Lynn Court Decision Wasn’t About Right or Wrong


Father Chris Walsh sums it up best in the most recent article on Msgr. Lynn’s overturned conviction in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Excerpt: “The decision ‘wasn’t about whether he did something right or wrong. It was whether he did something that he could have been prosecuted for,” Walsh, pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort in Mount Airy, said noting that he was not speaking for other priests. ‘There’s not a sense we’re getting past this.'”

So true. How can the Church get past this when there have been no solutions? How can we get past this when an accused pastor, such as Father Paul, is left in his parish without informing parents. There is no peace for victims, families or even priests until moral and ethical common sense is applied when law and regulations fail us.

Click here to read: “Lynn ruling elates supporter, deflates victim advocates,” by Aubrey Whelan, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 27, 2013. (Be sure to read the comments and add your own).

 

 

 

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40 Responses to “Lynn Court Decision Wasn’t About Right or Wrong”

  1. Please don’t forget about the Rev. Joseph DiGregorio who was found suitable for ministry by Archbishop Charles Chaput. Chaput admitted that DiGregorio violated the Standards but said in so many words, not to worry because he wouldn’t do again whatever it was he did before. The archbishop didn’t think it necessary to elaborate. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps the ordinary people in the pews wouldn’t understand.

  2. Truly a sad day for the Catholic People of Philadelphia when “legalese” supplants justice and responsibility for criminal activities. The Truth and Reconciliation hearings in South Africa depended upon those charged to simply admit that they were wrong and crimes had been committed. We have yet to hear from the Archdiocese and from, e.g.,Monsignor Lynn, that he is truly sorry for his failure to act decisively on this issue of sexual abuse. Nor have we heard from any of the horrible perpetrators that they apologize for their horrendous activities.
    Monsignor Lynn may be free from jail, but he will never be free from a conscience which should haunt him every day. As he looks into the faces of children, he should be seeing the faces of hundreds of children abused in his 10 years in office and the previous years of failure of church leadership to protect these vulnerable children. Truly a sad day for justice.

  3. I think this quote from the NY Times article provides a good perspective: ” In Thursday’s reversal, the appeals court said that the state had provided “more than adequate” evidence that Monsignor Lynn “prioritized the archdiocese’s reputation over the safety of potential victims of sexually abusive priests.” But it rejected the argument, accepted by the 2012 trial judge and jury, that a child welfare law applied to a “parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child” could be used to prosecute Monsignor Lynn. To eliminate any ambiguity, that law was modified in 2007, after his retirement, to explicitly apply to employers and supervisors as well.”

    Sometimes in the news we hear of a person being released, a conviction overturned, because of DNA or some other evidence to show the person was not the perpetrator of the crime . In this case it was all about timing..someone committing the same acts today will be prosecuted..someone committing the same acts in another state in 1999 could have been prosecuted. If people want to “rejoice” that the laws in Pa. were so horrendous that all these crimes can go without anyone being held accountable, then maybe they should stop for a moment and think about what they are celebrating.

    • I know everyone has the right to their opinion, but not to appreciate what is said here is beyond belief.
      No wonder so many are “done over” never seeing the light, even when it’s shining in their eyes…….The same applies to those caught up with all the rhetoric coming from the PR machinations employed by the Vatican and consequently Francis’s image when “rapprochement” [Merriam Webster definition] is the operative word for political gain, from his own countrymen [and women] from his “other life”.
      Clergy are a different matter all being brothers under the skin………

  4. “The decision ‘wasn’t about whether he did something right or wrong. It was whether he did something that he could have been prosecuted for,” Walsh, pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort in Mount Airy, said noting that he was not speaking for other priests. ‘There’s not a sense we’re getting past this.’”

    Yes, indeed, right on the money, Fr. Walsh. Not the kind of statement that one will hear coming from 222 N. 17th St. All one needs to be reminded of is this……

    God’s Laws or Man’s Laws…………….which ones are we to follow?

