Friday, February 27, 2004

National abuse study
includes 5 isle priests

A study is looking into the
sexual abuse of minors by
deacons and priests since 1950

Five Hawaii Catholic priests removed from duty for allegedly sexually assaulting minors are among the thousands of cases counted in a nationwide study being released today by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Honolulu diocese provided information for the study by John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York to determine the nature and scope of sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons since 1950. The report was to be released this morning in Washington, D.C., by Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the American bishops conference.

The Associated Press reported that the church-sanctioned study found that 4,392, or about 4 percent, of the 109,694 clergy who served since 1950 have faced allegations of abuse.

Honolulu diocese spokesman Patrick Downes said that of about 530 priests who served in Hawaii since 1950, fewer than 1 percent have been removed because of substantiated accusations of sexual abuse of a minor.

Honolulu Bishop Francis DiLorenzo pulled two priests from public ministry since the national scandal of sexual predator priests arose in January 2002, but one of those was not counted in the survey because the alleged abuse occurred in the Philippines.

The bishop removed the other four men from service soon after his arrival in Hawaii in 1993. Although the bishop denies a priest the "faculties" to minister publicly, the diocese or a religious order may continue to provide housing, medical and other benefits. Only the Vatican has authority to remove a man from the priesthood.

Two priests have been convicted here on charges of sexual assault against minors. The most recent case was not counted in statistics because he was a military chaplain not under diocesan authority.

Downes said cases not counted here did not slip through the cracks.

"The study had a way of cross-checking names, such as priests who moved," he said.

The survey included more than 30 questions about each accused clergyman and 50 about each victim.

"The point is to examine the history and what we did wrong and never to do it again," Downes said. "It is the first time any organization has done anything like this, and voluntarily."

The identity of the two recently removed pastors became public because announcements were made in their parishes, but the diocese has not revealed the names of priests accused in the past. It did not reveal the names as part of the report released today.

Hawaii cases include:

>> January 2003 -- The Rev. Roberto Batoon, who served in Hawaii parishes since 1997, was removed from a Molokai parish based on a complaint about sexual abuse in the Philippines. He was ordered to return to his diocese in the Philippines.

>> August 2002 -- The bishop removed the Rev. Joseph Bukoski as pastor of a Maui parish after the diocesan Standing Committee on Sexual Misconduct investigated complaints by two men claiming incidents dating back 20 years.

>> May 2000 -- The Rev. Mark Matson, former Tripler Hospital chaplain, was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment after conviction of third-degree sex assault and attempted first-degree sex assault for a 1998 incident with a 13-year-old boy at Maunalua Bay Park.

>> April 1992 -- The Rev. Arthur O'Brien, a former Maui pastor, was sentenced to five years' probation on three counts of third-degree sexual assault and one count of attempted sexual assault. He pleaded no contest to the accusations about the 1989 incidents.

At least five local lawsuits have been filed, with some plaintiffs claiming that the national clergy scandal raised suppressed memories of past abuse.

The diocese has never paid a victim through lawsuit or private settlement, Downes said. The local church did pay $9,000 to a psychiatrist to counsel a victim more than 10 years ago, he said.

Pending lawsuits include:

>> July 2003 -- Albert C.S.K. Han filed suit against Bukoski and the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts claiming a 1978 attack.

>> May 2003 -- Eugene Saulibio filed suit against Bukoski and the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts citing alleged attacks in 1976.

>> May 2003 -- Elton Killion filed suit accusing the Rev. Andrew Mannetta with sexual assault in 1997 and 1998. Also named was Mannetta's religious order, the Capuchin Franciscans, St. Mary province, which reassigned the former pastor and retreat speaker to New York in October 2002.

>> July 2002 -- Alexander Winchester filed suit against the diocese accusing the Rev. Alphonsus Boumeister of a 1961 assault. The priest died 30 years prior to the suit.

>> May 2002 -- Darick Agasiva and Fa'amoana Purcell filed suit against the diocese and the Rev. Roberto DeOtero for alleged 1985-86 sexual assaults while they were altar boys at a Kalihi church. DeOtero left Hawaii in 1987 and was later forced out of the military chaplaincy for a molestation accusation elsewhere. The bishop removed his "faculties" to minister here in 1993.

