children 
  • He allegedly allowed the volunteer to accompany minors on overnight trips as a method of treatment for sexual obsession with kids 
  • Ortberg’s estranged transgender son, Slate magazine writer Daniel Lavery, learned of the situation in November and reported his father to the board   

February 11, 2020

The leader of a 4,000-member megachurch in California’s Bay Area was placed on leave after his own son revealed that the influential pastor had allowed a church volunteer with a sexual attraction to children to continue working and traveling with minors unsupervised.

Writer Daniel Lavery, the estranged son of Menlo Church senior pastor John Ortberg, further claimed that not only had his father failed to stop the volunteer from working with children, he even encouraged the person to accompany minors on trips as a method of treatment of their sexual obsession.

Ortberg, 62, a married father-of-three, has not delivered a sermon since last November and is currently said to be undergoing a process of ‘restoration’ after consulting with the church’s Elder Board, reported The Mercury News.

There have been no reports of criminal behavior involving the unnamed volunteer, but Ortberg’s handling of the situation has come under fire and sparked an internal investigation.

In late January, Beth Seabolt, chair of the Menlo Church elder board, sent an email to the congregation explaining that in July 2018, a volunteer came to Ortberg and shared with him ‘an unwanted thought pattern of attraction to minors,’ as The Christian Post reported.

That person assured the pastor and prolific Christian author that he or she had not acted on the sexual desire, and Ortberg ‘provided prayers and referrals for counselling’.

But instead of consulting other church leaders about the situation, Ortberg allowed the volunteer to carry on working in the community, including with minors.

Ortberg’s estranged transgender son, columnist Daniel Lavery, 33 (pictured), reported his father to the church’s elder board after learning of the incident with the volunteer
Ortberg’s estranged transgender son, columnist Daniel Lavery, 33 (pictured), reported his father to the church’s elder board after learning of the incident with the volunteer

The matter came to light 18 months later, when the volunteer reached out to Ortberg’s estranged transgender son, Slate magazine columnist Daniel Lavery, and told him that ‘for most of their life, they had experienced obsessive sexual feelings about young children.’

Lavery said in a statement he released on Twitter on Sunday that the church volunteer also spoke to him about seeking out unsupervised volunteer roles with children as a ‘method of treatment’ for their unhealthy attraction, including volunteer work that involved overnight travel with children.

The person told Lavery that they had never consulted a therapist about this treatment plan, but had shared it with Ortberg and his wife, Nancy, in July 2018.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo: Bankruptcy imminent

February 4, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo faces near certain bankruptcy after posting a $5 million loss in 2019, and with a barrage of lawsuits from the clergy misconduct scandal still pending, according to a financial report released Thursday.

”In response to the magnitude of the number of claims, lawsuits and alleged damages, the (Central Administrative Offices) has determined that a filing of a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code is imminent,” the diocese’s 2019 financial report said.

The diocese would become the second of New York’s eight dioceses to seek bankruptcy protection. The Rochester diocese filed for Chapter 11 protection in September. Nationwide, more than 20 dioceses have sought bankruptcy protection in a sexual misconduct reckoning that has spanned nearly two decades.

The report cited lower revenue from donations and investments as hundreds of alleged child victims of clergy abuse have come forward with claims.

It was the second consecutive yearly loss for the diocese of 163 parishes and missions across eight counties. It lost $1.8 million in fiscal 2018.

The diocese already has paid out about $18 million — including $1.5 million from the sale of the bishop’s mansion — to more than 100 victims under an independent compensation program established in 2018. It faces more than 220 new lawsuits filed since August, when New York’s Child Victims Act suspended the statute of limitations to give childhood victims one year to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse.

Filing for bankruptcy protection, the report said, “best allows the CAO to manage the claims adjudication process in an orderly manner, as well as to ensure the equitable treatment of all claimants.”

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