  5. This possible dismissal of Msgr. William Lynn because he did not directly supervise children speaks volumes of the denial within the Catholic Church. If church needs to use lawyers to rationalize itself out of responsibility for its actions this is denial. Denial pushes life under the rug and is like running into a stone wall. The church is living within denial and it is a coward. It is the loss of real faith. This faithlessness needs to overcompensate with signs of real strength. But I say being superior to others by frustrating or harming people is denial satisfied. This horror of denial is like a best pounding on the door and then sophistication is used to keep the beast out. Denial is dissociation form responsibility and it is pathetic.

    • Monsignor William Lynn is a coward.

      He was the only one to date who could even be brought into the courtroom. Even there he protected those above him living or dead.

      Essentially he will be a pariah within the archdiocesan system even though he will be financially supported for the rest of his life sequestered out of sight and hopefully out of mind.

      His moral compass, even if it ever was true, continues to spin. Apparently he had one goal and that was to protect the institution no matter the cost to his own conscience and integrity,

      Essentially he mirrors the hierarchical system; Cardinal Law, Cardinal Mahony,other cardinals, bishops and underlings like himself around the world who behaved like him. He said he was following orders then and he continues to do so now as do his lawyers – protect the institution.

      And of course nothing has been heard from the perps because they are narcasisstic sociopaths.

      If you feel strongly about the issues mentioned on this blog join the First Friday Vigil – Prayer, Protect and Picketing – outside the Philadelphia Archdiocesan offices at 222 North 17th Street, Philly from 12 Noon to 1 o’clock on Friday, January 3, 2014. (Snow date the following Friday)

      Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
      maturlishmdsnd@yahoo.com

      • Thank you Sr. Maureen Paul Turlish for your strong consciences and your strong sense of moral obligation. Your conscience appears to motivate you to do what is right. Truth speaks to the soul and your voice cannot be ignored. Therefore, I will be there with you in spirit and in prayer January 3rd as I live in Oregon.

        Your presence is significant!
        Syd

  6. Fr. Walsh is right. For moral people, there is no “getting past” this.

  7. Syd, important and accurate understanding of the philosophy and mind-set of Church leadership when confronted with the evil of clergy sexual abuse.

    One thing about our institutional Catholic Church……….certain Church leaders will never let the facts, evidence and evil get in the way of their arrogance, hubris, greed and narcissism.

    • I appreciate what you write and yes once this ego inflation is set in motion it is difficult to stop. It is like they have deteriorated into might makes right. The law of the jungle and the doctrine of survival of the fittest gives them their rational to suit their ends. It is now a law unto themselves, regardless of them being right or wrong. If the church leaders can defy the law, morality, and common decency then there is no way we can stop them. We cannot stop them because they are in to deep and they are terrified of retaliation from those they have wronged. However, the truth will prevail and they will eventually be held accountable, ultimately to the judgment of others about their actions.

  8. PLEASE READ.

    HOPE. We can never give up hope.

    Lynn’s case returns to the trial judge because it’s not over. The appellate court overturned his conviction but did not order his release.

    A spokewoman for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said Friday that prosecutors will appeal the higher court’s ruling and ask that Lynn remain in prison while their appeal proceeds.

    “Since we are seeking further review, the appeal is not over, and probably won’t be for many months or years,” said spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson.”The decades long inaction of Lynn put countless children in harm’s way and he is where he belongs – behind bars. We will be fighting bail of any kind for this defendant.”

    • Dennis,

      Did you read the actual decision (J-A23005-13, pages 42 and 43)? It ends like this:

      “….Having determined that the evidence was not sufficient to support
      Appellant’s conviction for EWOC either as a principal or as an accomplice, we are compelled to reverse Appellant’s judgment of sentence.

      And, as there are no other offenses for which he was convicted in this case, Appellant is ordered discharged forthwith. Judgment of sentence reversed. Appellant is discharged……”

      It sure sounds to me like he’s been ordered released.

      Perhaps – as a matter of judicial protocol – the case is being returned to the trial court to determine the appropriate bail amount, ensuring that Monsignor Lynn doesn’t leave the country – until either the DA’s promised appeal is heard, – or the matter is dropped.

      • it ain’t over – grammar from St David’s and Resurrection.

