Tag Archives: clergy abuse

Cover Up

New Bill Goes After Institutions That Cover Up Child Sexual Abuse, Giving Survivors Chance For Justice - Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Image courtesy of CBS News.

The following is excerpted from a post by Gabrielle Guthrie.  Gabrielle discusses the cover up of child sexual abuse by religious and other institutions, most particularly the Church of England [1].

The full post can be found at her blog See, there’s this thing called biologyhttps://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2022/11/06/he-fell-where/.

Colorado is among the states that have passed legislation extending the Statute of Limitations on sexual abuse, while targeting those individuals and institutions who knew (or should have known) about the abuse but did not stop it [2][3].

“…it’s the cover up that is so evil, it’s circling the wagons and protecting the power structure, that really rankles.  That’s what lurks behind those deep rooted feelings of powerlessness and injustice.  Sometimes that is even more emotionally painful then the initial assault.

Sexual abuse is evidence that you have no human value, no worth in someone’s eyes.  Those who look at the crime with apathy or complacency, and ignore it, validate that lie and amplify it.  It’s still a lie, but lies are a lot harder to dig out when they are deeply rooted due to other people’s complicity.” Continue reading

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Mea Culpa

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Southern_Baptist_Convention_logo.png

Guidepost Solutions has issued a scathing report accusing leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination, of routinely stonewalling claims of clergy abuse for the past two decades [1].

Convicted child molesters were allowed to continue in ministry without warning to their current congregations across multiple states.

This revelation is akin to the Catholic Church sex scandal in severity.  It confirms that pride and sexual sin are not limited to a single denomination (or linked to a vow of chastity). Continue reading

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The Mormon Maddoff – Fraud and Financial Abuse

Mugshot of Bernie Madoff, Author US Dept. of Justice, Source http://money.cnn.om (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Shawn Merriman headed an investment firm, and served as a lay bishop of the Mormon Church.  Over a period of 15 years, he scammed $21 million from friends, family, and church members – gaining a dubious title as “The Mormon Madoff” [1][2].

Affinity Fraud

Using a Ponzi scheme, Merriman duped a total of 68 investors.  Exploiting his position as a bishop, Merriman gained the trust of fellow Mormons.  Church members who had invested, then encouraged others to invest.

Like Madoff, Merriman touted his investments as both “exclusive” and secure.   Rather than investing the money he was given, however, Merriman used it to support a lavish lifestyle.

Continue reading

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Forced Panhandling

“The Old Beggar” by Louis Dewar (1916) (PD-Art, PD-Old)

Leaders of the non-denominational Imperial Valley Ministries appear to have devised a new form of clergy abuse.  They are alleged to have imprisoned dozens of homeless, forcing them to panhandle 9 hours/day on the church’s behalf [1].

The church’s programs are billed as drug rehabilitation.  Destitute men and women were lured with offers of free food and shelter, along with promises of the funds to return home.  Instead, victims were required to adhere to strict rules, and denied food if they disobeyed.

Church members held them captive in group homes with deadbolts, taking their identification documents from them.  In some locations, windows were, also, nailed shut.

Meanwhile, church leaders stole Food Stamps and Welfare benefits from victims, threatening to remove children, if their parents tried to leave.  Others were told their loved ones had abandoned them and only God loved them.

Whatever this was, it was not Christianity.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…Many will say to Me in that day, ‘…have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt. 7: 21-23).

[1]  USA Today, “A church needed money, so members held homeless people captive and forced them to beg, prosecutors say” by N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 9/11/19, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/11/church-held-homeless-people-hostage-forced-them-beg-feds-say/2285143001.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Systemic Evil

  • Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on YouTube. A large volume of child erotica is being monetized on YouTube [1].  The YouTube algorithm unwittingly works to favor child sexual abuse imagery.  Disney, AT&T, Hasbro, Nestle, and McDonald’s have pulled advertising over the fact their ads are running on videos of young girls which pedophiles have sexualized.  YouTube is blocking predatory comments, but not taking down these videos though social media is often used to facilitate grooming.
  • Violation by Labor Secretary of Crime Victims’ Rights Act.  Judge Kenneth Marra has ruled that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when he arranged a plea deal for multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein without informing victims [2].  Despite having engaged in human trafficking and the abuse of more than 80 underage victims, Epstein was sentenced to a mere 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach county jail.  Acosta, then the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, not only failed to prosecute Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, but denied victims their opportunity to oppose the plea deal in open court or appeal it.  Moreover, the secret plea deal shut down an ongoing FBI investigation, guaranteeing Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from further prosecution.

Continue reading

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Predator Priests, Part 3

Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, former Archbishop of Boston who resigned in response to the Catholic Church sex scandal, Author City of Boston Archives, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofbostonarchives/9519694234/ (CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Whether in the Roman Catholic Church or evangelical church, clergy abuse is a fundamental betrayal of Christian belief.

The Good Shepherd

Christ the Good Shepherd, the Suffering Servant, sacrificed Himself for our sake.  The sinless Savior took on our sins, and went to the cross in our place.  Predator priests do the opposite.  They prey on the innocent, targeting the weak and vulnerable under their care, for the sake of perverse self-gratification.

This is perhaps the lowest, most despicable form of abuse.  Not only does it destroy a child’s confidence and self-esteem, but a child’s very faith in God.

