Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Sexual abuses by the clergy

The molesting of children by any adult is bad enough but when it is done by the members of the clergy, it is even worse. Society looks to its clergy for comfort and guidance but when any member of the clergy molests a child, it brings shame to all members of the clergy, even to those who wouldn’t even think of molesting a child.

Cases of sexual abuse (particularly of children) and subsequent cover-ups committed during the 20th and 21st centuries by Catholic priests, nuns, and members of Roman Catholic orders have led to numerous allegations, investigations, trials and convictions. The abused include boys and girls, some as young as 3 years old, with the majority between the ages of eleven and fourteen.

The accusations began to receive wide publicity in the late 1980s. Many of these accusations involved cases in which a particular religious leader was accused of abuse for decades; the said allegations were frequently made by adults or older youths years after the abuse occurred. Cases have also been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy who covered up sex abuse allegations onset on seminary formations, and by moving allegedly abusive priests to other parishes, where their abuses sometimes continued against more young victims.

By 2010, much of the reporting focused on such abuses in Europe however cases received significant media and public attention throughout the world, especially in Ireland, Canada, and the United States. Members of the Church's hierarchy have argued that the media coverage is excessive and disproportionate, and that such abuse takes place in other religions and institutions. But they made those statements knowing that a great many of their own clergy molested children in their own flocks.

A series of television documentaries in the 1990s, such as Suffer the children in 1994, brought the issue to national attention in Ireland. A critical investigation by The Boston Globe in 2002 led to widespread media coverage of this issue in the United States, which was later dramatized in Tom McCarthy's film Spotlight in 2015.

From 2001 to 2010, the Holy See, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, considered sex abuse allegations involving about 3,000 priests dating back as much as fifty years. Cases worldwide reflect patterns of long-term abuse and of the church hierarchy regularly covering up reports of the alleged abuses.

An Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed 7% of Australian priests between 1950-2009 were accused of abusing children, and that one Catholic order had 40.4% of their non-ordained members with allegations against them during this period (although all of the accusations against men of this order were made prior to 1990)

In many jurisdictions growing awareness of child sexual abuse and understanding of its psychological damage has resulted in an increasing number of civil  lawsuits  for  monetary damages stemming from such incidents. Subsequently, more victims came forward to report abuses heaped upon them compared to past years in which they were shamed to silence. Some states in The USA have enacted specific laws lengthening the applicable statutes of limitations so as to allow victims of child sexual abuse to file suit sometimes years after they have reached the age of majority. Such lawsuits can be brought in cases where a person or entity—such as a school, church, or youth organization was charged with supervising the child but failed to do so effectively, resulting with the children being sexually abused.

In 1988, a scandal erupted over allegations of widespread abuse of children at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland. In Ottawa, historical cases of child-sexual abuse by Catholic priests within the Ottawa archdiocese dated back to the 1950s. Newspaper records of documented cases involved at least 11 abuser priests and 41 victims. Among these cases was that of convicted abuser Dale Crampton. More on him later in this article.

New cases and allegations have surfaced in 2016, including an on-the-record confession by retired Catholic priest Barry McGrory: admitting in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, that he sexually abused three young parishioners at Ottawa's Holy Cross Parish in the 1970s and '80s.

In August 2006, Father Charles Henry Sylvestre (born 1922), of Belle River Ontario plead guilty to 47 counts of sexual abuse on females, aged between nine and fourteen years old between 1952 and 1989. Paul Bailey, the Crown Attorney for Chatham Kent, reportedly described the case as being the "largest case of non-residential school sex abuse by a Roman Catholic priest" in North America. Local newspapers documented the lives of many of the women who refused the publication ban and spoke out about the priest’s abuse. Sylvestre was given a sentence in October 2006 of only three years, however, he died on January 22, 2007 of natural causes at age eighty-five after only serving three months in prison.  

Msgr. Bernard Ambrose Prince (born Wilno) in Ontario, Canada, was ordained in 1964, and served in Pembroke, Ontario. Later, he pleaded guilty to charges of sexual abuse of 13 young boys from 1964 onward, and in 2008, he was sentenced to four years in prison in 2008. He was laicized (removed from ecclesiastical control) (by the Roman Catholic Church in 2009, and paroled in 2010. His crimes were known throughout the Catholic Church and even in the Vatican where he was later sent in 1991. According to a discovered letter, he continued for more than a decade in a prestigious Vatican post after two cardinals, and perhaps even five other bishops, knew he had been credibly accused of abuse of children and imprisoned for those crimes. Despite the fact that he was a convicted pedophile, he was appointed as the Secretary General of the Pontifical Society. This  kind of acceptance from the Vatican does very little to add to the prestige of the Roman Catholic Church.

An Ottawa man says he was sexually abused in August 1979 by Bishop John Beahan, who was then one of the most powerful figures in the Archdiocese of Ottawa. The man, now 52, launched a $2-million lawsuit against the Catholic archdiocese. The claim represents the first time that Beahan, once the second-highest-ranking member of the Ottawa clergy, has been named in a sex abuse lawsuit. I will refer to the victim  as M.D.

