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Entries in Sex Abuse (21)

Saturday
Mar092013

Survey Finds Sex Abuse Is Catholic Church’s Biggest Problem

George Doyle/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As the cardinal electors contemplate the merits of their peer group, from which one will likely be named pope, U.S. Catholics said sex abuse is the biggest problem facing the church, according to a new survey.

The survey, from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that 34 percent of U.S. Catholics believe sexual abuse is the most pressing problem. However 17 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know the most important problem or they declined to offer an opinion.

No other answers elicited more than 10 percent of a response.

Credibility was named as the biggest problem by 9 percent of respondents, while an outdated church and a loss of followers garnered 7 percent each.

Social issues, such as homosexuality and abortion, each got 2 percent of the vote.

The survey also found that 27 percent of U.S. Catholics believe the church helps society most through charity, while 11 percent said it provides a moral compass.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

Prominent Priest Defends Sex Abusers, Later Apologizes

Image Source/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A well-known Catholic priest who hosts a weekly religious television show said in an interview this week that child sex abusers are often seduced by teenage boys and should not go to jail on a first offense.  But the comments were removed by the website that published them and replaced by an apology from the priest and the site's editors.

The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, 79, who hosts a weekly show on the Catholic television network EWTN, originally made the comments in an interview with the National Catholic Register.  He also referred to convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State coach convicted of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, as a "poor guy."

"People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to -- a psychopath.  But that's not the case.  Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him.  A lot of the cases, the youngster -- 14, 16, 18 -- is the seducer," Groeschel was quoted as saying in the interview, which is no longer available on the paper's website.

The interview has now been replaced by a statement from Groeschel.

"I apologize for my comments," it said.  "I did not intend to blame the victim.  A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible.  My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be.  I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could.  I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone."

Jeanette R. De Melo, the site's editor in chief, included her own apology for posting the interview.

"Child sexual abuse is never excusable," she wrote.  "The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel's comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse.  Nothing could be further from the truth."

The interview, billed as a reflection on the 25 years since Groeschel founded the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal order, covered many topics, but Groeschel's comments on child sexual abuse brought it national attention.

"Well, it's not so hard to see.  A kid looking for a father and didn't have his own -- and they won't be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping, but not having intercourse or anything like that.  I's an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers," Groeschel was quoted as saying.

Quotes from the interview remained posted on websites including the National Catholic Reporter, the Huffington Post, and the Catholic blog Renew America, all of which criticized Groeschel for the remarks.

Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter called the comments "particularly disturbing" because of Groeschel's background in psychology.  He received a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University.

"(The comments) cannot stand unchallenged," Roberts wrote.

Groeschel could not be reached for comment.  Representatives for the National Catholic Register and EWTN did not immediately return calls for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun212012

How a Sex Abuse Victim Finally Got Predator Priest into Court

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- William Lynch dreamed of this day for more than 35 years, when the priest who he said sexually abused him and his younger brother would be brought to court and his ugly crimes exposed.

The boys kept their painful secret for years, long past the six year statute of limitations California had in place at the time of the alleged crimes.

But today, William Lynch is finding his own form of personal justice. It's a risk he said he is willing to take, even if it means spending the next four years of his life behind bars.

The 44-year-old San Francisco man is on trial for felony assault and elder abuse charges after he allegedly beat the aging Jesuit at his retirement community in 2010.

Lynch was offered a plea deal of one year in jail in order to avoid going to trial. He declined. He said he wanted to see "Father Jerry" in court.

On Wednesday, decades after Lynch said he was brutally raped at age 7 and forced to perform sex acts on his 4-year-old brother, he came face-to-face with the aging priest in a Santa Clara County court room.

Father Jerold Lindner, now 67, told the court he remembered Lynch, but only as the man who attacked him at a Los Gatos, Calif., Jesuit retirement community where the priest has resided since 2001.

Lindner denied molesting Lynch and his younger brother on a camping trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974.

Lynch's attorney declared the priest had perjured himself and even prosecutor Vicki Gemetti said in her opening statement that she expected Lindner to lie on the stand or say he didn't remember certain events.

