Thursday, April 19, 2012

Msgr. Lynn on Sex Abuse Investigation: "The Case Fell Through the Cracks"

In formerly secret grand jury testimony that was read into the court record Thursday, Msgr. William J. Lynn tried to explain back in 2002 why the archdiocese chose not to investigate when told about minors who were possible victims of sex abuse.

The issue came up when a prosecutor in the grand jury asked Lynn about an interview he had with a seminarian studying for the priesthood who came forward in 1992 to allege that he had been sexually abused as a 13-year-old by Father Stanley M. Gana.

The seminarian, who testified in court earlier this week, told Lynn back in 1992 that the abuse from Father Gana, namely oral and anal sex, continued for five years. The seminarian also told Lynn that Father Gana was living with himself and two other boys at a 110 acre farm in northern Pennsylvania that the priest owned. The priest used the boys as farm hands, and put them on a nightly rotation, so they could take turns sharing his bed.

The seminarian identified the other two boys being abused by Gana. But the archdiocese decided not to talk to either boy, Lynn told the grand jury. As a result, Father Gana continued in active ministry and the archdiocese did nothing until 1995, when a second victim came forward and essentially told Lynn the same story that the seminarian did, namely that he had been abused by Father Gana for years, including oral and anal sex, beginning when he was 14.

Lynn told the grand jury that the reason the archdiocese did nothing was because it was worried about inflicting more trauma on the alleged victims. The archdiocese decided on their non-investigation policy after conferring with psychiatrists and therapists, Lynn said. "You might re-victimize them again," Lynn told the grand jury about former minors who had been sexually abused. "They might have moved on with their lives."

Msgr. Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary for the clergy, is the first Catholic administrator in the country to be charged with conspiracy to endanger children in connection with the pedophile priest scandal. He watched from the defense table Thursday as the prosecution reenacted his grand jury testimony.

Assistant District Attorney Anthony Pomeranz sat on the witness stand, playing the role of the monsignor, as he read Lynn's grand jury answers into the record. And Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, playing the part of the grand jury prosecutor, read the questions to Pomeranz, for the benefit of the jury in the ongoing Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse case.

In his grand jury testimony, Lynn was asked why the archdiocese didn't follow its own policies when it was notified back in 1992 about the sex abuse allegations against Father Gana, and send the priest out for psychiatric evaluation.

"The case fell through the cracks," Lynn told the grand jury.

Lynn told the grand jury back in 2002 that the archdiocese couldn't do anything about the seminarian's allegations against Gana because, "all we had was one word against the other."

"I didn't have any hard facts," Lynn told the grand jury. Lynn said he also didn't fully believe the seminarian's story.  "There was some doubt about his credibility since he was under investigation himself," Lynn said.

The seminarian told his classmates that he had been abused by Father Gana, who kept showing up at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. While in his eighth and final year of studying for the priesthood, the seminarian found out he was under investigation for allegedly having sexual relations with another seminarian, and questioning church teaching.

The inquiry concluded the charges against the seminarian were inconclusive. The seminarian was given a choice; find another diocese to become a priest, or the archdiocese was going to laicize him, the formal process of getting busted down to a lay person. The seminarian opted to relocate to Bridgeport, CT, where he became a priest.

But when the second victim came forward in 1995, and made the same charges against Father Gana, "it added more credibility to [the first victim's] claims," Lynn told the grand jury. That's when Father Gana was shipped out for psychiatric evaluation.

"Looking back, it was one of those things that just fell through the cracks," Lynn told the grand jury.

In 1995, after the second victim came forward, the archdiocese removed Father Gana as pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Bridgeport, and granted him a leave of absence "for reasons of health," rather than explain that Gana was under investigation for sexually abusing minors.

While undergoing in-patient treatment in 1996 at a facility in Canada, Father Gana confessed that the allegations against him were true.

Even though the archdiocese had heard credible allegations from the two victims, Father Gana was given another assignment, as chaplain of a convent of Carmelite nuns. He continued to work as a visiting priest, saying Mass and fraternizing with altar boys. In 2002, after the Boston priest abuse scandal, the archdiocese of Philadelphia granted an administrative leave to Gana. In 2004, when threatened with involuntary laicization, Father Gana decided to live "a supervised life of prayer and penitence" under the direction of the archdiocese. He is still a priest.

Also in court Thursday, the prosecution called as a witness Jack Rossiter, a detective who had worked on behalf of the archdiocese, investigating sex abuse. Rossiter only testified for 15 minutes until there was a problem. The prosecutor introduced as an exhibit typed notes of Rossiter's interview with Father James J. Brennan, who is charged with attempted rape of a 14-year-old.

When Judge M. Teresa Sarmina found out that Rossiter still had hand-written notes from his original interview with Father Brennan, Rossiter's testimony was suspended until the detective could return to court with both his hand-written and retyped notes from his interview with Father Brennan.


  1. "Fell through the cracks" because it was just another case of child rape. No big deal. Not enough to make it to the top of anyone's priority list.

