Consumer Justice Attorney Joseph Saunders Personal Injury Web Blog. Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education. Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum

Recently in Sex Abuse in the Church Category

Father Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia publically advocated for the ordination of women and was excommunicated by Pope Francis.

Father Carlos Urrutigoity was accused of molesting boys in Shohola and Moscow, PA, and was transferred to a parish in Paraguay - where he now holds the number 2 position in his diocese.

Neither of these cases surprises me, nor did the testimony of the Vatican's U.N. ambassador to the U.N.'s Convention Against Torture in Geneva yesterday. When pressed about the Catholic Church's responsibility in cases of priests sexually abusing children, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi responded strongly, "It should be stressed, particularly in light of much confusion, that the Holy See has no jurisdiction over every member of the Catholic Church."

Tomasi continued "The Holy See wishes to reiterate that the persons who live in a particular country are under the jurisdiction of the legitimate authorities of that country and are thus subject to the domestic law and the consequences contained therein. State authorities are obligated to protect, and when necessary, prosecute persons under their jurisdiction."

Tomasi might have well told the U.N. Committee, "It's not our problem."

The difficulty here is in understanding how a church insists on total jurisdiction over all doctrinal issues, but then claims none when the shepherds of the faith sexually abuse children?

There has been much attention paid to Pope Francis since his ordination. He has publically apologized to the victims of sexual abuse, and established a Vatican committee to look into the problem of sexual abuse by priests. But apologies do little to help victims or prevent further abuse, and the Vatican Committee on Abuse has done nothing to date.

Which is why Tomasi's testiomony before the U.N. came as no surprise. Since the ordination of Pope Francis the Vatican has waged an all out PR war in trying to convince the world they want to fight sexual abuse. In reality they have done very little, and Archbishop Tomasi put the world on notice yesterday that it is back to business as usual.

If you are in the employ of the Catholic Church and speak out in support of gay marriage, the ordination of women, or birth control you will lose your job.

If you rape a child, you can put in for a transfer.

Click Here To Visit Our Dedicated Sexual Abuse Website

boy-scout-sexual-abuse-lawsuit.jpgA huge archive of private records kept by The Boy Scouts of America was made public on October 19, 2012.The records have revealed that Boy Scout officials were aware of a large number of adult scout masters who molested children between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. The scouting officials kept records of the pedophile scout masters and attempted to remove some but failed to report the crimes to police. Most state laws require that any person who is aware of child abuse make a report to the police so that the molester can be investigated by the police and prosecuted in the criminal courts. The records reveal that the Boy Scout policy was to keep these reports of child molestation secret from the public, the parents of scouts, and the police. The records show that the Boy Scout officials were fearful of scandal or bad publicity and put this concern ahead of concern for the safety of the boys in the organization. This is the same type of approach that the Catholic Church employed that ultimately led to the huge scandal that unfolded for the Church and the hundreds of lawsuits that were filed against the Church over the last decade.

More than 14,500 pages were released following a June ruling of the Oregon Supreme Court including details of 1,200 sexual predators in the organization who sexually molested or abused thousands of children and forced them to suffer in silence. The records, officially known as the Ineligible Volunteer Files and informally dubbed as "the perversion files," by the Boy Scouts of America circles were presented under seal to support a 2010 sex abuse lawsuit filed by six former scouts.

Previously, only summary information from files was made public. This time complete internal communications, hand-written notations and opinions of Boy Scout executives were released.

Click Here To Visit Our Dedicated Sexual Abuse Website

The Oregon lawsuit also resulted in a $20 million damages jury verdict for the six plaintiffs who were molested by their scout leader in the 1980s.
The released documents offer information about at least 15 incidents of sex abuse committed by Washington area volunteers between 1960 and 1984. The information includes names of alleged sexual predators, while the identity of victims has been protected in the documents before they were released in public domain. The list of perpetrators includes many names subject to criminal prosecutions for molestation of children. However, it is not clear if their prosecution was a result of these files.

According to a document presented by the Boy Scouts of America before the Washington State Supreme Court in August 2007, the Scouts fired about 180 leaders every year following sexual abuse complaints.

Media Reports on Boy Scout Sexual Abuse

Los Angeles Times Report, 2012

An investigation report, published in the Los Angeles Times on September 16, 2012, highlighted how the Boy Scouts of America kept under wraps news of sexual abuse of hundreds of children and did not report the molesters to police for over two decades. Allegations by victims against adult volunteers were suppressed and culprits were quietly transferred. The LAT reporters examined about 1,600 confidential files on sexual abuse of scouts between 1970 and 1991.

In more than 100 cases, officials suppressed the complaints and shielded those accused. The newspaper also highlighted how those accused or suspected of molesting children were expelled by the Boy Scouts of America citing health conditions and on other pretexts. Many of them were allowed to return after a few years notwithstanding their tainted records. In 1972, when five scouts accused a Pennsylvania scoutmaster of rape and sexual assault, he was allowed to leave on the ground that he could not travel for work.