"The evidence will show [Lindner] molested the defendant all those years ago," she said, but urged the jury to focus on Lynch's attack.

In 2010, Lindner said he was told by the receptionist at his retirement community that he had a visitor.

"She said it had something to do with my brother dying," Lindner testified.

Lynch allegedly asked the priest if he remembered him and then began beating him.

Mary Eden was one of two witnesses to the alleged beating who testified on Wednesday.

"[The attacker] was saying Father Lindner ruined his life and his brother's life. I remember him using obscenities and being very angry," Eden said.

Lynch's case of alleged vigilante justice has attracted support from around the world and has shed light on a justice system many view as flawed.

The stoic defendant was flanked by supporters as he walked into the Hall of Justice in San Jose. Many of them have mobilized through a website and on Facebook. They carried signs that read "stop clergy sex abuse" and condemned the "Pedophile Playground" retirement community where Lindner, who has had previous allegations against him, lives.

Lynch and his brother were awarded $625,000 after filing a civil suit against Lindner in 1997. The priest was removed from active ministry and was moved to the Jesuit retirement community in 2001.

Lindner was named in two other abuse lawsuits, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun162012

Former Catholic Altar Boy's Death at 39 Was Result Of Abuse, Lawsuit Alleges

ABC News(PHOENIX, Ariz.) -- An Arizona man filed suit against the Diocese of Phoenix and two church figures, alleging the abuse his son suffered as an altar boy led him to engage in destructive behaviors that ultimately led to his death.

David Michael Pain Sr. filed the suit on Wednesday, seeking justice for his son, David Michael Pain Jr., who died two years ago at the age of 39.

The suit names the Diocese of Phoenix, former Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien and Rev. John "Jack" Spaulding, the priest who allegedly abused David Jr., beginning when he was in 7th grade.

The alleged abuse swept David Jr. into a downward spiral of drugs, crime and suicide attempts, drastically altering his life, according to the lawsuit.

In June 2010, David Jr. burst into his father's home and threatened him. Pain shot his son in self defense.

He told the Arizona Republic he did not want to inflict a life-threatening shot, but the bullet happened to graze an artery.

David Jr. died hours later without seeking medical treatment. Cocaine and methamphetamine were found in his system.

Jan Krolczyk, the mother of David Jr. and ex-wife of Pain, is not participating in the lawsuit but said she wholly agreed the church was responsible for her son's death.

"I absolutely hold them responsible," she said.

Krolczyk said she didn't find out about the abuse until her son was in his late teens or early twenties.

"We were talking and he suddenly disclosed [the abuse]," she said. "I had no idea."

Looking back, Krolczyk said during the abuse "that's when David started drugs."

"He became unmanageable. He became angry," she said.

Weeks after David died, his father told the diocese about the alleged abuse.

The Diocese of Phoenix said it could not discuss the pending litigation, but would continue to keep the Pain family in its prayers.

"As always, Bishop Olmsted and the Diocese of Phoenix encourage anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct or abuse by a member of the clergy or by any employee or volunteer of the Church to make a report to local law enforcement and to contact the Diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection," the diocese said in a statement issued to ABCNews.com.

Spaulding, the priest who allegedly abused David Jr., was suspended in 2011 after a diocese investigation found Pain's story, and that of three other accusers, to be credible.

Spaulding's attorney, Philip Seplow, called him a "beloved" member of the community and denied the abuse allegations.

"I think what it is is [David] Michael Pain Sr. killed [David] Michael Pain Jr. and it looks to me like he's trying to exorcise his own demons," Seplow said.

Krolczyk left the church, though she said despite the lawsuit, her ex-husband has not.

"I just find the whole scenario obscene," she said. "I think the Catholic Church knows what is going on and they do nothing about it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Alleged Victim Says He Was Twice Threatened by Jerry Sandusky

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky twice threatened an 11-year-old boy over oral sex, once telling the frightened kid he would "never see my family again" if he spoke about the alleged assault, a witness testified Wednesday in the sex abuse trial.

The witness, who is now 25 and identified by ABC News only as Victim 10, told the court that he was in Sandusky's basement in 1998 when they were wrestling and the "defendant pinned me to the ground and pulled my shorts down and started performing oral sex on me," he said.

