New NY Law helps Sex abuse Victims

(June 10, 2019) A New York state law change this year helps sex abuse victims seek justice that may otherwise have been lost to them. The Child Victims Act had languished for years at the NY state Capitol before finally becoming law on Jan. 28, 2019. The new law gives victims of child sexual abuse a new opportunity to seek justice against their tormentor(s).

Governor Cuomo signs Bill S2440 into Law

The bill that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law will give some long-suffering victims a belated victory which they had awaited for years. The governor announced in Manhattan at a special signing ceremony for the bill: “After a 13-year ordeal and after decades of personal pain for so many, I hope you can find a slight sense of peace and a slight sense of vindication that you did not endure this pain without reason.”

What does the new law do?

The 2019 Child Victims Act changes the state’s strict statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children. It opens up a one-year window to revive past claims of any age.

The new law:

  • extends New York’s statute of limitations to allow for criminal charges against child sex abusers until their victims turn 28 for felony cases, up from the current 23.
  • allows victims to seek civil action against their abusers and institutions that enabled them until they turn 55.
  • opens up a one-year, one-time-only period to allow all victims to seek civil action, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

Why the Law Change Now?

The new law came into being after citizens and lawmakers in several states responded to the shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report last summer which revealed that more than 300 Catholic priests had abused more than 1,000 school-aged children over several decades. The Pennsylvania report opened the eyes of the country to the ongoing problem of child sex abuse.  The report showed that the abuse was aided and abetted by churches that hid the monstrous crimes while often coddling the criminals and shielding them from prosecution.

Amid the Penn scandal and others involving the church, a full-throated outcry from advocates and some lawmakers said victims should have further recourse against those who either committed the crimes or failed to face the problem.

Mr. Cuomo noted that Pope Francis said the church should not protect abusive priests.

“The priests should be punished,” said Mr. Cuomo at the signing.  “Pope Francis said these people should have access to the courts for legal resolution. (I) think the bishops have worked to protect the church. [T]hey compounded the problem by covering it up and not taking responsibility.”

Opposition to the New Law

In the state Capitol at Albany, the law faced fierce opposition from the church as well as from insurance companies fearing a flood of Priest abuse lawsuits.

Republicans controlled the NY state Senate for the past decade and blocked the measure, though it repeatedly passed the Democrat-led Assembly. Everything changed in November 2018 when Democrats won control of the Senate.

The state Catholic Conference dropped its opposition at the end of 2018 after it got the NY Legislature to back language stating that public institutions can also be sued during the one-year look-back period.

“We therefore remove our previous opposition and pray that survivors find the healing they so desperately deserve,” the Catholic Conference tweeted, though critics said church officials acquiesced only after they knew the new Democrat control of NY government meant the law could no longer be stopped from passage.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill on Jan. 28, and the Assembly passed it 142-3.

New NY Law helps Sex abuse Victims

The most serious felony sexual crimes against children already had no statute of limitations prior to the new law, though mid- and lower-level felonies had a five-year statute of limitations, which kicks in when the victim turns 18.

The statute of limitations will now be based on a person’s age, not the length of time since the allegations.

Clergy Abuse Lawsuits

With the look-back period now opened up, more lawyers and victims are planning to come forward with clergy abuse lawsuits.

The look-back period opens in summer 2019, and remains open for a year, beginning Aug. 14.

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NJ eases limit on Sex Abuse Lawsuits

(May 16, 2019) New Jersey passed a bill to ease the limit on filing sex abuse lawsuits. Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation May 13 to ease time limit restrictions on when childhood sexual abuse victims can seek damages in civil court. The bill takes effect on December 1, 2019.  It will “revive any action that was previously dismissed on grounds that the applicable statute of limitations had expired for a period of two years following the effective date.”

The bill means means a sex abuse victim now has from 12/1/19 until 12/1/2021 to file a case which was previously time barred.

Related:  NJ.com: Bill extends sex abuse limitations statute

This change to the law comes after a wave of details last year revealed the abuse of minors in the Roman Catholic Church.

The New Jersey governor said in a statement that he recognized opponents’ worries that the expanded statute will expose organizations to financial liability. However, he said that fear is outweighed by concern for sex abuse victims.

“I cannot deny victims the ability to seek redress in court for sexual abuse that often leaves trauma lasting a lifetime,” Governor Murphy said in a statement as he signed the new bill.

Victims now have until Age 55 to Pursue Litigation

The legislation allows child victims to sue until they reach age 55, or else within seven years of their first realization that the abuse caused them harm. The current statute of limitations protects only those up to age 20, or else two years after they first realized the abuse caused them harm.

The NJ bill also gives a two-year window to victims previously barred by the statute of limitations.  It also allows victims to seek damages from institutions.

New Jersey’s Catholic Conference opposed the bill during committee hearings. In a May 13 statement, the Archdiocese of Newark said it was committed to “comprehensive healing of those harmed.”

“(The) Catholic community, the legislature, and the Governor sincerely agree on one key position – the need to restore justice for the victims of sexual abuse in New Jersey,” said archdiocese spokeswoman Maria Margiotta.

Supporters of the new law gathered later Monday for a news conference that turned emotional.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg teared up while thanking survivors who had previously testified in support of the bill.  She said the stories were “so painful and so graphic. Thank God we’re standing here today.”

Churches, BSA, Others Liable

While the Catholic Church has been a focal point of debate on the legislation, it would also make other institutions, like the Boy Scouts – liable. Attorneys in New Jersey and elsewhere have begun recruiting people to sue the BSA, which says it now has policies in place to curtail abuse.

