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.