        “A spokewoman for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said Friday that prosecutors will appeal the higher court’s ruling and ask that Lynn remain in prison while their appeal proceeds
        Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20131228_Msgr__Lynn_s_lawyers_ask_trial_judge_to_free_him.html#EeEZBL5cIqXk69YK.99

          • “Two bishops who presided over the shredding of a list of 35 predator priests drawn up by Msgr. Lynn have never even been questioned” (Ralph Cipriano).

            This is true. The bishops are just like the Mob once was, untouchable.

            Does anyone have any SPECIFIC ideas on how society can brings these Bishops to justice.

          • basically reads that they believe Billy, that the evidence is good and Lynn covered the crimes. They believe that using a very strict interpretation of the law, Lynn should not be tried under that section of the law.
            http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/J-A23005-13o%20-%201016613421853550.pdf?cb=1

            Reading the 2005 summary, I believe that the SOLs, the reading of the code that requires body harm and the fact that the law doesn’t clearly state supervisor of supervisor.

            http://www.bishop-accountability.org/reports/2005_09_21_Philly_GrandJury/Philly_04.pdf

            I don’t read anything about the crimes committed against children on that blog you refer to. Crimes that could be predicted. Thanks RCC for putting my kids in danger.

            We do need to check these laws carefully – not only do these laws change as they are debated, the language is used to gather stats ( what Pennsylvania defines as abuse/rape) and changes affect cases in progress. Though the EWOC law has corrected the supervisor loophole, we need to review all laws for language.

            Thanks for the info, but my experiences are completely different and though the grand jury report does discuss the SOL issues, other issues such as language and threat of lawsuits, and confidential issues(confession) also enter into the equation.

          • Katherine FitzGerald December 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm

            drwho13,

            Some of the factors that led to Lynn’s downfall were loyalty, conformity, and obedience to authority. But his greatest sin was inaction– a form of evil that supports those who are the perpetrators of evil, by knowing but not acting to challenge them. Sr. Maureen hits the nail on the head when she refers to Lynn as a “coward.” He had neither the guts, nor the conscience, nor the character, nor the mental fortitude to challenge Bevilaqua, Bishop Cullen (retired, Allentown, PA), and Bishop Cistone (sitting! bishop of Saginaw, Mich.). The extent of his weaknesses is mind-blowing, shattering what we had naively come to expect from clerics, and altogether removing him from the domain of decent human beings.

            Regardless of how low we go, I believe we can always redeem ourselves.

            Integral to the redemption of Monsignor William Lynn is a Cullen-Cistone challenge. Too late? Yes. Abominably too late! But still very, very, necessary.

            The “coward” will remain a coward until he acts courageously. The perpetrators of evil won’t feel its weight until a collaborator emphatically affirms it.

  9. On Tuesday afternoon a two month old baby girl was shot and killed in her family home. Details have been slow to reach the public. This happened in Lancaster County, right here in Pennsylvania. Reading between the lines, I would surmise an older sibling fired the gun. No charges are pending according to the Lancaster district attorney. He talked about gun safety but since there are no laws that people can’t keep loaded guns in their bedside table, no laws were broken. Hence there will be no charges. This makes about as much sense to me as not holding a man responsible that knowingly transferred sexually abusive priests from parish to parish, putting innocent children in jeopardy.There are reasons why a gun owner who left a loaded gun accessible to a child and a priest who thought nothing of putting a known pedophile back in contact with children get away with these things.Laws that should be in place to protect children are fought tooth and nail by powerful lobbies. On one hand it is the NRA. On the other hand it is the Catholic Church. The sad thing is that cats and dogs are protected better than our children.The fact of the matter is that children in our country have no power. They are not allowed to vote and do not have money to send to a lobbying group to protect their interests. As adults we are responsible to protect children. We are doing a pretty piss poor job of it.

    • Hello Jim,

      You might add that it’s a felony to poison a dog, but it’s no crime whatsoever to murder a baby in the sanctity of his / her mother’s womb.