Many states have revisited their criminal and civil statutes of limitations since the 2002 Boston Globe reporting detailing abuse in the Catholic Church. (Dramatized in the 2017 film Spotlight.)  But only a handful of states – including California, Delaware, Hawaii, and Minnesota – have created new windows for abuse victims to file lawsuits. New York enacted a bill earlier this year that creates a window similar to the one in New Jersey, a state which already has no statute of limitations on criminal charges.

188 New Jersey Priests Credibly Accused

New Jersey legislatures have discussed the law change for nearly a decade.  It finally comes soon after the state’s five Catholic dioceses released the names of 188 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors over several decades. It also comes after they announced in February 2019 the creation of a compensation fund for victims.

New Jersey’s attorney general launched a task force in September 2018 to investigate the clergy abuse scandal. That task force came after a long grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania found that more than 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children over several decades.

The bill had broad support from lawmakers and victims’ advocacy groups. The committee hearings on the bill featured hours of emotional testimony from abuse survivors.

Among those opposed to the measure were the state Catholic Conference and the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute.

Patrick Brannigan, the conference’s executive director, told lawmakers that the New Jersey church is fully cooperating with state law enforcement officials who are investigating abuse claims in the state.

He said that the church “sincerely regrets that some in the church failed to protect children.”

Mr. Brannigan also said the church agrees with the intent of the bill but differs on its approach, asking instead that the bill’s take-effect date of Dec. 1, 2019 be made for a later date.

Gov. Murphy also said that lawmakers have committed to send him a new bill correcting an error in the new law. Specifically, he said, part of the law fails to establish a standard of proof for cases against public entities.

Failing to hold them to the same standard as other institutions would be “unjustified,” said Gov. Murphy, and the new legislation would hold public entities to the same standard as other organizations.

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Conroe, Texas Priest named in Sex Abuse Lawsuit

(April 6, 2019)  A Conroe, Texas priest was named in a civil lawsuit yesterday in a sex abuse case filed in Houston’s Harris County Courthouse. The plaintiff – referred to as “J.R.” in the petition – is an adult male who now lives in Galveston. Defendants are the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Conroe; and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston, Houston – which employed Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, who was known as “Fr. Manuel” when he was working for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Conroe.

Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez first came to the greater pubic’s attention when he was arrested by Conroe police last year for allegedly sexually abusing minors.

J.R. vs. Sacret Heart Catholic Church

The lawsuit petition reads that “Fr. Emanuel and other employees of the Defendants (were) obligated to arrange, render, and coordinate the religious and educational care of the children enrolled in (the school).”

The Defendants had, says the petition, “total responsibility for the protection and prevention of the numerous acts of sexual mental and physical abuse by (clergy) member, Fr. Manuel.”

The Sacred heart Catholic church diocese is charged with having knowledge of Fr. Manuel’s sexual abuse of several students, and then hiding that knowledge from civil authorities and putting him back in circulation, where he was able to abuse other children.

Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez

J.R., the petition alleges, was abused in 2000, eight years after the first incidence of Fr. Manuels’ sexual abuse of minors was first revealed to church officials.

In 1992, a sixth grade boy accused Fr. Manuel of inappropriately touching him. The church then hired an attorney to investigate whether the Church was required to notify Child Protective Services.  Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza wrote to an attorney saying a psychological exam would be conducted on Fr. Manuel before he was re-admitted into the seminary. The wayward priest then spent nine months in the Shalom Recovery Center. He was re-admitted to the seminary in the spring of 1993.

In 1999 and 2000, an underage male and female accused Fr. Manuel of sexual abuse. The female victim and her family reported the abuse in 2001 and then moved to Israel. Fr. Manuel then went back to the Shalom Recovery Center for nine more months, from April 2001 to Jan. 2002.

Boy Abused during Confession

J.R., says the petition, was abused by Fr. Manuel during the summer of 2000.  Then 15, the boy had gone to make a confession, as many Catholics regularly do, to a priest in the confessional booth.  Rather than hearing J.R.’s confession and then offering guidance or absolution through an assignment of prayers and penance, Fr. Manuel attempted to engage the boy in a profane conversation about sex with a same-sex partner.

J.R. said that he was confused by the questions and wondered if this was part of a new confessional process.  The 15-year-old did not respond to any of the several questions the priest asked him. Fr. Manuel then opened the partition window between them in the booth and exposed himself to J.R.

J.R. came forward after he saw in the news that Fr. Manuel had been arrested.  Shortly before that arrest, J.R. had confided his abuse at the hands of Fr. Manuel to a therapist.

Statute of Limitations

Sexual abuse cases brought more than two years after the alleged crime can often be successfully defended under statute of limitations laws in Texas.  However, writes J.R’s. lawyer, David Matthews, in the lawsuit petition:

“Defendants are prevented from relying on any statute of limitations defense by virtue of their acts of fraudulent concealment, because of Defendants’ knowledge of the wrongful acts of Fr. Manuel, while allowing him contact with trusting children, their representations that Fr. Manuel was fit for priesthood and supervision of children, their silence on his known sexual abuse, and their fixed purpose to conceal the wrong.“

Texas Priest named in Sex Abuse Lawsuit

The petition demands a jury trial. The case is J.R., Plaintiff v. Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Conroe and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

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Brooklyn names 100+ Priests accused of Sex Abuse

(Feb. 15. 2019)  Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio today released the names of more than 100 priests in his parish who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a child.  His actions follow those of several bishops across the country who have chosen in the last few months to lift the veil of secrecy in the Catholic Church’s ongoing epidemic of abuse.

