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posted by awelborn

From Portland

Seventy-nine-year-old Marvel Kunkle is going to court, and she’s not happy about it.

Kunkle, a self-described "cradle Catholic," has attended St. Peter Catholic Church in west Eugene for 40 years. Because she’s among the 390,000 Catholics who live in Western Oregon, she’s also a defendant in the Archdiocese of Portland’s bankruptcy case.

In a legal maneuver, the archdiocese in July listed all 390,000 parishioners as class-action defendants in the bankruptcy filing, made last year as the church struggled to respond to more than 200 claims of sexual abuse by priests.

Kunkle and every other local Catholic has until Monday to formally "opt out" of the class action. But few have, in part because of a Catch-22: Attorneys for alleged abuse victims have said they probably will name any parishioner who opts out as an individual defendant.

What a wretched, wretched situation, at every turn.



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Tan2Day

posted September 30, 2005 at 10:57 am


Why does this one upset you so?
The gameplan has ALWAYS been for you to STAY-PRAY-PAY.
So, you CAN stay, and pay, this just clarifies what the extent of that really means.
In Boston, your churches are being sold, so the boys in red silk can continue.
In Canada, one ENTIRE DIOCESE, churches, chancellory, schools, and even the playgrounds were LIQUIDATED to pay for the red silkers mistakes.
In fact, this was anticipated, and God put the warning into scripture, but of course, reading and following the bible, is NEVER an option when dealing with the clergy, and the way they operate.
Pe 2:3
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

Now, NOTE here, who put the Catholics into the liguidation pot. It was NOT the courts, but the red silk crowd themselves.



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Celine

posted September 30, 2005 at 10:58 am


So parishioners are parties to Church bankruptcy, but have no authority over the management or the management of finances? This gives new meaning to the old aphorism describing the role of the laity as those who are supposed to just “pray, pay, and obey.” Something more is at issue here than mere financial bankruptcy.



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Wilma Tyndale

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:06 am


So these bishops have put the personal assets of their own parishioners up on the chopping block? What is wrong with these folks to sit there and take this? They must be a bunch of masochists, to let Bishop Wolf in Sheeps Clothing put their personal assets up on the chopping block. Maybe when their home has been sold from underneath them so it could pay off another suit and their wages get garnished, maybe theyll finally wake up. For now they are a bunch of patsies clueless to the fact that any bishop who would put his parishioners personal assets up for his screw-ups is NOT ON THEIR SIDE.
What has happened to Catholics? Are they so deferential to authority that they cant even think for themselves in even defending their own assets. Some may say oh, it never could go that far, their finances arent at risk. YES LEGALLY THEY ARE.



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Ken

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:07 am


Kunkle and every other local Catholic has until Monday to formally “opt out” of the class action. But few have, in part because of a Catch-22: Attorneys for alleged abuse victims have said they probably will name any parishioner who opts out as an individual defendant.
The same logic as a family blood feud: “If you’re Not With Me 1000%, you’re ONE OF THEM! DIE, ENEMY!”



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Dan Crawford

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:12 am


Prelates and lawyers – now there’s a lethal combination.



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Michaelus

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:31 am


This is like making all the electric consumers in California become defendants in the Enron fraud case.



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Jeremy Rich

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:37 am


Is it me, or does this seem completely insane?
How can you charge an individual parishoner in a lawsuit like this? Will lawyers track down people who have left a parish in this area to see if they can sue them? Can people listed as members who rarely attend be sued, or will they have an opportunity to deny being Catholics?
Why I am thinking church lawyers never notified the ordinary church-goers about this move?
Heaven help us.



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Zhou De-Ming

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:50 am


It is not only parishioners.
But also all donors.
You could be living in Canada, but made a donation to some parish or school in the Archdiocese of Portland, and that would make you a defendant.
Notice of Class Action.

On July 22, 2005, the Bankruptcy Court certified a class of defendants composed of parishioners and donors. The notification states:
If you are or were a member of a parish or if you have made gifts, donations, and/or tithes to or for the benefit of any of the 124 parishes located within the territory of the Debtor, which is west of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon (“the Territory”) your rights as a parishioner (as well as the rights of the parish) may be affected by the Bankruptcy Case and the Lawsuit.
The lawsuit has one defendant class composed of two sub-classes. One sub-class includes all parishes with their schools and missions. The second sub-class consists of parishioners and donors. Three Catholic high schools: Central Catholic in Portland, Regis in Stayton, and Marist in Eugene are not named in this class action, but the schools are part of the property dispute litigation. Archbishop John G. Vlazny wrote to parishioners in June, “We have steadfastly maintained that parish property and parish money belong to the individual parishes and are not available to pay creditors of the Archdiocese. After many months, it has been determined that parishes, along with parishioners, will have a voice in the proceedings as part of a class that is to be certified.”
The Notice summarizes the issue involved in the lawsuit:
The issue in this Lawsuit is whether parish churches, schools and certain funds, defined below as the Disputed Property, are available to pay claims against the Debtor. The Debtor contends those assets are not available to pay claims against the Debtor.
The Notice of Class Action answers a number of questions parishioners may have concerning the lawsuit. The question: WILL I HAVE TO PAY ANY MONEY IF THE CLASS LOSES ALL OR A PART OF THE LAWSUIT? is answered: “Under no circumstances will you as a class member be liable for the payment of any money solely as a result of being a member of the class.”

From the bishop’s January 3, 2005 letter, displaying impeccable timing:

Within the next few days, you will receive a special mailing of the notice of claims bar date in the Archdiocese of Portland’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. This notice advises anyone with a claim against the Archdiocese of the last date to file the claim.
First of all I want to assure you that you are not being singled out. The Chapter 11 proceedings require widespread actual notice of the claims bar date. Thus, this mailing is being sent to each household on the Archdiocese’s list for all the parishes and missions, as well as to alumni in certain of the high schools and to others. …
Chapter 11 proceedings or not, the gospel still calls us as a Catholic people to carry on and to share Christ’s saving message. We still need to be faithful to preaching the Word of God, carrying out the works of mercy, and yes, bringing healing and reconciliation. That is my task as your Archbishop; that is your task as a Catholic and a Christian; and that is our task together
This month many will also be receiving notice of the 2005 Archbishop’s Annual Catholic Appeal. It is precisely those ministries of evangelization and help that the Annual Appeal supports which are still at the heart of our mission as followers of Jesus Christ. To be true to Christ, we must still carry on those essential ministries. That is what the Annual Appeal is all about; that is the cause to which every cent of the appeal is dedicated.
The demands on the Church in Western Oregon in our time are unique. They are definitely our challenge: to bring the light of Christ’s healing and help to some dark deeds of the past and to bring healing and reconciliation to hurting people in the present….
Please pray fervently that both you and I will be up to this challenge.

Pray. Pay. Obey.



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dave

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:54 am


it is a sad state of affairs but this might wake up much of the laity to the hooro of the sex bause scandal that bishops should be held accountable and start going to jail for their complicity in the cover up.



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Tom

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:57 am


This is so bizzare and pathetic and unjust. To think that a parishoner could be sued individually for something they had no part in is repulsive regardless of the “legalities.”