      • The Catholic Church is the great protector of the unborn.But once a baby is born, watch out. The predators can’t wait tiill the child is old enough to molest and then voilla!, no concern whatsoever. Simply another piece of meat. Nothing like being persistent in your beliefs.

      • Joe, I would never poison a dog but until reading this did not know according to Pa. law that if I did it would be a felony. There are actions and decisions I make every day that I have no idea how Pennsylvania law would interpret my actions. In 16 years of Catholic school I never was instructed on Pa.law and how to act.
        There are many laws we abide by as law abiding citizens and then there are those situations where there are no laws and we act morally and ethically. If I find a child lost and crying in a store I would help the child, although by law, I could just keep on walking. Before 2007 I could allow children to be endangered and not have to worry unless I was direct supervisor of them..wouldn’t do that either.
        Wouldn’t poison a dog..wouldn’t endanger kids…wouldn’t have an abortion..some of these are legal ..some aren’t . It doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t do any of them.

    • True Jim where the money is is the power

  10. Katherine FitzGerald Reply December 28, 2013 at 1:53 am

    The sins and crimes of Monsignor William Lynn resulted from clericalism. If he had a conscience, he would exit the priesthood and spend the remainder of his life bringing attention to the priesthood’s cultish modus operandi and complex dysfunction. He would advocate for reforming the priesthood.

    But the reality is that he will let the priesthood pay for his bills until his death.

  11. If I may use a little bit of space to compare Lynn’s crimes to a a victim/survivor.

    1. Lynn moves and protects priests from Children are abused by clergy members.
    the justice system and placing children ( Crime: Being a child)
    in harms way.(crime in my book)

    Lynn receives a trial with a jury of Children receive NO trial (except for a few)
    his peers and found guilty. Crimes against them swept under the rug.

    Lynn receives a sentence of 3-6 Children receive a LIFE SENTENCE trying to
    years in prison. Maybe released make sense of the crimes they had
    after approx. 18 months behind bars. to suffer at the hands of clergy
    members. Individuals who they put
    trust in. Trying to find ways to kill the
    pain deep inside. Some succeed and
    sadly some don’t.

    Catholic church destroys, hides or Victims/Survivors hear the excuses from
    shred documents. Continues to keep the catholic church of why they were
    their own parishioners in the dark. abused, and when the child who was
    And there are those who feel these harmed seeks justice or the compensation
    actions are fine. for the crimes against them we are labeled
    church haters, bigots, drug addicts and
    liars.

    I could be here all day and compare the crimes by Lynn either legally or morally but in NO way will the comparison be fair. The children will always come out holding the shorter end of the stick.

    With those words said, I don’t want any survivor or victim to think what may happen in Philly as a step backwards. We have a site like this who will let us lean on their shoulders to vent if needed.

    Any long time survivor will tell you this fight is not easy, but read the comments others write here, like those from Mike or Syd and many others, read the comments in your newspaper when a clergy abuse story is printed. Don’t only read what others are saying but count the number of comments who feel the same way you do. Those numbers are increasing.

    People are tired of the catholic church (NOT THE FAITH) and all its leaders.

    I will end this now and wish everyone a safe and happy New Year.

    If Miss Matthews and Miss Kane do not mind I would like to leave my e-mail address if anyone would like to talk about anything. I represent NO organizations, media, or blogs.

    I am only one guy with the support of my wife and our young daughter who believes what I have to say is important.

    eckerdennis@ymail.com

    p.s.

    One thing Lynn and a child abused by clergy may have in common.

    Lynn will never get the time back The children will never get the time back
    he spent in prison. after their abuse
    when they had to become adults instead
    of being a child.

    • Please forgive me folks. I posted the above comment in columns and it seems it has run altogether.

      Miss Matthews or Miss Kane feel free to delete, it makes no sense.

    • Dennis, thank you, hopefully others will use blind addresses to communicate. When I set one up, I have a few questions, My friends where at Judge in the 60’s and early 70’s my younger brothers. were there around the time you were there. I am not a victim, but certain names(priests) do need attention but can’t be named on a public forum.

      I am also thanking you for your comparisons.