"I freaked out.  I was scared," Victim 10 testified.  The witness said the alleged assault lasted "a couple of minutes."

"He then went back upstairs.  He told me if I told anyone that I would never see my family again," the witness said.

Sandusky later returned to the basement.  "He apologized for saying that and that he didn't mean it and that he loved me," Victim 10 said.

The witness said that on another occasion he was riding in Sandusky's car when the coach asked the boy to perform oral sex on him, and the boy refused.

"He got displeased with what I told him.  He made a threat to me," Victim 10 testified, and said he then carried out the sex act that Sandusky allegedly demanded.

Victim 10, who was living in a foster home at the time, was the third adult to describe in wrenching detail alleged sex assaults carried out by Sandusky on young boys.  The former Penn State assistant coach is charged with 52 counts of sex abuse stemming from 10 alleged victims.  Sandusky, 68, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the charges.

Victim 10 said that during his second year at the Second Mile summer camp, Sandusky swam up between his legs, lifted the boy on his shoulders, and reached up under his shorts and fondled him.  The boy felt uncomfortable, but did not say anything.

Sandusky then began asking to hang out with the boy, taking him to football games and to his house, where he sexually assaulted the boy "at least five times," the man said.  The man's roommate at that camp is also an accuser in the case, according to testimony elicited by defense attorney Joseph Amendola, who tried to point to a relationship between the two victims and the possibility of collusion.  Victim 10 said he had not spoken to the other accuser in the past year.

Amendola also questioned Victim 10 about his criminal past, including a recent 23-month stint in state prison for robbery of an "older gentleman," and an earlier theft conviction which Victim 10 confirmed.  He said he is now married and expecting his first child.  He also said he was not represented by any private attorney, upon Amendola's questioning.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Jerry Sandusky Jury Braces to Hear From Two More Victims

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Two men in their twenties, who claim that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky molested them as young boys, are expected to give even more graphic testimony on Wednesday in the sex abuse trial that has left some jurors wiping tears from their eyes.

The men have been identified in a grand jury report as Victim 5 and Victim 7.  They would be the third and fourth alleged victims out of eight who are scheduled to testify against Sandusky, who is charged with 52 counts of sex abuse stemming from 10 alleged victims.  Sandusky, 68, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the charges.

The third day of the trial will build on the testimony of Victims 1 and 4, who both gave chilling accounts of being forced to have sexual contact with Sandusky, bringing some of the seven women and five men on the jury to tears.

Also expected to testify on Wednesday is John McQueary, the father of star witness Mike McQueary, an assistant football coach who on Tuesday told the jury that he was confident that in 2001, he walked into the football locker room showers and saw Sandusky raping a young boy.  He told the court that he banged his locker door and looked directly at Sandusky, then left and called his father.

John McQueary will be asked by prosecutor Joseph McGettigan and defense attorney Joseph Amendola about what Mike McQueary said he saw that night in the locker room.  Mike McQueary testified that after calling his father he went to his father's home and recounted at least three times, in "vague" terms, what had been going on in the showers.

"I even said, 'Dad, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on,'" McQueary told the court on Tuesday.

Sandusky's defense team tried to prove that McQueary changed his account of what he saw in the showers as he relayed it to different people, leading to a heated exchange between McQueary and defense attorney Karl Rominger.

The defense is also expected to go after the credibility and the accounts of the two accusers who may be called on Wednesday.  Victim 5, a 22-year-old, testified to the grand jury about an incident in which Sandusky tried to force the boy when he was 8 or 9 to touch his erect penis in a sauna after a workout.  And Victim 7, now 26, said Sandusky reached into his shorts, but didn't fondle him, and recalled a "blurry memory" of contact with Sandusky in a shower in his grand jury testimony.

Amendola, who has said his strategy is to show that the alleged victims are lying about their accounts in order to make money off of a Penn State-affiliated coach, will likely question the men about the accuracy of their memories, the lack of sexual touching, and the reason they came forward to police when they did, more than 10 years after the incidents.