    Its a shame we can't change the laws to beat these priests in the town square where everyone could watch and learn what should happen when misfits like this leave children in jeopardy.

  2. Lynne: " My bad." Who would have thought that there was anything fishy about a priest that liked to take young boys up to his house in the mountains; and I had doubts about the seminarian who was accusing him--not enough doubts to drum him out of the priesthood entirely, just enough doubts that he was transferred to another seminary where he would stop yacking about priest abuse. Also didn't think to check out whether the priest really did take young boys up to the mountains or talk to the boys, I was only the guy that the AOP put in charge of this investigation stuff.

    1. They were repeatedly putting known pedophiles alone with new children.

      They were literally doing lab experiments with live children, and doing them on the best, most innocent, most vulnerable Christians on earth.

      Let's hope Lynn is treated in jail like they normally treat pedophiles.

  3. When you're in the seminary, the "gift of ordination" is held over your head like a carrot. Everything that you say and do is put under a microscope and "evaluated." Unfortunately, the ones looking into the microscope were blind fools. I knew Rob K. in the seminary. He was (and I can assume, still is) one of the kindest, most thoughtful individuals I've been honored to have known. However, he made a costly mistake. He indicted one of "boys already in the club." When you do this, you're head is literally on the block. And so, they can make accusations and fabricate anything they want about your character, and put a halt to years of dedication and sacrifice at the drop of a dime and threaten to withhold the ordination that you've spent years working towards. I've seen this game played far too many times to care to remember. Rob is a true man of courage, and, in my estimation, a far greater man than those who attempted to railroad his character and send him out of town.

  4. You know what's funny. Despite all these claims of false allegations; and there are very few documented cases where the AOP ever documented or substantiated that an alleged victim's accusations were false. Lots of the contrary, situations where the AOP rejected the victim's allegations as being unsubstantiated based upon the denial of the priest, which were later corroborated by more victims, but very few situations where the AOP documented interviewing the alleged victim and corroborating witnesses; and found the allegations false. All the fuss made over the credibility of Butowski, but nothing really admitted about the fact that nuns at Divine Providence convent and O'Hara staff corroborated that Brennan had inappropriate relationships with boys during the same time. The AOP and Avery denied and stonewalled, but ultimately admitted to the truth of the allegations in his case. The church's standard of proof in a priest abuse case was apparently only slightly less than what is required for a muslim women to establish rape under Sharia law, seven male witnesses who actually witnessed the rape.

    And as to the nonsense suffered by Father K at St. Charles, this is the essence of a catholic education. Absolute power by very petty insecure people over your future. Priests who withheld your application and recommendations to colleges that you were interested in attending were part of this. I attended a well respected catholic prep school where two very compromised priests ran the college guidance office with a very biased and twisted hand. Finally, enough parents with money and influenced complained and squawked until these individuals were transferred into other areas of the school. Before that, they would laugh at you and say, "you are not getting into that college, but I can see what I can do to try and get you into [one of their lesser affiliated schools]." They acted as though they were doing you a very great favor while they were deliberately sabotaging your life. i can still remember these creeps.

  5. I wish there were more indication of the interplay between the various counsel and the witnesses. While there is a great deal of specificity to the witness’s story, there is only the briefest of summaries of the cross. Like most readers here, presumably, I am not present in the court-room and rely on this site for the information. Of course, it’s also possible that defense counsel engaged in very little cross, but if so it would help to know that.

    If the testimony is true, then I think the subject priest in this story most surely needed to be dealt with across a wide spectrum of intervention: psychological, canonical, pastoral, episcopal and – yes – legal.

    Some points arise in my mind, especially from the defense point of view. I do n-o-t adopt the defense point of view in this trial, but in the absence of knowing what actually transpired in the cross, the following thoughts and issues occur to me (and in this I am not trying to second-guess the defense counsel in any way; I presume the prosecution more or less led the witness through the testimony and story).

    These events happened almost 35 years ago. Did the witness ever go to the police at any time in that period? Did any of the other victims? If the answer is No, especially if in the past 20 or even 10 years, why not? Why did the parents not do so? Were they so infatuated by the priest? Intimidated by the AOP or the thought of the Church? Did they consider that they might have reason to doubt their son’s report? If so, what would lead them to such a conclusion?

    The witness apparently had had sexual experiences with a relative prior to the encounters (reprehensible encounters, if the testimony is true). It is now acceptable process in sexually-oriented cases not to inquire as to the prior experiences of the witness. But if the witness reported an experience, then is it not appropriate and allowable to inquire into that experience – and somehow seek corroboration?

    This goes to the possible predisposition of the witness. Although I realize that there is also – in the complex growth of sex-law jurisprudential ‘reforms’ – the maxim, if applicable here, that the jury need only decide about the credibility of the witness, and need not determine the credibility of the particular assertions given in evidence .

