Two Pittsburgh Priests named in Catholic Church Lawsuit

(August 20, 2019) Matthews & Associates Law Firm filed a lawsuit this week for a Pittsburg man who charges that he was abused by two different Catholic priests in the 1970s. The alleged abuse began when the man was 12 years old. The petitioner also filed a police report last week on the abuse with the Ohio Township Police Department in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. The abuse, he said, occurred at Holy Family Institute in Emsworth. The petition names the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburg and Holy Family Institute as defendants.

Related: Church spent $10 Million to Fight Sex Victims’ Rights

The Pittsburgh man, now 54, claims both Father Joseph Gerdes and Father Larry Smith sexually assaulted him on multiple occasions in the 1970s. The victim was living at the Holy Family Institute at the time of the alleged assault.

The petition demands a jury trial. It also calls for punitive damages, given the church’s alleged culpability in the crimes perpetrated against the plaintiff. Causes of action against the church and holy Family include civil conspiracy, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report
The trigger for the victim’s coming forward now was the renewed local and national attention given to Catholic priest sex abuse cases last summer. On August 14, 2018, after a two-year investigation, a Pennsylvania grand jury revealed that at least 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children in their charge. That abuse took place over several decades. The grand jury also acknowledged that their review had only scratched the surface of the actual number of those abused by trusted elders who represented the church. Sadly, many victims, likely thousands of them — given what we know of these secret, insidious crimes — continue to suffer in silence.

End Suffering in Silence
In naming the plaintiff’s abusers, said attorney David Matthews, the petition also seeks to help any others abused by these men to summon the courage to come forward, tell their own stories, and demand justice from the church .

The petition claims these facts:
“In the 1970’s, when Plaintiff, a ward of the state, was approximately 12 years old, he was sent to live at Holy Family Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Soon after Plaintiff arrived, he was asked to and became an altar boy and was introduced to Fr. Gerdes. Fr. Gerdes lived in the same quarters as Plaintiff, and Plaintiff was required to clean Fr. Gerdes’s loft as part of his service to the Institute. Shortly after Plaintiff began his duties as an altar boy, Fr. Gerdes took Plaintiff into his brown Mercedes. While in the car, Fr. Gerdes groped Plaintiffs genitals and forced Plaintiff to perform oral sex on Fr. Gerdes. Fr. Gerdes took Plaintiff from the car to his loft where he continued the sexually assault, attempting to anally penetrate Plaintiff.”

The petition further states that the plaintiff was still required to clean Fr. Gerdes’s loft, and was again forced to perform oral sex on Fr. Gerdes. The clergyman also attempted again to anally penetrate the plaintiff, failed, and then performed oral sex on the child. The instances of abuse occurred more than ten times.

Father: Abuse was “what God wanted” and “How it was supposed to be”
The young plaintiff was told by Fr. Gerdes that this deviant behavior was “how it was supposed to be.” The plaintiff said that Fr. Gerdes told him the abuse was “what God wanted,” and that “no one would believe him even if he did tell.”

Based on the beliefs instilled in him by the Church, as well as by Fr. Gerdes’ direct statements to him, the young plaintiff believed that his immortal soul would be condemned should he reveal Fr. Gerdes’ ongoing sexual assaults.

Child Prostitution
The plaintiff said that Fr. Gerdes would typically give him money following the abuse, which he would then use to buy candy.

Priest Partners in Crime – Frs. Smith and Gerdes
Fr. Gerdes also introduced the plaintiff to Fr. Larry Smith, a visiting priest at Holy Family Institute. Fr. Smith visited the Institute several times. At first, Fr. Smith would touch the plaintiff “playfully,” a term the plaintiff used to mask the inappropriate groping he thought normal at the time, given his grooming by Fr. Gerdes. Then Fr. Smith’s “touching” escalated quickly to sexual groping and forced oral sex on the 12 year old. Fr. Smith also forced the child to perform oral sex on Fr. Smith.

These deviant acts occurred during Fr. Smith’s different visits to the Institute.

The petition reads: “Due to Plaintiffs forced and inappropriate relationship with Father Gerdes, he believed this to be the norm. According to a transmittal received by Plaintiff, Fr. Smith is retired, but still has his faculties with the Diocese.

These are just the instances of abuse that Plaintiff recalls at this time and merely
summarize the torture that Plaintiff experienced at the hands of Perpetrators. Further, the whereabouts of these priests are unknown. Due to the secrecy of Defendants, and its agents and institutions. Plaintiff is without proper means to determine where his abusers are or if they have harmed others.”

Two Pittsburg Priests named in Catholic Church Lawsuit

The petition also demands that the church open up its secret books in order to determine what church officials knew about the abuse and when they knew it. The Pennsylvania grand jury report showed again and again that Catholic church officials not only routinely failed to report the crime of child molestation to the proper authorities, but also failed to remove the offending priests from service, often shuttling them off to another parish where they were able to abuse other children.

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Catholic Church spent $10 million to lobby against sex abuse victims’ rights

(July 7, 2019) A new report released last month  reveals that the Catholic Church has spent more than $10 million in just the past eight years in the northeastern U.S. to fight legislation seeking to help clergy sex abuse victims seek justice. The church spent more than $10.6 million to lobby against child sex abuse victims’ rights. The church’s clear intent was to stop state legislatures from changing laws which limit the time a sex abuse victim has to file a claim against an abusive priest or other elder. Sex abuse laws the church has lobbied against affect not only those abused by Catholic priests, but also others abused by trusted elders, such as the Boy Scouts of America.

