01/20/17

Ex-worker sues priest sex-abuse victims advocacy group, says it exploited survivors

Gretchen Rachel Hammond answers reporters’ questions during a news conference, as her attorney, Bruce Howard, listens at his law firm Jan. 19, 2017, in Chicago. Hammond is suing Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, her former employer.

 

By Manya Brachear

A former employee of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has sued the victims advocacy group, alleging that SNAP exploited victims of sexual abuse by clergy in return for financial kickbacks from attorneys.

According to a lawsuit filed this week in Cook County Circuit Court, Gretchen Rachel Hammond worked as a director of development from July 2011 until she said she was fired in February 2013, shortly after asking superiors whether SNAP was referring potential clients to attorneys in exchange for donations.

In addition to the organization, defendants named in the lawsuit are Barbara Blaine, its founder and president; David Clohessy, executive director; and Barbara Dorris, outreach director.

Blaine said in a statement that “the allegations are not true.”

“This will be proven in court,” she said. “SNAP leaders are now, and always have been, devoted to following the SNAP mission: To help victims heal and to prevent further sexual abuse.”

Neither Clohessy nor Dorris could be reached for comment.

Though it did not name attorneys, the lawsuit said donations from several high-profile litigators across the country comprised a large percentage of SNAP’s income.

Jeff Anderson, a prominent Minnesota attorney for victims of clergy sex abuse who was not named in the lawsuit, confirmed that he makes regular donations to SNAP, as well as other nonprofit organizations that advocate for the safety of children. But he said he does not do it in exchange for referrals.

“I have supported SNAP and a lot of other organizations that help survivors throughout the country, unapologetically,” he said.

“The allegation is explosive because it’s unethical,” he added. “I’ve never done it nor would I ever do it.”

According to the lawsuit, Hammond grew suspicious of SNAP’s methods when she was not permitted to participate in an internal audit of SNAP by an accounting firm and was barred from attending survivors’ meetings, group therapy sessions or counseling sessions to help generate material for grant proposals.

She also was given access to a list of lawyers who regularly donated to SNAP but was told to never tell anyone that lawyers donate to the organization, according to the lawsuit. At a news conference, Hammond said she raised more than $950,000 for SNAP during her 19 months there.

A Missouri judge ruled in 2012 to open more than two decades of correspondence with victims, lawyers, witnesses and journalists to shed light on whether SNAP had coached victims to fabricate claims of repressed memory.

Shortly after that, Hammond said, she was accidentally copied on an email from Clohessy to an attorney, asking when he could expect the next donation, the lawsuit said. It was then she began to ask questions and the workplace climate dramatically changed, she alleged in the lawsuit.

She said she began to collect evidence of what she believed to be a kickback scheme, copying reams of documents and downloading records on a flash drive she used to do work at home. When SNAP sent a volunteer to her apartment to collect the flash drive, she did not disclose that she had copied it, the lawsuit said. She was fired two days later, she said.

Though she decided not to go to authorities at the time, the movie “Spotlight” renewed her concerns and she sought legal counsel. Hammond alleges she could not find employment that paid as much as she made at SNAP and is seeking compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and expenses.

Complete Article HERE!

11/28/16

Nine Guam priests with sex abuse allegations

By Haidee V Eugenio

 Guam

Another Guam law firm is reaching out to those who were sexually abused by clergy as children.

Gov. Eddie Calvo recently signed a law, lifting the statute of limitations on civil suits against those accused of sexually abusing children, as well as the institutions that supported them. The new law is in response to allegations by former altar boys who said they were sexually abused by Guam clergy decades ago. Among those accused was Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who was a parish priest in Agat in the 1970s.

The first Guam law firm to file lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Agana and its priests is Lujan & Wolff LLP, which has so far filed nine lawsuits on behalf of seven former altar boys and former Boy Scouts. Attorney David Lujan said more lawsuits will be filed in the weeks ahead, and the defendants include institutions other than the Catholic church.

Lujan’s clients have alleged abuse by Apuron and former Guam priest Louis Brouillard, who has admitted to abusing altar boys decades ago.

The law office of Dooley Roberts Fowler & Visosky LLP,  said it has teamed up with mainland-based lawyers who have experience representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including abuse by Catholic priests. The law firm said it will maintain the confidentiality of its clients as much as possible.

