Priest denies sex charge in court

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Fr Jeyapaul is accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl in 2004.

UCAN India

Posted on April 4, 2012, 6:28 PM

By Rita Joseph

New Delhi:

A Catholic priest accused of sexual assault in the United States today denied the charge in a Delhi court hearing his extradition case.

Fr. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul told Additional Chief Metropolitan magistrate Amit Bansal that the molestation charge against him is “absolutely false”.

Fr Jeyapaul is accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl in 2004 when he was parish priest of Blessed Sacrament Church in Minnesota, U.S.

The priest’s counsel Bhivani Mohan and V N Subramaniam filed an application seeking discharge of the case on the ground that the allegation is “baseless” and the arrest “illegal.”

They argued that Fr Jeyapaul’s arrest on March 16 in Tamil Nadu following an Interpol alert was illegal.

The counsel said “neither was a warrant served on him nor was he produced in a court” as mandated by law.

Special Public Prosecutor Navin Krishna Giri sought time to answer the charge and the magistrate fixed April 21 for the next hearing.

Advocate Mohan later told ucanindia.in that the charge against his client was a clear case of “racial discrimination”.

He said the 57-year-old priest had a “clean record”, his services in the U.S. was appreciated and that no charges were levelled against him while he was serving there.

Asked why he did not fight his case in that country, the senior advocate said “my client was willing and had approached the U.S. consulate but was not given permission to take along an Indian lawyer.”

Meanwhile, Fr Jeyapaul said today “he would prove his innocence”.

The priest said “he harbored no ill-feeling towards anyone. My cross is not greater than Christ’s.”

Last year, the priest grabbed international headlines following media reports he allegedly molested a teenager while serving in the US.

In July last year, Crookston diocese where he worked from September 2004 to August 2005 agreed to pay a US$750,000 settlement to the alleged victim.

Fr Jeyapaul was suspended by Ootacamund diocese following a canonical trial, said diocesan spokesman Fr Sebastian Selvanathan.

However, he said the diocese has not received any complaints from any other parishes or schools in which the priest had worked.

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Accuser in Philadelphia Church scandal is questioned in court

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The Chicago Tribune

5:25 p.m. CDT, April 5, 2012

Dave Warner Reuters

Former priest Brennan exits the courthouse for lunch on the opening day of his child sex abuse trial in Philadelphia
Former priest Brennan exits the courthouse for lunch on the opening day of his child sex abuse trial in Philadelphia (TIM SHAFFER, REUTERS / March 26, 2012)

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A former U.S. Marine testifying in a sex abuse case rocking the Philadelphia Roman Catholic Archdiocese stood by his testimony under cross-examination on Thursday that he had been molested by a priest in the case.

The witness, now 30, said Rev. James Brennan molested him at the priest’s apartment in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1996 when he was 14. In Thursday’s testimony, he called Brennan “a sick man.”

Brennan, 50, is charged with attempted rape. Also on trial is Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary of the clergy, charged with child endangerment and conspiracy.

Prosecutors say Lynn, the highest ranking U.S. Church official to go to trial in an abuse case, covered up abuse claims against priests, many of whom were simply transferred to unsuspecting parishes.

Brennan’s accuser cried several times on the stand but sparred combatively with defense attorneys questioning his story. “I feel like Brennan is a sick man,” the witness said. He has testified that the priest had been a friend of his family when he was a teenager.

He has testified he was molested when he spent the night at Brennan’s apartment, where he said they looked at sex chat rooms and pornography on a computer and Brennan molested him in bed.

Seated at the defense table, Brennan showed no emotion.

Defense attorney William Brennan, no relation to the accused priest, noted that the witness in his testimony had described the priest’s computer as a laptop once but called it a desk top another time.

“Maybe I was wrong about the computer,” the witness said, adding, “I am here today because the man molested me.”

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” he told the defense attorney. “I’m going to pray for you because you need help.”

In earlier filings, the defense called the witness a “serial confabulator” and listed times he has run afoul of the law. The filing said he was convicted of making false statements and identity theft and that he stole from his mother.

(Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst and Todd Eastham)

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Judge orders Kansas City bishop to stand trial in abuse case

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Denies motions claiming bishop not “mandated reporter”

Apr. 05, 2012

National Catholic Reporter

By Joshua J. McElwee

Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., in a 2010 photo. (CNS photo/The Catholic Key)

Updated 2:34 p.m. KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first criminal case against a sitting U.S. bishop in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis will go forward after a county judge’s decision Thursday that Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, must stand trial on charges of failing to report suspected child abuse.

The decision, rendered Thursday morning by Jackson County, Mo., Circuit Court Judge John Torrence, denies several motions Finn’s lawyers had brought in the case, arguing that charges against the bishop should be thrown out over questions of constitutionality and whether Finn can be considered a “mandated reporter” according to Missouri law.

“The Court finds that the evidence in this case is sufficient to allow a jury to conclude that Bishop Finn was a designated reporter as defined by Missouri law,” Torrence wrote in his decision.

The charge against Finn centers on the case of Fr. Shawn Ratigan, a diocesan priest who was arrested last May on charges of possession of child pornography. While the bishop said he was aware of questionable images on the priest’s laptop as early as December 2010, Ratigan was not reported to police by the diocese until May 2011.

In separate indictments in October, prosecutors charged both Finn and the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese as a whole with criminal misdemeanors in the case.

Finn and the diocese have pleaded not guilty to the charges. In motions filed by his lawyers in mid-February, the bishop had said that because others in the diocese were primarily tasked with reporting abuse, he was absolved of primary responsibility in the case and should not be considered a mandated reporter.

Thursday’s decision clears the way for a trial in the case. A press statement Thursday morning from the Jackson County prosecutor’s office — which said prosecutors “were pleased” to read Torrence’s ruling — said the trial is currently set to begin Sept. 24.

In his six-page decision, Torrence answers the seven motions filed by lawyers in February for Finn and the diocese, denying all but two of their requests.

Among those Torrence denied is a request by Finn’s lawyers to hold separate trials for the bishop and the diocese.

The motion, filed by Finn’s lawyers, had alleged that a combined trial would necessarily subject the jury to “substantial prejudice” toward the bishop once they hear the evidence presented by prosecutors against the diocese. It also claimed that by trying the cases together, the judge would essentially pit the diocese and the bishop against one another at trial, creating “the potential for a mutually antagonistic situation between Bishop Finn and the Diocese.”

Torrence writes, “The trial will not consist of complex issues and the jury should have no problem compartmentalizing the evidence” against the diocese and the bishop.

Torrence also writes that “serious consideration” will be given by the court to the use of “limiting instructions” in order to ensure that the jury is not biased in either case.

“This Court genuinely believes that a joint trial of both defendants will not result in actual prejudice to either party,” he continued.

Two of the other motions denied by Torrence had argued that the charges against the bishop were unconstitutional both as applied in the case and “on their face.”

Finn’s lawyers argued that Missouri law requiring mandated reporters to “immediately report” suspected abuse was “unconstitutionally vague” because it doesn’t specify exactly how quickly people are expected to report those suspicions.

“This Court finds and concludes that persons of ordinary intelligence have no difficulty understanding the meaning of ‘immediately report,’ ” Torrence writes.

Finn’s lawyers had also argued that Missouri law specifying people report to police when there is a “reasonable cause to suspect” child abuse could also be considered unconstitutionally vague in some situations.

Torrence writes that it is not up to the judge to imagine a situation where charges would be unconstitutional, but to apply them as seen in the “facts at hand.”

“Suffice it to say that the facts in this case appear sufficient to allow a jury to conclude that, at various times, the defendants had reasonable cause to suspect a child may have been subjected to abuse,” the order continues.

The judge granted requests by the defendants to extend pre-trial deadlines in the case and to quash additional subpoenas from the prosecution, saying they amount to a “post-Indictment discovery tool” in violation of Missouri law.

Finn’s lawyers’ February motions seemed to direct blame for the diocese’s lack of response in the Ratigan case to Msgr. Robert Murphy, the diocesan vicar general, who received the first reports of concerns about the priest’s behavior.