      • I attended Father Judge between 1976-1980. My abuser was Fr. Hermley OSFS. My abuse began one year prior to my parents sending me to Judge.

        • I emailed you with a few priests that were arrested/abused and their relationship to Rich’s abuser. They were priests stationed at Judge while you were there My brother’s were there at that time. Didn’t know Hermley, but he was mentioned by a few friends and my brothers – not classmates but there when you were there around the time you were there . Didn’t go there – one year in a minor seminary in the 60’s was enough. Thought I could make a difference and joined the Oblates in 1977. Guess my public school education and secular university education clashed with their concept of obedience.

          Try to remember my experiences, but the stroke had affected some memories. Luckily I kept my spiritual journals and read them so I remember those facts- they are destroyed now – I realized after my stuff was cleaned after the stroke I needed to protect that info so it was burned in1997. I won’t answer questions concerning abuse survivors or possible abuse survivors unless they give permission.

          Ed Gunn – tried to use my real name but got so frustrated and put 3000 then g which it finally accepted.

  12. Dennis please feel free to call me Kathy. There has been so much disappointment recently but we will do a post soon highlighting the ways in which all of the survivor’s efforts have made a difference. The priests who have been removed..the laws that have been changed..all keeping children safer..

  13. Father Walsh’s comments are encouraging – at least he seems to get it. We were taught, for years, that the clergy was a level above us “laypeople”. How many victims have said of their abusers throwing out that card – “do this – I’m a priest” – “no one will believe you – they will believe the priest.” How many accusations were brushed aside as kids being stupid, not understanding situations – that a priest would never do anything wrong? And yet, we are laughed at for now holding them to a higher standard – that they shouldn’t merely follow the law – they should go over and beyond – that Roman Catholic clergy should be the moral compass for society. Stand up and protest abortion and gay marriage – but when it comes to your own doing something that is morally suspect (notice – I did not use the word LEGALLY) – lets hide behind our $750/hour attorneys.

    And, as Kathy and Susan have documented, has anything changed. Yet ANOTHER priest allowed to stay at his parish while a credible investigation is conducted. A mysterious removal from the clergy list with an announcement weeks later of a suspension after MULTIPLE new allegations. How much has really changed? After the investigations, will Fr. Paul be removed from the priesthood – set out into the public to teach or counsel and find new victims – but the church can wash it hands of him? Or a life of “prayer and penance” where the Archdiocese and the contributions of the faithful support him until his death? Will questions be asked – how many allegations occurred in the past that were ignored or written off as the talk of confused teenagers looking for attention or behavior misunderstood as being a caring priest? I’ve talked to many that made complaints to the Archdiocese, to school officials, only to be laughed at and ignored.

    I continue to pray for the victims because weeks like this past bring up old wounds and relive the horrors all over again!

  14. Well they have come out of the woodwork. The apologists for sexual predators that call themselves priests. The apologists for those in the hierarchy that have been covering up crimes against children are making their voices known again. I wonder where the well known graduate of Bishop McDevitt was when the facts about Father Paul came to light. Didn”t hear a word from him then.Now that one of his cronies may get out of jail, he is back commenting. I was on yahoo earlier today and read one article about the lynn verdict being overturned. I also went through the comments. You want to talk about some angry people with angry comments directed at the Catholic Church and lynn, try that site.

  15. Appreciate the comparison to having a life sentence as a survivor. A day doesn’t go by that I am not haunted by the abuse. How many things from 40 years ago do you remember on a daily basis? All the triggers and the reactions that are warped by the influence of incidences from the past. Knowing people are fighting to protect children gives me hope. Survived Christmas thanks to your support here!

  16. This isn’t about “right and wrong” or the laws of Pennsylvania. Its about:

    – What Jesus Would Do
    – What the Church Of Jesus Christ would do
    – What the Catholic church does

    Jesus said in Matt 18:6 that anyone who caused a child to stumble would not be forgiven, and that they would be better off if a millstone were put around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

    Jesus said in John 20:23 that some sins weren’t forgiven (although Catholics ignore that half).

