When Priests are Falsely Accused Part 2: Why Accusers Should be Named

In a sharp departure from similar claims against Catholic priests, the accusers of Baptist pastor, Bishop Eddie Long asked the news media to publish their names.

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series.  Please click here for Part 1 and Part 3.

Freedom Through Truth,” an excellent and insightful Canadian blog, has been profiling my situation as well as that of Father Mark Gruber who felt so deprived of basic civil and canonical rights that he filed suit against his bishop. In a post on September 10, 2010 entitled, “A Thorn in the Flesh,” Michael Brandon, who hosts “Freedom Through Truth,” wrote a profoundly troubling observation:

“The Catholic Church has become the safest place in the world for children, but the most dangerous place in the world for our priests.”

I can’t imagine that sits well with any bishop, but in a post of my own last June, “Are Civil Liberties for Priests Intact?” I laid out what some have called a compelling case for how the Church’s sex abuse scandal has become like an ATM machine for lawyers and litigants at the expense of basic civil liberties for the priests accused.

A few weeks ago (September 27), The Wall Street Journal ran a brief news story captioned, “Influential Pastor Pledges to Fight Sexual Allegations” by WSJ reporter Valerie Bauerlein. Among the Journal’s vast on-line global readership, it was the fifth most viewed article for that day. I wondered what made this particular Journal headline such a draw for on-line readers. I also wondered how many of those readers clicked on the article thinking, “Finally, one of them is fighting back.”

Gordon-MacRae-Falsely-Accused-Priest-the-Eighth-Commandment-4I’ve been told by many readers of These Stone Walls that Catholics want unjustly accused priests and Church officials to fight false claims of abuse rather than just settle them. Did some Catholic priests refuse to sit quietly in exile while his Diocese threw money at yet another unnamed accuser with a newly discovered memory? But alas, the story was not about a Catholic priest at all.

If you’ve read the two-part “A Priest’s Story” by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Dorothy Rabinowitz, which was also published in the Wall Street Journal, you might have some of the same questions I have about the lurid accounts of sexual abuse alleged by several young men in recent law suits against Atlanta Baptist preacher, Bishop Eddie Long. I read with much sadness these claims against the “mega-church” pastor and TV evangelist. It certainly isn’t the case of “misery loves company!” No Catholic should take any comfort from the attention Bishop Eddie Long’s case is receiving in the news media.

“RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES?”

On their face, however, the claims against the Baptist pastor are painfully familiar. The young men who accused him claimed that Bishop Long “groomed them,” “lavished them with gifts” to gain their trust, and then sexually abused them beginning when they were age 17 or 18.

I make no judgment whatsoever on whether the claims are true, but these elements of the story are virtually carbon copies of hundreds of similar claims against Catholic priests. Some of the same formulaic terminology could have been lifted right out of the transcripts of my 1994 trial. That’s why the story of Bishop Eddie Long caught my attention.

Choreographed-False-Accusations-Against-Catholic-Priests

There are other similarities between this case and typical sex abuse claims against priests. The news media – and Bishop Eddie Long’s accusers themselves through their contingency lawyers – spoke of the inherent abuse of power exhibited by the pastor if indeed the claims are true. But in apparent contradiction of that, the media also reported that criminal charges are highly unlikely in the case because the young men were above the age of legal consent – which is age 16 in Georgia as it is in New Hampshire and a number of other states. This implies that the Baptist bishop’s accusers on the one hand say they were victimized, while on the other hand the state itself says they consented to their own victimization. One wonders how they can be consenting victims.

So like most claims against Catholic priests, there are lawsuits but no real investigation. But there is also something very different here. Actually, two things. First, all of Bishop Long’s accusers filed their lawsuits, at most, just two or three years after the alleged abuse. This is significant. The accuser at my trial alleged that his abuse ceased on the day before his 16th birthday. He claimed that he returned for counseling for his drug problem from week to week because he “repressed” the memory of being abused. He brought his charges, and a simultaneous lawsuit, eleven years after he claimed the abuse occurred.

