Skip to comments.Documents, Including Letter To Ratzinger, Sought In Priest Sex Abuse Lawsuit
Posted on 05/19/2010 8:30:24 AM PDT by TSgt
Attorneys for the Diocese of Norwich are trying to keep secret hundreds of documents including a letter written to the pope when he was a cardinal that discussed the status of a priest accused of molesting more than a dozen young girls.
The letter from Bishop Michael Cote to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in April 2005 concerned "canonical processes" regarding Thomas W. Shea, a retired priest accused of molesting as many as 16 girls at 11 different parishes during a nearly 40-year career, according to court records.
The letter is one of more than 600 documents that the diocese is trying to keep secret in a lawsuit pending in Superior Court in Hartford that alleges that Shea sexually molested a 12-year-old girl, identified as Jane Doe, while he was at St. Joseph's Church in New London in 1976.
The list of documents is included in a motion filed by New London Attorney Robert Reardon, who is representing Jane Doe. Reardon wants Judge Mitchell K. Berger to look at all the documents, including the letter to the pope, to see if they should be turned over to him.
Court records do not show whether Ratzinger ever responded to Cote's concerns. Shea died in 2006 in a West Hartford nursing home, still a priest in good standing.
Diocese of Norwich spokesman Michael Strammiello said Monday that he had "no idea" what the bishop could have written in a note that is now 5 years old.
"This is a confidential matter and it will have to be addressed in court," Strammiello said.
As a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI headed the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which is the office that decides whether accused priests should get church trials called canonical trials that could eventually lead to their being defrocked. He was in that post from 1981 to 2005.
The pope has come under criticism recently for a similar case in Wisconsin, in which a bishop there sent him a letter seeking to have a priest accused of molesting deaf children defrocked. But a church trial never occurred after the accused priest wrote a letter to Ratzinger asking him not to go forward with the trial.
The documents in Wisconsin were unsealed by a judge despite efforts by the diocese there to keep them secret.
Doe was 12-years-old when she first met Shea, who was a priest at St. Joseph's Church in New London in 1976, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges that Shea identified her as a child in need of help so he started paying attention to her and "conditioned her to comply with his directions."
"Father Shea sexually assaulted and battered the plaintiff by kissing her on the lips, touching and fondling her and committing other acts of sexual assault," the lawsuit said.
In court Monday on other legal issues regarding the case, Reardon said the abuse went much farther and that Shea forced her to perform oral sex on him.
Reardon said Shea gained the trust of the 12-year-old girl who just followed his instructions when he told her to "provide the Father with oral sex because he's had a tough day."
The lawsuit claims that church officials were well aware of Shea's behavior but assigned him to St. Joseph's anyway. Shea had been on a "sick leave" from 1973 to 1975 before he was placed at St. Joseph's, records show.
Shea was ordained a priest in 1946 and served in several parishes throughout the diocese, mostly in the New London area. Shea admitted as far back as 1953 that he had kissed a girl from his parish and taken photos of her in a bathing suit, according to court records.
The lawsuit alleges that the Diocese of Norwich concealed the results of an internal investigation that determined that Shea had fondled other young girls and had been sent for treatment. By keeping it secret, the diocese "allowed Shea to continue using her as a sex object" the lawsuit alleges.
As part of the initial discovery, Reardon subpoenaed Shea's personnel records. The diocese's attorneys turned over 405 pages from Shea's file, but refused to turn over 661 pages that they claim are "privileged."
Besides the letter to the pope, other documents that the church is trying to keep sealed include letters from St. Luke's Institute in Maryland, memos concerning Thomas Shea's treatment in the mid-1980s and evidence that the church received complaints about Shea's inappropriate behavior as far back as 1965. St. Luke's Institute was a place that church officials sent priests accused of sexual misconduct for treatment.
Church records show that Shea was transferred all over the diocese and put on sick leave at least twice after complaints from parishioners about inappropriate behavior with young girls.
Reardon is using the church's actions in the Shea case to try an unusual legal tactic alleging that the church, the bishops and other church leaders were in effect running a racketeering enterprise by concealing crimes from civil authorities.
Another ignored letter by Ratzinger
Wow, that's some reading comprehension you have.
BTW, go ahead and change the subject.
I see the article builds on the lies and misconceptions about the Wisconsin case to bolster its own vague and unproven claims. And to scream fact and evidence when all there is allegations and suppositions.
Can you not make any distinction between the same? And you most certainly do not have any evidence to suggest any sort of cover up. And by declaring so you are acting with infamy.
1. A move that will be applauded by many FROman Catholics.
2. Girls? I thought the child abuse issue was a homosexual issue. (In spite of repeated evidence to contrary.
Brace yourselves for the usual bombastic ad homs and strawmen such as:
a. This is all an attack on Rome.
b. This is persecution and further proof that Rome is the one true church.
c. Any Prod who dares to question Rome and it's handling of the CHILD ABUSE scandal is bigoted and just plain spiteful.
