Finding Resolution

Finding Resolution June 18, 2011

There seems to be a lot of confusion over non-US legal systems and some intentional attempts to exploit prejudices in this regard.  There have been claims that there isn’t a presumption of innocence, which facially isn’t true.  Of course people make the argument that the presumption of innocence is a formality and in practice defendants are considered guilty until proven otherwise.  This argument is made about the US justice system, and this is the type of argument being made against civil code systems.  Another complaint is that the judge of first instance is an active participant in the investigation, able to call and depose witnesses, etc.  With this system, the judge of second instance reviews the evidence marshaled by the judge of first instance and rules, resulting in rulings that often match the determinations of the judges of first instance.

A reasonable argument over speed of resolution could be made if the party making the complaint wasn’t doing so at 90 days and himself not cooperating.   And by the way, the right to remain silent is only applicable for criminal proceeding in this country.  “However, in a civil case, the defendant must be available and cooperative for depositions and testimony as a witness in the trial.”  (Source)  Father Corapi has maintained that he was not accused of criminal conduct.  In a civil case, his cooperation would be expected.  The idea that a canon law proceeding would require cooperation is not unreasonable.  That an admission in a canon law proceeding could have implications in a civil proceeding is of course a reasonable basis for the accused not to cooperate, but that is hardly the fault of the Church.  In the same breath though, what the Church would ask you to produce is not greater than what you would be required to produce in a civil proceeding.

As much as I would like to speculate on the actual happenings in the Father Corapi situation, I obviously can’t.  There is simply no evidential basis to do so.  This is a case where one side is making claims.  In such a case, the most one can do is assess whether the claims are reasonable.   For the record, not all of Father Corapi’s claims are spurious.  Obviously Americans are going to tend to favor the legal system they live under.  I have known a priest who was suspended pending an investigation, and was acquitted.  If memory serves, it took about six months, and that was over a 20-year-old allegation.  In the end, I’m left thinking that there is information we haven’t been given.  The accusation put forward of inappropriate relations with a subordinate is not the most uncommon accusation, and even if true doesn’t typically result in a too severe penalty.  Credible evidence is typically seen as the markers found in any other romantic relationship.  While one can’t prove a negative, no one asks that it be done.

One of the things that has bothered me is the idea that Father Corapi has been victimized by the Church.  The man has become spectacularly wealthy from the Church.  He has been able to live a jet setting lifestyle that few people, within or outside the Church, have been able to do.  This has been the case for over a decade.  What Father Corapi has had is a 3-month suspension of faculties while an investigation of misconduct on his part is conducted.  This does not have the marking of an abusive relationship, at least not in the direction claimed.

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One response to “Finding Resolution”

  1. We learn today that the real impediment to investigation was Father Corapi himself.
    He threatened witnesses with civil liability if they violated nondisclosure agreements.

    “In canon law, there can’t be any pressure on witnesses; they have to be completely free to speak. The investigation was compromised because of the pressure on the witnesses. There were other witnesses that also had signed non-disclosure agreements,” said Father Sheehan.

    “The canon lawyers were in a difficult situation, and Father does have his civil rights and he decided to follow his legal counsel, which he had a right to do,” he said. “We tried to continue the investigation without speaking to the principal witnesses.”

    My understanding, which with $5 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks, is that these NDAs would have been blown up in a civil proceeding. This does however put the lie to the idea that Father Corapi is a victim in this.

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