A full 70% of the claims for monetary damages alleging sexual abuse by Catholic priests were brought anywhere from one to five decades after the abuse was claimed to have occurred. Since 2002, organized groups like SNAP and VOTF – seemingly formed specifically to promote lawsuits against the Catholic Church – have also promoted legislation state by state to increase or discard statutes of limitation for bringing those lawsuits. These groups, and the contingency lawyers whose agenda they serve, have repeatedly declared that victims of sexual abuse cannot come to terms with it and report it for decades. Apparently, Baptist accusers need a lot less time than Catholic accusers.

But there’s an even more striking difference between the Bishop Eddie Long case and similar claims against Catholic priests. The accusers of the Baptist preacher have assented to the publication of their names. From my perspective, that is a stunning distinction. The Associated Press reported on this fact in an article dated September 23, 2010 published in The Boston Globe:

“The Associated Press normally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual impropriety, but [plaintiff lawyer] Bernstein said that all three…have consented to making their identities public.”(Erin Haines and Greg Bluestein, “Abuse Charges Pain Many Members of Large Atlanta Church”)

Does that fact alone lend credence to the claims of accusers? I’m not sure of the answer to that, but I can’t help but wonder about it. Most claims against Catholic priests were brought anonymously as far as the public is concerned. As I pointed out in “Are Civil Liberties for Priests Intact?” one of the central issues that has trampled upon the right of many accused priests is their inability to confront their accusers in an open, public forum when their bishops settle claims and agree to anonymity for the accusers through typical non-disclosure clauses in mediated settlements from which the accused priests themselves are entirely excluded. Do you think for one moment that Bishop Eddie Long is barred from involvement in his church’s handling of the lawsuits against him and the church?

FLEECING THE SHEPHERDS

Many Catholic bishops have been accused of orchestrating a cover-up by the seemingly abhorrent practice of quietly transferring accused priests without reporting them to civil authorities or warning new parishes about the accusations. As indefensible as that revelation was, it represented only a fraction of the claims against the Catholic Church, and it hasn’t happened in the United States for over 20 years.

I know that in my own Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, Church officials have followed a mandatory reporting law since it was enacted in 1979. Every accusation of sexual abuse of a minor by any priest in New Hampshire has been reported to civil authorities since that time. A supposed great scandal that erupted in 2002 was not that my bishop and diocese broke that law, but that they did not interpret it retroactively, and thus report to civil authorities in 1979 every allegation that preceded the enactment of the law – some going back as far as World War II.

However one interprets the legal and ethical responsibilities of Church personnel, the fact remains that a full 70% of the claims against priests demanding monetary settlement were brought forward only in 2002 and after when a certain reality became crystal clear to potential plaintiffs and contingency lawyers.

Noted Boston criminal defense and civil liberties lawyer, Harvey Silverglate, had something quite pointed to say about the onslaught of decades-old claims that have fractured and polarized the Church over the last eight years:

“There is considerable doubt about the veracity of many of the new claims, quite a few of which were made after it became apparent that the Church was willing to settle sex abuse cases for big bucks.” (“Fleecing the Shepherd,” Boston Phoenix, December 10-16, 2004).

I quoted the above in my 2005 article for Catalyst, “Sex Abuse and Signs of Fraud,” but I am not the only commentator who took note of Attorney Harvey Silverglate’s call for caution. David F. Pierre noted it too.

Double-Standard-by-David-Pierre

David F. Pierre, Jr. is the host of www.TheMediaReport.com, and author of what I think is a landmark book about the story of abuse in the Catholic Church. His meticulously researched new book is entitled Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church. It’s an important book, and we have added a link to it on the sidebar of These Stone Walls. If you have wondered how and why the Catholic Church and priesthood came – quite wrongly – to be equated with child sexual abuse in pop culture, David F. Pierre’s book is an important step toward understanding exactly what happened. It’s a courageous and compelling account of how money, media, and mayhem have distorted and driven the scandal and singled out the Catholic Church as a scapegoat for rampant abuse in our culture. No one can read David F. Pierre’s book and walk away believing justice has been served by the news media’s or SNAP’s treatment of the story.