Related:  Brooklyn Diocese suspected abusers named.

The Brooklyn disclosure is one of the largest to come from an individual diocese.  The Brooklyn diocese is also among the largest in the nation; it includes Brooklyn and Queens, where more than 1.5 million people identify as Catholic.

The most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio announced in a 2/15/2019 statement:

“We know this list will generate many emotions for victims who have suffered terribly. For their suffering, I am truly sorry. (Many victims) have told me that more than anything, they want an acknowledgment of what was done to them. This list gives that recognition and I hope it will add another layer of healing for them on their journey toward wholeness.”

Bishop DiMarzio follows dozens of other bishops in the United States in deciding to publish the names of suspected abusers.  The latest round of Catholic administration confessions began last summer with a shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report which documented seven decades of accusations.

Earlier this week, bishops of the five Catholic dioceses in New Jersey released the names of nearly 200 priests who have been credibly accused. Last month, the Jesuit province of the northeastern United States identified 50 accused priests. Many had served in the order’s schools in New York City.

Bishop DiMarzio had promised last year that his diocese would release the names of priests who were credibly accused, though his accompanying letter also states that not all of the accusations against the accused have been proven.

Many Accused are Deceased

The diocese said that more than 40 of the named clergy members died or resigned before the accusations were found credible.  Most of the priests named – nearly two-thirds – have since died, leaving their reckoning to a higher power.  Two of the total of 108 listed clergy were deacons.

The Brooklyn diocese included a graph which showed that cases of suspected abuse peaked in the 1960s and 1970s.  Many of the allegations were reported after 2002, showing once again that many of the abused do not come to terms with their abuse and report it until decades after the fact. New York state has taken steps to help those long-grieving victims.

New York Law Changes to Help Victims

Last month, New York legislatures changed state law to allow victims of clergy abuse a longer grace period in which to file potential civil claims against their abusers. Many of those victims who, for years had believed the statute of limitations on their potential claims had passed, may now have another chance to seek justice in civil court.

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Sexual Abuse of Nuns Stuns Catholics (again)

(Feb. 5, 2019)  As if the Catholic Church and its Pope were not busy enough apologizing for the sexual abuse of minors by predatory priests, it now has a terrible new problem on its busy hands:  the sexual exploitation of nuns stuns faithful Catholics all over again.  A Reuters story broke today regarding the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops.  Some of those trusted men had used the women as sex slaves.

Empowered by the worldwide #MeToo movement which began with the outing of Hollywood-power players like Hurricane Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, several nuns have stepped forward to relate their tales of woe at the hands of men who took advantage of their positions in the Catholic church hierarchy to abuse the women who had been taught to respect them.

Pope Francis told Reuters yesterday that he was committed to stopping the abuse of nuns by said priests and bishops.  The pope made his comments on a plane returning from Abu Dhabi after a reporter questioned him over a Vatican monthly magazine story published last week about nuns being abused in the Catholic Church.

Union Urges Nuns to Come Forward

More and more nuns are now coming forward to describe sexual abuse by priests and bishops. The International Union of Superiors General, which represents more than 500,000 Catholic nuns, last year urged their members to report abuse.

Pope Francis told Reuters: “It is true … There have been priests and even bishops who have done this. I think it is still going on because something does not stop just because you have become aware of it.”

The pope acknowledged the church has been working on the sexual abuse of nuns problem “for a long time” and had suspended several priests because of it. He added that the Vatican was in the process of shutting down a (still unnamed) female religious order because of sexual abuse and corruption.

“I can’t say, ‘This does not happen in my house.’  It is true.  Do we have to do more? Yes.  Are we willing? Yes,” he said.

Nuns in Sexual Slavery

Former Pope Benedict dissolved a religious order of women shortly after his election as pontiff in 2005, Pope Francis told Reuters: “[B]ecause slavery had become part of it [the religious order], even sexual slavery on the part of priests and the founder.”  Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said that sad situation had occurred in France.

Church Politics Delays Justice

As with the recent cases of sexual abuse by priests recently uncovered in Pennsylvania, New York (where victims recently received a legal reprieve), and elsewhere, internal church politics allowed some abusive priests to continue their duplicitous deceptions against nuns in the church.

Before becoming the pope, Benedict was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department that investigates sexual abuse. The pope at that time was John Paul.  Then-cardinal Ratzinger wanted to investigate the religious order where women were being abused, but he was blocked, Francis said, by someone or some people he would not identify.  Francis told Reuters that after Ratzinger became the pope, he reopened the investigation and then dissolved the order.

Pope Summons Bishops for Sex Abuse Summit

Pope Francis has summoned key bishops from around the world to a February summit at the Vatican over the Catholic church’s problem of clergy members committing sexual abuse. The pope is seeking a unified response to this ages-old, worldwide problem.

Reporters asked the pope if he would  also propose a similar action to confront abuse of nuns in the Church.  “I want to move forward,” Pope Francis replied.  “We are working on it.”

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Illinois Catholic Church withheld 500 Accused Priests’ Names

(Dec. 27, 2018)  The Chicago Tribune reported last week that the Illinois Catholic Church withheld the names of at least 500 priests accused of sexual abuse of minors.  The Illinois attorney general accused the church of failing victims by neglecting to investigate their allegations.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan concluded in a preliminary report that Illinois’ Catholic dioceses are incapable of investigating themselves.  She said that church officials, “will not resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis on their own.”