The allegations also raised a potential motive for Beahan to dismiss sex abuse claims made against fellow clergy members in the 1970s and 80s. 

Appointed auxiliary bishop in May 1977, Beahan also served for 12 years as vicar general—essentially, the archdiocese’s chief administrative officer — until he suffered a fatal stroke in March 1988. In his role as vicar general, Beahan would his role as vicar general.

In an interview with the Toronto Sun, M.D. said hat Father Dale Crampton invited him to a West Carleton cottage in August 1979. M.D. said he agreed to go because he didn’t want to explain to his parents why he was reluctant to spend more time alone with the priest. 

Bishop Beahan appeared at the cottage unannounced on a Saturday afternoon. “I sat down beside him, we were kind of introduced, and then I remember Father Crampton said he had to go into town to do groceries or something,” M.D. said. “He left me and Bishop Beahan alone.”

 They talked for a while, M.D. said, until Beahan began to flatter him, touch, kiss and fondle him. The bishop, he said, asked, “Does Father Dale do this, too?” They moved to Crampton’s bedroom where the abuse by Beahan escalated to masturbation and simulated sex acts. 

M.D. said he didn’t deal with the emotional turmoil caused by the abuse for decades, and relied on alcohol to numb the pain. He developed a stutter, was uncertain of his sexuality, found intimacy difficult, and was often felt suicidal. It was only after reading about Crampton’s history of abuse in the Toronto Sun that he resolved to confront his past. 

He told his therapist, then his wife, children, siblings and parents about what happened. A father of three, M.D. said all of his most important relationships have been damaged by it. “My children deserved a more attentive, loving father,” said M.D., who works in the funeral services industry.

M.D.’s lawyer, Rob Talach, said his client’s allegations support the notion that there existed in the 1970s and 80s a close-knit circle of child abusers in the Ottawa clergy. Beahan was the senior diocesan officially responsible for managing the abuse complaints which is ironic since he was one of the abusers.  When the shepherd is the wolf, how does he protect the flock?

In June, 1986, Father Crampton was charged after a group of parents from St. Maurice Parish had previously gone to the police with sex abuse allegations against the priest.  The parents had approached the police in March after becoming frustrated by the inaction of then Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde and Bishop Beahan. 

Father Crampton was at the hub of the archdiocese’s small circle of child abusers. He was a longtime friend of Rev. Barry McGrory, who was convicted in 1993 of sexual assault, and later faced charges in connection with three other alleged victims. Crampton and McGrory when they were  students at St. Patrick’s High School in Ottawa, and later attended the seminary together. 

As a young priest, Father Crampton travelled with Beahan to New York City for the visit of Pope Paul VI in October 1965 and worked with him at St. Elizabeth Parish.

In 1974, Father Crampton became one of two priests elected to the Ottawa Catholic School Board. His Catholic board colleague, Father Kenneth Keeler, would later be charged with sexually abusing three boys in the 1970s and 80s.

Father Keeler’s criminal trial was halted by his sudden guilty plea. During early testimony, court heard that the priest would select young boys to share his bed at St. Brigid’s Summer Camp for needy children in Low, Quebec.

This pedophile priest was convicted in the 1980s of sexually assaulting seven altar boys. He killed himself on October 10, 2010 by leaping off of a 24-storey high-rise apartment building. The Catholic Church considers suicide as a mortal sin. I guess the priest didn’t care.                    

As many as 53.22% of children have reported being victims of sexual abuse. Among them 52.94% were boys and 47.06% girls. Child sexual abuse is largely a hidden crime, so it is difficult to estimate the real number of people who were sexually abused at some time during their childhood years.

Children when before and after they become adults are in many cases, reluctant to report sexual abuse for many reasons. Their reluctance may be related to the historical norm of keeping such behaviour secret because of the sense of shame associated with it. I speak as an authority on this issue.

When I was twelve years of age, my father raped me twice when my mother was out of town. Seven months later when I was sent to live in a group home for boys. I was raped by the man who was to care for us. He raped all five of us boys every day.

Did I tell my mother what my father had done to me? No I did not. I didn’t want her to suffer from the guilt of having left me with my father for two months. She may have guessed however since he raped my mother during a date resulting in me being conceived. To her dying day at age 91, she never knew what father had done to me.

After all of us five boys were removed from the group home, we were individually taken to a psychiatrist. When the shrink asked me if I was abused by the man operating the group home, I denied being abused by him. Why? Because at that time in my life, I was too ashamed to tell anyone what that a man had done to me.

Abused children should speak up if they are sexually abused. Had the previous  boys  before the five of us boys who were at the home spoken to someone about the sexual molestation that they had endured by that child molester, we five boys wouldn’t have been sent to that group home. It was after we were abused that that group home was finally shut down. I never learned if the man who ran the group home was ever charged. Probably not because if he was; I might have been approached by the police for information as to what he did to me. 

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