WHY I NAMED MY ACCUSERS

I think – at least I hope – that most readers of These Stone Walls over the last year conclude that I have gone to great lengths to do the right thing. I hope you might also conclude that I would never place into public view the name of a real victim of sexual abuse without that person’s permission.

But I will not hesitate to name any person whom I know has accused me or any other priest falsely and for profit, and have already done do with but one exception. The one exception is a person who accused me falsely in 2004 alleging abuse in 1981 or 1982, but I have postponed publication of this person’s name. As has been typical, nothing was filed in a court of law. His claim was simply placed with a lawyer who has choreographed the claims of scores of accusers for mass mediated settlements against many priests of my diocese.

This lawyer’s settlements are described below. Only one fact has stayed my hand in publishing that accuser’s name for now. I know that the scant details the lawyer provided are entirely untrue of me, but one small detail might have been true of another priest who served in that same place, and at that same time, and who has also been accused by others. Even the possibility that this accuser may have been victimized by another priest has postponed, for now, publication of his name and claims.

It is without a doubt that, in New Hampshire at least, government authorities entered into a prosecutorial witch hunt over decades old sexual abuse claims while giving fraud and larceny a free pass. Unfortunately, my own diocese has actually participated, through uncorroborated mediated settlements, in being a consenting victim of such fraud. In Double Standard, David F. Pierre noted something most disturbing in the way many claims against Catholic priests have been settled in New Hampshire without any legitimate determination of credibility:

“In 2002, a New Hampshire diocese faced accusations of abuse from 62 individuals. Rather than spending the time and resources looking into the merits of the cases, ‘Diocesan officials did not even ask for specifics such as the dates and specific allegations for the claims,’ New Hampshire’s Union Leader reported. Getting money from the diocese could Not have been any easier for the complainants. It was almost as Simple as a trip to an ATM machine… ‘I’ve never seen anything Like it,’ a pleased and much richer plaintiff attorney admitted.” (Double Standard, p. 125).

David F. Pierre was not the first person to notice this blatant disregard for the due process rights of accused priests by awarding financial settlements to accusers with no finding of facts whatsoever. On February 5, 2004, Catharine Henningsen, then editor of SALT: The Op Ed Page of the Catholic Church, delivered a speech to deaf ears at the Norwalk, Connecticut meeting of Voice of the Faithful:

“I am here today to argue that we cannot substitute the abuse of children with the abuse of accused priests. In the abuses I am about to outline for you, I believe you will agree that We have arrived at a point in our handling of these cases where Canon and civil law are being eroded to the detriment, and I think diminishment not only of who we are as human beings, but of who we Claim to be as Christians.”

The “abuse of accused priests” cited by Catharine Henningsen were the Diocese of Manchester settlements described above. She cited the same media reports cited by David F. Pierre in Double Standard. These settlements were also cited by me in a 2009 Catalyst article, “Due Process for Accused Priests.” How does a priest accused from ten, twenty, or thirty years ago defend himself or ever restore his name when a diocese simply writes a check with no other evidence of guilt than the claim itself? And unlike the lawsuits filed by the accusers of Bishop Eddie Long, the lawyer who was given a $5.2 million check by my diocese – the first of several rounds of mediated settlements with the same lawyer who proclaimed,

“I’ve never seen anything like it!” – didn’t even file the claims in a court of law. He simply wrote a letter demanding settlement, and got it.

False-Accusation-by-Anonymous-Accuser-2

Last month, the Concord Monitor reported on another case handled by that same lawyer with amazing result. But that case did not involve Catholic priests. The lawyer now represents one of several women who are suing a New Hampshire school district claiming they were repeatedly sexually abused by a teacher in the late 1970s when they were 15 yrs. old. And by the way, the Concord Monitor printed the names of the teacher’s accusers.