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Tom Kelty

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:59 am


“Power tends to corrupt. Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.” The Bishops and other prelates are just as prone to error and stupidity as often as they presume to legislate and opinionate without input from the faithful. We (the non-ordained) have been far too willing for too long to trust them to do the right thing. If there is one lesson to be learned from the monumental mess created by the clergy sex abuse scandal it is that transparency and total accountability are needed at every level in governing the church. As the hymn says,”Awake from your slumber, Arise from your sleep, A new day is dawning, For all those who weep….” We have abundant reasons to weep.



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Patrick Rothwell

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:06 pm


“For now they are a bunch of patsies clueless to the fact that any bishop who would put his parishioners personal assets up for his screw-ups is NOT ON THEIR SIDE.”
I see no evidence that is true. As I understand it, the parishioners as a class are interested parties because the Archdiocese is arguing in part that the assets of the parish are held in trust for the benefit of the parishioners of the diocese, meaning that the plaintiffs won’t get their hands on the parishes. It certainly does not mean that individual parishioners have to pony up money to pay for sex abuse settlements. But I can see why being named as an interested party in a bankruptcy proceeding would scare people.



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marie

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:21 pm


This is a bit hysterical. Anyone who opted out would be named in an individual suit? I find that hard to believe. What is the likelihood of success of such a suit? Why would a plaintiff’s lawyer waste time on something that would be thrown out of court immediately? It would be like suing an individual shareholder of CocaCola because you had a claim against the company. Remember, it was the bishop who decided to list the parishioners as a reminder of who’ll be paying the bills. It’s kind of a pathetic ploy to turn public opinion against the claimants and their lawyers, but it doesn’t in any way endanger the personal assets of individual parishioners as far as I can see. Is there something I’m missing here?



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bruce cole

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:23 pm


“Attorneys for alleged abuse victims have said they probably will name any parishioner who opts out as an individual defendant.”
I wonder what the reporter’s source for that is? Shame on any lawyer for victims who said that; quadruple-shame if that is just a scare tactic on the part of the Archdiocese of Portland. Could anyone out there enlighten us?
Not-so-incidentally, I lived in the Archdiocese of Portland most of my life (happily removed to Maryland seven years ago)and was a member of several parishes. Am I “liable”? Part of that time I lived in Eugene, was a member of St. Mary’s parish there, and have known Fr. Tom Yurchak, the pastor if St. Jude’s, who is featured in the article for, well, decades.



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:24 pm


This is a logical consequence of holding the whole Church responsible for the crimes of individuals. It does not happen in the public schools when teachers abuse and school administrators facilitate and it should not happen in the Church. But no one gives a damn about this legal double standard so have fun in court!



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marie

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:40 pm


A school district that knowingly puts a child abuser in the classroom most definitely can be sued. And even if the district thinks its clever to name all the taxpayers as defendants in order to advertise who’ll be paying any award, the taxpayers would have no individual liability.



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dicax

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:41 pm


Is the claim that the parishes and their assets belong to the parishoners correct under canon law? I thought the local bishop was a “corporation sole”, who technically owned all property in the diocese?



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Tan2Day

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:43 pm


AGAIN…
Stop. Think.
WHO put the parishioners names UP FOR GRABS?
It was NOT the court, it was NOT the creditors, it was NOT the victims, it was NOT the greedy lawyers!
YOU were ADDED, by your OWN BISHOPS.
Sheesh. They decided to involve the innocent parishioners to HELP THEMSELVES out. By adding you, they elected to use YOU to gain sympathy for themselves.
Sheesh. Get it right, for once would you all. YOUR leaders think you are chattel, good for shaking down, and expendable canon fodder in thier quest for power, adulation, glory, and perversions.
You MIGHT want to reread WHOM should be clergy again, after all, ST PAUL was very very clear about WHY certain types of men were fit for leadership, and why OTHERS are not.
2Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Sound familiar …. NOW??



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tk

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:44 pm


Well, I guess I won’t be registering at my new parish. It looks like I will be giving cash, not checks.
A big, hearty THANK YOU to these idiots!



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Mover Mike

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:56 pm


The Portland Archdiocese Is Nuts

Hat Tip to Amy Welborn:
(Marvel) Kunkle, a self-described “cradle Catholic,” has attended St. Peter Catholic Church in west Eugene (Oregon) for 40 years. Because she’s among the 390,00…



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:56 pm


‘A school district that knowingly puts a child abuser in the classroom most definitely can be sued.’
Nope.



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ben

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:56 pm


This should make all of the “we are Church” types happy though shouldn’t it?



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:59 pm


‘WHO put the parishioners names UP FOR GRABS? It was NOT the court, it was NOT the creditors, it was NOT the victims, it was NOT the greedy lawyers! YOU were ADDED, by your OWN BISHOPS.’
Whenever the Church has to pay large sums–more than a billion so far–it comes out of parishioner’s pockets. Courts have long ago decided that parishioners are responsible for the crimes of individuals who have nothing to do with them. A unique situation? Sure is. It doesn’t happen in any other sector of society.



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MS

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:17 pm


“A school district that knowingly puts a child abuser in the classroom most definitely can be sued.”
Marie, certainly anyone can bring a lawsuit against the district, but that lawsuit would just be thrown out. In Texas, at least, the state supreme court has upheld tort law many times. School districts are only successfully sued when someone can prove civil rights violations. It’s a pretty sick situation as well.



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Shaun G

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:20 pm


Let me see if I can sum this up clearly, because the way I’m reading it, this doesn’t sound nearly as sensational as people are making it:
The reason individual parishioners and donors are named in the class-action suit is because the diocese is arguing that the assets of each parish are owned by the parishes themselves, not the diocese.
The assets in dispute are those already held by parishes, such as the church property or donations.
Therefore, if the abuse victims were to win the suit, the most any individual parishioner or donor named in the suit would be liable for is the money they’ve already given to the church.
Does that sound right? And if so, although it would be unfortunate that a parish would have to give up its assets, wouldn’t each individual parishioner’s legal burden be, in effect, a “sunk cost”?



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Desert Chatter

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:21 pm


Bishops disdain the individual protection afforded by nonprofit corporations because nonprofit corporations are regulated by laws and bishops don’t like to be constrained by laws. They like to do whatever they please, unconstrained by civil laws. So they choose forms of governance that give them maximum control and expose all of their flock to financial ruin.
Good shepherds, huh?



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Patrick Rothwell

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:39 pm


“Therefore, if the abuse victims were to win the suit, the most any individual parishioner or donor named in the suit would be liable for is the money they’ve already given to the church.”
Except in highly unusual circumstances, I believe that this is right.



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Gene Humphreys

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:42 pm


Shaun (and others),
I think Shaun is right here.
I have not read the underlying filings, but it appears that parishoners and donors are being named because parish assets are at stake. Also, since parishoners will receive a notice of the bar date to file a claim in the Diocese’s bankruptcy, the Diocese is attempting to discharge all claims of parishoners. For example, if some parish assets are taken to pay the claims of victims, the parishoners’s claims against the Diocese for mismanagement, etc., would be discharged in the bankruptcy.
I don’t see any evidence that individual parishoners are at risk for having to pony up their individual assets.



