Suit: Former Catholic priest molested boy

Another lawsuit was filed Friday claiming that former Catholic priest Daniel McCormack sexually abused a boy while at St. Agatha parish in the Lawndale neighborhood.

The plaintiff, who uses the name John Doe 184 in the lawsuit, claims that McCormack begin sexually molesting him when he was 11-or-12 years-old in 2004 while the boy helped with chores at the parish, located at 3151 W. Douglas Blvd., according to the suit filed in Cook County Court.

After the incidents, McCormack would reward the boy for his help at the church and lure him back for more “projects” with money, gift cards, cash or a video game, the suit said.

The abuse continued until just prior to McCormack being arrested and charged in Jan. 2006 with sexually molesting two boys on multiple occasions, the suit said.

The suit claims that the Catholic Bishops of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George knew of McCormack’s sexual abuse of young boys before he was assigned to St. Agatha and began abusing the boy, the suit said.

The two-count suit claims negligence and fraud. The suit, being handled by Jeffrey R. Anderson, seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

The Archdiocese is disappointed that Jeffrey Anderson has chosen to file another lawsuit regarding Daniel McCormack which needlessly subjects his client to the ordeal of litigation, according to an emailed statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago spokeswoman.

The Archdiocese has worked hard and successfully to resolve these matters outside of court and will continue to do so, according to the statement.

The Archdiocese has a long-standing practice of reaching out to all victims of misconduct by clergy to resolve their claims in a just, compassionate and respectful way, the statement said.

The Archdiocese continues to work for the healing of all those affected by the tragedy of child and adolescent sexual abuse, according to the statement.

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Clergy devalues language in response to child sex abuse

IT’S THAT “if” word again. Irish Catholic bishops and archbishops have been finding it so very helpful in recent years when expressing personal sorrow for what others have perceived as wrongs on their part.

Such a delightfully useful word. It creates just the right amount of wriggle-room to allow a putatively penitent prelate allow an outside perception of deepest repentance while not really feeling such a thing at all.

You could say the small “if” word, with such a big meaning, comes from the same stable as that thoroughbred “mental reservation”, of which there is none better when conveying a false impression – truthfully.

And so, little “if” popped up when the former bishop of Cloyne John Magee spoke to RTÉ on Monday.

“To the victims I say I am truly horrified by the abuse they suffered – it is very clear to me when I read the complete report – and if through my not fully implementing the 1996 guidelines which we had, I have made any victim suffer more, on my bended knee, I beg forgiveness, I am sorry.”

The extravagance of the language (how Italianate!) should not distract from the place of little “if” in the scheme of things. Or that of the equally useful “fully” term.

The Dublin archdiocese liked the “fully” word too.

In explaining how it could say in a mid-1990s statement it had co-operated with gardaí in dealing with allegations of clerical child sex abuse cases, while at the same time retaining files not handed over to gardaí, the Dublin archdiocese pointed out it had not said it co-operated “fully” with gardaí.

This was also presented to the Murphy commission as an example of mental reservation in all its glory.

Recall that the Cloyne report found Magee “took little or no active interest” in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the framework document on child sexual abuse was agreed by the Irish Bishops’ Conference.

There are no “ifs” about that. It was “little or no” interest.

And Magee was similarly athletic with his use of language in the statement he issued on Monday.

He accepted “full responsibility for the failure of the diocese to effectively manage allegations on child sexual abuse”. He unreservedly apologised “to all those who suffered additional hurt because of the flawed implementation of the church procedures, for which I take full responsibility”.

This would suggest he was taking on board such responsibility because of his role as bishop rather than through any direct personal fault of his own.

And that “fully” word appears again. He let the victims down “by not FULLY [my capitals] implementing the guidelines which were available to me” and he apologised “to the people of the diocese for not managing this important work more effectively”.

It is difficult not to agree with the Cloyne woman, herself abused by a priest, who told my colleague Barry Roche last Monday she was sceptical over Magee’s expression of remorse, saying she had heard so many apologies from the bishop and other clergy in Cloyne that she questioned their value.

“Anyway, whatever he does now can’t undo what was done to us.

We can all be sorry after the fact – he can say sorry as much as he wants, but it isn’t going to change what happened to me or to the other girls who were abused,” she said.

Wise words.

Indeed, it is hard not to concur with Magee himself when he said on Monday, “I feel there is nothing I can say now, which will ease the pain and distress for victims.” There isn’t.

The problem Magee and other senior clergy face is that they have devalued language.

They have rendered words of sorrow and remorse redundant through repeated abuse.

They have done as did Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass.

“When I use a word,” he said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

The question was, said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

He knew better.

“The question is,” he said, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

The bishops and archbishops might also reflect on what became of Humpty Dumpty.

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Catholic church used $400m in Irish bank loans to pay U.S. sexual abuse victims

More than $400m of compensation to American victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests was paid with loans and guarantees from Allied Irish Bank, it has ben revealed.

The funds, in the form of loans, guarantees and lines of credit, were given specifically to pay clerical abuse victims, and led to AIB being dubbed the ‘Vatican’s banking arm’ in U.S. legal circles.

