News–Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse

Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse News Headlines

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How Some Sex Abuse Victims Are Finding Different Ways to Sue Clergy in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s statue of limitations bars new lawsuits over old claims of sexual abuse. After a grand jury report revealed extensive cover-ups by hierarchy, some victims have found a novel way to sue.


The #MeToo movement and revelations around child sexual abuse have prompted lawmakers across the U.S. to extend the window to sue for old sexual assaults. Pennsylvania’s Legislature just passed a bill that would move forward a constitutional amendment that allows these suits. But that process can take years. From member station WHYY, Laura Benshoff reports on a group of victims who are not waiting for that to happen to sue the Catholic Church.

LAURA BENSHOFF, BYLINE: Last year, while he was being treated for kidney failure, 57-year-old Jon Patchcoski glanced at the television in his hospital room.

JON PATCHCOSKI: That was when I noticed on CNN that it said that, like, a thousand kids were molested, raped, sodomized in the state of Pennsylvania.

BENSHOFF: That news item was about a sweeping grand jury report mapping out sexual abuse by priests over the course of 70 years. Patchcoski, who grew up outside Scranton, Pa., has his own story. When he was around 11 years old, Patchcoski says a priest named Father Michael Pullicare invited him on a fishing trip and then pinned him down and sexually assaulted him.

PATCHCOSKI: I remember laying there and tears just rolling down my eyes and not being able to move.

BENSHOFF: Pullicare is on the Diocese of Scranton’s list of credibly accused clergy. The priest died in 1999. Decades later, lying in his hospital bed, Patchcoski resolved to do something. He started talking about what happened to him and learned that other men he grew up with had similar accounts. Patchcoski says what made him want to sue is finding out that the church had started offering lump-sum payments to victims.

PATCHCOSKI: The anger inside of me that the church would actually have the gall to bring up a victims fund and tell you what you’re worth and tell you what it was like to live for 40-some years with all this.

BENSHOFF: But there was a problem.

RICHARD SERBIN: I lost a number of cases in court, not on the merits of whether my client was abused but before I could proceed with the case, based on the statute of limitations.

BENSHOFF: That’s attorney Richard Serbin. He’s been suing the Catholic Church for 32 years. Under Pennsylvania law, if you’re sexually abused as a child, you have to bring a lawsuit by the time you turn 30. Serbin decided to try something different; he began suing not for the abuse itself but for church leaders’ efforts to cover it up.

SERBIN: That the diocese knew about it and had a duty to speak up and instead remained silent.
Source: NPR




Vatican Court Rejects Laws Obligating Priests to Report Sexual Abuse Revealed in Confessions

Pope Francis strongly reiterated the Catholic teaching that priests may not, under any circumstances, reveal information learned inside the confessional. The document was a response to mounting political and social pressure for priests to report details of sexual abuse of minors acquired during confessions to authorities.     READ FULL STORY
Source: CBS News

Vatican Court Rejects Laws Obligating Priests to Report Sexual Abuse Revealed in Confessions

Pope Francis strongly reiterated the Catholic teaching that priests may not, under any circumstances, reveal information learned inside the confessional. The document was a response to mounting political and social pressure for priests to report details of sexual abuse of minors acquired during confessions to authorities.     READ FULL STORY
Source: CBS News

Priest: ‘I’m Innocent’; Blair County Judge Delays Ruling on Civil Complaint in Alleged Child Sexual Abuse Case

“All I know, myself as a priest, (I’m) a victim because I’m innocent. I never did anything,” Says Rev. Charles Bodziak said before his attorney, Thomas Foor, subtly guided him away from reporters. When asked how it felt to learn her alleged abuser called himself a victim, Renée Rice said, “It’s hard. It’s really hard.”    READ FULL STORY
Source: The Tribune Democrat

Survivors Of Sexual Abuse By Nuns Want Greater Visibility For Their Accusations

With 420 Catholic women’s institutes in the United States alone, it is difficult to get a complete picture of the total number of allegations against nuns. The watchdog group Bishop Accountability has compiled a list of about 100 religious sisters who have been credibly accused, meaning claims against them resulted in a lawsuit or news article.     READ FULL STORY
Source: Whyy

Catholic Church Spent $10 Million on Lobbyists in Fight to Stymie Priest Sex Abuse Suits

The U.S. Catholic Church spent $10.6 million on lobbyists to prevent victims of clerical sex abuse from suing for damages. According to a new report, the money was doled out from 2011 through 2018 in eight northeastern states where bills to reform statute of limitations laws were either in the works or being considered.    READ FULL STORY
Source: NBC News

THE COST OF ABUSE | Victims Seeking Compensation May Face Inconsistent Rules, Opportunities Across Different Dioceses

“It’s not an easy way to maneuver what you have to do,” Richard Serbin, a JJS lawyer, said of the difficult road to navigating through compensation fund rules and guidelines.     READ FULL STORY
Source: The Tribune Democrat