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Charles

posted September 30, 2005 at 2:14 pm


Parishoners’ personal assets aren’t being put at risk.
I’m pretty sure this is what’s going on here:
The case involves the legal issue: Are parish assets (eg- the church building, the school, the checking account) appropriable to satisfy claims against the Archdiocese of Portland?, or more simply, can the authorities take parish assets to pay off people who win sex abuse lawsuits against the Archdiocese?
The Archdiocese is arguing “no.” Presumably parishoners would also argue “no.” That’s why parishoners and donors can be joined with the Archdiocese as defendants. They’re on the same side in this case. “Defendants” is a scare word here. Parishoners are not defending themselves against criminal charges or their personal pocketbooks against being emptied. They’re defending the proposition that parish assets are not appropriable, not able to be used to pay off these lawsuits.
The court isn’t going to let that proposition be defended a million different times and ways in a million different court cases. That’s why it let everyone be joined together in this class action. People can mount their own defense, chip in their two cents, independently of the Archdiocese’s representatives, but they have to let the court know they’re going to do that (by “opting out”) and then the court will make arrangements for them to be heard.
So there’s nothing for any parishoners or donors to fear. No legal liability, anyway. I do think they’re being jerked around by their betters.
One more point. Where do people get “pray, pay, and obey” from? I see “pay” here, but little evidence that the Archdiocese is asking anyone to pray or to obey. They’re merely holding the Sacraments hostage. They’re the only ones who can licitly give them to Portlandians and they won’t unless they’re financially supported.



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Simon

posted September 30, 2005 at 2:28 pm


I am GLAD the Archdiocese added the names of individual parishioners and donors, though I can certainly understand how some of them (thanks in part to misleading articles like the one above) might be alarmed by it.
None of the parishioners are being exposed to personal liability in any way from this notice. What the Archdiocese is simply saying to the court is, in effect:
“These plaintiffs can’t just take away parish and school property because they may have a claim against the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese holds legal authority over these properties on behalf of hundreds of thousands of parishioners and donors — all of whom have a vested interest in any such claim.”
That position is CORRECT. For purposes of this point (only), I don’t give a whack what kind of wrongs the clergy and hierarchy of Portland may or may not have committed. In our legal system, a plaintiff’s lawyer ought not to have any basis for attempting to seize and liquidate Catholic schools, church buildings or other properties to compensate abuse victims for harm committed by priests or bishops unrelated to those properties. No such claim would have been entertained by any serious court until the past few years, but the legitimate, righteous anger over the abuse scandal has now created a climate of ignorant hysteria on all issues relating to the Catholic Church.
This is all about greed, folks. And for once we’re not talking about greed by the hierarchy or clergy. It’s the greed of rapacious and unjust plaintiff’s lawyers. The fact that the lawyers may have gotten into this ought of a desire to redress great evils (giving them the full benefit of the doubt) does not alter the fact that what they are attempting here is also a great evil.
I could deploy some choicer words for the plaintiffs lawyers here, but Amy runs a family-friendly blog.



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Charles R. Williams

posted September 30, 2005 at 2:29 pm


Somebody should just tell Mrs. Kunkle to relax.
This is a lot of ignorant hysteria over nothing.
‘A school district that knowingly puts a child abuser in the classroom most definitely can be sued.’
The state can only be sued when the state permits itself to be sued. This is known as sovereign immunity.
This is why a school district that took a known, legal, environmentally sound toxic waste dump (Love Canal) under eminent domain and build a school on top of it was never sued for their idiocy.



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mark j

posted September 30, 2005 at 2:36 pm


So I’m not a lawyer, but if the consensus in the last few posts is correct, why are the alleged victims’ lawyers threatening to individually sue any parishioners who opt out? Is there any legal grounds for such a suit?
I would not be shocked at all if it’s just a vindictive anti-Catholic threat, just curious.



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Mike Petrik

posted September 30, 2005 at 2:41 pm


I confess that I live my faith largely by (i) praying constantly, (ii) paying my tithe to my Church, and (iii) obeying the commands of God and his Church. I honestly have no problem with this. I feel bad that so many others do.



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Simon

posted September 30, 2005 at 2:45 pm


Because the Archdiocese is arguing (correctly, in my view) that all parishioners have an interest in preserving parish and school property, the plaintiffs lawyers would need to add those parishioners as parties to the case.
It’s little more than a legal formality and won’t expose the parishioners individually to liability. But as you can see from the article that started this thread, they are not above using scare tactics to make the Archdiocese look bad in the court of public opinion, thereby increasing the pressure for a more lucrative settlement.



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Charles

posted September 30, 2005 at 2:52 pm


Mark J:
“Threatening to sue any parishoner who opts out” sounds scarier than it is. There are these assets out there. Millions of dollars’ worth of parish property. Lots of people claim or conceivably could claim ownership of these assets. The Archbishop. The parishoners. Donors. Pope Benedict. Pastors. People to whom the Archdiocese owes or could owe money, such as people suing the Archdiocese because a Portland priest molested them and such as the local office supplies store who delivers post-it notes on credit. This is just about deciding who has a legitimate claim to what. Deciding that is in everyone’s best interests. “Suing those who opt out” just means they’re gonna decide the validity of everyone’s claims to the disputed assets. “Suing” doesn’t mean they’re attacking anyone, just that they’re bringing them into the suit, into the judicial process that will determine who has a right to what.



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bruce cole

posted September 30, 2005 at 2:54 pm


My question still hasn’t been answered (and I am NOT pre-judging the answer): have plaintiff’s lawyers really been the source of this threat? Can a reader of Open Book in Oregon shed light?



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marie

posted September 30, 2005 at 3:40 pm


‘A school district that knowingly puts a child abuser in the classroom most definitely can be sued.’
Yep. And successfully so.
A quick review of recent cases indicates that the gig may be up for school districts under federal law despite their immunity from some state claims:
Doe A. v. Green, 2004 WL 51004 (D. Nev. January 2, 2004): A Nevada federal district court has ruled that a school district can be held liable under Title IX for teacher-on-student sexual abuse even where the student had denied that inappropriate sexual conduct took place.
Doe v. Warren Consolidated Schools, 2003 WL 23315570 (E.D.Mich. February 13, 2003): A federal district court in Michigan has ruled that Warren Consolidated Schools can be held liable for teacher-on-student sexual harassment under both § 1983 and Title IX where school administrators were aware of the teacher’s long history of sexual misconduct with female students and failed to take any action to prevent him from having contact with students.