Catholic Church Duplicity in Pennsylvania

While a Pennsylvania grand jury was preparing a report which showed that more than 1,000 children were abused by more than 300 priests, the Catholic church in Pennsylvania was busy spending $5,322,979 lobbying to keep victims out of the courtroom. Rather than fighting for victims’ rights, which the Pope and church leaders always claim to be doing, the church was busy lobbying to prohibit sex abuse victims from filing civil claims against their abusers and the church.

Catholic Church Duplicity in New York

According to CBS News’ Christina Capatides, in New York the Catholic Church spent $2,912,772 lobbying against the Child Victims Act. The church’s duplicity failed in that state when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Act into law, on February 14, 2019. The New York Child Victims Act gives survivors more time to seek justice against their abusers. It increases the age at which victims are able to sue from 23 to 55.

Four law firms jointly commissioned the report, which one attorney said was inspired by frustration:

“We’ve heard a lot about the church’s desire to be accountable and turn over a new leaf. But when we turn to the form where we can most help people and where we can get the most justice — the courts of justice — the church has been there blocking their efforts.”

Following The Money Trail

In Connecticut, the Catholic church spent more than $875,000 lobbying; in New Jersey more than $633,000; in Massachusetts more than $537,000; more than $134,000 and $124,000 in New Hampshire and Maine respectively. 

The funneling of such a large chunk of money to the Church’s lobbying arm, the Catholic Conference Policy Group, runs directly counter to the Pope’s and other church leaders’ proclamations of a new era of transparency in the church.  The sole intent of the church’s spending more than $10 million in eight years was to turn back reforms that would benefit sexual abuse victims. It gives the lie to church leaders’ public avowals to promote transparency and accept responsibility for failing to rein-in wayward priests.

Pope Francis’ Duplicity

Pope Francis proclaimed a year ago, in August 2018: , “The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.”

Sadly, the money trail clearly shows that the church categorically fails to put its money where the Pope’s mouth is. The church’s payouts for lobbying efforts to stifle victims’ rights far exceeds its efforts to come clean and help victims.

According to the report, “CHURCH INFLUENCING STATE: How the Catholic Church Spent Millions Against Survivors of Clergy Abuse,” the Catholic Church has not only continued to invest in lobbying against the interests of victims, but to actually increase its investments in stifling victims’ rights over the years.

Church Standing against Survivors

The money trail shows that not only has the church not worked to help victims seek justice for the crimes against them; the church has worked hard to delay or completely deny victims their rights.

The report data is based entirely on public filings in the states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.  It seems likely that at least some of the money used by the Catholic Church to help deny survivors justice came from Sunday collections from parishioners. One wonders if parishioners are aware how their money is being spent to deny the rights of child sex abuse victims.

No matter how you see it, that is money that could have gone to the victims themselves, or money that could have been used for more constructive purposes.  Meanwhile, the statutes of limitations’ laws that the church has fought with more than $10 million also includes those victims who were sexually abused by elders aside from Catholic priests. So the church, with its $10 million lobbying investment, is also aiding and abetting sexual predators and abusers outside the church.

A Come to Jesus Moment

Many millions of us were raised Catholic, and we have learned, and we take, much goodness from our well-meaning priests, nuns, and other Catholic authorities.  But even that goodness we have taken is at stake when the current church leaders continue to coddle abusers and do all they can to deny victims’ rights behind the scenes, while in front of God and everybody they claim to care and  accept responsibility.

Canon Law Changes Needed

Current church Canon law codifies the “secret archives” which the Pope and other church leaders refuse to release.  Those archives hold the names of thousands of predator priests and their victims. Canon law also allows priests like Richard Dorsch – who raped children in the 70s, 80s, and 90s (according to a woman whose brother committed suicide afterwards) – to continue to receive a stipend, a place to live, a car, health insurance, all the comforts which non-criminal citizens enjoy. Canon law needs changing to punish evil men like Richard Dorsch and others credibly named in the Pennsylvania grand jury report as sex abusers. If perverted priests knew they wouldn’t be coddled for the rest of their lives if they abused children and young adults in their charge, perhaps they wouldn’t be so cavalier in abusing those whom they are entrusted to protect and help.

CBS News reported that at the time it published the $10 million lobbying story last month, neither the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, nor the Archdiocese of New York had responded to the news agency’s request for comment.

Catholic Church spent $10.6 million to lobby against sex abuse victims

In a statement emailed to CBS News last month, the communications director for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, Al Gnoza, said the church had not reviewed the report.  Mr. Gnoza said: “For more than a half century, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has lobbied on a myriad of issues that are important to people of the Catholic faith. We do not have a breakdown of costs, but our lobbying budget funds this broad effort.”

The Money Trail and Your State Representatives

Now it is time for a complete accounting of how much of that $10 million went to each state representative who has voted repeatedly against allowing sex abuse victims a chance to see their day in court. The Catholic Church is an extremely wealthy concern, and it must not be allowed to spend its money as corporations do, in order to drive legislation which benefits the corporation at the expense of the citizen.

Related

• The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

• Abuse by Clergy Lawsuit

• Clergy Abuse Attorneys

• Pennsylvania Priest Abuse Lawsuit

• Gay Lavender Mafia in the Catholic Church?

• New New York Law helps Sex Abuse Victims

• NJ eases Limits on Sex Abuse Lawsuits

• Catholic Church spent $10.6 million to lobby against the rights of child sex abuse victims

 

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Bayer CEO may drive Monsanto Roundup Settlement

(August 6, 2018) Bayer’s embattled CEO may drive a Monsanto Roundup settlement. Bayer shares had fallen dramatically after three straight juries agreed that Roundup causes cancer. But those shares jumped last month after the company CEO revealed plans aimed at resolving lawsuits linked to glyphosate, reported InsuranceJournal.com. Bayer revealed that it had hired an outside lawyer to advise its supervisory board about the merits of a potential settlement. The German drug and chemical giant also set up a special committee to help resolve its Monsanto glyphosate litigation.

