Retreating from the Truth

Fr John Meyers, former rector of the Malvern Retreat House, was found unsuitable for ministry in January of 2019 for a credible and substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor. The press release from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia stated that Meyers was placed on administrative leave in late 2018 and his priestly faculties were restricted following the receipt of an allegation that he had sexually abused a minor in the early 1980’s.

From the wording in the statement many might think that the allegation was received in late 2018. We attempted to clarify with the Archdiocese, but our email to John Delaney, Delegate of Investigations went unanswered.

We recently were provided with information that tells a different story than the information released by the Archdiocese. It seems that the allegation was first reported to the Malvern Retreat House and the information was quickly handed over to the Archdiocese on March 1, 2018. What didn’t happen quickly however was Meyers removal from the Malvern Retreat House. Meyers remained as rector for seven months after the allegation was known to the Archdiocese. During that time the criminal and internal investigations were carried out.

It seems that “restrictions” were in place during this time for Meyers being with minors. What clergy or staff at Malvern were tasked with watching a potentially dangerous man? What were their credentials for watching a possible child predator and enforcing the restrictions?

Was Meyers escorted from the grounds when the high school students showed up for the overnight Kairos retreats? Did Archbishop Chaput swing by and pick him up before the kids ages 4-12 from Camp Guadalupe came for the summer day camp? Did Leslie Davila of the Office of Child and Youth Protection take Meyers to the mall for the day while the teenage girls were at Malvern for the Young Women of Grace retreat? Did the staff announce to the families at the Family Labor Day weekend retreat that the rector was under investigation? Who watched him when the young people employed by the retreat house showed up for work?

The information was kept from parents. The parents who pack up their little ones up with snacks and drinks for the day camp. The parents who help their excited high school student zip up the overstuffed suitcase for Kairos weekend. The parents who drop off their nervous teenager for their first day of work at the retreat house.

There are dangerous people everywhere in the world, but for the Archdiocese to send children and young people into a situation knowing that someone in that environment could pose a risk, and to withhold that information from parents is something that defies the very relationship between parent and child. It defies basic nature. It defies basic respect.

My parents were long time supporters of the Malvern Retreat House. We have a bench dedicated to my father on the grounds. When I was 18 years old, the Men of Malvern came to my father’s funeral and shared stories with my family about my father that exemplified both his faith and his character. Many years later when my children went on their Kairos Retreats I told them to look for the bench and to enjoy their time at a place that meant so much to their grandfather.

My 19 year old daughter was devastated when I told her that one of the recently removed priests had been the rector at Malvern . Her Kairos retreat was a few months before Meyers arrived at Malvern Retreat, but the feeling that a person who had harmed a child was on that campus is a feeling that she can’t shake. She wanted to know how long they knew about Meyers and how long they left him at a place where children frequent. She wanted to email the Archdiocese and demand answers. A 19 year old was ready to go bat for the kids.

It was so difficult to explain to her that in this type of situation it is not just the decisions of Archbishop Chaput, but it is also the many people involved in these situations who are parents who go along with the decision to keep information secret from other parents. None of this works without lay staff willing to go along with the decisions.

If my father were alive he would be on the doorstep of the Malvern Retreat House demanding to know why an investigation of child sex abuse was kept from the retreat community. My father was a man of great faith and great character. It is possible to have both. Someday the Church might finally learn that lesson.

Thank you to everyone who provides us with information and trusts us to tell the story. The full truth will always come out. It just won’t be in a press release from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Double Trouble:

Second Investigation of Msgr. Logrip Reveals Two Archdiocesan Sins of Omission

It was deja vu when the Archdiocese of Philadelphia recently announced that Msgr. Joseph Logrip would be placed on administrative leave while being investigated for an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. Logrip was first placed on administrative leave for an earlier investigation in 2011, along with 26 other Archdiocesan priests. He was reinstated in 2014.

Along with this second investigation, a related mystery has reemerged. When a priest is found unsuitable for ministry or placed on administrative leave, the Archdiocese includes that priest’s assignments in the removal announcement. But Logrip’s decades-spanning involvement with St. Aloysius Academy for Boys is missing in BOTH the 2011 and 2019 removal announcements.

