Priest in gay porn probe leaves parish

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CNN

updated 11:36 AM EDT, Sun April 29, 2012

By Peter Taggart, for CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Father Martin McVeigh says he showed “offending imagery” to parents
  • Parents said they were “horrified” and demanded action against him
  • He will take a sabbatical leave before returning to another parish
  • The Irish Catholic Church is accused of abusing children over many decades

KILIAN DOYLEA Catholic priest from Co Tyrone who “inadvertently” displayed gay pornographic images to a group of parents and a child has issued an unreserved apology.

The images were shown on a screen by Fr Martin McVeigh, the parish priest of Pomeroy, during a PowerPoint presentation at St Mary’s Primary School about children’s first Confession on March 26th.

The images were on a memory stick he had stuck into a laptop he was using.

In a statement today, Fr McVeigh said he “deeply” regrets his failure to check his presentation in advance.

“I had no knowledge of any offending imagery existing in it. After the images were inadvertently shown, I immediately removed the memory stick from the laptop,” he said. “In my shock and upset and in my concern to ensure that the images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening.”

There was no suggestion that the images were of minors or in any way illegal.

Fr McVeigh said he accepts the incident was very serious and caused much anxiety and distress.

“I apologise unreservedly for the hurt caused. I want to assure you, however, that I was not responsible for the presence of the offending images and in this respect I ask you to accept my innocence.”

Fr McVeigh said he has asked the Archbishop of Armagh, Cardinal Seán Brady, for permission to leave the parish and take sabbatical leave. “The memory of this awful episode will remain with me for the rest of my life,” he said

In a statement, Dr Brady said he had agreed to the request “on the understanding that he will, on its completion, return to the diocese”.

He also apologised for the incident, which he described as “traumatic” for both the parish and for Fr McVeigh.

Since the incident, the laptop in question has been reported stolen from Fr McVeigh’s house. The PSNI have appealed to the public for information to help establish the circumstances behind the theft.

Dr Brady said two other computers in the sacristy and computer equipment in the parish office and Fr McVeigh’s parochial house had been examined as part of a diocesan inquiry. “These have been forensically examined by an independent technical expert and no inappropriate imagery has been found,” he said.

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Father Martin McVeigh in ‘indecent images’ row requests leave

BBC New Northern Ireland

29 April 2012 Last updated at 08:01 ET

Last Updated: Sunday, April 29, 2012, 18:10

Father Martin McVeigh

Father Martin McVeigh said he had no knowledge of the images

A Catholic priest who “inadvertently” showed indecent images during a presentation at a primary school in County Tyrone has asked to take sabbatical leave.

Father Martin McVeigh projected the images onto a screen during a meeting for parents in Pomeroy in preparation for First Holy Communion on 26 March.

One child was present. Parents said 16 indecent images of men were displayed.

The priest said he had no knowledge of the offending imagery.

The incident occurred during a meeting at St Mary’s School in Pomeroy.

In a statement which was read out to parishioners on Sunday, Fr McVeigh said he had asked Cardinal Sean Brady to allow him to leave the parish of Pomeroy and to take sabbatical leave.

He said the last month had been “the most difficult of my life”.

“I deeply regret my failure to check, in advance, my presentation,” he said.

The priest explained how he had immediately removed the memory stick from the laptop.

“In my shock and upset and in my concern to ensure that the images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening,” he added.

Fr McVeigh reiterated his innocence and said he recognised the incident “was very serious in nature” and had “caused much anxiety and distress”.

“I apologise unreservedly for the hurt caused,” he said.

“I want to assure you however, that I was not responsible for the presence of the offending images and in this respect I ask you to accept my innocence.”

Cardinal Brady said he had agreed to the request for leave on the understanding that Fr McVeigh would return to the diocese.

He said the diocese would now work to ensure that procedures and policies were put in place for the proper monitoring and use of computers in parishes.

Cardinal Brady also explained that there had been an investigation into the computers used by Fr McVeigh.

“These have been forensically examined by an independent technical expert and no inappropriate imagery has been found,” he said.

“However an additional laptop, which was located in the sacristy, was stolen in the period following the 26 March meeting with parents.

“This stolen laptop did not form part the technical examination and its theft was reported to the PSNI.”

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Priest apologises over gay porn

Archbishop of Armagh, Cardinal Sean Brady: described incident as ‘traumatic’ for parish and priest involved

iriwshtimes.com

29 April 2012

KILIAN DOYLE

A Catholic priest from Co Tyrone who “inadvertently” displayed gay pornographic images to a group of parents and a child has issued an unreserved apology.

The images were shown on a screen by Fr Martin McVeigh, the parish priest of Pomeroy, during a PowerPoint presentation at St Mary’s Primary School about children’s first Confession on March 26th.

The images were on a memory stick he had stuck into a laptop he was using.