And you know that, how, exactly?
John Jay report said 81% of the victims were males. What's your "repeated evidence to the contrary"?
You are correct! This is exactly what Ratzinger did!
It’s a valid supposition based on previous behavior.
Do you have evidenced that it was not ignored?
It's not a homosexual issue. FROman Catholics seem to take great joy in making it sound like it is, but 19% are YOUNG GIRLS.
The issue is:
-The Roman Catholic Church ordains homosexuals.
-The Roman Catholic Church ordains child molesters.
-When confronted with the above, The Roman Catholic Church just moves the CHILD MOLESTING PRIESTS on to unsuspecting a parish where they start anew.
Now, considering that priests have molested BOYS and GIRLS do you REALLY think it matters to those boys, girls and their parents if they were molested by a homosexual or a priest who was ENABLED TO MOLEST CHILDREN BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH?
That seems to be ROMAN CATHOLIC DOCTRINE when it comes to CHILD ABUSE!
Maybe if Roman Catholics paid more attention ya’ll wouldn’t be in this mess right now!
The previous behavior that you cannot seem to prove.
Do you have evidenced that it was not ignored?
That's not the way it works, bud. You are making the accusation so show the evidence. The burden is on you.
Perhaps we should ask the Diocese of Norwich?
Wait, they won’t turn over the letters and other related documents.
I wonder why if Ratzinger is innocent?
Simple question: what is wrong with you?
Maybe since Catholics have provided the ultimate target for the enemies of God in the Pope, they get the most concentrated assaults.
But people who condemn the church and not the individual, flawed humans who struggle like everyone else, need to understand they're being used by the forces who despise God.
YOPD = Your Own Personal Diocese.
So thanks for posting this thread. Pitiful so many Roman Catholics' reaction is to "ignore" the truth. No wonder this keeps happening.
Wonderful circular reference of you.
I wonder why if Ratzinger is innocent?
Some FReeper you are that doesn't believe in the 4th Amendment.
The lies and misconceptions (I should have said twisting of the truth as well) in the Wisconsin case reporting have been well documented by numerous sources which have been linked and/or posted on Free Republic numerous times.
If there are no statistics showing comparisons of Catholic "crimes and cover-ups" to other religions and the general population, that's proof this entire issue is bogus and carried out by atheist haters of God.
Well the truth will out if a court orders them to turnover the requested records.
I’d like to know how the article I linked to relates to this article.
So If I am sued in a civil suit and am innocent I should just provide all and any documentation the other party requests because I have nothing to hide, right? Is that your logic?
Have you read Ratzinger's 2001 letter which reaffirmed Crimen Sollicitationis and went even further in instructing everyone, the victim, parents, friends, priests, everyone involved NOT to go to the police with their accusations, under threat of excommunication?
The pope is not "the ultimate target for the enemies of God."
With the exposure of these crimes, he looks more like what he's going to be -- a defendant in ermine and Prada shoes.
Unless he again pleads "diplomatic immunity," in which case he may walk like all those who hide behind their couture.
Here’s a recent example from the same media outlet:
Former Conn youth minister sentenced to 6 years
A 32-year-old former youth minister in Monroe has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl he was counseling. Esarey had been youth minister at Stepney Baptist Church until his arrest in November, 2008.
I never stated that Catholics or any other faith or group abused more than others. It’s the systemic cover-up that plagues the church.
The article quotes the Diocesian attorney as saying it is for the courts to decide and I agree.
From the article, to clarify my response.
“”This is a confidential matter and it will have to be addressed in court,” Strammiello said.
Well it seems a court disagrees with you because if it did it wouldn’t be in court.
Paging Alex Murphy.
It's fairly alarming that anyone who thinks pederast priests should be jailed is now assumed to be an "atheist hater of God."
Your posts have ratcheted up the dialogue considerably.
Yes it is mainly a homosexual abuse issue. But pederast are notorius for having a large victim count. So one pederast can have a greater number of victims than say a homosexual who forms an obsession, abusive relationship with an adolescent(s). This means you can have fewer perpetrators but more victims. But the majority of perpetrators were homosexuals preying on post pubescent males.
I don’t have a prob with the Court issuing the order. There are further remedies that Courts can render when discovery isn’t complied with.
How do you place a thread or poster on ignore?
This case is a good example of an assult on a young female.
Then there’s the case of Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, Rev Lucas Antonio Galvan, Rev Eugene Lewis, Rev Brendan Smyth, Rev. Teodoro Baquedano Pech, etc., etc..
All assaults on young females as young as 8 years old.
Thanks for making my point.
Just because this is the Religion Forum doesn't mean we're not supposed to back up our contentions with evidence.
I agree the documents that do not violate either the confidentiality of minor victims or of things learned in the confessional should indeed be released. But not necessarily to the plaintiff’s attorney unless the court has first viewed the documents and found them to be in direct merit to the case.
You have already tried this rediculous argument on other threads and failed.
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