Prosecutors Say Judge Stated the Obvious

Click here to read: “Prosecutors in priests’ case say judge still impartial,” by John P. Martin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 14, 2012

Excerpt: “Prosecutors also said Bergstrom and Lindy misquoted the judge, contending that she said abuse within the church “was widespread,” not “is widespread.” They said the misquote was perpetuated by critics of the judge, in an Inquirer story, and by readers who posted comments at

Sarmina declined to discuss the issue last week, citing judicial rules of conduct. She is expected to address it during a pretrial hearing Wednesday.”

42 thoughts on “Prosecutors Say Judge Stated the Obvious

  1. I pray for Judge Samina…but I cringed when she said those words.

    She didn’t have to give any commentary about why a question could be used for jury selection. A yes or no and be done.

    If she gets removed from this case because of something like this…It will be very frustrating for everyone except the AD.

    I will continue to pray for the truth to be revealed.


    1. Its a fact, and if they use the “reasonable man” standard which courts do, there is no “reasonable man” who would say that the Catholic church didn’t have widespread child sex abuse. The only people who object are Catholics.

      1. Patrick, that’s exactly the point. “Widespread” in comparison to what other institutions? That’s the argument that’s going to be raised…because it will come across as media bias.

        Let me state for everyone to hear, I know what the rcc has done and just how pervasive the sexual abuse of children was and is…in and out of the church.

        The issue is that A JUDGE has to be careful about what they tout as fact.

      2. Catholics typically argue that Catholic priest sex abuse is no more widespread than it is in any other institution, and they are lying.

        They cite the Shakeshaft study, discussed on this blog earlier, which was touted by the DOE, and then rescinded. The reason is that it was an “extrapolation” study, which took 225 cases (181 in NY) and said, “the whole country must be like this”.

        Worse yet, Shakeshaft also considered sexual harassment (like a NY teacher telling a 16 year old girl that her boobs were sticking out of her shirt) to be the same as a priest having anal sex with a 12 year old boy.

        The truth is that 8-9% of Catholic priests in the 70s and 80s were known child sex abusers, which is 10-20 times the average for any other group, and 100 times as many as most.

        Bottom line – in court, you’re supposed to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and if they use the “Catholic truth”, this judge will throw them in jail for perjury.

        1. Maybe add the word “Some” before Catholics. And they may not be lying. They might just be uninformed about the study. They might be more willing to ready your valid argument against the study, if you didn’t insult them. Just a thought.

    2. SW, on balance, I agree with you, but it is a tricky area. Challenging a judge can backfire, both with the judge and with any replacement judge. Judge’s have feelings too and they tend to stick up for each other, not surprisingly. Time will tell.

      1. Thank you for the perspective Jerry. I learn much when you share your experiences and expertise here.

        I hope you are right. I hope that a replacement (if it comes to that) isn’t someone who’s been paid off by the rcc.

  2. You know we are all fighting a huge goliath of a beast, “the devil” , in all the proceeding about the sexual abuse(done by ) priests, nuns and brothers of our precious children, handicapped and marginalized. within the rcc. We must put on the full armor of God and do not allow a spirit of fear to come in. Put your mind at ease and know that the Holy Spirit will take the devil by the tail and heave him into the “firery pit” where he belongs. This just can’t keep going on and on. God I ask you, ” NOW! … to put a stop to it! Amen?

  3. I am confused….I thought the judge was trying to narrow down the question for jurors to:

    “Bergsten and Lindy wanted to ask jurors if they believed child sex abuse in the church had been widespread. Sarmina struck the proposed question as overly broad.

    “The question is: Notwithstanding that there may be all of these allegations of widespread sexual abuse, are you able to sit here and give these individuals a fair trial? That is what it’s about,” the judge told Lindy, according to the district attorneys’ motion.

    Actually, it sounds to me as if the judge was trying to help the defense….Where’s the ‘beef”

    1. Joan, as usual, you are seeing things clearly and are certainly not confused. Judge Sarmina was trying to help, but that doesn’t matter. The defense lawyers saw this as an opening and pursued it. They, at a minimum, got a phony issue that Chaput, Bill Donohue, et al., could distract docile Catholics with now, and if they lose the case, later. Sadly, lawyers play such games often, too often. This is pure “Legal Hardball”.

      1. Jerry is there an independent bar association team or law school staff that can review these comments and make an assessment,
        As to their appropriateness?

