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Accountability

Priest at center of Kansas City sex abuse cases expected to plead guilty

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The priest whose arrest for possession of child pornography led to the first criminal charges against a Catholic bishop in the church's decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis is expected to plead guilty in federal court Thursday to at least some of the charges against him, according to court records.

SNAP conference offers legal updates, healing

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The meeting agenda of the largest advocacy group for victims of clergy sex abuse was filled with updates on the group’s legal matters, but for many in attendance, the gathering also offered hope for healing and an opportunity to be understood.

The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, held its annual conference July 27-29 in Chicago. The more than 200 who attended heard updates on a Missouri court’s order to release documents to lawyers representing accused priests; the group’s case before an international criminal court; and the recent abuse trials in Pennsylvania.

SNAP has appealed the Missouri court order to the state’s Supreme Court and expected a decision from the high court as the conference began, but nothing emerged. Barbara Blaine, the group's founder and president, said that while the order has spread fear, victims have also expressed relief that the group’s leadership is intent on fighting to keep members’ information private.

“I think that has meant a great deal to a lot of people,” Blaine said.

Philadelphia priest guilty of child endangerment to serve up to six years in prison

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For failing to protect children from a known predator priest, Msgr. William J. Lynn will spend three to six years in prison.

Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina read the former secretary of clergy for the Philadelphia archdiocese her sentence July 24 before a standing-room-only courtroom.

"You knew full well what was right, Msgr. Lynn, but you chose wrong," Sarmina said, according to The Associated Press.

Other courtroom reports quoted the judge as telling Lynn, 61, he "helped many but also failed many," and "enabled monsters in clerical garb … to destroy the souls of children."

When given the chance to speak, Lynn said he did his best to protect children, but acknowledged that his best wasn't good enough.

Lynn's lawyers have stated they will appeal his case. A hearing to release the convicted priest on bail during the appeal process was postponed until Aug. 6.

Present in the courtroom were many from Lynn's family and support circle, several of whom took the stand as character witnesses for the monsignor. Just as many stood beside the victim of Edward Avery, a defrocked priest who molested the 10-year-old altar boy in 1999.

Update: Call about legal status led to questions about Nevada Catholic Conference director

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UPDATE, July 19: Nevada's two bishops first became aware that the executive director of the Nevada Catholic Conference pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge after someone called the Las Vegas diocese asking about the man's legal status about three weeks ago, the chancellor of the Reno diocese said Thursday.

"That seems to be the first information that we had to the fact that this was out there," said Holy Rosary Br. Matthew Cunningham. After the call three weeks ago, he said, Las Vegas Bishop Joseph Pepe and Reno Bishop Randolph Calvo began engaging in conversation with John Cracchiolo on the matter and "how it needed to be dealt with."

In the middle of the conversations with the bishops, Cracchiolo resigned from the executive director position in an email July 11.

Cunningham said the information on Cracchiolo's past hadn't come up before because the lobbyist wasn't convicted of his felony until 2009, after he had started work with the conference, so "it did not surface in the vetting process."

Background on a Washington diocese's decision to enter into mediation

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  • On Dec. 6, 2004, the Diocese of Spokane filed for bankruptcy and submitted a Plan of Reorganization, which provided a fund of $48 million to compensate victims of sexual abuse.?

  • The Bankruptcy Court set March 10, 2006, as the deadline or “Bar Date” for filing of future claims for persons who have claims of sexual abuse occurring before Dec. 6, 2004.
  • ?
  • Under certain conditions, a person who did not meet the March 10, 2006, Bar Date may still make a claim of sexual abuse as a “Future Tort Claimant.” The Plan defines such a claimant as a person who was not aware that he or she was abused or harmed prior to the Bar Date. Future claims can be made until 2016.?

  • A future claims fund was created by setting aside $1million of the total $48 million bankruptcy settlement. In the event that future claims and the awards exceeded $1 million, the diocese was required to recapitalize the future claims fund so that it did not dip below $200,000.?

Prosecutors outline evidence in case against KC priest

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Federal prosecutors in a case against a priest charged with possession of child pornography outlined Monday some of the evidence they intend to present at the priest's August trial.

Among the material prosecutors said they will introduce in the trial of Fr. Shawn Ratigan is a long list of images of alleged "child erotica" in his possession, a web history that allegedly proves the priest accessed websites specializing in female child pornography, and web searches that allegedly show he was researching "spy" pens.

Altogether, the evidence will allegedly show that Ratigan’s motive in his actions was "to indulge in and satisfy a sexual interest in female children," prosecutors write in their filing, which was first reported by The Kansas City Star Monday.

Ratigan, who had served as pastor of a local parish until his arrest in May, 2011, faces 13 federal counts of production and possession of child pornography.

Majority of bishops' conferences, except Africa, draft abuse policies

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VATICAN CITY -- The majority of bishops' conferences in the Americas, Europe and Asia have complied with a Vatican mandate to draw up anti-abuse guidelines, said the Vatican's top investigator of clerical sex abuse.

Without counting Africa, "more than half of the conferences responded" by the May deadline, Msgr. Charles Scicluna of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in an interview with the Italian monthly Catholic magazine Jesus.

All those who did not send in their proposed guidelines would be getting "a letter of reminder," he added.

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, quoted from the interview Tuesday and said the congregation received an encouraging number of responses from Anglo-Saxon countries, "but also Europe, Asia and Latin America have high percentages of responses."

While the result is gratifying, Scicluna said in the interview, Africa "has a particular situation with great difficulty in church structures," presumably referring to the lack of needed communications and other infrastructure that help a nation's bishops draw up national policies.

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