    The witness first went to the AOP after a period of decades – never having gone to the police at any point? - with a demand for a public advertisement by the AOP that the subject priest was a “pedophile”. It seems to me that A) the AOP would have liable at law itself if it had done so, for slander or libel.

    And B) this witness seems, from what I can glean, rather un-versed and not personally pre-disposed to so ‘abstract’, if I could put it that way, a demand as the publication of an advertisement. Where did the witness come by such an idea?

    And C) there is clearly the fact that making such a demand would have put the AOP in a very difficult position: the demand elegantly created for the AOP a sort of a damned-if-it-did and damned-if-it-didn’t dilemma. Possibly this was just serendipity, but there is also the possibility that the witness was coached (and if so, by whom?). If the AOP acceded to the demand it made itself liable to some sort of defamation suit, and if it didn’t accede it could be accused of all the things usually attendant upon such refusals, as we have seen many times.

    And was this witness so astute as to come to such a neat stratagem on his own?

  6. This leads to the next complexity, almost native to this type of case: a person well along in life has demonstrated significant impairment in one or several aspects of his/her life – and then reveals an accusation which, if true, can be (under present conditions) quickly presumed to ‘explain’ and to have ‘caused’ all of that impairment.

    The diagnostic difficulty – if one were to deal with this in a therapeutic forum – would be to determine to what extent the difficulties (especially in matters of behavioral issues or addiction, and especially if the addiction involves alcohol and/or drugs) pre-existed the claimed ‘cause’, i.e. the reported crime. While the presenting problem has to be treated therapeutically, the clinician has to formulate some clear and reasonably accurate concept of the causal sequence in order to devise the most efficacious therapy regimen.

    But this has relevance in the legal forum itself. To what extent can the alleged crime be characterizable as having ‘caused’ the problems? This is separate issue from the question as to whether the crime was committed, but it goes to the mentality of the jury in considering the case and to the question – in public opinion – of how to consider the crime.

    More complexly and more difficult is the question as to how much the dysfunctions experienced by the witness, whatever their cause, affect the witness’s ability and reliability in the matter of giving evidence. This is especially true when jurisprudence allows a case to rise or fall merely on the credibility of the witness and not on the credibility of the specific accusation.

    The witness also went to the AOP with a request/demand for money. This is not of itself unsupportable at all. But there then arises another dilemma: would the AOP – or any institutional entity – create even more liability if it in charity or out of a sense of justice acceded to that request or demand for money?

    I don’t have the information to make direct application to the case at bar, but these are relevant issues that arise.

    The increase in the amount of the request/demand for money is not surprising, and here the widely publicized success of such efforts across the country also logically enters as a possibility.

    Lynn’s concern for the therapeutic consequences of involving the other reported boys is legitimately grounded in theory, although in the circumstances might well seem tainted by the pretextual. And yet again, there is a dilemma presented: if Lynn were to have acted on the initial report on his own, he might very well have created an organizational liability if the other boys were later to claim that the inquiries by Lynn themselves caused psychic damage.

  7. None of these questions of themselves establish any ‘answers’ to the case, nor are they here intended to.

    But they shed light on what was originally, and perhaps in the atmosphere of the mid-1990s, and certainly in the atmosphere post-2002, a serious situation that required forthright and effective action, yet also action that offered by that point very little option for quick and easy resolution that would not itself create further problems.

    None of which is to deny that had more forthright action been taken when the accused-priest first came to the attention of episcopal authorities, or if anybody anywhere along the chain-of-knowledge (other adults, other priests, other persons with information) had gone either to the AOP or to the police.

    How the Church has addressed those substantial deficiencies in its handling of these cases is, I would say, indicated by the very significant decline in numbers of ‘current’ (as opposed to ‘historical’) allegations of abuse of any kind (and ‘abuse’ is now defined broadly indeed).

    But although the case at bar deals with a ‘historical’ claim, it is still legitimately a deserving candidate for trial.

    Beyond the specifics of the instant charges, there hovers the question of how the Church once handled this type of situation, and beyond that the question of how the Church currently handles this type of situation, and – in the far distance – a much more nebulous area of speculation as to the Church’s ultimate and essential worth, credibility and so forth.

    To what extent the case will be decided on the specifics of the instant charges, and to what extent those further areas of question become operative for the jury is still to be seen.

  8. Pertinax, you could go through the type of mental gymnastics you are going through about the motivation and credibility of the accusers; or you could look at the overall pattern which is consistent from witness to witness and document to document. We don't need to really address credibility because there is no real doubt that Gana abused these particular boys. What part of "Father Gana confessed that the allegations against him were true," did you not understand. You spent 5000 words on other comments suggesting that you are really just an even minded intellectual believer who is unfairly attacked, but can't even concede the abuse and cover up when the priest confesses. Even after Gana confessed, he was allowed to remain a priest. Accordingly, he could still work the magic trick of turning wine into blood.

    1. Pertinax is just trying to grasp at straws to cast doubt, and thinks that typing more words in serial comments will help.

