Skip to comments.Priests Accused of Molesting Children Hiding in Plain Sight
Posted on 02/11/2012 10:13:46 AM PST by RnMomof7
Some 200 Catholic priests suspected of sexual abuse are living undetected in communities across California, according to an attorney who represents hundreds of plaintiffs who sued the LA Archdiocese for molestation they say was inflicted on them by priests and clergy of the church.
Ray Boucher has mapped sixty locations where suspect priests live, in cities and towns from northern to southern California, and provided those locations to NBC4 exclusively.
Many if not all these priests have admitted to sexual abuse, Boucher said. They live within a mile of 1,500 playgrounds, schools and daycare centers.
Since none of the priests has actually been convicted of sex abuse, none can be identified under Megans Law, or their whereabouts revealed in related public databases.
What the issue is here, is how you weigh the right of the people, said Boucher, who is also one of the attorneys representing students in the Miramonte Elementary School sex abuse scandal. In particular the right of children to be protected from molestation versus the right of privacy."
Among Bouchers many clients in the church action are Manuel Vega and Dan Smith.
Vega is a former police officer from Oxnard who took special interest in sex crimes investigations because, he says, he was sexually abused as a teenager by his parish priest.
He forced me to masturbate while he took pictures of me, said Vega, who believes that the public is often too squeamish to recognize what child molestation actually entails and thus not properly outraged by it.
When we talk about sexual abuse were talking about sodomy, he said. Theres pubic hair, theres sweat, therere smells, therere grunts.
Dan Smith, another alleged abuse victim, is reeling from the recent collapse of his marriage which he blames in part on the psychological effects of the molestation he says he suffered as a child at the hands of his local parish priest.
He would rape me and then say this is what Gods love feels like, Smith said, struggling to hold back tears more than twenty years after the alleged incidents.
Both men helped make legal history by joining 500 other plaintiffs in suing the LA Archdiocese for sexual molestation, with Boucher as their lead attorney.
In 2007 the LA Archdiocese reached an unprecedented $660 million settlement with many of the plaintiffs without admitting any wrong-doing.
It also agreed to let the courts decide which of the case-related church files should be made public, including those identifying alleged and admitted predators.
But according to Boucher and court documents, the Catholic Church has since engaged in a cover-up. By Bouchers account, Church officials allowed priests suspected of sexually abusing children to retire, flee the country or hide in rehab clinics until the statute of limitations on prosecution ran out.
What the church did is take these guys and send them off to facilities where they treat pedophile priests without ever alerting police, Boucher said. By enabling these priests to be hidden for so many years the church protected them from being prosecuted.
Meanwhile legal disputes delayed the release of the promised personnel files, and Donald Steir, an attorney for several priests, went to court to argue that those whove been accused but no convicted should have their names and privacy protected.
They are being punished as if they have been convicted, or at least thats the desire to punish them, Steir said. Thats not fair.
Its difficult if you represent an alleged terrorist or a pedophile, because people dont really care about the rights [including privacy rights] for these type of people, Steir said. But once we erode the rights of a group of people we dont like, we effectively have started down a path where other peoples rights can be similarly denied.
The courts, expressing concern for children, overruled most of these arguments and similar ones by the Archdiocese, which declined to comment for this story.
And a judge has ordered release of some personnel files, set for some time in the coming weeks. But he also credited the church for its increased sensitivity in dealing with molestation cases and decided to withhold the names of church officials who handled the earlier cases.
It is a ruling that reminds Boucher of the breakdown in accountability in the Penn state pedophile scandal. Look at Penn State and see how important and significant it is when people in authority enable sexual abusers to continue, Boucher said. That underscores how significant it is to get these names out.
Under the judges ruling the church can also keep secret, subject to further court review, the names of priests who have not been convicted and who have only one or two allegations against them or have allegations disputed by the church.
To Smith that seems like a formula for further cover-up by church officials.
If their interests were to protect the kids, they would have released the documents, Smith said. As a parent not knowing who your neighbor is -- that is really scary.
Many of these unidentified priests are included in Bouchers location map.
The danger said Vega, is that you have a person who has this sickness in them who is amongst the children.
The plaintiffs in the church scandal are planning to appeal the latest rulings to assure broader disclosure of suspects names and locations. But Boucher warned this could take time, allowing suspects to keep their privacy protected, as well as their undetected presence in neighborhoods across California.
Facts About Child Abuse
Sexual Abuse of Minors in Protestant Churches
Too often, problem teachers are allowed to leave quietly. That can mean future abuse for another student and another school district.