Bayer’s share price rose with the potential settlement news. InsuranceJournal.com further reported that a fund manager at Union Investment, one of Bayer‘s largest German shareholders, said the higher share price was likely buffeted by some stockholders anticipating an earlier settlement.

“Investors want more certainty as quickly as possible,” said Mark Manns. “But it is for management to weigh up a quick settlement against how many billions you could save by holding out [for a later settlement].” Mr. Manns added that Bayer‘s negotiation position for now was “highly unfavorable.”

13,400 Roundup (Glyphosate) Lawsuits

Bayer acquired Monsanto for $63 billion just before the first verdict against Roundup hit the company – a $289 million judgement for a California groundskeeper in August 2018. Bayer now faces more than 13,400 plaintiffs who allege Monsanto’s glyphosate weed killer caused their cancer. The corporate giant still contests that claim, despite the company’s 0-3 record in defending its Roundup poison, which is used to kill weeds and anything else not genetically modified to withstand its toxic assault, including indispensable flora in the human gut. The company also lost an $80 million verdict and a $2 billion verdict.

Another major German shareholder, Deka Investment, said that Bayer’s hiring more legal expertise was “the right step,” as the move also acknowledged shareholder criticism.

Elliott Associates, which holds  Bayer shares worth 1.1 billion euros ($1.25 billion), said that Bayer’s recent moves help resolve uncertainty linked to glyphosate and help lead to settlements with limited financial costs.

Major shareholders have criticized Bayer for its handling of the Monsanto glyphosate issue; they gave Bayer’s top management a vote of disapproval at its April 2019 annual general meeting.

One of the company’s top shareholders, Janus Henderson, welcomed the measures taken by Bayer as “sensible.” He said they may lead to an earlier-than-expected settlement.

Mr. Henderson said he expects Bayer will lose its next glyphosate trial, which is scheduled for this month in Monsanto’s old hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.

Like Bayer, Henderson is banking on the appeal processes starting later in the year  He said that process “represents [Bayer’s] best chance to change momentum in sentiment.”

Bayer CEO may drive Monsanto Roundup Settlement

The best financial scenario for Bayer at present seems to be an affordable settlement deal which allows farmers continued use of Roundup products.  But nothing is assured. The best we can hope for is that the justice system moves quickly.  People and their families injured by Roundup deserve compensation for their losses. Monsanto failed to warn them of glyphosate’s terrible toll. The company must now compensate those whom they failed to treat as sentient human beings put in harm’s way by Roundup and glyphosate.

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Costco quits selling Roundup

(July 22, 2019) Costco announced this summer that it will quit selling Roundup.  A Costco spokesperson announced May 29 that the company is not planning to sell Monsanto’s best-selling concoction this season. Some 12,000 Roundup lawsuits now plague the beleaguered chemical company.

Costco’s decision came shortly after Monsanto lost its third straight trial tying Roundup to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A Costco spokesperson announced: “Costco is constantly reviewing its (product) lineup, and is not planning to sell RoundUp this season.”

The announcement came closely on the heels of Monsanto’s latest trial loss over Roundup, a $2.055 million verdict for a couple who both developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following years of Roundup exposure. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a couple in their seventies, have both been diagnosed with lymphoma. Alva suffers from a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that has moved into his bones and spine. Alberta has brain cancer linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The decision not to carry RoundUp is not one that most giant box stores have followed. Home Depot, Walmart, Target, Kroger and others continue to sell Monsanto’s toxic pesticide despite the many Roundup lawsuits which followed cancer warnings issued by the World Health Organization. In 2015, the WHO declared that glyphosate – Roundup’s only listed active ingredient, despite much evidence that shows Roundup’s surfactants greatly increase the toxicity of the entire Roundup cocktail – is a “probable carcinogen. ” The WHO arrived at its conclusion after reviewing approximately 1000 independent studies, none of which were sponsored by Monsanto.

Retailers that sold people Roundup have not been named so far in the lawsuits against Monsanto, nor has the U.S. EPA, which regulates (if one can call it that) Roundup and glyphosate for consumer, commercial or agricultural use. So far, most Roundup lawsuit petitions have not named any of these peripheral parties in the more than 12,000 new lawsuits that have been filed to date against Bayer AG, which now owns Monsanto.

Curiously, the U.S. EPA first banned glyphosate more than 30 years ago, then inexplicably reversed its decision. Roundup remains on most shelves today despite the growing body of scientific evidence linking Roundup and lymphoma, along with Monsanto’s three huge legal losses over the product. The company is now 0-3 in Roundup cancer trials.

Meanwhile, Monsanto and Bayer AG continue to repeat their claim that “four decades of extensive science” prove Roundup is safe. Recent evidence suggests, however, that at least some of that “science” may have been forged. Unsealed documents released as part of another court case suggest Monsanto may have faked its own safety studies to produce its own corrupt science.