JOHN DOE v. DIOCESE OF MANCHESTER

I was stunned to read a New Hampshire judge’s decision last month that the school district cannot be sued because the civil statute of limitations for lawsuits has expired. The judge ruled that, at age 15, the accusers should have known their rights were being violated by the teacher, so the statute of limitations for a lawsuit began to toll when the women were 15 years old.

In stark contrast, another New Hampshire judge ruled in that same court in 1996 that the lawsuits brought by my accusers against the Diocese of Manchester – accusers who were also 15 yrs. old at the time of their claims – could proceed with their lawsuits against my diocese. The statute of limitations in this judge’s ruling began to toll “only when the victims became aware they were injured” which can be 20 or 30 years later. Rather than appeal that lower court ruling, my diocese settled against my will, opening the door for the sort of unquestioned mediated settlements that are now bankrupting dioceses all over the country. However, when the accused is a teacher and school district, with accusers the same age as my accusers and from the same time period, the court ruled just the opposite.

In his book, Contrary to Popular Opinion (Pharos Books, 1992) noted civil liberties lawyer and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz wrote no less than four essays defending why justice requires that accusers in sexual assault claims should be identified along with the accused. This is especially so when accusers bring civil lawsuits or other demands for compensation from a deeper pocket than that of the accused person himself. When accusers have a monetary motive, and the courts issue conflicting rulings allowing them to proceed decades later – but exclusively against Catholic priests – then the names of accusers should be scrutinized as well. My accuser at trial walked away with $200,000 for the lie that took away my freedom.

JUST HOW GULLIBLE ARE WE?

As I was writing this post, a few younger prisoners stopped to talk with me. They are the same age as Bishop Eddie Long’s accusers, so I asked their opinion on the case. They were careful to weigh both sides. But when I told them about the rest of this post, they all started laughing, and I asked them why.

“People are so gullible,” one said. “People think no one would accuse a priest just for money. I know a lot of people who would do it in a heartbeat.” He added, ironically, “About the only person we wouldn’t do this to is you!”

Are people really as gullible as this young prisoner suspects? Do Catholics really believe every sordid story of priests’ exploiting helpless and hapless teenagers all those years ago? Just before I wrote “Sex Abuse and Signs of Fraud” for The Catholic League in 2005, I was approached by a prisoner with an offer he thought I couldn’t refuse.

He asked me if I could find out the name of a priest – any priest – who might have been present in his childhood community around 1972 or so. He said he heard the Church would settle if he accused a priest of sexually abusing him back then. He offered to give me some of the money. Of course, I refused. I thought he was joking. I was wrong.

Two years later, I read in a local newspaper that the same lawyer described above – “I’ve never seen anything like it!” – was representing a prison inmate “whose life was ruined” when he was sexually abused by a now 80 year old priest in that same community in 1972. It was, of course, the same guy who approached me. I quickly wrote to a lawyer for my diocese informing him that I had firsthand knowledge of this scam. I urged him and the diocese not to settle this claim, but to expose and publish the name of this accuser because I had information that would clear the accused priest and expose this fraud.

I never received any reply. My own gullibility, at least, is long gone.

contingency-lawyer

About Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

The late Cardinal Avery Dulles and The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus encouraged Father MacRae to write. Cardinal Dulles wrote in 2005: “Someday your story and that of your fellow sufferers will come to light and will be instrumental in a reform. Your writing, which is clear, eloquent, and spiritually sound will be a monument to your trials.” READ MORE

Comments

  1. Juan Romero says:

    I spent a few hours reading your blog on New Years Day, and am empathetic solidarity. I offer my prayers for just resolution of your case. Saw the film of MANDELA, and mah thatstory give you some encouragement. As a hobby, I write about Padre Antonio José Martínez (1793-1867) who, I think, wrongfully endured ecclesiastical censures of suspension and excommunication. I actively advocate (letters to President Obama) for the timely release of Ramsey Muñiz former gubernatorial candidate who has been wrongfully incarcerated for two decades.