In a statement today, Fr McVeigh said he “deeply” regrets his failure to check his presentation in advance.

“I had no knowledge of any offending imagery existing in it. After the images were inadvertently shown, I immediately removed the memory stick from the laptop,” he said. “In my shock and upset and in my concern to ensure that the images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening.”

There was no suggestion that the images were of minors or in any way illegal.

Fr McVeigh said he accepts the incident was very serious and caused much anxiety and distress.

“I apologise unreservedly for the hurt caused. I want to assure you, however, that I was not responsible for the presence of the offending images and in this respect I ask you to accept my innocence.”

Fr McVeigh said he has asked the Archbishop of Armagh, Cardinal Seán Brady, for permission to leave the parish and take sabbatical leave. “The memory of this awful episode will remain with me for the rest of my life,” he said

In a statement, Dr Brady said he had agreed to the request “on the understanding that he will, on its completion, return to the diocese”.

He also apologised for the incident, which he described as “traumatic” for both the parish and for Fr McVeigh.

Since the incident, the laptop in question has been reported stolen from Fr McVeigh’s house. The PSNI have appealed to the public for information to help establish the circumstances behind the theft.

Dr Brady said two other computers in the sacristy and computer equipment in the parish office and Fr McVeigh’s parochial house had been examined as part of a diocesan inquiry. “These have been forensically examined by an independent technical expert and no inappropriate imagery has been found,” he said.

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Federal cash ‘kick-starts’ IWK program for victims of crime

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The Halifax Chronicle Herald

April 26, 2012 – 2:45pm By DAN ARSENAULT Crime Reporter

Dr. Amy Ornstein of the IWK’s child protection team speaks with federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay after a funding announcement Thursday for a Child Advocacy Centre in Halifax. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)Dr. Amy Ornstein of the IWK’s child protection team speaks with federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay after a funding announcement Thursday for a Child Advocacy Centre in Halifax. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)

Nova Scotia’s crime victims are getting $2.35 million in programs from the federal government, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced at Halifax’s IWK Health Centre on Thursday morning.

Most — $2 million — will go to the provincial government over the next five years for programs to support victims of crime and the remaining $350,000 will go to create a Child Advocacy Centre in Halifax. Central Nova MP Peter MacKay and provincial Justice Minister Ross Landry also took part in the announcement.

The IWK will use the $350,000 to set up the Child Advocacy Centre. They may investigate methods to create similar satellite centres throughout the Maritimes, Nicholson said. The centre will help young victims and witnesses get treatment, counselling, court preparation and other services.

The $350,000 will be used in “development work” to create the child’s advocacy centre, said Dr. Amy Ornstein of the IWK’s child protection team. It will be the first such centre in Atlantic Canada and is intended to ease the stress and pain faced by young victims.

Community Services workers will direct young clients toward the program, she said. A major change compared to the existing situation, is that joint investigations – conducted by social workers, police and others – will all be done at the centre, she said.

“The child and family will only have to come to one place and that place is a child-friendly setting where the child will feel safe. They won’t be interviewed in a police station … a hospital emergency department. They will become familiar with the centre as well.”

Advocates will be assigned to each child to ensure they are aware of available help, court dates and so on, she said.

Asked if $350,000 was enough to make much of a change, she said, “It’s a kick-start to the project. We’re going to maximize what we can get out of that.”

Gathering more information could enable them to access more money in the future, she said.

“We want to have room for growth,” she said.

The $2 million for the provincial Justice Department is intended to assist victims navigate the justice system to ensure their voices are heard, Nicholson said, adding that it can be a “very difficult chore” for victims and witnesses to crime. The federal government is doling out $11.6 million in the program nationwide.

“We’ve always made the protection of law-abiding Canadians among our top priorities,” he said. “We believe that victims deserve to have a strong and effective voice in the federal justice and corrections system.”

The investment is intended to promote victims’ access to the justice system, promote policies to address victims’ needs and study the impact of victimization, among other things.

(darsenault@herald.ca)

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Funding for young victims of crime in Halifax gets boost

metronews.ca

26 April 2012

Being a victim is bad enough, but when the system fails children, it makes it even worse.

“For young victims, navigating the justice system can be frustrating, frightening and a difficult experience,” said Defence Minister Peter MacKay. “Scars are compounded if they feel the system has also failed them.”

At the IWK Health Centre’s auditorium Thursday morning, Federal Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson announced $350,000 seed money for Halifax to start up a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre.

 

 

Currently, children who have lived through violence and abuse bounce between independent agencies like police, mental health counseling and others.

A CYAC would be a one-stop centre where child victims and their families will have a “quarterback” who will lead them through the entire process, from giving a police statement to testifying in court, said Amy Ornstein, a pediatrician on the IWK’s Child Protection Team.

