Most recently, the Catholic church went all in against same-sex marriage in D.C. In response to couples like us getting married, and securing better protections for our families -- including our children -- the church changed its health coverage to deny coverage to spouses of new employees or current employees not already enrolled. It effectively abandoned the children in its foster care program, rather than license same-sex couples as foster parents. All of this is in keeping with Ratzinger’s earlier statements on same-sex marriage as well as his predecessor John Paul’s statements.
The Boy Scouts have gone to court to protect their policy of anti-gay discrimination, and won. (The result is that if either of my sons wanted to join the scouts, I would be prohibited from being as involved as my dad was when I was in the scouts.) Now it comes to light that the Scouts have their own problems with abuse and cover ups.
With the Vatican in the grips of a pedophilia scandal, the spotlight in America is being turned on US scouting, which is accused of keeping quiet about decades of alleged sexual aggression by its leaders against young boys.
The Boy Scouts of America are being sued by a man who said he was abused five times when he was between 11 and 12 years old by his then-scoutmaster in Portland, Oregon.
The identity of the alleged victim, now 37, is being concealed for fear of reprisals related to the 29-million-dollar sex abuse lawsuit he brought against the Boy Scouts of America and its local Portland branch, the Cascade Pacific Council.
The plaintiff decried what he described as the group’s silence on sexual abuses targeting children and teenagers at the hands of trusted scout leaders.
Other articles say that the Scouts kept extensive “perversion files” chronicling years of sexual abuse by Scout Leaders, but often took no action to prevent abuse.
Both organizations have even attempted to paint themselves as the victims in the midst of their abuse scandals. One German priest went so far as to say that he “went too far,” but also felt “the boys did not take it very badly,” and claim that one victim said to him -- the abuser, mind you -- “It is not so bad.” In one remarkably tone deaf response, the Pope’s personal preacher Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa compared the criticism directed at the church in response to abuse reports to the “collective violence” suffered by the Jews due to anti-Semitism.
The Rev Raniero Cantalamessa was speaking at Good Friday prayers in St Peter’s Basilica, attended by the Pope.
In his sermon, he quoted a Jewish friend as saying the accusations reminded him of the “more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism”.
His comments angered Jewish groups and those representing abuse victims.
Father Cantalamessa said Jews throughout history had been the victims of “collective violence” and drew a comparison with recent attacks on the Roman Catholic Church.
(Spoken like a man so insulated from reality by the bubble he and many at the Vatican and in church hierarchy seem to occupy, that he doesn’t know the history of his own faith or his own church regarding antisemitism.)
Not to be outdone, at least one Scout leader has blamed parents for allowing the sleepover where abuse occurred.
The president of the Boy Scouts council for the Portland metro area has testified he believes the parents of some Scouts were negligent and even criminal for allowing sleepovers that led to sex abuse.
Eugene Grant told a jury in a $29 million sex abuse lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and its Cascade Pacific Council that parents should not have allowed boys to stay overnight with a single man at his apartment.
During cross-examination by Kelly Clark, an attorney for the victim, Grant said Thursday it was not Boy Scouts policy to allow sleepovers, especially when they were unsupervised.
“His parents should have known better,” Grant said, referring to the parents of the victim. “I think it was criminal.”
But when Clark pressed Grant about whether he knew the Boy Scouts had any formal policy against sleepovers in the early 1980s, Grant replied, “At the time, no.”
Grant later said he believed that, at the very least, the parents were negligent.
What does any of this have to do with me or my family? Well, both organizations have justified discriminating us and families like ours -- and even demanded exemption from laws that prohibiting such discrimination, while expecting to continue getting municipal funding and other benefits themselves.
But the core of their argument was summed up most recently by William Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Roberts: Bill is good but you cannot link homosexuality to a paedophilia crisis in the Catholic church.
Bill Donohue: It’s not a paedophilia ... most of the victims were post-pubescent ...
Roberts: You know ...
Donohue: You’ve got to get your facts straight. I’m sorry. If I’m the only one that’s going to deal with facts tonight so be it. The vast majority of the victims are post-pubescent. That’s not paedophilia, buddy. That’s homosexuality.
Roberts: Bill, I don’t think as a person of faith that you really know what you’re talking about when it comes to a victim and a survivor. (crosstalk)
Donohue: It’s not of my opinion. Take a look at the social science data. I never said that most homosexuals are that way.
Roberts: No you just said that cut down homosexuals... (crosstalk).
Donohue goes on to attempt to define pedophilia down by moving the goalposts a bit on puberty.
King: You want to get in? Sinead, go ahead quickly.
O'Conner: Can I just ask very quickly if that gentleman, sir I don't know your name... just, I'm not quite sure what post pubescent means. You mind explaining that to me?
