New sex abuse lawsuit filed in Montana — against nuns

Details:

A new sex abuse lawsuit filed Tuesday against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena is one of the first involving abuse by nuns toward Native American children, the plaintiffs’ attorney said.

The latest suit, which also names the Ursuline Sisters of the Western Province as a defendant, is the second in as many weeks that claims child rape and molestation at the hands of clergy decades ago in western Montana.

It alleges the mother superior and three nuns at the Ursuline Academy in St. Ignatius abused 22 of the plaintiffs from the 1940s to the 1970s. Another 21 plaintiffs were abused by priests who taught or were affiliated with the school, said plaintiffs’ attorney Blaine Tamaki.

“They want accountability. The perpetrators have never been criminally prosecuted, they’ve never been punished,” Tamaki said of the plaintiffs. “It’s unfortunate that the only accountability that remains for the victims is through the civil system.”

All 45 unnamed plaintiffs are American Indians, he said. Several of the alleged abusers are dead. Tamaki said he believes some are still alive, though the statute of limitations to pursue criminal charges has long passed.

Last week, 34 people filed a lawsuit the Helena diocese over similar clergy abuse allegations at Catholic schools in St. Ignatius and Missoula, also dating from the 1940s to the 1970s. Tamaki said the plaintiffs are different in each case, though the two lawsuits have similarities, including some of the same schools and clergy members accused.

Both lawsuits claim the Helena diocese was negligent in allowing the abuse to happen and that it knew clergy members were abusing children and did nothing about it.

A spokeswoman for the Ursuline Sisters did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

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Comments

  1. First Corapi, now this. Not a good year for Helena.

  2. The nuns should be punished just like priests—there is no excuse for them just because they are women. Child abuse is child abuse—no matter the gender of the abuser. Many of them are probably dead by now, but if not—trials and punishment for those found guilty—not in a church court but in a secular court.

  3. What ever happened to statute of limitations? This thing is over 40 years old for the last cases and over 70 years old on the first ones. Not sure how you defend that since it seems when someone comes forward against the Catholic Church on these issues you are guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent. Throw in the massive settlements with lawyers taking huge chunk and you have serious issues with fairness. The case should have to have very strong proof more than she said they said. At some point, this has to stop.

    I am not supporting abuse of a child, but somehow there has to be a reasonable length of time to forget it and move on. I mean we are talking FDR days here folks. How about suing the Roosevelt clan for FDR refusing to help with anti lynching legislation and blacks being lynched for many more years as a result.

    I know I will be bashed on this statement, but frankly it is getting old and it is all aimed at the Catholic Church. How about the millions of kids abused in the public schools system? If kids are the issue, lets start going after everyone who touches a kid and given them massively long sentences in jail. I see too much of this as hatred toward the Catholic Church, greedy lawyers and clients who see easy pickings. Saw this story yesterday on folks lining up to get theirs for Tropical Storm Irene. Take a look at the lines and it is easy to see why we are running out of money for disaster relief.
    http://www.courant.com/business/hc-fema-lines-20110926,0,4511494.story

  4. Greta why is it that I can always count on Catholic abuse apologists to make THE most eloquent and impassioned arguments for moral relativism, bar none? Even Anton LaVey would be impressed. It’s only wrong if you get caught and if others are getting away with it it can’t be that bad…..

  5. The article doesn’t mention any specifics as to what exactly they did. I find it hard to believe, but I found the priest’s scandels hard to believe too. Lord have mercy.

  6. Kenneth,

    Why is it that any time a Catholic points to the ONGOING SCANDAL in the public schools (9.6% of public school children a according the the US Department of Education study by Carol Shakeshaft) I can always count on apologists for public school teacher abusers such as yourself to protect them by calling people such as Greta “Moral Relativists?”

    Why is it that the focus remains solely on the Catholic Church, which has had slightly over 11,000 allegations in over 50 years according to the John Jay study, and not on the 390,000+ children abused annually in public schools, according to Shakeshaft’s study?

    Oh! Wait! I know!

    The apologists for the public school pedophiles have lectured me endlessly.

    It’s because priests need to be held to a higher standard because of who they are and what they profess.

    So, it isn’t about keeping children safe. It’s about keeping priests holy.

    I get it.

    Thank you.

  7. Gerard – Outstanding! I need to remember that line of argument. I see the same Catholic bashing all the time elsewhere.

  8. Have to agree with Greta. This goes back to the 1940s?! Utterly absurd.

  9. Thanks Manny. It helps with folks on Staten Island (I’m in St. Clare’s)

    RomCath,

    It seems that having exhausted the supply of priests, it’s time to dig up nuns long dead and put them on trial.