THE COST OF ABUSE | Costly Legal Struggles Prompt Dioceses to Find Ways to Raise Money

“The question is who they’re going to pay and how much,” said Richard Serbin, a Blair County attorney who has represented hundreds of victims of clergy sexual abuse in the state. “And what is the limit and what is the minimum. We don’t know any of that. None of that is transparent.     READ FULL STORY
Source: The Tribune Democrat

THE COST OF ABUSE | ‘Independent’ Administrators Play Key Role in Compensation Fund Process

“The diocese controls not the fund administrator, but who is initially eligible to make a claim,” Richard Serbin, a JJS lawyer, said. “That’s where you have the disparity. Scranton, the diocese, is pretty encompassing. Harrisburg is very restrictive. Altoona-Johnstown is non-existent, all they’ll do is give limited counseling. So the bishop is still in control in that sense.     READ FULL STORY
Source: The Tribune Democrat

Dallas police Raid Catholic Diocese Properties in Investigation of Alleged Sex Abuse by Clergy

Dallas police searched the headquarters of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and other properties as part of the church’s widening sex abuse scandal, police and church officials said. Police were acting on search and arrest warrants for at least 6 priests accused of sexual abuse.     READ FULL STORY
Source: WGNO

California Catholic Dioceses Announce New Compensation Program for Abuse Victims

Catholic bishops in California today announced the establishment of a new compensation program that will be available to any person who has been sexually abused as a minor by diocesan priests of the participating dioceses, no matter when that abuse might have occurred.     READ FULL STORY
Source: Yahoo News


Repairing Notre Dame is Important. Protecting Clergy Abuse Victims is More Important.

The rapid response to the burning of Notre Dame is appropriate and affirming, as name unified to save a monumental symbol of their faith, but where is the unified spirit to protect the human embodiment of that great faith? Where is the sense of urgency and acceptance of responsibility to support the victims and survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy?     READ FULL STORY
Source: The Washington Post


Lawyers Clash Over Nebraska Catholic Sex Abuse Records; A.G. Says Not All Documents Turned Over

Catholic officials in Nebraska have not turned over all sexual abuse records demanded two months ago by sweeping subpoenas, although the vast majority of Catholic institutions in the state have complied. The records not turned over, according to church attorneys, include psychiatric evaluations of perpetrators, medical records of priests and victims and confidential settlement agreements.     READ FULL STORY
Source: Omaha World-Herald


California AG Opens Investigation Into LA Archdiocese Over Handling of Sex Abuse Allegations

In a letter from state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to Archbishop Jose Gomez dated Thursday and obtained by the Los Angeles Times, church officials are asked to preserve an array of documents related to clergy abuse allegations.    READ FULL STORY
Source: CBS Los Angeles


Diocese of Syracuse Releases Report Detailing the Settlement it Has Come to With 79 Victims of Sexual Abuse by a Member of Clergy in the Diocese

The Diocese of Syracuse released a report on its website on Wednesday providing information on the settlement it has come to with 79 victims of sexual abuse by members of clergy in the diocese for a total of nearly $11 million.    READ FULL STORY
Source: WKTV


Catholic Diocese of Sacramento Releases List of Clergy Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento released the names of 46 priests and deacons who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse over the past seven decades.
The clergy named in the list have been credibly accused of sexually abusing 130 minors or young adults, aged 25 and under.    READ FULL STORY
Source: KCRA


Statewide Investigation Launched into Sex Abuse Allegations in Catholic Church

Georgia has become the latest state to launch an investigation into past sexual abuse claims within the Catholic Church. “This is a moment of reckoning for the church both locally and globally, and it’s not an exaggeration to say the church is in a period of crisis.”    READ FULL STORY
Source: The Atlanta Journalism-Constitution


Allentown Diocese Launches Compensation Fund for Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse

The program is designed to provide victims with prompt compensation without the need for the uncertainty of years-long litigation. Applying to the fund is voluntary, and victims are not required to accept the offers they may receive.    READ FULL STORY
Source: Reading Eagle


New York, Baltimore Archdioceses List Priests ‘Credibly Accused’ of Sex Abuse. But What Counts as Credible?

