Bishop says that the report contains information that is “difficult to hear.”
Bishop Trautman Smells Blood in the Water – His Own
After the presentment of charges against Erie priest Fr. David Poulson, Erie Bishop Emeritus Donald Trautman came out with a statement today saying “there was no cover-up.”
He can “abhor the evil of sexual abuse” all he wants. But experience has shown us that such abhorrence has done little to stop the cover-up.
We will see what the PA State AG Grand Jury Report has to say about his role in Erie.
First Presentment of Charges: Fr. David Poulson
Read the Presentment here.
AG Josh Shapiro’s full press conference is linked here.
Important to note: Poulson is a priest from the Diocese of Erie. Will his arrest reflect on Bishop Trautman?
We are still awaiting the rest of the AG’s report.
Three Men to Watch: Wuerl, Persico, and Trautman
(and one to discount)
More rumors are circulating about who was called to testify and what the grand jury investigation will uncover. But one thing is clear:
There are three men to watch.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Wuerl, now the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C., was Bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006. According to his Wikipedia page, one would think that he’s a champion for victims. Critics have called him the “Teflon Cardinal,” due to the fact that scandal seldom sticks to him. Outside of two known abusive priests that Wuerl did not warn parishioners about, what else will the grand jury investigation tell us?
I can only assume he was asked to testify. He was the bossman for 20 years.
Erie Bishops Lawrence Persico and Donald Trautman
The Diocese of Erie is in full protection mode. Earlier this month, officials there released a list of 34 priests and 17 lay people who have been credibly accused of abuse.
Yesterday, the bishop announced the expansion of the diocese’s child protection office.
If they were so concerned about such things (you know, exposing abuse and protecting kids), why didn’t they release these names before? Why not expand the Diocese of Erie child protection office in 2015 or in 2013?
They are getting ready for a bomb to drop.
Trautman was Erie’s bishop from 1990 to 2012. He retired at the mandatory age of 75. Persico took over in 2012.
I wonder if the AG will be brave enough to indict a sitting bishop or cardinal.
And a man to discount: Nicholas Cafardi
Peter Smith at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote a great piece today about the upcoming grand jury report. He quotes Robert Hoatson, a wonderful advocate for victims, as well as some of the players mentioned below.
He also quotes Nick Cafardi, a former chairman of the US Bishops National Review Board for the protection of minors.
Cafardi is quoted as saying:
Cafardi was the Bishop of Pittsburgh’s LAWYER.
So let’s just scratch him off the “credible” list.
Original post 4/15
Cease and desist letters, bully tactics, salacious rumors, lists of accused, Cardinal Roger Mahony and … Bill Cosby? They are all a part of the big picture surrounding the PA state grand jury investigation of six local Catholic dioceses.
If you live in or around Pennsylvania and are concerned with issues anywhere within the state’s borders (or the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal), you’ve probably heard about the statewide grand jury investigation of six Catholic dioceses across the state.
The result of the two-year investigation, which will be issued in report form, should be released in the beginning of May. The report may or may not include the presentation of criminal charges.
No one can predict exactly what the report is going to say. But we do know this: it is going to be ugly, just like a 2016 report of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and three previous grand jury investigations in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The purpose of this post is to be the best press and public backgrounder around.
Hopefully, this will become the most comprehensive (and always expanding) list of the real players, the deep intel, links to research, the best sources, and data.
This is where you will be able to ask questions/make comments BEFORE the report drops.
It’s a living document – keep checking back for updates.
If you have information that is helpful to this PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is this grand jury and why did it come about?
Former PA State Attorney General Kathleen Kane empaneled the statewide probe in 2016, after a smaller, but similar, grand jury investigation of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese found that hundreds of children were abused over five decades by at least 50 priests.
That grand jury report (which I also call a “grand jury investigation”) resulted in criminal charges. Here is the Attorney General’s press release of the criminal charges presented.
