**Update – Thursday, September 19** I just heard that Gallup Bishop James Wall and priest Fr. Alfred Tachias DID sit for depositions with victims’ attorneys yesterday. Hopefully, Wall broke with tradition and was open and forthright, turning over files, naming names and outing abusers. (A girl can dream, right?)
The “explosive news” potential for Fr. Alfred Tachias’ deposition is BIG. He worked closely with Fr. Clement Hageman (the Route 66 Priest), and may be sitting on mountains of evidence. Hageman’s abuse crosses state and diocesan borders, so anything we learn can have a huge ripple effect across the Southwest.
When and if the depositions are made public, I will be sure to post here.
Plans for a bankruptcy filing are still moving forward.
Tuesday, September 17
The latest news from New Mexico, California, Minnesota, Hawaii, Missouri and more …
It’s only a matter of hours before the Diocese of Gallup, NM files the official paperwork to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Why only hours? The diocese is not reeling in debt, but
Gallup Bishop James Wall and Fr. Alfred Tachias are scheduled to be deposed TOMORROW in the case of the Route 66 priest, Clement Hageman. The diocese’s own documents show that Hageman was a bad dude, and the last thing that Bishop Wall wants to do is sit in a videotaped deposition and talk about what church officials knew about abuse, hush money, and the transfer of predators across state lines (to small towns where poor Latino and Native American kids wouldn’t complain).
In California, victims are waiting for Governor Jerry Brown to sign SB 131, the California Child Victims’ Act. According to the Huffington Post, opponents have spent more than $250K to block the legislation. In a particularly insulting move, Rep. Diane Harkey said that the bill only “opened old wounds” and “feed[s] trial attorneys.”
As I told the Huffington Post:
The only way that old wounds are opened is when abuse is kept secret and wrongdoers are allowed to continue in abuse and cover-up. Victims are re-traumatized when lawmakers with no knowledge of the subject spout hurtful and incorrect rhetoric about the victims’ rights movement in an attempt to keep more victims silent and disenfranchised.
I would bet good money that Ms. Harkey has had many lovely personal lunch meetings with California bishops, but has never once spoken with a victim of abuse in the church, US Swimming, US Gymnastics, or the scouts. In fact, I bet that if asked to sponsor legislation to remove sovereign immunity for public institutions that cover up child sex abuse, she would politely decline. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
Brown has until October 10—my birthday—to sign the bill. You can write him here.
In Monterey, just south of San Francisco, there is an ongoing court battle concerning the release of the secret personnel file of Fr. Edward Fitz-Henry, a twice accused priest (who was sent to treatment and put back into ministry where he allegedly abused again in 2005). Although cases against Fitz-Henry settled, the accused priest received an undisclosed sum from the Diocese for “character defamation.”
The Monterey County Weekly and attorneys for the second victim are fighting to make the personnel file public. The judge is expected to rule in November.
Just a few months after the Minnesota legislature passed a three-year civil window, sex abuse victims all over the state have started coming forward to expose perpetrators in the courts. Most of the victims say that they spent a lifetime unable to stop their abuser from going after other victims. The new civil window now allows them to have a voice to ensure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to another child.
Just yesterday, two MN women filed lawsuits against the Diocese of New Ulm. They are part of more than 26 victims who charge that they were sexually abused as children by Fr. David Roney.
From the Forum News Service article (emphasis mine):
The [victims], who say they no longer consider themselves Catholics, discussed the fact that church members usually look up to priests.
“How do you go up against a church?” Stoltz asked.
Victims’ advocates are expecting more lawsuits to be filed under Hawaii’s two-year civil window, which closes in April 2014. Since January 2012, more than a dozen previously secret perpetrators have been exposed (now up to 26 total known predators who worked in the state). Two of the accused are still priests in good standing.
Instead of putting the priests—George DeCosta and Anthony Bolger—on leave and ensuring that they do not have contact with children, Honolulu Bishop Clarence Silva has sat back quietly. He did however, imply (with an iron fist) that when perpetrators are exposed, victims are re-traumatized.
Damien Memorial School—where more than 16 children charge they were sexually abused by at least 12 known predators—had a $1.5 million state grant revoked last week. It’s against the state constitution for the state to give money to religious organizations. But Damien got off lucky: there was no state investigation into some pretty substantiated allegations (made here on The Worthy Adversary) that Damien lied on their grant application.
Kansas City-St. Joseph priest Fr. Shawn Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison for producing child pornography. He will most likely spend the rest of his life behind bars. His bishop, Robert Finn, was convicted of child endangerment last year for not reporting Ratigan, but Finn still keeps his cushy job. Will Pope Francis make him step down? I’m not holding my breath. But hey, a conviction is a conviction, so I will stop complaining.
In St. Louis, there was a new development in the case of arrested priest Fr. Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang, who admitted to molesting a 15-year-old girl and then tried to pay the parents $20,000 to keep it quiet. In July, parents of Jiang’s alleged victim filed a lawsuit saying that St. Louis Bishop Robert Carlson attempted to cover up the abuse and tamper with evidence. Now, SNAP, The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has made public previously secret documents that show that Carlson has had direct knowledge and dealings with cases of sexual abuse for decades.
Overwhelming, isn’t it? And this is just a part of one week’s worth of news.
I know this round-up is not complete by any means. For the latest news, visit the Abuse Tracker. Wondering how you can help? Think about donating to organizations who devote their mission to helping victims of abuse and exposing predators.