A Different Priestly Scandal – the falsely accused…

“… His accuser died of a cocaine overdose in his mother’s house, but not before exonerating the priest by admitting the falsity of his accusation.

But all that notwithstanding, the bishop in his diocese has not moved – dared? – to reinstate this good man and return him to his proper standing in the priesthood, or even to give a public apology for his unjust treatment. Nor has the press that stirred up the atmosphere of high-tech lynchings revisited his case (and hundreds if not thousands of others) to clear them of this horrible wrong.

Very few raw accusations that have emerged since the priestly abuse crisis erupted were ever subject to due process and full discovery and an open trial. In America, citizens have a right to their innocence until proven guilty. This good man was never given a hearing. He is still being punished…

… I do not understand why the Catholic Church has not fought for a civil process that gives these good men, innocent until proven guilty, fair trials. I do not understand why the American courts do not do this. I do not understand why the American press is not fighting mad about that. I do not understand why the ACLU is not leading this charge – they have a reputation for defending the unpopular victims, the publicly vilified victims.” [full article here]

It’s something I do not understand either. I can understand why the media won’t do this; they have too much invested in making the Church out to be the enemy. That lie sells. Never mind the proven facts, that a child is more likely to be molested by parents, a family friend, or their school teacher.

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  • Tanya

    First up:  The ACLU?  *cough-cough-gag* Puhh-leeeze! 

    Kat, regarding your last sentence… and I picked a lib article on purpose:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-tarico/the-protestant-clergy-sex_b_740853.html

    But for the Conservative minded…. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,286153,00.html

    JUST say’n…

    Unfortunately the Church, in this country at least,  has adopted a knee-jerk reaction to remove anyone accused. Even if the case is unfounded, the priest is left with just the stain of the appearance of being accused. Maybe the answer lies with the Bishops. I don’t know. It’s not right. St. John Vianney, pray for us!

     What I do know, and what is clearly proven, is that isn’t about priests and celibacy. 
    The End.

  • L.

    I understand that it is a terrible injustice, when an innocent person is accused of crimes he didn’t commit, and suffers as a result.

    Let me get this straight, though: In this particular case, a falsely accused priest, whose victim has recanted, has not been reinstated to his diocesan standing by his bishop — and the primary blame for this lies NOT with his bishop but with A) the media, and B) the ACLU? Yeah, let’s throw stones at the messengers some more.

  • gina101

    Imagine how many innocent priests have been falsely accused by the plentiful, agenda-driven haters of the Church?  “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  May God have mercy on their souls.

  • Jenne

    If there are this many unjustly accused then we have priests that need our spiritual support to offer this up with Christ’s suffering for the purification of the Church.  They are being singularly asked to make reparation for these atrocities.  It is not that they are unjustly treated.  If they belong to Christ, they are where they need to be and we need to support them in prayer.  God’s ways are not our ways, as tragic as the situation is, Christ has won all and simply asks our cooperation for our own good.  May they be given the grace to withstand this “ministry” of humiliation for all our good.

  • kenneth

    “Very few raw accusations that have emerged since the priestly abuse crisis erupted were ever subject to due process and full discovery and an open trial….”Um, yeah. That’s because your own church and the accuses priests own superiors actively thwarted and evaded the justice system in the same ways as organized crime historically has done! This is an organization that for 60 years and more helped men accused of serious felonies elude justice by interstate and international flight, bribing and intimidating of witnesses and destruction of evidence. Now I’m supposed to cry in my beer because the fugitives “didn’t get their day in court” to clear their name? That’s funny as hell, and also tragic. Here’s the thing about courts and investigations and aquittals and exonerations: It’s like the lottery. You can’t win if you don’t play. The Church has for decades had written policies and after that, an unspoken culture that seeks to conceal criminal accusations from legal authorities at all costs. They’ve done that because the know most of the accusations to be credible, even from their amateurish internal investigations. Innocent men are sometimes falsely accused. Men who draw accusations from dozens of independent victims at three or four postings over their career….not so much.  