Asserting multiple times that Murphy had not provided Finn with anything more than brief, insubstantial updates regarding Ratigan in the year before the priest’s arrest, the motion requesting separate trials alleged that the diocesan sex abuse response team “became solely responsible” for making a report to police about the priest.

Citing Murphy, who served as a member of the diocese’s clergy sexual abuse response team until he was removed from the position last summer, the motion alleges Finn’s obligations to report the suspected abuse “extinguished” when Murphy, who remains the diocese’s vicar general, became aware of it.

Torrence writes that the “evidence in this case is sufficient to allow a jury to conclude that Bishop Finn was a designated reporter as defined by Missouri law.”

Thursday’s decision concerns one of two Missouri jurisdictions in which Finn has come under criminal scrutiny for his actions in the Ratigan case.

In a separate agreement with prosecutors in Clay County, Mo., in November, prosecutors suspended misdemeanor charges against the bishop in the case so long as Finn agreed to give the prosecutors immediate oversight of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese’s sex abuse reporting procedures in their county.

As part of the agreement, Finn agreed to meet with diocesan parishes in the county to outline diocesan reporting procedures for suspected child abuse. Finn also agreed to monthly meetings with Clay County prosecutor Daniel White to discuss all reported suspicions of abuse in the county.

Finn held the parish meetings in the spring. A call to the Clay County prosecutor’s office to inquire as to the status of the bishop’s meeting with prosecutors was not immediately returned.

 

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Bear with…

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Bear with me – there was another spell a short while ago where the site buckled and up came the black screen.

I dance around with the extra “plugins” which I have on the site – deactivating one while I  I get something posted and then, once done, re-activating the plug-in.  Sometimes now the site just protests and I scramble to see what is left to de-activate (:

Plugins do various things, such as the one which provides the translate feature.  I am keeping it active.  Others I have permanently de-activated, and, as I say, a few I switch off and on as required.

After Easter I will set to work finding a computer programmer with WordPress expertise who can do what must be done on the site to solve my problems.  I thought I could get around the problem, but not so.  It will definitely take an expert and things are now at a point that it must be done.  If anyone out there fits the bill please please contact me ([email protected])

Sylvia

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Accuser returns to the stand in Pa. priest trial

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 My SA (San Antonio)

Updated 11:55 a.m., Thursday, April 5, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The emotional and explosive testimony has resumed at a clergy abuse trial under way in Philadelphia.

A 30-year-old former Marine who says he was molested as a 14-year-old by the Rev. James Brennan in 1996 is back on the stand Thursday for a second day of blistering cross-examination.

The man yelled and told the priest’s attorney that he should be ashamed of himself for suggesting he’s lying about the abuse.

Brennan is on trial with Monsignor William Lynn, the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. charged with endangering children for allegedly keeping predator priests in parish work. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Several alleged priest abuse victims have testified since the trial began last week, but Brennan’s accuser is the first whose claim falls within the statute of limitations.

_____________________________

Lawyers For Priest And Accuser Continue Verbal Jousting In Clergy Abuse Trial

CBS Philly

April 5, 2012 2:10 PM

brennan_james DL
Steve TawaReporting Steve Tawa

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was a second day of bickering on Thursday between a star witness in the clergy abuse trial in Philadelphia and the defense lawyer for the Reverend James Brennan.

Defense lawyer William J. Brennan ramped up his cross-examination of the witness, suggesting he was ‘coached’ to slip in the word molestation at every opportunity.

At one point, Brennan turned to the crowded courtroom, and asked ‘is your civil lawyer here?’

That referenced his civil lawsuit against Father Brennan, the other defendant, Monsignor William Lynn, two former Archbishops and the Archdiocese.

Father James Brennan’s chief accuser, now 30, a former altar boy and Marine, contends Brennan groped him in 1996, when he was 14-years-old.

Defense lawyer Brennan sarcastically asked ‘when someone asks you what time it is, do you answer molestation?’ The witness’ retort – your word of the day is ‘hostage,’ and mine is ‘molest.’

The defense lawyer’s rapid fire Q-and-A with the witness also suggested he waited nearly 10 years to report the alleged sexual assault because of financial hardship.

