National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

UPDATE: Priest steps down from TV show after comments on sexual abuse

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NEW YORK -- Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal who has long been a popular speaker and television personality, apologized Aug. 30 for interview comments he made that were published online two days earlier, saying that "in a lot of cases" the victim of child sexual abuse is "the seducer."

Groeschel also had said priests who have committed abuse just one time should not go to jail.

In the interview, Groeschel referred to Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who was convicted in June on 45 charges relating to the sexual abuse of 10 different boys, as a "poor guy."

"I apologize for my comments. I did not intend to blame the victim," said Groeschel, 78, in an Aug. 30 statement. "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."

Eternal Word Television Network announced Monday that Groeschel had decided to step down as host of its "Sunday Night Prime" television show after consulting with EWTN and his religious community.

Questions raised over Kansas City bishop's 'boys will be boys' comment

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When the computer systems manager of the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese told her bishop, Robert Finn, that she had found lewd images of children on a priest's laptop, he replied, "Sometimes boys will be boys," according to sworn testimony that appears in court documents filed Thursday.

Settlement reached in civil trial of retired Mass. bishops

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- A Massachusetts man who was abused in the 1980s by Alfred F. Graves, a former priest of the Springfield Diocese, agreed to a $500,000 settlement with retired Springfield Bishops Joseph F. Maguire and Thomas L. Dupre July 27.

The agreement, worked out late July 26, ended a dramatic civil trial that featured emotional testimony by the abuse victim, Andrew Nicastro, now 41, his family members and two priests who testified to the harm caused by Graves from 1982 to 1985.

Nicastro, of Williamstown, alleged the bishops had been negligent during their respective tenures as head of the diocese by returning the former priest to ministry with insufficient supervision knowing he had a history of abusing boys. He filed suit in 2009.

Bishop Maguire, now 92, was named coadjutor for Springfield in 1976, was installed in 1977 and retired in 1991. His successor, Bishop John A. Marshall, died in 1994. Bishop Dupre, now 78, was appointed to succeed him and was installed in 1995. Citing health reasons, he resigned in 2004.

"The testimony was compelling," John Stobierski, Nicastro's principal attorney, said after the trial.

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.

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