  2. Gail Ramplen says:

    I had a case in South Africa where I was unfairly dismissed. To cut a very long story short, the employer’s legal team tried every trick in the book to delay or frustrate justice. But they reckoned without bulldog persistence on my part. In the end, the CCMA took the unusual step of awarding all my legal expenses against the employer’s labour practitioner in his personal capacity – some R36000, about twelve years ago. Similarly, when the employer wanted a re-trial in the Labour Court, their attorney went too far in delaying and obstructing and so I instructed my lawyer to ‘throw the book’ at the employer’s attorney. I even went on the radio. She was suspended for three months. Again on radio, I complained about poor performance by the Law Society and started a tsunami of countywide protest leading to amendments in the disciplinery regulations. So my point is this: sometimes it is a good tactic to put the heat on the attorney personally. This makes it difficult for others to follow the same unjust practices while fleecing the victim. It is the old story of: ‘My lawyer writes a letter to the opposition; he gives it to his lawyer who ignores it; then my lawyer writes another letter on triple spaced text which is again ignored; my lawyer charges for writing the letters, the other lawyer charges for reading the letter and ignoring it and so on ad infinitum At the end of the day, the loser gets the bill and the lawyers make a killing.’ God bless and I pray that you are released, rehabilitated and recompensed very soon.

  3. leslie says:

    I am just wondering if there is anything that can be done to help these priests receive justice?? Is there no appeal process? What can we do to help?

  4. Kim says:

    One needs to open their eyes to this truth!!! And that is money make people do EVIL THINGS! They will… Lie! Cheat! Manipulate! Stab you in your back! Look to their own needs! Poisoning everyone who gets in there way! PUT INNOCENT PRIESTS IN JAIL! Just so they can get fast (Money) DEAR GOD LOOK WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO YOU SONS OUR PRIESTS! LORD HELP THE PRIESTS. WHO ARE INNOCENT.

  5. Msgr. Michael says:

    Dear Fr. Gordon,

    Again an excellent post. I can`t help but saying `ditto` to what Mike Gallagher wrote and your own comments. I wish people would just open their eyes. There is a lot of fear and, I believe it is the same fear that years ago drove hierarchs to HIDE the truth regarding offenders. Now the same irrational fear is there. Hopefully, some day, we will see clear again and the pendulum will swing back to the Centre. That is why true love of the Church is important…not love of the ‘image’ of the Church.

    You are in my daily prayers, always.

  6. catherine says:

    I agree with Mary. I think that there is a danger that the Church is anxious to be seen to be, as we say in the UK, to be “bending over backwards” to be fair. Remember false memory syndrome?. … that was popular/exposed years ago. Cases are encouraged perhaps, where priests are very elderly/dead. I heard an interview on the BBC recently, just before Pope Benedict’s visit. We were warned that it might be distressing,…there were some points from the victim that did not in any way ring true to me; completely to the contrary. I heard the same lady subsequently speaking very articulately and in derogative terms as to the Holy Father’s teachings, she did not sound like a victim.

    A few years ago, by chance,I chatted to an elderly lady who had lived in Ireland in the 1950s. A lawyer told her and her husband that local lads delighted then in saying..they got money from the Priest..

  7. Mike Gallagher says:

    When I was arrested, placed in handcuffs for all the locals to see on the television news and then suspended from my teaching position because of a false accusation, I wondered why the name of my accuser (Margaret Powell) was not revealed. And unlike me, the police never gave her a polygraph test (until nine months later which she failed miserably).

    I even was tempted to put a large sign on my lawn stating “Margaret Powell has accused me falsely”. Maybe I should have done that. The authorities could have done nothing about that, I think, in retrospect. Of course, when I was exonerated, not only was her name exposed but her picture and the home where she lived in Cheltenham, PA.

    After I wrote my story in the teacher publication, The NEA Today, well over fifty teachers wrote to me stating that they also were falsely accused – twenty of those were accused of rape, like myself. There is even a website that I recently discovered, The False Rape Society, which is just ‘loaded’ with stories about men who are falsely accused of this horrible crime.