Ms. Madigan reported that 690 priests were accused of abuse, but the dioceses made only 185 names public of those who have been found credibly accused of abuse.

“The number of allegations above what was already public is shocking,” Ms. Madigan said.

The report is Illinois’ state prosecutors’ latest attempt to hold the Catholic Church accountable by examining the church’s own records. At least 16 state attorneys general have initiated various investigations since August 2018, which have included examination of the church’s own records.

The movement to uncover the truth about clergy sexual abuse of minors began in Illinois and other states across the country following a shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report which came out in the summer of 2018.  That was when the Pennsylvania grand jury accused more than 300 priests of sexual abuse over a 50-year span. And just as shocking, if not moreso, they also accused Catholic bishops of covering up the scandal, which some clergy abuse lawyers, as well as priests, have suggested goes all the way to the Vatican, and stems from a culture of corruption, even a “lavender mafia,” a secret gay culture within the church that at least one priest says runs the church.

Church covered for Abusers

Unlike Pennsylvania’s 1,356 pages of a grand jury report, Illinois’ nine-page report does not name accused priests or call out particular bishops for negligence.  It does, however, question the enormous gap between the number of accusations made by victims who dared to contact the church, and the number of accusations the church deemed credible.

Ms. Madigan’s office report noted that three-fourths of the allegations against clergy were either not investigated or were investigated but not substantiated by the dioceses papers turned over to the attorney general’s office.

A pattern emerged from the files: the dioceses often failed to find a claim credible if only one victim reported.  The dioceses also failed to investigate at all if the accused priest had died or been reassigned, or if he belonged to a religious order  – such as the Franciscans, Marists, or Jesuits. The report said the dioceses often discredited survivors’ claims by “focusing on the survivors’ personal lives,” which is a pattern that was also found in the Boston clergy abuse scandal that was uncovered by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight and made into a 2016 movie.

Church Cooperation

The Illinois report said that representatives of all six dioceses cooperated with the investigation by meeting with the attorney general and her staff.  The six voluntarily produced thousands of documents and gave access to hundreds of clergy files related to abuse allegations.

Once the attorney general’s office began investigating, the Illinois dioceses disclosed the names of 45 more clergymen deemed by the church to be credibly accused of sexual abuse.  Most were cases about which the dioceses had known for years.

Cardinal Apology

“I want to express again the profound regret of the whole church for our failures to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Chicago’s.  “It is the courage of victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church history.”

Roman Catholics have long dominated some Chicago neighborhoods and held a place in the political fabric of the city.  Thirty-three percent of Chicago-area residents are Catholic, ranking it among the top five most Catholic of American cities.

A spokeswoman in the Chicago area’s branch of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), Kate Bochte, said the idea that nearly three-quarters of the allegations were not deemed credible was a “huge indicator that the church is incapable” of investigating itself.

“[T]hink about all those people who came in – 75 percent of the people – what happened to them?” asked Ms. Bochte. “They were basically turned away after they explained the most difficult thing that had ever happened to them.”

300 More Victims?

Ms. Madigan said that survivors of abuse were owed a sense that their concerns were being pursued.  Since her office announced a hotline for survivors to report such abuse several months ago, 300 people have called.

The attorney general, who will leave office in a couple of weeks, also said she wanted to release her findings before the American bishops gather at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago in early January 2019.  About 300 bishops are expected at a weeklong spiritual retreat ordered by Pope Francis to pray and reflect on the church’s role in the sexual abuse of children.

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Cardinal quits amid Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal

(Oct. 12, 2018)  Cardinal Donald Wuerl quit today amid the ongoing Catholic church sex abuse scandal.  Pope Francis accepted the Archbishop of Washington’s resignation.  Mr. Wuerl is the latest casualty in the ongoing fallout from the shocking Pennsylvania grand jury investigation which concluded in August.  After working for two years interviewing dozens of priest abuse victims and reading thousands of pages of internal church documents, the grand jury found that more than 300 priests had sexually molested more than 1,000 children — and likely abused thousands more — in the last six decades.

Cardinal Wuerl Apologizes

“Once again for any past errors in judgment, I apologize and ask for pardon,” said Mr. Wuerl.  “My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the church of Washington.”

Related:  Pennsylvania Priest Abuse Lawsuit

The Church Cover-up

The extent of the priest sex abuse in itself is demonstrably provable and acknowledged by church officials in the church’s own documents.  But what is equally troubling and even more shocking is the extent of the church’s top-down cover-up of priest sex crimes against children.

Like Pope Francis and other top church officials, Mr. Wuerl has been accused of covering up sexual abuse to protect clergy members.   He stands accused of reassigning accused priests to new posts without punishing them.  He effectively let abusive priests off the hook for their alleged abuse, and worse.  He reassigned them to unwitting parishes where they could abuse children again.

Mr. Wuerl, 77, was at the center of the Pennsylvania grand jury findings that priests had sexually abused more than 300 children over a 70 year period.  As the bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, Mr. Wuerl oversaw the height of the sexual abuse.  He was then appointed to the archdiocese of Washington.  There, he denied knowing that the man he replaced – now a disgraced Cardinal and former Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, whom the pope also protected — was suspected of child sex abuse.

Pope-a-Dope

Mr. Wuerl praised Pope Francis as he departed.  “I am profoundly grateful for [Francis’]  devoted commitment to the well-being of the archdiocese of Washington and also deeply touched by his gracious words of understanding.”