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 4:34 pm


State schools have immunity from prosecution under law. For example, in the Doe v. Warren Consolidated Schools case:
‘The girls’ parents sued the district and several district officials, alleging liability under § 1983 for violation of the students’ due process rights, for sexual harassment under Title IX, and for several state law claims. The district court found that state law provides immunity to the district and its officials from the state law claims. It rejected the officials’ defense of qualified immunity to the § 1983 due process claim but dismissed the claim against them under Title IX, which can only be enforced against the district. Addressing the due process claim against the school district, the court concluded that a reasonable jury could conclude that the mounting evidence that Mr. Kearly was a pedophile was well known to district officials and the district’s continued inaction constituted a “custom of inaction.” Turning to the Title IX claim, the court concluded that the evidence was sufficient for a jury to find that district officials with authority to address the sexual abuse had actual knowledge that Mr. Kearly posed a substantial risk to students and were deliberately indifferent to the danger.’
(http://www.nsba.org/site/doc_cosa.asp?TRACKID=&VID=50&CID=459&DID=33588)
The default position of the law is that public schools are not liable, and anyone who does attempt to sue a school must get a court to move away from this default position. This is why the federal court had to rule that the school district can be held liable.
By the way the family had to sue for ‘sexual harassment’ under TITLE IX EDUCATIONAL AMENDMENTS OF 1972!(http://www.dol.gov/oasam/regs/statutes/titleix.htm)
Essentially they had to argue that a sort of sexual discrimination occurred because this is the only way that the state schools can be held liable. Liability for such cases is an unintended and unforseen consequence of the state making itself liable for discrimination.



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Woodeene

posted September 30, 2005 at 4:35 pm


I’m from Oregon and the article is from my local paper. I don’t see any more attribution than appears here. It has appeared several times in print, always without specific attribution.
I must admit that things like this don’t make a person feel really really generous about contributing to the Church, knowing the money will go directly to line lawyer’s pockets.



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HerbEly

posted September 30, 2005 at 5:02 pm


A Question for our Catholic Bishops

With shepherds like this, who needs wolves?In a legal maneuver, the archdiocese in July listed all 390,000 parishioners as class-action defendants in the bankruptcy filing, made last year as the church struggled to respond to more than 200 claims of



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marie

posted September 30, 2005 at 7:21 pm


I don’t know what the point of your last post was reluctant penitent. I thought I made clear in my last post that the cases I referred to were based on federal law.



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alicia

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:00 pm


I have a question for the legal beagles here. My husband and I were once members of a parish in Eugene OR – registered and tithing members. We left OR in 2000 – but it looks like we are still a member of the class in this class action litigation. Is this true? and, if so, how the heck are they going to find us (and others like us) to give us the proper notification? Or does that not really matter?



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Anne

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:04 pm


I’m from Oregon too, Portland to be specific, and I’ve been following the various twists and turns of this case for some time so I think I know enough to say all the blame being tossed around is somewhat ungrounded, or at least confused.
The Portland archdiocese has argued from the beginning that parishes, parishioners and parish monies should be kept out of the bankruptcy case, and the Vatican supports that position. Which is where the class action suit comes in.
When the judge ruled the case to be a “class action,” it gave parishes,parishioners and donors (volunteers have come forward to represent the various groups)an opportunity to defend themselves against liability in the property litigation suit against the archdiocese (and state of Oregon, which is ironically being sued along with the archdiocese in a couple of the bigger cases.
IOW, it’s not necessarily a bad thing…under the circumstances.
Very complicated. But I hope this clarifies matters a bit.
Anne



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:24 pm


marie,
The point is that the law–federal and state–protects public schools from prosecution.



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Wilma Tyndale

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:52 pm


Excuses, endless excuses for wicked men who have no qualms about hanging people out to dry…Wonder how many old ladies are now shaking in their shoes, wondering if their life savings and houses are going to be seized? Again lets go to the Bible and see what you are dealing with here—-
Mat 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:56 pm


My point is not that other institutions ought to be held responsible for the wrongdoing of individuals. I do not think that parents ought to pay for the sins of teachers and school administrators. But I also do not think that the Church should pay for the crimes of individual priests and bishops. Schools are protected from that kind of liability with good reason.



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 10:05 pm


Wilma,
Golly gee that’s some swell exegesis! Where do I sign up?



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The Inquisitor

posted September 30, 2005 at 10:51 pm


Excuses, endless excuses for wicked men who have no qualms about hanging people out to dry…Wonder how many old ladies are now shaking in their shoes, wondering if their life savings and houses are going to be seized? Again lets go to the Bible and see what you are dealing with here—-
Mat 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Why, Wilma, have you abused children too?



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joe h

posted September 30, 2005 at 10:58 pm


The hatred of the Catholic Church is amazing in our country. Where else does someone attack and sue organizations over individual illegal acts? If a priest does something wrong, put them in jail and if you want sue them. If a Bishop does something wrong, put them in jail and sue them. Some say this does not work because they have no money of their own. Well how does this work with others in society with no money? Poor people are found guilty of illegal acts all day and they too could face legal action for damages. But what is the point if there is no money and one should not be able to sue others for acts of someone else. When did this start making any sense?
Legal action for money is way out of hand in our country and few seem to understand that it comes out of our own collective pocket in higher cost of goods, higher taxes, or lost jobs when companies and organizations fold or lay off people.
This is therefore about money and hatred of the Catholic Church by those who cannot seem to ever accept it as the one true faith.



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dave

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:15 pm


“If a priest does something wrong, put them in jail and if you want sue them. If a Bishop does something wrong, put them in jail and sue them.”
I agree but the bishops hid the child abusing priest and sent him to another parish and told no one. Now we know what happened in Boston, Philly, Chicago.
Yes Bishops should be going to jail for this but they won’t. I have come ot believe that the Church in America does not really care about children unless they are unborn. It really seems that way. I no longer donate any form of money to the Church. Those days are over with for me. I donate food to pantries for the poor.



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:33 pm


‘I agree but the bishops hid the child abusing priest and sent him to another parish and told no one. Now we know what happened in Boston, Philly, Chicago. Yes Bishops should be going to jail for this but they won’t.’
People get away with crimes all the time. I still don’t see why the Church should pay for the crimes of these individuals.



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Shaun G

posted October 1, 2005 at 12:03 am


Are Tan2Day and Wilma one and the same?
Sure seems like it:
Quote damning Scripture. (KJV?)
Apply damning Scripture to whomever they care to damn.
Bold and CAPITALIZE for scathing emphasis.



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dave

posted October 1, 2005 at 12:22 am


“I still don’t see why the Church should pay for the crimes of these individuals.’
because the Church in the form of its Bishops and priests and nuns were knowingly complicit in concealing this child abuse for years. They covered up many crimes.
I do think they should go to jail however the way we seem to deal with abuse in the United States is pay-outs. In a way I think this might be good for the Church because the Bishops will understand bankruptcy.
I wonder how the Apostles would have handled all of this?



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The Inquisitor

posted October 1, 2005 at 12:53 am


Shawn G, if this “woman”, is who I think it is, then people should avoid talking to him/her at all costs. The same character has appeared at Dave Armstrong’s blog. He always acts in the same way, chiding unbelievers for not believing in the “plain sense” of scripture, and damning Catholics to hell. The fact of the matter is that Wilma, who also gone by the names “Alexander”, “Christian”, and “Matthew”, is a highly volatile, mentally unstable person who cannot come to terms with his own identity as a Christian.
I ask that everyone here, for his sake, and yours, not to speak to him. He has shown consistently that he is unable to argue rationally. He is only going to waste your time, arguing in circles, while getting folks riled up. Avoid him at all costs.