According to US Right to Know,the third Roundup-cancer case to go to trial  revealed several damning facts about Monsanto.  They include:

  • Monsanto spent millions of dollars to develop covert PR campaigns. The money financed ghostwritten studies and stories aimed at discrediting independent scientists whose work found Monsanto’s poison products were not as safe as Monsanto advertised them to be.
  • When the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry sought to evaluate glyphosate toxicity in 2015, Monsanto engaged the assistance of EPA officials to delay that review.
  • Monsanto enjoyed a close relationship with certain industry-compromised EPA officials who have repeatedly backed Monsanto assertions about the safety of its glyphosate products.
  • Monsanto’s internal worker safety recommendations called for wearing a full range of protective gear when applying glyphosate herbicides; but Monsanto failed to warn the public to do the same.
  • As part of the third trial, evidence showed Monsanto hired a corporate intelligence company “to take the temperature on current regulatory attitudes for glyphosate.” That company’s report indicated that a domestic policy advisor at the White House said: “We have Monsanto’s back on pesticides regulation. We are prepared to go toe-to-toe on any disputes they may have with, for example, the EU. Monsanto need not fear any additional regulation from this administration.”

Monsanto\EPA Collusion

Other shocking news also came out of the third trial against Monsanto: emails were released showing EPA officials may have colluded with Monsanto to help slow the release of the dangers of the pesticide from the public. EPA also fed Monsanto consistent updates.

So why does the EPA continue to allow the sale of Roundup?  Why do many retailers continuing to sell it, given glyphosate’s research-based link to genetic damageAlzheimer’s disease, and a wide range of other health issues that include ADHD, Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, birth defects, celiac disease, colitis, heart disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, kidney disease, liver disease, Parkinson’s Disease?

Glyphosate Unsafe at any Dose

Another study released by the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, cites research that shows as little as 1 part per trillion of glyphosate can stimulate breast cancer and disrupt the body’s delicate hormonal system.

The Global Glyphosate Study found that the so-called “safe” amounts set by the EPA aren’t actually safe at all and are instead linked to microbiome imbalances and DNA damage. A microbiome is the sum of all the microbes in the body. It differs from person to person, creating a sort of microscopic “fingerprint.” While our understanding of microbiomes is still new and incomplete, an imbalanced microbiome may be a risk factor for many possible diseases.

Fourth Roundup Trial

The fourth Roundup cancer trial is slated for this fall in St. Louis, Monsanto’s hometown.

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Fourth Roundup Trial set for Monsanto’s Hometown

(July 9, 2019) After losing the first three Roundup trials by decisive, unanimous jury verdicts in California, Monsanto is set to face its fourth Roundup trial next month in the company’s hometown. Whether Roundup cancer plaintiffs or Monsanto will enjoy any edge in a Roundup trial staged in St. Louis is an open question.

Which side has the edge in St. Louis?

Some may feel the plaintiff’s side has the edge in St. Louis. Unlike the three California trials, Monsanto employees can be forced to appear on the witness stand in the Missouri venue. In addition, recent legal history at the gateway to the West has seen several juries levy large verdicts against corporate defendants.

On the other hand, Monsanto has donated lots of (tax deductible) monies to local charities, and it may be difficult for the plaintiff’s side to find a juror in the area who either hasn’t worked for the chemical giant, or who doesn’t know a family member, friend, or acquaintance who has.

Plaintiff Sharlean Gordon

The plaintiff in the fourth trial is Sharlean Gordon, a cancer-stricken woman in her 50s. Her case – Gordon v. Monsanto – begins Aug. 19 in St. Louis County Circuit Court. The venue is located just a few miles from the St. Louis-area campus that long functioned as Monsanto’s world headquarters, until Bayer bought Monsanto in June 2018. Ms. Gordon’s case was filed in July 2017, in a petition that includes more than 75 plaintiffs. Hers is the first case in the first group in St. Louis to go to trial.

According to her lawsuit petition, Ms. Gordon purchased Roundup and used it for at least 15 continuous years, through approximately 2017. She was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2006.  She has suffered two stem cell transplants, and, at one point in her treatment, spent a year in a nursing home. She is now so debilitated that it is difficult for her to walk or even  move at all.

Roundup-non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Link

Sharlean Gordon’s case — like that of some 12,000 others filed around the U.S. — alleges that using Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides caused her to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Ms. Gordon’s lawyer called the evidence against Monsanto, along with the company’s conduct, “the most outrageous I’ve seen in my 30 years of doing this. (The) things that have gone on here, I want St. Louis juries to hear this stuff.”

Ms. Gordon’s trial will be followed by a September 9 jury trial also set for St. Louis County, in a case brought by plaintiffs Maurice Cohen and Burrell Lamb.

Monsanto 0-3 vs. Roundup Plaintiffs

The August and September trials follow a stunning $2 billion jury verdict decided against Monsanto on May 13, 2019. In that case, an Oakland, California jury awarded married couple Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who both suffer from cancer, $55 million in compensatory damages and $1 billion each in punitive damages.

Monsanto Covered Up Evidence

The Pilliod trial jury found that Monsanto has spent years covering up evidence that Roundup, along with its only listed active ingredient – glyphosate – cause cancer.

That latest ($2 Billion) verdict came just over a month after a San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay $80 million in damages to Edwin Hardeman, who also developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup. In the first Roundup trial last summer in San Francisco, a jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson. Mr. Johnson was diagnosed with terminal cancer after he used Monsanto’s top-selling poisons in his school groundskeeper’s job.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers in the California cases were unable to compel Monsanto scientists and executives to testify because they had to travel more than 100 miles or out of the state where they live or work. In St. Louis, that dynamic changes dramatically. Plaintiffs’ attorneys in the St. Louis trials plan to subpoena several Monsanto scientists to appear on the witness stand to answer questions directly in front of a jury.