  10. It seems that this has more to do with millions of dollars for lawyers than anything else.

    Said that, it is terrible and disturbing that abuse cases pop everywhere and in many countries indicating a patter of abuse that affected thousands of children in the U.S., Ireland, Australia, Netherlands, Mexico (Father Maciel) and other places. In many cases the abuse took place in the 40′s and 50′s before the so called “sexual revolution”. The Church should take a long hard look at the root of all that evil, because even though now many of the lawsuits are about money, they originate in real abuses.

    Beyond the generalization of sin and the devil and holiness or lack of it (which are correct), were there concrete particular problems with selection of candidates to priesthood or religious life? While abuse is common in other professions (teachers, summer camp instructors, etc.) the priesthood and religious are and should be held to higher standards and finding out the root cause should help prevent this from happening again.

  11. Richard Johnson says:

    I once heard a story told about a cancer patient. I do not know if it is a true story or not, but it seems relevant here.

    The patient was diagnosed with a very difficult form of cancer that was going to require both surgery and an extensive course of both cheotherapy and radiation treatment. The recovery from the surgery was painful and, due to the chemo and radiation, healing of the area was very slow.

    The weeks dragged on, and the pain continued unabated for the patient. Finally, during an update visit from the doctor, the patient told the doctor to stop the treatment. The pain was unbearable and could not be tolerated any further. The nausea and discomfort from the treatments themselves was maddening. And besides, the doctor had said that they were able to remove almost all of the cancer. What was to be gained from the continued torture? Had the doctor turned into some sort of sadist?

    So, treatment was stopped and the patient began feeling better. Eventually the incision area healed fully, and the body started returning to more normal function. And the pain was gone!

    After about six months, however, the patient started having more trouble, not unlike the symptoms prior to the surgery. Sure enough, a cat scan showed that the cancer had indeed returned, and was spreading to the point that it was now inoperable. Chemo and radiation could extend life but not cure the cancer.

    Six weeks later the patient died.

    As I see it a cancer has infected the Catholic Church. For many, many years it went unnoticed officially. Symptoms were covered up, bandaids put in place, and the residue simply discarded quickly lest the rest of the body suspect there was a problem.

    Eventually the problem came to a head, and the Church sought treatment for the cancer from the Great Doctor. Just like the patient above the treatment has been painful, and the extent of the surgery seems to be much greater than originally planned. But it is important that the cancer be fully removed.

    Yes, these actions took place during the Roosevelt era. Just like many of the other abuses, many years have passed since they happened. Yet there continues to be suffering and pain.

    God, the Great Doctor, is working on and in the Church to remove a cancer. From time to time there will continue to be revelations like this, I suspect, as more and more victims finally feel secure and safe enough to tell their story. The question before the Church now is this: will the Church continue the painful treatment that will eventually lead who wholeness and wellness, or will the Church seek to end the treatment prematurely, claiming that because some parts of the cancer are so old that they do not need to be excised?

    Accountability is part of healing. Confession and recompense is part of accountability. Avoiding them will prevent healing.

  12. Richard Johnson says:

    Gerard, you seem to believe that the negative reaction from the public (which I will admit seems disproportionate) is an evil thing. Have you ever given any thought to the notion that this may be from God? Was it not God who brought fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin? Was it not God who sentenced Israel, His chose people, to wander the desert for 40 years due to their transgressions? Was it not God who permitted Israel to be overrun and the people sent into exile due to their abandonment of His teachings?

    We are taught in the Bible that a loving parent will chastise their child when necessary. Is it not true that God loves His children more than any earthly parent could love their child? Then surely God will chastise those He loves in an effort to bring them back into a proper relationship with Him, will he not?

    To so quickly discount any challenge such as this by labeling it as merely an instance of Catholic (or Christian) bashing is to ignore what the Bible teaches. Do we not have the illustration of Xerxes, an unbelieving ruler who in spite of that was actively used by God to direct events in accordance with His will (see the book of Esther)? Why do we so quickly discount that God is not also using those “moral relativists” to also effect His will with the Church?

  13. Richard,

    The Shakeshaft report was issued in 2004. It is almost 8 years old.

    I do not think that the focus on the Church is an evil thing. I worked with teen prostitutes at Covenant House in Times Square, New York for 7 years in the 1980′s, if that gives some context for my deep disgust here.

    It isn’t that I don’t want the Chrch’s sins poibted out and cleaned up. On the contrary, it was long past due.

    What is evil is the EXCLUSIVE focus on the Church, which has the FEWEST incidents of abuse compared to the Protestants and the Public schools. THAT’S the evil I rail against.

    We’ve gotten to the point where society will applaud digging up dead nuns and putting their cadavers on trial before they’ll turn their attention to the hundreds of thousands of annual victims in the public schools.

