Archive for January, 2020
The Catholic Church broke its promise to publish a list of “credibly accused” abuser priests, so Propublica did it for them
January 28, 2020
In 2019 the Pennsylvania Attorney General published a 900-page grand jury report on sexual predators in the Catholic Church and the coverups the church and its official had undertaken; at the time, the church promised to end the coverup and engage in truth and reconciliation with the parishoners who’d been preyed upon by clergy.
Today, 178 Archdioceses have published lists of the priests they consider “credibly accused,” according to criteria that vary widely from diocese to diocese — the US Conference of Catholic Bishops says it has no authorities to dictate standards for these lists.
41 dioceses have not published lists. These dioceses serve more than 9,000,000 Catholics, and include the dioceses of Rockville Centre, NY (1.5m parishoners); Fresno, CA (1.2m parishoners); Miami, FL (790,000 parishoners), and San Francisco, CA (445,000 parishoners).
The quality of the cooperating dioceses’ lists is highly variable: some exclude members of religious orders (like the Jesuits), who constitute 30% of the priests in America. Other lists don’t include the names of priests whose survivors have received settlements from the church, but who are not themselves considered “credibly accused” apparently. Names appear and disappear from the list all the time.
Propublica has produced a searchable database of known accused priests, searchable by name/cit/diocese (they explain their methodology here), and they’ve made the data available for download.
The database is accompanied by an excellent, deeply reported story by Lexi Churchill, Ellis Simani and Topher Sanders.
It’s impossible to know how many accused clergy members dioceses have opted not to put on their lists.
Bishop Accountability applies different standards for inclusion on its list than church leaders, tracking public accusations against nuns and other clergy members often left off the official rolls.
As a result, there are sometimes substantial gaps between the group’s tallies and those of dioceses.
The Archdiocese of Boston currently lists 171 names. Bishop Accountability lists 279, including dozens of religious order priests omitted from the official list as well as several priests who died before victims came forward.
“For every person who’s left off a list, bishops ought to be aware that they are retraumatizing survivors and doubling the insult and doubling the pain,” Terence McKiernan, the founder of Bishop Accountability, said.
Catholic Leaders Promised Transparency About Child Abuse. They Haven’t Delivered. [Lexi Churchill, Ellis Simani and Topher Sanders/Propublica]
January 27, 2020
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City said Tuesday that it has substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse against another priest.
The archdiocese said in a news release that allegations of abuse of a minor were substantiated against Father Marvin Leven by the archdiocese following an investigation by the Oklahoma City law firm McAfee & Taft. It said the allegations date to 1993, when Leven, now 94 and retired, was assigned to Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Enid.
The allegation was made by a then-15-year-old boy, who said the abuse resumed later when he was an adult at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond, the archdiocese said.
The archdiocese said it also substantiated a separate allegation against Leven of inappropriate behavior with a minor at the Enid church.
Archbishop Paul Coakley also revoked Leven’s authority to serve as a priest. Leven didn’t immediately reply to a message left with the archdiocese seeking comment.
Under Oklahoma law, the statute of limitations has expired for any possible charges against Leven.
Leven served as pastor at Holy Family Catholic Church in Lawton from 1994 until his retirement in 1998, according to their website. He also served at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Altus.
Leven is the second priest the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has identified since December as having child sexual abuse allegations against them substantiated from 1960 to 2018, bringing to 13 the total since an initial report in October identified 11 clerics with substantiated allegations.
Separately, the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma also released a list in October, naming 11 other clerics in that diocese who were found to have credible child sexual abuse allegations against them dating to 1973.
January 26, 2020
A self-described rabbi arrested this week on suspicion of enslaving and sexually abusing dozens of women and children in an overcrowded Jerusalem compound has been named as Aharon Ramati.
Police arrested the 60-year-old on Monday on suspicion that he was running a cult at the Be’er Miriam seminary in the city’s Geula neighbourhood.
Officials said his establishment had been operating for years in the Bukharim Quarter, near the city centre, under the guise of a women’s seminary.
The Times of Israel reported it was in fact home to as many 50 women living in overcrowded, deprived conditions with poor sanitation.
Some of the women said they had been sexually exploited and now had young children, aged between 12 months and five years, who were regularly taken away and held in seclusion, the newspaper said.
“What happened at the seminar was not Torah-learning,” a police representative said during Monday’s court hearing.
“The girls learned to obey the cult leader. They invited women to Shabbat meals. The rabbi knows how to talk to women. Slowly they scared them and separated them from their families.”
Mr Ramati, whose status as a rabbi is unclear, was arrested on suspicion of similar crimes in four years ago, Haaretz reported, but was released after women in his compound testified on his behalf.
This week’s arrest took place after women at the seminary reported fresh allegations to the police.
Speaking outside a Jerusalem court on Monday, Mr Ramat said the allegations were “beyond nonsense” and “ludicrous”, adding: “Nobody believes this is true.”
Of the children discovered by police in the compound, he said it was “maybe my grandchildren who came for a visit.”