The Priest/Penitent Relationship

The relationship between a priest and penitent is intended to be sacred, on a par with the relationship between a father and child.  It is meant to mirror the relationship between God and man, and is or should be based on trust.  When that trust is violated, the wound is deep and lasting.

Qualifications for Christian Leadership

And a servant of the Lord must…be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth…” (2 Tim. 2: 24-25).

“A bishop…must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior…not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle…one who rules his own house well…not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.  Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3: 2-7).

“For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but…a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1: 7-9).

Scripture lays out the necessary characteristics for Christian leadership.  These include self-control, gentleness, humility, fidelity, and genuine holiness (as distinguished from the mere appearance of piety) .

Predator priests lack every one of these. Continue reading

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Predator Priests, Part 2

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The Roman Catholic Church is not alone in facing accusations of clergy abuse.

Pastor Heather Larson and elders of the Willow Creek Community Church, a Chicago-based megachurch, recently resigned amid a sexual abuse scandal involving church founder, Rev. Bill Hybels, and multiple women [1][2A].  Hybels, too, resigned but denies the accusations made against him.

Willow Creek meanwhile paid $3.25 million to settle lawsuits against a volunteer who sexually abused two disabled children [3].  The volunteer, Robert Sobczak, Jr. pled guilty, and is currently serving a seven-year prison term. Continue reading

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Predator Priests, Part 1

Facade of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Author Alessio Nastro Siniscalchi (CC BY-SA 2.5 Italy)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, this week released the results of what may be the most comprehensive state investigation into child sexual abuse and cover-up by the Roman Catholic Church in the nation’s history [1A].

Examining over 70 years of church records, the grand jury investigation identified 301 predator priests, and more than 1000 child victims, across six dioceses (Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton).  Sexual abuse by priests was earlier uncovered in two other Pennsylvania dioceses (Philadelphia and Altoona).

Background

The Catholic Church sex scandal first began to surface in the 1980s [2].  A seminal investigation by the Boston Globe in 2002 led to the criminal prosecution of five predator priests [3].

Subsequent investigations revealed a widespread pattern of abuse across the United States and the globe, with an institutional cover-up extending to the Vatican.  Despite complaints, predator priests were moved seamlessly from parish to parish, and allowed to continue in ministry, sometimes for decades.

As Shapiro expressed it:

“Church officials routinely and purposefully described the abuse as horseplay and wrestling and inappropriate conduct.  It was none of those things.  It was child sexual abuse, including rape [1B].”

Some 17,000 victims have come forward in the US.  Papal apologies and new protocols have done little to correct the situation.

Victimized

Victims were primarily boys.  However, girls were victimized, as well.  One 9 y.o. had his mouth washed out with holy water after oral sex [6].  Another victim was 18 months of age, and still in diapers.

Along with oral sex, abuse included groping, forced masturbation, vaginal and anal penetration.

When complaints were made to church hierarchy, victims were accused of fabricating lies (or seduction, if pregnancy resulted).

Continue reading

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Scandal…Yet Again

Scales of Justice with emblem of Holy See, Author Ktr101 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Just when the dust appeared to have settled, the Catholic Church sex scandal has expanded to a new venue.  This time the setting is Australia.  The proportions are massive.

A Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has uncovered the widespread abuse of children by religious schools and other institutions [1].  Most of those suspected are Catholic priests and religious brothers.

Tens of thousands of children were impacted.  While the exact number of victims cannot be known, the abuse extended across generations.

The Commission’s official report reads, in part:

“It is not a case of a few rotten apples.  Society’s major institutions have seriously failed.  In many cases those failings have been exacerbated by a manifestly inadequate response to the abused person.  The problems have been so widespread, and the nature of the abuse so heinous, that it is difficult to comprehend.”

More than 4400 victims have come forward and more than 4000 institutions been implicated.  In numerous cases, the commission found those in leadership were aware of the abuse, but failed to take effective action. Continue reading

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Spotlight

“Spotlight” won this year’s Oscar for Best Picture. The highly acclaimed film details the Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Church sex scandal.

Does this matter to abuse victims? I think it does. Here’s why.

To begin with, the film and the attention it has received have heightened public awareness of abuse. Viewers come away with a better understanding that predators can lurk anywhere, even in plain sight and priestly garb.

More than that, “Spotlight” sheds light on a mindset and bureaucratic structure within the church that facilitated abuse.

The highest levels of authority within the Catholic Church enabled abuse by systematically covering-up what may have been thousands of instances. In the vast majority of cases, the church did not defrock predator priests. Instead, it transferred them to new parishes, allowing them continued access to children without so much as warning the new parishes.

And the church failed to report these crimes against children to civil authorities, abandoning and betraying the children under its care.

For all such reasons, the church must be viewed as complicit in the abuse perpetrated.

This is not ancient history. The victims of clergy abuse continue to wrestle with the scars of that abuse today. Many will never obtain justice.

But change comes slowly. The Catholic Church’s Advisory Counsel for the Protection of Minors now teaches that church officials have a moral and ethical duty to report suspected abuse to civil authorities [1]. As recently as September of last year, however, Monsignor Tony Anatrella had argued that reporting was not required by church law.

Hopefully, what victims can take away from “Spotlight” is a recognition that any shame associated with abuse is the predator’s alone…not theirs. Other moviegoers should already know that.

[1] Crux, “Papal Commission: Bishops Must Report Sex Abuse Charges”, 2/15/16, http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2016/02/15/papal-commission-bishops-must-report-sex-abuse-charges/.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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