The diocesan spokesman said accusations have been made against four other Hawaii priests since 2002. The Standing Committee on Sexual Misconduct determined there was insufficient evidence to substantiate a charge in one case. Another accusation made against a retired priest was referred to the Maryknoll religious order to which the priest belongs.

Two others could not be pursued because accusers did not name their alleged assailants, Downes said in a report in the Hawaii Catholic Herald.

The Herald roundup also reported a case in which an accused clergyman was "exonerated." An accusation made in the late 1980s against then-Bishop Joseph Ferrario was "found to be groundless by an internal church investigation. A subsequent civil lawsuit was dismissed."


National Catholic abuse
study concludes 4 percent
of priests accused

WASHINGTON -- Two church-sanctioned studies documenting sex abuse by U.S. Roman Catholic clergy say that about 4 percent of clerics have been accused of molesting minors since 1950 and blame bishops' "moral laxity" in disciplining offenders for letting the problem worsen.

The Diocese of Yakima, Wash., said in a news release that a survey compiled by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice found 4,392 of the 109,694 clergy who served over that five-decade period faced allegations of abuse. The survey was overseen by the National Review Board, a lay watchdog panel the bishops formed at the height of the molestation crisis.

The review board had a Friday morning news conference scheduled in Washington to discuss the John Jay report and a companion study that examines the causes of the abuse troubles.

A source who has read both documents told the AP on condition of anonymity that the causes report places much of the blame on bishops. It says their "moral laxity" created an atmosphere that allowed the abuse problem to fester.

Dioceses nationwide received 10,667 abuse claims since 1950, according to the John Jay study. Of those, claims by approximately 6,700 were substantiated. About 3,300 were not investigated because the accused clergymen were dead.

Another 1,000 or so claims proved to be unsubstantiated, the diocesan news release said.

The national report also tallied abuse-related costs at $533.4 million.

The causes report acknowledges that some bishops recognized the gravity of the problem early on and spent years lobbying the Vatican to change church law so they could move faster against abusers.

The study also said the bishops were sometimes ill-served by the therapists and lawyers they sought out for guidance.

Still, there have been widespread reports of bishops who sheltered abusers and the review board used harsh language to criticize churchmen who failed to act. It said these bishops were guilty of "neglect" and insensitivity toward victims that allowed the "smoke of Satan" to enter the church, the source said.

The raw numbers of abuse claims and accused clergy are higher than previous attempts by the media and victims groups to tally them, though slightly lower than figures in a draft report viewed by CNN earlier this month.

Estimates of the number of guilty clerics have varied dramatically over the years. Church officials have said anywhere between 1 percent and 3 percent of clergy abused minors.

The Rev. Andrew Greeley, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, put the number at 4 percent. Psychologist Richard Sipe, a former monk who researches sexuality in the priesthood, said it could be as high as 5 percent.

The bishops have apologized repeatedly for any wrongdoing and have enacted several reforms to protect children since the long-simmering abuse problem erupted more than two years ago in Boston. The discipline policy they adopted in June 2002 bars sex offenders from all public ministry.

The bishops authorized the new, landmark studies to restore trust in their leadership. No other profession or religious group has exposed itself to such scrutiny on the abuse issue, even though molestation is an acknowledged problem among coaches, teachers and clergy of other faiths.

The prelates said they wanted to undertake the investigation to demonstrate their willingness to confront abuse in the church.

Victims, however, say the bishops acted only under intense public pressure and said any study by the church is bound to underestimate the number of abuse cases.

David Gibson, author of "The Coming Catholic Church," said parishioners will respond positively to the bishops' willingness to undergo this examination only if they follow up with action.

"It will only help if the bishops respond to this report by amending their behavior," Gibson said. "People want to see some changes in the system. They want to see more openness, more accountability, transparency."

In Boston, where the national crisis began with the case of rogue priest John Geoghan, officials said Thursday that 162 archdiocesan priests _ about 7 percent of those who served over the last half-century _ had been accused of abuse.

But plaintiffs' attorney Mitchell Garabedian scoffed at the count.

"We have an entity here that has allowed the wholesale sexual abuse of children by clergy, and to allow them to count the numbers just doesn't make any sense," he said. "There is a huge credibility problem here."

Associated Press writer Nicholas K. Geranios in Spokane, Wash., contributed to this report.


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