The revelation that a comparatively small Irish bank based on another continent was used to pay off victims will raise questions about AIB’s links to the church.

One of the payments, of $250m to the Los Angeles diocese, emerged in a new book entitled ‘Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church’, by Jason Berry, which outlines extraordinary links between the bank and the church.

But an investigation by the MoS has established that in a few short months in 2007 AIB emerged as the lender behind abuse settlements for four separate dioceses, and the true figure was almost twice as high.

It also emerges that while AIB was used to pay the bulk of the Church’s abuse claims, the dioceses were able to hold on to most of their properties.

Berry also claims that out of 194 Catholic dioceses in America, 45 banked with AIB.

In the book, he asks: ‘Was AIB a pass-through for Vatican funds to help certain dioceses while others had no such advantage?’

Many American dioceses, confronted in recent years with compensation cases, have filed for bankruptcy and negotiated settlements with victims.

But instead of being funded by the Vatican, which is fighting court cases by denying any legal responsibility to pay, almost half a billion of the money paid out in America was borrowed from AIB in Dublin.

Many other agreements may have been made out of court, in secret.

The MOS has confirmed that all of the loans were agreed by the bank’s headquarters in Dublin, and amount to as much as a quarter of AIB’s €2bn exposure in America the following year.

The MoS has also discovered that the loans are now being quietly repaid.

In a revelation that will prompt further questions about whether the Vatican is behind the international deals, the supposedly-indebted dioceses have begun to pay off the AIB debts with money from other, unnamed, institutions.

Just last month a $40m line of credit to the Diocese of Portland in Oregon was taken over by an un-named creditor.

Bob Krebs, a spokesman for the diocese for many years, declined to name the new lender.

Asked why AIB had been used to help fund its abuse compensation cases, he said he did not know who ‘found Allied Irish for us’.

Of the deals, by far the largest line of credit was for Los Angeles, for $256m.

The diocese avoided going into court with abuse victims by reaching a settlement in advance.

It emerged afterwards that AIB loans and guarantees accounted for almost half of total settlement.

The deal included $175m in cash and another $25m to pay the interest, and helped Los Angeles avoid selling the bulk of its properties or reveal the true value of its total assets.

In San Diego AIB gave cash and credit of some $100m, almost half the $198m paid out to 144 victims.

That diocese filed for bankruptcy on the eve of the first civil trial against it, a case involving Monsignor Patrick O’Keeffe, originally from Kilkenny.

The Diocese of Portland, in Oregon, also filed for bankruptcy because of compensation actions.

Of a $129m settlement for victims $40m came from AIB.

The loan effectively allowed the diocese to close the bankruptcy proceedings without selling any assets.

A loan document obtained by this paper details the loans in Portland.

On AIB headed paper, it details how the loans were being specifically made to trusts set up to pay known and future abuse claims for the diocese.

The letter was written one day before a similar letter giving credit to the Diocese of Los Angeles, again signed by its LA-based senior vice president Charles Lydon and London-based vice president John McGrath.

U.S. lawyer Jim Stang, who sat on nine bankruptcy committees charged with looking after victim creditors, said: ‘We joke that AIB is the bank of the Catholic Church.’

The bank is still exposed on some of the loans. It is owed almost $10m by the diocese of Wilmington in Delaware.

An AIB spokesman said: ‘AIB’s business focus in America was in the ‘Not for Profit’ areas and this included churches.

‘Any loans advanced were approved in accordance with AIBGroup policy.’

An AIB source said they were ‘standard commercial loans’.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said the allegation of Vatican involvement ‘is complete rubbish’.

‘The Archdiocese initiated the loan discussions with AIB and other potential lenders in the summer of 2007. An arrangement was closed with AIB in November 2007,’ he said.

‘Settlement related financing was undertaken as a way to allow an orderly liquidation of surplus assets by the Archdiocese, and provided time for the Archdiocese to formulate a post-settlement recovery plan. Financing arrangements with AIB or any other potential lender had no impact on the settlement timing or terms. The AIB loan was repaid in full during the 2011 fiscal year.’

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Former priest John Geoghan killed in prison; was center of church abuse scandal

Former priest John Geoghan, the convicted child molester whose prosecution sparked the sex abuse scandal that shook the Roman Catholic Church nationwide, died Saturday after another inmate attacked him in prison, a state corrections spokeswoman said.

Geoghan was injured in an incident with another inmate about noon and died shortly after being taken to Leominster Hospital, said Department Of Correction spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.

The incident happened just after lunchtime at Souza-Baranowski Correction Center, about 30 miles northwest of Boston, Nantel said. Geoghan was being held in protective custody to shield him from the general prison population, but he still had some contact with other inmates, Nantel said.

The other inmate was being held in isolation and the incident is under investigation, she said. She declined to give further details.

In civil lawsuits, more than 130 people have claimed Geoghan sexually abused them as children during his three decades as a priest at Boston-area parishes. He was convicted last year of indecent assault and battery for fondling a 10-year-old boy at a swimming pool.

Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney for many Geoghan victims, said he was “surprised and shocked” by Geoghan’s death.

“Many of my clients would have rather seen Father Geoghan serve out his time in jail and endure the rigors of further criminal trials, so that his pedophile acts could have been exposed further,” he said.

The church abuse scandal, which has had repercussions worldwide, broke in early 2002 with revelations that the Boston Archdiocese had shuttled Geoghan from parish to parish despite warnings about his behavior.

The scandal mushroomed after a judge ordered the release of archdiocese files involving dozens of priests, showing repeated examples of the archdiocese shipping priests to different parishes when allegations arose.

Soon dioceses and bishops across the country came under scrutiny for their handling of abuse allegations over the years, with the church tainted by scandal in many states. With the public outcry reaching a new crescendo, the bishops adopted a toughened policy against sex abuse and more than 325 priests of the roughly 46,000 American clergy were either dismissed or resigned from their duties in the year after the Geoghan case.

David Clohessy, national director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said what made Geoghan’s case more “than just a single case about a single predator” was that it revealed the corruption in the church.

“In many respects, Geoghan is not the pivotal figure, it’s the people who he wounded and still came forward and the bishops who enabled him but were finally exposed,” he said.

Geoghan was ousted from the priesthood in 1998 at the urging of Cardinal Bernard Law. The Geoghan case was one of several that led to Law resigning in December over his mishandling of abuse cases.

A recent report by state Attorney General Thomas Reilly estimated that more than 1,000 children were abused by priests in the Boston archdiocese in the last 60 years. The Boston Archdiocese has offered $65 million to settle cases filed by more than 540 alleged victims.

Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, offered prayers for Geoghan’s family.

“Upon hearing the news of the tragic death of John Geoghan, the Archdiocese of Boston offers prayer for the repose of John’s soul, and extends its prayers in consolation to his beloved sister, Kathy, at this time of personal loss,” he said.

Geoghan was convicted in January 2002 for grabbing the buttocks of a 10-year-old boy in 1991 in the first of three criminal cases against him. He was sentenced to nine to 10 years in prison.

In September 2002, the archdiocese settled with 86 Geoghan victims for $10 million, after pulling out of an earlier settlement of about $30 million.

One of those victims, Ralph DelVecchio, said Geoghan deserved prison but didn’t deserve to be killed.

“I wouldn’t say he deserved to die, you know?” DelVecchio said. “He was in jail — that’s where I believed he should be.”

DelVecchio said he didn’t wish ill on Geoghan.

“It’s over with,” he said.

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U.S. lawyer says Vatican knew of priest’s sex abuse

A lawyer representing a victim of priest abuse in a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic church said on Monday Vatican documents show the church hierarchy and the pope were ultimately responsible.

A lawyer for the church disagreed, saying the newly released documents show the Holy See was not involved in the offending priest’s transfer from Ireland to Chicago and then to Portland, Oregon, where the victim was a minor in the 1960s.

In April, U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman in Oregon ordered the Vatican to produce documents in the case that alleged a cover-up of priest sex abuse.

At the time, the judge’s order was termed a “historic step” by attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who sued the Holy See in Rome and U.S. archdioceses and church officials on behalf of an unnamed man in Oregon.

Anderson said on Monday an analysis of the 1,856 documents written in Latin, Italian and English showed the Vatican had direct control over the placement and laicization of Rev. Andrew Ronan, who left the priesthood in 1966 and died in 1992.

“At all times, Father Andrew Ronan’s life from profession to dismissal was under the control of the Holy See,” a report released by Anderson said.

One document from early 1966 showed that Ronan had asked the Holy See to remove him as a priest. The request was granted that year.

Also among the documents was a letter from a Provincial Minister to the Prior General in Italy in 1966 that said “we believe it will be possible, if the Holy Father will grant Father Ronan’s request, for him to leave quietly and without any open scandal.”

When confronted, Ronan admitted the abuse to his superiors at Our Lady of Benburb, Ireland, according to the documents, but was transferred to a Chicago high school anyway. He abused children there, the documents show, then was transferred to St. Albert’s Church in Portland.

On Monday, Anderson said the documents showed authority stems from “the top of the hierarchy, and that is to the papacy.” He said he would ask for additional documents.

“This is a selective, deceptive, incomplete production at best and in my view typical of the Vatican’s view that they are above the law,” Anderson said.

Jeffrey Lena, a lawyer for the Roman Catholic church in the United States, said the accusations of Vatican involvement in Ronan’s transfers were groundless. The Vatican has long held that its priests are under the local control of bishops.

“Like the documents previously released — and contrary to the plaintiff’s lawyers’ long-standing accusations — the written responses confirm that the Holy See was not involved in Ronan’s transfers and had no prior knowledge that Ronan posed a danger to minors.

“The responses also show that there is no support for the plaintiff’s lawyers’ spurious theory that Ronan was ever the Holy See’s employee,” Lena said.

The case is John V. Doe v Holy See et al, 3:02cv00430MO.

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