The seal of confession and mandatory reporting: a survey of state laws

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:44 PM PDT

NEW YORK (NY) America Magazine July 1, 2019 By Ellen K. Boegel The Catholic Church is campaigning against California's proposed changes to its mandatory child abuse reporting law that could compromise the ancient Catholic defense of the "seal of the confessional." Currently, clergy members are mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect, but need not report abuse if their reasonable suspicions are based on "penitential communications." Several bills have been proposed that would eliminate or limit this reporting exception. The version of SB 360 passed by the California Senate and scheduled for a July 9 hearing before the Assembly's Public Safety committee narrows the definition of penitential communications to those similar to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in that they must be "made in the manner and context that places the clergy member specifically and strictly under a level of confidentiality that is considered inviolate by church doctrine." The bill, if enacted, would also require reporting of child abuse revealed through "penitential communications between a clergy member and another person that is employed at the same site or facility as the clergy member" and "between a clergy member and another clergy member." This change is significant, but SB 360 does not apply to most confessions and, as currently written, would not change California's Evidence Code, which retains the priest-penitent privilege and grants everyone the right "to prevent another from disclosing a penitential communication." The laws of other states are more severe and less religiously accommodating, although practical considerations have limited their impact on religious adherents.

King of the mountain: For 20 years, a Lil’wat chief keeps a lonely vigil in the B.C. woods

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:41 PM PDT

PEMBERTON (CANADA) Globe and Mail July 1, 2019 By Nancy MacDonald Hubert Jim says he can smell visitors long before he ever sees them. The wind, he says, carries their scent: sunscreen, deodorant, soaps, shampoos – all of it sickly sweet, unmistakably human and foreign to the alpine wilderness he calls home. This sounds, of course, like total hokum. But a few hours after saying it, Hubie, as Mr. Jim is better known, suddenly went pounding down the winding one-kilometre trail leading to a sturdy, log bridge he built years ago. There, on the far side of the churning, white waters of the Cayoosh Creek stood a pair of bemused retirees from Britain, blinking in the hot, spring sun. They were stretching their legs – a pit stop on a camper trip across the province. Hubie had apparently nosed them out. He was 37 when he moved to the mountain for good. This fall Hubie turns 57, marking almost 20 years living alone in a shack in B.C. grizzly territory, 40-kilometres northeast of Pemberton. Unless he is forcibly removed, Hubie, a Lil'wat Nation hereditary chief, says he will die here. The protest camp named Sutikalh was erected in 2000 by a group of First Nations people aiming to stop the last, pristine watershed on Lil'wat lands from being turned into a ski hill. The resort would rival Whistler, the co-host of the 2010 Winter Olympics and playground to the global super rich that also happens to be located on the traditional territories of the Lil'wat Nation. Within a year, every protester except Hubie had gone home. Construction on the Cayoosh Resort at Melvin Creek was mothballed owing to Indigenous opposition. The developers – former Olympian Nancy Greene Raine and her husband, Al Raine, the mayor of Sun Peaks, B.C. – however, could still build on the land in the future depending on the outcome of consultations with First Nations in the area. Because of this, Hubie still doesn't feel it is safe to leave the mountain untended. "So much of the world has already been destroyed," he says. "I'm looking after the mountain not just for the Lil'wat, but so the whole world can enjoy it."

Fall River diocese’s list of accused priests still unfinished

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:25 PM PDT

FALL RIVER (MA) WPRI TV July 1, 2019 By Eli Sherman and Ted Nesi The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River is continuing to conduct an internal review into sexual abuse allegations against its priests and clergymen, but is still not setting a date for when a list of credible accusations will be released. Fall River Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha announced in January he had hired William Gavin, a former FBI assistant director, as an independent consultant to review all past claims of sexual abuse against Fall River clergy. Gavin's hiring followed a reorganization of personnel files last fall. The bishop said at the time he expected the review would be done "in the spring." However, diocesan spokesperson John Kearns said Monday the review wasn't finished yet and he didn't know when it would be. "I don't want to speculate at this point," Kearns told WPRI 12. "When the review is finished, we will be publishing the list." BishopAccountability.org, a website that tracks the Catholic abuse crisis nationwide, lists 31 members of the Fall River diocese who have faced some past accusation of sexual abuse. The diocese includes Bristol County, Cape Cod and the Islands, as well as Marion, Mattapoisett and Wareham. In a January letter to the region's Catholics, de Cunha indicated he expected the list would reveal relatively few unknown abuse cases. "While most of these names have already been reported in the media, the publication of a list is necessary for greater transparency on our part in response to clerical sexual abuse," he wrote. "I wish that this information could be made available sooner; yet it takes time and diligence to compile a list that is accurate and complete." Fall River's diocesan leaders also established an Office of Safe Environment a year ago, led by retired law enforcement officers, to oversee child protection in the diocese.