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Judge Won’t Dismiss Charge Against Missouri Bishop

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ABC News

05 April 2012

By BILL DRAPER Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. April 5, 2012 (AP)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri judge refused Thursday to dismiss misdemeanor charges against a Kansas City diocese and its bishop, who is the highest-ranking U.S. Roman Catholic official criminally charged with shielding an abusive priest.

Bishop Robert Finnand the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are charged with failing to report suspected child abuse. Prosecutors say each is a “mandatory reporter” under the state law. Defense attorneys argued the law is unconstitutionally vague, and that Finn wasn’t the diocese’s designated reporter.

“This Court finds and concludes that persons of ordinary intelligence have no difficulty understanding the meaning of ‘immediately report,’” Circuit Judge John Torrence wrote in his ruling.

Torrence also denied a request by attorneys for Finn and the diocese to have the cases tried separately if they advanced, saying there is no reason to have two separate trials in a case involving most of the same facts.

Finn has acknowledged he was told in December 2010 about hundreds of images of small children, some of them pornographic, found on the Rev. Shawn Ratigan’s computer — several months before the diocese turned over a disk containing the photos to local police. The bishop also has acknowledged that a parish principal raised concerns about Ratigan’s behavior around children in May 2010, half a year before the photos were found.A computer technician working on the laptop had discovered the images, many of which were focused on the crotch areas of the clothed children. One series showed the exposed genitals of a girl believed to be 3 or 4 years old.

Ratigan was charged last May with three state child pornography counts. He was then charged in June with 13 federal counts of producing, possessing and attempting to produce child porn. He has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed.

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“Witness details clerical terror” & “Accuser Describes Attack by Priest in Pennsylvania”

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In testimony, claims sex-abusing priest ‘kept pulling me forward’

philly.com

05 April 2012

BY JOHN P. MARTIN

Inquirer Staff Writer

DURING THREE hours of emotional and sometimes contentious testimony, a former Bucks County altar boy on Wednesday described how a priest in the landmark child-sex-abuse and conspiracy trial molested him during an overnight visit when he was 14.

The man, now 30, broke down several times recounting a 1996 assault by the Rev. James J. Brennan that he said plunged him into a spiral of drugs and crime and still haunts him.

He said Brennan, his onetime parish priest and a longtime family friend, showed him online sex-chat rooms, proposed that they masturbate and ordered him into a bed where, clad in plaid boxer shorts, the cleric pulled him close and pressed his private parts against the boy.

“He kept pulling me forward, forward, forward,” the witness said, fighting tears. “I couldn’t get off the bed. I still feel the sensation today. It’s horrible.”

The testimony didn’t stand unchallenged.

The priest’s lawyer, William Brennan, who is of no relation to his client, repeatedly prodded the accuser to explain inconsistencies in accounts he gave authorities over the years, reminded jurors about his convictions, and highlighted a lawsuit he filed that demands money from the church.

Wearied after two hours of cross-examination, the witness, whose name is being withheld because of the nature of his allegations, pleaded with Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to break for the day. “I can’t do any more,” he said.

With the lawyers’ consent, she halted the proceedings.

The developments were the most dramatic – and likely the most significant – since the trial began last week for Brennan and Monsignor William J. Lynn, the former secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

A nearly packed courtroom listened as the man outlined the details of an alleged assault that he said pushed him to the brink of suicide, and then watched as the lawyers parsed his words, drew anatomical sketches for jurors and quibbled over the definition of “spooning” in bed.

The jury had already heard from four other alleged abuse victims, but each had described being molested decades ago by priests who have been defrocked, died or haven’t been charged in the case.

Unlike those claims, the Bucks County man’s allegation fell within a newly amended criminal statute of limitations for child-sex crimes and became a cornerstone of the February 2011 grand-jury report that led to the trial against Lynn and Brennan.

Prosecutors say Lynn, as the official who recommended archdiocesan priests’ assignments and investigated their misconduct, enabled or covered up abuse by failing to act against priests suspected or known to abuse children. One such priest, they say, was Brennan, who has been on restricted ministry since the accusation emerged in 2006.

