Monthly Archives: April 2011

Catholic League’s “Straight Talk” About Priest Sex Abuse

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights took out a full-page ad in the NY Times today. The ad is entitled “Straight Talk About the Catholic Church”. Bill Donohue, the League’s pugnacious president apparently authored the piece.
While the ad purports to be “straight talk” about the Catholic Church, most of the arguments offered are tired re-treads of what the Catholic bishops have been saying for years. In one instance, Donohue states, “The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight-they weren’t children and they weren’t raped. We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape).”
So, Donohue’s group is now splitting hairs and talking about “adolescents” rather than “children” which gives one the impression that it’s not as bad if an adolescent is sexually abused. That is just the type of reasoning that has caused such a problem for the Catholic Church. An adolescent boy or girl should never, ever be touched “inappropriately” by any adult. Furthermore, we’ve found that the euphemism “inappropriate touching” has been used in the Church documents as code for what any normal adult call sexual abuse.
In the same paragraph, Donohue concludes that the “issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.” Really? Homosexuality is an attraction to a member of the same sex. It also implies that if the attraction is consensual, it’s a homosexual relationship. However, when an adult authority figure such as a priest makes unwanted sexual advances on an adolescent, that’s a crime. An adolescent isn’t capable of consenting to such a relationship. Donohue should know better.
Donohue also targets the grand jury process which he views as unfairly targeting Catholic priests. However, he fails to mention that the latest grand jury convened in Philadelphia was done so by a district attorney who is an active, devout Catholic. Unlike Donohue, he is able to distinguish between his Catholic faith and the criminal actions of priests who abuse minors and those in positions of authority who cover up for them.
Donohue’s NY Times’ ad didn’t do any favors for the Catholic Church. The public is tired of these lame excuses. They want corrective action. They want what we all want-our children to be safe and protected from sexual predators.

Johnson & Johnson Agrees to Pay $70 Million in Bribery Scandal

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $70 million to avoid criminal prosecution of bribery-related charges in the United Kingdom and the United States. The charges stemmed from an investigation of J&J business practices that found company officials offered bribes in return for the purchase of their medical device products. According to the Wall St. Journal, “As part of the settlement, J&J acknowledged responsibility for the actions of its units, employees and agents who made “various improper payments to publicly-employed health care providers in Greece, Poland and Romania in order to induce the purchase of medical devices and pharmaceuticals manufactured by J&J subsidiaries,” according to the Justice Department.
J&J also acknowledged that kickbacks were paid on behalf of J&J units to the former government of Iraq under the United Nations Oil for Food Program in order to secure contracts to provide humanitarian supplies. A UN-commissioned report had alleged more than 2,000 companies acquiesced to Iraqi government demands between 2001 and 2003 that they pay a 10% fee as a condition of importing humanitarian goods into the country. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 toppled Hussein’s government. J&J had informed U.S. authorities of possible violations of anti-foreign bribery laws in February 2007, a development that led to the departure of the head of the company’s medical device and diagnostics unit, Michael Dormer. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars U.S. companies from paying foreign government officials to obtain or retain business.”
The news could not come at a worse time for Johnson & Johnson or its subisidiary DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. DePuy is facing multidstrict litigation lawsuits for its failed DePuy ASR XL hip devices and possible multidistrict lawsuits for its DePuy Pinnacle hips which have not been recalled but have been the subject of widespread complaints of similar failures.

DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuits to Be Consolidated?

A motion has been filed to consolidate all DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits in MultiDistrict Litigation either as part of the already consolidated DePuy ASR XL litigation or as a separate MDL. The motion was filed as lawsuits begin to mount concerning problems with the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement.
If the motion is successful, lawsuits would be consolidated so that the discovery process and pre-trial proceedings are able to proceed in a coordinated fashion. Normally, such motions are successful if the court finds that factual issues among the various hip lawsuits are similar.
While the DePuy ASR XL has been recalled and removed from the market after numerous reports of hip failures, the DePuy Pinnacle has not been recalled. However, the Pinnacle metal-on-metal design has been reported to have similar failures and design flaws as the ASR XL. These include hip replacement patients reporting difficulty walking, pain in the joint area, swelling, and a general loss of mobility. As in the DePuy ASR XL models, there are some reports that the Pinnacle hips may lead to metallosis, metal poisoning resulting from the wear and tear of the metal-on-metal components rubbing against each other.