Donohue: Explain what?
O'Conner: What does post pubescent mean?
Thomas: Post pubescent...
O'Conner: What does post pubescent...
Donohue: Post pubescent means beyond puberty, okay? In other words you're an adolescent and that's what homosexuals do and most of them the molesters have been homosexuals in the Catholic Church (crosstalk).
Thomas: So the boys deserved it because they were post pubescent?
Donohue: Now if you want to take that conclusion, I think that's scurrilous. I never said that. Why would you say that about homosexuals?
O'Conner: Sorry Larry, at what age does somebody become, you know, post pubescent in America as a matter of ages?
King: What is the age?
Thomas: Ah... I don't know. Let's ask Bill. He seems to be the authority on post pubescency.
Donohue: 12, 13 years of age. Look, all I'm saying (crosstalk).
King: We're out of time. We've just touched the surface. Now we've got Anderson Cooper coming on.
There are no hard fast rules, but may begin puberty around 12 or 13, and complete puberty by ages 17 or 18 -- some sooner some later. So, science doesn’t seem to agree with Donohue. Neither does the law in most states. There is no uniform age of consent in the U.S. Most state laws set the age of consent at 16, 16, or 18. Even in most of Europe the age of consent ranges from 14 to 17.
Instead he comes off as attempting to diminish the crimes in question by fudging the boundaries of puberty enough to say that the victims were not children. That’s not true anywhere in the U.S. or in most of Europe -- where many of the abuse cases occurred. In fact, on either side of the Atlantic, Donohue’s definition only hold true in a couple of places: Spain, which sets the age of consent at 13; and the Vatican State, which places it as low as 12.
Then there is the matter of the full page ad Donohue took out in the New York Times. [H/t Think Progress.]
Science is not on Donohue’s side, either, in what he was trying to infer by equating child molestation with homosexuality -- or associating them more closely with one another. I’ll refer to a previous post with links to sources stating that, among other things most child sexual abuse takes place in situations where the abusers present themselves as heterosexual. Plus, Jim Burroway dealt more thoroughly with the the question of whether “gays are a threat to children” than I could.
Still, I can’t sit quiet when someone like Donohue says that there’s a connection between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of minors.
SANCHEZ: Well, let me just stop you right there, because immediately as you say that, there are people watching this show, and I can hear them saying this, Bill Donohue, shame on you. Are you saying all gays are pedophiles?
DONOHUE: As I said in the ad, which I wrote, most gay priests are not molesters, but most of the molesters have been gay. And I also said, that there's no such thing as a -- that homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior.
Let me give you a quick example. I'm Irish. Everybody who has half a brain knows that the Irish have a bigger problem with alcoholism than the Italians or the Chinese, for example. Does that mean because you're an Irishman, therefore, you are driven to become an alcoholic? Of course, not.
What it means, though, if your group is overrepresented in a particular problem area, you ought to explore it. Yes, there's a connection between Irish and alcoholism, and, yes, there's a connection between homosexuality and sexual abuse of minors
No, there isn’t. If most of the victims in the scandals involving the church are male, perhaps its because -- as Maureen Dowd writes -- priests have have had unquestioned access to boys.
But I have a question for Donohue -- and while I know that he doest’t speak for the church, his words are essentially the same as what the church has always said.
What was the “connection” when Lou Kennard subjected at least six young girls to years of sexual abuse?
The nonprofit organization he founded is aimed at helping kids in the world’s poorest countries. But six women now say a Heber City man subjected them to years of sexual abuse in their youth.
Lon Harvey Kennard Sr. was charged Tuesday in 4th District Court with 24 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony; 21 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony; one count of forcible sodomy, a second-degree felony; and one count of witness tampering, a third-degree felony.
Kennard, 68, was arrested on March 17 by Wasatch County sheriff’s deputies following nearly two weeks of investigation that began with a phone call from a relative.
On March 6, a female relative of Kennard’s contacted a deputy to ask if Kennard was a suspect in a child sex abuse investigation. The woman told the deputy that Kennard’s son had shown her videos of Kennard engaging in sexual contact with an underage girl.
What was the “connection” when Angela Blackwell sold her 10-year-old granddaughter Johnny Lee Griffin, for some cocaine?
Angela Blackwell, 47, is awaiting her preliminary trial for charges of pandering, also known as pimping, and one count of criminal sexual conduct. Police say Blackwell is accused of selling her granddaughter in exchange for cocaine and other narcotics.
The suspected drug dealer, Johnnie Lee Griffin of Saginaw, is on the Crime Stoppers list of wanted criminals.
“It’s alleged that she traded the granddaughter to this gentleman for narcotics and in exchange he was allowed to sexually assault her,” said Sargent Joseph Dutoi.