The defense has said that they may call Dottie Sandusky, Jerry Sandusky's wife, as a witness during the defense's presentation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

Jerry Sandusky Expected to Face Victim 1 in Sex Abuse Trial

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- A recent high school graduate who, as a freshman, made accusations of sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky is expected to testify on Tuesday about how the former Penn State football coach molested him in his basement during sleepovers.

The young man known as Victim 1, who graduated high school earlier this month, prompted the three-year investigation into Sandusky after telling his mother in 2008 that he wanted to look up "ex weirdos" online because of Sandusky.  The then-freshman and his mother reported allegations of abuse to his high school, which notified authorities.  The prosecution might call school officials or investigators on Tuesday to support Victim 1's testimony.

The widespread investigation launched after Victim 1's report resulted in 52 charges of child sex abuse for Sandusky, stemming from the complaints of eight accusers and two eyewitness accounts.  Defense attorney Joseph Amendola said on Monday that Sandusky has always maintained his innocence, and that the alleged victims were likely lying for financial gain.

A wrestling coach at Victim 1's high school returned to a small, secluded wrestling room late one school night and found Sandusky and Victim 1 lying on the floor facing one another, according to the grand jury report.  Sandusky told the coach that they were working on wrestling moves, although Sandusky was not a wrestling coach.

Victim 1's testimony is expected to reiterate the pattern of abuse introduced by the man known as Victim 4 on Monday, who described Sandusky placing his hand on the boy's knee, rubbing his stomach and blowing on his stomach, and starting soap fights in the showers of the Penn State locker rooms after workouts that quickly turned into sexual assaults.

Sandusky, 68, showed little emotion during testimony Monday, shaking his head once when the accuser said that Sandusky offered him a walk-on spot on the Nittany Lions football team.

The prosecution is expected to call six more alleged victims to the stand during the trial, in addition to key witness Mike McQueary, who alleges that he saw Sandusky rape a boy in the football locker room showers.

Sandusky himself might take the stand in his own defense, according to statements made by Amendola during opening statements Monday.

"It was routine for people to get in the showers in Jerry's culture," Amendola said.  "He's going to tell you later, it was routine for individuals to take showers together."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

Victim 1 Cries on Stand in Penn State Sex Abuse Trial

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- The 18-year-old man who launched the sex abuse investigation into Jerry Sandusky wept on the stand Tuesday and brought some jurors to tears as he recalled the first time the former Penn State coach allegedly performed oral sex on him, when he was about 12 years old.

"After rubbing, cracking my back and rubbing his hands down back of my shorts, and the blowing on the stomach," he said, pausing to cry, "he put his mouth on my privates.  I spaced, I didn't know what to do.  With all the thoughts running through my head, I just kind of blacked out and didn't want it to happen.  I was froze."

The man, known as Victim 1, reported the alleged sexual abuse to his mother and his high school in 2008, launching a three-year investigation that led to 52 charges of child sex abuse against Sandusky.

The recent high school graduate was the second accuser to testify during the trial, which began Monday in Bellefonte, Pa., 10 miles from Penn State University.

He described meeting Sandusky through Sandusky's charity for underprivileged boys, the Second Mile, and spending time with Sandusky playing sports, doing activities and sleeping over his house.

Victim 1 described staying in Sandusky's basement bedroom, where a water bed and television were sequestered away from a pool table.  It was there that Sandusky began abusing him, he said.

Jury members placed their hands over their mouths or wiped tears away from their eyes as the man testified that Sandusky forced him to perform oral sex.

"lt was back cracking, rolling around in bed, back massages, hands down back of my shorts.  The same thing," he said, pausing to cry.  "Except this time he sat there and he looked at me and said something along the lines of, 'It's your turn,' and he made me, he made me put my mouth on his privates.  In the basement room."

Joseph Amendola, the defense attorney for Sandusky, tried during cross-examination to pick through the accuser's account of events, showing that he told investigators with Children and Youth Services and the state police different timelines for when the oral sex abuse began and ended, and showing that he didn't even mention oral sex to investigators until about eight months into the investigation, when troopers told him there were other young people with similar claims.

The back-and-forth between Amendola and Victim 1 became tense at times, as the accuser dismissed Amendola's suggestion that he was lying.

Victim 1 was adamant that staying at Sandusky's house affected his behavior.