Teen Drinking and Auto Safety

A new study shows that 45% of teens surveyed didn’t see any problem with consuming five alcoholic drinks on a daily basis. The survey, part of a study released today by The Partnership at drugfree.org, shows a troubling lack of awareness concerning the potential adverse effects of heavy drinking among teenagers.
While the news article filed by the Associated Press didn’t discuss the report’s findings and its relation to auto safety, there is a clear link between teenage drinking and an increase in auto accidents among this demographic. Impaired driving, whether through alcohol or popular teen drugs such as Ecstasy, clearly lead to an increase in serious, often fatal car accidents.
Any impaired driver loses motor coordination and critical thinking skills necessary to safety operate a motor vehicle. The report should be a clear warning signal to all of us who are concerned with driving safety and our teenagers.

Dr. Reardon Abuse Trial Begins Today

The first of 93 civil sex abuse lawsuits begins today against St. Francis Hospital in Hartford Connecticut. The abuse lawsuits stem from Dr. George Reardon’s sexual abuse of hundreds of minor boys for decades as Reardon served as chief endocrinologist at St. Francis Hospital. The majority of the abuse occurred during a sham growth study Reardon used to lure the boys into his predatory abuse.
Reardon worked at the hospital from 1963 until he was forced to leave in 1993 after a brother and sister tracked him down at the hospital. They complained to the Department of Health that Reardon had abused the two of them while a medical student in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
One of the first witnesses expected to testify at trial is a police captain who found pornographic images and movies of the young boys who were supposed to be part of the growth study.
According to the Hartford Courant, “When Reardon saw children in his examining room, he was separated by two, locked metal doors from waiting parents in his office reception area, according to pretrial evidence presented in the case. John Doe 2 said in a deposition that Reardon sometimes wore a pistol in a shoulder holster beneath his lab coat during so-called examinations.”

DePuy Hip Replacement Implant Story

In November 2005, Lance Corporal Cody Perkins was serving his country as a Marine stationed in Iraq when he and his fellow Marines hit a roadside bomb. The explosion threw Perkins out of his Humvee. Perkins broke his femur and was sent stateside to have surgery to implant screws to hold the femur together. According to Bloomberg Businessweek which chronicled Perkins’ plight as part of its spotlight on problems with the DePuy hip implant, Perkins needed further surgery and a surgeon recommended a metal-on-metal prosthetic hip. According to the surgeon, Dr. Keith Holley, the metal-on-metal would allow the young Marine to resume an active lifestyle in the Marine Corps.
What happened after the DePuy hip implant surgery is a nightmare all too familiar to patients who’ve had the DePuy ASR XL hip implant. Perkins suffered pain, difficulty walking, and trouble sleeping at night. For Perkins, the pain is constant. When Perkins consulted another doctor about his pain, he was told that the failed DePuy ASR XL would have to be removed and a new hip implanted in its place. The revision surgery would be complicated, difficult, and promised no improvement in mobility.
Because of the failed hip, Lance Corporal Perkins, a decorated veteran who has received two Purple Hearts, will most likely have to leave his beloved Marine Corps prematurely. “I wanted to retire out of the Marine Corps,” says Perkins, who has earned two Purple Hearts. “But there’s no way that can happen … not a chance.”
While the Bloomberg article highlighted the tragic story of one individual affected by the DePuy ASR XL debacle, there are thousands more who have suffered similarly. To make matters worse, DePuy, a subisidiary of Johnson & Johnson, knew about the DePuy failures and continued to market it anyway.
Lance Cpl. Perkins and all the other people who’ve suffered as a result of the DePuy hips deserve better than this.

Bishop Called a Pedophile Pimp

NH State Representative DJ Bettancourt has called Bishop John McCormack of Manchester a “pedophile pimp” in response to the Diocese of Manchester’s bishop advocating on behalf of legislation affecting the poor of the state. While name calling is never a tactic that promotes dialogue, the incident does reflect the general state of public reaction to Catholic Church officials, particularly bishops, who attempt to speak out on a social issue. The sexual abuse scandal has so eroded public confidence that the Church experiences these types of reactions.
The Catholic Church has lost its moral standing in the wider community precisely because it refuses to deal honestly and openly with the sexual abuse of children. McCormack, a top lieutenant of the disgraces Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston, faces criticism from many fronts any time he attempts to bring up a social or moral issue.
Whether you agree or not, bishops such as McCormack who are implicated in the priest abuse scandal can’t avoid such criticism. Prior to the latest storm that began in 2002, no one would have publicly dismissed a Catholic bishop as Rep. Bettancourt has done. It would have been unthinkable. Now, bishops are facing a crisis of confidence and an erosion of their own moral authority because of their refusal to do the right thing regarding the protection of children. Their refusal to do the right thing has led to public scorn and the instant dismissal of anything the bishops proclaim. The message has become inextricably linked to the messenger and his role in the abuse scandal.
At some point, I’d hope the bishops hear this message and reform their ways. Until that time, they’ll be dismissed like they were by Rep. Bettancourt. The issue won’t matter. However, the messenger will be held accountable in the court of public opinion.