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Anne

posted October 1, 2005 at 4:00 am


Again, in the way of clarification for those who care: The court has made it clear that NO INDIVIDUAL PARISHIONER is going to be held liable for any debt the archdiocese has to pay with regard to this bankruptcy case. IOW, no little old lady is going to lose her house or life savings to pay for the crimes of some pedophile priest.
What’s at stake now — until the court rules otherwise — are the holdings of parishes — rectories, schools, programs, etc. — that the Archdiocese argues are NOT part of the Arcbhishop’s own property (those of the Archdiocese proper), which are admitted to be subject to bankruptcy proceedings.
Anne



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Anne

posted October 1, 2005 at 4:00 am


Again, in the way of clarification for those who care: The court has made it clear that NO INDIVIDUAL PARISHIONER is going to be held liable for any debt the archdiocese has to pay with regard to this bankruptcy case. IOW, no little old lady is going to lose her house or life savings to pay for the crimes of some pedophile priest.
What’s at stake now — until the court rules otherwise — are the holdings of parishes — rectories, schools, programs, etc. — that the Archdiocese argues are NOT part of the Arcbhishop’s own property (those of the Archdiocese proper), which are admitted to be subject to bankruptcy proceedings.
Anne



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Anne

posted October 1, 2005 at 4:03 am


Funny, how these double postings happen.
I clicked *Post* only once, I swear, and yet
TWO postings of the same message showed up.
Oh well, I guess everything worth saying once bears repeating.;-)
Anne



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Tan2Day

posted October 1, 2005 at 8:48 am


{{{ Are Tan2Day and Wilma one and the same? }}}
Certainly not! Although we know each other, and IM when something interesting shows up. We are both Catholic raised and educated, now one is a Baptist, and the other a Pentecostal. We do share, however, an ongoing interest in the affairs of the RCC as keep a daily watch on the comings and goings and affairs of the church.
I suppose the reason we read alike, is we have a common background, common mindset of those that were, and are no longer Roman Catholics, and we work on many threads on many sites and thus, seemingly have adopted posting styles that can seem to mirror the other.
But I assure you, with my hand raised high here, that we are two different people, from two different areas of the states, and with two different conceptions of what is going on.
We do however, both share a love for, appreciation of, and a belief that MOST of what is flummoxing everyone here, and on the other Catholic blogs can be solved, the answer has been there all along, contained within the book that the RCC claims she wrote and canonized, but for some reason, now no longer thinks is valid for the structure, and ordering of a functioning church in the world we live in today.
IF the church would just open the book, read and implement what Paul wrote to Timothy, MOST of these problems would be greatly reduced and some sanity and order would again prevail.



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marie

posted October 1, 2005 at 9:16 am


“This is therefore about money and hatred of the Catholic Church by those who cannot seem to ever accept it as the one true faith.”
No. This is about accountability. Are the lawyers piling on? Yes. Would the lawyers pile on if the defendants were the boy scouts or
YMCA? Absolutely.
“People get away with crimes all the time. I still don’t see why the Church should pay for the crimes of these individuals.”
If Church leaders, and like it or not they are our leaders, had made the guilty individuals pay for their unspeakable crimes when they learned of them, we would not bear this corporate liability. Our leaders failed us – first and foremost as spiritual leaders, and secondarily as trustees of Church property. It is unjust that church members will lose property that was paid for with the hard earned money of innocent parties, but we do need to be woken from our slumber and demand that our bishops teach and tell the truth. That is more important than all the property that the Church has acquired through the generosity of her sheep.



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marie

posted October 1, 2005 at 9:22 am


“This is therefore about money and hatred of the Catholic Church by those who cannot seem to ever accept it as the one true faith.”
No. This is about accountability. Are the lawyers piling on? Yes. Would the lawyers pile on if the defendants were the boy scouts or
YMCA? Absolutely.
“People get away with crimes all the time. I still don’t see why the Church should pay for the crimes of these individuals.”
If Church leaders, and like it or not they are our leaders, had made the guilty individuals pay for their unspeakable crimes when they learned of them, we would not bear this level of corporate liability. Our leaders failed us – first and foremost as spiritual leaders, and secondarily as trustees of Church property. It is unjust that church members will lose property that was paid for with the hard earned money of innocent parties, but we do need to be woken from our slumber and demand that our bishops teach and tell the truth. That is more important than all the property that the Church has acquired through the generosity of her sheep.



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Tan2Day

posted October 1, 2005 at 9:24 am


As a former protestant, I can appreciate your Biblical references, as can many on this blog. If you read regularly, you recognize that most of us here are not “ignorant of the Bible” Catholics. We do recognize the authority of the Bible, and believe sincerely that it is the source of authority for our Church. I do not want to hijack this thread, and I would respectfully suggest that you bring your arguments to bear in a more appropriate thread (say, on the liturgy, or on ecumenical relations). God bless you for your continuing interest in things Catholic. Although I hope you see the wheat as well as the tares.



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scotch meg

posted October 1, 2005 at 9:25 am


SORRY all, especially Tan2Day, I was thinking of my addressee when I posted the above — Amy , if you can, please correct the above post to reflect that it was written by Scotch Meg and NOT Tan2Day!



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Tan2Day

posted October 1, 2005 at 1:18 pm


Thank goodness!
I was wondering if I had a doppleganger haunting me on this site…!