Now police are on the lookout for Griffin, who faces multiple criminal charges. [Via Parents Behaving Badly.]
What was the “connection” when Danial Rinehart allegedly began raping his daughter at 13, impregnated her four times, and murdered the offspring?
According to the Cass County Sheriff's Office, Danial “Danny” M. Rinehart, 47, began molesting his 19-year-old daughter six years ago. During those years, Rinehart impregnated his daughter on at least four separate occasions. The skeletal remains of two of the children were recently found in coolers on a property in Harrisonville. The third child’s skeletal remains are believed to be on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma.
“There have been four pregnancies and four births,” Cass County District Attorney Teresa Hensley said at a Friday afternoon press conference. “One child is still alive. That child is in the custody of Division of Children’s Services. The other three children are deceased. One of those children was born and died in Oklahoma; the other two children, in an investigation through the sheriff’s office, were found in coolers.”
The case first came to light on Oct. 3, 2008. Court documents show that on that day one of Rinehart’s daughters called police and reported that her father had been having sex with her sister. She went on to describe the birth - the first in 2004 and the last in 2008 - and death of each of the children and instructed police as to where the remains could be found.
What was the “connection” when Linda Rinehart allegedly knew of the abuse, did nothing to stop it, and participated in at least one birth?
Linda Rinehart is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of hindering prosecution. Authorities said Rinehart did little to stop her daughter’s sexual abuse.
An automatic not guilty plea was entered on Linda Rinehart’s behalf.
…”If (Linda) would’ve taken the kids away, none of that would have happened,” said Dolores Rinehart, Danial Rinehart’s mother. “I think she needs to be done just as bad as Dan, because she was part of it.”
Court records indicate the abuse happened at a trailer behind Dolores Rinehart’s former home in rural Cass County. Two of the dead babies were buried near the house, police said.
Linda Rinehart told investigators that she knew her husband was molesting her daughter, and she helped with the births, court records show.
What was the “connection” when Tessa Van Vlera and Kenneth Kyle allegedly photographed themselves molesting Vlera’s infant daughter.
A California university professor and a Missouri woman already accused of having sex with the woman's 13-month-old daughter now face a federal indictment for producing child pornography.
The U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis announced the indictment Wednesday against Kenneth Kyle, 46, of San Francisco, and Tessa Van Vlerah, 20, of Ballwin, Mo.
…Kyle, an assistant professor of public affairs and administration at California State University East Bay, also faces child pornography charges in California. Authorities in San Francisco arrested him in March after allegedly finding hundreds of child porn images on a computer in his home and on his laptop computer.
It was information found on his computer that led them to the St. Louis area, where Kyle had visited Van Vlerah four times in the past five months after they met on the Internet, according to St. Louis County police.
The pair allegedly molested the baby at St. Louis area hotels, police said.
What was the “connection” when James Clarence Davis and Sandra Davis traded sex with their 14-year-old daughter for car payments? [Via Parents Behaving Badly.]
A Dodge County mother and father have been accused of trading sex with their 14-year-old daughter in exchange for monthly payments on their minivan.
Dodge sheriff's investigators say the girl's parents made her do "sexual favors" for the manager of Shorty's Used Cars in Eastman so they wouldn't have to make the $281 payment on the 1998 Dodge Caravan they bought two years ago.
The allegations surfaced after a months-long investigation into the girl's welfare that began last summer.
…The teenager's parents, James Clarence Davis and Sandra Davis, both 36 and Eastman residents, were jailed Friday on child molestation charges. James Davis also has been charged with aggravated child molestation.
The manager of the car lot, 66-year-old Wayne Bearden of Eastman, was, among other charges, locked up on charges of alleged aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation.
What was the “connection” Father Joseph Pavanivel Jeyapaul sexually abused two teenage girls,
The priest — Father Joseph Pavanivel Jeyapaul of Ootacamund, India — served in a diocese in Crookston, Minnesota, for a little more than a year in 2004 and 2005, according to church documents unearthed in a lawsuit related to the case. Complaint letters from Crookston Bishop Victor Balke to Rome were acknowledged by Vatican officials, but no disciplinary action was taken, the documents show.
Jeyapaul is now the head of a church education commission in Ootacamund, giving him continued access to children, lawyers said.
…Balke wrote that according to an internal investigation, Jeyapaul took a teenage girl to his rectory in the summer of 2005, where “he proceeded to kiss her repeatedly, pulling her on top of him and at one point touching her beneath her clothing.”
Balke also said in the letter that Jeyapaul had misappropriated “a substantial amount of money belonging to the parish and also attempted to give a diocesan vehicle to a third party as payment for an outstanding debt.”