Allentown Diocese cuts office staff by nearly 25% to pay for sex abuse victims

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:17 PM PDT

ALLENTOWN (PA) Morning Call July 1, 2019 By Emily Opilo The Allentown Diocese has cut its office staff by nearly a quarter and enacted a pay freeze to help compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse, officials announced Monday. The cuts, effective last Friday, were centered in the diocesan's administrative office, where 96 people worked prior to the reductions, according to a news release from diocese spokesman Matt Kerr. Most of the cuts were made through attrition, and a voluntary retirement program was offered, according to the diocese. Kerr would not disclose how many of the 23 affected positions were eliminated via layoffs. A victim's compensation fund was created earlier this year in response to a grand jury report released last summer that detailed sexual abuse accusations against 301 priests statewide who had abused hundreds of children over several decades. The report named 37 priests from the Allentown Diocese, and the diocese itself added another 15 names until the list. A five-month window to file claims with the fund will close in September. Allentown has set aside millions for the fund, which will not tap future collections from masses, or school and parish funds, according to the diocese. The fund was expected to be built on available cash, borrowed money and the sale of assets. While no future collections will be used, the diocese's existing assets were accumulated via donations -- the church's only source of revenue -- and investments of that money made by the diocese, Kerr said Monday. Diocese officials would not specify in April how much money was available in the fund, but said it would provide a public report on the number of victims and the total amount paid to them at the conclusion of the program. The number of claims filed so far, which has not been disclosed, was not a factor when making the staffing reductions, Kerr said.

Priest accused of sex abuse retires

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:14 PM PDT

TOLEDO (OH) The Blade July 1, 2019 By Nicki Gorny The Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo announced a routine series of clergy appointments and transfers on Monday, including the retirement of the Rev. Nelson Beaver, who remains on administrative leave as the diocese continues an internal investigation into sexual abuse allegations against him that began to emerge last year. Authorities in Williams County, where an initial allegation of sexual abuse of a minor arose in October, closed their investigation at the request of the accuser in March. The allegation had dated back more than 25 years. In the course of that months-long investigation, two additional and also decades-old allegations arose in Lucas County and in Huron County. Lucas County authorities did not investigate the allegation, which would have fallen beyond the statute of limitations, in line with the wishes of the accuser. Huron County authorities, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Blade in March, have since closed their investigation, Kelly Donaghy, diocesan spokesman said. That leaves the matter to the diocese, which will investigate according to its own policy and ultimately determine whether Father Beaver, who is now retired or of "senior status," is suitable for ministry.

NY Archdiocese Sues Insurers After Coverage Denied for Child Sex Abuse Claims

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:12 PM PDT

NEW YORK (NY) New York Law Journal July 1, 2019 By Dan M. Clark The Archdiocese of New York has filed a lawsuit against its various insurers over the years after one company said it's not planning to cover claims brought through a new law enacted this year that will open a window for older victims of child sex abuse to file civil litigation in New York.

I was groomed by my teacher aged 11 after he offered to ‘teach me how to kiss’

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 09:07 AM PDT

LONDON (ENGLAND) The Sun July 1, 2019 By Amy Nickell However this wasn't an innocent childhood romance - perverted Graham was Rachel's 28-year-old teacher, and he would go on to abuse the teen over three years. Rachel says: "You think you're grown up and as a teenager you know everything but you realise you don't and you are still a child. "That makes what Graham did worse because it's taking away somebody's innocence, and that's what he did to me." Sadly, she's not alone. In the last five years in the UK over 200 teachers have been struck off as a result of sexual misconduct with students. Groomed and sexually abused, married mum-of-one Rachel, now 43, kept her personal ordeal secret for 25 years.

