At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Chicago's Cardinal Stritch) stood over me and said, I had to "stop babbling" about what the priest did to me. It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Today, I babble.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Part 2: Church battles veterans who come off active duty and file lawsuits under SCRA re pedophile Catholic priests

Continued from Part 1 here:

My friend Michael Baumann in Virginia, is a retired Naval officer and an adult victim of pedophile priest who we quoted earlier, saying if he had filed a lawsuit against an archdiocese while he was on active duty, it would have destroyed his career. He elaborated in an email:

I wanted to pass along some thoughts on the impact revealing this great dark secret would have on a military career.

When I came home from the Iraqi Theater of Operations in 2003, I was required to see a psychologist as part of my return to the United States from the war zone.

During this interview, I only revealed enough information to get through the interview being careful not to reveal any information on the abuse I had suffered as a child (at the hands of Father Robert Gibson). The reason for withholding the information was very simple. An active duty military member does not enjoy the same confidentiality with a Military psychologist or psychiatrist that a civilian would expect.

A military mental health official has a responsibility to report to the chain of command any condition that would preclude the member under their care from performing their military duties. Anything that may be a threat to good order and discipline would have consequences, as mild as inability to qualify for assignments, to more extreme consequences that could impact the ability of a service member to hold a clearance, to qualify for a higher clearance, or maintain a position of trust and confidence. In extreme cases you could lose your command, or be removed from a critical position.

It could negatively impact future promotion potential. In a word, being completely honest and open may have dire consequences on your military career.

Medications, if prescribed, would also be made known to a commanding officer. This could lead to some uncomfortable conversations about a private matter which may or may not have an effect on the performance of your military duties.

I would have been horrified at the thought that a very personal matter such as the what happened to me at age 13 was known to some of the commanding officers I served with.

Many military members would seek mental health services outside of the military health care system to avoid the stigma and the potential for being ostracized within the military community. Having the chain of command know you were raped, repeatedly, by a priest could lead to isolation from peers, mistrust by superiors and disdain from subordinates.

Today's warrior ethos in the post 9/11 military does not leave a great deal of room for anyone who may be perceived as "weak".

(Read more from Michael Baumann at his blog Off My Knees)


I may be in the courtroom but...

I'm off again, drifting. That dark room, the smell of brandy, Mahony and Potts sit across from each other. Both men are so much alike - diminutive, just skin drawn across bones, skin that rarely sees sunlight, both men have thinning hair that used to be brown.

Plus they are both so odd shaped, both Mahony and Potts (pictured right) have a kind of oblique imbalance in the size of different parts of them. Mahony’s neck is so long, then this head sort of bobbles there over the rest of his body. Potts is a similar bobble head looking individual, just much shorter than Mahony.
These two brittle men, sitting in a room that grows even darker than the thick curtains had kept it that afternoon, pour more brandy, now laughing at just how audacious they can be in fighting plaintiffs in these cases, plus who’s watching? That little old lady from City of Angels is the only “reporter” there.

Cardinal Mahony and Lee Potts would both laugh at that.

(Photo of Mahony credit to LA Weekly.)


For background read:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Church to Iraq Vets: Overseas in 2003? Too bad, dismiss the cases, bishops are above Federal law

*By Kay Ebeling

Servicemenbers who were at war during the one-year window that allowed lawsuits against the Catholic Church in 2003 should not be allowed to proceed with lawsuits filed in 2008 regarding child molestation by priests, even though Federal law allows benefits such as delayed lawsuits for active duty personnel, attorneys for the Catholic Church argued in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday.Both Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego want several civil cases regarding molestation thrown out, because the plaintiffs were overseas serving their country during the one-year window that opened to file civil lawsuits in 2003.

One plaintiff was and still is in Iraq, another adult victim of a peophile priest from Tuesday's hearing was in Guam and other farflung places on active duty during the one-year window in 2003, and did not file his suit until 20 months after leaving the military.

Also article by Pat Noaker quoted below:

The Service member’s Civil Relief Act has recently been used to help a service member get the help he needed. In St. Paul, Minnesota, our law firm handled a case where a 20-year Naval officer was sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest (See Jeff Strickler, “9 Minnesota clergy abuse cases being settled for $1.7 million,” Star Tribune, February 6, 2009; Emily Gurnon, “Nine men to share $1.7 million from Catholic order that admits sex abuse,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 6, 2009).

In this case, the Catholic religious order of The Crosiers Fathers and Brothers attempted to get the abuse lawsuit dismissed claiming the statute of limitations had expired on the Naval officer’s claims. Relying on the Service member’s Civil Relief Act, the Court refused to dismiss the claims because the survivor/Naval officer had been a full-time active service member for 20 years and thus, the statute of limitations did not begin to run until he left full-time military service. Similar applications of the Service member’s Civil Relief Act to sexual abuse lawsuits involving other Catholic clergy is occurring across the country to help service members get the help that they need.

Patrick Noaker, Attorney at Law writing in Veteran Journal February 2009 Noaker is with Anderson Advocates in Minnesota.

The plaintiff in the Crosier case in Minnesota had spent 20 years as a naval officer, and the statue of limitations clock stops running while a person is in the armed forces, meaning that his case was still active. That was the legal wedge Anderson needed.

In Minnesota the SOL stopped while the plaintiff was on active duty, which should set a national precedent regarding the Catholic Church and returning Service Members filing lawsuits because of the epidemic of pedophile Catholic Priests. :


In a case regarding the Service Members Relief Act and Crosier Brother Wendell Mohs:

“The Statute of Limitations is tolled for any time Plaintiff served on active duty by the provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and its predecessor act, The Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act.

