5 Jun 2011

Lawsuit against Kansas City diocese alleges Bishop neglected to protect children from priest who made child pornography

Kansas City Star   -  Missouri      June 2, 2011

Lawsuit: Diocese was warned about priest now facing child porn charges

By JUDY L. THOMAS and GLENN E. RICE  |  The Kansas City Star

Local Roman Catholic officials were warned in 2006 about a priest now accused of possessing child pornography yet took no action, a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday alleges.

The lawsuit, filed by the parents of a young girl, also alleges that beginning around 2006 and continuing through 2010 the Rev. Shawn F. Ratigan took photographs underneath her clothing and while the child was nude.

Lawyers for the child’s family said the photographs were taken while Ratigan was assigned in St. Joseph.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, names Ratigan, Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as defendants.

“Another child has been harmed, and more children have been harmed, and this diocese has failed to protect the children,” Jeff Anderson of the Minnesota law firm of Anderson & Associates said in a news conference in Kansas City.

The diocese issued a brief statement in response to the lawsuit.

“First and foremost, the diocese is deeply concerned for the well-being of this child and her family,” the statement said. “The bishop has reached out to a number of parishes and offered listening sessions.”

Ratigan, 45, of Kansas City, North, was charged last month by Clay County authorities with three counts of possessing child pornography — photos taken while working for churches and schools in the area. Ratigan has pleaded not guilty to those charges and remains in custody on $200,000 bond.

The diocese already had acknowledged that a principal of a Catholic school in Kansas City, North, had warned diocesan officials a year ago of Ratigan’s troubling behavior around girls.

But the lawsuit alleges that as far back as 2006 an employee of the diocese reported to diocesan officials that she observed suspicious behavior involving Ratigan and a young girl. The lawsuit alleges that the diocese and Finn protected themselves and Ratigan from scandal by doing nothing with the report.

The plaintiff’s lawyers would not provide further details about the 2006 report, including who made it or specifically to whom it was given.

The lawsuit alleges Ratigan took sexually explicit photographs, uploaded them to his computer and distributed them over the Internet. It also contends that Finn and the diocese possessed and distributed child pornography by viewing and making copies of Ratigan’s photos.

The lawsuit seeks damages, including expenses incurred for medical treatment of the girl.

Two law firms announced the legal action Thursday at a news conference.

Anderson’s firm was joined by the Kansas City firm of Randles, Mata & Brown, which has filed dozens of priest sex-abuse lawsuits. Anderson & Associates has filed about 2,000 priest sex-abuse lawsuits across the country.

The diocese “allowed this predator, Father Shawn Ratigan, to access children with what we believe is sufficient knowledge to not only have removed him but to have reported him,” Anderson said.

Ratigan’s attorney, John P. O’Connor, declined to comment.

One case handled by the Randles firm involved 47 plaintiffs and resulted in a $10 million settlement against the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese in 2008.

Rebecca Randles said the diocese entered an agreement with the plaintiffs when it settled that lawsuit.

“As part of the agreement, the diocese agreed that they would take certain steps to ensure that children were safe from now on,” she said.

Those steps, she said, included setting up victims’ advocacy programs and immediately reporting any abuse or suspicion of abuse to law enforcement authorities in accordance with Missouri statutes.

“Our clients are incredibly upset. They’re angry, and they’re very sad that the steps they took to try to protect children for the future simply seemed to fall on deaf ears,” Randles said. “At the time we negotiated those settlements, the bishop and the monsignor were in the mediations listening to those stories of abuse, listening to the lives that were shattered.”

Pat Noaker, of Anderson & Associates, told The Star that the FBI was investigating the case and that the girl’s family had been cooperating with the agency. Authorities in Buchanan County, where St. Joseph is located, also said the FBI was investigating.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said she could neither confirm nor deny whether the agency was looking into the Ratigan case.

Ratigan was charged last month, although church officials had learned about several questionable photos in mid-December when a technician fixing Ratigan’s laptop computer discovered them, according to court documents.

The diocese did not officially notify police until May 13.

Noaker said the lawsuit was alleging that the diocese possessed and distributed child pornography because “they had access, and they in fact made copies of the pornography that they pulled off Father Ratigan’s computer in December 2010, and they possessed that for six months before turning it over to law enforcement authorities.”

“They also distributed it to different people along the way.”

The lawsuit cites Masha’s Law, a federal law enacted in 2006 that gives child-pornography victims the right to sue anyone who produces, downloads, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of them.

The law was named after a girl from Russia who was adopted at age 5 by a man who sexually abused her and made recordings of it.

Victims can recover damages of no less than $150,000.

Randles told The Star that she also had been contacted by six members of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Kansas City, North, who allege that their children are victims of Ratigan. He was at St. Patrick from July 2009 to December 2010.

Police have said they had contacted families at the church in an attempt to identify the girls in the photos. Lawyers in the case filed Thursday said that’s how their clients learned of the abuse.

The diocese on Thursday also asked for the public to help police with the case.

“We urge anyone within the community who has information about the actions of Shawn Ratigan to make a confidential report to (Kansas City police) Detective Maggie McGuire at (816) 584-6633,” according to the diocese’s statement.

Finn earlier expressed regret about the handling of the case.

Last week he acknowledged that he did not heed warnings about Ratigan’s past behavior.

Finn’s statement came after it was revealed that the principal of St. Patrick School in Kansas City, North, had given diocesan officials a memo more than a year ago detailing concerns teachers and parents had about Ratigan’s behavior and interactions with children, including hugging and touching that they considered inappropriate.

Finn said that Monsignor Robert Murphy, the diocese’s vicar general, briefed him about the memo last year but that he did not ask to read it. Finn said that when he finally read it last Thursday “I was ashamed at the fact we had not done enough to respond to that.”

Finn is to meet with members of St. Thomas More parish in south Kansas City at 7 p.m. today.

On Wednesday a review board established years ago by the diocese to assess sexual abuse allegations met privately for two hours and came up with a recommendation to deal with cases such as Ratigan’s.

Review board chairman Jim Caccamo and a diocesan spokeswoman said it would be up to the bishop whether to discuss the content of the proposal.

Thursday night dozens gathered at the Kansas City, North, Community Center to discuss the Ratigan case at a meeting organized by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The meeting was closed to the media “out of consideration for the privacy and feelings of parishioners,” SNAP leaders said. Organizers said there was a standing-room-only crowd.

“It’s packed,” said Judy Jones, SNAP’s Midwest associate director. “As you can imagine, things are pretty tense in there. People are very upset. Almost everyone is angry at the church officials.”

Stephanie Gunn, of St. Thomas More parish, said she was “sick and fed up of the whole situation.”

“I came here because I’m devastated,” she said. “I’m embarrassed, and I am so angry at the religious leaders of the Catholic Church. … They have put children’s lives in danger. They knew it, and they tried to sweep it under the covers like they have in the past.

“It’s not going to work this time. There are too many people who are fired up, and we intend to go as far as we can to remove these people from the diocese office.”

Gunn said numerous people talked about wanting the bishop to step down.

“They’re sick of it,” she said. “They’re not willing to listen to any more excuses.”

This article was found at:


Kansas City Star - Missouri June 3, 2011

The Star’s editorial | Bishop’s delays, inaction should lead to his resignation

Recent child sexual abuse allegations and disturbing inattention to earlier warnings make it clear it’s time for Bishop Robert Finn to step down.

It’s painful to believe the most vulnerable in his flock weren’t protected. Allegations that priests in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were harming children apparently were downplayed, even in the aftermath of a stream of national scandals. Finn appears to have pushed legal limits and shattered moral guidelines by delaying actions. He has tragically shaken the faith of many who seek peace in churches under his supervision.

In 2008, when the church agreed to settle a lawsuit with 47 plaintiffs for $10 million, Finn promised that the diocese would take steps to ensure that children from that moment on were safe in religious settings. Yet he now says he regrets not actively pursuing newer allegations against a priest in his diocese.

Clearly, Finn could not reasonably have been expected to have governed the actions of every priest under his jurisdiction. And he is not responsible for what happened before he assumed his office in 2005. However, there was a disturbing pattern in his diocese. As of now, 18 current and former priests have been accused of abuse.

Given those numbers, Finn can reasonably be held to a higher degree of diligence than he exhibited. And it’s understandable that some parishioners perceive a cavalier manner in which he loitered with allegations.

Our society has enacted laws to punish those who victimize children. But there are also laws against ignoring suspicions of child abuse.

Last year in Augsburg, Germany, Bishop Walter Mixa faced abuse allegations, resigned, and the German church was healed, in part at least.

A resignation here could be step one in rebuilding faith in the diocese. For step two, area prosecutors must actively pursue all relevant criminal charges against all involved in these scandals.

These steps are necessary to protect society, to protect the Catholic Church and, most of all, to protect our children.

This article was found at:


National Catholic Reporter  -  June 1, 2011

Priest's pornography case reveals clericalism of the laity

by Jamie L Manson

Scholars do it.

Activists do it.

Even educated, justice-oriented parishioners do it.

No, Cole Porter fans, I’m not talking about falling in love, but rather falling fall prey to the internalized clericalism of the laity.

What else can explain the fact that many members of the Roman Catholic laity continue to give the clergy a pass after committing crimes that would easily bring down political powerhouses and tycoons of industry?

The latest tale of the mishandling of priestly sexual misconduct comes from the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese. Exactly one year after the principal of a Catholic elementary school sent a letter of concern about the predatory behavior of Fr. Shawn Ratigan, the priest was arrested for possession of child pornography.

At issue is the fact that no diocesan official ever responded to principal Julie Hess’ concerns. It wasn’t until Ratigan attempted suicide in December -- seven months after Hess’ complaint was submitted -- that the priest was reassigned to a sisters’ community.

Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn admitted Friday that he did not read Hess’ letter, submitted May 19, 2010, until May 26, 2011 -- a week after Ratigan’s arrest.

Hess’ letter recounts over a dozen “red flag-raising” instances of the priest spending excessive time with children, inappropriately touching children and making children touch him. One father saw Ratigan rubbing circles in his daughter’s back. A mother found a pair of girl’s panties in a planter at the priest's home during a Brownie Girl Scout gardening.

The letter makes clear that Hess, as well as many teachers and parents, were very proactive not only in adhering to the diocesan guidelines for preventing sexual misconduct, but also in trying to keep the children away from the priest. Parents called their children away from him, and teachers quickly hovered near the priest when he approached the children too closely.

Their actions are commendable and one hopes that teachers and parents everywhere are modeling similar responses around suspected predators. However, I cannot help but note two troubling aspects of the story. First, it seems no one called the police. Second, parents, teachers, and school leaders did not make more noise and make greater demands for timely action. They waited and waited for a response from the chancery.

Obviously, I do not know every exact detail of what happened at that school over the past year. But this story, and the many others like it, left me wondering: if the predator in question were not a priest but were, instead, a teacher or coach, would parents and teachers have moved more quickly and aggressively to have the situation dealt with?

If parents found out that a public school superintendent, rather than a bishop, neglected to read a principal’s report about a teacher that had similarly sordid claims, would they not be relentless in calling for the superintendent’s resignation and prosecution of the teacher?

And yet, Ratigan was able to function freely as a priest for years, and Finn will likely emerge unscathed from the scandal.

The St. Patrick’s saga is but one example of the fascinating fear that many Catholics seem to have of calling church leaders to accountability the way they would elected officials, educators, and other non-clerical folk. This double standard that Catholics have in dealing with the clergy, I believe, is a result of the internalized clericalism that the laity inherited as part of their Catholic inculcation.