Monsanto / Bayer Investor Confidence Shattered

The three huge trial losses have left Monsanto and its German owner Bayer AG under heavy criticism from angry investors and shareholders. Monsanto’s unsettled investors have pushed share prices to their lowest levels in nearly seven years. Monsanto’s poison Roundup problems have erased more than 40 percent of Bayer’s market value.

Some angry investors are calling for Bayer CEO Werner Baumann’s head. Mr. Baumann pushed for Bayer’s Monsanto acquisition, which closed in June 2018 just as the first Roundup trial was starting.

Bayer maintains that no valid evidence proves a cancer causation link with Monsanto’s herbicides. Bayer says it believes it will win on appeal. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, however, has ordered Bayer to begin mediation talks aimed at potentially settling the sprawling mass of lawsuits that includes roughly 13,400 plaintiffs in the United States alone.

All the plaintiffs are cancer victims or family members of same. All allege Monsanto engaged in a plethora of deceptive tactics to hide the risks of its poison herbicides. Charges include Monsanto’s manipulating the scientific record with ghostwritten studies, colluding with regulators, using outside people and organizations to promote the safety of Monsanto products while making sure they appeared to be acting independently of the company.

Roundup Lawsuits in Canada

Meanwhile, the Roundup litigation that began in the U.S has crossed into Canada. A Saskatchewan farmer leads  a class action lawsuit against Bayer and Monsanto. His allegations mirror those brought in the U.S. lawsuits.

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Chlorpyrifos Tragedy enabled by EPA

The ongoing chlorpyrifos tragedy that has unfolded over several decades shows once again how our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been captured by industry. EPA executives have violated the agency’s own rules in order to keep chlorpyrifos on the market. The story of chlorpyrifos – along with Monsanto’s cancerous Roundup – shows just how blatant the corruption of the agency has become.

Related: Monsanto Trials reveal EPA Industry Ties 

What is Chlorpyrifos?

Chlorpyrifos is a highly toxic pesticide harming our children and us, as industrial chemical farming operators continue to use it despite well-established data proving its neurotoxicity.

Chlorpyrifos (pronounced: klawr-pir-uh-fos) is widely used in U.S. chemical agriculture. Industrial farmers spray it on crops to kill different  pests. It smells slightly skunky or sulfuric, somewhat like rotten eggs or garlic. It can harm those who touch, inhale, or eat food it has poisoned, and that involves a lot of food, including most of the naton’s GMO corn and many of our non-organic fruits and vegetables.

Lower Birth Weight, Reduced IQ, Loss of Memory, More

Acutely toxic, chlorpyrifos is linked with neurodevelopmental harms in children. Prenatal chlorpyrifos exposures are linked with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders, delayed motor development.

Acute poisoning suppresses the enzyme that regulates nerve impulses in the body and can cause convulsions, respiratory paralysis, and sometimes even death. Chlorpyrifos is one of the pesticides most often linked to pesticide poisonings. Besides “accidental” exposures, the poison has harmed  thousands of people directly, purposely, as it was first used in trench warfare as a nerve gas agent to sicken or kill the other side’s soldiers.

How are people exposed to chlorpyrifos?

Today, civilians are exposed to chlorpyrifos through residues on foods commonly sprayed with it, like corn, wheat, fruits and vegetables; by drinking water contamination; from toxic spray that drifts from pesticide applications. Farm workers are exposed to chlorpyrifos from mixing, handling, and spraying it. They also face chlorpyrifos exposure while entering fields where it was recently sprayed.

EPA Bans Chlorpyrifos’ Home Use in 2000

Even the EPA has found unacceptable risks to human beings, banning chlorpyrifos for home use in 2000. (Apparently the agency thinks the chemical has magical “targeting” properties when used on our food and made to run off into our drinking water.) Children are especially at risk because they often stick their hands in their mouths. They also eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water and juice for their weight compared with adults.

EPA reneges on Chlorpyrifos Ban

Many grassroots citizen’s groups, like Earthjustice, have demanded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ban chlorpyrifos, as it is known to harm human health, water, and wildlife. The U.S. EPA was mandated by the courts to make a decision in 2017. However, two days before the deadline, the slippery agency refused to ban chlorpyrifos. The EPA then reversed its own proposal to ban the pesticide.

After years of work in the courts, Earthjustice attorneys presented oral arguments – on behalf of the organization’s clients – at a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals en banc re-hearing on Mar. 26, 2019. Earthjustice attorneys argued that chlorpyrifos must be banned from all food uses.

Some 24 days later, the Ninth Circuit issued its ruling: U.S. EPA is ordered to decide by Jul. 18 whether to ban chlorpyrifos.

Patti Goldman, the lead attorney, explained the legal issues behind the case shortly before the Ninth Circuit rehearing:

“The Ninth Circuit had, on Aug. 9, 2018, previously ordered U.S. EPA to finalize its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos within 60 days, based on undisputed findings that the pesticide is unsafe for public health, and particularly harmful to children and farmworkers. The agency stalled, requesting the court to re-hear the case.”

The Earthjustice client list includes the League of United Latin American Citizens; Pesticide Action Network North America; Natural Resources Defense Council; California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation; Farmworkers Association of Florida; Farmworker Justice; Greenlatinos; Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; Learning Disabilities Association of America; National Hispanic Medical Association; Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste; and United Farm Workers.

Why Chlorpyrifos needs banning

A growing pile of evidence shows prenatal exposure to even very low levels of chlorpyrifos – those far lower than what EPA has been using – permanently harm babies. Peer-reviewed studies tracking real-world chlorpyrifos exposures of mothers and their children have reached similar conclusions.