January 21, 2020
WILKES COUNTY, N.C. — An eastern Wilkes County pastor was arrested on over 100 counts of felony sex offenses Thursday, according to the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office.
Rodney Dean Luffman, 58, is identified online as the pastor of a church on N.C. 268 in Elkin called Open Arms Outreach Ministries.
He was charged in connection with two male victims and one female victim.
The victim’s ages ranged from 4 to 16 when the offenses happened, deputies say.
Most of the offenses reportedly happened between 2000 and 2015.
On Monday, he was in the Wilkes County Jail under a $1 million bond.
The investigation is ongoing.
January 20, 2020
MICHIGAN — Two former priests who served in the Upper Peninsula have been charged with sex crimes, the state Attorney General’s office announced Friday.
Both men had ties to the Catholic Diocese of Marquette.
The charges come as state Attorney General Dana Nessel continues investigations into clergy abuse.
Nessel said that she authorized charges against Gary Allen Jacobs, 74, of Albuquerque, New Mexico for multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. The charges involved allege assaults between 1981 and 1984 in Ontonagon County and in early 1984 in Dickinson County.
State attorneys did not reveal information about the victims, other than to note that several charges involved a child between 13 and 16 and one charge involved a child less than 13.
Jacobs was arrested Friday in New Mexico and is awaiting extradition on eight felony charges.
The other former priest is Roy Joseph, 52, lives in India, state officials said.
The Attorney General’s office has authorized one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 2006 incident in Marquette County. Joseph served as a priest there at the time.
Michigan priest accused of tying up teenage boy, taping mouth and eyes
Sixth Michigan priest charged with criminal sexual conduct
Court records reveal years of alleged sex abuse by priests across Michigan
January 18, 2020
WEATHERLY, Pa. (CBS/AP) — A Luzerne County woman drove into the path of an oncoming vehicle as a way to test her faith, then exhibited no concern about the people who were injured in the crash, state police said. Bail was revoked this week for Nadejda Reilly, 31, of Drums, who is charged with aggravated assault and other offenses over allegations she purposely caused the wreck on Route 93 near Weatherly on Jan. 7.
An investigator said Reilly told him she had been driving around for a few hours, waiting for a calling from God, when she decided to drive through the oncoming vehicle.
“Reilly related God took care of her by not having her injured,” wrote Trooper Bruce Balliet in an arrest affidavit. “Reilly expressed no concerns or remorse for the victims. Reilly also stated she did not care if the other people were injured because God would have taken care of them.”
Two people in the other vehicle were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries, Balliet wrote.
The online court docket indicated her $50,000 bail was revoked Wednesday.
Her lawyer, Andrew Theyken Bench, filed a notice with the court that Reilly plans to waive her formal arraignment in Carbon County court. He declined comment on the record Friday.
Prosecutor Seth Eric Miller did not return a message seeking comment.
January 18, 2020
A “satanic” sect killed a pregnant woman and six children – aged between one and 17 – during a violent exorcism inside a church, say prosecutors.
Officers found a mass grave containing seven bodies – the 33-year-old woman, five of her children and a neighbour’s child – in the indigenous region of Ngabe-Bugle in Panama.
The gruesome discovery came after local authorities were told several families had been held against their will in a church where exorcisms were believed to have taken place.
Fifteen people were rescued from the religious sect where they were reportedly tortured by being beaten with bibles, choked and having burning sticks rammed in their mouths to “cast out the demons”.
Ten sect members were arrested on suspicion of responsibility for the killings, prosecutors said.
Those rescued from the church had suffered bodily injuries, Alexis Munoz, a senior police official, told Reuters.
Rafael Baloyes, senior prosecutor of the Bocas del Toro province of western Panama, said: “We’re talking about seven victims, six minors between the ages of one and 17.
“Six from one family, the mother and her five children, and the mother was pregnant.”
The deaths involved the La Nueva Luz de Dios (The New Light of God) sect in the community of El Terron, according to the Panamanian Ministry of Public Security.
Ricardo Miranda, head of the Ngabe-Bugle semi-autonomous zone, wrote on Facebook: “We demand the immediate eradication of this satanic sect that contradicts all the harmonious and spiritual practices contemplated in the holy scriptures.”
The victims were indigenous people who had been abducted and kept captive by the sect’s priests, who also carried out exorcism rituals that included physical abuse, local media reported.
Mr Munoz confirmed the discovery of a mass grave in the same location where the victims were rescued that contained at least seven bodies.
He told local media: “When we arrived we were told there was a mass grave in the area, the National Police has since confirmed its existence.”
Lawyer Rafael Baloyes said: “It is a complex case. The group abused people and committed criminal acts against the local community.
January 18, 2020
Lyon (AFP) – Accused of sexually abusing dozens of boy scouts in the 1970s and 80s, a French Catholic priest confessed in court Tuesday to “caresses” he knew were forbidden, and said for 20 years “it happened every weekend”.