    So…these do-gooders who refuse to admit that false reporting of rape is rare are deluding themselves. It is rampant and unfortunately many good priests are going to jail because of the cowardice of our bishops to fight each and every case. Just when will these supposed Church leaders stand up and shout for justice for men like Father MacRae? What are they afraid of? Pope John Paul told us to be not afraid !

  8. Mary says:

    God bless you Father G for your reminding us all of our loyalty to Mother Church and our need to persevere in these troubled times.

  9. Fr. Gordon J. MacRae says:

    Because of where I am, I do not get to comment on Comments very often, though all of them are either read to me or printed and sent to me. I much appreciate the thoughtfulness and spirit behind the comments on this post.

    But there is something I want to add to this post, and I consider it important. You may have seen the news today that National Public Radio has fired commentator Juan Williams because of a public comment he made concerning Moslems and the 9/11 tragedy that NPR management considered to be “insensitive.”

    Meanwhile, for the last eight years, we have seen the mainstream media ridicule, demonize, and demean our Pope, our bishops, our priests, and Catholics for remaining Catholic. We have seen the news media twist and exploit the scandal that we have faced as a Church, just as we have seen lawyers and scammers exploit it for their own agendas. Catholics must be outraged! I am outraged! I am especially outraged that NPR can be so selective and duplicitous in its sensitivity toward religion while it is funded by taxpayer dollars.

    No one can blame Catholics for being outraged at all aspects of the sex abuse scandal: the fact that it existed in the first place, the fact that many priests are now unjustly alienated because of it, and the fact that the media has gotten away with a blatant double standard. The United States is polarized as a culture, and I do not wish to accept the media’s invitation for Catholics to become just as polarized. Part 3 of my three part post will hopefully make a better point for the role of Catholic fidelity in our individual response to the scandal.

    For my part, I think you know that I have been angry with my bishop. I feel he has participated in a betrayal of me and other accused priests. Catholics have been given one side of this story, and I feel Catholics deserve all sides of the story. But the day that I write this story without open and clear respect for my bishop’s office, and deference to the legitimate authority his office is given by the Church, that’s the day you should stop reading These Stone Walls.

    Our faith and our Church are under attack by those who are exploiting it out of greed and even darker agendas. I bring my own plate truthfully to the readers of These Stone Walls because I trust your fidelity to the Church, not because I think you should compromise it. Your faithfulness is an asset for the Church, and I take example from it. Fidelity, as Fr. Richard Neuhaus said, is a great adventure. It’s also the only way out of this mess. Much more on this in future posts.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you,
    Fr. Gordon

  10. Karin says:

    Much of what I was thinking while reading your post has already been commented on, but I will add this- the fact that a diocese would simply open up its checkbook and pay an accuser is reprehensible! It says “Let’s just make this go away.”

    I agree with the bishop’s comment that an abused priest is an abused parish.

    We all know the evil one is at the heart of this and it is becoming more and more obvious that he has many henchmen very willing to do his bidding.

    Thank you again Father, for courageously bringing these facts to light so that the rest of us can help spread the truth.
    Prayers as always.

  11. Ryan A. MacDonald says:

    Mary has made some very interesting points that reflect well the nature of this post. Back in 2002, at the height of the scandal in Boston, a Boston Globe columnist, Kevin Cullen, wrote a very interesting article entitled, “Phony Cases a Danger in Abuse Battle.” Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor and now champion for the rights of sexual abuse victims, was quoted therein as saying that weeding out phony claims is important because false allegations by the few hurt the legitimate claims of the many.

    “It’s not like insurance fraud started yesterday,” she said. “The incentive to lie for money is real.” Timothy P. O’Neill, also a former prosecutor, said “The best way to ferret out the false claims from the true is to let the process work – cross examination, confrontation of witnesses.” “What’s happening now,” he said, “is that there is an impetus to settle cases before a priest confronts his accuser. That’s a problem.”