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reluctant penitent

posted October 1, 2005 at 2:45 pm


‘If Church leaders, and like it or not they are our leaders, had made the guilty individuals pay for their unspeakable crimes when they learned of them, we would not bear this corporate liability.’
I don’t get it. Guilty individuals did not get punished so we punish the whole Church. It makes no sense. It does not happen in any other sector of society. Sexual abuse has been and continues to be epidemic in public schools and public schools are protected institutionally.
‘Would the lawyers pile on if the defendants were the boy scouts or
YMCA? Absolutely.’
Actually no. Sex abuse happens in YMCA’s complaints are ignored by supervisors and the YMCA is not held liable.
For example (http://www.sptimes.com/News/071501/TampaBay/When_warning_signs_ar.shtml):
The people who worked with Christopher Lee Allen did not know he had once been arrested in another state and accused of lewd acts on adolescent girls.
All they knew was what they saw on the job. And what they saw, they did not like.
Sitting in the cafeteria of Maximo Elementary School in St. Petersburg, where he worked in a YMCA after-school program, Allen would invite a young girl into his lap. He would bounce her up and down, over and over, in a way that seemed suggestive and inappropriate to his co-workers.
That wasn’t all. Allen — tall, fair-skinned, with waves of red hair splashing onto his forehead — caressed the children’s arms, massaged their backs and stroked their hair. Sometimes he hugged the girls, “like he was hugging a grown woman,” one co-worker said.
To his colleagues, the touching crossed a line. “We just knew it didn’t look well. . . . You don’t sit and rub a child,” said Elizabeth Howard, a former colleague.
So she and two co-workers met with Allen’s supervisor to complain.
But nothing happened.
The supervisor at the St. Petersburg Family YMCA, Jennifer West, said Allen “was just giving the kids the love they need,” another co-worker recalled later.
West has never publicly said why she brushed aside the complaints. But two years later, she married Christopher Allen.
Jennifer Allen now stands by her husband — even as he faces a potential sentence of life in prison from his arrest last year on charges he victimized and sexually abused some of the Pinellas County children he was supposed to help.
Since that arrest in May 2000, his court file has grown 12 volumes thick, filled with depositions and other statements from both children and adults.
The common theme through their stories is inappropriate touching by Allen — kissing, caressing, sucking a girl’s earlobe in plain view of others, as well as the more serious allegations of molestation.
Like all criminal defendants, Allen, 27, is innocent unless proven guilty. But even if he is cleared of all charges, the pattern of behavior alleged in court documents raises questions about how closely the YMCA monitored an employee whose conduct with children drew complaints and concern.
Repeated red flag behavior
After Allen’s Pinellas County arrest last year, he was charged with two counts of sexual battery for allegedly penetrating a girl with his finger; two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation for allegedly touching private areas of a child; and one count of lewd or lascivious conduct. Each of the alleged victims, three girls and one boy, was under 12.
More than a year later, the YMCA has never fully explained why it hired Allen in 1996, at a time when he was facing two sex crime charges in South Carolina.
This has been called a hypersensitive era; some grade school teachers won’t even let kids hug them anymore, for fear they’ll be accused of abuse.
With Allen, red flags were everywhere, but none kept him away from kids.
Sometimes Allen would sit in a YMCA center north of St. Petersburg with a middle school girl on his lap, the two of them sucking each other’s ear lobes, “in the living room in open view,” a teenage former co-worker recalled in court testimony. One mother testified that when Allen was with YMCA children, he “roughhoused with them, giving them wedgies. Actually there was one time I remember when he was in the clubhouse he actually pulled one of the kids’ pants down.”
“Including the underwear?” asked an attorney during her deposition.
“Yeah.”
The mother said Allen was “teasing (this boy) saying “you’ve got a white bootie.’ I mean, I don’t think that was funny for everybody to see that.” But she never complained “because, I mean, at the time you just think it’s harmless play, you know?”
Beverly Capana, an administrative supervisor at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, remembers seeing Allen bring four or five children of varying ages to a Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball game at Tropicana Field in 1999.
She was surprised when he let one girl sit on his lap, looking straight ahead, facing the game. “Then he started running his hands up and down her arms and on her thighs and legs and then it progressed to where he put his hands underneath her shirt and was moving his hands around underneath her shirt.”
Then she turned around on his lap so she was facing Allen, Capana recalled in a deposition earlier this year. “He was caressing her and then, he started giving her love bites. . . . It was a soft bite, like a love bite.”
She looked around for an officer who usually stood by, but none was there.
Some of the behavior witnesses described, the kissing and caressing, might not be considered a crime, but it still would be abhorred by many children’s agencies and parents. Groups that work with children increasingly give employees training to avoid physical contact with kids and avoid being alone with them. These boundaries are designed not only to protect children from being victimized, but also to protect well-meaning employees from accusations of inappropriate conduct.
Over and over, warning signs were raised about Christopher Allen during his time with the St. Petersburg YMCA, court records show. YMCA officials never learned about some of these incidents. But others, waved in front of them, they disregarded.
Allen’s attorney, Anthony S. Battaglia, denied a request for an interview with Allen — now out on bail awaiting his December trial — or his wife. Battaglia also declined to answer questions from the Times.
Hired despite S.C. charges
Allen was well-loved by YMCA management. Not just by Jennifer West, the supervisor who married him, but by John Cannon, who at the time was the YMCA’s chief executive officer and who has since retired.
The charismatic, always-energetic Allen reminded Cannon of his own early years as a New York priest, when he worked often with children, he said in a court hearing last year.
“On a Sunday morning after Mass, I would always have kids around me furrowed under my cape. I would hold them. They would hold me,” Cannon recalled.
In all his time with the YMCA, Cannon said, Allen was the first person who reminded him of those days. He even sometimes called Allen a “street priest.”
Cannon presided at the wedding of Allen and West. After Allen had been working in St. Petersburg several months, Cannon testified as a character witness in his South Carolina trial on the lewd behavior charges — charges of which Allen was acquitted. After Allen’s arrest last year, Cannon’s support remained steadfast: “I would trust Chris with my own children or grandchildren,” he said.
He trusted Allen with other people’s children, too.
Why?
It helps to go back to the beginning.
When Allen was hired in the fall of 1996, the staff did not know he was facing charges of lewd behavior on a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old girl in South Carolina, said Donna Raitanen, a former YMCA area supervisor.
But soon after, Allen walked into Raitanen’s office and let her know. Surprised, she led him into the office of West, a higher-level supervisor.
Raitanen thought Allen should be reassigned from his job at Maximo Elementary so he would not have one-on-one contact with children. Higher-ups felt otherwise.
“Jennifer went to Mr. Cannon and (Allen) remained in the position at Maximo,” Raitanen said. As far as she knows, no effort was made to tell parents or other co-workers about the charges Allen was facing.
Later, when a parent called to complain that Allen had been overly physical with her daughter at the YMCA, Raitanen told Allen she would fire him if she heard one more complaint.
But shortly after that incident, Allen was moved to a job as outreach director, Raitanen said. In that role, he worked to establish new YMCA programs just north of St. Petersburg.
“I didn’t want to hear any more about him going anywhere near these kids . . . but immediately he was snatched away from me,” Raitanen said, in a telephone interview from her home in Finland.
In a court hearing last year in Pinellas County, Cannon tried to explain why the YMCA allowed Allen to work with children in spite of his pending criminal charges. He explained that the usual background checks had been performed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other agencies.
“FDLE said these charges were outstanding, but that he was free to work with children,” Cannon said. “They did not say he could not work with children in the interim. So we had no reason not to have him work with children. Otherwise, we would be discriminating against him.”
Cannon did not return phone calls last week and has previously declined to be interviewed about Allen.
Though Allen was legally innocent, that didn’t mean the YMCA was obligated to hire him.
Lawrence Rosenthal, who teaches employment law at Stetson University College of Law, said private employers in Florida generally are free to fire employees as long as they don’t break an employment contract or violate anti-discrimination laws. He was not involved in the Allen case.
The YMCA’s decision flies in the face of conventional wisdom about employees who work with children. Peggy Sanchez Mills, chief executive of the YWCA of Tampa Bay — which is not affiliated with the YMCA — said she would “absolutely not” assign someone with pending sex crime charges to work with children.
Even if a job applicant had been found not guilty of a crime such as lewd behavior, she said, she would carefully review any decision about hiring or assignments. Her bottom line: “We err on the side of protecting children.”
Doug Linder, who succeeded Cannon as CEO of the St. Petersburg YMCA, said he would not knowingly hire someone facing a pending sex charge. Would he carefully consider whether to keep employing a worker facing such a charge? “I would think so.”
Linder said new hiring procedures implemented since Allen’s arrest require that “if there’s anything that shows any alarm” in an applicant’s background, that information must be forwarded to Linder for review.
Cannon, however, testified that he had not tried to find out the details of Allen’s arrest.
Prosecutor Bill Loughery asked Cannon: “You would have been concerned enough about children at risk in Pinellas County that you would have taken the time to find out the details of the pending sex crime he had against him in South Carolina involving children before you would hire him; would you not?”
“No,” Cannon said. “I felt we were following the rule of law.”
Accusations early on
As a teenager, Allen was a youth leader in the Pinellas Park Wesleyan Church. As a student at Southern Wesleyan College in South Carolina, he hoped to be a pastor, said a friend, Sandi Houston.
But questions about his physical contact with young people have been with him for a long time. Pinellas prosecutors made an effort to track down people who could describe an apparent pattern of behavior.
At Paola Wesleyan Church, just north of Orlando, youth group had just broken up one night six or eight years ago. Allen, a college student volunteering with the church’s youth ministry, walked some of the youths across the church parking lot.
Then he made a strange request.
“He wanted me to kiss him on the lips, and I said no,” recalled David Brock, who was 11 or 12 at the time, and who recounted the incident recently in a court deposition.
But Allen kept asking and asking. Finally, not understanding why, he agreed to kiss Allen’s cheek.
“When I got close, he turned his lips like this and kissed me on the lips,” he testified recently.
“Out of the blue, he kissed him,” another young man named Thomas Fodrie said in a recent deposition. Afterward, he said, Allen “tried to kiss me. . . . I told him to back off.”
Police were called, but no charges filed. Church leaders asked Allen to leave, court records show.
In South Carolina in the summer of 1995, Allen worked as a church camp counselor. He was with a church group at a local park when, according to one of the arrest affidavits, “while in a position of authority over the victim, a 12-year-old female, he did touch her (genital) area.” The allegation from the 13-year-old girl was similar, as are some that later would be made in Pinellas County.
His first trial ended in a mistrial. In his second trial, in 1997, he was acquitted.
By the time he was found not guilty, Allen was establishing himself at St. Petersburg’s YMCA.
In their own words
When Allen was given the outreach director job, he set up YMCA centers at French Villas, a public housing complex on 54th Avenue N north of St. Petersburg, and the Lealman area, between St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park.
In French Villas, he found children who desperately wanted attention, some from families in which single parents were overwhelmed and struggling to overcome something from their past. The mother of one of Allen’s purported victims has a mental illness and a history of drinking and drug abuse. A mother of another alleged victim was so desperate for companionship that she met and married her husband while he was in jail for attempted sexual battery — “with me being a single mom, I guess my emotions overrode my brain,” she said in a deposition.
Here, Allen worked with what everyone agrees was tireless energy and spirit. He staged a big youth fair in Lealman. He bought shoes for scores of kids and lavished some with dinners at Red Lobster, trips to theme parks or Devil Rays games. His enthusiasm was so great — and children were so drawn to him — that when he began having sleepovers for children at the apartment he shared with his wife, parents willingly let their children go, over and over.
One boy who went on thesleepovers said after he took a shower, Allen would rush in to towel him off. His mother recalled that her son said, “I’m tired of him hugging on me and kissing on me and doing all that other weird stuff.”
Her response: “Okay, maybe he’s just being friendly.”
A preteen girl who slept over later described her experiences, in writing. In her statement, written in the bubble-shaped, left-tilted script of a schoolgirl, she says:
I would get ready to go to sleep. He would come up to me and hold me down, stick his hand down the front inside the underwars. . . . I would try to get away, but I couldn’t.
Another girl wrote:
The third or the fourth time I sleeped over his house he touch me in my private port my chest and my butty that time I didn’t care because he was not touching that bad. The last time I sleep over his house he did the same thing . . . I didn’t tell him to stop but I made it feel like I felt unconterbel by pushing him away a cople of times then he stop.
Later, though, the same girl testified that Allen really hadn’t touched her private parts; she said a sheriff’s detective had pressured her into saying so. But in this later interview, she said Allen “tickled me like down on the side of my waist and my legs” and said it made her uncomfortable enough to push him away. Detective Matthew Miller says he did not pressure her and was not in the room when she wrote her statement.
One boy summed up his time with Allen this way:
I think that whenever he touched me it was inapropit . . . I think when ever I stay over his house that there should be more than two people there like about 6 people. I still aprechate his stuff he does for all of us but I feel unconftoble about it.
Marie says