Critics of the institutional church frequently point to the corrosive arrogance of the Catholic clergy as the root cause of so much abuse of power. It is important, however, to consider the extent to which the clericalism of the laity enables these abuses to take place, and to reflect on the multitude of ways this phenomenon affects a spectrum of Catholics, including some of our most progressive voices.

I have seen the effects of lay clericalism among professors at Catholic colleges and universities, who fret about discussing controversial issues about gender and sexuality in an academic forum. Tenured scholars, who are exponentially more educated than most Roman Catholic priests, can quickly become terrified of the reactions of bishops to their academic programs.

I have seen lay clericalism in parishes considered “prophetic” because of their commitment to social justice, service to the poor, and welcoming of marginalized Catholics. And, yet, in many cases these progressive voices will not challenge the parish priest, even when he makes decisions that compromise a parish’s legacy of advocacy.

I know many lay women and men who have labored on parish staffs and have suffered the fruits of lay clericalism. Regardless of a lay minister’s education level, years of experience, and ministerial gifts, parishioners almost always have a submissive “preferential option” for the priest -- even if they disagree strongly with his policies and practices. A lay person’s degrees and pastoral presence are no match against the power of simply being “Father.”

So often it is the clericalism of the laity, rather than the clericalism of the clergy, that undermines the power of the laity in our church.

I am not a psychologist, but I know enough about human emotions to see that many Catholics still react to the institutional church as a damaged child would react to a punishing, authoritarian parent.

Though many have rejected the paternalism of church teachings, especially on issues of sexual morality, so many Catholics have not been able to wipe away the residue of experiencing the Catholic clergy as a disapproving parent, capable of banishing us from the love of God.

In the comments section of one of the NCR reports on the Ratigan case, several readers noted that Hess would surely be fired eventually for exposing both a predator priest and the mishandling of the case by a bishop who is a favorite of traditionalists.

Responding to this claim, an anonymous commentator, seemingly connected with St. Patrick’s, responded emphatically: “If this principal catches any grief over this[,] a full riot will occur at St. Pat's[.] I will help incite it. We will not let mis-conduct by the diocese punish our excellent school and its stellar leader.”

I pray that this person’s convictions will find support within St. Patrick’s lay community.

By risking their relationship with the institutional church in order to uphold a layperson of integrity, the laity of St. Patrick’s have the opportunity to join the growing ranks of Catholic communities that refuse to collude in the hierarchy’s abuse of power, like the administration of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.

As the tales of the institutional church’s deception and negligence continue to mount, lay Catholics must stop making themselves subservient to their imagined notions of the power of the hierarchy, and must instead allow themselves to be channels of the power of God that is made manifest through sacrifice, courage, and truthfulness.

They must recognize how their internalized clericalism may be impeding their prophetic participation in the Spirit’s unfolding work in our church.

[Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her columns for NCR earned her a first prize Catholic Press Association award for Best Column/Regular Commentary in 2010.]

This article was found at:


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  1. Ex-asst. principal of Bronx Catholic school gets no-jail deal in kiddie-porn bust

    November 22, 2011

    The former assistant principal of a top all-boys Bronx Catholic school last week quietly received a sweet, no-jail sentence after pleading guilty to having kiddie porn on an electronic device at the school, it was revealed today.

    And now the Marist Brothers -- the religious order that runs Mount St. Michael Academy -- is refusing to answer whether ex-asst. principal Brother Lawrence Gordon has ever been previously accused of sexual misconduct with a child.

    The Marist Brothers also refuse to say what -- if anything -- was done to locate the young boys seen in the sick pictures on Gordon's USB drive found plugged into a computer the 65-year-old brother used at that school.

    "I'm not here to answer," sniffed Brother Ben Consigli, who heads the Marist order in the United States, when asked those questions by The Post today.

    Consigli also stonewalled when asked why the Marists did not alert the public in February -- when Gordon's porn stash was discovered -- so that any potential victims of his could have been notified and encouraged to contact authorities about any other possible wrongdoing by Gordon.

    Mount St. Michael Academy waited until March -- weeks after the discovery of the USB drive -- to notify the DA's office, according to a DA spokesman.

    In the meantime, students at the school were told that Gordon was absent from his job because he was "sick," several of those students said today.

    "What happened to all those promises by Catholic officials to be open and transparent about sex cases?" asked David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests.

    "It shows within Catholic institutions, there's been virtually no change, despite decades of crimes and cover-ups and prosecution and promises of reform," said Clohessy. "Common sense suggests here that church and school officials leaned hard on the criminal to quickly and quietly plea instead of acting responsibly, being honest, begging others for information to come forward." ...
    Under an arrangement agreed to by the Bronx District Attorney, Gordon last Friday was arrested, pleaded guilty to 10 felony counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child and was sentenced, all within hours -- without notice to the media. The case only came to light today.

    As a sentence, Gordon was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment for at least a year, and then will be allowed to withdraw his plea.
    Gordon then will be allowed to plead guilty to merely a misdemeanor, and be placed on probation, court records show. ...
    Asked why there was a more than nine-month lag between the discovery of the porn-laden USB and Gordon being arrested, Bronx DA spokesman Steven Reed said that Gordon "was hospitalized with a very serious medical condition."

    Reed also said, "There was no evidence of molestation or inappropriate relationship with any [Mount St. Michael] students." ...

    read the full article at:


  2. Pastor charged with molestation, possessing child pornography

    November 28, 2011

    WESTMINSTER – A pastor has been charged with molesting an 8-year-old girl and possessing thousands of images of child pornography on his computer, including photos of a young female relative.

    Christopher Raymond Olague, 39, of Westminster faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in state prison plus an additional 13 years and four months. He is being held on $1 million bail pending arraignment Tuesday in the West Justice Center in Westminster.

    Olague was a pastor at Refuge Southland Church in Buena Park and a soccer coach for the American Youth Soccer Organization, prosecutors said.

    He is accused of picking up an 8-year-old girl from her home Oct. 5 under the pretense of taking her to play with one of his children, according to prosecutors. But instead, prosecutors said, Olague drove the girl to a grocery store parking lot, where he rubbed her legs, thighs and arms while unbuttoning his pants.

    When the girl began to cry and asked to be taken home, Olague gave her $40 and instructed her not to tell the police before he drove her back to her parents, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney's Office. The girl immediately told her mother about the incident, and the mother contacted the Huntington Beach Police Department.

    During the subsequent investigation, Huntington Police detectives discovered thousands of images of child pornography on the defendant's computer, prosecutors said, including some of a 6-year-old female relative.

    Olague was charged specifically with two counts of lewd acts on a child under 14, kidnapping for child molest, attempting to dissuade a witness, using a minor for sex acts, and possession and control of child pornography, plus sentencing enhancements for kidnapping in the commission of a sexual assault and lewd acts against multiple victims.

    Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Huntington Beach detective Kevin Johnson at 714-960-8834, detective Mike Szyperski at 714-536-5988 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Lou Gutierrez at 714 347-8794.


  3. Open letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan

    by Mary Caplan, NYC SNAP Director December 7, 2011

    Dear Archbishop Dolan;

    We are clergy sex abuse victims and supporters. We belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.

    We are writing to you today in response to the recently revealed situation at Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx. It’s terribly upsetting to learn that a school official has child porn, but it is even more upsetting to find out that officials with the school and with the Marists knew about this for nine months before any action was taken. (We can’t help but wonder if you were informed as well.)

    This all occurred despite a decade of promises by Catholic officials to be “open” about child sex crimes.

    We know that Brother Lawrence Gordon – who received little more than a slap on the wrist from the legal system – is a Marist and not an archdiocesan priest. But religious orders like the Marists can only operate in an archdiocese with your permission. And it’s your job to watch over your flock and care for all Catholics within your archdiocese. Part of this promise means that you have to keep them safe from any church employee – whether an archdiocesan cleric or a religious order cleric - who could do something wrong.

    So we believe you have a moral and civic duty to seek out and help others who may have seen, suspected or suffered Gordon’s crimes.

    We aren’t sure when exactly you were told of these allegations. But whether they were months ago or right before Gordon was arrested is irrelevant. You still have a moral obligation to help police and prosecutors see if Gordon – or others at Mt. St. Michael’s – can be prosecuted further for other crimes.

    You can do this by urging anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered Gordon’s crimes to come forward and report to police. And you should do this not only at Mt. St. Michael’s, but at any parish where he may have worked or visited during the time he was in the Archdiocese of New York.

    It’s disappointing to see this situation happen in New York because it is eerily similar to one in Kansas City, where top Catholic officials kept silent this year about a priest’s child porn photos – hundreds of them – for at least five months. The situation in Kansas City has caused your brother bishop to be brought up on misdemeanor charges in two separate counties. We would hope that you learn from his failures and act more quickly to prevent this from happening to your own flock.

    We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    Mary Caplan

    NYC SNAP Director

    mcaplan682@aol.com 917-439-4187


  4. Catholic church failed to tell police of sex abuse

    by Nick McKenzie & Richard Baker, The Age Australia December 6, 2011

    A CATHOLIC brother has escaped justice for more than three decades over his alleged serial abuse of Victorian children and teenagers in the 1970s and '80s, due partly to the failure of the church to notify police of complaints about his conduct.

    More alleged victims of Brother Bernard Hartman have contacted The Age after Saturday's report about the fight of alleged victim, Mariead Ashcroft, to have Brother Hartman charged by police for his alleged sexual abuse of her in the '70s.

    The emergence of several alleged victims greatly increases the ability of Victoria Police to extradite Brother Hartman from the United States to face sexual abuse charges.

    he Age can reveal that the church failed to tell Ms Ashcroft or the police that she was not the only complainant about Brother Hartman's alleged paedophilia.

    Ms Ashcroft reported Brother Hartman to the Catholic church in 1999 and also received a written apology from the brother, who in the '90s left Australia for the US where he remains working as a Marianist.

    But The Age has learned that another female victim, who asked for her identity to be protected, claims she told several Melbourne Catholic church officials in about 1993 that she had been sexually abused by Brother Hartman.
    The woman claims she was told by church officials that Brother Hartman would be ''monitored'' by the church in the US.
    But she insisted that the church did nothing to ensure he would be held accountable in the Victorian criminal justice system and that church officials did not pass on her allegations to police.

    ''I'd like him returned to Australia and to be charged and jailed. That is what the victims deserve from our justice system,'' she said.
    The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese last night said it had no record of any complaints made about Brother Hartman.

    The woman and a third victim who contacted The Age yesterday have agreed to speak to Victoria Police investigating Ms Ashcroft's allegations against Brother Hartman in the hope that it may strengthen any criminal case against him.
    Youth worker Les Twentyman, who taught at Altona school St Pauls with Brother Hartman in the '70s, has also come forward to speak about his concerns over the brother's suspicious conduct with students.

    Mr Twentyman said several students complained to him of Brother Hartman's inappropriate behaviour, including him allegedly showing students photographs of genitalia and masturbating in front of a young female in his care. ''The fact that he is still in the church in a position of power as a brother makes a mockery of the whole thing,'' he said.

    A senior US Marianist, Brother Joe Kamis, told The Age last week that Brother Hartman was still working with the Catholic church in Dayton, Ohio, but was on a ''safety plan'' to prevent him being alone with children.

