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Bishop to Suspend Priest for “Abusive Cult Practices”?

The Globe and Mail reports Anglican authorities have begun investigating the activities of a retired Anglican priest who was headmaster for two decades of a now-closed private Christian school where alleged abusive cult practices were carried out.

Bishop George Bruce is considering whether to exercise his authority under Canon Law to “inhibit” – suspend the priestly duties- of Rev. Charles Farnsworth.

Anglican Canon law specifically allows for inhibition in disciplinary inquiries “if it appears to the bishop that great scandal is likely to arise if a priest continues to perform the duties of his or her office while a charge is under investigation…”

Over the last 15 years I have represented many victims of clergy sexual abuse and read the reports of hundreds of other cases. I am not aware of any case where a Bishop has publically stated that he would exercise his power of inhibition. Bishop Bruce is to be commended for acting so quickly after the accusations became public. But it begs the question, what are the allegations that he thinks will cause “great scandal”? The details that have come out so far are pretty bizarre, involving accusations of physical abuse and psychological brainwashing.

This story is one to watch.  Kathy Shaw has posted a number of stories about Farnsworth on the Abuse Tracker blog.

Bankrupt Diocese Settles Priest Sexual Abuse Claims

Yesterday the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego reached a settlement to compensate 144 victims of sexual abuse by priests within the Diocese.

The settlement will pay victims an average of 1.37 million dollars, slightly higher than the landmark $660 million settlement announced by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which will see average pay outs of 1.3 million dollars.

The settlement came after the San Diego Diocese declared bankruptcy to protect it’s assests from the lawsuits filed by abuse victims. The Judge monitoring the Diocese’s bankruptcy proceedings, Bankruptcy Judge Louise DeCarl Adler, was highly critical of the Diocese’s conduct during the proceedings, stating that the financial reports filed by the Church contained “irregularities” and undervalued Church assets. At one point, the Judge threatened to dimiss the bankruptcy altogether, ending the protection from victim’s lawsuits.

The settlement requires the Diocese to release internal documents proving the sexual abuse and the extent that Chuch officials were aware of the pedophile priests within the Diocese.

You can read more here.

Largest Class Action in Canadian History Moves Forward

Kathy Shaw at bishop-accountability.org  has posted a link to a story in the Anglican Journal  about the Canadian Indian Residential Schools abuse claims settlement.

The article refers to the settlement as the largest class action settlement in Canadian history. It certainly is that. But more importantly it is the largest abuse claims settlement in the world. More than TWO BILLION dollars in compensation for loss of language and culture to 80,000 potential claimants . Plus a compensation program that will pay up to an additional $275,000.00 in compensation to victims of sexual abuse and serious physical abuse. 

I have represented the Association for the Survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School for twelve years. I am proud to have been part of the team that negotiated what is sure to be an historic claims settlement.

Nuns Pay for Priest Sexual Abuse

In a move that is sure to generate sympathy for the Church, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has stated it’s intention to sell one of it’s convents to help raise money to meet it’s obligations under the $660 million abuse claims settlement.

It is unfortunate and unfair that the nuns who live in the convent will have to find another place to live because of the actions of pervert priests. But, it is important to remember who is responsible for this sad state of affairs. Not the victims of sexual abuse who had their lives destroyed. It is the predator priests who sexually abused children in their parishes and those in authority in the Church that knew about the abuse, covered it up, and allowed it to continue.

When is some journalist going to publish a story with the names of all the priests that covered up the sexual abuse for so many years? Then maybe the public can hold the proper people accountable.

Sexual Abuse Settlements Empower Victims to Come Forward

Frank Douglas has posted another interesting article about the Los Angeles priest abuse settlement on his Voice from the Desert blog.

He highlights an important part of the Los Angeles settlement (perhaps the most important part); the requirement for the Archdiocese to release to the public documents about it’s knowlege of the predatory habits of the Archdiocese’s sexually abusive priests.

Sexual abuse thrives on secrecy. Sexual predators manipulate their victims through shame and guilt. The article points out that:

when the predators’ names come out, other victims of the same perpetrator are often empowered to come forward.

Unfortunately, in some cases the names come out too late. In one case I am currently involved in David Martin took his own life because he could no longer deal with the pain of the sexual abuse he had suffered at the hands of Father Hugh Vincent MacDonald. His suicide note disclosing the abuse launched a police investigation that uncovered  dozens of MacDonald’s sexual abuse victims, most of whom I now represent. Unfortunately MacDonald died before he could be tried and convicted, robbing his victims of the opportunity to hold him accountable.

Do Myths About Child Abuse Explain The Church Sex Abuse Scandals?

I read an interesting story comparing myths and facts about child sexual abuse. The author points to research which suggests one reason why the Catholic Church has had such difficulty coming to terms with the reality of sexual abuse by it’s priests:

Males are less likely to believe victims complaints – particularly when sexual abuse is involved. Female respondents were more likely to believe victims who speak up. Males were more likely to believe children who made allegations of physical abuse. Men were not so likely to believe allegations of sexual abuse.

This is an interesting finding that needs more investigation. It could explain why it was so difficult to convince predominantly male law enforcement of the pervasive nature of this problem in our society and why it was so hard for the male leadership of the church to believe that their male colleagues were abusing children.

I have represented hundreds of victims of childhood sexual abuse and dozens of victims of priest sexual abuse. In most of those cases I was not convinced that the “male leadership of the church” did not believe the victim. On the contrary, the allegations were believed but the sexual offender was simply shuffled off to a different parish to continue his predations.

However I agree wholeheartedly with one of the authors conclusions:

None of us is immune to making assumptions. It is important to note, however, that these perceptions can and do influence treatment, investigations and community responses. Raising our awareness about these perceptions can help us be open to dealing with the situations that arise before us with integrity, compassion and empathy.

When we do that, we open the door to those who are suffering in our midst to speak up and tell us about their pain. That is the beginning of healing.

Take a look at the rest of the story here.
 

Clergy Sex Abuse Settlements Just the Tip of the Iceberg?

Sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests has cost the Catholic Church 2.3 BILLION dollars in settlements since 1950. The Journalgazette.net has published a story listing more than a billion dollars in abuse claim pay outs in the last four years alone.

Since the Catholic Church commonly insists on confidentiality when they settle lawsuits, one has to ask if these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
 


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