Category: Priest Sexual Abuse

Churches Criminally Responsible for Child Sexual Abuse?

by stemwebadmin

Yesterday I posted about the CBC documentary The Good Father. I mentioned that I found it incredible that the Church knew about Sylvestre’s abuse for decades and did nothing to stop him.
For many years, I have represented survivors of clergy sexual abuse in civil suits for compensation. While no amount of money can ever change what happened or repair the damage caused by sexual abuse, at least compensation is a recognition of the harm. But what can be done about those in authority that knew about the abuse and allowed it to continue?
I was reminded of an article by Dawn Russell, fomer Dean of Dalhousie Law School, entitled “Paedophilia: The criminal responsibility of Canada’s churches”.
Dean Russell argued, convincingly, that religious organizations that knowingly allow children to be sexually abused can (and should) be criminally charged in the same way that corporations can be subject to criminal sanctions.
I don’t believe the article is online, but if you want to read it here’s the cite: DALHOUSIE LAW JOURNAL. 15(1992):380-427

Church Knew About Canada’s Worst Pedophile Priest

by stemwebadmin

I just watched the CBC’s documentary “The Good Father” about one of the worst pedophile priests in Canadian history, Charles Sylvestre.
The heartbreaking stories of Sylvestre’s victims are similar to those I have heard from the many sexual abuse survivors that I have represented. Watching the documentary one finds it incredible that Sylvestre could openly sexually abuse hundreds of little girls, that the Church knew about the sexual abuse for four decades, and did NOTHING to protect the children in Sylvestre’s parishes.
You can watch the documentary online here.
The unfortunate fact is that the Church’s cover up of Sylvestre’s abuse appears to be more the rule than the exception.
You can learn about Pope John XXIII’s instructions to maintain a policy of “strictest secrecy” about sexual abuse by priests on the Clerical Whispers blog or you can read it yourself here:

Diocese Sues Law Firm that Represent Sexual Abuse Victims

by stemwebadmin

If anyone had any doubt about the lengths to which the RC church will go to prevent disclosure of sexual abuse by priests, take a look at this story.

Talk about excessive! The Archdiocese of St. Louis has sued a law firm that represents victims of sexual abuse.
I guess the Diocese must think the best defence is a good offense. They are right…it is pretty offensive…

Clerical Whispers an Interesting Read

by stemwebadmin

I found an interesting blog the other day about the “uncomfortable truth and news from the inside” of the RC Church in Ireland. The blog, titled “Clerical Whispers” is written, supposedly, by an RC priest who goes by the pen name Sotto Voce.
While the blog covers any news dealing with the RC Church, it also contains links and posts dealing specifically with the problem (crisis?) of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
Take a look at

Diocese says Reporting Child Sexual Abuse is not Discretionary

by stemwebadmin

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London, Ontario has drafted a code of conduct with the goal of:

“…the prevention of sexual abuse, the protection of the vulnerable, the pastoral care of those wounded by misconduct, along with the protection of the rights of the accused and the appropriate action toward those who have committed sexual misconduct.”

You can read the report, and learn how to submit your comments, here:
The policy requires that ALL complaints of sexual abuse against a minor MUST be reported to the Children’s Aid Society. The draft goes on to state:

News Anchor Admits to Being Sexually Abused by Catholic Priest

by stemwebadmin

A recent story on caught my attention. CNN Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts described the abuse he suffered as a teenager at the hands of Father Jeff Toohey.What struck me was Thomas’s statement about his decision to publicly talk about the abuse he had suffered:I was scared. I was scared of being so honest and televising this journey. What would people think? Would I ruin my career? But I came to the conclusion that I will not be scared anymore. I will not be scared of telling the truth because it might be uncomfortable for people to hear.
If this story compels even one person to seek help for being sexually abused, then it is all worth it. All it takes is telling one person. From there, strength grows and you can tell a second person and so on. Then you can finally have control of your life back.I commend Mr. Thomas for his courage. You can read the whole story here. In my practice representing sexual abuse survivors I cannot count the number of times that a survivor has told me that their healing began the first time they disclosed to someone what had happened to them.Child abusers prey on their victims’ fears. Their fears of what family and friends will think of them; their fears that people will not believe them. Child abusers are able to destroy people’s lives because of a wall of silence. The only thing that can break down that wall is for victims of sexual abuse to tell someone!Here’s a link to the Government of Canada’s Directory of Services for Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse.

Lawsuit against Vatican can proceed

by stemwebadmin

A Kentucky lawsuit filed in federal court in 2004 against the Vatican that alleges that the Vatican covered up known or suspected sexual abuse by American priests recently survived a legal challenge.
Legal counsel for the Vatican made an application to strike out the lawsuit on the grounds of sovereign immunity, which generally protects nations from being sued in the U.S.
In a decision released January 11, 2007 U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II dismissed the Plaintiff’s allegations that the Vatican was negligent in failing to protect children entrusted to the care of Catholic priests.
However, the judge refused to dismiss allegations that the Vatican failed to report incidents of child abuse and failed to warn parishioners that their children would be under the care of known or suspected sexual abusers.
The Kentucky lawsuit is based in part on instructions the Vatican sent in 1962 to every Catholic Bishop in the world commanding them to maintain a policy of “strictest secrecy” when dealing with allegations of sexual abuse against a priest. The document, which was signed under the seal of Pope John XXIII, threatened to excommunicate anyone that violated the Church’s code of secrecy.
Read it here:
In May 2001 then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) sent a letter to Bishops confirming that the 1962 code of secrecy remained in effect.
If the Kentucky lawsuit proceeds, it could conceivably lead to the discovery deposition of Pope Benedict XVI , which could prove to be enlightening to say the least.
What has the Vatican been hiding for the last 45 years?

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