    Indeed it is a problem, and both of these former prosecutors urged that decades old cases must be corroborated because people can and will lie for money. Look at all the false claims we faced after the 9/11 attacks. We are truly gullible if we believe every sordid claim of abuse against priests who are left defenseless by their own shepherds, and thrown to the wolves.

  12. Bishop Pius says:

    An intentional perversion of truth for the purpose of obtaining some valuable thing is called FRAUD. It is shocking, sickening and incomprehensible as to why and how the Church could be so gullible and blind to this injurious stratagem orchestrated by fraudsters and contingency lawyers.

    I thought the foundation of evidentiary burden is based on,”Who alleges must prove”. It boggles the mind why then Fr.MacRae`s Diocese sprinted to open the checkbook without addition of strength to the allegations. I would have laughed my lungs out had it not been heart-rending that an innocent man has been condemned to life imprisonment. The case of Fr. MacRae has taught me harsh lessons.

    Comments by Mary on this post are worth noting, “..the Church should establish its own special agency to go back through every cases of alleged abuse..” Understandably, but unfortunately the problem is like with the fish..the rot starts from the head! It would be far -fetched to ask and place that onus on the Church leaders.

    The time has come for laymen and parishioners to fight for the rights of their beloved yet abused priests.I believe when a priest is falsely accused and subsequently removed by his overzealous Diocese the parishioners are suddenly “orphaned”. A priest`s rights are parishioners rights!An abused priest is an equally abused parish!

  13. Elizabeth Allen says:

    Surely there are lawyers who can employ agents to uncover the accusers and investigate their backgrounds?

    The few tragic cases I know of where priests have been accused of misconduct have always been brought by people with addiction problems.

    This surely makes their cases somewhat suspect. If a woman accuses someone of rape she is humiliated in public and every past sexual encounter is exposed. Her reputation is sullied and her claims dismissed. What is good for the goose –etc..

    This does not always happen in the courts. I know of a case where an undergraduate at a catholic university was told that her accusations against the rugby team were not true because “our boys would never do anything like that”.

    The same university ( who score so high in The Wonderful Catholic University farce) also tells its students to report any crimes to the security officers and not to the local police department. Woe betide anyone who rocks the boat.

    What is wrong with the church in America when it doesn’t support its own?

  14. Father Gordon:

    I have done my best to not steal the thunder of this article of yours, while adding my thoughts and prayers to it on my own blog site.

    http://freethroughtruth.blogspot.com/2010/10/latest-from-these-stone-walls.html

    You remain in my prayers and thoughts.

    God Bless You

    Michael

  15. Mary says:

    The Church has been to coin a Runyanesque phrase a “patsy” or as Barnum and Bailey so aptly said ‘there is a sucker born every minute”. It would be amusing if the results were not so ghastly for all those innocent men and women falsely accused because the Church rushed to settlement to avoid the expense of drawn out litigation and public scandal.

    Truth must always be defended; it should never be compromised or betrayed. Every accused person should be presumed innocent till proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.

    Court cases painful though they may prove to be should still occur to make sure false accusers are exposed and greedy unscrupulous lawyers get the clear message that the Church is not an ATM to be robbed blind.

    Yes where real abuse has occurred it should be acknowledged and the victim of such abuse have ongoing counselling and help in every possible way to rebuild their broken hearts and minds but innocent religious should not be abandoned by frightened bishops acting on advice from lawyers.

    I believe the Church should establish its own special agency to go back through every cases of alleged abuse and make sure there has not been a miscarriage of justice.

    Where there is clear evidence of undue haste and flimsy proof by dubious witnesses the Church should do its utmost to have the case retried even if the false witness is guaranteed he will not be jailed for perjury what matters is clearing the names of those falsely convicted and ensuring that all overturned verdicts are acknowledged on websites listing convictions.

    Surely there are enough gifted Cathoilc detectives and lawyers to work in such a commission?

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