“The fundamental principle is the child and family will only have to come to one place and that place is a child friendly setting where the child will feel safe,” Ornstein said. “For example, they won’t be interviewed in a police department or a hospital emergency department.”

There are over 1,100 of these centres in the United States but only a handful in Canada, Ornstein said. This will be the first for Atlantic Canada and is scheduled to be open by the fall of 2013.

Hundreds of children a year are expected to use it every year. The $350,000 will be spent on a business case, site studies and set up. After that the centre’s managers will have to establish funding.

The CYAC won’t be located at the IWK as some children might have negative associations of it if they came there for medical treatment, Ornstein said.

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Priests: We won’t break seal of confession to report sex abuse

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independent.ie

Thursday April 26 2012

By Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

CATHOLIC priests will defy a new law that requires them to report sexual abuse disclosed to them in the confession box — despite the threat of 10-year jail sentences.

It came after Justice Minister Alan Shatter confirmed the mandatory reporting requirement would apply to priests hearing confession.

Fr Sean McDonagh of the Association of Catholic Priests, which represents 800 clergymen, warned last night: “I certainly wouldn’t be willing to break the seal of confession for anyone — Alan Shatter particularly.”

And Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Raymond Field said: “The seal of the confessional is inviolable as far as I am concerned, and that’s the end of the matter.”

It puts the clergy on a direct collision course with Mr Shatter because new laws oblige every person to report suspected sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults to gardai.

Mr Shatter said last night: “I would expect that if there was someone going to confession who was a serial sex abuser, I don’t know how anyone could live with their conscience if they didn’t refer that to the gardai.”

His draft legislation, which is due to be introduced later this year, has already drawn a strong response from the church.

It has excommunicated priests in the past for revealing details of confessions.

The Catholic Church has always insisted it has no problem with the reporting of child physical and sexual abuse allegations to the authorities — except when the information is given during confession.

The auxiliary bishop of Dublin was just one leading church figure who moved to stress that priests would not be co-operating with the requirement to report sexual abuse information given during confession.

The Association of Catholic Priests said the legislation was a foolish move that could not be enforced.

Its spokesman, Fr McDonagh, recalled how a New Zealand Columban priest, Francis Douglas, was tortured to death by the Japanese during World War Two because he refused to reveal information received in confession about the Filipino guerrillas.

“He is held up to us as a model of how you deal with this extraordinary sacrament. You shouldn’t put into legislation something that cannot be enforced.

“It makes a mockery of the legislation,” he said.

Fr McDonagh pointed out that confessions were held in private so that priests did not know who was in the confessional box.

And he questioned whether the mandatory reporting requirement would stop even one case of child sexual abuse.

It is the latest flashpoint between the Government and the Catholic Church, following the highly publicised row over Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s criticism of the Vatican for failing to co-operate with clerical sexual abuse inquiries last year.

He declared that canon law would not be allowed to supersede state law. The Irish Embassy to the Vatican was subsequently closed “for budgetary reasons”.

Warnings

Mr Shatter said the controversy over the confessional was a “side issue” because the Murphy and Cloyne reports into clerical sex abuse had never mentioned it as the cause of the problem.

He pointed out that the main issue had been the failure of the Catholic Church authorities to act on warnings from victims — and the movement of priests accused of abuse from parish to parish.

“As someone who doesn’t frequent confession, I don’t know what information people share in confessions.

“But I don’t think anyone has a substantial knowledge about numbers of paedophiles sharing their exploits through the confessional and being given absolution for it,” he said.

Mr Shatter pointed out that there was also no exemption for the confessional in legislation passed back in 1998 requiring mandatory reporting of offences such as murder, kidnapping and bank robberies.

He said he was not aware of any priest being prosecuted under this legislation.

Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald also added that criminal justice legislation passed last year required anyone with knowledge of white-collar crime to report it.

“And there’s no exemptions in relation to the confessional,” she said.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said it welcomed the fact that the State was putting the ‘Children First’ child protection guidelines into law — which it had been following since 1996.

– Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

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RI priest defrocked on sexual misconduct claims

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boston.com

April 26, 2012

WOONSOCKET, R.I.—The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has defrocked a Woonsocket priest on sexual misconduct allegations involving a relative nearly 30 years ago.

The Call of Woonsocket reports ( http://bit.ly/Ibwq1f) the Rev. Timothy Gorton was defrocked and stripped of his priestly duties at the Precious Blood parish earlier this month. Diocese officials confirmed the report and say they forwarded the allegations to police, who haven’t filed criminal charges.

Gorton’s nephew, James Wilkinson, told the newspaper that Gorton fondled him at a church in Cumberland in 1983 when he was 12, and Gorton exposed himself to Wilkinson in Narragansett later that year.

Gorton couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. A man who answered a phone listing for Gorton said Gorton didn’t live there, and Precious Blood Church officials didn’t immediately return a message.