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reluctant penitent

posted October 1, 2005 at 2:55 pm


No institutions–not public schools, not the YMCA, not other denominations–have been held liable in sex abuse cases as the Catholic Church has been. For some reason the courts decided early on in these cases that, when it comes to crimes committed by Catholic clergy, the whole Church must pay.



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chris K

posted October 1, 2005 at 3:43 pm


For comparison of approaches to “justice”…the notorious Alex Rackley torture/murder trial of the Black Panthers:
It had looked for a while as though there was going to be a revolution, and that it was going to start on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut. But the crisis was averted, thanks in part to
the appearance of justice prevailing in the Rackley trials.
The government had tried to put a whole handful of Panthers in jail.
In the end, the court system would only allow those who committed the crime to do the time.
But the relatively favorable outcome of the trials for the Panthers was a Pyrrhic victory for the movement, nationally and in Connecticut.



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Simon

posted October 1, 2005 at 4:47 pm


“It is unjust that church members will lose property that was paid for with the hard earned money of innocent parties, but ….
No “buts”, please. It is unjust, period. It has little or no basis in American law, either. It’s all about plaintiffs lawyers testing how much they can get away with in the current climate — that’s how they operate.
Two wrongs don’t make a right.



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marie

posted October 1, 2005 at 4:58 pm


reluctant penitent -
Once again, I don’t understand your post. There is no indication from the facts you set out that the YMCA could not be sued by the assaulted parties if there was sufficient evidence to support the claims. Why do you assume they could not be?
Again, a five second google search turns up this:
At the East Dallas YMCA between 1989 and 1991, David Wayne Jones, 20, a counselor in an after-school program molested 41 children between the ages of 3 and 11 who were in his care. Jones confessed after a three-month investigation and is serving 15 years. In a civil suit brought by the family of two of Jones’ victims, the national YMCA was found negligent and responsible for 10% of the actual damages.



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marie

posted October 1, 2005 at 5:19 pm


Simon,
Corporate entities bear corporate liability for the acts of individuals all the time. Have you heard of Enron? What about all the individual shareholders of tobacco companies whose executives behaved badly and had to pay out a ton of the shareholders’ money? When a drunk Salvation Army truck driver hits a little old lady, the Salvation Army (and in a sense all who have contributed to it) pays for the damages. How is it that the Church’s corporate liability has no basis in American law? Should the Church be exempt from the laws that govern other corporate entities even though a diocese has chosen to take a corporate form? The rules are not being rewritten for the Church. Yes, lawyers see a deep pocket and go after it. That is not a new phenomenon, and there is an injustice there. But it is not something that the Church alone suffers, and it is not a form of religious persecution, however much our enemies may enjoy it.