Located in Bryn Mawr, St. Aloysius Academy is an all-boys, private, Catholic school for grades K through 8. It’s administered by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Logrip seems to have served as the school chaplain for many years. A book published in 1995, celebrating the Academy’s 100th anniversary year, reveals the following:

  • A photo of Msgr. Logrip from 1978 identifying him as the school chaplain.
  • In 1988, during Catholic Schools week, Msgr. Logrip blessed the new chapel at the main school building.
  • In the 1980’s the First Friday Masses were celebrated by Msgr. Logrip
  • In the 1990’s he celebrated the opening school Mass that kicked off the centennial celebration year for the school.
  • At the Centennial Gala dinner he gave the benediction and is identified as the school chaplain.

A former St. Aloysius student remembers Logrip being on the school campus a few times each week during the late 1980’s through the mid-1990’s. He says the priest was often accompanied by St. Charles seminarians.

Logrip is mentioned in a lawsuit filed in 2011 by a former student alleging abuse by Father Martin Satchell in the early 1990’s. Satchell seems to have been a seminarian at the time of the abuse. The former student alleges he told Msgr. Logrip in 1995 that someone had hurt him but that Logrip did nothing to help him.

Despite Logrip’s well-documented history at the school, nothing pertaining to his time at St. Aloysius is mentioned in the 2011 or 2019 official Archdiocesan removal announcements.

Back in 2014, we asked the Archdiocese why St. Aloysius was missing from Logrip’s list of assignments. They responded that Logrip had volunteered as their chaplain. They hadn’t assigned him. But they knew about it! A subtle distinction was their reason for omitting information that could aid an investigation, inform the public and spur important conversations among those who attended or worked at the school.

It seems the Archdiocesan definition of transparency and accountability is very, very limited.

In 2019, with Logrip’s second removal for investigation, in an era where transparency is preached from the pulpit, the Archdiocese had a second chance to get it right. They failed. Did they forget we are watching?

Once again, they withheld Logrip’s long history with St. Aloysius Academy for Boys.

One has to wonder why?

NY Senate Passes Child Victims Act

Survivors of child sex abuse and advocates won an important victory for justice and prevention when the New York state senate passed the Child Victims Act.

Catholics4Change thanks and congratulates all who fought this uphill battle for many years. May the headlines in New York be repeated in the many states where this legislation needs to be enacted – including Pennsylvania.

The new law does away with the statutes of limitations that have prevented some alleged abuse victims from going to court to seek damages. And it includes a one-year “look-back window” that will allow others who weren’t able to sue in the past to file fresh claims.

Passage of the Child Victims Act is an exhilarating and empowering moment for those of us who have been waging this battle in Albany for a dozen years,” Stephen Jimenez, a sex abuse survivor and advocate for other victims, said after the vote.”

Click here to read “N.Y. Senate votes to give victims of child sex abuse more years to sue, ending years-long battle” at NBC.com.

Consider the Source: Archdiocesan Press Release Short on Facts

As we predicted, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia waited until late Friday afternoon, a dead-zone in the news cycle, to issue a revised press release about three priests removed from ministry.

We alerted the Office of Communications to specific inaccuracies in their press release a week prior. Even though we provided corrections, they needed a lot of time to confirm the truth. Go to Google and people in the pews if you want clergy sex abuse facts.

As was likely intended, local new sources relied upon and quoted the inaccurate and incomplete press release during the week it remained unrevised. Read the updated press release here.

Rev. Raymond Smart’s parish service has been updated. The date of the sexual abuse of a minor allegation is also revised.

Negligent or Deliberate?

In an email regarding the inaccuracies, Ken Gavin, of the Office of Communications, explained his office used the official clergy personnel assignment list. This means, that despite three separate investigations since 2011, the Archdiocesan Office for Clergy didn’t have accurate records of Father Smart’s living arrangements and ministry for the past 16 years. Or, they didn’t pass on complete information to the Office for Communications.

Maybe a bishop’s after-dinner drink spilled and damaged pages? Maybe a clergy office staffer lost a few pages after tripping over the cot we suspect is set up for Father Joseph Gallagher, an alleged abuser who is M.I.A. We will never know. We’re just really glad we could help update their records.

The Archdiocese was also off by an entire year in regard to when the allegation was received. It stands to reason it would be the Office for Investigations responsibility to ensure the accuracy of allegation dates.