Men of God?

Are we all taking crazy pills?  Both these “Men of God” appear to be riding a lunatic merry-go-round of shared adulation on which neither can claim credibility or honor. Their robes are scorched with the burning tears of abused children who were taught to trust their elders, and to trust their priests most of all.  The innocence of thousands of abused children lies broken and bleeding at the coddled feet of these men of God.

Pope Francis Engineers Ongoing Coverup

Instead of encouraging the soul-cleansing mea culpa which the Catholic church teaches all of its penitents is the one true path to heaven, the pope has called for a very different M.O. for accused priests.  Pope Francis has told his clergymen to remain silent “like Jesus on Good Friday,” when they stand accused of sex abuse crimes.

That histrionic nod to martyrdom may represent sound legal advice for a man running a corporation cowering under the potential weight of its legal liability in child sex abuse lawsuits.  It is hardly the message to send true Christians or free thinkers who already suspect that the church’s hierarchical structure has led to this terrible crisis in the first place.  The pope’s message for accused priests to remain silent instead of confessing their sins perverts the most salient teachings of the church itself.

What need of Catholic priests at all if not to hear confessions and help people pay penance and cleanse their souls?  But for priests we get a double standard?  Is their God different from ours?  Does he, or she, as you will, offer a separate set of rules for those perched closer to the top of the church’s artificial hierarchy?  It won’t wash.  The pope is all wet.

The Catholic church is in trouble. The Pennsylvania grand jury report makes it impossible for many Catholics to ever look at their church in the same way again, to see it as a place of justice, where Christ’s light shines through the daily darkness of the temporal world, and love and truth reign supreme.  Unless the truth be told, the light cannot shine through the darkness.  Light and Truth must be synonyms for any viable church.

States investigate Catholic Church for Sex Abuse Crimes

In more bad news for the Catholic church, thirteen state’s attorneys general have requested all documents from their Catholic dioceses pertaining to sexual abuse and cover-ups within the Catholic church in their states.

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Clergy Abuse Claims bankrupt Catholic Dioceses

Clergy abuse claims bankrupt Catholic dioceses in many cases.  In just the last 14 years, claims from more than 4,000 victims of abuse by clergy — or priest abuse — have driven 19 different Catholic dioceses or religious orders into bankruptcy.  The watchdog group BishopAccountability.org  put the bankruptcy list together in May of this year.

Related: Abuse by Clergy Lawsuit

Here is a list of 19 bankrupted Catholic dioceses or religious orders, the dates they filed for bankruptcy protection, the settlement amount they agreed to pay, the number of alleged abuse survivors.

  1. Archdiocese of Portland Oregon:  filed 7/6/04 — $75 million settlement.  At the time the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy, some 170 people had filed abuse suits.
  2. Diocese of Tucson, Arizona:  9/20/04 — $22.2 million.  At least 26 victims
  3. Diocese of Spokane, Washington:  12/6/04 — $48 million.  ~ 175 victims
  4. Diocese of Davenport, Iowa:  10/10/06 — $37 million.  156 victims
  5. Diocese of San Diego, California:  2/27/07 — $198 million. 144 victims
  6. Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska:  3/1/08 — $9.8 million.  ~ 300 victims
  7. Oregon Province of the Jesuits:  2/17/09 — $166 million.  Nearly 500 victims
  8. Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware: 10/18/09 — $77 million.  142 victims
  9. Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin: 1/4/11 — $21 million.  ~330 victims Congregation of the Christian Brothers:  4/28/11 — $16.5 million.  400+ victims
  10. Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico: 11/12/13 — $22 million.  ~ 57 victims
  11. Diocese of Stockton, California: 1/15/14 — $15 million.
  12. Diocese of Helena, Montana: 1/31/14 — $20 million. 362 victims
  13. Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn.: 1/16/15 — $210 million.  ~400 victims
  14. Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota: 12/7/15 — Ongoing
  15. Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota:  3/3/17 — Ongoing
  16. Diocese of Great Falls-Billings Montana: 3/31/17 — $20 million.  86 victims (pending judicial approval)
  17. Crosier Fathers and Brothers Minnesota & Arizona: 6/1/17 — $25 million.  400+
  18. Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota:  intention announced 2/28/18 — Ongoing

More Catholic Dioceses’ and Religious Orders’ Settlements  

Catholic dioceses and religious orders have paid out nearly $3 billion in out-of-court settlements since the mid 1980s, according to BishopAccountability.org.  Here is a list of the major awards and settlements since 2000, the place, the amount paid out, the number of alleged victims.