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Diocese defrocks Woonsocket priest

The Call (Woonsocket, RI)

April 25, 2012

By RUSS OLIVO

rolivo@woonsocketcall.com

WOONSOCKET — Citing allegations of sexual misconduct that happened nearly 30 years ago, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has defrocked a priest assigned to Precious Blood parish and ordered him to move out of the rectory.

The Rev. Timothy J. Gorton was sanctioned by the diocese over allegations brought against him by his nephew, James C. Wilkinson, according to documents obtained by The Call and interviews with the victim. Wilkinson said he was 12 years old when Gorton fondled him in the rectory of a church in Cumberland in 1983 and, later that year, when Gorton allegedly exposed himself to him at a beach cottage in Narragansett that belonged to a family friend. Despite the allegations, which have been forwarded to law enforcement, Gorton is not charged with any criminal offense.

Long troubled by the encounters, Wilksonson said he lodged a complaint with the Diocese Office of Education and Compliance in January after talking the matter over with his therapist.

In an April 10 letter to Wilkinson sent to him from the Diocese, Lt. Robert N. McCarthy, the director of education and compliance, told him that an investigation based on his complaint of “alleged sexual impropriety by your Uncle, Rev. Timothy J. Gorton …” concluded that “the complaint was credible.” The investigation began on Jan. 27.

In a brief statement, the diocese confirmed that Gorton has been stripped of his priestly duties.

“The Diocese of Providence takes very seriously allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the Church,” the statement says.

After receiving a complaint about Gorton, the diocese said it notified law enforcement officials immediately. A Diocesan Review Board, comprised of laymen and clergy, conducted the investigation and made its recommendations to Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.

“As a result of preliminary study, and in light of (Gorton’s) persistent health concerns, Fr. Gorton has retired from the active ministry of the priesthood and his faculties to function as a priest have been revoked by the Bishop,” the diocese said. “In accordance with Church law, the matter will be referred to the congregation of the Doctrine of Faith in Rome for any further action that might be required.”

Neither Gorton nor Msgr. John Allard, pastor of Precious Blood Church could be reached yesterday, but Wilkinson said Gorton has been a priest at the Carrington Avenue parish about two years and had previously served at a church in Pawtucket.

Although Wilkinson said he is considering hiring a lawyer and suing for civil damages from the diocese, he said he has not done so yet and is satisfied with the church’s handling of his complaint.

“I took a lie detector test and he took a lie detector test,” said Wilkinson. “I passed and he failed. He denied everything right up until the end.”

A resident of North Providence, Wilkinson is 43 years old now and married. He was molested by his uncle about six months after he was ordained a priest, Wilkinson alleges.

Gorton, who is in his mid-50s, according to Wilkinson, would have been about 26 years old then.

As a result of the trauma from the illicit encounters with his uncle, Wilkinson said he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and chronic anxiety, conditions that interfere with his ability to function normally in everyday affairs. He said he has a job as a security guard and is taking college courses to become a history teacher, but he often has trouble concentrating.

He said he has been in therapy for many years and that it was his counselor’s idea to file a formal complaint about the sexual misconduct after nearly three decades.

“It had been weighing on me a lot for a number of years,” he says “My psychologist told me that to break free of this I should confront him, go to the authorities, go to the church and try to get some closure.”

Wilkinson said the health concerns the diocese alluded to in its official statement is probably a reference to diabetes, from which Gorton has long suffered.

Wilkinson said he has often run into his uncle over the years during family gatherings, but he has tried to avoid him.

The first improper encounter with his uncle in 1983 came while his parents were in the midst of a divorce, said Wilkinson. Gorton consoled him by inviting him for an overnight at the rectory of a church in Cumberland. Wilkinson says he was lying in bed when Gorton put his hands under his clothing and touched his buttocks.

Later, at the beach cottage in Narragansett, Wilkinson says Gorton invited him into a bedroom. When he went there, Gorton was exposing himself and asked him to do the same. Gorton told him not to tell anyone about what happened.

“I’m worried there might be other victims,” says Wilkinson. “Usually people who do these things to one person have hurt others.”

The church was enveloped in scandal after scandal about pedophile priests in the 1990s in locales across the country, including Woonsocket, Providence and Boston. A common accusation was that churches knowingly concealed knowledge of misbehavior among members of the clergy, who were sometimes transferred to other parishes rather than sanctioned, only to reoffend.

The Providence diocese’s handling of Wilkinson’s complaint seems to set a markedly different standard of conduct.

“It is the policy of the Diocese of Providence to urge any individual with credible information about sexual abuse of minors to report it to law enforcement officials and the Diocesan Office of Education and Compliance,” the statement released about Gorton concludes.

The letter Wilkinson received from church officials also struck a resounding note of appreciation.