“Plaintiff has a little more than twenty years of active duty between his eighteenth birthday, April 28, 1983, and the date he initiated this suit, April 17, 2006, a period of approximately twenty three years.

"Subtracting the twenty years of active duty from the twenty three years that elapsed from Plaintiff’s 18th birthday to suit initiation results in only three years of the six year statute of limitations have elapsed.

“Under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, ‘the period of a servicemember’s military service may not be included in computing any period limited by law, regulation, or order for the bringing of any action or proceeding in a court.

"Tolling provisions of SCRA should be liberally construed to protect the rights of persons in the military service.

(Minnesota law, but interesting: The “doctrine of unclean hands.”)

From Minnesota Court order:

Defendant cannot take advantage of the doctrine of laches because of the doctrine of unclean hands.

“The defense of unclean hands is premised on ‘withholding judicial assistance from a party guilty of illegal or unconscionable conduct.’

“While plaintiff maintains Defendant Crosiers’ conduct is unconscionable, they do not present any evidence unconscionable conduct other than Crosiers’ knowledge of questionable behavior by Mohs.

While there has been a delay in the Plaintiff’s assertion of his rights, this delay is protected by the SCRA.

“Here Defendant Mohs has admitted the sexual abuse of Plaintiff, so the substantive issues relate mainly to defendant Crosiers’ liability for Mohs’ actions.

Although there has been a long period of time, at this point there does not appear to be a significant loss of evidence or unavailability of witnesses.

Therefore, because there has not been such an unreasonable delay that it is inequitable to grant the Plaintiff relief, it is in appropriate to dismiss this case based on the doctrine of laches.

Not “excessive entanglement” (again Minnesota law)

“This Court will treat Defendant Crosier like any other organization in our society, applying neutral civil law, and possibly subjecting Defendant to civil liability. There is not excessive entanglement with religion that violates the First Amendment.”

More from Minnesota order:

The delayed discovery statute does apply to Plaintiff’s negligence and vicarious liability claims.

From other documents filed for Plaintiffs by Anderson Advocates in Minnesota:

“The Crosiers try to assert that plaintiff was not on active duty service when he attended an Officer Candidate program for 3 years at Naval Postgraduate School, even though the Navy lists him as on active duty during those periods of time. Attached as evidence was plaintiff’s DD 214 showing his active Duty time of 20 years 3 months and 26 days.”

While we're talking about the Crosiers in Minnesota, here is what the Church in this case knew and ignored:

In 1974 the Order requested that Mohs refrain from alcohol because Mohs had a problem with moderation probably due to underlying problems.

In 1978 the Order raised questions about Mohs’ sexuality and personality.

In approximately 1978 Dan Davidson then head of the Crosier seminary in Onamia, and soon to be head of the Order, noted that Mohs had repeatedly gone over the appropriate boundaries for adults and students and questioned whether Mohs should have any involvement with a teen program Teens Encounter Christ, in which the Crosiers were heavily involved.

In 1979 the Crosiers had a serious discussion with mohs over a card he gave to a minor student.

“In 1971 an evaluation of Mohs in the Crosiers’ files stated that Mohs had ‘some degree of sexual preoccupation.

In 1972 another Crosier noted that Mohs has real problems.

In 1973 another Crosier wrote that Mohs might become the ‘playboy of the order.’”

“In 1974 the Order requested that Mohs refrain from alcohol because Mohs had a problem with moderation probably due to underlying problems.

In 1978 the Order raised questions about Mohs’ sexuality and personality.

In approximately 1978 Dan Davidson then head of the Crosier seminary in Onamia, Minnesota, and soon to be head of the Order, noted that Mohs had repeatedly gone over the appropriate boundaries for adults and students and questioned whether Mohs should have any involvement with a teen program Teens Encounter Christ, in which the Crosiers were heavily involved.

In 1979 the Crosiers had a serious discussion with Mohs over a card he gave to a minor student.

For more about Wendell Mohs go to Bishop Accountability Data Base of Priests and look under M.
For more about Robert Gibson go to same place and click under G or read Off My Knees blog by Michael Baumann.

If you would like to see full PDF documents in these cases email me, as we can’t post PDFs here but I can email them.

(Below Church Attorneys Potts and Roberts talk after 9/09 hearing)

The attorney who defends Catholic pedophile priests in Los Angeles, Donald Steier, does not want me to put his picture up in a post. So we are only going to post pictures of parts of Donald Steier here.

Donald Steier says he's afraid one of his pedophile priest clients' crime victims will come after him.

Steier should know that even though A lot of us survivors do become enraged, the crimes we commit are usually victimless, or the damages inflicted are only on ourselves. You could say the victims absorbed the message of the Church moreso than the perpetrators, or the bishops who pay Steier's legal fees today.

Still to assuage Steier's fears, we are only going to show parts of Donald Steier:

At right Donald Steier's head.

At right, Donald Steier's tie.

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1 comment:

Michael said...

Nice job Kay!

As for the lawyer afraid of survivors of sexual crimes by priests. He should be grateful that there is a portion of the population that holds another group, priests, in lower regard than those who toil in the profession of law. All that twisting and misrepresenting, it must be exhausting!

I do find his fear of survivors entertaining. Perhaps he knows that his defense of the diocese is so vile that people who deserve justice would hold him in contempt. Sleep well, Mr. Steier, you are hardly worthy of our attention.