2000-03-15:  Santa Rosa, California — $1.6 million – 4 victims

2000-12-04:  Los Angeles, California: $5.2 million — 1

2001-03-08:  Bridgeport, Connecticut — $15 million — 26

2001-12:  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — $5 million — 1

2002-01-30:  Tucson, Arizona — $14 million — 11

2002-04-01:  Orange and LA, California — $1.2million — 1

2002-06:  Los Angeles, California — $1.5 million — 1

2002-06-14:  Omaha, Nebraska —  $800.000 — 1

2002-08-23:  Orange, California — $400.000 — 1

2002-09-04:  Los Gatos, California — Jesuits — $7.5 million — 2

2002-09-09:  Providence, Rhode Island — $13.5 million — 36

2002-09-18:  Boston, Massachusetts — $10 million — 86

2002-10-10:  Manchester, New Hampshire — $950.000 — 16

2002-11-26:  Manchester, New Hampshire — $5.1 million — 62

2003-01-09:  Boston, Massachusetts (Jesuits) — $5.8 million — 15

2003-01-29:  Metuchen, New Jersey — $800,000 — 10

2003-03-13:  Camden, New Jersey — $880,000– 23

2003-05-08:  Manchester, New Hampshire — $815.000 — 4

2003-05-22: Manchester, New Hampshire — $6.5 million — 61

2003-05-22: Manchester, New Hampshire — $2.1 million — 33

2003-06-10:  Louisville, Kentucky — $25.7 million — 243

2003-06-30: San Bernardino, California — $4.2 million — 2

2003-07-01:  Chicago, Illinois — $1.9 million — 1

2003-07-10:  Chicago, Illinois — $4 million — 4

2003-08-14 — Tucson, Arizona — $1.8 million — 5

2003-09-09 — Boston, Massachusetts — $84.2 million — 552

2003-09-11 — Seattle, Washington — $7.9 million — 15

2003-10-02 — Chicago, Illinois — $8 million — 15

2003-10-11 — Covington, Kentucky — $5.2 million — 27

2003-10-16 — Bridgeport, Connecticut — $21million — 40

2003-11-24 — Oakland, California — $1 million — 1

2003-12-04 — Covington, Kentucky — $1million — 5

2004 — Bridgeport, Connecticut — $40,000 — 2

2004-01-23 — Oakland, California — $3 million — 1

2004-01-28 — Covington, Kentucky — $2 million — 7

2004-04-15 — St. Petersburg, Florida — $1.1 million — 12

2004-04-21 — St. Louis, Missouri — $1.7 million — 1

2004-05-27 — Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania — $3.7 million — 21