      2. Joan, there are established judicial procedures in each state to challenge a judge for alleged bias. Usually, it involves a review of the allegation by a committee of other judges. The news article suggests this will first be addressed tomorrow in court by Judge Sarmina.

        I wouldn’t be too concerned. This weak bias allegation will likely not delay the trial or result in Judge Sarmina’s removal. The allegation is, in my view, overall net positive for C4C bloggers. It suggests Lynn’s lawyers think his case is going badly, otherwise they would not have made the allegation.

        If another judge were ever to become involved, there is little reason to expect another judge to rule differently.

        Whatever Philly AD pressure could be put on another judge, would likely also have been available to pressure Judge Sarmina, with little effect, as best we can tell at this time.

      3. Jerry, thanks…another question…awhile back you mentioned that the Lynn folks might want to ‘sever’ his trial….from the rest of the mess…is that a possibility?

      4. So much for Toward Healing and Renewal symposium.
        Using the full force of the law, which everyone is entitled to, stated Australian Cardinal George Pell some time ago, this is the work of sluggards.

      5. Joan, I think the pre-trial proceedings are beyond the severing stage. Any more questions tonight and I will send you a bill LOL.

  4. From the past history of Bill Donohue, and, lately, with Chaput, these 2 men are the most narrow-minded, closed individuals that we are stuck with, and, we DO NOT NEED their tunnel-vision at this time of church history.

    1. I’ve just read it Beth, as far as I’m concerned, it’s an insult to the intelligence of many a good Jesuit.
      And what about Regans recinded apology.
      Catholics are being rolled, nothing new as far as I’m concerned, all a means to an end.

  5. It has taken about 20 years for the Vatican and the bishops to develop a symposium (2012 Vatican) and allow victims to share their painful experience of molestation and for the church to finally and openly ask forgiveness for its laxity and complicity in this tragedy.

    Fascinating, but it took the American bishops (USCCB) just about 4 weeks to organize the whole catholic community through letters to be read in pulpits of all the churches to protest the health bill of the HHS and to challenge President Obama as an advocate against religious liberty.
    Women’s health and personal choice (just in contraception) have no place in the bishops’
    challenge. Religious liberty is not the issue. Contraceptive practice is the issue. Shame on the bishops for such grandstanding. Where were they 20 years ago expressing their shame in public for coverups and deceit?
    Shame, shame is all we can feel at this moment.

    sing their shame and

    1. It’s my thoughtthat this episcopal effort will politically backfire, big time.

      I thought Obama should back off his first position, which did feel like a religious liberty issue, to some degree, but his compromise was a considerable improvement, and for the most part resolved the issue, for moderate voters.

      Nothing will satisfy the extremists. And they tend to over reach….the notion that any US employer can dictate his or her employees healthcare depending on the employers personal faith position, philosophical stance et al, is a case in point.

      From a political point of view, I don’t think this dog will hunt. And in many ways, it may we’ll benefit Obama.

      Women in the polling booths of the US may well interpret this debate as a violation of THEIR personal freedoms, which of course it is, and vote accordingly. Sensible men may join them, and you weren’t going to get those ‘other votes’ anyway.

      It is no surprise that the bishops rolled out this effort so quickly…they had been just waiting for the opportunity (with obviously pre prepared materials,) which Obama gave them.

      1. Two points, Joan.

        First, Judge Samina today defended her comments and said she is staying. This is likely the end of this issue. Hopefully, she read C4C comments.

        Second, I concur that C4C bloggers generally should leave pelvic issues to other sites to avoid diluting C4C’s unique focus. I raised the issue earlier because I think, as a lawyer, the bishops’ current crusade’s real objective is to replace Obama as US prosecutor-in-chief of child sex abuse crimes, which has relevance to C4C’s goals. It is no coincidence that Chaput is a chief crusader.

        Any C4C blogger interested can follow this in detail at the National Catholic Reporter website.

      2. Jerry, I am delighted that the judge is staying!

        As to pelvic political stuff, I generally don’t go there, but was ‘overly’ inspired by Father Johns remarks…and appreciate your “‘connections'” as well.

        I am hopeful of several things….no more ‘prosecutorial passes’ for enablers, much tougher ‘child endangerment’ laws, everywhere, and a national vigilance reinforced by law to protect all children from abuse. If I see that as the more likely agenda of one political party over the other., so be it.