    The fresh allegations against Brother Hartman come after a manager of the church's social welfare arm, CatholicCare, Alan Baker blew the whistle on Saturday about what he claimed was the church's inadequate handling of sexual abuse allegations. ...

    read the rest of the article at:


  5. Catholic Church Pastor Charged With Child Pornography

    MSNBC December 12, 2011

    CHURCHILL, Pa. — The 62-year-old pastor at a Churchill Catholic Church is in the Allegheny County Jail after police said he was caught viewing child pornography on a rectory computer Friday morning.

    Bartley Sorensen of St. John Fisher Parish is in jail on a $100,000 bond. The charges include being in possession of more than 100 illegal pornographic images. Sorensen faces a preliminary hearing on Dec. 19.

    According to the criminal complaint, a church worker saw Sorensen looking at child pornography.

    Investigators said the employee had taken part in a program that helps people recognize warning signs for abuse in the church.

    Pittsburgh Catholic Diocesan spokesman the Rev. Ron Lengwin said when diocesan officials found out about what the church worker saw, they contacted police and removed Sorensen from active ministry. He was placed on administrative leave. Sorensen had only been the priest at the parish for three weeks. He had also worked in Castle Shannon and West Penn Hospital.

    Detectives said Sorensen admitted having illicit pictures of underage boys on his computer.

    The Rev. Ron Lengwin said some people are drawn to these types of images.
    "People can be addicted to a lot of things, but this is probably one of the worst."
    The diocese issued a statement, asking parishioners to pray:
    "They need to know this is a felony and this is very serious. If anyone is engaged in this type of attraction, they need to do something about it because it really is sexual abuse by the possession of these kinds of images."


  6. Churchill priest arraigned on additional child porn charges

    December 14, 2011

    A Roman Catholic priest who was arrested last week for possession of child pornography was arraigned on Tuesday on new charges. Investigators said they found thousands of additional images and videos in his church office and bedroom.

    The Rev. Bart Sorensen, 62, of St. John Fisher Church in Churchill remains in the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond to await a preliminary hearing scheduled next Tuesday on charges of sexual abuse of children for possession of child pornography.

    The charges do not mean that Sorensen approached or had any inappropriate contact with children.

    The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh immediately removed Sorensen from active ministry and placed him on administrative leave after being told that a church staff member caught him Friday morning viewing pornographic images of young boys in his church office.

    Allegheny County Police arrested Sorensen that day, saying he admitted viewing more than 100 images of young boys posing nude or engaging in sex.

    The new charges were filed on Monday when an examination of three compact discs seized from the rectory revealed more than 5,000 images of child pornography, a criminal complaint states.

    Police then conducted another search of Sorensen's office, bedroom and sitting room and found thousands of images and pictures along with some movies of child pornography, the complaint states.


  7. Disgraced Bishop Lahey apologizes for his Internet porn addiction

    By Andrew Seymour, The Ottawa Citizen December 21, 2011

    OTTAWA — Disgraced Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey apologized in court Tuesday for possessing child pornography, telling a judge he had an “indiscriminate” addiction to online pornography but didn’t seek help because of his high-ranking position in the church.

    A contrite Lahey said he secretly wanted to be found out, so it was a “blessing in disguise” when customs agents stopped him at the Ottawa airport and discovered illicit images which included young boys and teens engaged in sex acts including bondage and torture. A Crown prosecutor said Tuesday some of the 588 images that were later discovered on Lahey’s laptop computer included graphic images of nude boys wearing rosary beads and crucifixes.

    Police also located 63 child pornography videos and several stories with themes of slavery.

    Lahey pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography for the purpose of importation in May.

    “I know I’ve done wrong, not only something illegal, but something that goes against the moral principles I believe in,” said Lahey, who stood shackled in front of the prisoner’s box as he spoke.

    “During the past 26 months, I’ve had a chance to reflect on what I have done. I can say I have come to recognize that I became addicted to Internet pornography on a very indiscriminate basis. This was an addiction powerful enough that despite my own distaste for it and my own internal convulsions I could not break it,” he said.

    Lahey said he has since sought help from forensic psychiatrist Dr. John Bradford and others, and believes he has tried to deal with it now.

    He also wanted to warn others like himself to seek help.

    “I will take this opportunity to speak out to others who may find themselves in a similar position to my own and urge them to look at what they are doing, cease it and to seize the help that they need,” he said.

    “Not just because this is something illegal, but because ultimately it is unhealthy, because it destroys relationships, and above all, where it involves pictures and stories of children, because it causes genuine harm to them,” said Lahey.

    Lahey concluded by apologizing to members of the church, his friends, family and anyone else he may have hurt or disappointed.

    “I can only say I am truly sorry for what I have done and I hope that time can heal some of the wounds that my actions have caused,” he said.


    Earlier in the day, prosecutor David Elhadad laid out in lurid detail some of what was depicted in the images, videos and stories seized by police. Elhadad said Catholic imagery was intertwined with “disgusting” sado-masochistic scenes, including one image of a male in “monk’s garb” using a paddle to spank a young boy.

    Elhadad argued Lahey’s position in the Catholic Church placed him in a position of trust.

    “He is and was an individual in a position of trust over many years hiding his shameful sexual depravity and predilection in taking joy in the torture and rape of children,” said Elhadad.

    But Lahey’s defence lawyer, Michael Edelson, said that couldn’t be considered an aggravating factor since Lahey would need to be in a position of trust toward the victims.

    Edelson argued Monday that Lahey will wear a “scarlet letter” for the rest of his life as a result of what he had done. Elhadad argued Tuesday there are others who bear a similar fate, but for entirely different reasons.

    “Mr. Lahey may have to bear the scarlet letter of child pornography on his chest, but the victims of child pornography have endured unspeakable acts and they too must bear a permanent mark, marks that are invisible to the naked eye but are of psychological harm, knowing that their photographed and videotaped sexual encounters are out there for eternity,” said Elhadad. “They are the true victims.”


  8. More lawsuits filed against priests with Kansas City ties

    By JUDY L. THOMAS, The Kansas City Star
    December 26, 2011

    Lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by three current or former Kansas City priests have been filed in recent weeks, bringing the number of cases filed this year to two dozen.

    The defendants — the Rev. Michael Tierney, retired Monsignor Thomas J. O’Brien and retired Bishop Joseph Hart — all are the subjects of multiple lawsuits.

    A lawsuit filed last month by a 53-year-old Missouri man under the name John Doe 101 accuses Tierney of sexually abusing him when he served as an altar boy at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church.

    According to the lawsuit, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, Tierney fondled the boy numerous times in the sacristy while preparing for Mass. At least one time, the lawsuit alleges, Tierney took the plaintiff and another boy to Lake Viking near Cameron, Mo. The lawsuit says that Tierney and O’Brien provided alcohol to a group of boys at the lake house and that some boys became “inebriated or high to the point of insensibility.”

    The lawsuit also alleges that O’Brien offered the plaintiff and other boys “the chance to ‘have’ a particular girl for sexual favors” and that the rectory basement at St. Elizabeth “looked like a liquor store.” The boy told his father about the abuse, the lawsuit alleges, but his father didn’t believe him and threatened to kick him out of the house if he continued to make such accusations. After that, the lawsuit says, the plaintiff blocked the events from his mind, never telling anyone until August 2011 after hearing about a lawsuit filed by a fellow student at St. Elizabeth.

    Multiple priests and lay persons in the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph knew of O’Brien’s and Tierney’s misconduct and covered it up, the lawsuit alleges.

    The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, also names the diocese and Bishop Robert Finn as defendants. It is the fifth lawsuit to be filed against Tierney since fall 2010. O’Brien has been named as a defendant in more than 25 lawsuits since 2004.

    Tierney’s attorney, Brian Madden, declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing a gag order on attorneys involving Tierney’s cases.

    The diocese issued a statement in response to the lawsuit:

    “After receiving credible reports of sexual misconduct by Father Tierney in the spring of 2011, Bishop Robert Finn accepted the recommendation of the Independent Review Board to remove Father Tierney from all pastoral assignments in June 2011.”

    Another lawsuit, filed last month by Gilbert Padilla, 48, alleges abuse by Hart and O’Brien and accuses the diocese of covering it up.

    According to the lawsuit, the abuse occurred at St. John Francis Regis Catholic School, where Hart was a pastor. Padilla alleges in the lawsuit that Hart and his friend, O’Brien, sexually abused him and offered him marijuana, alcohol and pornography in the mid-1970s.

    The lawsuit alleges that Padilla reported the sexual abuse to the principal in 1976 when he was in eighth grade. But the principal, a nun, refused to believe him and asked him if he understood that priests were men of God.

    The suit, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages. It also names Finn and the diocese as defendants.

    O’Brien told The Star in a recent interview that all of the allegations against him were false. Then, specifically mentioning Padilla’s lawsuit, he said, “There’s nothing to that one. I’ve never heard of this guy. That’s impossible.”

    Hart could not be reached for comment. The diocese said that Hart served in five parishes in the diocese and was ordained Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyo., in 1976. In 1989 and 1992, the diocese said, it received two complaints alleging that Hart had inappropriately touched two people in the late 1960s and early 1970s. [...]

    read the rest of the article at:


  9. SNAP director may be forced to testify in abuse case

    By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
    December 29, 2011

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The leading advocacy group for child victims of clergy sex abuse may be compelled to turn over 23 years of internal documents, correspondence and email to the attorneys of an accused priest unless Missouri state courts act to quash a court-ordered deposition.

    David Clohessy, head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, has been ordered to appear for deposition in a county court case involving allegations of sexual misconduct against Kansas City diocesan priest Fr. Michael Tierney.


    Also at stake is the confidentiality of emails between reporters and victims’ advocates that may reveal sensitive information and names of sources. In a court filing, the Missouri Press Association said Clohessy’s deposition would “eviscerate the free-press guarantee” of journalists.

    Clohessy has been ordered to turn over all documents and correspondence, including emails, from SNAP’s files referring to Tierney or the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese. He is also ordered to submit all documents containing references to either Tierney or the diocese from:

    Press releases or press release drafts;

    Correspondence with members of the press;

    Correspondence with the lawyer representing the alleged abuse victim;

    Correspondence with members of the public.

    Clohessy has also been ordered to submit:

    Any documents or correspondence that “mention or refer to any priest currently or formerly” associated with the diocese;

    Any correspondence with the victim named in the lawsuit;

    Any correspondence from members of the public “that discuss or relates to repressed memory.”
    According to court filings, defense lawyers for priests and former priests named in six other sex abuse lawsuits have requested to “cross-notice” Clohessy’s deposition in order to have access to his testimony.

    Court records indicate that Clohessy and his group first attempted to quash the deposition by filing motions with Jackson County, Mo., Circuit Court Judge Ann Mesle, citing concerns of confidentiality for sex abuse victims and the rights of freedom of speech and assembly.

    The records indicate Mesle overruled those concerns Wednesday, Dec. 28, ordering Clohessy to submit himself for deposition Monday, Jan. 2.
    Clohessy and his group appealed Wednesday, Dec. 28, to Missouri’s Court of Appeals for the state’s Western District to try to quash the order. That appeal, court records indicate, was denied Thursday.

    Following the denial by the appeals court, Clohessy’s lawyer said he and his client are “going to take every legal option we can” to prevent the deposition and are investigating filing for review with the Missouri Supreme Court. [...]

    Marci Hamilton, noted for her decades of work with clergy sex abuse victims, said the subpoena is “one of the uglier moves I’ve seen by any organization in these cases so far.”

    Saying that SNAP “is the least” of the organizations that would be affected by Clohessy’s submission of documents, Hamilton, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law at New York’s Yeshiva University, said the “end result” of the order would be “a huge chilling effect on helping child sex abuse victims at every stage.”