    Catholic priests act in complete defiance of Jesus, and forgive every single child rapist. They then hide and protect each child rapist. They then fight to protect the pedophiles, and will do everything in their power to protect the pedophile protectors like Msgr Lynn, who fully admitted in court that he hid and protected 37 known pedophile priests since 1994.

    The Catholic church is just doing the exact opposite of What Jesus Would Do.

    In Matt 18:10-14 and on, Jesus says through a parable that the Catholic church should have found every single victim. Instead, the Catholic church does the exact opposite of What Jesus Would Do, fighting every victim that comes forward.

    The “millstone” reference is used in one other place in the bible (other than Luke 17:2 and Mark 9:42 where they requite Jesus’ line about not forgiving child abusers).

    In Revelations, Ch 14-18, it talks about the 144,000 child rape victims, and the Catholic church, which is “The Great Babylon”. A mighty angel takes the whole Catholic church, puts a millstone around it, and throws it into the sea.

    The Catholic church does the opposite of What Jesus Would Do because it isn’t God’s church. It is the Great Babylon of the bible, and its followers will not be forgiven.

  17. Katherine FitzGerald Reply December 29, 2013 at 3:56 am

    Since Fr. Chris Walsh “sums it up best in the most recent article on Msgr. Lynn’s overturned conviction,” I’d like to ask him to sum up the condition of the Association of Philadelphia Priests.

    The Association of Philadelphia Priests was organized in the spring of 2011. Fr. Chris Walsh has headed it since its inception. Since its inception, it has appeared “off the radar.”

    I am asking Fr. Chris to measure the activities of the Association he leads against the activities of other priestly associations in the U.S., Ireland, Belgium, Germany, etc. I am also asking him to publicly divulge the degree to which Archbishop Chaput suppresses the activities, hopes, and dreams of his Association.

    Reform the priesthood.

    • FYI:

      Road to Recovery, Inc.
      P.O. Box 279
      Livingston, NJ 07039
      862-368-2800
      roberthoatson@gmail.com

      MEDIA RELEASE
      DECEMBER 29, 2013

      Bail hearing for Philadelphia priest, Msgr. William Lynn, who supervised sexually abusive clergy is another “punch in the gut” to clergy sexual abuse survivors

      Survivors of sexual abuse will call on judge to deny bail to Philadelphia priest who enabled sexual abuse of children

      Once again, highly-placed religious leaders might be “bailed out” of responsibility for enabling sexual abuse of children while many survivors will never be bailed out of their misery

      What:

      A demonstration calling on Judge Teresa Sarmina to deny bail to Msgr. William Lynn, former Secretary for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, who was convicted by a jury of his peers in a Philadelphia courtroom of enabling the sexual abuse of children by his clergy colleagues.

      When:
      Monday, December 30, 2013 at 9:00 A.M.

      Where:
      On the sidewalk in front of the criminal courthouse at 1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

      Who:
      Members of Road to Recovery, a non-profit charity that assists victims of sexual abuse, including a man from suburban Philadelphia who will speak about his sexual abuse by a priest in another state. Many of the other demonstrators are survivors of clergy sexual abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese and surrounding dioceses and states.

      Why:
      Once again, the criminal justice system favors sexual abusers and enablers of sexual abuse. Monsignor William Lynn was convicted by a jury of his peers who heard months of testimony, including poignant and credible accounts by survivors of clergy sexual abuse. He was deemed to be a criminal, and survivors of clergy sexual abuse once again call on the courts for free and equitable treatment. Up to this point, laws and religious leaders have not bailed victims out of their trauma and treated them with the respect they deserve, and Msgr. William Lynn is one such church leader who has not treated clergy abuse victims honesty, truthfully, and compassionately. He was convicted for such behavior by a jury of citizens who judged his behavior to be criminal. Lynn does not deserve to be bailed out unless and until every one of the victims to whom he denied fair hearings is “bailed out” of their pain.

      Contacts: Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D. – President, Road to Recovery, Inc. – 862-368-2800

  18. Looks like Monsignor Lynn will soon be a free man. I tried to warn everyone about PA and its corruption. Too many thought my writings were too harsh. They were wrong.