2004-07-03 — Toledo, Ohio — $500,000 — 2

2004-08-17 — Springfield, Massachusetts — $7.8 million — 46

2004-08-20 — Toledo, Ohio — $1.2 million — 23

2004-08-26 — St. Louis, Missouri  — $2 million — 18

2004-09-22 — Miami, Florida — $3.4 million — 23

2004-10-08 — Newark, New Jersey — $1 million — 10

2004-10-28 — Davenport, Iowa — $9 million — 37

2004-12-02 — Orange, California — $100 million — 91

2004-12-17 — Seattle, Washington — $1.8 million — 12

2004-12-23 — Oakland, California — $6.3 million — 3

2005-02-15 — Paterson, New Jersey — $5 million — 27

2005-03-08 — Cincinnati, Ohio — $3.2 million — 120

2005-03-24 — Oakland, California — $437,000 — 1

2005-03-31 — Fort Worth, Texas — $1.4 million — 1

2005-04-07 — Fairbanks, Alaska-Jesuits — $1 million — 1

2005-04-09 — Fort Worth, Texas — $2.7 million — 1

2005-04-15 — Oakland, California — $1.9 million — 2

2005-04-20 — San Francisco, California — $5.8 million — 4

2005-04-22 — Santa Rosa, California — $3.3 million — 1

2005-05 — Orlando & St. Augustine, Florida — $1.5 million — 3

2005-05-09 — Davenport, Iowa — $1.9 million — 1

2005-05-19 — Stockton, California — $3 million — 1

2005-06-10 — San Francisco, California — $21.2 million — 15

2005-06-10 — Seattle, Washington — $1.7 million — 4

2005-06-29 — Sacramento, California — $35million — 33

2005-06-30 — Boston, Massachusetts — $33.1 million — 257

2005-07-01 — Santa Rosa, California — $7.3million — 8

2005-07-08 — San Francisco, California — $16.0 million — 12

2005-08-05 — Oakland, California — $56 million — 56

2005-08-27 — Seattle, Washington – Benedictines — $2.6 million — 7

2005-09-02 — San Francisco, California — $4 million — 4

2005-10-11 — San Francisco, California — $2.6million — 2

2005-11-01 — Hartford, Connecticut — $22million — 43

2006-01-09 — Covington, Kentucky — $2.5 million — 19

2006-01-09 — Covington, Kentucky — $79 million — 243

2006-02-21 — Dubuque, Iowa — $5 million — 20

2006-03-13 — Los Angeles, California – Franciscans — $28 million — 25

2006-03-16 — Jackson, Mississippi — $5.1 million — 19

2006-04-01 — Seattle, Washington — $1 million — 2

2006-06-30 — Boston, Massachusetts — $6.3 million — 86

2006-08-04 — Anchorage, Alaska and Boston, Massachusetts — $1.4 million — 5

2006-09-01 — Milwaukee, Wisconsin — $16.7 million — 10

2006-10-27 — Los Angeles, California – Carmelites — $10 million — 7

2006-11-30 — Norwich, Connecticut — $1.1 million — 1

2006-12-01 — Los Angeles, California — $60 million — 45

2006-12-16 — Washington, D.C. — $1.3 million — 16

2007-01-05 — Denver, Colorado — $1.5 million — 15

2007-03-27 — Dubuque, Iowa — $2.6 million — 9

2007-03-29 — Fairbanks, Alaska and Oregon Province of Jesuits — $1.9 million — 4

2007-05-10 — Rockford, Illinois — $2.2 million — 2

2007-05-16 — Portland, Oregon — $1.3 million — 2

2007-05-18 — Rockville Centre, New York — $11.4 million — 2

2007-05-29 — Chicago, Illinois — $6.6 million — 15

2007-06-30 — Boston, Massachusetts — $2.1 million — 34

2007-07-14 — Los Angeles, California — $660 million — 508

2007-07-30 — Charleston, South Carolina — $10.3 million — 80

2007-08-30 — Charleston, South Carolina — $1.375 million — 11

2007-09-07 — San Bernardino, California — $15.1 million — 11

2007-09-13 — Santa Rosa, California — $5 million — 10

2007-10-05 — Orange, California — $6.6 million — 4

2007-10-19 — St. Louis, Missouri – Marianists — $160,000 — 1

2007-11-16 — Fairbanks, Alaska – Jesuits — $50 million — 110

2008-01-04 — Spokane, Washington – Jesuits — $4.8 million — 16

2008-01-18 — Wilmington, Delaware — $450,000 — 1

2008-04-10 — Dubuque, Iowa — $4.7 million — 18

2008-05-13 — Burlington, Vermont — $784,000 — 1

2008-05-14 — Los Angeles, California – Salesians — $19.5 million — 17

2008-06-30 — Boston, Massachusetts — $5.4 million — 55

2008-07-01 — Denver, Colorado — $5.5 million — 18

2008-08-12 — Chicago, Illinois — $12.6 million — 16

2008-08-19 — Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri — $10 million — 47

2008-08-27 — Belleville, Illinois — $5 million — 1

2008-08-29 — Providence, Rhode Island — $1.3 million — 4

2008-09-11 — Chicago, Illinois — $2.5 million — 1

2008-09-18 — Chicago, Illinois — $1.7 million — 1

2008-10-30 — Pueblo, Colorado – Marianists — $4.2 million — 23

2008-11 — Seattle, Washington – Christian Bros — $7.2 million — 11

2008-12-03 — Springfield, Massachusetts — $4.5 million — 59

2008-12-17 — Burlington, Vermont — $784,000 — 1

2009-01-29 — Seattle, Wash. – Christian Brothers — $7 million – 13

2009-02-28 — Memphis, Tennessee — $2 million — 1

2009-04-08 — Wilmington, Delaware — $1.5 million — 1

2009-06-03 — Monterey, California — $1.2 million — 1

2009-06-30 — Boston, Massachusetts — $3.6 million — 27

2009-07-21 — Chicago, Illinois — $3.9 million — 6

2009-10-09 — Burlington, Vermont — $784,000 — 1

2009-10-22 — Belleville, Illinois — $1.2 million — 1

2009-10-28 — Savannah, Georgia — $4.2 million — 1

2009-11-05 — Portland, Maine — $200,000 — 1

2010-05-03 — Indianapolis, Indiana — $199,000 — 1

2010-05-13 — Burlington, Vermont — $17.6 million — 26

2010-06-10 — Charlotte, North Carolina and Capuchins — $1.2 million — 1

2010-08-11 — Lansing, Michigan — $250,000 — 1

The sheer number of these heinous abuse cases staggers the mind.  If the Catholic church expects to remain a viable institution in the world, it would seem that those in charge of running the church have no choice but to clean house entirely.  It doesn’t take a genius to see that church leaders need to perform the kind of soul-searching which they endlessly encourage in their parishioners.  The sheer number of abuses can represent nothing more than a systemic problem at the very heart of the Catholic church itself, as well as systemic problems at some of the religious orders which also clearly suffer from something rotten inside their very foundations.

We can pray for those leaders to do better.  But we must also hold them accountable by the law for their moral and professional failures to protect the young from unspeakable abuse at the hands of trusted elders.  

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Houston Protest at Catholic Church

(Sept. 17, 2018)  A Houston protest at a Catholic church was attended by about a dozen people on  Sunday last week.   The Houston Chronicle reported that protesters handed out flyers at Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart downtown.  Their goal was to call attention to the church’s systemic child sex abuse problem.  The protesters were prompted anew following abuse by clergy reports that came from a Pennsylvania grand jury last month.

The protesters called on the Catholic Church to address abuse by clergy that was revealed in the Pennsylvania grand jury’s report.

Protect Our Children!

Churchgoers who left 9 a.m. mass were met with signs that read, “Protect our Children!” and “Speak Up, Speak to Police, Speak Out!”

The protest was led by SNAP – Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“What we’re asking for is transparency,” said Michael Norris, leader of the Houston chapter.

Related:  Abuse by Clergy Lawsuit

A survivor of  sexual assault by a priest in Louisville, Kentucky, Mr. Norris is also asking for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to investigate the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.  He is asking for the removal of two diocesan priests who have been accused of sexual abuse.

“You will find the same filth that we found in Pennsylvania right here in Houston, Texas,” Mr. Norris told the Houston Chronicle.

Julie Rhoades, an attorney with Matthews and Associates, has represented survivors of sexual abuse by priests.  She said her boss encouraged her and other lawyers at the firm to attend and advocate to raise awareness.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she told the Chronicle.  “I had my first cases back in the late 2000s.  It doesn’t seem like things have changed much since then.  (I) thought things were better. And then you hear one more scandal breaks after another.”

Cardinal DiNardo under fire from Texas’ Catholic Victims

In a Texas Catholic Herald article dated Sept. 11, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston Daniel Cardinal DiNardo wrote that he shares the anger and rage felt by survivors.  He asked for prayers to bring accountability to the church. He admitted failure, writing, “I realize in spite of the progress made in 2002 that we, the bishops of the United States, have failed you,” he said. “We can and must do better.”

But recent charges against a priest in Cardinal DiNardo’s jurisdiction suggest that he himself also may have failed to protect parishioners from an accused pedophile priest.

