Pope John Paul II Asks
For Forgiveness for Centuries of Abuse
Pope John Paul had take the unprcedented step of asking for forgivenessLink
the churches abuse of others for thousands of years. Proving that God loves repentence and moving in great strenght and
clarity to publically address problems of the past the Pontiff may well be remembered as a true and faithfull follower
of Christ and walking in the shoes of the fisherman.
Catholic diocese in Montana seeks bankruptcy
protection in sex abuse claims
(Reuters) - A Roman Catholic diocese in Montana has filed for bankruptcy protection, months before facing its first trial of a civil lawsuit
stemming from child sex abuse claims against its clergy, church officials and the plaintiffs’ lawyers said on Friday.
The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in Montana federal court as part of a negotiated settlement of dozens of
“credible” sex abuse cases that date from 1950s through the 1990s, lawyers for 72 victims and the diocese said in separate statements.
At least 15 other U.S. Catholic districts and religious orders have been driven to seek Chapter 11 protection by a sex abuse scandal that erupted
in 2002. Montana’s other Catholic diocese in Helena, the state capital, filed for bankruptcy in 2012 to settle cases stemming from similar accusations.
If granted by a judge, the Great Falls bankruptcy would allow the diocese and its insurer to contribute to a fund that would be set aside to
compensate victims, the diocese said in a statement. The total sum paid to victims will be determined after both sides negotiate settlement terms.
Timothy Kosnoff, a Seattle lawyer who has represented victims in both of the Montana diocesan cases, told Reuters that bankruptcy is the only realistic
mechanism to settle the claims.
However, he said obstacles remained to reaching a resolution, including the insurance carrier’s resistance to pay fair compensation to the victims.
“Let there be no illusions. Despite this sensible step forward, speedy resolution is unlikely and the future of the diocese remains clouded,” he said.
A lawyer for 34 of the victims, Vito de la Cruz, said Friday’s bankruptcy will allow his clients to receive “a measure of justice” in a reasonable
amount of time rather than the years it would take to try each case separately.
Great Falls Bishop Michael Warfel said he felt “profound sorrow” over the abuse and offered “sincere apologies” to the victims.
Editing by Steve Gorman
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Jesuits to pay victims of abuse
Settlement one of the largest involving Catholic institutions
Kevin GramanThe Spokesman-Review
Alberta Sena, left, and Dorothea Skalicky listen as Leander James describes the settlement in the legal case against the Northwest
Jesuits on Friday in Spokane. The Jesuit order that established Catholic missionary schools across the Northwest and Alaska has agreed
to a $166 million payout to settle child sex-abuse allegations from 500 people against its clergy and other agents.
The proposal would be among the largest payouts so far in the crisis that has beset the Roman Catholic Church during the past decade. And
it would require The Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, to offer written apologies and provide pertinent records of the approximately
140 priests, nuns, brothers and lay workers accused from the 1950s through the 1980s. The breadth of the abuse and the sheer number
of victims is staggering,� said attorney Michael Pfau, who represents 150 of those who alleged abuse. It's troubling that so much of
the abuse happened to the poorest and most vulnerable children among us.
The Northwest Jesuits have a rich tradition in the region that includes founding Gonzaga University in Spokane and Seattle University.
Most abuse victims were Alaska Natives or American Indians. In many cases Northwest Jesuit leaders moved priests accused of sexual
abuse to Alaska Native villages and Indian reservations in Montana, Eastern Washington, Idaho and Oregon, attorneys and survivors said.
During a Friday press conference announcing the settlement proposal, Dorothea Skalicky recalled growing up on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation,
where she was sexually abused by a priest she knew as Father Freddy. The Rev. Augustine Ferretti had been assigned to Sacred Heart Church
in Lapwai, Idaho, in the 1970s after serving throughout the Northwest, including St. Michael's Scholasticate in Spokane in 1969. He died in
1982, two years after being assigned to Gonzaga University.
He has been accused of molesting at least 34 children, some of whom have filed lawsuits accusing him of abuse.
I thought I was alone,Skalicky recalled, but discovered I was only one of hundreds of Native American victims.�
It's tragic, Coeur d�Alene attorney Leander James said. Clearly, they sent problem priests to reservations and
remote villages, knowing these priests would have direct access to children.
The Northwest Jesuits attempted to settle many of the allegations, though when the scope of the scandal grew, the religious order
filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2009. In 2008, the Jesuits agreed to pay $4.8 million to 16 people who said they were
sexually abused as children by the Rev. John J. Morse and James Gates, a Jesuit brother, at the St. Mary's Mission and School near
Omak in the 1960s and 1970s. Morse, who denied the allegations, was removed from ministry in 2006.
In 2007, the Northwest Jesuits agreed to pay $50 million to dozens of Alaska Natives who were sexually abused by priests.
Including the settlement announced Friday, payouts from the Northwest Jesuits will top $240 million to more than 700 people.