    Is Pennsylvania a Pro-Pedophile State?
    You be the judge

    By Mike Ference

    PA State Rep. Lisa Bennington, D-Allegheny County, held a press conference on May 12 in Harrisburg, PA to discuss House Bill 1137, legislation known as the Child Victim’s Act of Pennsylvania, which addresses statute of limitations and identifying sex abusers.

    If the bill passes, it would change the age at which a civil suit could be filed from until the accuser is 30 to 50, bringing the civil statute of limitations in line with the criminal statute. The bill would also suspend the civil statute of limitations for two years in child sex abuse cases in which the statute has expired so that people over the age limit could file a suit. And it would allow the filing of such actions against child sex abusers and their enablers in both public and private institutions.

    According to Bennington, it’s the private institutions where offenders have been allowed to move on and continue with their lives. “Their victims have been left behind to pick up the pieces, never getting their day in court and or a chance to see justice carried out. They live with this horrific crime for the rest of their lives,” she points out.

    A 2005 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report uncovered 63 priests in the Philadelphia archdiocese who had abused hundreds of children over several decades. In some cases, archdiocese leaders intentionally concealed the abuse to protect the church.

    And Bennington stresses, her bill does not target the Catholic Church. Rather, “it pertains to all religious institutions, public schools, youth groups and any organization where child sex abuse has occurred. This bill would give all Pennsylvania victims their fundamental right to hold those accountable that afflicted or allowed the abuse to occur.”

    Sounds reasonable and seems like a good thing. Similar legislation has passed in California and Delaware in recent years. In California, about 1,000 victims came forward and 300 predators were identified. Yet, there’s one PA lawmaker who strongly opposes the legislation and doesn’t even intend to give the bill a hearing.

    State Rep. Thomas R.Caltagirone D., (Berks County), the House Judiciary Committee chairman, says the proposed bill is driven by victims’ desire to win large legal payouts. Caltagirone goes on to say the bill is all about money, not about justice.

    Ironically, Caltagirone was quick to vote with fellow legislators for a 50 percent increase in their pensions in 2001 and the infamous middle of the night pay raise in 2005. The state rep along with other lawmakers chose to take the self-induced pay grab immediately in unvouchered expenses. Many PA residents felt this made the elected officials look like money-hungry crooks, as it was eventually declared unconstitutional.

    As expected, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference deplores the bill. Choosing to continue to protect perverted priests, rather than seek justice. Likewise, the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania is also against the bill. And while Caltagirone has officially declared HB1137 dead, his puppy-protection bill seems to be racing for the finish line.

    Could the PA state rep be more concerned about protecting puppies than innocent children abused as sex toys by grown men and women? His recently unveiled, HB 2532 which would forbid dog owners from performing surgery on their pups went before the Judiciary Committee on May 14 and could be voted on as early as June 10.

    As someone who has been investigating clergy abuse in Pennsylvania for almost 20 years, this writer can’t help but thing that something is amiss.

    On the eastern side of the commonwealth of PA the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office issued a scathing report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the high level of sexual abuse among Catholic priests and the cover ups and the reassigning of credibly accused Catholic priests by Cardinals Bevilacqua and Krol and their aides. It should be noted that Bevilacqua first served as Bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese before his transfer to Philadelphia. Insiders claim Bevilacqua left his successor, Donald Wuerl, quite a mess.

    For example, while Bevilacqua was still assigned to the Pittsburgh Diocese he agreed to place Fr. John P. Connor, an admitted child molester first within the Pittsburgh Diocese and later, after Bevilacqua took over in Philadelphia Fr. Connor was assigned there. According to testimony in the Philadelphia Grand Jury the arrangement was based on a “tradition of bishops helping bishops.” Sadly, Fr. Connor went on to abuse others and Bevilacqua was found to be a liar according to the grand jury report.

    One has to wonder why the Pittsburgh Diocese voluntarily settled with 32 alleged survivors of clergy abuse. $1.25 million for crimes the Pittsburgh Diocese will never have to admit ever occurred. The settlement would not tarnish the stellar reputation of Archbishop Donald Wuerl who never had to pay a dime to any clergy abuse victims during his tenure as bishop in the Pittsburgh Diocese.