In the past, clergy suspension and removal announcements have been coordinated between the Office of Investigations and the Office of Communications. We know this because an investigator once hit “reply all,” forgetting to remove us from an email thread.

It’s still unclear when the allegation concerning Father John Meyers was received by John Delaney, Delegate of Archdiocesan Investigations. He has not replied to our emails.

Scooby Doo Where Are You?

We will publish a separate post this week on the now twice-removed Msgr. Joseph Logrip. His assignment record in the press release still does not show where he resided between 1983 and 1990, nor does it indicate his many years serving as St Aloysius Academy’s chaplain.

A few years ago, we shared troubling information about an Archdiocesan priest with the police and the Archdiocesan Investigations office. When we followed up with the police, they said the Archdiocese told them the priest was in his 90’s and living in a private residence. We knew this was wrong based on our limited information and were quickly able to estimate his age based on his ordination date and a newspaper article found online. Why were we able to land within one year of his actual age but the Archdiocese was off by decades? Also, the priest wasn’t living in a private residence.

The Archdiocese had supplied the police information on an elderly relative of the priest, who happened to share the same name. The detective said the Archdiocese should hire us.

But does the Archdiocese of Philadelphia really want accuracy and transparency?

The Waiting Game

Within minutes of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issuing the press release announcing that three priests were removed from ministry, it was obvious to anyone capable of doing a Google search that the information contained in the statement was not accurate. The press release of January 13, 2019 can be read here: http://archphila.org/archdiocese-of-philadelphia-places-one-priest-on-administrative-leave-and-announces-two-others-have-been-found-unsuitable-for-ministry/.

While we wait for the Archdiocese to correct the inaccuracies, we’ll take a closer look at  one removed priest, Fr John Meyers, and some information we found of interest. Fr Meyers resigned his position as pastor of St Martin of Tours parish for health reasons in January 2017 and was assigned as a parochial vicar to St Anthony of Padua parish.  Just a few months later in June of 2017 he was assigned as Rector pro tem of  the Malvern Retreat House.  Somehow, even though Fr Meyers needed to resign from his parish just a few months earlier due to health reasons, he was able to take on the position as Rector of the largest retreat house in the country.  Even more interesting is that Fr Meyers was replacing the former rector of the retreat house who needed to step down due to his own health issues. In this case the former rector truly did have health issues, but why would the Archdiocese replace him with Meyers who had his own “health issues?”

Within a few months Meyers went from a pastor, to a parochial vicar, to the rector of a retreat house.  We have repeatedly emailed John Delaney, Delegate of Investigations, asking him to clarify when the allegation of sexual abuse of a minor involving Meyers was received by the Archdiocese.  No answer so far from Delaney and the questions about Meyers continue. Did the Archdiocese allow Meyers to act in the role of rector of the Malvern Retreat House while an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was being investigated?  Many Archdiocesan students attend the overnight Kairos retreats at Malvern Retreat.  Is this a new low, even for the Archdiocese?

Another interesting twist is that when Fr Meyers resigned from St Martin of Tours parish in January 2017, he was replaced by Fr Armand Garcia. Garcia is now on administrative leave after the police searched the parish rectory last year, investigating him for possible misconduct with minors..  We broke that story after we were tipped off that Garcia was removed from the parish.  An announcement had been made at the parish but no statement issued from the Archdiocese or notification to Garcia’s past assignments.

Folks, you simply can’t make this stuff up.  We will post the corrected press release from the Archdiocese when it becomes available.  For now, we wait.

Putting the Pieces Together

Much of today was spent sifting through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s press release regarding three priests removed from ministry. The following are some initial thoughts and findings. We will update as more information becomes available.

Father Raymond Smart

The press release claimed that Father Raymond Smart “has not served in any school or parish since 1995 due to poor health. He has been retired and living in a private residence since 2002.”  While this may paint a picture of a priest who has long been away from ministry and living at the local Korman Suites, the truth tells another story.

  • We confirmed that Father Smart was acting as a weekend assistant priest at St Teresa of Calcutta parish as recently as 2016;
  • The parish bulletin of St. Philip Neri, Pennsburg, has Father Smart listed as Retired; resident, as recently as 2015.  In 2014, he is listed as being the celebrant of the Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday daily Masses. In December 2015, he was hearing Christmas confessions;
  • From the press release we know that Father Smart was investigated three times since 2011. However, the two prior investigations and resolutions were never announced by the Archdiocese. Father Smart had his faculties restricted in 2017 and this was not even shared with the priests of the Archdiocese. The announcement of the final removal included the information of the prior investigations.