In November 2016, EPA released a revised human health risk assessment for chlorpyrifos that confirmed that there are no safe uses for the pesticide. EPA found that:

  • All food exposures exceed safe levels. Children aged 1–2 are exposed to levels of chlorpyrifos 140 times what even the EPA deems safe.
  • There is no safe level of chlorpyrifos in drinking water.
  • Pesticide drift reaches unsafe levels at 300 feet from the field’s edge.
  • Chlorpyrifos is found at unsafe levels in the air at schools, homes, and communities in agricultural areas.
  • All workers who mix and apply chlorpyrifos are exposed to unsafe levels of it, even with maximum personal protective equipment and engineering controls.
  • Field workers are allowed to re-enter fields within 1–5 days after pesticide spraying, but unsafe exposures continue 18 days (on average) after applications.

With these shocking findings, one can only wonder how the EPA can now fight to stop or delay a complete ban on this poison. The disgraced former U.S. Attorney General Scott Pruitt began the latest round of EPA corruption when he reversed an Obama-era plan to phase out and ban the chemical entirely. Mr. Pruitt is gone, thankfully, as he resigned under duress; but his dirty work lives on, at least for now.

Chlorpyrifos Lawsuits

Besides lawsuits against the U.S. EPA for failing to enforce its own edicts, chlorpyrifos lawsuits are being filed for people and their children who have been harmed by this toxic chemical made by Dow, who also brought us the war crime poison Agent Orange, along with a nasty list of other toxic chemicals poisoning the world.

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Penn. Court Ruling gives Clergy Abuse Victims Time

(June 24, 2019)  A Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling this month gives clergy abuse victims more time to file a claim.  On June 11, 2019, the state’s highest court reversed a lower court which had found the claims of a woman time-barred after she alleged that she was abused as a child in the church.  This reversal in her case potentially opens the door for many others to pursue claims which were previously thought to be time barred by statutes of limitations.

Related:  Pennsylvania Priest Abuse Lawsuit

The woman’s case – and perhaps the fate of hundreds of others – turned on the work of a special Pennsylvania grand jury.  Last summer, that jury published the results of a two-year study which found that more than 1,000 Catholic students had been abused by more than 300 priests in the last several decades in the Penn diocese. The church’s cover-up of all those crimes led to the June 11 ruling.

Church’s Cover-up Opens up SOL

The Penn Superior Court ruled on June 11 that the woman’s lawsuit is not time barred because the church engaged in fraud and covered up her abuser’s previous crimes prior to his sexually abusing her. When the plaintiff had previously filed her case and attempted to pursue a lawsuit against her alleged abuser and the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, church officials claimed not to know that her abuser had also been previously accused of abusing other children before her.  Documents uncovered in the 2018 Penn. grand jury investigation appear to show that those church officials were lying. They knew of the priest’s prior history of abuse, yet failed to take proper action.

Fraud, Constructive Fraud, Civil Conspiracy

The Penn. Superior court’s ruling explains that Ms. Rice read the 37th Investigative Grand Jury Report detailing a systematic cover-up of pedophile clergy in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. She sued the Diocese, Bishop Adamec, and Monsignor Michael E. Servinsky 1 (“the Diocesan Defendants”) a few months later. Ms. Rice alleges that they committed fraud, constructive fraud, and civil conspiracy to protect their reputations and that of Reverend Charles F. Bodziak, her childhood priest and accused abuser.

Case was previously Time Barred

Because Fr. Bodziak allegedly molested Ms. Rice in the 1970s and 1980s, the trial court, relying on the Penn. Superior Court’s precedents and the statute of limitations, dismissed her lawsuit. Claiming that the trial court should apply the discovery rule, the fraudulent concealment doctrine, and the statute of limitations for civil conspiracy, Ms. Rice appealed.

Nicolaou v. Martin

Ten months later, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided Nicolaou v. Martin, 195 A.3d 880 (Pa. 2018). The High Court emphasized the jury’s prerogative, under the discovery rule, to decide whether a plaintiff’s efforts to investigate a defendant were sufficiently reasonable to toll the statute of limitations. The court wrote that, “Nicolaou has opened the courthouse doors for Ms. Rice’s case to proceed past the pleadings stage, notwithstanding this Court’s precedents to the contrary.”

Fraudulent-Concealment Theory

The court further wrote:  “In addition, Ms. Rice’s alleged circumstances allow her to argue to the finder of fact that the Diocesan Defendants owed her a fiduciary duty to disclose their ongoing cover-up and Fr. Bodziak’s history of child molestation. By failing to disclose, the Diocesan Defendants’ silence may have induced Ms. Rice to relax her vigilance or to deviate from her right of inquiry. The trial court, therefore, erred by not permitting her case to proceed according to her fraudulent-concealment theory. 

Finally, even if a jury rejects those two tolling theories, Ms. Rice’s civil conspiracy count remains viable. She alleges a continuing conspiracy and that the last act in furtherance of the conspiracy occurred in 2016. Based upon these allegations, Ms. Rice has filed this lawsuit well within the statute of limitations for civil conspiracy. 

Accordingly, we reverse the order granting judgment on the pleadings to the Diocesan Defendants and remand for the case to proceed in the trial court.”

Facts Alleged in the Complaint

Ms. Rice alleges in her First Amended Complaint that she belonged – as a child and teenager – to St. Leo’s Church in Altoona. She attended the Catholic school associated with her parish when the Diocesan Defendants assigned Fr. Bodziak to serve as St. Leo’s pastor. They did so despite knowing or having reason to know he had molested young girls. Fr. Bodziak began sexually abusing Ms. Rice in the mid-1970s when she was about nine years old. He  continued abusing her until she turned 14.

