1 Dec 2010

New cases of recent sex crimes against minors by Catholic bishops emerge in Texas, Canada and Norway

Houston Chronicle - Associated Press April 8, 2010

Teen accuses priest of sex abuse

Victim sues San Antonio archdiocese


SAN ANTONIO — A West Texas teen filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Archdiocese of San Antonio and Archbishop Jose Gomez alleging repeated sexual assaults by a parish priest, who he says the church's leadership should have known was abusive.

The allegations came just days after Gomez was named to a high-profile post leading the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where he is scheduled to be formally introduced to parishioners in May.

The lawsuit accuses the Rev. John M. Fiala of repeatedly sexually assaulting the teen, including twice forcing him to have sex at gunpoint when Fiala was the pastor at Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in the remote community of Rocksprings. The lawsuit alleges the incidents occurred in 2007 and 2008, during Gomez's tenure overseeing a swath of South and West Texas.

“We believe that they knew there were serious issues with Father Fiala,” the teen's attorney, Tom Rhodes, said of church leadership. “When you look at his assignment history, there were gaps. He was moved around quite a bit. We believe the church knew he was a serious problem.”

Archdiocese spokesman Pat Rodgers said he could not comment directly on the litigation, but said in a prepared statement that when Edwards County authorities told the archdiocese in 2008 that they were investigating accusations of custodial interference — not sexual abuse — by Fiala, the priest was removed from ministry and the parish was told about the investigation.

Fiala has not been charged. A listed phone number for him was disconnected on Thursday.

Gomez, who has been the archbishop in San Antonio since 2004, also told Fiala's religious order about the investigation and Fiala's suspension, Rodgers said. Fiala is no longer in priestly ministry, according to the order, The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.

The lawsuit alleges Fiala had sexual contact with the teen, now 18, once or twice a month under the pretext of giving him private catechism lessons.

Rhodes said Fiala sexually assaulted the boy and threatened to hurt him and his family. Following two alleged rapes on out-of-town trips, the priest gave the teen a car, Rhodes said. The teen later gave the car back and ran away.

The attorney said that while the boy's mother complained about Fiala taking the teen out of town without her permission, the family was not aware of the alleged abuse until the teen tried to commit suicide. A counselor reported the allegations to the authorities.

The Edwards County Sheriff's Office confirmed it has conducted a criminal investigation of Fiala, but a message left for the sheriff seeking details about the investigation was not returned on Thursday.

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CBC News - Canada April 9, 2010

Bishop Lahey accused of abuse

Former Mount Cashel resident claims Raymond Lahey abused him in 1980s

A Catholic bishop already facing child pornography charges is being accused in a civil lawsuit of sexual abuse by a former resident of the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's, CBC News has learned.

In a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Todd Boland alleges he was abused by Raymond Lahey, the former head of the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia who resigned last September.

Lahey was a priest in Newfoundland and Labrador before moving to Nova Scotia. According to the claim, Boland was abused several times over four years in the early 1980s while he was at Mount Cashel. The accusations include simulated anal intercourse and fondling.

Boland's lawyer, Greg Stack, described in an interview with CBC News what Boland alleges happened.

"At the time, Monsignor Lahey would take him for an outing, as members of the clergy sometimes did, and that's when the abuse allegedly occurred," said Stack.

Over the following two decades, Lahey rose through the ranks in the Roman Catholic Church, eventually becoming a bishop.

In September, police in Ottawa found pornographic images of boys on Lahey's laptop.

Another man, who was a Mount Cashel resident in the 1950s, said he's not surprised by the new allegations.

James Bryne said that when one charge is laid, victims start speaking up.

"They have to make a lot of hard and difficult choices about coming forward, and in a lot of cases they may have families, young kids and it may take years," said Byrne.

The civil suit against Raymond Lahey also names the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St John's.

Neither has filed a response in court, and no criminal charges have been laid.

Since stepping down from his post in Nova Scotia, Lahey has remained in Ottawa, where he will stand trial on the pornography charges.

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Washington Post - Reuters April 9, 2010

Norway's Catholic church reveals new abuse cases

OSLO (Reuters) - The Norwegian Catholic Church said Friday it was aware of four more potential sexual abuse cases by priests against minors, two days after it revealed that a bishop who resigned last year did so after abusing an altar boy.

The abuse revelations in Norway are the latest to hit the Catholic Church, which has seen its reputation tarnished by a wave of similar accusations in Ireland, the United States, Germany and other countries.

Two of the cases in Norway apparently occurred in the 1950s, and involved alleged perpetrators that have since died, the head of the Catholic Church in Norway, Bishop Bernt Eidsvig, told a press conference Friday.

Another was said to have happened two decades ago, and could have involved a priest who has since left Norway. The last one was based on rumors, Eidsvig said.

Wednesday, the Norwegian Catholic Church and the Vatican acknowledged that the former bishop of Trondheim resigned last year after it was discovered he had sexually abused an altar boy some 20 years ago.

The case has been front page news in Norway, with commentators asking why the Church waited until nine months after Bishop Georg Mueller's resignation to publicly admit the reasons for his departure.

"It was easy to keep quiet," Bishop Eidsvig told reporters. "Under Norwegian law a priest does not have a duty to report what he has heard in internal forums, during confession or during pastoral care," he said.

Eidsvig added that the victim of the abuse, who is now in his 30s, did not wish to report the case to the police.

Bishop Eidsvig said he would seek advice from Norway's state prosecutor's office on how to handle the cases that have been made public. He did not say whether he would contact the police.

Catholicism is a minor religion in the Nordic country, with only about 73,000 people registered as Catholics in a nation of 4.8 million. The state religion in Norway is Protestant Lutheranism.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Noah Barkin)

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