“On behalf of the Most Rev. Bishop, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for bringing this matter forward, and hope that our actions bring some type of closure to these painful memories,” McCarthy told Wilkinson.

Detective Sgt. Matthew Sutton of the Narragansett Police Department said there are no charges pending against Gorton from his department and none are anticipated. Cumberland Police Chief John Desmarais couldn’t be reached.

 

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PrévAction step closer to setting up centre thanks to $118,000 in funding

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Cornwall Standard Freeeholder

24 April 2012

By KATHRYN BURNHAM kathryn.burnham@sunmedia.ca

CORNWALL — PrévAction is one step closer to establishing a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre for Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry and Akwesasne, thanks to over $118,000 in funding from the department of justice.

Much consultation with community groups in place have resulted in the advocacy centre being a priority for PrévAction, said Richard Allaire, chair of both PrévAction and the child and youth advocacy centre subcommittee.

The $118,880 from the Victims Fund will help create a business place to get the centre off the ground.

“The centre will integrate a multi-disiplinary team of professionals in a child-centred environment that nurtures the abused child and uses all the wisdom of its partnership to see that justice is done,” Allaire said.

He explained that rather than having a child, who is either the victim or witness, re-experience the event by explaining over and over to several agencies, the advocacy centre hopes to help streamline the process, bringing the agencies together.

“The centre will manage in such a way that it brings support and comfort required at the time,” he explained. “The centre can help prosecute better.”

Allaire said the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre will complement services already available in the community, filling a need that other agencies have said should be addressed.

“Through our own resources we (will act) as alliances within the community, we will provide children and their non-offending parents and guardians with essential social, medical and mental health services and supports,” he said.

PrévAction was created in 2006 as a response to the Cornwall Public Inquiry, with the goal of leading the community to healing and reconcilliation. They have been working with the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre subcommittee since 2009.

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Advocates call for online registry of priests accused of sexual abuse in Maine

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Bangor Daily News

Posted April 26, 2012, at 12:59 p.m.

Last modified April 26, 2012, at 4:50 p.m.

By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff

Paul Kendrick of the Ignatius Group protests outside Bishop Richard Malone's house in Falmouth Thursday April 26, 2012.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Paul Kendrick of the Ignatius Group protests outside Bishop Richard Malone’s house in Falmouth Thursday April 26, 2012.

FALMOUTH, Maine — Two men stood outside the official Falmouth home of Catholic Bishop Richard Malone Thursday morning to protest what they described as Malone’s refusal to publish an updated database of priests and church employees “credibly accused” of sex crimes against children.

The duo, Paul Kendrick and Harvey Paul, represented the Ignatius Group, a loosely knit nationwide network of supporters of victims of the alleged sexual abuses. Kendrick, who spoke to members of the media at the Twin Ponds Drive site Thursday, said he and other group members have demonstrated outside Catholic Church properties repeatedly over the years seeking the creation of a church-run database similar to the state of Maine’s sex offender registry.

Kendrick used the example of Father John Audibert, a Catholic priest who 10 years ago admitted sexually abusing a teenage boy, to illustrate his point. He said the whereabouts of Audibert since his removal from active ministry in 2002 has not been kept public, and that he remains a threat to young people wherever he is.

“Nobody knows where he is, in fact nobody knows what he looks like,” Kendrick said. “He could be living in this neighborhood.”

In a response late Thursday morning, a spokeswoman from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland downplayed the small protest as a publicity stunt. Sue Bernard, communications director for the Diocese, disputed Kendrick’s characterization of Audibert’s whereabouts as being unknown, saying in a statement issued to the Bangor Daily News that the appropriate authorities are aware of his location.

“The two-person protest was nothing more than a ruse to get media attention and unnecessarily attempt to disrupt and alarm a neighborhood,” Bernard said. “Mr. Kendrick is aware that John Audibert does not live in this neighborhood or even in the town of Falmouth. Kendrick, civil officials and neighbors of Audibert are all aware of his background and where he resides.”

But Kendrick argued that the public remains in the dark. He and Paul — who has said he was abused by a Catholic seminarian while a student at St. Mary’s School in Biddeford as a youth — called for a full online database of “credibly accused” priests and church officials, with pictures, work histories, updated home addresses and numbers of accusations against them.

Kendrick said such databases have been launched by Catholic leaders in Boston and Philadelphia, and he said Malone should use those as templates “to improve upon.”

In addition to keeping the public informed, he said, the database could serve as validation for other victims of childhood abuse at the hands of priests who have yet to come forward.

“It just may protect a child, and it just may help someone who was abused as a child release some of that toxicity, some of that shame that’s built up inside,” Kendrick said.

While there was no sign of Bishop Malone himself at the Twin Ponds Drive location, the demonstration attracted the disdain of at least one resident of the high-end neighborhood. A woman driving away from her nearby home slowed down near the protesters and chastised reporters for covering them.