    Does God want the Church purified and Catholic children safe and secure? Of course He does, Richard. But let me ask you this:

    Do you think that God wants the children in the public schools protected as well? Do you think God is so limited that He finds it an acceptable practice to let 3.12 million children be molested in public schools since the 2004 Shakeshaft study, just because the Church needs a good scrubbing?

    What possible justification can the MSM have for this continued silence, straining Catholic gnats (11,000 allegations in 50 years) while the public schools burn down around us?

  14. that should read “poiNted out…”

  15. What I think is utter evil is the fact that accusations are now being leveled against priests (and now sisters) who are long dead or so elderly they have no way to defend themselves. How do we know what happened in the 1940s? Why is it coming out now? How much of it is true?
    When I read the report on SNAP’s agenda that is on the Catholic League’s site my longtime suspicions were confirmed. This agenda has zero to do with healing victims and everything to do with cash and the ultimate destruction of the Church which we know will never happen.

  16. Richard Johnson says:

    Gerard: “What possible justification can the MSM have for this continued silence, straining Catholic gnats (11,000 allegations in 50 years) while the public schools burn down around us?”

    I think that at least part of the answer is found in Scripture, Gerard. Paul’s writings to Timothy contain the following instructions:

    1 Timothy 5:17-22

    “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.”

    As we learn more about this scandal the most disgusting thing about it is not the child abuse per se. It is the notion that a number of men in the leadership, having received credible accusations of said abuse, chose to do nothing to protect the children. We are seeing more revelations coming out of Kansas City about accusations not from the time of FDR but from 2 and 3 years ago regarding a priest abusing children and the leadership failing, once again, to follow procedure and protect the children.

    Gerard, God loves all children. I believe that you and I will readily agree on that. But I hope we can agree that, as outlined in Scriptures, God does hold the elders of His church (ministers, deacons, elders, priests, bishops, whatever titles you assign to these people) to a very high standard. Note that the instructions above are not to teachers, school administrators, Boy Scout leaders, or bus drivers. They are to those people called by God to take positions of authority in His church.

    I believe also that another part of the answer lies in the words of Jesus regarding how precious young people are in His sight.

    Luke 17:1-2

    “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

    Mark 10:13-14

    “And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

    Gerard, the actions of teachers, administrators, bus drivers, scout leaders, and others who abuse children are reprehensible. They deserve more publicity than they get, and having been involved in helping with several such investigations here are the school where I work, I perhaps have an even greater level of disgust than the average person for teachers who harm young people.

    But as bad as those cases are, I see the abuse in the church (not just the Catholic church, mind you, but all churches) as an even greater evil. A student who is abused may decide to drop out of school and get a GED because of it. A scout who is abuse by a leader may decide to drop out of scouting because of it.

    But what of the child who is abused by a trusted religious leader and decides to drop out of Christianity because of it? If, because of the actions of someone in church a young person decides to walk away from the gift of salvation in Christ, not only are they scarred for life but they have turned their back on eternal salvation, have they not?

    What do you suppose Jesus would say to the priest, pastor, or church teacher who abused a child and drove them away from the Cross? What do you suppose Jesus would say to the bishop, presbytery, or denominational leader who covered up for such an abuser who had driven multiple children away from the Cross?

    I know you are tired of hearing that the church should be held to a higher standard than the schools, scouting, or other groups. But please, take a moment and ask yourself this question: which organization…which group of people…could most easily drive away a child from the greatest gift God wants them to have? In my mind this is the main reason that clerics and their overseers need to be held to a higher standard. The stakes are monumentally higher.

    As for complaining about why the secular press acts as it does, you may as well complain about why the sun rises daily, why dirt gets muddy in the rain, or why water is wet. They are behaving according to their nature. To expect them to do otherwise is an exercise in foolishness, is it not?

    What is important here is how Christians, facing allegations of abuse within their congregations, denominations, church hierarchy, and the church universal, address these issues. If I have a leak in my roof I would be a fool to complain about the rain being wet when it came through. Likewise if you complain about the secular press highlighting the abuse in the church you are engaging in a foolish act, are you not?

  17. Richard,

    Respectfully, I must disagree with you here. A child who is abused suffers the same trauma regardless of where the abuse occurred. It isn’t just a matter of the rape victim from a secular environment quitting organizational affiliation.

    Recently a poor soul on FB wrote to me of how she was gang-raped 14 years ago and has been at war with God ever since, because God didn’t stop it when it was in his power to do so. I set her up with a good priest and a good therapist in her city, but her case is illustrative.

    God gets blamed regardless of where the rape occurs.

    You simply cannot in all good conscience justify the calumny against dead nuns as some sort of divine delousing and let the culture and the MSM get away with turning a blind eye toward the rape of millions in the public schools, and millions more at home from relatives. Your scriptural quotes apply equally to the parent and teacher who betray their sacred trust.