At scout camps, “it could be four or five children a week,” Bernard Preynat, 74, told a court in Lyon on the first day of his trial for preying on boys.
“For me, at the time, I was not committing sexual assault but giving caresses, hugs. I was wrong.”
Sitting up straight in the dock Bernard, Preynat‘s voice quavered as he admitted the interactions “did bring me sexual pleasure.”
But while he knew the actions were forbidden, he said he only finally understood that they were illegal thanks to “the accusations of the victims”.
The accusers were aged seven to 14 when the alleged crimes were committed between 1971 and 1991, when Preynat was a scout leader in Lyon.
The allegations against him sparked the biggest crisis in the French Church in decades and last year saw a cardinal convicted of covering up the alleged crimes.
Preynat was defrocked by the Church last July.
Former scouts have claimed he touched and kissed them and forced them into reciprocal fondling while they were in his care, including at camps. He denies ever kissing the boys on the mouth.
Francois Devaux, one of Preynat’s accusers and the founder of a victims’ organisation, spoke of the “hell” his parents, who had alerted church authorities about his experience, had lived through, and his own “very difficult, very complicated” adolescence as a result.
He said he had tried to commit suicide.
“I think I used to be a bright child. After, I lived a very dark life… flirted with dangerous things,” Devaux testified. He was ten when it happened.
“Pain, anger… Whatever the court decides, the harm and the trauma suffered in my childhood will continue. My responsibility is that this must never happen again,” said Devaux.
January 16, 2020
January 15, 2018
A Roman Catholic priest in Northern New Jersey was arrested and charged this week with multiple counts of child sex abuse dating to the early 1990s, the state attorney general’s office said. It was the first criminal case brought by New Jersey’s Clergy Abuse Task Force, which was formed last year to investigate abuse allegations in the Catholic Church.
Father Thomas P. Ganley, 63, of Phillipsburg, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault in the first degree and two counts of sexual assault in the second degree, the office of Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in a statement. The office did not reveal the sex of the victim, who it said was between the ages of 14 and 17 at the time.
Father Ganley was assigned to Saint Philip & Saint James Church in Phillipsburg at the time of his arrest, but the attorney general’s office said the abuse occurred between 1990 and 1994 at Saint Cecilia Church in the Iselin section of Woodbridge. Both churches are part of the Diocese of Metuchen.
“Our Clergy Abuse Task Force is diligently pursuing its mission to expose the truth about past wrongs and seek justice for survivors, because no person is above the law and no institution is immune from accountability,” Mr. Grewal said in a statement. “This case illustrates that we are prepared to move swiftly to investigate allegations, and where there are viable criminal charges, to pursue those charges.”
The Rev. James F. Checchio, the bishop of Metuchen, said in a statement that it had never received an accusation of sexual abuse or misconduct related to Father Ganley, who he said also served as a chaplain at St. Luke’s Warren Campus Hospital in Phillipsburg.
Kira Bub, a spokeswoman for St. Luke’s University Health Network, said in a statement that Father Ganley had never been employed as a chaplain at the hospital. Instead, she said he was “one of several religious leaders who when requested by patients was permitted to visit in their room to minister requested services.”
January 10, 2020
NOBLESVILLE, Indianapolis – A suspended Catholic priest in Indiana is facing charges alleging he sexually abused a child in 2016.
Father David Marcotte of Indianapolis is charged in suburban Hamilton County with child solicitation, vicarious sexual gratification and dissemination of matter harmful to minors.
The Indianapolis Archdiocese suspended the 32-year-old Marcotte from public ministry in February after its victim assistance coordinator learned of the abuse allegations. It said that at the time of the alleged abuse, Marcotte was assigned to St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg and St. Martin of Tours Parish in Martinsville.
A message seeking comment was left for Marcotte’s attorney.
January 10, 2020
Two Roman Catholic priests were each sentenced to more than 40 years in prison in Argentina for sexually abusing deaf children, a court in the western city of Mendoza ruled Monday.
Argentine priest Horacio Corbacho was sentenced to 45 years in jail, while a 42-year sentence was imposed on Italian Nicola Corradi for the abuse of some 20 children at the Provolo Institute for deaf and hearing-impaired children between 2004 and 2016.
The court said the sentences took into account the aggravating circumstances that the priests were responsible for the children’s wellbeing, as well as the fact that the victims were minors.
The institution’s gardener, Armando Gomez, was also jailed for 18 years for sexual abuse.
Outside the court a group of young people waited for the ruling with banners supporting the victims.
Corbacho, 59, and 83-year-old Corradi had been held in preventive detention since their arrest three years ago on charges of child sex abuse at the school.
Apart from the gardener, several other staff at the school were taken into custody after the allegations of abuse first came to light in 2016, and the institute, 1,000 kilometres west of Buenos Aires, was shut down.
They included a 42-year-old Japanese nun, Kosaka Kumiko, who was arrested later after surrendering to authorities. She was charged with complicity with the two priests.
The trial began on August 5 and heard evidence from 13 victims from the institute during in camera hearings.