Fr. Bodziak asked Ms. Rice’s parents if she could clean the rectory where he lived. They agreed, and while she cleaned his home, the priest gave Ms. Rice wine and sexually assault her. Ms. Rice also played the organ at St. Leo’s Church and sang at masses. Under the auspices of allowing her to practice her music, Fr. Bodziak gave her a key to the church. Then he repeatedly kissed and molested her in the choir loft. The abuse increased to twice a week – in the priest’s car, a nearby cemetery, the rectory, the church itself. Some 35 years later, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania convened the 37th Statewide Investigative Grand Jury to examine child-sexual assault throughout the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. It issued an official report of its findings on March 1, 2016.

From that report, Ms. Rice first learned that the Diocesan Defendants knew or should have known of Fr. Bodziak’s pedophilia prior to assigning him to St. Leo’s Church. The Defendants kept the evidence about abusive priests in a secret archive, separate from other personnel files. Ms. Rice asserted a confidential relationship between her and the Diocesan Defendants, based upon her work as a parish organist, cantor, and rectory cleaner, coupled with her young age, Catholic schooling, and the trust she had placed in the Diocesan Defendants to guide and to protect her.

The high court ruled that the “Diocesan Defendants purportedly violated their corresponding fiduciary duty to warn her about Fr. Bodziak’s past as a child predator. They thereby placed their own reputation and finances ahead of her safety and mental health.”

Penn. Court Ruling gives Clergy Abuse Victims Time

The case – WL 2427919 – is Renee’ A. RICE v DIOCESE OF ALTOONA-JOHNSTOWN, Bishop Joseph Adamec (Retired), Monsignor Michael E. Servinsky, Executor of the Estate of Bishop James Hogan, Deceased, and Reverend Charles F. Bodziak.

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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.

Who Can File for the Child Victims Act?

A survivor of sexual abuse may be able to bring a claim against the abuser or entity responsible for facilitating the abuse if:

  • The abuse began prior to the victim’s 18th birthday.
  • The abuse took place in New York State.
  • The victim suffers from physical, psychological or other injuries; or
  • The victim previously filed a claim that was dismissed based on the (previously) expired statute of limitations (SOL).

Childhood sexual abuse survivors of any age may be able to bring a claim until August 14, 2020.

After August 14, 2020, sexual abuse survivors may only be able to bring a claim until age 55.

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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Monsanto Manipulation Machine bared (or Bayered)

(June 4, 2019) The Monsanto manipulation machine has been bared (or shall we say, Bayered) by Carey Gilliam and several other journalists the company has attacked for questioning the safety of Monsanto’s products.  Internal company emails and documents reveal an elaborate campaign to attack independent journalists who have uncovered Monsanto’s endless campaigns to fool the public about the nature and safety of pesticides like Roundup and the company’s genetically-modified “food.” The document trail shows how Monsanto attacks some journalists and manipulates others. It all depends on whether those individuals report the truth of Roundup’s fraudulent acceptance by the EPA and the weed killer’s links to cancer, or whether they help Monsanto maintain its captured-regulatory cloak of legitimacy and the alleged indispensability of the company’s poison products.

Monsanto Misinformation Unmasked

Monsanto has been unmasked in the Roundup cancer litigation as a master purveyor of misinformation and propaganda.  Independent journalists such as Carey Gilliam and others have discovered that Monsanto has set up several entities it disguises as “objective” organizations comprised of professional “experts” or academic “scientists.” The company creates these cutouts to pose as purveyors of truth in a narrative they sell as a world gone mad with “lawyer-driven litigation.”

Roundup Lawsuits plague Monsanto

Roundup cancer lawsuits now plague Monsanto like its Roundup-generated super weeds plague more and more farm fields. More than 13,400 suits have been filed so far. The company’s response to its trouble is the same in the media as it is in the fields – to throw more poison at it. Or in the case of the Roundup information war, to spread ever-increasing amounts of vitriol.

And when that approach fails, as it has repeatedly in every Roundup cancer trial so far, Monsanto moves to just flat-out lie, to tell the people and the judges trying the cases that the science is proven, that hundreds of  legitimate, worthwhile studies show Roundup is safe, that all the world’s regulatory agencies agree that Roundup is safe and doesn’t cause cancer, with the outlier exception of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

And then this company has the gall to again and again lean on the U.S. EPA’s failure to identify Roundup as a probable carcinogen. It leans on the EPA even when internal emails from key employees of that agency have been outed as all but colluding with Monsanto to stifle safety testing. And then add in the fact that the EPA first green-lighted Roundup on the basis of studies done by a company convicted of fraud for promoting phony studies. Monsanto has built a house of cards, and the wind is blowing toward Missouri.
Three Juries, Three Unanimous Verdicts against Monsanto

All of Monsanto’s propaganda may play well with the company’s friends in Washington D.C. and with the unawares public, but people who have seen real evidence have danced to a different tune than the off-key repetition of Monsanto’s Roundup defense. All three juries in the three Roundup-cancer trials so far have ruled unanimously that Monsanto’s best-selling weed killer Roundup causes cancer. Those juries have all done so despite a massive undertaking by Monsanto to attack  journalists and scientists who question Roundup’s safety profile, while leading and/or rewarding those who help defend the company.

Over the past year, evidence of Monsanto’s deceptive efforts to defend the safety of its top-selling Roundup herbicide has been bared for all to see. Through the three civil trials – one in federal and two in state courts –public release of Monsanto’s internal communications has revealed conduct that all three juries have found so unethical as to warrant large punitive damage awards.