"After I started staying with him it [my behavior] changed noticeably.  I acted out, I started wetting the bed, I got into fights with people, stuff I would never normally do," he said.

Sandusky also came to the boy's school frequently and pulled him out of class for conferences, he testified.

Once, Sandusky and the boy were working out in a wrestling room when Sandusky pulled the alleged victim off of a rock climbing wall and down onto him on a wrestling mat, where he began rolling around with the boy and blowing on his stomach.  Then, a coach walked in.

"Then the door opened and Joe Miller walked in on me.  I felt kind of like a relief that nothing was going to happen in the school," he said.

Amendola, however, went back over the incident with Victim 1, noting that in his grand jury testimony, Victim 1 said it was "hilarious" when he fell of the rock wall with Sandusky when they were climbing, and that he was "laughing hysterically."  Amendola reiterated that there had been no sexual contact during the incident.

Amendola also hinted that Victim 1 had discussed getting rich by bringing a civil suit against Sandusky, part of the defense strategy Amendola has described since the beginning of the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun062012

Jerry Sandusky Jury Seated: Most Have Strong Penn State Ties

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- One member of the jury selected for former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse trial is a professor at the university who has read the entire grand jury report that indicted Sandusky.

Also on the panel is a student who arrived wearing a Penn State shirt, just finished his junior year at the school and works in Penn State's sports facility.

The two-day jury selection process was so deliberate that the first person interviewed -- a middle-aged white woman who works at Walmart and has two daughters -- was picked to sit on the panel.

A woman in her 70s who is a retired bus driver joined the group despite telling the court, "I just can't see our children hurt."

Yet another juror is a 30-year-old Penn State graduate student who told the court that Sandusky spoke at her graduation.

The judge and lawyers were expected to seat a jury Wednesday. The first 13 jurors include five men and eight women. More jurors will be selected to ensure there are several alternates.

Eight of the first 13 jurors have a connection to Penn State.

That many of the jurors have ties to Penn State was almost unavoidable in Centre County, which is dominated by the university.

Judge John Cleland conceded that it might be hard for one particular juror to put aside his emotional ties to the school, but added, "I hope it's hard for everyone. If it's easy, we have the wrong jury."

Sandusky, 58, is charged with 52 counts of child sex abuse involving 10 boys. The former Penn State assistant football coach allegedly preyed on boys through the Second Mile charity that he helped create.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to begin Monday with opening statements. The first witness is expected to be "Victim 4," who is now 28 and will support his accusations with "creepy" love letters that Sandusky allegedly sent to him.

The charges against Sandusky rocked the university and resulted in the dismissal of the school's president, Graham Spanier, as well as the school's revered football coach, Joe Paterno. Paterno, 85, died of cancer in January, shortly after he was fired by the school.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr032012

Ex-Bengals Cheerleader Pleads Not Guilty in Student Sex Case

Hemera/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- A former Bengals cheerleader accused of sex abuse, and her mother, a middle school principal who allegedly covered up the crime, entered pleas of not guilty during their arraignment Monday in Kenton County, Ky.

Sarah Jones, one-time captain of the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleading squad and a former high school teacher, is accused of sexually abusing a student and unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual activities.

Sarah Jones' mother, Cheryl Jones, is accused of tampering with evidence in connection with her daughter's case.  Cheryl Jones is currently suspended from her job as middle school principal pending a further investigation.

Both Sarah and Cheryl Jones were arrested following a grand jury investigation into the charges.

At the courthouse Monday, the pair was joined by a dozen supporters, including the family of the alleged victim, according to ABC News affiliate WCPO.

Though the alleged victim's family supports Sarah Jones, Jefferson County Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Sarah Farmer said the state would continue to prosecute the case against both Sarah and Cheryl Jones.

"The commonwealth feels that we have sufficient proof to go forward," Farmer told ABC News.

At the arraignment, Judge Patricia Summe ordered Sarah and Cheryl Jones to avoid contact with the alleged victim and to disable the text messaging component of their phones.

Forensic evidence for the case was collected by taking Sarah Jones' computers and phone records.

The trial date for both Sarah and Cheryl Jones was set for June 27.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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