Houston Protest at Catholic Church

Cardinal DiNardo, who is leading a delegation to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis to discuss the church’s pedophile abuse crisis, has been accused by two Texans of not doing enough to stop a Houston-area priest who was arrested last week on sexual abuse charges.

Manuel LaRosa-Lopez was arrested last week by Conroe police.  He stands accused of fondling two people when they were underage teenagers while he was a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe. He is charged with four counts of indecency with a child. Each count carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.

Mr. LaRosa-Lopez is the current pastor at St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Richmond, and also the archdiocese’s episcopal vicar for Hispanics.

One of the alleged victims was flown by the church from the West Coast to Houston to meet with Cardinal DiNardo and the victims’ assistance coordinator for the archdiocese. They met at the archdiocese on the afternoon of Aug. 10, 2018.

The alleged victim shared with the Associated Press a copy of the notes he took.

Cardinal seemed Dismissive

“Cardinal seemed dismissive of situation,” the alleged victim’s notes read.  He also wrote down what he says is a quote from DiNardo: “You should have told us sooner.”

“It was a dismissive tone,” he recalled. “In the back of my head, I was thinking about his comment. I was so mad afterward.”

Both said they had believed their cases were too old to prosecute under statute of limitations laws. But in 2007, the Texas Legislature removed the statute of limitations for indecency with a child cases.  Montgomery County prosecutors say that change means their cases remain eligible to be prosecuted now.

SNAP has called for the Texas attorney general to investigate the Houston archdiocese and others for whether they covered up sexual abuse in their ranks.

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Texas Priest faces Sexual Abuse Charges

(Sept. 12, 2018)  A Texas priest faces sexual abuse charges in Montgomery County.   Conroe police say the alleged sex crimes with children happened over several years’ time, from the early 1990’s to the early 2000’s.

The priest was a former employee of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe.  The Conroe Police Department reported that he has been charged with four counts of indecency with a child. The police say they took two separate criminal reports which named Manuel La Rosa-Lopez as a person who victimized children.

Houston-Area Priest

While Montgomery police identified the accused man as an employee of the church, multiple online profiles and church websites identify Mr. La Rosa-Lopez as a priest who still works in the Houston area.  Mr. La Rosa-Lopez turned himself in to the Montgomery County Jail on Sept. 11, 2018.

Cardinal DiNardo relocated Priest after accusations

The Associated Press reported this afternoon that Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has been accused by two people of not doing enough to stop Father La Rosa-Lopez from abusing children.

Both people told the AP they met with Cardinal DiNardo, one in August 2018, the other several years ago.  One of them said she was promised that Mr. La Rosa-Lopez would be removed from any contact with children.  She later discovered that the priest remained in active ministry at another parish 70 miles away.

The Archdiocese released the following statement today:

In 2001, a then-16 year old girl and her family notified this Archdiocese that Fr. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez had kissed and touched her inappropriately when he was assigned as Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart in Conroe. We immediately referred this information to Children’s Protective Services for further investigation.

Father La Rosa-Lopez denied touching the girl inappropriately, and the girl’s family decided not to pursue the matter, relocating out of the country that same year. After an internal review, including presentation of the above allegations to the newly founded Archdiocesan Review Board in 2003, Father La Rosa-Lopez was permitted to return to parish ministry in 2004.

Following her return to the U.S., the Archdiocese, in accordance with our commitment to provide pastoral outreach, provided the young woman with counseling services for a period of time, until she decided to discontinue her therapy.

For the last 17 years, no other allegations of inappropriate conduct involving minors were presented against Father La Rosa-Lopez until 2018. During an interview in Houston on August 10, 2018, a 36 year old man formally presented an allegation to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston stating that Fr. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez sexually abused him from 1998 through 2001, when he was a high school student and Father La Rosa-Lopez was still assigned at Sacred Heart in Conroe.

The Archdiocese immediately reported this allegation to Children’s Protective Services as well. Father La Rosa-Lopez has denied these allegations of sexual abuse. . .  

. . . The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston recognizes it clearly has both a legal and a moral obligation to address any incidence of abuse — sexual or otherwise — to God’s children.

Such behavior simply will not be tolerated. To anyone affected by any form of abuse by anyone who represents the Church, the Archdiocese deeply regrets such a fundamental violation of trust, and commits itself to eliminating such unacceptable actions.

States Rolling Back Statutes to Allow Victims Leeway

Many states are beginning to roll back statutes of limitations to allow victims of sexual abuse more time in which to file a claim.  In many states, people who allege they were victimized as children by clergy or others have only until they turn 30 to file a lawsuit against their perpetrator(s).  Some states allow lawsuits to proceed against child sex abuse predators until the victim reaches 50.  But it is not unusual for a sexually abused person to come forward after age 30 or even after age 50.  Consequently, several states – such as Minnesota and others — have passed legislation allowing victims a new 3-year grace period of time in which to file a lawsuit against their alleged perpetrator(s).  In those states, a person can file a sexual abuse lawsuit at any age, in they do so in the newly granted grace period.

Pennsylvania state is considering such a move to grant long-reticent victims  a reprieve from their private suffering.  The state was rocked by a Catholic church scandal last month after a grand jury determined that more than 300 Catholic priests in one Philly-area parish had sexually abused more than 1,000 children, and quite possibly thousands more.

Abuse by Clergy Lawsuit

Our law firm is investigating priest abuse lawsuits in Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.  If you or a loved one was abused by a Catholic priest or other clergy, contact us for a free, confidential consultation regarding an abuse by clergy lawsuit.

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