    The Church has been thoroughly deloused. We’re now digging up dead nuns and putting them on trial. In Brooklyn, we call that a clue.

    Your use of scripture as a set of blinders is profoundly disturbing.

  18. Richard Johnson says:

    Gerard: “A child who is abused suffers the same trauma regardless of where the abuse occurred.”

    We could only wish this to be true. Far too many times I have seen those children who make an accusation against their minister/preacher or other church leader not only have to face the trauma of the abuse but also face the trauma of the shunning that comes from congregants who doubt their story, even when the accusations are found to be credible.

    In two other threads recently we have seen instances somewhat like this. Followers of Father Pavone and Father Corapi come to the defense of these men, believing that any accusation against them is an attack against their ministry by Satan. So many of them refuse to entertain the notion that the accusations might be legitimate, or that the behavior of the priests might be less than appropriate.

    Years ago at a Baptist church I was attending in another community, a young girl made an accusation of abuse against her father, who was one of the associate pastors. The congregation immediately took sides against the girl and her mother, who had been with the daughter through months of Christian counseling. The investigation by DHS was inconclusive, and the pressure on the girl, her mother and sister was so intense that they left the church and moved to another community, eventually divorcing the father.

    Recently I heard that the father had died, and that on his death bed he confessed to the abuse of his child and two other children in the community. I have to wonder if any of the folks in the old church where the accusations first surfaced ever sought to apologize to the daughter and her mother?

    I can only imagine how hard it is to have to endure abuse from anyone you trust, let alone the abuse from others in that organization who, once you have the courage to speak out about it, accuse you of all sorts of calumny. It’s no wonder that abuse victims keep quiet for years.

    I pray that the truth will come out of all of this, and that once it is out it can be used to promote healing.

  19. I’d be very interested to see some evidence of a massive and systematic cover-up of abuse in public schools. I was in the news business for almost 20 years and I saw firsthand how these cases, and Church cases, were handled. In the case of public schools and similar institutions like park districts, offenders were off the job THE SAME DAY as allegations were made. Police were notified that day, and the offender was in irons the minute the police felt they had developed a chargeable case, usually within a week or two. That was true even in cases where the guy in question had been a “teacher of the year” or highly regarded or connected.

    Now, let’s take a look at the dozen or so cases involving priests that I covered. Their day in court, when it came at all, came 15 to 40 years after the allegations, which were systematically and deliberately concealed from law enforcement under written organizational policies demanding such an approach.

    Not only did the offenders superiors not inform law enforcement, they went the extra step of bribing and/or intimidating the victim and then transferred the offender across state and even international borders to help them elude prosecution and to give them fresh opportunities to offend. That goes way beyond “not handling things as well as we would have liked.” That’ organized crime.

    Is it possible my mid-size Midwestern community was not entirely the norm? Of course. As good old Don Rumsfeld said, “we don’t know what we don’t know.” It’s entirely possible that colleagues or even principals have covered up for accused teachers, but the idea of a massive cover-up is less plausible. Public school teachers and almost everyone else in that setting is a mandatory reporter in every state. That means you have to report any allegation or suspicion you have to authorites, or risk jail yourself. The Church has fought those kind of requirements tooth and nail.

    Public schools do not have the ability to transfer offenders out of state, much less out of the country. I would also be very surprised if anyone can produce a written policy from a school board or superintendent demanding that abuse allegations be hidden from police or public disclosure.

    One other thing that bears mention: The Shakeshaft report is based on such shabby methodology that its conclusions are virtually worthless. It cites lots and lots of things, but draws its data from a tiny handful of studies which themselves have so little comparable empiracal data that Shakeshaft didn’t even bother attempting a proper meta-analysis. The main study Shakeshaft draws upon, the one you get the 9.6% abused study, is even shakier.

    It was conducted by an organization with a feminist agenda which basically asked students if they had ever experienced anything unwelcome in their school careers. That included a huge range of things like inappropriate jokes or comments and unwelcome conduct from other students as well as teachers. It was a survey about harassment, not abuse. I’m not excusing schools that permit a hostile atmosphere, but I hope we can all agree that dirty jokes and student-on-student lewd behavior is not even in the same league as serial rape of a youngster by staff.

    The estimates of 3-some million children abused are not data. They are wild speculation. I would not have lasted five minutes before my thesis committee with such “data.” It would not even pass muster for the casual Friday morning seminars we hold.
    Any way you cut it, being an apologist for abuse is a sad business. For the sake of argument, I’ll accept your claim, unsupported though it may be, that abuse happens in public schools at substantially higher rates than within the Church. You’re arguing that therefore, the Church’s rates of abuse are “pretty good” and thus we all have to just lay off. That is moral relativism any way you serve it up. Moreover, it betrays the idea that the Church ought not to measure itself by the world’s standards.