      Pertinax is most likely a Catholic priest himself, and may be Fr Gordon Macrae, the convicted pedophile priest and friend of DavePierre of themediareport.

  9. Pertinax,
    You also need to understand the culture. Generations of faithful family who have been devoted to the church. Generations of family who have told their children that their highest calling was the priesthood. Generations of families who have been taught to "be quiet." Why not call the authorities?! The authorities were part and parcel of these generations of faithful families. This is a call to reform, not on just one level, but on a societal level that is crying for justice. Justice sometimes takes time to be heard. Just take a brief look at any other societal atrocities...the Borgias, before that, Rome, after that, the Holocaust, and so on. Sometimes it takes us time to wake up. Well, we HAVE! Enough with Monday morning quarterbacking. How many of us, imperfect individuals, no matter what we've been through, wish that we could go back and change things? Would that the authorities would have even done something! Look at the incredible force we're up against, as it is!

  10. jer, you don't even have to look beyond Pertinax to get the mindset. Here the article mentions that the priest confessed that the allegations are true, and Pertinex is still questioning the motivation and credibility of the accusers. As a brainwashed member of the faithful, he can't even believe it when the priest says, "yes, I did it." I'm waiting for his suggestion that the victims must have seduced this poor priest.

  11. There are some interesting comments here. On the cross-examination question, perhaps I should start being more detailed about this. In the three witnesses that took the stand on Monday, led by Karpinski, the defense spent no more than a COMBINED TOTAL of 15 minutes on crossing all three of them. The strategy seemed to be, get rid of them as soon as possible.

    Regarding this story, again, this was Lynn's grand jury testimony read into the record, and the questioner is the grand jury prosecutor, so it's essentially an entirely hostile confrontation, right?

  12. Ralph,

    The AOP defense team is very good. Bergstrom and Brennan are probably 2 of the top 5 criminal defense lawyers in the city. If you spend a lot of time cross examining the Gana witnesses, there is no benefit. Gana confessed to the allegations in the context of a therapy session so the jury understands that there is no doubt that the abuse happened and no doubt that Lynne was told. The jury also understands that the AOPs response was inadequate inasmuch as he remained a priest with access to parishioners. And Lynne admitted that the investigation "fell through the cracks." Lesser inexperienced lawyers would think that they should still attack these Gana witnesses vigorously during cross, but the current team knows that it would piss the jury off trying to pke holes in a story that everybody has admitted is essentially true. So you do what these lawyers do, which is to preserve your objections to the testimony, get them off as soon as possible, and argue that Gana has nothing to do with the current case in closing. And they probably learned something from Butowski, which is you score your hits early, but prolonged cross exam gets the jury to start to root for the underdog, which on the stand is the witness. And Brennan has not admitted abusing Butowski so there is a reasonable doubt argument that you can strengthen with good cross. It sounds like observers agree that the defense team grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory cross examine Butowski on the second day; and that the Suarez(?) cross hurt more than helped Lynne.

    No the grand jury hearing was not necessarily "hostile." Lynne was not the specific target instead it started off as an investigatory body looking into many cases. Apparently, the AOP was extremely uncooperative during the grand jury investigation, but some like Malloy, did cooperate. There is no judge controlling the form of the questions during a grand jury hearing, but generally, the prosecutor lets a witness tell his or her story because, the more he talks, the bigger a record could be used against him if he testifies later. In that sense, it is more like a deposition. On cross at trial, a prosecutor wants to get the witness agree to very specific propositions and not let the witness expand or explain his answers. Accordingly, the lawyer will use leading questions and try and put words in the witness's mouth. At the grand jury, the prosecutor wants to have the witness tell everything he knows about anything, and he or she is generally not hostile. Particularly with someone like Lynne, who is not an actual abuser, but has knowledge of other abusers. You don't want to make him so defensive that he just shuts down with "I don't remember. "

  13. kopride,
    Just one clarification. Malloy did not cooperate. He cowardly hid a list of known abusers in a safe that no one had the combination to. Only years later was the document discovered and then, even later, after numerous stall tactics, was it turned over. I know it was good that he kept it, but probably would have been even more valuable had it been anonymously mailed to the prosecution. I've never met a more arrogant and pompous individual than Malloy. I really believe that the weight of knowing that he didn't do enough to protect victims was what eventually killed him. I hope this doesn't sound too judgmental, I'm just trying to go by the facts as I read and try to remember them in detail.
    The goal is to protect the corporation at all costs. I can only imagine what a real "circus" it's going to turn into when the defense gets their turn.

  14. Again, to a certain mindset trying to think about things is “mental gymnastics” or (another commenter on another article in this series) “mere words”. Perhaps if more people in positions of authority in the Beltway had actually tried to think about things then the country wouldn’t be in the shape it’s in today.