    What’s all this talk about the Church needing to “fight for a civil process in which men are presumed innocent.” We got one of those. It’s been around for the better part of two and a half centuries (8 or so if you want to include the English tradition from which it derives). It’s got all those fancy buttons and menus (presumed innocence, fair trial), that you pine for. It’s plug and play, it’s conveniently located in your city or county, and best of all, it’s already paid for. But, like anything else in life, you gotta show up, and the facts can’t be heard fairly if you hide them from the system. Of course, it’s scary even for an innocent guy to get caught in the system, but you’ve got all sorts of neat tools at your disposal. For one, detectives are (mostly), not fools. They know how to spot and smoke out false accusations, figure out people’s motives and all that. I’ve personally witnessed more than a few people charged with making false reports for serious crimes after it became apparent the facts didn’t add up. Defense attorneys are another great feature of the system. They can also attack inconsistencies in your accuser’s story, cross examine the cops, and best of all, they work for no one but you.  If the Church really wants its falsely accused priests to get their day in court, it needs to get out of the habit of evading that day of reckoning in order to benefit the guilty.

    • Kristen indallas

      So do you think all people accused of any crime should have to go to court to prove their innocence (even if there is no evidence, and even if the police never indict them) or does that rule only apply to preists?

      Try swapping a different profession into your argument – teachers get falsely accused of stuff all the time. Sure, some do have big problems, but there are also plenty of cases of kids making stuff up to get even for a bad grade or detention. Would it be right for the media to make it out like all teachers are molesters? Would it be right for districts to react to that perception by making it a known policy that any teacher accused (no matter how far fetched the claim) be fired. Would it be fair to make it virtually impossible for those teachers to be reinstated even after their accuser confessed to making the whole thing up?

      • kenneth

        All people accused of any crime should have those accusations properly investigated by competent legal authorities ie law enforcement. Their cases should of course proceed to court only if there is evidence sufficient to prosecute. In the better part of two decades of journalism, I witnessed these scenarios play out both in religious and secular settings. In every single case that came to my attention, teachers in public schools and employees of park districts etc., as soon as an accusation was made, that person was removed from their duties or any setting where they could access children THAT day.  

        When cops decided there was evidence for charges, they were in irons inside of a week and placed upon appropriate bail with restrictions etc. There were some very few cases where the allegations were not found to be credible or the accuser was determined to have some malicious agenda and a story that didn’t add up. The accused in those cases were fairly quickly restored to their positions, and once people were satisfied that a proper and independent inquiry had cleared them, that was pretty well the end of it. Sometimes malicious accusers were even charged with false reporting etc.

         In 100% of the religious cases that came to light, the opposite was true. Allegations were deliberately hidden from authorities, either because the priest’s superiors knew them to be credible or sometimes because they convinced themselves internally in a whitewash investigation that it was “probably nothing.” The truth, when it came out at all, surfaced 15 to 40 years later. The order or the bishops had frequently moved the offender across three or more jurisdictions over decades, giving them access to fresh victims at each stop. These were not by any means all “ancient history” cases either. This continued well into the past several years, even after dioceses had written policies mandating reporting, precautionary removal from duty etc. In the toxic environment created by this culture, there is no room left for presumption of innocence for the falsely accused. When a pastor or bishop fails to report criminal accusations and actively obstructs justice, how can anyone be confident that the accused is really innocent and didn’t just “beat the rap” because evidence was destroyed or a statute of limitations was run out? 

  • Mr. WAC

    “Now I’m supposed to cry in my beer because the fugitives “didn’t get their day in court” to clear their name?”

    Yes, you should.

    Due process is afforded to all persons accused of a crime.  It is more than a good idea.  It is one of the pillars of Anglo-American jurisprudence.

    Likewise, in the Church, fundemental concepts of fairness and justice, along with the letter of canon law, demand that every person accused of a criminal act recieve due process.

    When due process is denied anyone, even heinous malafactors, we should all weep.

    • kenneth

      Yeah, but who’s doing the denying of due process? In essentially 100% of cases to date, the Church, left to it’s own devices, has failed to report allegations (of crimes), to legal authorities.  In doing so, they’ve helped a hell of a lot of guilty men evade justice to their dying day. The flip side is that innocent men who are accused, but not properly reported or investigated, cannot be conclusively cleared either. It has also destroyed the extraordinary presumption of innocence that clergy enjoyed for centuries prior. I feel bad for those few men who truly were wrongly accused, but they have no one to blame for their predicament other than their brother priests and bishops.