“A number of Catholic priests who served in Guam have been the subject of allegations of child sexual abuse. Some of the allegations date back many years, while others have been made more recently, after Guam changed its statute of limitations to make it easier for abuse survivors to come forward and seek redress for what they endured,” the law firm stated.

It is likely that lawsuits, according to the law firm, will force the Archdiocese of Agana to disclose any information it has regarding these allegations, including whether people posed a danger to children, and if so, whether the archdiocese failed to take reasonable steps to protect children from them.

The Archdiocese of Agana has repeatedly apologized to victims of clergy sex abuse and offers prayers to them.

List of priests

Dooley Roberts Fowler & Visosky issued a list of Guam clergy who already have been publicly accused of abuse, along with a brief explanation of where they worked.

  • Andrew Mannetta. He first came to Guam in 1980, and was ordained into the priesthood in May 1983. He served at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat, and also was assigned to San Miguel Church in Talofofo and Santa Teresita Catholic Church in Mangilao. In 2003, a lawsuit filed against Mannetta claimed that he sexually abused a child from 1997 to 2001 while he was a pastor of Saint Elizabeth Church in Aiea, Hawaii. Other public accusations claimed that Mannetta sexually abused two altar boys in 1994 and another youth between 1997-1998.
  • Antonio C. Cruz. In September 2016, a former altar boy, Ramon Afaisen De Plata, 62, publicly claimed he saw Cruz sexually abuse an altar boy in Chalan Pago in 1964. Cruz was assigned to Our Lady of Peace and Safe Journey Church in Chalan Pago after its dedication in 1959. He also serves at the Saint Anthony and Saint Victor Church in Tamuning. Cruz died in November 1986 at the age of 62.
  • Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron. Starting in May 2016, former altar boys accused Apuron of sexual abuse in the 1970s when he was parish priest at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat. Apuron is facing a canonical trial at the Vatican over the allegations, and Pope Francis has already named his successor. Apuron has denied all allegations.
  • Gale Leifeld. Leifeld was accused of sexually abusing students at St. Lawrence Seminary in Wisconsin. According to BishopAccountability.org, Leifeld is said to have sexually abused at least several dozen St. Lawrence Seminary students. One of the men claimed that Leifeld often spoke about the time he spent on Guam. Leifeld died in June 1994.
  • John H. Wadeson. Wadeson was publicly accused of abusing children between 1973 and 1977 while he was serving in Los Angeles. In 2004, Wadeson was included on a list of priests accused of sexual abuse by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In 2014, it was discovered that Wadeson was working as a priest on Guam, from 2000 until 2014.
  • John Hugh Sutton. He worked on Guam from 1971 until about 1975 at Father Duenas Memorial School and Seminary in Mangilao. Between 2014 and 2015, a lawsuit claimed Sutton sexually abused a student while he was a teacher at Notre Dame Middle-High School in Wichita Falls, Texas. Sutton died on Sept. 11, 2004. In September 2016, a Dallas-based law firm reached out to anyone who had information about Sutton.
  • Louis A. Brouillard. Brouillard’s first public admission of sexually abusing boys was through a phone interview with Pacific Daily News in August, a few days after a former altar boy publicly accused Brouillard of molesting him in 1956. Since then, Brouillard talked to other media and signed a statement in support of a lawsuit against him. Brouillard said he sexually molested at least 20 boys on Guam. He was ordained as a priest on Guam in 1948 and served on island until about 1985. He taught at the San Vicente and Father Duenas Memorial School, and was scout master for the Boy Scouts of America on Guam in the 1970s. The Archdiocese of Agana has apologized at least three times to Brouillard’s alleged victims.
  • Randolph “Randy” Nowak. He served at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat between 1982 and 2005. His other assignments included Honolulu in 1989. In 2010, Nowak was publicly accused of sexually abusing a minor between 1961 and 1966 at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Glenclyffe, New York.
  • Raymond Cepeda. In 2010, the Archdiocese of Agana confirmed that Cepeda was removed from priesthood after it investigated allegations of sexual abuse against Cepeda. He served at Santa Barbara Church in Dededo and the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.

Complete Article HERE!