    And yes, I certainly wished the bishops had thought about things a bit more deeply back in the day. They are now, and I don’t think the Church is currently the lowest-ranking organization on the prevention list. This case is in that sense ‘historical’ and how things were done then is not how they are done now. As is evidenced by the steep decline in allegations, especially of ‘current’ malfeasances.

    While the idea that Catholics didn’t call the police themselves because they were “faithful” is certainly a logical possibility, I’m not convinced of its sufficiency for several reasons. First, if a priest – even their own parish priest – were to, say, rob them, would they not call the police? Especially if – over the course of years – a wide public acceptance of the idea of robber-priests had sensitized the police and media.

    And because there remains – alas – the “moral hazard” angle: it cannot be presumptively ruled out (as many would prefer to do) that an allegation might be made for the purposes of personal gain. This gain might of course be financial, but there is also a psychological gain in being able to blame the cause of one’s life-difficulties on somebody else or something else.

    This is n-o-t to insinuate that all such allegations are merely motivated in that way, but at the same time the logical and very human possibility can never be presumptively ruled out. Each case has to be examined (perhaps through the trial process).

    But this is precisely the type of examination that certain presumptive approaches to these matters seek immediately to preclude by claiming that such an examination is immediately and totally nothing more than a devious effort to blame the victim (or allegant) and to do so for the (I would say) reprehensible purpose of protecting one’s own misdeeds (and perhaps crimes).

  15. In this regard, the Shakeshaft Report of 2004 offers what I would say is a useful perspective. The DOE – which commissioned and ‘owns’ the Report – attached its own Preface to her text.

    In that Preface, the DOE makes the distinction between “sexual abuse” and “sexual misconduct”, the former being an overt genital act and the latter being anything else, including touching and suggestive conversation. The DOE makes the case that in Shakeshaft is thus “overbroad” in her categories and that the problem is thus not as great as she states in her Report.

    But both categories have been applied to priests all along, to the point where in the past 10 years a priest can be removed from ministry even for “boundary violations ,which is quite a broad category indeed. Yet the DOE is trying to limit the categories’ definitions.

    If we apply to the DOE the same principles (so to speak) that have been applied to priests and the Church, then isn’t the DOE engaging in an effort to ‘minimize’ and ‘cover-up’? And if (with all due respect to hard-working teachers) the teachers’ unions join in that effort, then do we not – according to clerical abuse ‘principles’ – have here also a conspiracy (of organizations) to cover-up?

    Shakeshaft also notes in her own text that because so little research has been done, and there is comparatively so little extant material to work with, then her results’ “validity” and “reliability” are not legitimately deployable for court cases. Because, as I said and she said, there simply hasn’t been enough research done to make evidentiary-grade assertions in court. The implication being that once that research is carried out (if it ever is) there will then be more – and not less – information as to the extent of educator sexual misconduct.

    Not only her research but her honest and balanced and scientifically professional candor are, it seems to me, greatly lacking in the general sensibility that governs the clerical abuse matter.

    I also came across a tallying-up of the largest 61 newspapers in California in the period following the release of her Report: there were 1774 articles on clerical-abuse and 4 on educator abuse or misconduct. That’s a rather wide variance indeed, and demands some serious further thought and research.

    But it most surely prompts some interesting and very relevant thoughts when we contrast the handling of the clerical-abuse matter and the educator-misconduct or abuse matter.

    1. Every Catholic pedophile protecting apologist knows and misuses the Shakeshaft extrapolation.

      It was a completely different type of study, but Catholics flaunt it as the big excuse. You also neglect to mention that the Department of Education and Shakeshaft herself both admitted under pressure that the study was invalid.

      Among other things,

      - the Catholic church study was voluntary (and of course they lied, and some diocese, like LA refused to report)
      - Shakeshaft mixed sexual "harassment" with "sex", whereas the Cahtolic reposrt was "sex", and mostly anal sex with altar boys, which is pedophilia
      - Shakeshaft only used 225 cases (181 from New York), then "extrapolated"
      - Shakeshaft only used data from 1990-1994, whereas the Catholic church used 52 years of data

      The bottom line is that Shakeshaft wanted attention for her study, and no one even listened until the Catholic church pounced on it. Everyone alalyzed and trashed the Shakesaft study, but Catholics still use it today.

  16. "Again, to a certain mindset trying to think about things is “mental gymnastics” or (another commenter on another article in this series) “mere words”. Perhaps if more people in positions of authority in the Beltway had actually tried to think about things then the country wouldn’t be in the shape it’s in today. "

    No, its mental gymnastics to go through some elaborate hypothesis that the victim is lying when the accused has already confessed. You are not a deep thinker because your reading comprehension is poor.