  6. Excerpt from…. “US bishop: Church must discover why victims don’t report abuse” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

    While there are whole hosts of studies to answer that leading question, the part of the article that caught my eye was this observation by Bishop Conlon:
    “U.N. statistics have shown ‘that sex abuse is widespread and crosses all cultures and societies’ and is not just a phenomenon plaguing the church or Western nations, he told Catholic News Service Feb. 13. ”

    It seems as though the judge is not alone in her observations.

  7. so sad! Judges are supposed to be impartial.. she clearly has already made up her mind… why bother with a trial and spending millions of dollars… we already know what she will decide in the end, even if evidence is to the contrary!

    1. johnny V,

      What is it that you love? The Church, your church, the clergy, your faith, your Catholic history, memories, traditions, God…?

      There is a crisis in our Church. Are you afraid? Do you fear that you may lose what you love? Do you fear that if you lose it, you will be unanchored, lost, or unhappy? Do you fear that if you lose it, you will lose eternal salvation? Do you fear love, betrayed?

      “Truth never damages a cause that is just (Ghandi).” Whatever is the truth behind the crisis in our Church, nothing will damage the just causes we have come to love. They are impervious to change. They are forever for us to love.

      Praying for you.

      1. … So well said…. It’s all about fear… fear of the unknown….and it has the power to paralyze and/or blind us.
        I only opened my eyes to the truth about the clergy abuse issue a few months ago. I feel so incredibly foolish for having supported and defended the Church for so long about this, and about so much other nonsense.
        Being this big of a fool is hard to face at first, but it seems to get easier with time and good company… (lol) I love this site and always learn a great deal here!!!

      2. crystal,

        Not a person on this site was spared the difficult experience of having their “eyes opened.” Somewhere, sometime in our lives it happened to all of us. It does not matter when, or how it made us feel. It only matters that we face the truth, that we strive to right the wrongs, and that we heal those who hurt.

        Thanks for your great post.

      3. Crystal, a warm welcome to C4C….

        Haddit is absolutely right, as usual….what matters is you are here…

  8. So sad -is that children have been abused and people like you Johnny V or whatever name you are posting under never ,ever acknowledge the suffering of children who have been harmed. What Gospel is it that you follow? “i’m just saying” now there is a saying one of our multiple name posters uses quite often.
    Yes judges are supposed to be impartial -adults are not supposed to sexually violate children and you are supposed to see Christ in others -including the children who have been harmed And johhny v-I don’t know how familiar you are with the United States criminal court system but the jury decides the verdict.

    1. I do love the Church and the children that have suffered are part of the Church that I love. I’m not trying to be malicious. It’s just a statement of fact about this particular judge, Judge Sarmina. I’ve read a few stories in the Inquirer about her yelling at people, the recent controversary of her statements about child abuse being “widespread” in he Church. I just think she seems to be unfit to judge the case impartially. I also think she was very imprudent requiring bevilacqua to testify. The day before he passed away she said he was competent to testify. Why did she not believe statements from his doctors and testimony from his lawyers. It doesn’t add up to me. Just an observation.

      We definitely need justice here, I don’t question that! In fact, justice will help the victims. And I believe it will help the society as a whole and the Church to be more responsible, to be more attentive to the reality of sin in the world and in the members of the Church, in laity, religious, and clergy. So Kathy and “had it catholic”, I do care very much about the children, that’s why we need a judge who is impartial and can look at the facts. I don’t think Sarmina can do that. In my eyes, she has lost her credibility.

      And we also need to keep in mind… the Archdiocese is not under indictment… Msgr Lynn is. And the other priests and the one lay man. that’s who is on trial here— not the Archdiocese. That’s the truth. Anyway, please know I’m not trying to mean, just making a few observations.

      hope it helps keep the dialogue going. Have a nice day!