“We don’t need this here,” said the woman, who refused multiple requests to comment further or give her name.

Kendrick called the woman’s reaction “tragic” and “uninformed.”

“The silence of Catholics and that neighbor’s response are not only sad, but shameful,” he told reporters after she drove away. “If she had ever sat and listened to a child talk about being assaulted or raped, she’d never respond like that.”

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At trial, following a defrocked priest’s 25-year trail

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philly.com

27 April 2012

For weeks, jurors at the Philadelphia clergy sex-abuse trial have sat through a meticulous paper case, hearing painstaking recitations of every complaint, memo, or interview related to priests suspected, but not charged, with abusing minors over the last half-century.

Time and again, one question has been left dangling: Where are these priests now?

On Thursday, a prosecutor and an investigator sought to answer that at the start of their presentation on the Rev. David Sicoli, a former pastor who was transferred eight times in 25 years amid a trail of complaints about his infatuation and misconduct with teen boys.

Sicoli was removed from ministry in 2004 and defrocked four years later. Church officials ultimately logged at least 11 credible claims against him.

“Do you know where he is living?” Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti asked Detective James Dougherty, who prepared the file on Sicoli.

“He lives across the street from the largest playground in Sea Isle City,” Dougherty replied. The exchange underscored a point prosecutors have been trying to make in their endangerment case against Msgr. William J. Lynn: that he and other leaders at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia waited so long to act on proof or suspicions of misconduct that child sex abusers escaped civil or criminal consequences.

Some of those allegedly abusive priests mentioned at trial have died or agreed to live under supervision to keep their collars. Sicoli is one of at least six who simply retreated to private life. Some still live within the region.

Sicoli could not be reached for comment Thursday. Public records place him at a Sea Isle house he has owned for three decades. But the listed phone number was disconnected.

There is no record of accusations against Sicoli since he left the archdiocese. Defrocked priests are not required to register or notify their neighbors.

Still, the reference to an accused abuser living near a playground irked one of Lynn’s lawyers enough that he seized on it as he launched his cross-examination.

“I assume that since you know that, you’ve called the police chief in Sea Isle City and told him that he’s living there. Is that accurate?” lawyer Jeffrey Lindy asked the detective.

Dougherty didn’t have to answer. Prosecutors objected and, after a closed-door conference, Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina ordered the defense lawyer to move on.

Sicoli’s tenure in the archdiocese dominated the last day of the fifth week of the landmark trial. He’s one of 21 priests whose secret files prosecutors are showing jurors in a bid to prove Lynn routinely ignored or failed to investigate glaring signs that clerics were sexually abusing children.

In 1993, a year after he became secretary for clergy, Lynn had reviewed Sicoli’s file and included him on a list of area priests who had been accused of sexual misconduct but whose cases lacked conclusive evidence.

Those allegations dated to 1977, just two years after Sicoli’s ordination, according to the records shown to jurors. Three teenagers in the Catholic Youth Organization at St. Martin of Tours in Philadelphia complained to other priests that Sicoli had homosexual tendencies and acted inappropriately around them. One called Sicoli “sick,” said the priest made him sleep in his bed on a trip to Florida, and “acted like Father was in love with him.”

Weeks later, that boy retracted his allegations, saying he might have overstated them. Church officials transferred Sicoli months later to Immaculate Conception in Levittown, Bucks County, but recommended he not have any involvement with youth.

Within a few years, Sicoli was overseeing the parish altar-boy program, as well as its CYO and religion classes for public school children. And the same concerns emerged.

“I implore you to please help Father [Sicoli] before another school situation arises,” the parish grade-school principal, Sister William Anthony, wrote in a 1983 letter to archdiocesan officials. “Father has had a controlled grip on [a] young fellow that is unhealthy for a 13-year-old.”

After Sicoli became pastor of Our Lady of Hope in 1993, it was his fellow priests who started to complain. Sicoli spent countless hours in the presence of a young teen, a boy who dined with him and traveled to his Shore house.

According to the files, Lynn learned the boy’s name from the parish staff but made no attempts to contact or interview him. “None. Whatsoever,” the detective testified.

Lynn’s lawyer noted that that boy never came forward. Lindy also pressed Dougherty to acknowledge that the first allegation of sexual abuse against Sicoli was filed — then retracted — about 15 years before Lynn took his post and the rest came after Lynn had left his post in 2004. In between, he said, there were no victim complaints.

“Actual victims? No, sir,” the detective said. “But there were many reports from responsible adults regarding juveniles and Father Sicoli.”

Some of those victims are expected to testify after the trial resumes next week.

Contact John P. Martin at 215-854-4774 or at jmartin@phillynews.com. Follow him @JPMartinInky on Twitter.