He and Lynn have denied any wrongdoing. A third defendant, defrocked priest Edward Avery, pleaded guilty to related charges before trial.

__________________________

Accuser Describes Attack by Priest in Pennsylvania

The New York Times

Published: April 4, 2012

By JON HURDLE

PHILADELPHIA — A 30-year-old man said Wednesday that a priest’s actions took the man down a path that included more than a decade of drug and alcohol abuse, multiple criminal convictions and three suicide attempts.

Stan Honda/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Rev. James J. Brennan

The accuser, a former Marine, took the witness stand during the second week of a landmark trial of two Roman Catholic priests. One of them, the Rev. James J. Brennan, is charged with trying to rape the accuser in 1996, when he was 14.

In sometimes tearful testimony, the man said the assault took place at Father Brennan’s apartment in West Chester, Pa., during an overnight stay.

The alleged attack, and an occasion three years later when the accuser said Father Brennan exposed himself, combined to traumatize the man, he said, and led to a pattern of behavior that also included getting discharged from the Marine Corps and using drugs in an attempt to be rid of the pain of what he endured.

The man said his subsequent crimes, including forgery, identity theft and filing false reports to the police, were all linked to his drug habit, which included the use of opiates and marijuana.

“I have been battling every day of my life to get these visions and this feeling out of my body, and they won’t leave,” he told a jury.

Father Brennan, 49, is among the priests named in a scathing grand jury report last year alleging widespread abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Father Brennan’s co-defendant, Msgr. William J. Lynn, 61, is charged with conspiracy and child endangerment, accused of allowing priests to remain in positions where they were able to abuse children in their care.

As secretary for clergy at the archdiocese, Monsignor Lynn was responsible for investigating reports of abuse. Prosecutors say Monsignor Lynn failed to stop the abuse; his lawyers argue that decisions to leave abusive priests in position were the responsibility of more senior church officials, including Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, who has since died.

The abuse described before the court on Wednesday occurred more recently than other, decades-old cases identified by the grand jury.

At Wednesday’s hearing, the accuser said Father Brennan had been like an “uncle” to him and his siblings and was a frequent visitor to the family home in Newtown, Pa., where the priest would drink “heavily” with the man’s parents, especially his mother.

The accuser asserted that on the night the abuse occurred, Father Brennan masturbated and persuaded him to sleep first on a couch in the priest’s bedroom, and then in his bed. There the priest tried to rape him in a position he described as “spooning,” he said.

The next day, the accuser said, he told his mother and his older brother, and his parents had a talk with the priest with a view to settling the matter.

Although Father Brennan then visited the family’s home less frequently, the relationship continued, and led to the man’s taking a ride on the priest’s motorcycle sometime later.

“Why in heaven’s name would you get on a motorcycle with Father Brennan?” asked the priest’s lawyer, William Brennan, who is not related.

“Because my mom and dad told me everything would be O.K.,” the man told the court.

Mr. Brennan, the lawyer, questioned whether the alleged abuse was solely responsible for the man’s problems. “There is no other event or series of events in your life other than spooning?” he asked.

Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ended Wednesday’s hearing early after the man became tearful and accused Mr. Brennan of being too aggressive in his questioning.

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A nun’s story: sex, affairs and priests you can’t refuse

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firstpost.com (India)

05 April 2012

by G Pramod Kumar

Sister Mary at the orphanage she runs currently.Firstpost

Barely two years after it was slammed by “An Autobiography of a Nun” that catalogued the lurid details of bullying, sexual abuse and homosexuality,”the Catholic Church in Kerala is set for another attack by a former nun.

Sixty-eight-year-old Sister Mary, who left her Catholic congregation in Kerala 13 years ago in disgust after 40 years of nunhood, is ready with her exposé. In a biographical sketch titled Nanma Niranjavare Swasthi, to be released next week, she heaps more ignominy on the Church.

Sister Mary talks in vivid detail about the extreme pain she had to endure during her tenure with the congregation: physical and psychological oppression, the sexual permissiveness and abuse prevalent among some of the nuns and priests, and the harassment she faced for sticking to her values and commitment to service.