    Referencing attempts during the civil rights era to force the NAACP to release the names of its members, Hamilton said the U.S. Supreme Court had made clear in those cases that the government cannot force private organizations to release the names of its members.

    “I think it’s plainly unconstitutional and, were I involved, I would be advising any organization faced with this kind of a subpoena to refuse to provide the information because it is unconstitutional, inappropriate and cruel,” said Hamilton, who is the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children.

    read the full article at:


  10. SNAP leader vows to fight records disclosure order

    By JIM SALTER, Associated Press January 3, 2011

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — An advocacy group for clergy abuse victims will fight a court order requiring it to disclose what could be years' worth of emails and other records to attorneys for a Roman Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse, a group official said Tuesday.

    David Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said last week's order requiring it to turn over records to attorneys for the Rev. Michael Tierney is too broad, and that the group is weighing its options for fighting the order.

    The state Supreme Court on Monday refused to intervene on SNAP's behalf, rendering its decision after Clohessy was deposed in St. Louis.

    Last week, Jackson County Circuit Judge Ann Mesle ordered SNAP to disclose records that could include years of emails with victims, journalists and others. The order is related to an abuse lawsuit against the Rev. Michael Tierney and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, B.P., said he was 13 when Tierney attacked and molested him in the 1970s.

    Attorneys for Tierney and the diocese sought the documents as evidence that the accuser's attorney violated a gag order by giving details of the case to SNAP.

    Clohessy said defense attorneys could ask a judge to fine him and SNAP, or jail him, until all documents are turned over, but so far, no request along those lines has been made.
    He said the documents being sought include all communication from throughout SNAP's 23 years of existence that pertain to repressed memory and current or former Kansas City-area priests.

    "We're going to continue to do everything we possibly can to protect the victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, journalists, police, prosecutors and concerned Catholics," an emotional Clohessy said. "We are proud and determined to not be transparent about the identities and emails of deeply wounded people who seek our help."


    Defense lawyers sought the documents as evidence that the accuser's attorney, Rebecca Randles, gave details of the case to SNAP. The defense claims SNAP then printed the information in a press release.

    Under the ruling, SNAP must produce all documents or correspondence relating to Tierney, the diocese, any priest currently or formerly associated with the diocese, the Survivors Network communication with the plaintiff and any documents related to repressed memory, if any.

    The plaintiff in the lawsuit said he had repressed memories of the assault for years.
    But Clohessy said SNAP has helped with multiple cases involving repressed memory.

    "What possible relevance could it have to the guilt or innocence of Father Tierney what a Miami victim says about an Alaska priest in 1989?" he asked. He called the defense request a "bullying effort."

    SNAP has provided support and guidance for abuse victims since it was formed in the late 1980s. The group has been a constant critic of Catholic church officials, alleging they have too often failed to alert police and prosecutors to abusive clergy and have often opted to instead simply move them to other locations.

    As the costs of the scandal have skyrocketed, many bishops and other Catholics have accused SNAP of funneling clients to plaintiffs' lawyers who want to enrich themselves and bankrupt the church.

    According to studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops, dioceses have paid about $3 billion in settlements and other costs related to more than 15,700 abuse claims since 1950.
    SNAP argues the overwhelming majority of alleged victims who seek the group's help do not sue.

    read the full article at:


  11. Feds indict W. Pa. Catholic priest on child pornography charges stemming from DA's probe

    JOE MANDAK, Associated Press
    The Republic January 4, 2012

    PITTSBURGH — A Catholic priest has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he possessed thousands of images of child pornography that county detectives said they found when searching his office and residence last month after a church employee reported seeing the cleric viewing an image of a naked boy on his office computer.

    Rev. Bartley Sorensen, 62, has been suspended by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, which is cooperating in the investigation. The Associated Press could not immediately locate a phone number for Sorensen.

    Sorensen's defense attorney did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday on the two-count grand jury indictment charging the priest with receiving child pornography on his computer and possessing child pornography.

    Bishop David A. Zubik said in a statement that "there is no way to understand, yet alone excuse or talk around compulsions involving children."

    "My prayers are for all that have been victims of this pernicious exploitation," Zubik said.

    Allegheny County detectives arrested Sorensen on Dec. 10, after a parish employee called a church child abuse hotline after allegedly seeing Sorensen viewing child pornography on his computer the previous day.

    In a Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011 photo, the Rev. Bartley A. Sorensen, 62, former pastor of St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Churchill, leaves District Judge Thomas Caulfields office in Forest Hills, Pa. Sorenson has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he possessed thousands of images of child pornography on his computer, discs, books and photo albums seized by county detectives last month. The indictment was unsealed Wednesday, Jan.3, 2012. Sorensen is expected to surrender and be arraigned by a federal magistrate in Pittsburgh on Friday, Jan. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Robin Rombach)
    An arrest affidavit at the time said the female employee saw the image of a boy who appeared to be 5 to 10 years old, and naked from the waist down, under the caption "Hottie Boys," on the priest's computer in his residence. The employee told investigators that Sorensen, who had been transferred to St. John Fisher Church in Churchill just three weeks earlier, spent "hours upon hours" on his computer, alone in his office, according to the affidavit.

    U.S. Attorney David Hickton said the county charges will be dismissed after Sorensen appears before the federal magistrate on Friday. He said the investigation is continuing.

    "We're going to work the case jointly with the (Allegheny County) district attorney and the FBI, but the case is not over," Hickton said, though he declined comment when asked what more might come of the case.

    County investigators filed additional charges against Sorensen on Dec. 13, the day after a second search of his church office turned up additional images and videos. Investigators said they found 5,000 pictures on three CDs taken from his church office during the initial search.

    The federal charges are based on items the detectives found during both searches.

    According to the indictment, federal authorities also want Sorensen to forfeit a desktop computer, a digital camera, and more than 100 CDs, DVDs, books and photo albums seized during the earlier searches by county detectives.

    The indictment contends Sorensen received or possessed the images since June. The charge of receiving child pornography on his computer carries a prison sentence of five to 20 years upon conviction, while the possession charge has no minimum and carries a maximum 10-year term.


  12. Ex-priest jailed for three years over child pornography

    The Irish Times January 31, 2012

    A FORMER priest and convicted child abuser has been jailed for three years for possession of large amounts of child pornography.

    Oliver O’Grady (66) had thousands of explicit images of children stored on computers and USB drives, some depicting victims as young as two. Gardaí also found more than six hours of child pornography videos and more than 500 pages of online discussions on the subject of child pornography.

    O’Grady, Charlemont House, Dublin, was sentenced to 14 years in California for abusing children while a priest. He was deported to Ireland in 2001 after serving seven years of his sentence.

    The images were discovered after O’Grady left his laptop on an Aer Lingus flight. A staff member examined the computer and alerted gardaí after coming across the files.

    O’Grady pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three counts of possessing child pornography at Dublin airport on February 15th, 2010, and at Citi Hostel, Charlemont Street, and Elephant storage unit, Tallaght, on December 10th, 2010.

    Det Garda Gerard Keane of the paedophile investigations unit told Kerida Naidoo, prosecuting, that he found nearly 280,000 images on O’Grady’s laptops and hard drives, the majority showing children in sexual poses. He also found more than 1,000 child pornography video files which totalled more than six hours in length.

    An audio file was also discovered. It started off with O’Grady discussing religious matters but after several minutes he began discussing the sexual abuse of a male child before returning to the topic of religion.

    Det Garda Keane also found more than 500 pages of chat logs which showed O’Grady’s “serious fixation” on children. Most of the data had already been deleted by O’Grady but Garda computer experts were able to recover it.

    On February 15th, 2010, O’Grady was returning to Dublin from Amsterdam on an Aer Lingus flight. He left his laptop on the aircraft and it was put in the lost property department by airline staff.

    Aer Lingus rules state that if lost property is not claimed within three months, the staff member who found it is allowed to keep it. When a staff member claimed possession of the computer and examined its contents, they found the illegal files and alerted gardaí.

    Gardaí went to the hostel where O’Grady was staying and he showed them to a locker containing several USB devices and an external hard drive. He also told them about more computer equipment in a storage facility in Tallaght. All the devices contained illegal files.

    In interview, O’Grady admitted the equipment was his but answered “no comment” to all other questions.

    Phillipp Rahn SC, defending, said O’Grady was “a socially isolated man”.

    He was born in Limerick and emigrated to California after joining the priesthood. In 1993 he was sentenced to 14 years for four counts of lewd acts against children and was deported to Ireland on his release.

    After leaving the priesthood, he moved to Amsterdam for several years before returning to Ireland on the flight where he left his laptop behind. While here, he had to move residence several times because of his notoriety.

    “If people didn’t download child pornography,” Judge Martin Nolan said, “there is a good chance that those children would not be abused in the first place.”

    He said O’Grady had a serious problem and prison in America had not rehabilitated him.

    He took into account his early guilty plea and limited co-operation with gardaí before jailing him for three years.


  13. In Kansas, Is Catholic Church Trying to Destroy A Victim's Advocates Organization?

    By Julie Cain, Ms. Magazine Blog Posted on AlterNet on February 11, 2012

    As we’ve been reporting on the Ms. Blog, Kansas City was rocked last fall by the indictment of Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report that a priest in his parish had pornographic pictures of children on his computer. Finn managed to avoid any serious punishment; he simply has to regularly report to a prosecutor any suspicious goings-on in his diocese that might relate to sexual abuse.

    Meanwhile a lawsuit filed against another accused Kansas City pedophile priest, Fr. Michael Tierney–the fifth such suit against Tierney since 2010–has tried to ensnare just the organization devoted to stopping such abuse,SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

    Last month, David Clohessy, SNAP’s executive director, was subjected to a six-hour deposition in the case ofJohn Doe BP v. Fr. Michael Tierney and the Kansas City Diocese. Lawyers for Finn and Tierney stated that lawyers for “Doe” (a 53-year-old man who accuses Tierney of assaulting him when he was a young altar boy)violated a gag order by discussing the case with SNAP–charges that SNAP, Clohessy and “Doe” deny. During his deposition Clohessy refused to compromise the privacy of victims of priest abuse by giving up names and information, even though he was subpoenaed to do so.

    Clohessy informed me that “no formal complaint had been made on the alleged gag order violation.” He went on to say that out of 700 questions asked of him during the deposition, only 3 pertained to the case in question. “The lawyers for Finn and Tierney kept repeating the same question: How does SNAP operate?”

    In a statement published on its website, SNAP said:

    Catholic officials want private, personal records and e mails involving hundreds of individuals who have never even heard of or met the accused or the accusers in the two suits. This is a misuse of judicial processes designed to crush a support and advocacy group that protects the vulnerable and heals the wounded. It’s cleverly orchestrated to keep clergy sex crimes and cover ups concealed.

    SNAP says that this is the first time in the 23-year history of the group that any of its staff have been asked to turn over records. Another SNAP staffer, Barbara Dorris, was also subpoenaed with a demand for the organization’s records.

    At first Clohessy thought that the Catholic Church was on a “fishing expedition,” but now believes that it is far more heinous than that. “This situation has the potential to close us down, and we believe that to be the intentions of the church.” Victims of priest abuse count on SNAP being discreet and confidential; without it, SNAP couldn’t survive and continue fighting for victims’ rights.

