We saw this pattern in the recent case in Port Orchard, Washington. “We want the truth to come out,” said senior pastor Jamie Greening, after another minister in his church was arrested on child sex charges and after police said he had “confessed on tape to raping a 12-year-old.”
Failure to protect other potential victims while awaiting an outcome at trial is negligent. As Brown explains:
Just because a man hasn’t been criminally convicted doesn’t mean that he hasn’t sexually abused a child. In fact, many experts estimate that 90 percent of active sex offenders have no criminal record. This is consistent with FBI data, which indicates that only about 1 to 10 percent of child molestation crimes are ever even disclosed, much less prosecuted or convicted.
Children and other potential victims are put at undue risk when a criminal conviction is a faith group’s only measure of “the truth” in these cases. The widespread Southern Baptist standard in these matters is wrong.
Christa Brown writes about the case of Robert Dando:
- Dando was very closely connected to the highest levels of Baptists’ worldwide leadership. He previously served as executive assistant to the president of the Baptist World Alliance. This was a guy who ran with the big dogs.
- Dando “was embroiled in another child sex abuse scandal when he was a minister at Orchard Baptist Fellowship” in the United Kingdom. In 2001, when the leader of the church, Dr. Anthony Gray, was convicted of serious sex offenses against a 14-year-old boy, Dando said this: “All our youth work is carried out within proper guidelines.” Yet, we now know that Dando too was sexually abusing kids, and had been since at least as far back as 1995. (Do these guys run in packs?)
- At the time of his arrest, Dando was the prominent senior minister of Worcester Park Baptist Church in suburban London.
- Dando pled guilty to repeatedly abusing 2 boys in Virginia, starting when they were 7 and 8 years old. Virginia prosecutors said that, under questioning, Dando also admitted to sexually abusing boys in the United Kingdom.
- Dando had plenty of access to kids. His wife was a national vice-president of the Boys’ Brigade, a Christian youth organization with more than 500,000 members in 60 countries. Dando also worked for a children’s charity in India.
- Dando previously worked as a magistrate on a family court panel, which dealt with child care and child access proceedings.
Update: Dando target of UK investigation
Claire Fox of the Guardian writes:
A Baptist minister who admitted abusing children in the US faces a British police investigation after confessing to similar offences.
Reverend Robert Dando, 46, a senior minister at Worcester Park Baptist Church, pleaded guilty in Fairfax, Virginia, to four counts of sexually molesting the two young sons of family friends.
Dando sexually abused the boys between 1995 and 1999, from the ages of seven and eight.
Officials told Fairfax County Circuit Court one of the victims said Dando molested him by touching his genitals on 50 to 60 different occasions.
Fairfax County prosecutors have also revealed Dando admitted under questioning to touching young boys in the United Kingdom in a similar way.
The passion of religious faith transmuted into meanness, explains Christa Brown:
I never imagined a world of so much meanness until I stepped onto the terrain of Baptistland with pleas for clergy accountability and for care of abuse survivors.
Worst of all . . . it’s a malignant meanness that masks itself as religion.
The comments deserve a read too.
Vatican outrage which greeted raids by Belgian police last week on church offices and a cathedral in the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels was misplaced.
Doreen Carvajal of the New York Times reports that they were the result of “a formal accusation that the church was hiding information on sexual abuse lodged by the former president of an internal church commission handling such cases.”
The Flemish newspaper Nieuwsblad reported [via Google translate] that Godelieve Halsberghe, who from 1998 to 2008 “directed the [church] commission for handling complaints of sexual abuse in a pastoral relationships,” went to authorities after receiving a phone call warning that she and commission files she had were in danger. She turned over her files and talked to authorities about the possibility that the church was hiding other files.
Taking action on serious, formal complaints like those lodged by Ms. Halsberghe, a retired magistrate, is the responsibility of the police in a free society.
[H/T: Religion Clause]
Other fires were lit by incandescent papal response to Thursday’s daylong Belgian police raids.
Neither was quite as blunt as Fr. Rik Deville, 65, interviewed by the Italian newspaper La Stampa interviewed Devillèon June 27. He was, for example, unimpressed by the Adriaenssens Commission, which resigned en masse to protest the Belgian police action:
The problem was its connection with the Archdiocese, and the absence of either a lay component internally or a connection with the civil authorities. I always hoped that a truly independent commission would be formed, an organism whose objective was to help justice take its course. That must be the way. It’s not up to the church to decide who violated the law and who should be punished.
As for whether “the plague of sexual abuse by clergy a common evil?”