    Oddly enough, an underling – so to speak – Auxiliary Bishop Bradley reconciled the situation, only weeks before Bishop David Zubik was to be installed as the new leader of the diocese. So it seems everything fell into place.

    32 survivors received a few bucks, the diocese is off the hook for any future civil or maybe even criminal suits based on the settlement. Wuerl continues to do in Washington D.C. whatever it is that Archbishops do and Zubik was allowed to get a fresh start in the Pittsburgh Diocese without the interference of those civil suits that were resting in limbo for several years.

    The settling of the civil suits certainly allowed for an impressive and dignified installation of Bishop Zubik, no hecklers or demonstrators from any groups with compassion for children sexually abused by Catholic priests.

    And, although I have no proof, nor anyway to calculate, I would be willing to bet the farm that more money was spent on Zubik’s festivities than was awarded to 32 survivors of alleged abuse by Catholic priests from the Pittsburgh Diocese. No big deal, the worst is over.

    Unless of course, somewhere down the road – maybe a year, a few months, a couple of weeks, or perhaps in the next few days – information turns up that the cases of sexual abuse actually occurred and that cover ups were the norm in the Pittsburgh Diocese just like cover ups and shifting priests from parish to parish was the norm in the archdiocese of Philadelphia.

    Anyone with a little common sense would be concerned that a man of the cloth might be tempted to hide crimes of clergy sexual abuse of young children only on the eastern side of the commonwealth of PA and not the western side as well.

    That’s a lot of ifs ands or buts – only time will tell if Pennsylvania is indeed a pro-pedophile state. For now it’s three cheers for Rep Bennington and HB 1137 as for Rep. Caltagirone – one politician who obviously cares more about dogs than children – maybe it’s time for the law maker to rollover and play dead.

    Mike Ference has been an advocate for clergy sex abuse survivors for over 23 years. He has written about the problem and works with clergy abuse families in Pennsylvania and across the United States helping victims work through the corrupt bureaucratic maize of injustice. He attributes much of the problem to corrupt leaders in government, organized crime and Catholic Church hierarchy more concerned about power and money than the salvation of souls. He has labeled the commonwealth of Pennsylvania a Pro-pedophile state where Catholic clergy sex abuse cover-ups are still the norm. Mike can be reached at 412-233-5491 or email him at mike@ferencemarketing.com.

    • Mike

      http://www.dailyitem.com/0100_news/x1186899210/Ten-new-laws-bolster-battle-of-child-abuse

      will have to ask the paper why the laws were not listed- they were in the print edition. The serious body harm was changed to body harm. As endangering a child doesn’t always have physical injuries that are documented especially in sexual abuse cases. Know a few cases where an itch or a walk is the only clue that a child is sexually abused. As far as the legal aspect is concerned, we need to understand the laws affecting child abuse affect cases of child sexual abuse, just like the RCC with their under 10 year old threshold for pedophile, FBI using 12 years and APA using 13 years old. Just thinking of those priests sexually abusing 7 year old children or even infants, The bishops and priests enabled this behavior.

      I am almost in tears just discussing this abuse asking for support of a bill. Do those people putting thumb down on victims’ posts understand the pain. How can anyone with blood in their veins not have some compassion for the victims and their families?

      The article does claim the legal definitions has skewed the collection of data given to the legislature. I wish a few lawyers, who know Pennsylvania law could educate us so we can write effective letters. I know that it is illegal to pass any law that targets a specific group no matter how guilty they are. So how do we effectively contact and educate our lawmakers?

      I know this is about legal issues, but anyone following child sexual abuse cases and check on tier three abusers know how much more needs to be done.

  19. Its has been a good 8 months since I read posts and I was able to get caught up quiet quickly. Not whole hell of a lot has changed in PA / Philadelphia has it. he church is still playing cat and mouse and now the “prized catch” is being released.. I don’t miss a church that tells me what I can or can not do and uses scare tactics. The old pray- pay – obey has to come to end and this will not happen until the sheep in the pews wake up…

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