    They are now, and I don’t think the Church is currently the lowest-ranking organization on the prevention list. This case is in that sense ‘historical’ and how things were done then is not how they are done now. As is evidenced by the steep decline in allegations, especially of ‘current’ malfeasances. "

    Well, I never thought the church was just trying to stay off the list of lowest ranking organizations for clergy abuse. This is an organization that purports to hold itself out as having an inside track to ultimate truth and morality; and that its clergy are of the highest moral character. Part of the attention the catholic clergy are getting is related to that hypocrisy. You keep saying RCC abuse is in decline, but the clergy and church is in decline as well. There are very few priests who teach in schools any more; virtually all of the AOP are lay teachers. There are very few priests who coach anymore. There are very few altar boys anymore; and very few parents that allow unsupervised access to their children. The average age of catholic clergy is very geriatric and ill. The AOP suspended almost 5% of its active priests earlier this year because of credible allegations of abuse; and sometimes abuse allegations don't come to light for decades. The clergy abuse problem will eventually disappear or become insignificant because there will be virtually no clergy and very few catholics.

  17. "While the idea that Catholics didn’t call the police themselves because they were “faithful” is certainly a logical possibility, I’m not convinced of its sufficiency for several reasons. First, if a priest – even their own parish priest – were to, say, rob them, would they not call the police? Especially if – over the course of years – a wide public acceptance of the idea of robber-priests had sensitized the police and media. "

    Again, more mental gymnastics. Gana abused the boys in question. There is no dispute. They didn't call the cops for many reasons. Grooming the victim is part of it, but a lot if it was there belief that nobody would believe them over the word of a priest. Indeed, the church didn't even believe a seminarian.

    "And because there remains – alas – the “moral hazard” angle: it cannot be presumptively ruled out (as many would prefer to do) that an allegation might be made for the purposes of personal gain. This gain might of course be financial, but there is also a psychological gain in being able to blame the cause of one’s life-difficulties on somebody else or something else. "

    Right, but we know that the Gana allegations are true; and Avery pleaded guilty; and Brennan lived with a teenaged boy at a convent and was drummed out of O'Hara because he was having inappropriate relationships with teenaged boys. At least in this case, it doesn't seem like there has been any allegation of abuse against a priest which was false.

    "This is n-o-t to insinuate that all such allegations are merely motivated in that way, but at the same time the logical and very human possibility can never be presumptively ruled out. Each case has to be examined (perhaps through the trial process). "

    Well, you have insinuated it even though the Gana allegations are certainly true. HE ADMITTED THAT HE ABUSED THESE BOYS. So, are you saying that we should examine them and assume logically that the allegations are false even when the priest confesses?

  18. "In this regard, the Shakeshaft Report of 2004 offers what I would say is a useful perspective. The DOE – which commissioned and ‘owns’ the Report – attached its own Preface to her text. "

    Right, but the Shakeshaft Report (2004) doesn't blame teacher abuse on the 60's or the general immorality of the culture of the time the way the most recent John Jay report does. It lays the blame squarely on the school districts and administrators and suggests a proactive approach; it also basically states that most of the allegations are true and that abuse is only reported in a very small percentage of cases and thus extrapolates that the problem is much larger. Shakeshaft's only real demographic study of the teacher/staff child abuse problem was her and Cohen's 1994 report of the New York State Public schools which found 225 cases in a School System of 2.7 Million children and many more employees than catholic priests over a four year period. Dolan out of New York has also made very selective use of the Shakeshaft report to argue that teacher abuse is 100 times more common; again irrelevant when talking about the fact that there are 1000s of times more public school teachers, coaches, and staff than priests; and millions more students. If you wanted to do a fair comparison, you would have to compare figures of catholic school teachers, coaches, and staff as well. And equally remarkable and to the orders' credit, the incidence of abuse by catholic nuns is almost nonexistent--even though they had far more day-to-day contact with kids than the priests. Rather than blasting the nuns for orthodoxy deviations, the Vatican should be asking what the good sisters are doing right that the all male priests are doing so poorly.

    "Not only her research but her honest and balanced and scientifically professional candor are, it seems to me, greatly lacking in the general sensibility that governs the clerical abuse matter. "

    I agree. The conclusions and criticisms she makes of the public school teachers and institutions are far more independent than the ridiculous white wash of the John Jay report. She assumes greater incidences of abuse than what was reported, uses a much broader definition of sexual abuse, and doesn't try and make up excuses why administrations and institutions were not holding the abusers accountable. She doesn't just say, "hey, it was the 60s, everybody was immoral, what do you expect from your teachers.

    1. kopride,

      Nicely analyzed. Catholics take a couple of selective pieces of the Shakeshaft report to claim "its worse everywhere else", which is completely untrue. Dolan and the Catholic League start the lie, and it flies across the US in weeks and is believed as gospel. If God didn't give us the Internet, they would have gotten away with it.

      Shakeshaft should have done an extrapolation of Philadelphia, where a cardinal (and 2 bishops to be) shredded a list of 35 known pedophile priests and set them free among live children for 17 years. Since Philly's population is about 0.5% of the US, using the Shakeshaft extrapolation techniques:

      - 200 cardinals and 400 bishops (to be) destroyed evidence of 7000 known pedophile priests

      This doesn't even include ones that were exposed by victims who came forward.