11/5/16

Vatican condemns radio station over anti-gay comments on quake

File under: Me thinks she doth protest too much.

umbria-reduced-to-rubble

The Vatican has condemned a right-wing Catholic radio station after a broadcast said the recent earthquakes in Italy were “God’s punishment” for gay civil unions.

The remarks, made on the station Radio Maria, were “offensive and scandalous”, the Vatican said.

A Dominican friar said the quakes, including one in August that killed nearly 300, were caused by sins of man.

He said these included the approval of same-sex civil unions last May.

But the Vatican rejected the remarks as pagan, and said they had nothing to do with Catholic theology.

father-giovanni-cavalcoli

“They are offensive statements for believers and scandalous for those who do not believe”, said Monsignor Angelo Becciu, deputy secretary of state, who is close to Pope Francis.

Monsignor Becciu said Radio Maria, which has come under criticism in the past for comments seen as anti-Semitic, had to “moderate the tone of its language” and conform to the Church’s message of mercy.

But the friar at the centre of the scandal stood by his description of the quakes as divine intervention.

“Just read the catechism,” Father John Cavalcoli said, referring to Roman Catholic religious instruction.

Radio Maria has published a statement (in Italian) on its website, saying the offensive comments did not reflect the views of the station.

Complete Article HERE!

10/8/16

San Diego priest charged with sexual assault of Minnesota woman during private mass

A Catholic priest from San Diego has been charged with criminal sexual conduct for an incident during a private mass for the victim in her parents’ Mendota Heights, Minnesota home back in 2010. Jacob Bertrand, 33, was charged by summons with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct by clergy.

According to the charges, a 30-year-old woman contacted Mendota Heights police on April 28, 2016 to report sexual contact between her and Bertrand. The victim told police she met Bertrand in 2009 while studying spirituality at a university in Rome, Italy. Bertrand was also a student and a deacon at a Catholic church at that time. The victim asked Bertrand to be her spiritual guide, and the two began to meet every Wednesday for “holy conversation.”002

A ‘mystical’ proposal’

In the fall of 2009, Bertrand told the victim “the Holy Spirit was compelling him to tell her about his sexual past.” Bertrand gave the victim two of his personal journals, and she provided him with her own journals, in which she wrote about wanting to find a husband in Rome. After reading her journals, Bertrand told the victim that he was the man she was sent to Rome to meet. While at a church, he held her hand and “mystically proposed” to her.

In June of 2010, the victim and Bertrand flew to San Diego, where he was ordained as a Catholic priest. During their time in San Diego, they kissed on multiple occasions.

Minnesota visit

In July of 2010, Bertrand flew to Minnesota to spend time with the victim’s family in Mendota Heights. During the stay, he performed mass for the family, offered the sacrifice of the mass and heard their confessions.

During this trip, Bertrand and the victim went a family cabin in Wisconsin, where they had sex. But the criminal charges concern a private mass in the basement of the Mendota Heights home. According to the charges, Bertrand and the victim had sexual contact during the performance of the mass, and after this ceremony he told the victim they had “fulfilled the second holiest sacrifice next to Jesus and Mary on Calvary.”

Later that summer, Bertrand sent the victim a $1,000 check, telling her that God told him to give her the money for her studies. In December of 2011, he spoke to her by phone and said, “the devil tempts me to think that you will tell someone and ruin my ministry.”

Reports to Catholic Church

In 2012 and 2014, the victim reported the sexual contact with Bertrand to the Catholic Church. In 2014, the victim’s report was sent to officials in the San Diego Diocese for investigation. In a bulletin to his parishioners, Bertrand said he had undergone a psychological evaluation and was taking a leave of absence. He was later reassigned to a new church in the San Diego Diocese a few months later, and is currently serving as a priest at that church.

Apology

The victim provided Dakota County investigators with a letter of apology for Bertrand. He also said he had destroyed the journals they shared and prayed for their “release from any demonic attachments that were leading me into such a folly and were keeping me from protecting you as a true priest should have.”

Bertrand is scheduled to appear in court in Minnesota on Monday, Oct. 10.

The law

According to Minnesota law, consent is not a defense if: “The actor is or purports to be a member of the clergy, the complainant is not married to the actor AND the sexual penetration occurred during the course of a meeting in which the complainant sought or received religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort from the actor in private; OR the sexual penetration occurred during a period of time in which the complainant was meeting on an ongoing basis with the actor to seek or receive religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort in private.”