Monsanto Ghostwriting, Regulator Collusion, Media Manipulation

Internal emails have shown how Monsanto scientists casually discuss ghostwriting scientific papers and suppressing any science that contradicts the company’s strident defense of Roundup. Internal documents have also revealed cozy relationships with regulators that suggest collusion.

These documents – which Monsanto fought hard to keep confidential – also give a taste of  Monsanto’s media deceptions, beyond the company’s now well-known policy of manipulating science and regulators. Carey Gilliam of U.S. Right to Know reports that the documents show Monsanto’s most insidious deceit yet may be its strategic manipulation of the media.

Monanto Consultant poses as Reporter

Ms. Gilliam writes, “We recently learned that a young woman falsely posing as a freelance BBC reporter at one of the Roundup cancer trials was in fact a ‘reputation management’ consultant for FTI Consulting, whose clients include Monsanto. The woman spent time with journalists who were covering the Hardeman v Monsanto trial in San Francisco, pretending to do reporting while also suggesting to the real reporters certain storylines or points that favored Monsanto.”

Monsanto publishes “Objective” Academics Review

Monsanto enlisted Reuters, a mainstream publication, to manufacture a story which attacked a member of the IARC which declared Roundup a probably carcinogen in 2015. According to Carey Gilliam, a Reuters reporter for 17 years, Monsanto used an organization called Academics Review to publish two scathing articles about Ms. Gilliam’s work at Reuters when she wrote about Monsanto’s GMO crops and Roundup. Monsanto complained that the reporter should not be including the views of Monsanto’s critics.  Academics Review trumpeted those complaints under the guise of being an independent association.

Internal Monsanto documents show Academics Review is the brainchild of Monsanto. It was designed to respond to “scientific concerns and allegations” while “keeping Monsanto in the background so as not to harm the credibility of the information,” as Ms.Gilliam noted that one November 2010 email from Monsanto executive Eric Sachs stated. According to a March 11, 2010 email chain, Academics Review was established with the help of a former director of corporate communications at Monsanto who set up his own public relations shop and a former vice president of a biotech industry trade association of which Monsanto was a member.

Monsanto’s American Council on Science and Health

Monsanto also likes to point to the American Council on Science and Health as an arbiter of Roundup evidence and all things GMO, but ACSH is anything but a disinterested party. Internal documents show Monsanto money and marching orders behind the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). This entity absurdly claims to be independent of industry while it publishes articles attacking journalists and scientists whose work contradicts Monsanto’s agenda. And the crying shame is that sham articles written by Monsanto’s ACSH have appeared in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

Ms. Gilliam writes:  “ACSH has published several articles aimed at discrediting not just me but also Pulitzer-prize-winning New York Times reporter Eric Lipton, who ACSH calls a “science birther”, and former New York Times reporter Stephanie Strom, who ACSH accused of “irresponsible journalism” shortly before she left the paper. Both reporters had written articles exposing concerns about Monsanto. The New York Times’ Danny Hakim has also been targeted by ACSH for writing about Monsanto. “Danny Hakim Is Lying To You,” reads one of several posts by ACSH about Hakim.”

Internal Monsanto emails show ACSH seeking and receiving financial commitments from Monsanto. One email string from 2015 between the company and ACSH details the “unrestricted” financial support ACSH desires while laying out the “impacts” across social media ACSH is achieving. “Each and every day we work hard to prove our worth to companies like Monsanto…” the ACSH email states. A separate email chain among Monsanto executives states “You WILL NOT GET A BETTER VALUE FOR YOUR DOLLAR than ACSH.”

Monsanto Manipulation Machine bared (or Bayered)

How legitimate are publications like USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes when they are willing to not only conceal Monsanto’s ties to dummy organizations like ACSH, but also  to help promote the same myths Monsanto writes about itself in publications across the world?  Judges and juries are figuring this company out. If they can wade through the well-paid-for propaganda Monsanto continues to unleash in mainstream publications, the rest of the country will eventually figure it all out, too.

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Cell Phone caused Brain Tumor, says Italian Court

(May 29, 2019) Cell Phone Radiation Lawsuit Cell phone use caused a man’s brain tumor, said an Italian court in April 2017. The judge in the case ruled that a longtime Telecom Italia employee developed a brain tumor as a result of heavy cell phone use.  He ordered that Roberto Romero be awarded 6,000 to 7,000 euros per year, the US equivalent of $6,000 to $7,500.

Mr. Romero’s lawyer, Stefano Bertone, said one factor in the court’s decision was its refusal to accept into evidence studies which were funded by the telecom industry.

Mr. Romero used the company cell phone for three hours a day for 15 years without taking any precautions. He developed an ipsilateral tumor (on the side of the head glued to the phone) and lost his hearing in that ear. Though the tumor was non-cancerous, it required surgical removal.

The Telecom Italia employee sued the state social security agency rather than the company for which he still works. He believes cell phone users should adopt some safety measures. His lawyer, Mr. Bertone, said those measures could include reducing cell use and using anti-radiation ear buds.  (Editor’s note: Regular earbuds may not be protective. Defender Shield sells radiation-reducing ear buds.)

2012 Ruling helped 2017 Case

Mr. Bertone said he believed that a 2012 decision by Italy’s highest court helped pave the way for Mr. Romero’s ruling. The 2012 case saw Italian’s highest court award social security payments to a salesman who used his cell phone five or six hours a day before developing a brain tumor.  The trial court that first heard the salesman’s claim denied it, but Italy’s highest court then took it up and ruled that there was a link between the man’s heavy cell phone use and his tumor.

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