      If we extrapolate from other cities, like Boston, it would be much worse, where we know about at least 220 pedophile priests.

      No institution in history ever came close to mobilizing child rapists and protecting them.

  19. "I also came across a tallying-up of the largest 61 newspapers in California in the period following the release of her Report: there were 1774 articles on clerical-abuse and 4 on educator abuse or misconduct. That’s a rather wide variance indeed, and demands some serious further thought and research. "

    No, the press covers what there audience wants to hear. If a blond white girl gets raped or murdered anywhere in the world, then there is non-stop coverage of it. Every day there are murders of women that don't get covered, usually of black women in low income neighborhoods. In fact, if I am ever missing, I've told my wife to report me as a 25 year old blonde female and call Nancy Grace. Female teachers who abuse students are also very well covered by the press because of the perverse curiosity.

    The priest abuse story is remarkable because of the hypocrisy. Public School Teachers as a single monolithic institution don't make statements or hold themselves out as experts about sexual morality, homosexuality, birth control, and abortion. Teachers as a monolithic organization don't claim that its collective group of advisers or Magisterium speak with god's authority on sexual morality matters; and that dissent from their moral opinions is sinful. Teachers do not take a vow of celibacy. Teachers do not say that having a vagina makes you ineligible for advancement in the organization and hierarchy . So, yes, there is a certain opinion of secular thinking humans that the church should get its own house in order before it makes ridiculous moral proclamations about other people's sexual matters.

    "But it most surely prompts some interesting and very relevant thoughts when we contrast the handling of the clerical-abuse matter and the educator-misconduct or abuse matter."

    Not really. The trend is to send teacher abusers to jail and parents do not seem to have any issues calling the cops. There are thousands of school districts throughout the US and most have no problem reporting and prosecuting abuse. Lots of child molesters are in jail and on Megan's Law registries. Unlike Dolan and fanatical catholics, there are no school districts saying that anybody who reports or prosecutes a public school teacher is teacher bashing. And none of these priests were teachers.

  20. There's only one point in the foregoing that seems to me worth pointing out: Shakeshaft doesn't "assume" larger numbers in the sense that we have seen it in far too many 'scientific' and 'professional' venues in regard to this clerical abuse matter. She doesn't extrapolate and then claim as if it were fact that there are no doubt 10 or a 100 or 1000 times more cases and we can take that assurance to the bank (or, in these cases, to court.)

    She merely states - as any reader of the Report will see - forthrightly that very little research has been done, and that she thinks there will be many more cases to be discovered. She states that as her thought, and not as 'science', or 'fact'; she makes no presumptions and no sweeping assertions, hiding behind her scientific credentials while making grossly ungrounded assertions and masking any presumptions.

    School teachers also hold a position of trust.

    The conventional gambit - to claim that the Church is unique because it holds itself out to be perfect or some such - is a cartoon (but a self-serving cartoon) version of what the Church holds herself out to be. The Church has always held her 'specialness' to be in her Mission, not in her perfection. Indeed, it is blasphemous in Catholic theology for any human being to claim 'perfection'. The best humans can ever do is aim in the right direction - toward perfection - and be prepared for disappointment even as you keep on keeping on.

    An exercise in moral, psychological, emotional and conceptual humility, I would add, that not only Catholics would do well to adopt. If only Bush-Cheney had more of it, there would be a whole lotta people alive today who aren’t.

    None of which is here intended to minimize or dismiss the failures to do so. But as I've said, if we take the axe-grinding 'principle' of perfection that has been presented by some on this site, then we soon won't - by operation of that 'logic' - have any organizations left: government or teachers or military or police or law or (fill in the blank).

    The Church is too easily seen as a 'straw man' stitched together by assorted persons and mindsets with an axe to grind and then they content themselves with continuing to whack the pinata they have constructed as if it were a real donkey. To watch that unfold in real time is bemusing, I would say, but that's about all.

    And as a Catholic I will offer this opinion: various agents of the Church may have behaved like donkeys in this clerical abuse matter, but they are real donkeys and not the whackulent phantasmic cartoon monsters of some folks' favorite nightmares. And that includes any who committed crimes and may need to submit to appropriate process and consequences.

    And like a good and real donkey, the Church is and has been improving her ability to carry the load. What more, in the real world, can one ask?

    That being said, the rest of the presumptions and assertions can hang out there where they have been put and swing in the wind.

    1. "What more, in the real world, can one ask?"

      That these criminals go to jail, and get treated the way pedophiles and pedophile protectors should be treated. This is an organized crime family of cowardly child rapists, or a terrorist organization that raped and tortured children.

      We don't let them off the hook because they are raping less than they used to.

      You are finally right about one thing - the Catholic church is full of donkeys, and the followers who believe in them are also donkeys.