They might deal with it internally, suspending the person or having the person move on. So their license is never investigated, says Charol Shakeshaft, a leading expert in teacher sex abuse who heads the educational leadership department at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Laws in several states require that even an allegation of sexual misconduct be reported to the state departments that oversee teacher licenses. But theres no consistent enforcement, so such laws are easy to ignore.
School officials fear public embarrassment as much as the perpetrators do, Shakeshaft says. They want to avoid the fallout from going up against a popular teacher. They also dont want to get sued by teachers or victims, and they dont want to face a challenge from a strong union.
Why is it that the defense put forth by Catholics is always others do it too? Does that somehow vindicate the problem with the priests? To be frank, when I see that defense my stomach churns. The insensetivity to the issue is apparent and indicative of the underlying justification of the coverups.
Wow! It sure didn’t take long for the war on religion to begin. Shockingly, NBC has put out an article villifying the Catholic church 1 day after they disagreed with the president. Shocking.
“live within a mile of 1,500 playgrounds, schools and daycare centers.
Holy crap! 1500 per mile? We’ve got too many playgrounds!
it has descended into a witchhunt. This is shown by the rash actions of the LA school district which literally disbanded a school because several teachers were accused of molesting children. Suspicious has becomeguilt as Titus Oates abound in this land of ours.
It's pretty tough to not be within a mile of a playground, school or daycare.
The fact is, there are deviants in all walks of life. The rate is no higher among Catholic priests.
Your hatred of Catholic priests is the really story here.
Yes, that is precisely the point. What Salvation posted was not a "defense" but a refutation of the oft-repeated lie that this is a uniquely Catholic problem and therefore a weapon to be used to attack the Church.
when RnMomof7 posts about (accused) Calvinist pedophiliac ministers hiding in plain sight then I'll think otherwise. Until then it's an excuse to take a cheap shot at Catholicism, as though it were a coherent argument against what the churh teaches.
The rate is no higher for a supposed man of God than for others? Are you listening to what you say? Are you truly saying there is no higher standard for supposed men of God than for any other? My word, I would be ashamed to claim title to that statement.
I stand by my original statement. Instead of outrage or calls for justice I hear the rate is no higher among Catholic priests. Im stunned.
I can assure you that if the leadership of any organization I claimed membership in was found to have committed those atrocities I would not rest until justice was served and they no longer served in the capacity of any form of leadership. If that organization acted in the manner the RCC has I would understand that they did not in any way represent the one true God.
This was only a matter of time. And, gee, guess from where? Again, vague numbers, no convictions, no vetting of accusers, but, myohmy, lotsa umbrage. Meanwhile, its “newsworthiness” is nearly five years old!
Agreed. I don’t think there’s any more heinous crime than molestation unless it’s abortion.
Yet—despite numerous cases of recanters (Bernadin is just the most famous), no one ever seems to think that the accusers may be lying. It’s Duke LAX all over again. And that’s supposedly why we have courts. The Church ‘settles’ on many of these because of the scandal involved. I think that’s understandable. What isn’t understandable OR forgivable, for me, is accepting monetary settlements if you’ve got a decent case for conviction, or if all you’re really concerned about is the monetary settlement. If you’ve got a real case, adjudicate; don’t prostitute yourselves. Yes, I’m blaming the so-called victims, too. If these “victims” truly were molested and were truly concerned about other children, they’d prosecute, and jail the bastards. None of these plaintiffs apparently took that route.
You don't know that at all...The only ones you are aware of are those who the Vatican wasn't able to hide in time...
What happened in the Church was heinous. So is the abuse that takes place outside it. One thing the Church has done is to take steps to protect children, whereas most schools and other denominations have not gone to the great lengths many parishes and dioceses have done.
You can't win if you're Catholic based on the threads I've read here today. We're apparently defending child molesters if we show loyalty to the priesthood. We're accused of laying down on the adoption issue if we run out of legal options. Our bishops are accused of supporting socialized medicine even though the USCCB opposed Obamacare (advocacy for universal access isn't necessarily advocacy for government control). They're accused of cozying up for government money (Were Catholic hospitals supposed to discriminate against Medicare/Medicaid patients? Or display poor stewardship by turning down resources intended to defray the cost of meeting government mandates in the first place?)
Right now CATHOLIC BISHOPS are taking enormous heat for standing up for the right of each and every American to be FREE OF COERCION from the latest Obamacare mandate. And still, it's not enough. I guess some folks find Catholic bashing good sport :( Makes me even more grateful for the protestant leaders and laity (of all faiths and no faith) who've chosen to stand beside us.