More than 100 are from Washington state, many who said they were abused at St. Mary�s on the Colville Indian Reservation.
Many other men and women said they were abused on the Kootenai-Salish and Blackfoot reservations in Montana, the Coeur
d�Alene and Nez Perce reservations in Idaho and the Umatilla reservation in Oregon.
The Jesuits and a steering committee of seven victims and their attorneys negotiated the settlement proposal, which must now be approved
by all of those alleging abuse and the bankruptcy court judge. The victims will have to talk with a judge-appointed claims reviewer to
demonstrate that they were abused. The reviewer will then decide on payment amounts, based on several criteria including the severity
and frequency of the sexual abuse, Pfau said. Payments could be issued in the fall, he said.
The universities did not participate in the settlement and maintain they are separate organizations.
Pfau said he represents victims who intend to pursue lawsuits against Seattle University once the bankruptcy case is resolved.
Those cases revolve around the action of the late Rev. Michael Toulouse, who once taught at Gonzaga High School and lived on
the Gonzaga University campus.
One night in 1950, a 14-year-old boy told his father that Toulouse had sexually assaulted him, according to a federal lawsuit
filed in Seattle. The father took his gun to the campus to confront Toulouse but was stopped by the university president and
another priest before shots were fired. Toulouse was soon moved to Seattle, where he ingratiated himself with strong Catholic
families with boys, even though Jesuit higher-ups and university officials knew he was a pedophile, according to Pfau, who
represents plaintiffs in cases against Seattle University.
The settlement calls on the Northwest Jesuits to pay about 30 percent of the $166 million agreement. Insurers will pay the rest.
Every priest and employee of the religious order will have to sign an annual statement that they have not abused a child and are not aware of any abuse that has not already been disclosed.
That will go in personnel files so that if it is determined later that they have, they can be prosecuted for perjury, Seattle attorney Tim Kosnoff said.
Howard Levine, a lawyer for the Jesuits, said the settlement is the centerpiece of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy, perhaps within three to four months.
The Jesuit bankruptcy is separate from that of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane.
Missoula police chief steps back
to focus on DOJ response
Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir has handed the reins of daily operations to Assistant Chief Mike Brady so Muir can focus on the city’s
response to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.
The federal investigation into gender bias in the police department led to an agreement between the DOJ and the city of Missoula, and the
contract outlines changes police will make to improve their response to reports of rape and sexual violence.
The contract was signed in the middle of May, and since then police have seen “an enormous increase” in the number of sexual assault reports,
Muir said. He said the department counts 27 reports in the past 10 weeks, although not all incidents are of recent occurrences, and one
dates back to 2006, outside the statute of limitations.
“We’ll continue to see if it’s a pattern or a trend that continues. It’s a real unknown for us, but it’s very unexpected,” Muir said.
The chief said he will never concede to allegations the department was violating people’s civil rights. However, he does want to implement
changes set forth in the agreement and lay the groundwork for others before he retires in December.
“By the end of September, we will have fulfilled the first year’s requirement for training, so that is a milestone by all means,” Muir said.
In a July 24 memo, Muir announced he was delegating the authority of daily operations to Brady.
“Brady and I will meet and consult regularly and as necessary to assist in making the next few months productive and supportive of a change in
leadership brought about by my retirement. “Making this change will ensure that I have sufficient time for engaging citizens and partners
outside the department to meet the extensive community-based requirements of the DOJ agreement.
The department already is making strides in implementation, Muir said. On the ground, police officers are more sensitive to “how their
efforts to investigate are perceived by victims,” he said. One related practice recommended in the federal agreement, for instance, is that
police explain their reason for sensitive lines of questioning before launching into inquiries. Last week, the monitor hired to oversee the
implementation process visited Missoula, and police laid out the action steps they will take to accomplish the terms of the agreement, Muir
said. He said the meetings proved successful, especially because the monitor saw firsthand that police have “extensive working relationships”
with community partners, especially those who work to prevent violence against women and children.
“He hadn’t been given anything more specific than the findings that were written by DOJ, so he was sort of led to believe that … law enforcement was
on this little island, which is clearly not the case,” Muir said. Next week, a former prosecutor who conducts trainings around the world in the
area of violence against women will hold classes in Missoula, Muir said. He said he met her at a leadership institute a couple of years ago.
Muir requested she put on a training here, and 95 people from around the state will attend, including investigators from Missoula, he said. Other
law enforcement officers will attend training sessions scheduled in September, completing the training requirements for the entire year.
As part of the federal agreement, the local department also is selecting a panel of professionals to review closed cases, Muir said.
The panel will examine whether changes in policies and procedures make their way into the field. “We continue to disagree with the Department of
Justice with respect to whether we were violating people’s rights, but we see that there are better ways that we could accomplish both our work and
to improve the outcomes of the criminal justice process,” the chief said.
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