    For the links to related articles in this go to the following page:


  14. SNAP's critical legal battle for survivor privacy

    [I received the following email from SNAP]

    As you are a cherished friend to SNAP, we want to explain what Kansas City and St. Louis Catholic officials are doing to attack us and those who seek our help. We've included a lengthy "Q & A" here that outlines the details. But the bottom line is this: Catholic officials are desperately trying to conceal their wrong-doing by attacking victims. They're trying to silence victims, and others , by trying to severely weaken SNAP. In October, SNAP Director David Clohessy was served with a subpoena in Kansas City by church defense lawyers. They demanded emails, correspondence and other records (some going back 23 years) including deeply private conversations with victims, their names and the details of the abuse they suffered.

    Last month, Clohessy and SNAP Outreach Director Barbara Dorris were hit with more subpoenas, this time from the St. Louis archdiocese. Naturally our first concern was, and remains, the privacy of victims, most of whom never have or never will speak publicly or take any kind of legal action. We also quickly realized, however, that these wide-ranging demands also sought communications between SNAP and thousands of other individuals we help: family members,witnesses, whistleblowers, journalists, therapists, concerned Catholics and law enforcement officials. Our first duty is to those who seek and sought our guidance. For that reason, we fought tooth and nail to keep David from having to testify. Ultimately, we lost that fight. David was deposed. But he adamantly refused to give any names or private details about victims. And we're refusing to turn over any documents with similar information.

    The ramifications of these actions have already hit SNAP hard. Owing to massive legal bills which we cannot pay at this time, we have been forced to ask our attorney in Kansas City to withdraw from the case. The fact is we can no longer afford to pay him and still keep the lights on. We are seeking pro-bono help as the case moves forward and will update you as to our progress. Meanwhile in Kansas City, attorneys for the Catholic Church have moved forward with a "Motion to Compel" SNAP Director, David Clohessy to reveal private information about members and victims connected with SNAP and the case against Father Joseph Tierney. We will not reveal any of the information the church is requesting. The privacy of our survivors and members is absolutely paramount! So, David is preparing himself and his family as he faces jail time if necessary.

    Over two decades ago, we in SNAP pledged ourselves to protect and help victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, police, prosecutors, journalists, in fact anyone who was working to stop and expose child sex crimes and cover ups. That promise has not and will not be broken, no matter what forces are arrayed against us. The fact that we have been so successful is the chief reason that we now find ourselves in this painful and threatening situation. However it is one we shall win.

    Your support has been critical in our accomplishing our mission and is even more essential now. We, therefore, ask that you consider making a donation in order to help us meet the unprecedented challenge which faces us. In order to donate, simply go online to our donate page. Alternatively you can or mail it to SNAP: P.O. Box 6416, Chicago, Illinois 60680-6416 or call our Development department at (312) 455-1499. Meanwhile,. I want to assure you that SNAP remains as committed to end clergy sex crimes and cover ups as ever. These are difficult times, but we will prevail together.

    Warm Regards,

    Barbara Blaine

    David Clohessy

    [see the next comment for a Fact Sheet on this developing situation]


    What's the crisis facing SNAP?

    Catholic officials in two Missouri dioceses are trying to force key SNAP staff people to answer hours of questions under oath about and turn over thousands of pages of confidential communications with victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, police, prosecutors, journalists and concerned parishioners. It's an unprecedented assault on crime victims, on those who help crime victims and on our self help group.

    Who's affected by this?

    This potentially affects any crime victim who wants or needs privacy. It also affects police, prosecutors, journalists, witnesses, whistleblowers, victims, self help groups, counseling agencies - literally anyone who helps victims and exposes criminals. Emboldened by church officials' legal successes, a rapist may now seek, and perhaps get, records and depositions from staff at the center his victim went to for help. A violent husband might get documents and depositions from staff at the domestic violence center where the spouse he battered sought refuge.

    Why is it a crisis?

    This is the most severe threat we in SNAP have ever faced, for at least three reasons. First, fewer people are stepping forward and seeking help, fearing that their identities and experiences will be turned over to lawyers for predator priests and corrupt bishops. Second, these legal attacks consume massive amounts of time that our volunteers and staff need to devote to protecting kids, exposing predators, helping victims, reforming laws, and deterring future child sex crimes and cover ups. Third, these moves are driving SNAP toward bankruptcy. (We've had to suddenly spend tens of thousands of dollars just fighting and dealing with the first subpoena and church officials seem determined to drag out this process for months and months.) Some of our current members now fear that we will turn over their private information. As such, they have requested that we remove from them our member list.

    Has SNAP already been hurt?

    Absolutely. We've already spent more than 300 person-hours going through files. For weeks, we've done little of what we normally do to "protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded." Instead, we've been forced to look long and hard for pro bono attorneys to help us. And we've spent hours and hours working with attorneys to fight motion after motion from church defense lawyers, prepare for depositions, etc.

    Why are Catholic officials doing this?

    We're convinced Catholic officials are trying to shut us down and shut victims up, while also deterring witnesses, whistleblowers, journalists and other from contacting us. There are lots of other theories. Some suggest that this is a move to distract the public and parishioners from the serious and on-going clergy sex crimes and cover ups in the Kansas City diocese (where Bishop Robert Finn faces criminal charges for refusing, for months, to give evidence of child porn to police). Others feel the attack stems from our formal complaint at the International Criminal Court against top Vatican officials for continuing to enable and conceal child sex crimes. (That filing was in early September. We were hit with the first subpoena in late October.)

    continued in next comment...

  16. continued from previous comment:

    How exactly are Catholic officials mounting this attack?

    They're trying to drag us in to two civil lawsuits in which we're not involved. (SNAP has, in fact, only filed one lawsuit in our history.) In Kansas City, it's John Doe BP v. Fr. Michael Tierney and the Kansas City diocese. In St. Louis, it's Jane Doe v. Fr. Joseph D. Ross and the St. Louis archdiocese. They have issued four wide-ranging subpoenas (one in Kansas City and three in St. Louis) on two SNAP leaders (David Clohessy and Barbara Dorris) demanding thousands of pages of emails and records involving many individuals who have never met the accused or the accusers or even heard of the lawsuits at issue. Earlier this month, Clohessy was deposed for more than six hours by five lawyers representing Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn and five Kansas City accused pedophile priests (Fr. Michael Tierney, Msgr. Thomas O'Brien, Fr. Mark Honhart, Fr. Francis McGlynn and Fr. Thomas Cronin).

    How is SNAP responding?

    We're doing all that we can to protect the privacy of people who contact us. (Our choices are limited, however, because we are not a party to either lawsuit. Church officials are shrewdly attacking us in a venue where we lack much power or many options.) In his deposition, Clohessy refused to answer many question or give virtually any information about our members, supporters, and donors or our contacts withfamily members, journalists, police, prosecutors, whistleblowers and concerned Catholics. We provided hundreds of pages of already-public documents (news releases, lawsuits, a print out of our website). But we are also refusing to provide hundreds more pages that we consider private under our Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, privacy, the Missouri rape shield law, and similar laws.

    Are these two bishops acting alone?

    We don't think so. This is the first time any SNAP staffer has been subpoenaed in 23 years, within weeks, and they've done it to two of our three professional staff. The first two subpoenas, though issued in different diocese by different lawyers, are virtually identical.

    Are these two accused priests guilty?

    The Kansas City priest (Tierney) has been suspended by his own bishop and faces at least five accusers in pending civil cases. The St. Louis priest (Ross) pled guilty in the late 1988 to molesting a boy. (After his sentence was completed, archdiocesan officials quietly put him back into a parish, warning no one. That's when and where he sexually assaulted this now 19 year old girl from 1998-2000.)

    What about the claim that the Kansas City victim's attorney allegedly broke a "gag order?"

    We in SNAP don't believe she did. And we're highly skeptical of this claim, in part because church officials refuse to take steps to formally accuse her with any wrongdoing. (They merely make the accusation without doing so in any forum where she could defend herself.) No one has found that she's done anything wrong. And we in SNAP didn't and couldn't violate any such "gag order" because none was issued against us.

    What's next in the legal arena?

    In St. Louis, we're trying to figure out who we can get to represent us. In Kansas City we expect lawyers for Tierney and Bishop Finn to try to get a judge to force us to give them even more information (both documents and deposition answers) soon.

    How have journalists responded to these attacks?

    The Missouri Press Association, representing 280 news outlets, has filed an amicus brief in court challenging the Kansas City subpoena as a threat to press freedom. The state's two largest newspapers, the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Kansas City Star, have editorialized against church officials and their lawyers. The National Catholic Reporter has also editorialized on their side. A link to these articles can be found here: www.snapnetwork.org/snaps_fight

    continued in next comment...

  17. continued from previous comment:

    In KC, isn't this an attack by the accused priest, not by Bishop Finn?

    It's important to remember that Fr. Tierney has sworn to obey Bishop Finn and is still being paid by Finn. Finn is a monarch in charge of the whole diocese. So Finn could order Tierney to stop. Instead, Finn's lawyers are cooperating with Tierney's lawyers while Finn himself stays silent. (We also suspect that Finn is paying for Tierney's lawyer.) This is often the pattern in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases: the predator priest's lawyer plays "bad cop" while the complicit bishop's lawyer plays "good cop."

    In St. Louis, the attack comes from Archbishop Robert Carlson, right?


    How do the two cases differ?

    In Kansas City the subpoena was issued in late October and the deposition was January 2nd of this year. In St. Louis, the subpoenas were issued in early January and the depositions are set for February 22nd. In Kansas City, the priest (Tierney) is still a priest (so almost certainly still on the payroll) and lives there. In St. Louis, the priest (Ross) has been defrocked (so is NOT on the church payroll) and his whereabouts are unknown. In Kansas City, the victim is male, middle aged and repressed his memories. In St. Louis, the victim is female, in her teens and did NOT repress her memories.

    How can we help?

    Please go our website if you would like more information about the case athttp://www.snapnetwork.org/snaps_fight
    When articles about the legal attacks appear, please make supportive comments on line (If you're not sure how to do that, contact the SNAP office 312 455 1499 or email SNAPDevelopment@gmail.com.

    Letters to the editor of newspapers that write about this controversy are always helpful.
    If you belong to or work for a group, especially one that might be affected by this assault on victims' privacy, please consider asking the group to support us. In order to donate, simply go online to our donate page. Alternatively you can or mail it to SNAP: P.O. Box 6416, Chicago, Illinois 60680-6416 or call our Development department at (312) 455-1499.


  18. Allentown bishop at meeting where cardinal ordered sex abuse memo shredded, according to court claim

    Lehigh Valley Express-Times February 25, 2012

    Bishop Edward P. Cullen was in on a 1994 meeting in which Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua ordered a list of 35 problem priests destroyed, according to a court filing.

    Cullen, who served as bishop of the Diocese of Allentown from 1998 to 2009 and still lives in the Allentown area, had previously served as top aide under Bevilacqua.

    Matt Kerr, a spokesman for the Allentown diocese, referred requests for comment to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

    In Philadelphia, Monsignor William Lynn is facing trial in a priest-abuse scandal; jury selection is under way. Lynn is the first U.S. church official charged for allegedly keeping predator-priests in ministry.

    Lynn asked Friday to have his conspiracy and child-endangerment case thrown out based on new evidence of the list, which Lynn contends corroborates his claims that efforts to conceal clergy sex abuse were orchestrated at levels above him.

    The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Lynn’s filing claims Bevilacqua discussed the memo in a March 15, 1994, meeting with Monsignor James Molloy, the assistant vicar for administration, and Cullen, who was then the cardinal's top aide.
    After the meeting, Bevilacqua allegedly ordered Molloy to shred the memo, which Lynn had produced.