  9. Jonny V, Thank you for your response. You have every right to be entitled to your opinion of Judge Sarmina. My question is what about that same emotion/anger that could be applied to the Archdiocese in relation to them acting as judge and jury for years? Yes Msgr Lynn is the one on trial but the entire system which he operated in was one that was consistently impartial in the way it was decided what to do about abusive priests. Msgr Lynn was not some rogue priest who went against the Archdiocese -far from it -it seems he went along with the way things were conducted -which is still a crime. There is so much material out there available to read to understand all of this. Articles with Msgr Malloy detailing the interviews with victims,the meticulous records he hept for the ‘secret archives” knowing that at some point there would be a criminal investigation.
    The 22 cases that are admitted to evidence- all have victims behind those cases -many,many victims. Yes,some of these crimes have not been proven in a court of law -because the statutes ran out -because these crimes were hidden for so many years. However many of these abusive priests who have been laicized or sent to a life of prayer and repentance -are listed on the archdiocese website. So even though not criminally convicted-they were found to be abusive by the Archdiocese- too late for many victims and children in their path for all those years that the Archdiocese KNEW of their history. All those victims will never have their day in court -that is what angers me. Those priests will never serve a day in prison -and worse yet-they still have access to children. They are not on any Megan’s List -they live in society and their neighbors,coworkers have no idea of their history. One of them ended up as a middle school teacher in a local public school, until the community found out about his past. This is what angers me.
    At the vigil I attended recently,there were victims and family members who reported their abuse over 40 years under the leadership of Krol,Bevilaqua and Rigali. A 40 year span of various victims,various abusive priests -and often the same response received from the Archdiocese.

  10. “… the Archdiocese is not under indictment… Msgr Lynn is. And the other priests and the one lay man. that’s who is on trial here…” (Johnny V)

    True, today we’ve got Msgr. Lynn, highest ranking official so far. With God’s help, tomorrow we’ll nail a bishop.

  11. JohnnyV -check out this page from the Archdiocese website -it is the list of abusive priests -not including any of the current suspended 26. Look at at this list -think of all the children harmed. This is where my anger is directed. Most of these penalties all occurred after the 2002 Boston Crisis and the 2005 grand jury report -many of these now laicized priests were known by the Archdioceses for many,many years before and they were only penalized by the Church when these things became “public’ with the release of the reports and the media attention. A priest I know who was sent to a life of prayer of repentance -has victims dating back to the 1960’s when he molested 9 boys at an overnight camp. The Archdiocese knew of this since the 1960’s- a fellow priest even reported him – and they penalized him 40 years later. In the interim he was a parish priest in charge of altar boys and a high school teacher and then all of the sudden in 2005 they decide he is a danger to children. 40 years with access to children- 40 years.

    1. And then multiply the list by every diocese in the country…in the world.

      Philly isn’t unique. So many children. So many who took their own lives. So many who live adult lives trying to recover from the devastation from the abuse. So many who will never come forward. And the bishops and cardinals that knew it all! Allowed it! Enabled it! Created more victims!

      “That’s not fair!” is what you can say about a judge’s comments? Why don’t you hold your moral leadership to the same standard? Let’s talk about fairness and impartiality with how moral leaders treated their flock. Catholics need to quit acting like victims when they aren’t.

      1. I took the pledge not to paste a long piece, and am sadly failing…Richard Sipe Reports

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        The Roman Catholic Church cannot be trusted. It is as simple as that.

        The 2011 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report outlines how the church and its officials operate. At least a dozen grand juries have investigated a variety of dioceses.[1] The conclusions of every grand jury are similar:

        The Catholic Church preaches purity and tolerates sexual abuse;
        Bishops and church workers deceive victims;
        The church cannot be trusted to deal with sexual abuse by its priests and bishops;
        Bishops, cardinals and superiors hide priest abusers in other dioceses or other countries;
        Diocesan officials hide or destroy documents that record knowledge of priest abusers;
        Cardinals, bishops and superiors obstruct investigations whenever and however they can;
        They fail to make reports to responsible agencies and parishes;
        Bishops use mental health professionals that are not objective in the assessment of clergy abusers;
        Review Boards set up supposedly to help victims, “betray them;”
        Church officials use lawyers to intimidate victims rather than pastoral procedures to comfort and heal victims;
        Diocesan “investigations” of priest abusers are negligible, bogus or sham;
        The church fails to recognize the seriousness of harm to victims;
        It allows offending priests to remain in ministry;
        Many known offenders serve in church offices;
        Offenders remain without adequate supervision;
        Many priest offenders not yet reported are still active in ministry;
        When impartial citizens examine the Catholic Church they react: “As terrible as all the criminal depravity was [in the Philadelphia Archdiocese] the grand jurors were just as appalled by the cynical and callous handling of clergy abuse by the Philadelphia hierarchy, up to and including the Cardinal.” (Page 111)

        The time for apologies and words is over. The Roman Catholic Church is sexually corrupt.

        Victims of clergy abuse should not go to diocesan officials. Report to civil authorities. Church authorities cannot be trusted.

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