Diocese of San Diego statement

“Fr. Jacob Bertrand, a priest of the Diocese of San Diego, is facing charges in Minnesota stemming from a sexual encounter with an adult woman there in 2010. The facts behind the encounter are a matter of dispute and will be resolved by the courts and civil authorities. Fr. Jacob asked for and received a Leave of Absence when he learned of the possibility of these charges several weeks ago. There have been no allegations lodged against Fr. Jacob here in San Diego, where he remains on a leave of absence and currently has no faculties. The diocese is not involved in his legal defense. Out of respect for all parties and for the legal process, the diocese will make no further statement at this time.”

Bertrand’s attorney

In a phone interview, Christa Groshek, his co-counsel, said, “These are false allegations, they’re suspect. The woman behind them has a motive. our investigation has revealed the truth behind it. Father Bertrand is a young, reputable priest. He’s worked in large parishes in Southern California.”

Complete Article HERE!

09/7/16

Priest who demanded homosexuals have a ‘celibate life’ suspended after being accused of molesting 15-year-old boy in the Bronx

BY

father-anthony-giuliano

Father Anthony Giuliano in September 2004.

A priest who once said homosexuals had to live a “celibate life” to be good Catholics has been accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy at a Bronx church about 30 years ago.

But without a change to the statute of limitations on child sex abuse in New York, the alleged crimes committed by the man of the cloth will forever go unpunished.

Father Anthony Giuliano was running two parishes in Dutchess County — about 85 miles from Manhattan — on Aug. 16 when a 43-year-old man told police the priest had molested him in the late 1980s.

The Archdiocese of New York immediately removed him from the two parishes as the NYPD launched an investigation.

“The allegation has been found to be credible,” Reverend Gerald Walsh, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York, to parishioners at St. John the Evangelist and St. Charles Borromeo churches, located in Pawling and Dover Plains.

The accuser told Bronx Special Victims Squad detectives that he was working in the rectory of Holy Rosary Church in Baychester between 1987 and 1988 when Giuliano befriended him. The two used to play wrestle, he told cops.

During one session, Giuliano told the teen that he was going to “take him to the back and give him a frontal,” according to police sources.

The teen thought Giuliano was talking about a wrestling maneuver — until the priest told him to lie down on the ground, pulled the teen’s pants and underwear down and molested him, police sources said.

Even if sufficient evidence is found to support the accuser’s claims, New York’s statute of limitations bars authorities from filing charges. Victims of child sex abuse have until age 23 to bring a criminal or civil case.

In June, Albany legislators failed to vote on the Child Victims Act, which would have made it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice against their abusers, as well as the Catholic Church and schools. The long-stalled legislation would have created a one-year window for past victims of abuse to bring charges against their tormenters.

The Catholic League called the legislation “a vindictive bill pushed by lawyers and activists out to rape the Catholic Church.”

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to determine if other, more recent victims of Giuliano can be found, police sources said.

The accusations against Giuliano shook residents of Dover Plains, a leafy town of 87,000.

“I’m totally taken aback by this,” said Dover Plains Town Supervisor Linda French. “It’s unbelievable.”

Giuliano said he did nothing wrong.

“This is a shock,” the priest told the Daily News last month when the allegations surfaced. “It never happened.”

When reached Tuesday, he refused to comment. The accuser also declined comment.

In an interview by a SUNY New Paltz student posted online in 2014, Giuliano said that homosexuals should be celibate if they want to be part of the Catholic Church.

“It must be a celibate life like with the priesthood,” he said. “We are celibate for a greater purpose.”

He also questioned Pope Francis’ push to open the Catholic Church to same-sex couples.

“We can’t say this for 2,000 years and then all of a sudden say, ‘Oh, we made a mistake for 2,000 years,’” Giuliano said.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of Bishop Accountability, said the Archdiocese of New York notoriously hides information, preventing a more complete picture of the extent of abuse among priests in the state.

“We know of very few accused priests in New York State,” Doyle said. “We know about more accused priests in the diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire than we do in the Archdiocese of New York.”

Complete Article HERE!