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Landmark church sex abuse case ends testimony

CBS News

April 26, 2012 6:51 PM

By Elaine Quijano

(CBS News) It could be a pivotal case for prosecutors in the nationwide scandal of child sex-abuse by Roman Catholic priests.

Five weeks of testimony concluded Thursday in the Philadelphia trial of a senior clergyman who allegedly chose to protect the church, instead of the children.

It’s the first time in the U.S. that a senior official with the Catholic Church has faced charges in the church’s child sexual abuse crisis.

CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports that Monsignor William Lynn is accused of endangering children by helping reassign priests suspected of child sex abuse to jobs where they continued to prey on boys and girls. Lynn was in charge of Philadelphia’s priests from 1992 to 2004.

Jurors have heard graphic testimony from victims recounting how priests under Lynn’s supervision sexually abused them sometimes inside churches. One witness testified he went directly to Monsignor Lynn with his complaints of abuse.

Lynne Abraham, a former Philadelphia district attorney, said: “This is the first time in the history of a prosecution in this country where a member of the hierarchy of the church has been put on trial in a public courtroom for covering up sex abuse.”

Abraham spent five years investigating the Philadelphia archdiocese. She found evidence church officials were involved in a systemic cover-up.

“Really what they were doing was shuffling priests around from parish to parish,” Abraham said.

The monsignor’s defense is he followed the orders of his superior, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. Cardinals are the highest-ranking clergy in the Catholic Church. They answer only to the pope.

“This should serve as a warning to everyone across this country that now that this secrecy is being uncovered – not only in Philadelphia but in California and in Washington and in Alaska and everywhere else,” Abraham said.

Next fall, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City will be the highest ranking Catholic clergyman to go on trial. He is accused of failing to tell police about suspected child abuse.

“Until the last several years, most of them just thought everyone would believe the church, everyone would believe the bishops and they would be ignored. This is empowering for them,” said Marci Hamilton, a Philadelphia attorney who represents clergy sex abuse victims in civil trials.

Philadelphia archdiocese officials declined to talk to CBS News about the Lynn case. The judge has ordered all parties to not comment on the case. Lynn could face up to 28 Years in prison.

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Lawyer says priest pleaded guilty to end case

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SAN DIEGO — A Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty on Friday to a misdemeanor charge that he groped a woman in December did so only to put the case behind him and spare the community a trial, his lawyer said Monday.

The Rev. Jose Alexis Davila, 53, was placed on three years’ probation, fined $200, and ordered to do 150 hours of community service. He was also ordered to stay away from the now 20-year-old woman who initially complained that he had groped her when she visited his home on Dec. 30.

Earll Pott, one of Davila’s lawyers, said Monday that the priest entered his plea in San Diego Superior Court under a legal provision which allows someone to plead guilty, even though the person does not admit to the truth of the charges.

The plea, however, has the same force and effect as a standard guilty plea, according to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case.

The basis for the plea was a legal stipulation — a factual agreement worked out between lawyers in a case — which said Davila unlawfully touched an intimate part of the woman’s body.

Pott said that while Davila consented that the City Attorney’s Office could read that stipulation into the court record, the priest contends he did not touch the woman.

The stipulation was made part of the plea agreement and is included in the official court record, according to a spokeswoman for the City Attorney’s Office.

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Judge orders SNAP to turn over abuse records

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Catholic News Agency

25 April 2012

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ann Mesle.

Kansas City, Mo., Apr 25, 2012 / 12:07 am (CNA).- A Missouri judge has ordered a group that works with victims of sexual abuse by clergy to turn over decades of records to an accused Catholic priest’s lawyers who want to determine whether the group has been coaching alleged victims and plaintiffs to say they repressed memories of abuse.

Attorneys representing priests in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph sought the records from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP.

Although the group strongly denied that it coaches victims, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ann Mesle said she will order the material to be turned over to the priest’s lawyers and the diocese’s lawyers.

“I believe they are entitled to have information on repressed memory,” she said April 20.

The SNAP material also would be available for use in four other cases pending against Tierney, and possibly for lawyers defending other priests in the Kansas City area and in Clinton County, Mo., Mesle said, according to the Associated Press.

Missouri law has a five-year statute of limitations on civil sexual abuse allegations unless the victim can prove that he or she had repressed memory of the abuse. If defense lawyers can prove that plaintiffs did not suppress memories of sexual abuse, judges would have to throw out a lawsuit against Fr. Michael Tierney and the Catholic diocese.

Fr. Tierney is accused of abusing a 13-year-old boy in the 1970s but has denied any wrongdoing.

The names of third parties who contacted SNAP with information about possible abuse may be removed from the documents, some of which are over 20 years old. Lawyers representing accused priests and the diocese have agreed to allow the removal.