She also talks about the miserable sense of abandonment, rathen than sacrifice or service, that some of the nuns feel.

For the Catholic church in Kerala which is already under attack with a wide range of allegations ranging from oppression of its nuns, abuse, suicides and inappropriate sexual behaviour, the new book will certainly be further bad publicity.

Two biographical accounts; one by Jesme Raphael who gave up the nun’s robes after 26 years of service (2009) and another by a male priest, KP Shibu Kalaparambil who left after 24 years in white (2010); had in the recent past, dented the reputation and order of the Catholic Church. Both of them had explosive revelations including sexual exploitation of women and men.

In her memoirs Sister Mary, born in the Palai area of eastern Kerala, describes how she wanted to be a nun at the age of 13 and ran away from home to a Catholic congregation. Although she “found her path of service at the altar of the god”, what awaited her was four decades of hardship, betrayal and absolute disappointment.

Unable to take it anymore, she abandoned her robes in 1999 but continued her service to humanity by establishing a modest orphanage at Wayanad in north Kerala. According to Jose Pazhukaran, the writer who helped Mary put together the memoir, she literally begs door-to-door to raise the resources for her orphanage. “She is now doing what she couldn’t accomplish as a nun – to serve humanity and be a mother to abandoned children,” says Pazhukaran.

“There was a lot of unbearable pain and humiliation. Some ran away, some committed suicide. I endured all the pain because of the priest’s words at my first communion as a nun – you should be ready to follow the path of Jesus Christ. These words are still throbbing in my heart and that is why I am a mother of orphans,” says Sister Mary.

Firstpost has gained exclusive access to the excerpts of the book to be published next week by Kairali Books, Kannur.

Translations of two chapters of the book are given below:

Those who read sex magazines

Some of the nuns used to read books with filthy pictures. I used to wonder how they laid their hands on them. Once I noticed that one of the nuns mostly stayed in her room with the doors bolted.

She was very good looking and otherwise active, but I didn’t clearly understand the “clandestine things” she was up to.

One day, I found out that she was reading a filthy magazine. A magazine that had pictures of naked men and women. I was very upset. Once you pledge yourself to be a nun, such temptations can compel you to give in. Privately, I admonished her and warned her that she should not repeat it, lest I should tell the the matron of the provinciate. I also promised her that I wouldn’t tell anybody. I used to wonder who got them those magazines.

Sister Mary presently runs an orphanage in north Kerala. Firstpost

I also resented the male priests coming to the convent without any reason. I really didn’t like how some nuns spent so much time with them and flirted with them. I thought that it could lead them to wrongdoings that could bring disrepute to the congregation. I complained to the mother, but she kept evading it.

Most of the time, what you saw if you accidentally walked into a room of the nuns was shameful. I haven’t seen even a handful of them who were chaste. I just told myself that what comes from flesh has to be flesh.

There was this church hospital at one of the convents when I spent my time there. The hospital was adjacent to the church. I came to know that a doctor at the hospital and a nun had an affair. Once when a patient was brought to the hospital in a critical condition, the doctor was found missing. We, the nuns, frantically searched for him; but he was nowhere to be seen.

Knowing their closeness to each other, I somehow felt that he would be closeted with the nun somewhere. Finally, my search led to a room from which I heard hushed voices. I brought them out of the room and angrily told them that such behaviour wouldn’t work.

I didn’t know what they were doing in the room, but I am sure it wasn’t something good. I told him that a doctor is worthless if he cannot attend to a patient in an emergency.

Many others also advised the nun that she could get out of the robe and marry so that the congregation’s name is not sullied. The mother, an Italian named Luccia, was informed too. I told her in Italian that those two had been carrying on for a while and they should be thrown out.

The issue simmered for some time and both the doctor and the nun went back to their old ways. Subsequently, the doctor even threatened to kill me. But, almost everyone seemed to side with them and I felt isolated. I just had to ignore what was happening.

They got married later and the nun left the congregation.

I was really disgusted with the way the convent worked and was really reluctant to continue there. It even affected my taking the communion and my confessions. I felt disgusted the way some uncommitted priests conducted the church rituals. They were plain perfunctory.