    We seem to be forgetting in this whole discussion that we’re not just talking about your average peccadillo or moral shortcoming. Child abuse is the ONE thing that Jesus advocated summary execution for. I’m not one of his followers, so I’ll leave y’all to sort that out with Him in due course. I’ll satisfy myself with earthly justice, which means that every priest, bishop, public school teacher and principal who abuses or enables abuse should spend the rest of their days in prison.

  20. RE: Gerard #17

    I doubt the Church is deloused. I doubt even more that the systemic problems that caused these scandals have been adequately addressed — and I further doubt if they ever will be addressed. We know it has been a problem for decades and the suspicion is that it has been for centuries.

    A comparison to public schools or other institutions is irrelevant. These abuses DID occur at the hands of the religious of the Catholic Church and the issue is rightly confronted no matter how much time has elapsed.

  21. That abuse of infants, prepubescent and adolescent children has happen inside the Church has no excuse whatsoever regardless of the number or if it happens in other places. That should not happen in the Church of Jesus Christ period. Yes, the devil attacks the Church with ferocity but what has happen with the ineptitude or complicity of bishops is just inexcusable. Why so many pederasts inside the Church wearing clerical garb throughout the years?

    I agree with Richard, the purification was needed. But also the forces that would like to see the Church destroyed have used this to their full advantage, including the lawyers who see dollar signs all over the place without caring for the victims one wit.

    The prevention starts at the seminaries and by having less secrets and more accountability.

  22. I think Richard in a way makes my point. His take on this is that the Catholic Church should be held to a higher standard of law that someone else like teachers. He quotes scripture. I think he might be right when it comes to how Jesus will judge us, but it should never happen in American courts or law. Can anyone site any legal basis that justifies this seemingly sole focus other than deep pockets discovered by lawyers? Could it be that the teachers who work for the cities are thus not a focus because many times it is hard to get to city money as they are often protected from massive awards of money and also juries that are not as eager to give huge monitary awards of tax money? One thing is clear if viewed with an open mind and that is this is and never has been about the kids with the majority of the attacks. Dissenting groups have been formed who said it was about the abuse of kids, but as noted above, one look at their agenda items or meeting minutes shows the focus is using the crisis to tear down the church.

    There are lawyers who have become millionaires by suing the Catholic Church like Jeffrey Anderson and Roderick MacLeish Jr. How about this quote..Mr. Anderson welcomed the onslaught, saying, ”I am a man in frenzy in search of chaos.”

    That frenzy has been focused for almost 20 years now on battling the Catholic Church. He has represented more than 400 people who say they were abused by priests, and he estimated that he had won more than $60 million in settlements from Catholic dioceses.

    “Mr. Anderson says he is driven not by money but by anger. He traced his fury at the church to the social movements of his college days. (Since it was not about money, why did he not just do this pro bono and let the abused kids keep the money??)

    ”I got agitated in the late 60′s and became a rabid antiwar activist,” he said. ”I went to law school because I felt powerless as a hippie. I went on to become an underground activist on the inside of the power structure.”

    And another..Joyce Seelen, a Colorado lawyer who has represented 30 to 40 plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases involving the Catholic Church, remembered accepting an abuse case in the early days for want of anything better.

    Lawyers involved in cases against the Church share information, cultivate the same expert witnesses and lobby legislatures, mostly to extend statutes of limitations.

    It is and has become an industry dedicated to getting ever more money from the Catholic Church and for many former hippies who hate the Church and any authority, a mission.

    I have no idea as to the guilt or innocence of these nuns. But at some point, it has to stop and the lawyers need to find another sugar daddy. I would hate to try to defend myself on an accusation that I did something to someone in 1940 when the judge and jury where pretty set to consider me guilty walking into the courtroom. There is a reason for statute of limitations and this should be a good example of a system gone haywire. It gets air out of the hatred for the Catholic Church, hungry and greedy lawyers, and is fed by Catholics in dissent against the leadership of the Church with other agenda’s. Take away the money and simply put folks in jail for crimes proven beyond reasonable doubt and this “scandal” would have never gained traction as is seen in the school abuse. So anyone who thinks this is about kids is smoking something that is also illegal. This story should finally be proof of that fact. Give me a break…

  23. Greta #3: IMO there should never be a statute of limitations on child abuse–or rape of an adult for that matter. The damage not only physical but emotionally never goes away. Whether the accused is still alive or not makes no difference—-if the abused finally has the courage to tell someone then they should. In this case it is the nuns of a particular order. I expect the persons bringing up the abuse are not young anymore since some were abused in the 1940′s—-so they could be about my age—mid 60′s. I sincerely hope that most are not out for $$$, and I’m sure some are—but the church needs to know that this happened. (and of course hopefully be able to get at the truth somehow).
    There has been too much cover up by too many of the leaders for too long in the Church—which is not news to anyone. If indeed some nuns were taking advantage of their positions—-that needs to be take care of also—just like the priests (who apparently in some cases are still taking advantage of their positions—even now).