Shepherding amid scandal: Archbishops talk about healing

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 08:55 AM PDT

WASHINGTON (DC) Catholic News Service July 1, 2019 By Cindy Wooden The first time Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agana, Guam, celebrated Mass in his cathedral, he had to cross a picket line to do so. Australian Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli of Melbourne said Catholics in his archdiocese are angry. The two were among 30 archbishops from 25 nations who received their palliums — woolen stoles — from Pope Francis June 29. In interviews with Catholic News Service before the Mass, both archbishops spoke of the impact of clerical sexual abuse on the people of their dioceses and said survivors are the members of their flocks most in need of care. The first week of August, both Archbishop Byrnes and Archbishop Comensoli will celebrate their first anniversaries as archbishop of their dioceses. For both archdioceses, it has been a year of coming face-to-face with the abuse crisis. Archbishop Byrnes was an auxiliary bishop of Detroit when Pope Francis sent him to Guam in October 2016 as the coadjutor bishop with special powers in the midst of accusations of sexual abuse and financial mismanagement against Guam's Archbishop Anthony Apuron. The appointment "was a little overwhelming," the archbishop said. Guam was far away and Catholics there were in an uproar. Meeting Pope Francis before he went to Guam for the first time, he said he told the pope that when a sports team is doing badly, the important thing is to return to the fundamentals and that's what he planned to do in Guam: "Being friends with Jesus Christ." But "my first meeting when I arrived in Guam was with lawyers," he said. "At that time we had six complaints of sexual abuse of minors and to date over 230 victims have come forward — it's a lot for a small island."

BREAKING: Diocese of Providence Names Priests “Credibly” Accused of Sexual Abuse

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 08:21 AM PDT

PROVIDENCE (RI) GoLocalProv News Team July 1, 2019 The Diocese of Providence on Monday morning released the names of clergy, diocesan and religious order priests as well as deacons, who have been "credibly" accused of sexual abuse of minors. Bishop Tobin stated last year that the names would be released in 2019. In February, the Diocese of Providence's Rhode Island Catholic Conference in written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee disclosed that the church has made tens of millions of dollars in payments to sexual abuse victims over the past few decades. The testimony had been offered in opposition to legislation -- recently passed by the General Assembly -- to extend the statute of limitation of those who are sexually abused from the existing seven years to up to 35 years. Payments to Victims The disclosure of the payments may, in part, be an indicator as to the Diocese's financial issues and why the church failed to make proper contributions to the pension fund of the now collapsed St. Joseph Health Services retirement fund -- the largest pension fund failure in Rhode Island history. "Reflecting [on] our commitment to justice, the Diocese of Providence has resolved over 130 claims and paid out over $21 million in legal settlements. Additionally, a pastoral outreach program has provided victims with nearly $2.3 million for the cost of counseling in order to facilitate healing and wholeness. There have been many long-standing and effective efforts towards prevention here," said the Church in written testimony to the House committee. Last October, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a national non-profit, has called on Democratic candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha to commit to investigating the Diocese of Providence.

How Karma Became a B*tch For John Capparelli, a Serial Predator Priest With Wrestling Fetish

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 08:06 AM PDT

Wrestling World blog July 1, 2019 By Joan Jalbuena The community of Henderson in Nevada, located just south of Las Vegas is a small one of only about 300,000 people. It's a quiet place, which is why, earlier this year they were shocked to rack up their third homicide in a year. The victim was a 70 year old man, who was supposedly "quiet" and who neighbors believed was merely a retired teacher who occasionally ran tutoring sessions in his home. According to Fox 5, the Henderson police were conducting a welfare check at the home of John Capparelli, at around 9:30 am on March 9. They found Capparelli's body in the kitchen. He had been shot in the neck in an apparent robbery. It was only then that his neighbors realized that their "quiet" neighbor had come to their community to hide allegations of a dark past. Capparelli was a defrocked priest accused of molesting multiple boys in the guise of "teaching" them to wrestle. Capparelli had been a Catholic Priest for the period of 1980 to 1992, until multiple allegations of sexual misconduct were brought against him. Several young men alleged that he had groped them and worse. He was suspended from the church in 1992. Even after he was defrocked, however, Capparelli continued to work with children and young boys as a public school teacher, said a report from NJ.com. He only stopped in 2011 after a report in the Star-Ledger made public, the allegations against him. "Submission" wrestling An earlier story that the NJ.com ran about John Capparelli's life in New Jersey also reveals that Capparelli was linked to a fetish website called nhb-battle.com, which he was supposed to be running out of his home in Belleville. Two of Capparelli's victims during the years he was a priest have been vocal about their molestation at his hands. They were to testify against Capparelli during his hearing with the New Jersey State Board of Examiners but didn't get a chance to as the case reached a settlement. "I am happy that after all this time, he's finally being held accountable," said Rich Fitter, who has stated that Capparelli used to touch him inappropriately during "submission wrestling" matches in the 1980s. "He should not be around children. To me he should be in jail," said Fitter. According to Fitter and another of the alleged victims, Andrew Dundorf have shared their experiences with Capparelli both which involve "wrestling".