Washington Times Report 1991

In May 1991, a five-part report entitled "Scouts Honor" by the Washington Times blew the lid off sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America. The report was based on retrieved court records in 50 sexual abuse lawsuits filed by former scouts in more than 20 states. It published details of 350 Scout leaders compelled to leave the organization following sexual misconduct between 1971 and 1986. About 200 interviews with victims, Scout leaders, and lawyers were also published. The Washington Times reported that at least 1,151 Scouts were sexually abused by scoutmasters and seniors between 1975 and 1984. Abuses were more during campouts, sleepovers, and trips. The report concluded, "The Boy Scouts are a magnet for men who want to have sexual relations with children...Pedophiles join the Scouts for a simple reason: it's where the boys are."

Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

The 4 million-strong organization's Youth Protection program initiated in the 1980s failed to prevent molestation and abuse cases. There were over 3,000 sexual abuse incidents in the Boy Scouts of America until 2010 when the organization adopted a "zero-tolerance" policy toward those accused of sexual abuse. Previously, local Scout leaders were required to inform such incidents to the upper chain of command. Now they have been allowed to report the complaints directly to the local police. The following is a list of some well-known lawsuits involving the Boy Scouts of America.

In June 1982, former Florida Scoutmaster Joe Gibson was sentenced to jail after he was found guilty of molesting scouts during camps. Another Scoutmaster from Daytona Beach Lee Pontius was found guilty of molesting Boy Scouts multiple times in 1982.
In 1988, a former Maryland scoutmaster David McDonald Rankin was jailed after he was found guilty of threatening the Scouts to have sex with him.
In 2004, New York police arrested former Boy Scout leader James Molyneaux following sexual abuse complaints. He was accused to have sexually exploited children less than 13 years, between 1997 and 2000.

In 2008, Texas Scout leader Martin Turner was convicted on two counts of indecency and abuse of children committed 40 years ago. A former Massachusetts Scout leader Howard Curtis found guilty of raping a 13-year-old boy scout two decades ago. Another Texas Scout leader was also convicted of multiple sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy between 2003 and 2005.

In 2009, an ex- Utah Boy Scout Leader was sentenced for sexual exploitation of minors during his stint with the Scouts, between 2005 and 2006.
In 2011, the court found sodomy and sexual abuse charges brought by three men against former Alabama Scout volunteer Charles Donald Corley true and sentenced him.

In 2012, a report highlighted the case of a former scoutmaster with a history of sexual exploitation. Brad Stowell arrested in 1997 admitted to have sexually exploited 24 boys since 1989. He was recruited despite the fact that the Scout officials were aware of his previous conviction in molesting a 6-year-old in 1988.
The Boy Scouts of America secretly settled hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against its staff. According to the Washington Times, it paid close to $15 million to settle 50 lawsuits filed against it between 1986 and 1991. It paid another $61.9 million from its insurance reserve to settle an undisclosed number of cases until 2000. Rumors are rife that, in many cases, the compensation was staggering; however, it was not reported as the settlements were confidential.

With 500 more suits pending, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Roger Cardinal Mahony have agreed to settle 45 lawsuits for $60 million. The California law that extended the statute of limitations played a significant role in bringing about the resolution of these lawsuits and hopefully, healing to the survivors of priest sexual abuse.

The Rev. Anthony Mercieca has said he didn't "abuse" former Florida Rep. Mark Foley. According to the 69 year old priest, it's not unusual behavior for a Catholic priest to romp around naked in a hot tub with teenage boys. While his comments are incredible, they aren't that uncommon for sexual predators. Most perps refuse to recognize the criminal behavior that they've perpetrated on their underage victims.

Within a week, the Catholic Church in Florida has been rocked by the revelations of two more sexually abusive priests and two other priests who stole millions from the collection plate. Rev. Anthony Mercieca, now 69 and living on the Maltese island of Gozo, recalls touching former Congressman Mark Foley but not abusing him sexually. Mercieca seems incredibly unmoved by the damage inflicted by his nude romps in a Florida hot tub. The other abusive priest, Rev. Gustavo Miyares apologized last Sunday to his flock in Hialeah but not to his victim.

Orlando Christian Prep and former Bishop Moore High School coach Buck Lanham has been arrested on possession of child pornography as well as possession of marijuana. The high school coach could not be arrested for the other charge, having sex with a minor, because the statute of limitations had already expired. However, law enforcement officials believe there are other victims of Lanham.

If Rep. Mark Foley was the victim of a crime, he needs to identify the perpetrator in order to protect other minors. It's not enough that he's disclosed that he's a victim of sexual abuse, he needs to prevent future abuse by naming his accuser.

In all the political uproar, this message concerning the safety of our children has been lost. Just as the Catholic bishops thought first about protecting the institution, the Congressional leaders first considered their power and prestige rather than the safety of children.

That's the real story and the tragedy of the Mark Foley saga.

Now that Mark Foley has admitted that he was sexually abused as a young boy, he needs to go one step further and identify his abuser. I don't say this because I'm interested in more lurid details. However, the abuser needs to be identified because he or she may still be abusing other children.