The church has been promoting the release of accused priest lists — which have grown from 35 in 2018 to more than 120 as of this month as evidence of a cultural move toward transparency. They are coming under fire from some survivors and advocates for their inconsistent criteria, which in many cases lead to lists that omit names for unclear reasons or fall short on information about priests that are named.    READ FULL STORY
Source: The Washington Post


Archdiocese of Baltimore Discloses the Names of 23 Deceased Clergy Accused of Child Sexual Abuse

The change is in keeping with an endeavor by the diocese to enhance openness when it comes to the issue of child sexual abuse in the church.    READ FULL STORY
Source: The Baltimore Sun


Lawmaker: Murphy to Sign Bill Easing Limits on Sex Abuse Suits Soon

The law would apply to cases filed after it takes effect. But for those barred from challenging their alleged attackers under the current statute of limitations, the legislation would create a temporary two-year window in which they could pursue a case. It also expands who could be held liable, enabling victims to pursue damages against anyone who knowingly permitted the abuse.    READ FULL STORY
Source: NJ Spotlight


New York Archdiocese Releases Names of 120 Clergy Accused of Sex Abuse

The Archdiocese of New York, the second-largest diocese in the nation, has identified 120 priests and deacons accused of sexually abusing a child or having child pornography in the latest revelations in the Catholic Church’s long-running sex abuse epidemic.    READ FULL STORY
Source: CNN


Family Center ‘Muddied the Waters’ on Eliminating Child Abuse Statute of Limitations

A bill that would remove the statute of limitation for civil suits related to child sex abuse in Vermont hit resistance from an unlikely witness in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday: a community resource center in Bennington. Sunrise Family Resource Center, said it supported efforts to hold people accountable for child sex abuse, but believed the bill as written would quickly cause the center to close its doors, punishing the hundreds of community members who rely on its services.    READ FULL STORY
Source: VT Digger


Catholic Church Lobbying in Pennsylvania Spiked After Damaging Investigations

The Catholic Church has spent millions influencing Pennsylvania politics, but the funds perhaps have been the most useful amid reports uncovering widespread child sexual abuse and attempts to cover it up.    READ FULL STORY
Source: York Dispatch


More Child Sex Abuse Bills Advance in Pennsylvania House

Legislation intended to reform the statute of limitations on child sex abuse passed the House last week. Now the House Children and Youth Committee has advanced a bill to clarify and strengthen penalties for someone who is required to report suspected abuse and fails to do so.    READ FULL STORY
Source: KYW NewsRadio


How Catholic Church Used Treatment Centers to Protect Priests Accused of Child Abuse

A recent survey of bishops in more than 100 dioceses nationwide found that 87% of them used treatment centers to assess and care for priests believed to be sexually abusing children. The church must acknowledge that bishops across the country have, for decades, institutionalized a culture that not only fosters abusive priests but also aims to protect the accused and silence victims.    READ FULL STORY
Source: WHYY


Republicans Vote Down Bill to Increase Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Abuse

A bill that would have increased the statute of limitations on civil actions for victims of child sex abuse was shot down during a lengthy and contentious committee debate. This is a set back for those affected by clergy sex abuse in a nation where 15 states have removed the statute of limitations entirely for child sex crimes.    READ FULL STORY
Source: AZ Mirror


Sex Abuse Survivors Await Murphy’s Signature on N.J. Statute of Limitations Bill

Many victims in the Garden State may get their voices back if a bill passed by both houses of the state Legislature is signed into law.    READ FULL STORY
Source: WHYY


Bill to Lift Limits on Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits in Maryland Fails

A bill that would have enabled untold numbers of child sexual abuse survivors to file civil lawsuits in Maryland has been defeated.    READ FULL STORY
Source: The Baltimore Sun


Arizona Lawmakers Again Decide Not To Extend Statute Of Limitations For Child Sexual Abuse Survivors

Victims of child rape and sexual abuse won’t get more time to sue their assailants, at least not this year. On Thursday Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, refused to allow a vote on the measure in the Senate Appropriations Committee which she chairs.    READ FULL STORY
Source: KJZZ


Sex Abuse Victims Back California Priest Accountability Bill

A procession of sexual assault victims on Tuesday urged the Senate to pass a law requiring priests and other religious leaders to report child abuse, ending a legal exemption that allows them to keep information confidential if they learn it during confessions.    READ FULL STORY
Source: The Sacramento Bee


Pope Francis Names Next Head of Sex-Scandal-Hit D.C. Archdiocese

Pope Francis has tapped Archbishop Wilton Gregory to head the high-profile, sexual abuse-battered Washington D.C. archdiocese. The 71 year old prelate succeeds Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who resigned in October following criticism over his handling of abuse cases in the 1980s and 90s. Wuerl’s predecessor, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was defrocked by Pope Francis after a Vatican investigation concluded he had sexually abused minors and adults.    READ FULL STORY
Source: CBS News


Diocese of Reno Releases Names of Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors

Bishop Randolph Calvo has released the names of priests and religious credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.    READ FULL STORY
Source: 2 News


Erie Catholic Diocese Will Open Files to Priest Sex Abuse Victims

The Catholic Diocese of Erie, which recently settled a $2 million clergy sexual abuse complaint, is making “relevant” internal files available to abuse survivors for the asking, church officials said.    READ FULL STORY
Source: Trib Live


Federal Grand Jury Empaneled to Investigate Buffalo Diocese

A federal grand jury has been seated to investigate sexual abuse cover-up in the Catholic Church — and Buffalo appears to be the epicenter of the investigation.     READ FULL STORY
Source: WKBW Buffalo

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