Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Looks like someone else agreed with me regarding my "accessory during/after the fact" rant of not too long ago...




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Catholic Church Abuse Scandal
Related News Stories
· Grand Jury Weighs Case on Cardinal - Associated Press (Jun 19, 2002)
· A grand jury is said to weigh case against Law - Boston Globe (Jun 19, 2002)
· Calls to sex abuse hotlines increase after scandal - USA Today (Jun 19, 2002)
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Opinion & Editorials
· Lagging Arthur Andersen on ethics - Boston Globe (Jun 19, 2002)
· Catholic Church crisis lesson for institutions - Honolulu Advertiser (Jun 18, 2002)
· Bishops Didn't Go Far Enough - Hartford Courant (Jun 18, 2002)
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Feature Articles
· The bishops balk - The Economist (Jun 17, 2002)
· How US Catholic reforms will play in pews - Christian Science Monitor (Jun 17, 2002)
Related Web Sites
· U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - official site that has a special section on the abuse scandal.
· Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday - first public comment from the Pope on the child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic priesthood. From the Holy See, March 21, 2002.
· Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse - database of the nation’s 178 mainstream Roman Catholic dioceses that reveals where accused priests have been protected by bishops or others. From the Dallas Morning News.
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Grand Jury Probes Cardinal Law
Wed Jun 19, 1:13 PM ET
By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP) - A grand jury is looking into whether criminal charges could be brought against Cardinal Bernard Law and other church leaders in the sex scandal that has engulfed the Boston Archdiocese, a law enforcement source said Wednesday.

The grand jury convened by Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly has been investigating for weeks whether Law and other leaders broke the law in allowing priests accused of molesting children to remain in positions where they could continue to abuse youngsters.

A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the chances that charges would be filed against Law or other top officials are small because of the statute of limitations and the difficult standards for prosecuting someone as an accessory.

The scandal rocking the nation's Roman Catholic Church began earlier this year in Boston when it was disclosed that the archdiocese had moved priests from parish to parish despite allegations they had molested youngsters.

Nationwide, at least 250 priests have either been dismissed from their duties or resigned since the scandal erupted.

By law, Reilly cannot confirm whether a grand jury investigation is under way. But Reilly told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his office is using "every investigative tool available to us, including interviews and demand for documents and records."

"We have an obligation to look into this," Reilly said.

Reilly said in April that he had not ruled out bringing charges against Law.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for Law, said the archdiocese was preparing a statement but had no immediate comment.

Reilly and various district attorneys have said that under state laws on conspiracy, obstruction of justice and being an accessory to a crime, it would be difficult to charge someone for putting another person in a position to commit a crime.

***

I think this is an interesting first step. If Cardinal Law is indicted for an accessory crime, it may open the doors for similar cases in other diocese. I guess for me the issue isn't that they are trying to get an indictment on the basis that they were "putting another person in a position to commit a crime" as much as I think they should be tried for KEEPING them in a position to keep committing the crime or even having knowledge that such acts were taking place and not reporting them to the police. Sadly, I am not up to date on Massachusetts law statutes regarding such provisions so I can't fully state why the angle I think the prosecution should take is different than what they are currently doing now.

The main question I have (and many others) is when did these people actually know (through documentation or whatever) about the actions of their employees. I don't care if you don't think priests or nuns or monks are employees but when you think about it they really are. They are working for a diocese or a church or whatever. Such actions are punishable by dismissal and even criminal action in normal corporations (if there is such a thing as a normal corporation). Why aren't they in a church?
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