From the report:
The Grand Jury was able to document child sexual abuse by at least 50 different priests or religious leaders within the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. The evidence also demonstrated that hundreds of children have been victimized by religious leaders operating within the Diocese; and that the mere presence of these child predators endangered thousands of children by exposure to potential sexual abuse. Predator after predator came before the Grand Jury. Each indicated that it was the first time any law enforcement official had questioned them.
Altoona-Johnstown is not the only Pennsylvania Catholic diocese to come under the scrutiny of a grand jury.
This current statewide investigation includes the six remaining dioceses in the state. Due to the size of the project, the AG extended investigation until the end of April.
Are these grand juries common?
Not as common as they should be. (In my opinion at least).
Pennsylvania has had the most—and most sweeping—grand jury investigations of its Catholic diocese’s sex abuse cover-ups.
Other jurisdictions have empaneled grand juries to look into sex abuse and cover-up in their local Catholic dioceses. You can find the full list and a link to the reports here.
The PA players and issues – historical and current:
Mark Rozzi – Nobody—and I repeat NOBODY—has been a stronger, more eloquent voice for PA’s victims than Mark Rozzi. The survivor-turned-state-legislator is a powerhouse. He has testified before this grand jury and has advocated for PAs survivors by pushing for stronger laws and equal standing in the courts. He wins in my book.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (UPDATE: link has issues – try this Facebook page)- The upcoming report and any charges will be issued from his office. They, through spokesperson Carol Simpson, have remained tight-lipped about the investigation.
Barbara Dorris – Barb Dorris is the former executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network. Although no longer with the organization in order to follow her “moral compass,” she is the person most knowledgeable about the survivors community in Pennsylvania, having spent the past 20+ years building support groups and speaking with survivors there. She now volunteers for other organizations within the clergy sex abuse survivors movement.
Judy Jones – Judy Jones has been advocating for sex abuse victims in western Pennsylvania since the early 2000s. Her knowledge of abuse and cover-up in Pittsburgh, Altoona-Johnstown, and Greensburg is extensive, as are her connections to the victims’ community. UPDATE: She also has extensive knowledge of the Erie Diocese.
Every single victim who testified – They are out there. Many have been very public in the media.
Bill Cosby, Penn State, Jerry Sandusky, #MeToo, The PA State Legislature – Remember, nothing happens in a vacuum. Pennsylvania has been the home of some pretty nasty sex abuse scandals and trials over the past few months/years. No examination of the report is complete without an examination of how public attitudes have changed towards those who sexually abuse children and those who cover it up.
Thomas Doyle – Tom Doyle is a Dominican priest who has devoted his career to helping victims of clergy sexual abuse. I’m not a betting person, but I would bet good money that he testified in front of this GJ. He testified in front of the Australian Royal Commission and in numerous civil and criminal trials in the US and abroad.
Patrick Wall – Like Doyle, Patrick is an expert on how the Catholic Church has covered up abusive clergy for decades. A former monk and priest, he is now an advocate for victims. He’s worked as a consultant on thousands of cases nationwide and on dozens in PA. He was also retained as an expert by the US Attorney in Western PA in 2016 on clergy sex abuse cases.
Bishop Accountability – Terry McKiernan and Anne Barrett-Doyle are the keepers of the “database of the clergy sex abuse crisis.” If there is a document, they know about it and have it. They also have the library of previous grand jury reports.
Joelle Casteix – (that’s me) I know my stuff. I have worked in the global clergy sex abuse advocacy movement for the past 15 years and understand exactly what’s at stake with this grand jury report. I’m an expert on the cover-up and the effects on survivors and communities.
Marci Hamilton – Professor Marci Hamilton is the founder and CEO of CHILD USA. She’s is a national expert on child sex abuse; the statutes of limitations that make it difficult for victims to pursue justice; and religious defenses that may lead to neglect. She is also a Fox Family Distinguished Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.