Vatican court rejects laws obligating priests to report sexual abuse revealed in confessions

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 07:47 AM PDT

ROME (ITALY) CBS News July 1, 2019 By Anna Matranga The Vatican's highest court issued a document on Monday approved by Pope Francis strongly reiterating 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. The document states that any legislation aimed at forcing priests to report such information would be an "unacceptable offense" against the church's freedom from secular power, as well as a violation of the religious freedoms of both the penitent and the confessor. The Vatican said it felt it was "necessary to intervene," to explain the importance of the confessional seal to the church, and to promote understanding of it.

Diocese releases list of clergy ‘credibly accused’ of sex abuse

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 07:43 AM PDT

PROVIDENCE (RI) Providence Journal July 1, 2019 By Brian Amaral The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence on Monday morning released a list of clergy, priests and deacons who have been "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children. The list, posted on the diocese's website just after 8 a.m., represented generations of private torment for victims and public disgrace for abusers and their enablers. It includes 50 names, 19 of them still living but none still active. The state recently extended the statute of limitations for victims to file lawsuits over child sexual abuse from seven years to 35. To find the list of credibly accused Diocese of Providence priests and deacons, click here. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin announced in December that the list would be released sometime in 2019; in a statement, the diocese said it hopes the list will provide "healing and consolation." The list was broken down into several categories, including credibly accused living clergy, credibly accused living deacons, credibly accused deceased clergy, credibly accused deceased religious order priests, and two "publicly accused" deceased clergy. All but one of the 19 living clergy and deacons were listed as "removed from ministry." The one who wasn't removed had resigned before an allegation was received, the diocese said. One priest was born in 1904, and was ordained in 1930. He died in 1977, before any allegation was received. The youngest living credibly accused priest is now 60, and was ordained in 1990.

Diocese of Providence Posts List of Clergy Accused of Abuse

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 07:05 AM PDT

ST. LOUIS (MO) Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests July 1, 2019 This morning, the Diocese of Providence, RI has finally taken the step of posting the names of clergy who have been accused of abuse. Now we call on church officials in Rhode Island to aggressively reach out to parishioners, informing them of this list and urging anyone with information or allegations of their own to report to local police and prosecutors. While it is likely that this list was only published in response to growing public pressure, we hope that the release of this information will lead to safer, more informed communities We also hope that survivors who may be suffering in silence will be encouraged to come forward and make a report to police and the attorney general. Unfortunately, the list released today Rhode Island church officials only includes names, ages, years of ordination, and their current status. While this information is valuable, it is not enough for a complete list. Bishop Thomas Tobin should work immediately to update his list and include, at a minimum, the work histories of each accused priest so that communities where abusers served know to look for survivors in their midst. Similarly, he should include information about when the archdiocese first received the allegations and what they did in response. Only by knowing what went wrong to enable abusers in the past can we best know how to prevent similar situations in the future.

Former Church of England Boys' Society lay leader at Sutherland jailed for sexual assaults on boys over 20-year period

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 06:38 AM PDT

AUSTRALIA The Leader June 28, 2019 By Murray Trembath A former Church of England Boys' Society lay leader and scripture teacher at Sutherland has been sentenced to a minimum three years and seven months jail for historical child sexual assault offences. Many of the offences occurred in church-run camps for boys in Royal National Park. William Richmond Sandwell, 78, of Loftus, appeared in the District Court, Downing Centre, after a jury found him guilty of 11 child sexual assault offences, committed against six children between 1965 and 1985. Sandwell, who also used the name Sandell at one time, denied the offences. Among "survivors" in court for the sentencing was Alexander Hayes, who now lives in Perth. Mr Hayes said outside the court Sandwell's assaults on him between the ages of 11 and 15 had had a "catastrophic effect on my life and a horrific impact on many families, including his own."

Reforming the Church with 'no possibility of return'

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 06:37 AM PDT

VATICAN CITY La Croix June 28, 2019 By Robert Mickens How Pope Francis is initiating processes of Church reform that will be hard to undo How many cardinals does it take to help Pope Francis reform the Roman Curia? And how many years do they need to get the job done?Many Catholics – at least those who are hoping the pope can succeed in decentralizing ecclesial power away from the Vatican – have grown frustrated that after some six years there have been no definitive answers to those questions.After meeting roughly five times annually, the Council of Cardinals (a body initially made of eight members or C8, then quickly expanded to C9 and more recently depleted to C6) has still not given the pope a final draft for a new apostolic constitution to reform the Church's central offices.But they are getting closer.