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chris K

posted October 1, 2005 at 7:32 pm


Well, the day they go after Planned Parenthood with the same gusto they’re energized by towards the Church, will be the day I may begin to believe that justice is the same for all in this country. PP has deep pockets, if you can find any of the same liberal type attorneys willing to expend the same time and energy to find where it $$$$ all goes. (including all those pols who benefit by their hefty donations). And they’ve sent probably thousands of unreported victims of rape – minors – back into the same places of danger only to be victimized again. Wow! All kinds of tentacles reaching all types of enablers (probably the legal system itself) go out from those types of industrial complexes. Instead, again, the attack is on those, mostly Church facilities that wish to help and protect the victims in those kinds of situations. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.
How is it that the Church’s corporate liability has no basis in American law?
Of course they have liability…but it should be in balance to the extent of the individual crimes committed…recompense through real justice within the same limits others are subject to. Yeah, juries award outrageous and vindictive amounts for cases, but there is already an established limit within some reason for the actual payout. Somehow the public has finally realized that it is they who will be the real payers for such outrageous awards and finally it’s dawned on them that they have the ability to put a stop to it. The same should be applied evenly to all institutions under the same law…otherwise it’s merely a lynch mob under a different name…greedy attorneys and out of line judges.



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Jim

posted October 1, 2005 at 8:57 pm


reluctantpenitant wrote: “No institutions–not public schools, not the YMCA, not other denominations–have been held liable in sex abuse cases as the Catholic Church has been. For some reason the courts decided early on in these cases that, when it comes to crimes committed by Catholic clergy, the whole Church must pay”
rp, I feel sorry for you that you are that paranoid. Open your eyes…the Church has gotten away with this kind of things for decades — centuries, maybe — and you and the Archbishop of Philadelphia think it’s just anti-Catholic prejudice. You’re just pitiable.



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Simon

posted October 1, 2005 at 9:56 pm


Marie, a church (any church) is different from other corporate entities in many respects. Among them the fact that under most state laws churches are not required to (and ordinarily do not) incorporate. They are unincorporated associations.
The fact that the bishop has ultimate governing authority over a parish or school does not mean that parish or school is identical to the diocese, or that the bishop is its the only stakeholder.
I have no problem with sending a miscreant bishop to prison, or with holding him liable for cooperation with the misdeeds of priests under his direction. I have a real problem with lawyers for The Victims attempting to attach unrelated parish and school assets for those misdeeds. This is without precedent in American jurisprudence.
And please, I am not suggesting that the plaintiffs lawyers are spurred on by anti-Catholicism. They see a fat milch cow, nothing more.
It won’t surprise you to learn that I think the general assault by the plaintiffs bar on tobacco companies (moving on to the purveyors of fatty foods), along with most shareholder derivative suits, are similarly disgraceful, unwarranted and directed toward no good end. But that’s another story.



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joe h

posted October 1, 2005 at 11:07 pm


If they simply sent an abusing priest to jail for their crime and bishops who knowingly cover up and place other children at risk to jail, we would have justice. I suspect we would also have fewer abuse cases. When you hang out a pot of gold to anyone who has some long ago supposed incident suddenly come to mind, you are putting one party of the suit at risk, especially if the party is the Catholic Church. In many cases the priest has died or long since retired and the bishop is no longer around. How the dioceses now is responsible for this is beyond me. If I found out a GE employee abused a child 35 years ago and that a GE executive moved that employee to another location, would I now be able to sue GE? I doubt this would go very far. How would anyone like to try and defend something that supposedly happened 20-40 years ago? That is why we have statute of limitations. Witnesses are no longer available and those that were around have faulty memories. Here we have people going after dead priests. Because of the climate, if a priest is accused, he is guilty unless he can prove somehow he is innocent.
If any of this were making the abuse of children go away, I would be all for it even at the expense of the church. If we identified that there is a strong presence in the homosexual lifestyle of those who prey on 12-17 year old boys and that this was a crime that should send the person to jail for a long time, I would see value in it. When can anyone remember a non priest being tried and going to jail for a long time because they had homosexual sex with a 12-17 year old boy? 80% of the abuse is exactly this type of activity. Where are the police going after these criminals? Type in “twinks” on google and you will have thousands of pages of links to this activity. Should not be hard for the police to go after. But if this is not seen as a crime, then why do priests and the church face such penalites? Because it is The Catholic Church. I would love it if the law and justice were indeed blind and all laws were inforced equally.



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Jim

posted October 2, 2005 at 5:31 am


These kinds of situations don’t occur that often in the corporate world because corporations tend to FIRE employees who commit heinous crimes upon children in their care. Because of some rather strange interpretation of theology, our bishops somehow thought they were required to employ pederasts for life. Just a lack of common sense…but it happened.



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reluctant penitent

posted October 2, 2005 at 12:21 pm


marie,
No other entity, including the YMCA has been assigned the same degree of liability as the Church. Contrary to your intitial claims, public schools are protected from liability by law. YMCA abuse cases like the one I cited do not typically result in large payments to victims. Notice that even in the YMCA case you mentioned the YMCA was assigned only 10% of the liability.
Jim says,
‘These kinds of situations don’t occur that often in the corporate world because corporations tend to FIRE employees who commit heinous crimes upon children in their care. ‘
There are plenty of cases–in public schools and other institutions like the YMCA–when such employees were not fired and the institutions were not held liable. The evidence suggests that there is a legal double standard.



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reluctant penitent

posted October 2, 2005 at 12:25 pm


Furthermore, it’s not true that bishops did nothing. In many cases priests were sent to psychologists and psychiatrists who charged the church a great deal of money and assured bishops that they were able to treat the offending priests.



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Jim

posted October 2, 2005 at 6:21 pm


reluctant penitant:
In case you are too naive to realize simple facts, the St. Luke’s Institute in Silver Spring and its previous incarnation in New Mexico were “priest laundering” operations set up by the bishops to have a place that would give their “problem” priests a clean bill of mental health, so that they could be recycled back into ministry. Duh….
Unfortunately, some bishops actually “believed” the results and put dangerous men back into ministry with children and adollescents.
Is there nothing about this scandal that you won’t defend?



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reluctant penitent

posted October 2, 2005 at 6:55 pm


‘the St. Luke’s Institute in Silver Spring and its previous incarnation in New Mexico were “priest laundering” operations set up by the bishops’
The liberal and secular thing to do in those days was to buy into the freudian claptrap sold by the psychiatric types to the bishops. It was very much a ‘new church’ thing to do. Now the same characters who supported the psychiatric scheisters are complaining that these were ‘priest laundering’ operations. Forgive me if I am angered by the hypocrisy.



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Jim

posted October 2, 2005 at 7:00 pm


rp wrote:
“Now the same characters who supported the psychiatric scheisters are complaining that these were ‘priest laundering’ operations.”
You, my friend, are a fool. How can you speak of my supporting “psychiatric scheisters [sic], when you don’t know the first thing about me. I personally consider psychiatry a refuge for the borderline psychotic, the same way the priesthood became a refuge for the socially inept and pastorally needy. Please, you’re embarassing yourself.



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