  24. Kenneth,

    I’m not responding to wild assertions about the Shakeshaft study. If you bothered to read it, 7% of students report actual physical abuse. But I know this game that Ph.D.’s play, I’m a member of the club. Make nonspecific attacks on methodology to cast suspicion on something to which you are ideologically opposed. It’s not very intellectually honest.

    You also seem to be forgetting that the justice department estimates that there are 39 million victims of sex abuse in America. The 11,000 allegations against Catholic clergy from a 50 year period would account for 2/100 of 1% of that 39 million.

    Tell the remainder of the victims why the identity of their abusers doesn’t merit them the same attention from society and the MSM because they weren’t molested by a priest, or now, a dead nun.

    Go and publish that, and then come and talk to me. I worked with thousands of teen prostitutes in Times Square, and none ever allege having been raped by a priest.

    You people who dismiss the bulk of the victims and justify it with some nonsense about keeping the Church pure are really starting to sound as creepy as the molesters themselves.

  25. ANY organization which did what the Church did, to frustrate real justice for decades on end and to shield predators, deserves whatever greedy attorneys can do to them. Most of these victims would have been willing to let it go decades ago if they had gotten some real acknowledgement of their suffering and if they had been assured the perpetrator would be taken out of circulation.

    The Church is getting off very very easy in all this. Any other organization on Earth which did what they did would be dismantled brick by brick by RICO prosecutions and asset forfeitures.

  26. There are those who see the abuse and grieve for the Church because it is Holy, and miscreants have defaced it and acted inside her to consummate their evil. We grieve because we lover her. Then there are those who hate the Church and see this as their chance to lash out and hate her more. Anger and hatred will lead nowhere. The Church has seen dark days but the Church is not the pederasts and the abusers, they belong to the devil and justice will come. The Church is the Church of the Saints and it will triumph in the end.

  27. Exactly what evidence is there that any abuse took place? Are they going to exhume the dead nuns and have them testify? It is all utter nonsense.

  28. Richard Johnson says:

    Rudy #21: “But also the forces that would like to see the Church destroyed have used this to their full advantage, including the lawyers who see dollar signs all over the place without caring for the victims one wit.”

    Satan isn’t stupid. If you hand him a weapon he will use it. Yes, the attacks are trying to take down the Church. But had the Church dealt with this properly generations ago they would not be facing it now.

    Greta, one again I point to Scripture and the numerous examples of how God used the ungodly to chastise His own. You say that the judgement should never come through American courts. Indeed, the Bible agrees. However, when the church refuses to administer justice using the methods God has given it, should we not expect a merciful God to implement justice using other means?

    I’ll bow out of this before I am called for using more than my quota of responses. Unfortunately, I fear there will be ample opportunities in the future to continue this discussion.

  29. I’m not dismissing the bulk of victims at all. I’m simply pointing out that there is no decent body of evidence to establish that physical abuse of students by adults in public school systems is any more or less prevalent than in religious ones. Nor do absolute numbers tell us anything. The size of the public school systems and its populations are many orders of magnitude larger than Catholic schools.

    We would expect to find far more cases of abuse in the public system under any conceivable scenario. What matters is the incidence of abuse – ie number of incidents of abuse per 100,000 or per hour or student-teacher contact time or what have you. There are simply no quality studies out there to establish how those things stack up in secular vs religious settings. My gut tells me the incidence of abuse is probably very similar across all settings. Abusers are opportunists, and they turn up in all professions which enable access to victims. The existence of abuse in both systems is not the issue. The issue is what is done or not done to address it, both proactively and reactively.

    Whatever percentage of priests abused and whatever percentage of their victims and how that stacks up against other settings is irrelevant. The fact is that bishops have failed to do the right thing about it 100% of the time, actively colluding with offenders against their victims. I have no doubt whatsoever that the public schools far too often do not address the problem properly either, but to my mind, that argues for cracking down across the board, not for giving one or the other party a pass since you think the other one is getting away with something.

  30. In the 1960′s-1970′s, psychologists advised that molesters could be cured. Priests weren’t shuffled around just to shuffle them; they were sent for treatment, pronounced “cured” and “given a fresh start.” Often, their alcohol abuse, which often accompanied the problem, was blamed. They were dried out and then moved to start over.