There was a practice of assigning daily duty for everyone in the convent. To avoid work that they didn’t like, such as farming, some nuns stayed in their rooms. They mostly seemed to feel that they had lost something in life.

40 years of my life as a nun went through such contradictions.

Right from my childhood, I handled the difficulties I faced without letting my family and others know. Therefore, this sense of aloofness was growing in me. In fact, I realise only now that on such situations Mother Mary was giving me the mental strength.

Raping fathers

Those who didn’t oblige the priests were always in trouble. They get pained in some way or the other. Some think that the oath of discipline that you take while accepting the nun’s robe is to be subservient to such men.

Such an incident happened to me as well. As somebody who had thought of Jesus Christ as the only savior since the age of six, this experience pained me immensely.

This incident, in which a priest tried to molest me and I hit him with a wooden stool in self defence, became a big issue at the congregation. Although I was the one outraged, in their eyes, I was the culprit. The unwritten rule was: whatever the priests did, nobody could question them.

Sister Mary said a priest had attempted to molest her. Firstpost

I was only twenty then.

The incident happened at the Chevayaoor convent. There was this practice of serving breakfast to the priests after the morning communion. Sometimes, it was sent to the church. The nuns needed to take turns to cook for them and serve them.

I used to get nervous whenever my turn came because I wasn’t good with cooking and would certainly be criticised for that. Nobody used to help me or advise me. Instead, they seemed to get some vicarious pleasure by pointing out the mistakes. I used to find it very painful.

Okay, let’s get into the incident. Once, I was assigned to cook and serve a priest who finished the communion (I don’t want to name him though). I went to the dining hall with egg curry and ‘appam’. He came in, washed his hands and bolted the door before taking his seat.

He asked me to serve; but sensing some mischief, I stayed away. When he persisted, I started shivering with fear. At that moment, I deeply hated the rule that one should obey whatever the priests orders.

The priest got up, came to me and grabbed my hands.

Don’t you know all this, Sister Mary?, he asked.

When I cried, he tried to pull me close to his chest. I relieved myself and ran, but he chased me around the table. I really got wild as I used to do when I was a child on such situations. I got hold of a wooden stool in front of me and hit him hard.

It fell on his head and he started bleeding profusely. I got both sad and scared although I did it in self-defence – he was a priest. I screamed in fear and rushed out of the room and told everyone what happened. But most of them appeared indifferent and started scolding me.

“What did you do, are you out to shame the congregation?”

When they went into the room , the priest was on his chair, speechless and drenched in blood. He was taken to the Kozhikode medical college hospital where it was reported that he fell in the bathroom.

I was the target of tremendous ire after that incident. When everybody walked away from me as if I was a proclaimed offender I prayed hard. But when I realised that it was the way things worked, I really got scared that I was trapped in serious danger. Since then, I was marked; a thorn in the flesh for the congregation.

Opposing wrongdoings was my character and that was the reason for all the conflicts that I faced in life as a nun. I wasn’t ready to blindly accept the priests and the church without looking at their deeds.

Sensing the situation I was in, Father Peter called for me one day. I told him every thing. I cried a lot in front of him. He consoled me and advised me to handle the Church and people with restraint.

But, the other nuns by then had branded me as a rogue. Nobody pointed out what was the ground for my disobedience. Since then, I was a nuisance for them. Sister Betty was the only consolation.

Since I was termed disobedient right from my stay at the novitiate, my nunhood had to wait for six months. The priests believe that they had the complete control of the nuns. They believe that they are the ultimate owners of the Church, its properties and the believers.

When people get sexually exploited, their belief gets affected; that is what is happening now. Some people commit suicide when they are unable to cope with this reality.

The priest who was hit by me is a good friend now and calls me often to enquire about my well being. He also tells me that my response has reformed him.

Nanma Niranjavare Swasthi

Malayalam

106 pages

Rs. 85

Kairali Books Kannur, Kerala

([email protected])


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Bankruptcy judge to hear arguments on disclosing more priest sex abuse evidence

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News Talk 1360 am 97.5 fm WTAQ.com (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

Thursday, April 05, 2012 10:06 a.m. CDT

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) – A bankruptcy judge will hold a hearing Thursday on a request to disclose evidence that would expose the scope of previous sex abuse by Catholic priests in the Milwaukee archdiocese.