This is the real horror in the Foley tragedy, the Congressional leaders failed to come forward about this story in much the same way that the Catholic bishops failed to recognize the criminality surrounding the actions of their priests.

The one thing that seems to be missing is the protection of children. Rep. Foley needs to come forward and identify the clergy person who abused him. Other children may still be in danger if this person is still alive. It's not enough that he's come forward and stated he's been abused, he has sponsored legislation to protect children while a member of Congress. Now, he has an obligation to inform the public who abused him.

Pastor Russell Brown was arrested Monday night on charges he molested three young boys who attended his church, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. He is accused of three felony counts of lewd and lascivious behavior. Prior to his arrest, he had been pastor of the church for 20 years. In all, there are six children that have come forward to accuse Brown of sexual abuse between the years 1999-2006.

As the Diocese of Venice, which includes Sarasota, prepares to welcome a new bishop, we can only hope that this new prelate will deal with the scourge of sexual abuse more openly and honestly than his predecessor, Most. Rev. John Nevins. Nevins has a long history of transferring, covering up, and protecting abusive priests. In fact, in one notorious case, he set up the offending priest with money and a new job in Ireland! Time for him to retire and depart.

This past week it was revealed in the press that a Catholic priest from India serving in the Panhandle has been charged with sexual abuse of a minor. The Diocese responded that nothing untoward had been revealed in its background check of the priest. Of course, nothing was revealed since so few of these tragic cases are ever prosecuted in court. Clergy sex abuse can only be stopped when the crimes are brought out in the light of a courtroom.

Last week, the Diocese of Orlando and the Archdiocese of Miami settled claims against them by victims of clergy abuse. The settlements involved priests who've been notorious abusers in the past. Unfortunately, the patterns and policies of cover-up and deception were never revealed as a result of these settlements. Since the beginning of the year, I have been successful in winning three Motions to Dismiss filed by the Church and her lawyers. This means that in these three instances the victims are going to be able to proceed with their claims in a courtroom, at least for now.

Monsignor Dale Fushek, founder of Life Teen and the former No. 2 man in the Diocese of Phoenix, has had his sex trial put on hold until an appeal is heard. The appeal centers around Fushek's request for a jury trial rather than a trial in front of a magistrate. The defense has contended that the allegations are spurious because they involve the counsel Fushek gave boys regarding sexual sins.

The Vatican announced today the appointment of two bishops to new posts in the United States. One of them, Bishop Donald Wuerl will be moving from the relatively obscure but heavily Catholic area of Pittsburgh to the metropolitan and politically charged Archdiocese of Washington. Wuerl, a former lieutenant of John Cardinal Wright, studied and worked in the Vatican before being ordained a bishop in 1986. Within Catholic circles, Wuerl has the reputation of an erudite, skilled manager who's enforced the "No Tolerance" policy on sex abuse predators. We'll have to wait and see what he does in Washington. As you know, his predecessor, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, lobbied hard against any civil reforms in Maryland that would have helped victims of clergy abuse.

The other appointment comes in the wake of the retirement of Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch. He will be replaced by J. Peter Sartain of Little Rock Arkansas. Imesch was recently embroiled in scandal for his mishandling of a clergy sex abuse case dating back to the 1960's.

Phil Baniewicz, co-founder, President and CEO of the popular Roman Catholic youth retreat movement Life Teen, has resigned from his position. He is also a named defendant in a civil lawsuit alleging they and another priest sexually abused a teenager in 1985. Monsignor Dale Fushek faces a criminal trial starting June 2nd.

A judge in Monsignor Fushek's sex case has decided to not allow defense attorneys to question witnesses about their sexual history. Fortunately, the judge recognized the tactic for what it is- a bullying tactic to dissuade witnesses from testifying against the powerful priest. Fushek will stand trial June 2nd for misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, assault and indecent exposure

In an obviously cynical and calculated move, the attorneys for Monsignor Dale Fushek are now bullying the witness victims of the priest accused of the sexual abuse of numerous boys in Arizona. The defense attorneys are deposing these witnesses and grilling them about their sexual history and their orientation. One witness, Brian Jones, refused to answer the questions citing their utter irrelevance. Fushek's lawyers filed a motion to compel him to answer the questions.

This is clearly a move calculated to intimidate and prevent further witness testimony against the former founder of Life Teen. It is also a desperate move by a man bent on destroying others. I don't see anyone on the Fushek side asking the question, "What would Jesus do?"

Monsignor Dale Fushek, founder of the popular Life Teen movement in the Catholic Church will go to trial on for sex abuse charges. Fushek, a former pastor of St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Mesa, is charged with engaging teen boys in sexually explicit conversations, inappropriately touching them and exposing himself.

The Catholic Diocese of Burlington settled a sexual abuse lawsuit on the eve of trial against a serial predator priest, Fr. Edward Paquette. The settlement is considered the largest settlement in the history of the rural diocese. In a statement after the settlement, the Diocese acknowledged that it had made mistakes in handling allegations against the former priest.

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