    Lynn in 1992 began combing the secret personnel files of hundreds of priests to gauge the scope of misconduct involving children, the Inquirer reported based on the court filing. He did it, his lawyers said, because he “felt it was the right thing to do,” the newspaper reported.
    Bevilacqua, who died last month, was never charged in the clergy sex-abuse scandal.

    Cullen, who also was never charged, testified before a Philadelphia grand jury in 2005 that Bevilacqua was insistent in all cases that parishioners not be told the truth about abusive priests.


  19. SNAP and the Bishops: Shooting the Messenger

    by Terence McKiernan, President BishopAccountability.org

    Dear Friends,

    I'm sure most of you have seen today's New York Times article entitled "Church Using Priests' Cases to Pressure Victims' Network.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/us/catholic-church-pressures-victims-network-with-subpoenas.html

    I hope that you'll consider responding to this important article by adding your comments on the NY Times site and by visiting the SNAP website too. http://www.snapnetwork.org/ SNAP deserves our financial and moral support.

    The Catholic church in the United States has always played two games with individual survivors of abuse by its clergy -- pastoral softball and legal hardball. But now we have confirmation from a straight-talking, knowledgeable player, William Donohue of the Catholic League, that SNAP as an organization is being targeted:

    “The bishops have come together collectively. I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don’t need altar boys.”

    The USCCB has issued a denial, but there is ample corroboration for Mr. Donohue's assessment.

    I would argue that, far from being a "menace to the Catholic Church," SNAP has done more good for the church than the many hundreds of lawyers and PR experts on diocesan payrolls. As a Catholic as well as an archivist, I believe that SNAP has performed two great services:

    - SNAP has provided a community of solace for survivors of clergy abuse, both in its national and local meetings, and for the much larger group of survivors who don't go to meetings but are grateful to have SNAP's support. Helping the survivors of abuse is the responsibility of every Catholic layperson and cleric. SNAP is doing the church's work.

    - SNAP has provided a way for survivors of abuse to talk about what they've suffered, and as a result, many hundreds of newspaper articles have been written, revealing a truth that would otherwise have festered. Without survivors' honesty and SNAP's advocacy, there would be no Charter and Norms, and hundreds of offending priests would still be in ministry.

    Someday, I believe that SNAP's achievements, and their leading role in the worldwide movement for children's rights, will earn Barbara Blaine and David Clohessy the Nobel Peace Prize. The Catholic church, which has benefited greatly from SNAP's honesty and persistence, should take the lead in acknowledging their contribution.

    All best,

  20. Judge won't dismiss charge against Missouri bishop

    By BILL DRAPER - Associated Press April 5, 2012

    KANSAS CITY, MO. - A Missouri judge refused Thursday to dismiss misdemeanor charges against a Kansas City diocese and its bishop, who is the highest-ranking U.S. Roman Catholic official criminally charged with shielding an abusive priest. Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are charged with failing to report suspected child abuse. Prosecutors say each is a "mandatory reporter" under the state law. Defense attorneys argued the law is unconstitutionally vague, and that Finn wasn't the diocese's designated reporter.

    "This Court finds and concludes that persons of ordinary intelligence have no difficulty understanding the meaning of 'immediately report,'" Circuit Judge John Torrence wrote in his ruling.

    A spokeswoman for the diocese declined to comment Thursday. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said she was pleased Thursday and that her office would continue to "prepare diligently for trial in this case."

    Torrence denied a request by attorneys for Finn and the diocese to have the cases tried separately if they advanced, saying there is no reason to have two separate trials in a case involving most of the same facts. He also granted two defense motions to quash subpoenas and one to extend the deadlines before the trial, which is to begin Sept. 24.

    Finn has acknowledged he was told in December 2010 about hundreds of images of small children, some of them pornographic, found on the Rev. Shawn Ratigan's computer - several months before the diocese turned over a disk containing the photos to local police. The bishop also has acknowledged that a parish principal raised concerns about Ratigan's behavior around children in May 2010, half a year before the photos were found.

    A computer technician working on the laptop had discovered the images, many of which were focused on the crotch areas of the clothed children. One series showed the exposed genitals of a girl believed to be 3 or 4 years old. The day after the photos were found, Ratigan was found unconscious in his garage, his motorcycle running and a note nearby apologizing for the harm he caused to the church, the children and their families.

    Finn in turn sent Ratigan out of state for a psychiatric evaluation. When the priest returned to Missouri, Finn sent him to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist, where he was to say Mass for the sisters and be away from children. The diocese went to police with the photos last May after the church received reports Ratigan had violated orders to stay away from children.

    Ratigan was charged that month with three state child pornography counts. He was then charged in June with 13 federal counts of producing, possessing and attempting to produce child porn. He has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed.
    Finn has claimed Vicar General Robert Murphy and a diocese review board - not the bishop - were responsible for reporting suspected images of child pornography to the state. But prosecutors insist that as the diocese's top manager, Finn not only was a mandatory reporter, but acknowledged as much before a grand jury.

    Experts say a criminal conviction against Finn could send shock waves through a church hierarchy unaccustomed to being held legally accountable for failing to report suspected sexual abuse by clergy members. Some also have said a conviction against the bishop could result in a flood of civil lawsuits in addition to dozens already filed against the diocese.

    David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued a statement Thursday praising the judge's ruling. "This is the first time that a Bishop has faced criminal charges for his role in a cover-up, and we are hopeful that the full truth will come out in a trial," Clohessy said.



    Barbara Blaine, SNAP President

    Dear SNAP supporter,

    Thanks to your help and encouragement, we have been able to marshal our resources and begin fighting back against the recent attacks by Catholic bishops against victims. In the past five days, we've filed two lengthy legal documents - one in Missouri and one in The Hague.

    Last week in Kansas City, we responded in court to a motion by church lawyers trying to force us to answer even more invasive deposition questions and turn over confidential information about victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, police, prosecutors, journalists and concerned parishioners across the United States.

    In that document, we again detail how we've never spoken to the man suing Father Michael Tierney, nor broken any "gag" order. We explain how church officials and lawyers are trying to violate the freespeech and free association rights of many individuals. Our filing also includes a new, long affidavit signed by SNAP President Barbara Blaine which gives the judge more information about the work we do and the people we help.

    Contrary to a few loud claims, SNAP does not try to "destroy" the Catholic hierarchy. We seek justice for those people who lives were destroyed by the hierarchy. And we work to prevent more lives from being destroyed by the hierarchy.

    To that end, yesterday, we submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) new evidence and extensive documentation showing ongoing child rape by Catholic clerics and continuing cover-ups by Catholic officials. The filing underscored the urgent need to prevent future child sex crimes and cover-ups and hold top Vatican staff accountable for widespread human rights abuses. Much of the new material includes evidence that has come to light in the six months since our original submission. These developments demonstrate again both how widespread this human rights crisis is and how it tragically continues.

    Since September, when we first contacted the ICC, nearly 500 victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and supporters from 65 different countries have reached out to us. We're doing all we can to help them.

    As a reminder, the jurisdiction of the ICC includes rape, sexual violence, and torture as crimes against humanity. It also provides for individual criminal liability for those with command or superior responsibility over those who directly commit such crimes.

    In addition to the new evidence, our tireless attorneys with the Center for Constitutional Rights informed the ICC prosecutor about the "retaliatory and harassing" legal moves church officials are making against us since our ICC complaint was filed.

    We could not have accomplished any of this without your consistent help, your moving letters of support and, of course, your donations. Your generosity has been crucial in helping us recover from these new "get tough" assaults by Catholic hierarchy and to fight back, for the sake of the already wounded and the still vulnerable.
    Thank you from all of us!

    Thank you from all of us

    P.S. Here's our filing in Missouri:


    Here's our filing in The Hague:


    1. Those links in previous comment are broken. Here are the working links:

      Here's our filing in Missouri:


      Here's our filing in The Hague:


  22. Judge orders SNAP to turn over abuse records

    Catholic News Agency April 25, 2012

    Kansas City,(CNA)- A Missouri judge has ordered a group that works with victims of sexual abuse by clergy to turn over decades of records to an accused Catholic priest’s lawyers who want to determine whether the group has been coaching alleged victims and plaintiffs to say they repressed memories of abuse.

    Attorneys representing priests in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph sought the records from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP.

    Although the group strongly denied that it coaches victims, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ann Mesle said she will order the material to be turned over to the priest’s lawyers and the diocese’s lawyers.

    “I believe they are entitled to have information on repressed memory,” she said April 20.

    The SNAP material also would be available for use in four other cases pending against Tierney, and possibly for lawyers defending other priests in the Kansas City area and in Clinton County, Mo., Mesle said, according to the Associated Press.

    Missouri law has a five-year statute of limitations on civil sexual abuse allegations unless the victim can prove that he or she had repressed memory of the abuse. If defense lawyers can prove that plaintiffs did not suppress memories of sexual abuse, judges would have to throw out a lawsuit against Fr. Michael Tierney and the Catholic diocese.

    Fr. Tierney is accused of abusing a 13-year-old boy in the 1970s but has denied any wrongdoing.

    The names of third parties who contacted SNAP with information about possible abuse may be removed from the documents, some of which are over 20 years old. Lawyers representing accused priests and the diocese have agreed to allow the removal.

    Fr. Tierney’s lawyer Brian Madden rejected claims that the lawyers and the diocese are “trying to ‘out’ the alleged victims.”

    “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he told the Associated Press.

    Rebecca Randles, the alleged abuse victim’s attorney, said her client never had contact with SNAP and has legitimately repressed memories of abuse.

    Judge Mesle noted that she expects her order to be appealed.

    Last January, SNAP said that it would refuse to submit to a judge's request for information about allegations against Fr. Tierney.

    In a Jan, 2 deposition, SNAP director David Clohessy answered questions concerning accusations that an attorney violated a court gag order by revealing information about an abuse lawsuit to the organization.

    Judge Mesle previously said that Clohessy “almost certainly” has knowledge relevant to the Fr. Tierney case.

    According to the Kansas City Star, she said on April 20 that she planned to order another deposition for Clohessy.

    SNAP's stated goals include abuse prevention and the healing of those wounded by abuse. Its critics, however, say focuses more on attacking the Catholic Church than assisting victims.


  23. Former Pastor Indicted On Child Porn Charges

    Richard Howard Craft Served As Interim Pastor Of Family Of Christ Presbyterian Church In Greeley

    Deb Stanley, New Media Producer The Denver Channel August 24, 2011

    DENVER -- Prosecutors said a former pastor has been indicted on child pornography charges.
    Richard Howard Craft, 68, of Thornton, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography, prosecutors said.

    Craft previously served as interim pastor of Family of Christ Presbyterian Church of Greeley.

    The indictment alleges that Craft knowingly distributed and attempted to distribute child pornography between July 2007 and January 2008 as well as in December 2009.

    Prosecutors said Craft’s home in Thornton was searched in 2009 after an undercover FBI special agent in Philadelphia observed numerous files depicting child pornography. The indictment said the files were being shared from Craft’s computer located at his home.


  24. Kansas City Bishop Convicted of Shielding Pedophile Priest

    By JOHN ELIGON and LAURIE GOODSTEIN, New York Times September 6, 2012

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Roman Catholic bishop was found guilty on Thursday of failing to report suspected child abuse, becoming the first American bishop in the decades-long sexual abuse scandal to be convicted of shielding a pedophile priest.