Fr. Tierney’s lawyer Brian Madden rejected claims that the lawyers and the diocese are “trying to ‘out’ the alleged victims.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he told the Associated Press.

Rebecca Randles, the alleged abuse victim’s attorney, said her client never had contact with SNAP and has legitimately repressed memories of abuse.

Judge Mesle noted that she expects her order to be appealed.

Last January, SNAP said that it would refuse to submit to a judge’s request for information about allegations against Fr. Tierney.

In a Jan, 2 deposition, SNAP director David Clohessy answered questions concerning accusations that an attorney violated a court gag order by revealing information about an abuse lawsuit to the organization.

Judge Mesle previously said that Clohessy “almost certainly” has knowledge relevant to the Fr. Tierney case.

According to the Kansas City Star, she said on April 20 that she planned to order another deposition for Clohessy.

SNAP’s stated goals include abuse prevention and the healing of those wounded by abuse. Its critics, however, say focuses more on attacking the Catholic Church than assisting victims.

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Martin faced ‘huge legal pressure’ on restricted priest

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irishtimes.com

26 April 2012

STEVEN CARROLL

THE CATHOLIC Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has said he was put under “a huge amount of legal pressure” when dealing with the case of a priest who was recently asked to stand aside from his parish, several years after allegations of child sex abuse were made against him.

Dr Martin said he understood but regretted the decision of a child-safeguarding representative in the Dublin parish to step down after she discovered last month the priest had been on “restricted ministry” in her parish for years.

The archbishop said the matter, reported in yesterday’s Irish Times, was “a classic example of the lacunas that exist in our current legislation”, as he was restricted from sharing information about the priest as the matter was not sufficiently serious to result in a conviction.

“There is a real need to update our legislation which respects the rights of individuals but also which respects and covers the need to share information with those who have responsibility,” Dr Martin told RTÉ Radio.

Dr Martin said there was a “very serious difficulty” around the passing of soft information and that legislation on the matter had been promised for some time. Soft information is material not strong enough to sustain a prosecution or conviction but indicating a concern over the suitability of a person to have access to children.

He said there was an argument for those in the church responsible for dealing with such matters to be given a form of indemnity.

The priest in question was the subject of a chapter in the 2009 report of the Murphy commission on clerical sexual abuse. Two complaints against the priest, given the pseudonym Fr Benito, were addressed by the commission.

They concerned an alleged sexual assault against a 15-year- old boy in 1988 and an alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl. In October 2002 the DPP decided not to prosecute in either case.

The priest’s history only came to light last month when some in the parish became concerned on being informed by the archdiocese that Fr Benito was standing aside from ministry as it had new information on him.

Dr Martin said the new information about the priest had led him to reassess previous allegations against him. He said that after reviewing the information, he immediately took action by asking the priest to leave his ministry.

Prior to the action, the priest had been visited on a regular basis by officials from the Dublin archdiocese and his case had been kept under review, Dr Martin said.

According to interim guidelines for such cases, published last February by the National Board for Safeguarding Children and adopted by the Irish Catholic bishops, “the bishop/congregational leader [in this instance Dr Martin] is responsible for what is communicated and how this is communicated”.

However, Dr Martin said the situation around passing on soft information was becoming more and more complex. He said he made a “prudential decision”, and the most important thing was the priest was removed from active ministry, even though the sharing of information about the circumstances had to be limited.

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New legislation will make it a crime to withhold information on abuse from gardaí

rte.ie

Updated: 22:49, Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Government has published legislation that would make it a crime to withhold information from gardaí about sexual offences against children and vulnerable adults.

A separate Bill puts a statutory responsibility on organisations – including churches and named professionals – to report abuse or significant neglect to the HSE.

The proposals were published this morning by Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Launching the initiatives, Alan Shatter told journalists that his Bill is primarily designed to close a loophole in a 1998 law by obliging anyone who knows about any serious offence – including sexual offences against children and vulnerable adults – to inform gardaí.

He said exceptions would be made where the alleged victim does not want gardaí to be told and where people such as parents, guardians or medical professionals are acting in the interests of the health and well-being of the child or vulnerable person.

The measure is a response to July’s Cloyne Report, which found that abuse was not being reported by the Catholic diocese to the State up until four years ago.

It also implements the earlier Ryan Report’s recommendation that children should be given better legal protection.

Frances Fitzgerald said the separate Children First Bill would put a statutory responsibility on organisations and named professionals to report abuse or significant neglect to the HSE.

She said pastoral organisations, including Churches, are among those covered.

‘Difficult’ for bishops to pass on information

Archshop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said that it has become more difficult for bishops to share sensitive information about sexual abuse allegations with anybody except gardaí and the HSE.

He was speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny about the resignation of a child safety officer in a Dublin Catholic Parish, who resigned after she learned of allegations of child sexual abuse made against a priest who had served there.

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