  21. You have a reading comprehension problem. Shakeshaft notes in the 2004 and 1994 studies that the Literature and studies show that the reporting rate is about 5 %, which means 95% go unreported to an adult. She certainly points out the fact that there are no real good prevalence studies out there but she doesn't say that the 5% rate is incorrect. In order to compare apples to apples, you would need to do a prevalence study of Catholics which the bishops did not authorize John Jay to do. In other words, you woul contact a sample of Catholics and ask them whether they were ever abused by a priest and then use appropriate statistical analysis to make a more widespread estimate. We do have very good statistics from Philly that say most recently, at least 5% of all priests in active ministry were subject to credible allegations, which is fairly consistent from study to study. And that is the most recent wave after all the attention. Many of those priests have multiple victims. 5% is a very large percentage of a abusers in an organization.

    The church claims that the moral teachings of the Magisterium are infallible and that Catholics are required to submit to them without consent. So your explanation that only the mission is perfect is incorrect . The church does claim to be perfect and infallible in most contexts, the exceptions not really worth mentioning. Papal infallibility has been rarely invoked, but the infallibility of the Sacred Magisterium and Councils is a key element of catholic theology. In other words, the catholics stand on male ordination, birth control and abortion are all considered infallible teachings of the the Magisterium.

    The church does not claim that it's clergy are infallible or imperfect. But they are unique in claiming that they are magic. In other words, that they can turn bread and wine into the flesh and blood of a long dead Jew. Apparently, the same hands that fondle a child maintain their magic to make bread flesh. It's all very silly.

  22. I hope the readership doesn't mind if I let the usual mindsets carry on without too much interference from me.

    I do share that when I used the 'donkey' imagery I pretty much knew what would happen: some minds simply scan rather fixedly on a word or phrase on which to play their usual one-note and happily go about building their bird's nest once they've found one. It doesn't say much for mental process, let alone "reading comprehension" but there it is.

    I am not familiar with the comment asserted above to be by Shakeshaft. It occurs to me that rather than referring to some fresh source for Shakeshaft, one of the mindsets is simply making another (ungrounded) assertion flowing from an (illogical) conclusion about something in the 2004 Report. Anything is possible when you are Through the Looking-Glass.

    However there does appear to be a significant howler: what one mindset describes as a Study is actually nothing but a 'survey': in a Study it is necessary to independently corroborate any self-reports (which are always in and of themselves something of a weak source of valid and reliable information upon which to base conclusions).

    In a survey one merely asks (over the phone even) some question(s), records the answer(s) and then calls it a day and 'publishes' or 'reports' the 'results'. It's basically nothing more than being a stenographer collecting 'stories'. Science it is not.

    However this vital confusion is very prevalent in the support-group milieu, where 'stories' are pretty much accepted as a means of being 'supportive' and no further questions asked. And the survey-method constitutes a very substantial portion of the 'knowledge' and 'facts' and 'proof' on the basis of which pressure-groups claim the urgency of their agendas and by which the public is often stampeded.

    So there's no surprise when it appears here, unless one has made the mistake of presuming that there couldn't possibly be any more howlers left to be made.

  23. Pertinax, again with the reading comprehension. Last spring, the archdiocese suspended 29 priests and the article notes that 7% of Philly priests on active ministry have been suspended for credible allegations of clergy abuse. Analyze the tea leaves of the 2004 Shakeshaft study however you want, the Philly article entitled "Two more Priests in Philadelphia placed on leave" reports the 7% figure based upon the fact that ther are only 400 priests in active ministry. If you go to and go back to their coverage of the scandal. Now if every study ever reported notes that abuse is underreported by almost 95%, it is highly likely that more than 7% of the Priests in Philly are abusers. This isn't howling, this is fact. Apologists go on and on about potentially false allegations but there has been virtually no evidence of any false allegations in the Philly situation. And the 7% isnt based upon support groups, it was based upon the Archdiocese's own review and findings. And a Grand Jury proceeding based upon testimony and archive documents is not a "survey" by any stretch of the imagination.

    The RCC is a large longstanding corporation with a very troubled history of abusive power, persecution, discrimination, and enabling truly evil acts. The rationale is that it is selling tickets to heaven for the gullible. The Boston and Philly scandals, along with the world wide scandals, as if the Irish press is anti catholic are simply part of this unfortunate history. Anybody who would invest in this fraud is a donkey. Has the church done good in it's past, sure. Much in the way the "Stone Soup" story worked. The townspeople made a soup with their collective effort, goodwill, and charity. The stone was not magic. Has way too much energy been spent by the world people's arguing over which religion's stone is the most magical, yes. Has inexplicable evil been done in the name of proving whose stone is the best, undeniably. Is 7% abusers in a population of geriatric old men who barely even serve the community anymore ridiculously high, of course.

  24. I have no idea where or how the assertion that "every study ever reported notes that abuse us under-reported by 95%" is justified. And in this commenter's case I am certainly not crediting either sweeping assertions or even thought-process.

    And I strongly suspect that there remains the conflation of 'study' and 'survey' as I noted previously.


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