Judge Susan Kelley is being asked to unseal a court deposition made several years ago by former Archbishop Rembert Weakland.

It apparently identifies the offending priests and the children they molested over the last few decades. And attorney Jeff Anderson says it would demonstrate the church’s liability as the judge considers damage claims by about 570 victims of priest sex abuse.

The claims were filed as part of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. And the church says Weakland’s deposition has nothing to do with the bankruptcy, and it should remain sealed.

Anderson says he’s not interested in exposing the names of those involved. He just wants to expose the scope of the abuse, and he says the names should be blacked out. But the church says that wouldn’t accomplish anything.

Parts of Weakland’s 2008 deposition have leaked out. He said he secretly transferred sex-abusing priests from parish to parish without telling the affected local church members.

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O’Farrell defends A-G over alleged abuse comments

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ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Updated April 05, 2012 23:17:49

The New South Wales Premier has jumped to the defence of his Attorney-General, Greg Smith, who has come under fire over comments he allegedly made about a woman who claims she was sexually abused by a priest when she was a child.

Yesterday the ABC’S 7.30 program aired allegations that Mr Smith told a different Catholic priest that the woman was only complaining to try to get $1 million from the church.

No charges have been laid and in a statement the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, says he has been assured the Attorney-General did not influence legal authorities regarding the matter.

“The Premier has been assured that neither the Attorney-General nor his office has been involved in the consideration by the state’s legal authorities of allegations concerning Father Finian Egan,” the statement said.

“Mr O’Farrell has also been assured that this matter has been and will continue to be handled independently by the relevant legal authorities.”

Mr Smith says he cannot recall making the comments, but Opposition Leader John Robertson believes he has serious questions to answer.

“Mr Smith has not denied making those comments,” he said.

“He needs to give a public explanation firstly why it was appropriate that he met with a priest from the church about that matter while it is being considered by the DPP and how he thinks it is appropriate that he should be making those sorts of comments.”

Mr Smith and the accused priest, Father Finian Egan, go back some years, and when Mr Smith was elected to Parliament five years ago he cited Father Egan’s influence in his maiden speech to Parliament.

“At St Gerard’s, Father Finian Egan charmed us with his Irish wit and his pastoral devotion to his flock,” he said in the speech.

Damien Tudehope, now the Attorney-General’s chief of staff, also knows Father Egan well, attending the priest’s church and, as a solicitor, defending him against sexual abuse allegations.

The ABC does not suggest that either Mr Smith or Mr Tudehope have interfered with the potential prosecution involving Father Egan, but critics argue there is an appearance of a potential conflict which the A-G should address.

‘Inappropriate comments’

The latest allegations centre on emails between a priest Mr Smith spoke to and one of Father Egan’s alleged victims, Nikki Wells.

Last year Ms Wells spoke to another Catholic priest about her frustration at the delay of a police investigation into Father Egan.

That priest, who the ABC has agreed not to name, says he then met Mr Smith last July.

After that meeting the priest detailed his version of what was said in an email to Ms Wells which the ABC has obtained.

In the email the priest says Mr Smith told him he thought Ms Wells was trying to take money from the church.

“I was with Greg Smith the other day and I raised your case with him. He commented that ‘you were just trying to get $1m from the church’,” the priest said in the email.

Ms Wells says the conversation was completely inappropriate.

“I was completely horrified that the chief lawmaker in the state could comment on an open criminal case for a start,” she said.

“Secondly, that he’d pass judgment on someone he doesn’t even know and just disbelief that the whole matter that our Attorney-General could speak so publicly about me and my case and a criminal matter.

The ABC asked Mr Smith if the priest’s email description of the meeting and what was said was correct, and in response the Attorney-General issued a statement saying he “recalls no such conversation”.

“The Attorney-General recalls no such conversation and notes that 7.30 has failed to provide any detail which would help his recall,” the statement said.

“He says he would never suggest any victim of sexual abuse was simply motivated by a desire to claim a financial payout.”

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