2 Jan 2011

U.S. federal judge submits court documents to Vatican asking for its cooperation in serving a lawsuit on the Pope

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) - October 1, 2010

Pedophile priest case vs. Pope takes big step forward

For first time ever, judge asks for Vatican’s help in sex suit

SNAP Press Release

Deaf victim from Wisconsin school “moves closer to justice”

A deaf man is one step closer to forcing Pope Benedict and two of his top aides to answer for their actions in the case of a notorious serial predator priest.

For the first time ever in a clergy sex abuse case, a US federal judge has issued three, two-page court documents asking for the Vatican’s cooperation in serving a suit on the Catholic church’s three highest-ranking officials - Joseph Ratzinger, Tarcisio Bertone, and Angelo Sodano.

Ratzinger is Pope Benedict’s given name, Bertone is the Vatican Secretary of State and Sodano is Bertone’s predecessor.

Judge Rudolph T. Randa of US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee is formally asking “in the interests of justice. . .the appropriate (Vatican) judicial authority. . . to effect service of process of the Amended Summons in a civil action, complaint and certified translations” on the three church leaders.

"The Vatican routinely makes service of process difficult for child sex abuse victims,” said Professor Marci Hamilton. “The judge’s decision will remove the first technicality the Vatican typically uses to try and delay and avoid liability for its actions that created the conditions for childhood sexual abuse by its clergy. The Court has moved the victims of heinous crimes closer to justice."

The case involves Terry Kohut of Wisconsin who was repeatedly molested by Fr. Lawrence Murphy at St. Johns School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. Some estimate that Murphy abused more than 200 boys at the boarding school.

Long secret church records obtained by Kohut’s attorneys show that then-Cardinal Ratzinger delayed defrocking Murphy long after multiple allegations of his extensive abuse had surfaced. Milwaukee’s archbishop repeatedly begged the Vatican to act but Murphy died still a priest in good standing.

Kohut filed his suit in April as a “John Doe,” but last weekend disclosed his identity and was featured on a one hour CNN special called “What the Pope Knew.”

“This brave victim is one step closer to forcing the world’s top three Catholic officials to answer for their callous disregard for children’s safety,” said Mike Finnegan of St. Paul Minnesota, one of the alleged victim’s attorneys. “We hope each of the 200 men who were assaulted by this predator can take comfort in the fact that the Pope and his closest aides are moving closer toward a day of reckoning for their recklessness.”

“We’re encouraged that a judge is helping to move this arduous process forward,” said Finnegan.

“We applaud any step that speeds up an already a dreadfully long and tough effort to expose clergy sex crimes and cover ups,” said Peter Isely of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priest, a Chicago-based support group. “While our hearts ache for the suffering of Terry and his classmates, at the same time, we are very grateful to him for his tenacity.”

The formal legal term for the judge’s request for is “letters rogatory.” Copies of the judge’s decision are posted at AndersonAdvocates.com.

The case was filed on April 22 and the request for letters rogatory were sent to the court on Sept. 9.

For more information: Professor Marci Hamilton 215 353 8984, hamilton02@aol.com

Attorney Mike Finnegan 612 205 5531 cell, 651 227 9990 work, mike@andersonadvocates.com

Attorney Jeff Anderson 612 817 8665 cell, jeff@andersonadvocates.com

Peter Isely 414 429 7259 cell, peterisely@yahoo.com

David Clohessy 314 566 9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

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CBC - Canada October 1, 2010

Vatican asked by judge to serve Pope papers

The Canadian Press

A U.S. judge is asking the Vatican to co-operate in serving the Pope and two other top officials with court papers that stem from decades-old allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in Wisconsin.

The request is an incremental — and long shot — step in a lawsuit that accuses the officials of conspiring to keep the allegations against a Milwaukee priest quiet. The Vatican is not obliged to comply with the request.

Under similar circumstances, the Vatican has made service difficult, time consuming and expensive by insisting, for example, that documentation be translated into Latin, one of the Vatican's official languages.

Mike Finnegan, lawyer for the Chicago-based plaintiff, said Friday he's not holding out hope that the Vatican reverses course and begins to co-operate now.

"Based on what they've done in other cases, I don't expect them to do the right thing," he said. "I expect more delay and obstruction."

A message left Friday with the Vatican's U.S.-based lawyer, Jeffrey Lena, was not immediately returned.

The lawsuit, filed in April in U.S. Federal Court, names as defendants Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state; and his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

It claims the three men knew about allegations of sexual abuse at a Milwaukee-area school for the deaf and called off internal punishment of the accused priest. Rev. Lawrence Murphy, who died in 1998, was accused of sexually abusing some 200 boys at the school from 1950 to 1974.
'Publicity stunt'

Lena has called the lawsuit a publicity stunt with no merit, and said it rehashes theories already rejected by U.S. courts.

The court order requesting the Vatican's co-operation was signed Sept. 24 by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa. It was released Friday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

"The court requests the assistance described herein as necessary in the interests of justice," Randa wrote.

Plaintiffs in two other U.S. cases have also sued the Vatican under similar arguments. The three plaintiffs in the Kentucky case dismissed their case last month, and a case in Oregon is ongoing.

SNAP spokesman Arthur Budzinski called the Wisconsin court order a "hopeful sign."

He said he hoped it would lead to the Pope testifying directly under oath about what he knew about Murphy's actions when, as then Cardinal Ratzinger, he headed a powerful office that oversees the discipline of priests.

This article was found at:



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