His case raises many important questions:

  • Is a parish rectory considered a private residence?
  • Is being listed as a weekend assistant priest in a parish bulletin not considered serving at a parish?
  • If the Archdiocese wants to protect children, then why not release the information of every parish where he has resided or assisted? Transparency or technicality, which one will it be?
  • Does the Archdiocese realize that the internet exists and everyone can put the pieces of together?

Father John Meyers

Father Meyers may have had the quickest resolution in Archdiocesan history if the timeline is to be believed. The press release states, “in late 2018, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia placed Reverend John F. Meyers on administrative leave following receipt of an allegation that he had sexually abused a minor in the 1980’s.” He was placed on administrative leave in late 2018.

However, the press release fails to state when the allegation was actually received. If the allegation was truly first known in late 2018 and the case is resolved and already in the hands of the Vatican, that’s quicker than the case of Msgr. Hugh Campbell, who admitted committing abuse. His case still took another five months for resolution. Maybe the Archdiocese has implemented a fast pass – like the Disney World ride fast pass?  How much time elapsed between receiving the allegation and removing Father Meyers from the Malvern Retreat House?

Father Meyers was the rector at the Malvern Retreat House, where many Archdiocesan students attend the Kairos retreats. The students spend a few nights at the retreat house without their mobile phones or outside contact.  High school staff helps supervise, but discovering the rector of the retreat house was a predator sent chills down the spines of parents and kids.

We are looking to John Delaney, Delegate of Investigations, to provide an honest answer to these kids.

Was Father Meyers left at the Malvern Retreat for even one day after the Archdiocese received the allegation?

We have not had a chance to review Msgr. Logrip’s case. Logrip was placed on administrative leave for the second time after an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. That’s next.

If you would like to share information in regard to the recently removed priests, please message us through the contact link or email Kathy: kmkane242@gmail.com.

Window To Justice: Will PA Senate Support Victims Or Child Predators?

Pennsylvania senators must decide whose interests they’ll represent. Will it be the victims and children or will it be the predators, their enablers and insurance companies?

When the PA Grand Jury Report revealed 1,000 victims of Catholic clergy child sex abuse and that it had been covered up, there seemed to be a bi-partisan wake-up call. Yet, there’s been no progress in the senate. Where is the humanity and common sense?

Pennsylvania’s legislative shortfalls enable child rapists and molesters to live among us – unnamed, unpunished and undeterred.

Current law allows child sex abuse victims to pursue criminal charges against abusers until age 50; they can file civil lawsuits until age 30. The grand jury recommended eliminating the statute of limitations for prosecutions, noting that “no piece of legislation can predict the point at which a victim of child sex abuse will find the strength to come forward.”

Eliminating the statutes of limitation for child sex abuse is smart, but it wouldn’t be retroactive. Marci Hamilton, an expert in constitutional law and CEO of Child USA, explained to CNN in a recent article, that US Supreme Court precedent prohibits extending criminal liability after a case’s statute limit expires. So, even if a bill passed in Pennsylvania, it would not apply to any victim age 51 or older.

And worse, the limits for child sex abuse cases used to be five years for prosecution and two years for civil suits. Think of the thousands of victims silenced due to that short time frame. If that doesn’t grab you, think of all their anonymous abusers.

The solution is to eliminate the statutes of limitation for child sex abuse AND pass limited window legislation to clean up the past and prevent abuse.

A two- or three-year window would allow victims, who aged out of previous statutes of limitation, to file civil lawsuits. Arguments that a window is unconstitutional have been refuted by Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who references ample precedent in other states, including Delaware. He is confident that window legislation will survive legal challenges.

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW

Every Pennsylvania parent, grandparent, person who cares about kids should let their state senator know they support this solution.

Download the Excel spreadsheet compiled with the help of attorney Slade McLaughlin. It provides insight to each PA senator’s stance on window legislation as well as contact information. Please tell them you want them to open a window to justice and send them pictures of the kids they should be representing.

With more feedback, we will continue to update spreadsheet.