    In a hastily announced bench trial that lasted a little over an hour, a judge found the bishop, Robert W. Finn, guilty on one misdemeanor charge and not guilty on a second charge, for failing to report a priest who had taken hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls. The counts each carried a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, but Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation.

    The verdict is a watershed moment in the priest sexual abuse scandal that has plagued the church since the 1980s. Bishops have been eager to turn the page on this era and have put in place extensive abuse prevention policies, which include reporting suspected abusers to law enforcement authorities. But the Kansas City case has served as a wake-up call to Catholics that the policies cannot be effective if the bishops do not follow them.

    It was an abrupt ending to a case that has consumed the church in Kansas City and threatened to turn into a sensational, first-ever trial of a sitting prelate. The case had been scheduled for a jury trial later this month, but on Wednesday the prosecution said it would be decided in one afternoon by Judge John M. Torrence in Jackson County Circuit Court.

    Before being sentenced, Bishop Finn, 59, his jaw quivering, rose in court and said: “I am pleased and grateful that the prosecution and the courts have allowed this matter to be completed. The protection of children is paramount.”

    He added, “I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused.”

    The church managed to avoid a lengthy, highly public jury trial like the one earlier this year in Philadelphia, where a high-ranking assistant to the archbishop was convicted of child endangerment and sentenced to prison for three to six years.

    The Jackson County prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker, said that the expedited trial spared the young victims and their parents from having to testify. She said it also meant that the disturbing photographs of children would not be shown in open court. She said the victims and their families “were all ecstatic that this could end today.”

    The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, like some other victims’ advocacy groups, applauded the unprecedented conviction of a bishop but said in a statement that the sentence was too lenient. “Only jail time would have made a real difference here,” it said.

    The judge dropped two charges against the diocese itself.

    continued in next comment...

  25. continued from previous comment...

    The case began when the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, a charismatic parish priest who had previously attracted attention for inappropriate behavior with children, took his laptop computer in for repairs in December 2010. A technician immediately told church officials that the laptop contained what appeared to be pornographic photographs of young girls’ genitals, naked and clothed.

    Father Ratigan attempted suicide, survived and was sent for treatment. Bishop Finn reassigned him to live in a convent and ordered him stay away from children. But Father Ratigan continued to attend church events and take lewd pictures of girls for five more months, until church officials reported him in May 2011, without Bishop Finn’s approval. The bishop was found guilty on the charge relating only to that time period.

    Father Ratigan pleaded guilty in August to federal child pornography charges, and is awaiting sentencing.

    Ms. Peters Baker told the judge in opening arguments that Bishop Finn had been given ample warning that Father Ratigan was a danger to children. She said that the priest had even admitted to Bishop Finn that he had “a pornography problem.”

    The prosecutor said: “Defendant Finn is the ultimate authority. The buck does stop with him.”

    In May 2010, the principal of the Catholic elementary school where Father Ratigan was working sent a memo to the diocese raising alarm about the priest. The letter said that he had put a girl on his lap on a bus ride and encouraged children to reach into his pockets for candy, and that parents discovered girl’s underwear in a planter outside his house. Bishop Finn has said he did not read the letter until a year later.

    The prosecutor said the photographs discovered on Father Ratigan’s laptop in December 2010 were “alarming photos,” among them a series taken on a playground in which the photographer moves in closer until the final shots show girls’ genitalia through their clothing. Confronted with the photographs, Father Ratigan tried to commit suicide, but survived and was briefly hospitalized.

    Bishop Finn sent Father Ratigan for a psychological examination, then assigned him to live in a convent and told him not to have contact with children. But despite the restrictions, Father Ratigan presided at a girl’s First Communion and attended an Easter egg hunt and a child’s birthday party.

    The bishop is required as part of his sentence to start a training program for diocesan employees in detecting early signs of child abuse, and in what constitutes child pornography and obscenity. He must also create a fund of $10,000 to pay for victims’ counseling.

    Bishop Finn and the diocese still face 27 civil suits, 4 of them involving Father Ratigan.

    It is unclear whether Bishop Finn will come under pressure by the Vatican or his fellow bishops to resign. Asked at a news conference about Bishop Finn’s future, Ms. Peters Baker, demurred and said, “You’ll have to call Rome.”

    Judge Torrence, at the close of the trial, said that he hoped that this ended “a long and dark chapter” in history. “I am convinced that this was an appropriate and just way to wrap this up and let everyone move on,” he said.


  26. Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

    Media Statement

    MO - SNAP sends letter to Pope Benedict


    Below is a copy of a letter that leaders of SNAP are sending to Pope Benedict, urging him to step in and punish Bishop Finn following his conviction yesterday on child endangerment charges.


    Dear Pope Benedict XVI;

    Yesterday, Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn was found guilty of endangering kids by refusing to report suspected child sex crimes to police.

    He and his lawyers admitted, in a written court filing, that several top diocesan staff saw, knew about or suspected that Fr. Shawn Ratigan had or created child porn photos of young girls at the parishes where he worked.

    The secular justice system has spoken. Now you must act.

    When wrongdoing is ignored, wrongdoing is repeated. When top Catholic officials refuse to punish complicit bishops, complicity is encouraged.

    When you speak of the horrors of child sexual abuse, your words ring hollow because you continue to let pedophile priests and corrupt bishops remain in the church and in positions of power.

    But now, for the first time in US history, you have a diocese headed by a proven criminal. You must act if you are serious about making the church safer for children, discouraging future cover ups in child sex cases, and ameliorating the wounds of tens of thousands of suffering adult victims and millions of betrayed parishioners.

    We are formally urging you to demote or discipline Bishop Finn. Doing so would be an act of justice towards him and mercy towards his flock.

    And doing so would strongly deter other church officials from acting recklessly, callously and deceitfully in other child sex cases.

    Unless you take firm steps to show strong disapproval of Bishop Finn's crimes – through actions, not words - similar crimes will continue to be repeated by others in the Catholic hierarchy, as they have happened for centuries and still happen today.


    David Clohessy, SNAP Director

    Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director


  27. Montreal deacon charged in child porn bust

    The Canadian Press December 22, 2012

    A Montreal deacon is being accused of producing and distributing child pornography a day after police say they seized 2,000 images from his home.

    William Kokesch, 65, was charged Saturday via video link at the Montreal courthouse. Investigators say they searched his home and arrested him a day earlier.

    Montreal police Const. Dany Richer said Kokesch will remain in jail until Monday when he's scheduled to again appear in court to face the allegations against him.

    Kokesch was a deacon for a church in Beaconsfield, a suburb on Montreal's West Island.

    Kokesch was a communications director for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He helped coordinate World Youth Day conferences in Toronto, Rome and Paris, according to the organization's website.

    The Archdiocese of Montreal issued a statement late Saturday saying they had removed Kokesch from all pastoral activity. The organization said its thoughts were with the alleged victims of child pornography.

    "We wish to assure all those concerned by this event that we are keeping them in our prayers, and we urge everyone to have confidence in and respect for the judicial process and to await its conclusions," the statement said.


  28. Priest faces seven child porn charges in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec

    56-year-old priest worked with church youth group and boy scouts

    CBC News March 8, 2013

    A priest in Sorel-Tracy, Que., has been charged with seven counts related to the possession and distribution of child pornography.

    The bail hearing for Daniel Moreau, 56, was originally scheduled for today, but has been moved to Monday, March 11 at 2 p.m. at the Sorel-Tracy courthouse.

    He’s facing three charges of possession of child pornography, one charge of possession with intent to distribute, one charge for accessing, one charge for distribution and one for production.

    The Diocese of St-Hyacinthe acknowledged Moreau's charges in a statement released on Friday.

    "We deplore and condemn the fact that such acts may have been committed," said Jean Marc Robillard, vicar general of the diocese.

    "We understand the distress that such an event can cause within the entire community of Sorel-Tracy, as well as among all those who knew him through his ministry."

    Following diocese policy, the priest has been automatically relieved of his duties and is no longer permitted to exercise his pastoral ministry.

    Moreau led worship at the Ste-Anne, St-Joseph and St-Pierre parishes.

    "I never expected something like this," said local resident Mathieu Vallée.

    Moreau baptized Vallée's son last November.

    "I find it sad, for both the parish and its followers," another resident said.

    Moreau's resumé, which was posted on the parish website but has since been pulled down, lists his work as a scout and church youth group leader. Moreau is also cited as the webmaster for the Montenach de Beloeil scouts group.

    He was immediately suspended from les Aventuriers de Baden-Powell, a scouts group, as well.

    Quebec provincial police arrested Moreau on Thursday at his presbytery on Du Roi Street in Sorel-Tracy.

    Sgt. Daniel Thibodeau said investigators were tipped off about Moreau by another police force.

    Officers seized several computers, which are still being analyzed.

    It’s possible Moreau will be charged with further counts after all the evidence has been processed.

    Moreau's lawyer says he will enter a plea of not guilty. The Crown says it plans to oppose his release on bail.


  29. St. Louis Catholic priest indicted on child pornography charge

    By Kevin Murphy | Reuters – April 24, 2013

    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A federal grand jury indicted a Catholic priest in St. Louis on Wednesday on child pornography charges involving Internet images of a boy under the age of 18, in the latest sex accusation to rock the Church.

    William Vatterott, 36, was charged with possession of child pornography, according to the indictment released by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000, if convicted.

    The indictment is the latest in a series of abuse accusations to hit the U.S. Catholic Church over the past two decades. The scandals have cost the Church billions of dollars in settlements and driven prominent dioceses into bankruptcy.

    U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said the Archdiocese of St. Louis cooperated with the investigation.

    The archdiocese placed Vatterott on administrative leave in June 2011 when it first learned of the allegations, according to a statement it issued on Wednesday. Vatterott was also accused of an incident involving underage drinking and inappropriate behavior, the archdiocese said at the time.

    Vatterott had served as pastor of St. Cecilia Parish since 2008, according to the archdiocese.

    The case comes after Kansas City priest Shawn Ratigan pleaded guilty last August to producing child pornography. In September, Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of failing to report suspected child abuse when he did not report that Ratigan had the pornographic images.

    (Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Brendan O'Brien, Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)


  30. Many reports about priest preceded boy’s suicide, parents say

    BY JUDY L. THOMAS, The Kansas City Star May 16, 2013

    Local Catholic officials received numerous reports alleging inappropriate behavior by a priest before a 14-year-old boy took his life in 1983, a motion filed this week by the boy’s parents says.

    But the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese failed to act on the reports about Monsignor Thomas O’Brien, the motion alleges, and Brian Teeman committed suicide after suffering repeated sexual abuse by the priest.

    The motion, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, is packed with excerpts from depositions of dozens of witnesses — including priests and nuns — and an affidavit from a former school board member at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School, who said she complained about O’Brien to a former bishop, then resigned and pulled her son from the school in the 1980s because nothing was done about it.

    Brian died of a gunshot wound to the head in November 1983 at the family’s home in Independence.

    The motion is part of a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the diocese and O’Brien by Don and Rosemary Teeman. The Teemans filed the suit in September 2011 after a man who had served as an altar boy with their son told them of the alleged abuse. The lawsuit says the diocese shares responsibility for Brian’s death because church officials knew that O’Brien was sexually abusing boys but covered it up.

    “They had, by the time Brian Teeman committed suicide, received no less than 17 reports of serious danger to children by this priest but chose to hide that information and ignore its responsibility to report his illegal behavior to the authorities,” the motion says.