    Bishops didn’t think this stuff up on their own. They followed what the popular psychological thought was – secrecy was considered “discretion.”

    In the late 1970′s and onward, it became obvious that it wasn’t working, that they were repeating their behavior with impunity. NOW we have a different kind of fault – bishops who did move priests around, or take them out of ministry but did not acknowledge the abuse, or report them to the authorities. Nor were they obliged to report them to the Vatican. That changed under Benedict when he was in charge of the CDF – all cases had to be reported to Rome.

    Was everything perfect? Not by a long shot. Were bishops sometimes part of the subculture? Yes. Were other bishops just stupid and bad leaders? Yes. But was this a deliberate action to do evil things? No.

    I was sexually abused in a moderate way by a doctor in the 1970′s. I was 17 or 18. I didn’t tell my parents, I didn’t tell anyone at the time. Do I blame doctors or the AMA, and would I now go after him legally? No, it’s too long ago now. I lost my opportunity to blow the whistle. There is no way to prove it after this amount of time. Time to let it go, and I did, long ago. When I told a therapist years later, I felt relieved and could set it aside, let it run down the memory river.

    I’m afraid too many of these people are being induced to sue just so the attorneys can clean up in big fees.

  31. With respect to this issue, I often ask myself the question: “Why do I NOT feel as angry, outraged or threatened by the media attention to the sexual abuse scandals in the Church as many Catholics do?”

    I suppose it’s because my main feelings are hurt, shame and, outrage. Any anger I have is directed toward the Church officials who swept this issue under the rug and the covered it up in so many insensitive ways.

    I have heard stories of people who are turned off by the Church, because of what some nun or priest said to them and I said to them: “OK, now’s the time to grow up.”

    But this sexual abuse by clergy and religious is much more profound. It is violation of a person on a deep level and has consequences that can go beyond a person’s earthly existence, as Richard Johnson (#16) pointed out so well: “But what of the child who is abused by a trusted religious leader and decides to drop out of Christianity because of it.” As I learned in religious education course, a child, who has had a terrible father, will find it very hard to understand a loving God.

    Castigating the media as anti-Catholic or lawyers as money-hungry (which may or may not be true in all cases) and belaboring statues of limitations or quoting numbers of abuse in other social institutions distracts from the essential horror of what has been done to these vulnerable members in our Church. I’m just not willing to go in that arena.

  32. kenneth

    “The fact is that bishops have failed to do the right thing about it 100% of the time, actively colluding with offenders against their victims.”
    That’s a pretty serious charge. Active collusion would mean that a bishop, knowing a priest to be guilty, communicated with the priest to discuss how they could keep the victim from getting his due. How many instances of that, among all the cases of abuse, can you document?

  33. “The fact is that bishops have failed to do the right thing about it 100% of the time, actively colluding with offenders against their victims.”

    IN a word, absurd.

  34. Kenneth,

    Gee, for a Ph.D., you get all of your talking points from the editorial page of the New York Times.

    C- for orginality.

    Loveyour quote:

    “The Church is getting off very very easy in all this. Any other organization on Earth which did what they did would be dismantled brick by brick by RICO prosecutions and asset forfeitures.”

    If that were the case, then there wouldn’t be one brick piled atop another in any public school. Further evidence that you never read the Shakeshaft report which shows how school boards have done the same as the bishops in moving pedophiles around within and between school districts.

    As for the Church getting off very easy in all of this…

    Well…

    No sense in talking sense to a hack.

  35. Gerard:

    “Kenneth,
    Gee, for a Ph.D., you get all of your talking points from the editorial page of the New York Times.”

    C- for orginality.

    Come on, Gerard. You don’t have to defend your position with this kind of put-down, do you?

  36. He wouldn’t have to if he had any decent moral reasoning or evidence on which to base his arguments. I can easily be written off as a hack, but that does not change the dimensions of the problem. If the abuse problem really is just spin by people like me and liberal news media and whatever other caste of undesirables you envision, how do you explain the departure, in 2010 alone, of a quarter of a million Catholics from the Church in Germany and Bavaria, almost entirely over this very issue?

    How do you explain Ireland? That was a country where Catholic identity was almost integral to people’s DNA. In the span of a few years, they’ve gone from the sheet anchor of Catholicism in the Western world to a place that’s about as Catholic as Cromwell’s England. Are these people all avid New York Times readers?

  37. Pagansister 23, there should never be statute of limitations… why do we have statute of limitations in our laws? It is very hard to prove anything one way or the other 60-70 years ago. It is hard to do when it is only 10 years. People’s memories are changed and often faulty. I find it amazing that many here arguing for prosecution of a crime 70 years old argue against the death penalty because someone might be falsely convicted because a witness changed their testimony a few years later. In the case of the Catholic Church, bias against the church on the issue of abuse almost makes it necessary for the one on trial to prove innocence or they will be found guilty.