It happens everywhere, believe me. Belgium believed itself to be an exception because no case ever came to light. Yet as early as 1994, I had collected 82 accusations. The victims wanted to be heard by the church, they wanted to break the curse. It’s been useless, at least up to now.
Perhaps the most shocking allegation came from the Belgian right, via Dr. Alexandra Colen, MP. She is a member of the Belgian House of Representatives and wrote in The Brussels Journal of a catechism textbook, Roeach. She alleges:
The editors of Roeach were Prof. Jef Bulckens of the Catholic University of Leuven and Prof. Frans Lefevre of the Seminary of Bruges. The textbook contained a drawing which showed a naked baby girl saying: “Stroking my pussy makes me feel groovy,” “I like to take my knickers off with friends,” “I want to be in the room when mum and dad have sex.” The drawing also shows a naked little boy and girl that are “playing doctor” and the little boy says: “Look, my willy is big.”
When the wheels come off, the vehicle may eventually be found deep in the weeds. The question was and remains, how deep?
Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) heavies who gracelessly dragged their feet on acknowledging Frank Page’s selection as president of the SBC Executive Committee seem unlikely to have been concerned about his castigation of the victims of Southern Baptist clergy sex abuse.
Christa reviewed today Page’s record in that regard. If there is cause in it for hope that Southern Baptist children will be better protected under Page’s administration, we cannot find it. Take a look. Thoughts?
The charges stem from incidents in 2008 and 2009 involving two 15-year-old girls. Duffer was arrested last August after the parents of one of the girls contacted the Sheriff’s Office after discovering an inappropriate text message from Duffer to their teenage daughter.
In February, when the conviction was handed down and the March 13 sentencing date set, the York County, Va., Daily Press, wrote:
Jeremy “Jack” Ryan Duffer, a 40-year-old former youth pastor at Seaford Baptist Church, pleaded guilty in York-Poquoson Circuit Court to eight charges of aggravated sexual battery with a child between the ages of 13 and 17 and a single count of taking indecent liberties with a child. In return, nine additional charges of aggravated sexual battery were dropped by the prosecution.
Why incorporate now? He told the Colorado Springs Gazette that it’s about the money. That is:
. . . St. James was incorporated “to keep the accounting in order” of the paid talks they’ve given for about a year and a half at evangelical churches across the country. The Haggards incur out-of-pocket expenses while on the road, so St. James is a way to be reimbursed for those costs in an orderly manner, he said.
The case of Stephen Kiesle raises questions about whether and if so why then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delayed for years the action requested to better protect young Catholics from a predator.
Michael Sean Winters, writing for the Jesuit magazine American, excoriates the secular press and defends Vatican handling of the case in which “the priest who tied up young boys and molested them sexually and whose request to be defrocked came before” Ratzinger.
Grant Gallicho at dotCommonweal strips Winters’ defense to the bone today. At the heart of the scandal, Gallicho finds damning questions:
So, why shouldn’t we raise questions about Rome’s role in the Kiesle case? Because the local bishop didn’t do enough, and besides Ratzinger didn’t receive a sufficiently detailed description of the priest’s crimes, and besides the process didn’t engage the proper canonical technicality? But we don’t have to choose to be troubled either by the local bishop or Ratzinger. We need not view the [Ratziner-headed Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith] CDF’s shortcomings in indirect proportion to the local bishop’s, so that the CDF is absolved to the extent that the local bishop failed. The same pattern of argument emerged in the Murphy case. “What about Weakland’s responsibility?” Benedict’s defenders asked, as though that swept away the questions that remained about the pope’s role in the case. Yes, why didn’t Weakland restrict Murphy sooner? Why did he wait three years after learning of Murphy’s egregious sins before sending the case to Rome? Why didn’t Kiesle’s bishop restrict him sooner? But they appealed to Rome, so: why did the CDF wait three years after receiving all the information it requested from Cummins to reply? Why was a Vatican official unable to grasp what the Kiesle’s superiors meant when they gently referred to his abuse of minors, even going so far as mentioning his criminal conviction? Why wasn’t the conviction determinative?
And then there are the larger questions: Why was Ratzinger on this case? Benedict’s defenders have claimed that he shouldn’t be blamed for Rome’s failure to address abuse claims promptly because he wasn’t officially responsible for such cases until 2001. Obviously that isn’t the whole story. Why not? Why was Ratzinger not really engaged in the Murphy case, which involved the abuse of as many as 200 deaf boys, but he was directly responsible for the decision not to release Kiesle from the full obligations of the clerical state? When Kiesle was finally fully laicized at age forty, whose decision was that? Ratzinger’s?
Certainly smoke enough to imply a gun as we struggle with questions Benedict could answer but does not.