    After Brian’s death, the motion alleges, the diocese received at least 12 more reports about O’Brien. More than one linked the teen’s suicide to abuse by O’Brien, according to the motion.

    “Despite more than 29 reports of impropriety, the diocese has never been truthful about O’Brien,” the motion says, “and has never reached out to the Teeman family or other victims of O’Brien and has never reported his abuses to (social workers) or the police, despite their clear obligation to do so.

    “The diocese has consistently chosen to protect its priest predators instead of keeping its children safe.”

    The diocese and O’Brien have filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that too much time has passed. The statute of limitations for wrongful death is three years in Missouri. But Jackson County Circuit Judge Michael Manners held as valid the Teemans’ argument that the statute of limitations should be suspended because of the defendants’ alleged cover-up, fraud and concealment of O’Brien’s abuse of their son and other children.

    A trial is scheduled for July 8.

    O’Brien, who has been the subject of more than two dozen sexual abuse lawsuits since 2004, has repeatedly denied that he abused any boys. His attorney, Gerald McGonagle, did not respond to requests for comment.

    Diocesan spokesman Jack Smith said this week in a statement that “the Diocese intends to reply to these allegations and assertions through a pleading, pursuant to court rules and procedure.”

    The reply probably will be filed next week, he said.

    The motion comes the same week that the diocese settled a civil lawsuit involving the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who was convicted last year of producing and attempting to produce child pornography. That lawsuit, settled for $600,000, was filed by the parents of a young Missouri girl.

    In a motion filed last month, the diocese contended that the Teemans told everyone that Brian’s death was an accident and that they had no proof that the diocese knew of O’Brien’s alleged abuse of Brian or any connection between Brian’s death and the alleged abuse.

    The Teemans’ new motion says that while O’Brien was at St. Elizabeth’s Parish from 1971 to 1981, he was reported to two bishops and an auxiliary bishop for sexually abusing children and was ... [continued in next comment]

  31. ...confronted by the mothers of two alleged victims as well as a nun who was the sister of a victim.

    Reports about O’Brien’s behavior also were made to numerous priests and another nun, the motion says. And two priests and another nun told the diocese that O’Brien “was drinking heavily, had a girlfriend, was having elderly parishioners make him executor of their estates, and was selling their antiques and other valuables without the funds coming to the church,” the motion says. “The Diocesan response to these reports was to transfer O’Brien from St. Elizabeth’s to Nativity in Independence.”

    At Nativity, the motion says, a then school board member, Janice Fristoe, became concerned about O’Brien’s actions. Her affidavit says that she began receiving complaints about O’Brien from teachers after she was elected to the board.

    One teacher told Fristoe that O’Brien was taking boys out of class and to the rectory or sacristy so often that they were falling behind in their studies. She said she also was told that O’Brien was regularly taking boys to Lake Viking north of Kansas City, where he drank alcohol and engaged in sexual activity with them.

    Fristoe says in the affidavit that she went to see the bishop at that time, John J. Sullivan, about the concerns, and the bishop told her he thought O’Brien had a drinking problem. She said the bishop asked her to spy on O’Brien and let him know whether O’Brien was still drinking.

    After about three weeks, according to the affidavit, Fristoe got calls from teachers who complained that there had been a fire drill at school and O’Brien had kept some boys with him in the sacristy for 45 minutes while everyone else waited for them outside. Fristoe said she confronted O’Brien about it at the next school board meeting.

    “He snarled at me as he states, ‘You will never question anything I do in this parish ever again!’” the affidavit says.

    After that, the document says, Fristoe reported the concerns to a monsignor at the diocese, then “I announced that I was resigning from the school board and taking my son out of Nativity School.”

    A group of teachers also went to the diocese with concerns, the depositions indicate.

    “Included in the conversation was the fact that O’Brien was a monster, he was abusive, drunk and spent an unnatural amount of time with young boys, among other topics,” the motion says. “These teachers were told if they did not like it, they could leave. Six teachers left before the next school year started — the 1983 school year during which Brian Teeman took his life.”

    In the fall of 1983, the father of a student at Nativity reported to the diocese that O’Brien had sexually abused his son and another boy. As a result, the motion says, O’Brien was sent to counseling near Albuquerque, N.M., at the end of October 1983.

    Brian committed suicide on Nov. 1.

    The diocese has said that it received a complaint in September 1983 accusing O’Brien of sexual misconduct with a teenage boy and that O’Brien denied any wrongdoing. O’Brien was removed from his assignment as pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in October 1983 and sent for psychological evaluation and treatment, the diocese said.

    After completing treatment, O’Brien returned to the diocese in June 1984 and was allowed to serve only as a part-time hospital chaplain, the diocese said. He continued in that position until 2002. Later that year, the bishop at that time, Raymond J. Boland, told O’Brien that he could no longer present himself as a priest.

    One of the exhibits filed with the Teemans’ new motion was a letter O’Brien sent to them after Brian died.

    “Like yourselves I am in a state of shock,” he wrote. “Not until I reach eternity will I be able to understand tragedys (sic) like this.”

    “Brian was special to me. I think he enjoyed working at the Rectory and I enjoyed having him around.”

    The letter, written Nov. 13, 1983, was mailed from Albuquerque.


  32. Archbishop’s computer contained over 100,000 child porn files

    by Michael Stone, Progressive Secular Humanist October 3, 2014

    More than 100,000 child porn videos and photos have been found on the computer of former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who is also accused of raping numerous children in the Dominican Republic and Poland.

    Wesolowski, currently under house arrest at the Vatican, is one of the highest-ranking church officials to be accused of sexually abusing children during the Catholic Church’s widespread and costly sexual abuse scandal.

    The videos and photos of child pornography were stored on a computer in the office at the Holy See diplomatic compound in the Dominican Republic, where Wesolowski served as papal nuncio in Santo Domingo.

    After being publicly accused of procuring child prostitutes last year, Wesolowski was secretly removed from his post as papal nuncio in Santo Domingo by Vatican officials hoping to avoid an embarrassing public prosecution.

    Authorities in the Dominican Republic have been calling for Wesolowski’s extradition: a court there has opened a case against the former Vatican ambassador, and the attorney general wants to criminally charge Wesolowski.

    Officials in Poland, Wesolowski’s country of origin, and where he has also been accused of sexually abusing children, are also calling for his extradition.

    According to Vatican detectives, some of the horrors found on the former Archbishop’s computer included around 160 videos showing teenage boys forced to perform sexual acts on themselves and on adults, and more than 86,000 pornographic photos which were methodically archived in several category-based folders.

    Investigators said that at least another 45,000 pictures were deleted, while even more child pornography was found on a laptop Wesolowski used during his trips abroad.

    Late last month Weslowski was placed under house arrest at the Vatican in response to popular outrage after reports began to circulate that the accused child rapist was free to wander the streets of Rome nearly a year after being secretly recalled from the Dominican Republic by the Vatican in order to avoid criminal prosecution there.

    Vatican authorities claim they are now investigating whether Wesolowski sexually abused children while serving in other posts during his career. Previously he served in South Africa, Costa Rica, Japan, Switzerland, India and Denmark.

    Wesolowski has been charged with sexually abusing minors and child porn possession. If convicted, Wesolowski faces 12 years in jail. His trial is expected to start in January.

    to follow the links embedded in this article go to:


  33. Ex-youth pastor sentenced for child porn

    By Associated Press, Washington Post December 1, 2014

    BEAUMONT, Texas — A former East Texas youth pastor has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to producing child pornography.

    Federal prosecutors said 23-year-old Trevion Lechay Ethridge, of Newton, was sentenced Monday to 23 years and four months in federal prison. He entered a guilty plea in June to production of child pornography.

    When he pleaded guilty, Ethridge admitted under oath that while he was a youth pastor at a Newton County church, he sent a minor pornographic images and videos of himself and enticed the minor to send pornographic images and videos in return. That happened from November 2012 to March 2013.


  34. Two cases of child pornography possession in Vatican in 2014

    BY PHILIP PULLELLA, Reuters VATICAN CITY January 31, 2015

    The Vatican, which is still struggling with the effects of a worldwide paedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church, discovered two cases of possession of child pornography within its own walls last year, its chief prosecutor said on Saturday.

    Gian Piero Milano, whose official title is Promoter of Justice, reported the cases in a 50-page report read to Vatican officials at a ceremony marking the start of the city-state's judicial year.

    The Catholic Church has been hit by scandal involving the sexual abuse of children by priests around the world in the past 15 years. Pope Francis has vowed zero tolerance for offenders but victims of abuse want him to do more and make bishops who allegedly covered up the abuse accountable.

    In his report, Milano said Vatican police had investigated "two delicate cases, of varying degrees of seriousness, of possession of child pornography material" by people living or working inside the city-state, which is the headquarters of the 1.2 billion member Church.

    The prosecutor gave no details but a Vatican spokesman said one of them involved Jozef Wesolowski, a former archbishop who was arrested last September in the Vatican on charges of having paid for sex with children while he was a papal ambassador in the Dominican Republic..

    Francis approved the arrest - the first inside the Vatican related to allegations of sexual abuse - in order to send a strong signal that even high-ranking Church officials would be held accountable if they committed abuse, the Vatican said at the time.

    Italian media reported at the time of his arrest that child pornography was found on his computer. He is currently under arrest in the Vatican awaiting trial.

    The Vatican spokesman gave no details of the other case.

    The prosecutor also mentioned investigations in 2014 related to embezzlement involving former bank managers of the Vatican bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

    Milano also referred in his report to the case of a Polish monsignor who was convicted of embezzling funds from a Rome basilica where he worked as an accountant. There were three attempts in 2014 to deliver illegal drugs into the Vatican by mail from foreign countries, he said without giving details.


  35. NOTE: see this related article on the same Archbishop above at 12 October 2014 at 11:55

    Archbishop’s computer contained over 100,000 child porn files

    by Michael Stone, Progressive Secular Humanist October 3, 2014

    More than 100,000 child porn videos and photos have been found on the computer of former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who is also accused of raping numerous children in the Dominican Republic and Poland. ...

    Vatican orders former Dominican Republic archbishop to stand trial on child abuse charges

    by Rosie Scammell | Religion News Service June 15, 2015

    In an unprecedented move, the Vatican on Monday (June 15) announced its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, would stand trial on charges he paid for sex with children.

    Wesolowski, 66, who had the title archbishop during his five-year post in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic capital, was recalled to the Vatican in 2013. He was later the first person to be arrested inside the Vatican on child abuse charges.

    He also faces charges of possessing child pornography during his stay at the Holy See and ahead of his arrest in September 2014, the Vatican said in a statement.

    The decision to put Wesolowski, a native of Poland, on trial was announced nine days after a Vatican prosecutor requested the ex-archbishop be indicted. The first hearing is scheduled to take place within the Vatican walls on July 11.

    On Monday, the Vatican also accepted the resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, another sign of its willingness to punish bishops for the scandal.

    READ: Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt resigns after charges over abuse scandal (RNS)
    The landmark trial was described by the Vatican as “a delicate and detailed procedure” that will rely on evidence gathered by investigators in Santo Domingo.

    Criminal proceedings against Wesolowski come nearly a year after he was defrocked and found guilty of child sexual abuse by a tribunal operating within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, part of the Vatican administration.

    Pope Francis has throughout his papacy called for action to be taken on allegations of child sexual abuse and in December stressed that the “truth” must prevail in the Wesolowski investigation.

    The upcoming trial will prove to be a test case for the Holy See, which despite Francis’ promises has been criticized by some abuse survivors groups for failing to act.