The bishop went on to warn the Vatican that it is “impossible to say that Father Jeyapaul does not at present pose a risk to minors.”
Six months later, “Father” Joseph abused a second girl. Five years later, he is still working in his home diocese in India.
What was the “connection” when Father James Poole raped and impregnated Rachel Mike?
In a 2005 deposition, Rachel testified that she had been molested by Father Poole in 1975, while in Nome for her second suicide attempt, an attempted overdose of alcohol and pills. He’d come sit by her bed, put his hand under the hospital blanket, and fondle her, she said.
She traveled between Stebbins and Nome several times in the late 1970s, spending time in hospitals and receiving homes. By 1977, Rachel testified, Poole had given her gonorrhea, and by 1978 she was pregnant with his child. In an interview with The Stranger, she said Poole encouraged her to get an abortion and tell the doctors she had been raped by her father. She followed his advice. “He brainwashed me,” she said. “He messed up my head, man.”
Rachel Mike’s father died in 2004. A year later, she heard Elsie Boudreau, another survivor of Poole’s abuse, being interviewed on the radio. Listening to Boudreau, Rachel was moved to finally tell the truth.
“He’s gone, and I’ll never have a chance to tell him in person,” she said, talking about her father between heaving sobs. “I was scared. In a way he knew, but--he never even touched me.”
“This man,” says Anchorage-based attorney Ken Roosa, referring to Poole, “has left a trail of carnage behind him.”
Mind you Poole was only one of many predatory priests the church shipped of to Alaska, to prey upon the native population there, in what The Stranger called “The Pedophile’s Paradise.”
Father James Poole’s story is not an isolated case in Alaska. On the morning of January 14 in Seattle, Ken Roosa and a small group Alaska Natives stood on the sidewalk outside Seattle University to announce a new lawsuit against the Jesuits, claiming a widespread conspiracy to dump pedophile priests in isolated Native villages where they could abuse children off the radar.
“They did it because there was no money there, no power, no police,” Roosa said to the assembled cameras and microphones. “It was a pedophile’s paradise.” He described a chain of poor Native villages where priests--many of them serial sex offenders--reigned supreme. “We are going to shine some light on a dark and dirty corner of the Jesuit order.”
…The suit, filed in the superior court of Bethel, Alaska, the day before, accuses several priests of being offenders and conspirators. Among the alleged conspirators is Father Stephen Sundborg, who is the current president of Seattle University and was Provincial of the Oregon Province of Jesuits from 1990 through 1996. (The Oregon Province includes Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska; as Provincial, Sundborg was head of the entire province.) The suit alleges that while Sundborg was head of the Northwest Jesuits, he had access to the personnel files of several pedophile priests, including one named Father Henry Hargreaves, whom he allowed to remain in the ministry. “As a direct result of Father Sundborg’s decision,” the suit alleges, “Father Hargreaves was able to continue molesting children, including but not limited to James Doe 94, who was raped by Father Hargreaves in 1992, when James Doe was approximately 6 years old.”
…This concentration of abuses is orders of magnitude greater than Catholic sex-abuse cases in other parts of the United States. Today, Roosa said, there are 17,000 Catholics in the diocese of Fairbanks, though there was a much smaller number during the peak of the abuse. Roosa compared this lawsuit to the famous Los Angeles suits of 2001, which claimed 550 victims of abuse in a Catholic population of 3.4 million.
These abusers in Alaska, Wall said, were specifically sent to Alaska “to get them off the grid, where they could do the least amount of damage” to the church’s public image.
This is an institution that, yet, wants to influence policy. It tried to use health care reform in this country to further restrict women’s access to safe, legal abortion -- a “pro-life” posture and penchant for protecting the “pre-born” perversely at odds with decades-old policies of placing pedophile priests in parishes with plenty potential new victims.
It was so opposed to my family having the protection of legal marriage that it threatened to cease caring for the sick, the hungry and homeless in D.C., while yet protecting priests who prey upon children and inflict immeasurable damage on lives this institution claims to be so concerned about -- at least, in-utero.
As a parent it is my duty to protect my children, and it is one I take very seriously. I would never knowingly put my children in harm’s way. The church, however, has done so as a matter of policy for decades, but assumes it has the moral authority to judge my fitness as a parent and an equal citizen.
It assumes the moral authority to judge me as less fit to be a parent than any of the parents above, solely because I am a gay man in a committed, loving marriage with another man.
The church would deny my fatherhood, yet it protects men who assume the title “father” while raping children -- men much like the parents mentioned above.
Yet it clings to a notion that it still has, and should still have, overwhelming moral authority to which people everywhere should listen.
Instead of listening, we are watching. I am watching. And the difference between the church and the child-rapists above is growing harder and harder to see.