    And “the church needs to know that this happened” is a joke. Do you honestly think anyone in the Catholic Church at any level does not know this has happened? The Catholic Church has set up the most protective environment for kids of any organization that deals with kids in the world. I would rather see my kid in a Catholic environment today than any public school. Many here are in denial on the abuse of kids in schools and in the home. Again, if we care about the kids, we should all be pushing for legislation that would make the schools as liable as the Catholic Church with the same fines and penalties and long jail terms for the crime and any cover up. We should make it as lucrative for lawyers to go after abusers in the schools as it is for going after the Church. If there was a multi million dollar pot for each abuse they could find, the stories about abuse in the schools would skyrocket. Denying that money is driving this is crazy at this point.

    kenneth says. “Most of these victims would have been willing to let it go decades ago if they had gotten some real acknowledgement of their suffering and if they had been assured the perpetrator would be taken out of circulation.” I agree that some of the bishops did not act properly, but as Therese Z 30 points out, many were following the lead of the professional medical experts at the time and doing everything they were advised to the letter. Later, when many found out that those with this sickness would never be cured, the thinking changed. But last time I looked, a person who is guilty of abuse of a child is not given a lifetime sentence with no possibility of parole even though we know they cannot be cured. So is society and the courts guilty if they turn lose an abuser and a child his raped? How many times do we see a child abuser who has a long record of prior abuse? Who is responsible for moving them around, and then setting them loose? Why is this not a lifetime sentence?

  38. kenneth 29, “The size of the public school systems and its populations are many orders of magnitude larger than Catholic schools.” So if we have more kids in a location and system, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure that this location and system was safe with even more attention than to one which had far fewer children?

    This argument would be like saying we needed to focus on a two person baby pool because one of two or 50% drowned but not bother with a pool that held 1000 when only 100 drowned because it was only 10%. Seems like you would be more concerned about the fact that 100 kids drowned over a place where one drowned….

    HMS “Castigating the media as anti-Catholic or lawyers as money-hungry (which may or may not be true in all cases) and belaboring statues of limitations or quoting numbers of abuse in other social institutions distracts from the essential horror of what has been done to these vulnerable members in our Church.”
    I think laying out an argument that says if abuse of kids is the main concern and that which we wanted stopped wherever it occurs is wrong, then I am guilty. I believe that laws should be enforced equally. When we have a law where the lawyers can make millions to pursue a crime by one person, but little if any by pursuing the exact same crime in another location on a child, there is something wrong with this in my view. If we have statute of limitations being waived against one group, but protected for others on the same crime, I have an issue with this. If we can target one group with massive headlines and media attention because of their faith, but ignore others for the same crime, I have a problem. What if we said that there will be no statute of limitations for muslims who commit a crime, but Catholics are protected by those statutes? Or how about blacks? Remember, those calling for changes in the statutes so far were doing so only in pursuing Catholics which is why they got in trouble with the courts. What if they said that because we see male homosexuals pursuing teenage boys, we want to make sure we are protecting the boys and thus want to target homosexuals?

    And Gerald 34 quote was indeed on target. Kenneth comment was looney on RICO. It was designed for use of gangsters who were plotting from the top to commit crimes. I do not think there has been any proof that the bishop was the leader of a ring to go after and abuse kids by his priests. They may have foolishly followed legal and medial advice and did not act fast enough. They might have even had the same sickness in going after predominantly young men. Even some of the attorneys who have been actively involved in suing the church thought this was wildly wrong to think of RICO.

    kenneth 36. many did leave the church over the last 30 years in various places and some may have done so over the abuse. However, many used it as an excuse. If one truley believes what the Catholic Church teaches and all the amazing things the Church has done over the centuries, leaving because a couple % of priest were gravely disordered and gave in to sin should never be an excuse to leave. To do so only shows their faith was not very deep.

  39. Greta #37: Would you suggest that murder, for example, have a statute of limitations —-because after 30, 40 years or maybe even longer, that it isn’t important to punish the person who committed the crime—or at least know who committed the murder? IMO, abuse/rape are just as heinous as murder. If that attitude were prevalent the men/women who were responsible for the Holocaust, for example, wouldn’t have been brought to justice as long as 50 years later. Certainly those nuns who have died can’t defend themselves, but that’s life. But if they were guilty of mistreatment of children it should be remembered that the children couldn’t defend themselves then either.

  40. One has to wonder why the Blaine Tamaki Law Firm only goes after priests and nuns in the Catholic Church. He and his lawyers will be the only winners here; they are set to make a bundle, as well as names for themselves in this now high-profile media case.

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