The civil attorneys: Richard Serbin has handled more than 300 cases out of his Altoona office. Jeff Anderson is the top lawyer handling clergy sex abuse cases worldwide. No one has litigated more cases and helped more victims get justice than he has. Mitch Garabedian, who was featured in the movie “Spotlight,” and has also helped survivors in PA.
Jeff Dion, National Center for Victims of Crime, Crime Victims Bar Association – Most of the victims of the crimes that occurred will have no rights in the criminal courts. And besides, the criminal courts are where the State gets justice. For these victims, it’s the civil courts where they will see justice and accountability. Jeff knows the ins and outs of how the civil courts can be one of the better ways for victims to find justice and accountability.
Lynne Abraham – Abraham was the Philadelphia DA who issued the 2005 grand jury report about the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She was one of the first to “name names.” Unfortunately, she was unable to issue any indictments at that time. ADA Charles Gallagher led the investigation as its senior prosecutor.
Civil Windows in Delaware, Minnesota, California, and Hawaii – These laws allowed victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and use the courts when they—the victims—were ready. Will this report make PA finally follow suit?
John Salveson – John has been an outspoken advocate for survivors in Pennsylvania. The founder of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, he has worked to change statutes of limitations to help victims of child sexual abuse.
The accused priests we know about – Expect this list to grow. The list as it is is far from complete. Hopefully, the report will fill in a bunch of blanks. If you click on the link, you can access a database of accused priests listed by diocese.
UPDATE 4/15 4:39 pm: Victim/Survivor Advocate Karen Polesir has extensive knowledge of the clergy sex abuse crisis in Philadelphia and the movement of priests throughout the state.
Need contact information for any of these people or information on the issues? Let me know.
The six remaining Catholic Dioceses (and details):
In February, the Diocese of Harrisburg announced that they would have a “papal envoy” to help them celebrate their 150th anniversary, since Pope Francis himself could not be there. Who did the Vatican choose? None other than disgraced Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony. When Harrisburg Catholics found out, they were less than pleased. The envoy was cancelled. Bad optics on the eve of a grand jury investigation.
You will note that no announcement of Mahony’s appearance was made in Los Angeles.
Bishop: Ronald W. Gainer
Counties covered: Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster,
Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York.
Bishop: Alfred A. Schlert
Counties Covered: Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill
Earlier in April, the Diocese of Erie broke ranks with other dioceses in the state when it published a list of 34 priests and 17 lay people credibly accused of sexual abuse and assault. The move came in anticipation of the publication of the grand jury report and—in my opinion—was a preemptive strike.
No other US diocese has published a list of lay people as extensive as this one accused of abuse.
Bishop: Lawrence T. Persico
Counties Covered: Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, and Warren
Bishop: Edward C. Malesic
THE CEASE AND DESIST LETTER – The Diocese of Greensburg does not take kindly to criticism. When SNAP, the Survivors Network issued a statement asking that he turn over all of his “secret files” to law enforcement, the group was hit with an unenforceable cease and desist letter (attached here). The bully tactics didn’t work.
Heaven forbid anyone ask the diocese to do the right thing …
Counties Covered: Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana, and Westmoreland
Bishop: David A. Zubik
THE SALACIOUS RUMORS Zubic himself has been accused of abuse. The accusation, which Zubic denies, became public in 2011. There are rumors—which cannot be confirmed—that the grand jury report will include details of a non-disclosure agreement.
This week, one of Zubik’s deacons was arrested on charges of child pornography as a part of an online sting operation. The deacon, who also worked as a prison chaplain, was a retired lawyer. Deacons go through the same “rigorous vetting” that priests do, according to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, including a five-year training process.
Counties Covered: Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence, Washington
Bishop: Joseph C. Bambera
Counties Covered: Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne and Wyoming
The report will not include Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia or the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.
Keep checking back here for updates. They will be marked and dated.