Black Collar CrimesClergy Crimes

November 1999 –
March 2000


  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Columbia
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Guatemala
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Sudan
  • Venezuela



    SYDNEY, New South Wales — A report drafted for the Australian Catholic bishops' conference states that clergy sexual abuse is a "direct result" of the unequal treatment of men and women in the Church.

    Though confidential, a copy was obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald a week before the bishops gathered to discuss it at their annual meeting. The document was commissioned by the bishops in 1996 as part of their program to deal with clergy sexual abuse. The report blamed the male celibate "culture of the Catholic church" for a "denial of the feminine" that contributed to a climate where abuse could more readily occur. "It was clear from the responses that certain offenders beleieve by engaging in sexual offenses with children they have observed the rules about adult women vis-à-vis celibacy," it said.
    Wanderer, 12/9/99; NCR, 11/10/99

    MELBOURNE, Victoria — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese here has paid or offered millions of dollars (Aus.) in compensation to 80 victims of sexual abuse by 21 priests. 70 victims have settled. The amount paid in each case is not known but advocates say the archdiocese usually pays victims between $20,000 and $35,000, with up to $100,000 having been paid in previous cases. Analysis indicates the total payout could be in excess of $2 million.

    The payments have been awarded since Oct. 1996 by the Independent Commission into Sexual Abuse set up by Abp. George Pell. He revealed in an interview that 208 people had been assessed for counselling, 70 receiving on-going help and 30 in preliminary assessment.

    The settlement figures suggest many of the priests involved are multiple offenders. Advocates speak of some cases where several victims, sometimes siblings, were molested by the same priest. They claim settlements in excess of $100,000 dollars have been made in alleged paternity cases in the church and various religious orders.

    The Commission has been criticized by victims' attorneys who accuse the archdiocese of damaging victims further by doing everything possible to escape full responsibility. They say an independent investigation or royal commission is the only way to uncover the extent of the abuse and to prevent it from happening again.
    Sunday Age, 11/21/99

    MELBOURNE, Victoria — The Catholic Church's Commission into Sexual Abuse has found that a nephew of one of the leading lay figures in the Australian Church was sexually abused by a priest.

    Michael Santamaria, 37, nephew of Italian businessman and community leader B.A. Santamaria, claimed he was abused by Fr. Peter Waters as an altar boy in the 1970s. Waters denied it vehemently, but was quietly removed from his parish in Aug. Both men were among the guests at the elder Santamaria's elaborate state funeral last year, but Michael decided not to confront him there. Instead, mindful of the family name, he chose to make a formal complaint and endure the arduous official inquiry process. Before a hearing could be held, Waters withdrew his cooperation, claiming it had no jurisdiction, and the commission unexpectedly found in Michael's favor. Another panel will now determine compensation, which could go up to $50,000 (Aus.)

    As for Waters' fate and location, it is still unknown.
    Sunday Age, 11/14/99



    VIENNA — A warrant has been issued for a former priest who allegedly disappeared with more than $1 million worth of donations he said would go to help finance repairs to a church in Poland, police said.

    They identified the suspect as Msg. Viktor Dudzinski, 71, who last worked as a priest in the town of Aggsbach-Markt, about 35 miles west of Vienna before recently retiring. They said he is suspected of disappearing with nearly $1.5 million of donations collected over 10 years that he said would go toward repairing the cathedral in Lodz, a city in central Poland. The Austria Press Agency said police believed that the clergyman, who disappeared in Sept., was likely to have gone to relatives in Poland, or in Italy.
    AP, 12/12/99



    SAO PAULO — A Brazilian priest caught with 11 kilos of cocaine hidden beneath his cassock told police he was trafficking the drugs to save a struggling day care center, local media said. Police caught Fr. Jorge Saliba trying to board a flight from Sao Paulo to Amsterdam in what the priest said was his fifth international drug run.

    Saliba said each delivery paid $30,000, money that he said went to a church-sponsored children's day-care center in a poor Sao Paulo urban neighborhood.
    Reuters, 11/23/1999



    LONDON, Ontario — Three London brothers have hit the wall of diplomatic immunity trying to sue the Vatican for childhood sexual abuse by a priest. An Ottawa law firm for Pope John Paul's Canadian representative is claiming diplomatic immunity, said John Swales, who with brothers Guy and Ed, have filed an $11.6 million civil lawsuit.

    This leaves the Pope's recent plea for forgiveness for the sins of Roman Catholics, including against Jews, women and minorities, a little hollow, Swales said.

    Swales, 41, and brothers Guy, 39, and Ed, 37, their sister and parents are plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought against Fr. Barry Glendinning, the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, the Roman Catholic Church and London District Catholic school board.

    The trio was sexually abused by Glendinning while he was a professor of liturgy at London's St. Peter's Seminary. Glendinning, now retired in Toronto, pleaded guilty to 6 counts of gross indecency in 1974.

    The brothers were part of a $32-million suit reported last year, but have since changed lawyers and filed a new statement of claim in Feb., naming the Catholic church along with the other defendants.

    Allowing their names to be published for the first time, John Swales said he and his brothers will no longer be known as John Doe.

    "They (the church) bank on that kind of behavior," he said. "I didn't do anything. I'm tired of hiding in shame." he said.

    The statement of claim, which has to be proven in court, says the Vatican is responsible for the "maintenance of a uniform set of rules and principles which collectively define the ideology of the Roman Catholic religion" and for teaching and training priests those rules and principles.

    It alleges from 1968 when John was 10, Guy 8, and Ed, 6, Glendinning repeatedly molested them. It ended when Glendinning was criminally charged in 1974. He was sent to an Edmonton theological college after treatment. He later confessed to sexual improprieties with boys at a nearby country parish there.

    Under Canada's State Immunity Act, there's an exemption to diplomatic immunity in court proceedings related to personal injury, but it only applies to incidents after the act was passed in 1982.
    Free Press, 3/14/2000

    OTTAWA — The national bodies of the Anglican and United Churches face the threat of financial disaster because of claims ranging into hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits filed by former students of church-run aboriginal residential schools. The Anglicans are considering what amounts to a declaration of bankruptcy, dismantling their national church organization and starting afresh sometime in the future. Church officials say the national body has inadequate liability insurance and only about $10-million in property and investments.

    Fr. Jim Boyles, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, said, "If even a small portion of the claims are recognized, they will surpass the church's assets." The United Church of Canada, which operated fewer residential schools than the Anglicans and therefore faces fewer lawsuits, may be a richer target - depending upon a legal interpretation of how the church owns its property. Church officials who met last year with Jane Stewart, who was Indian affairs minister at the time, to ask for financial and political help quoted her as saying, "The churches have got to feel pain."

    Boyles said, "I don't believe the Canadian public wants to see churches forced into bankruptcy," a statement that has been echoed by Rev. Bill Phipps, moderator of the United Church of Canada. The schools were the creation of federal government policy with the object of assimilating aboriginal peoples, and were contracted out to the churches to operate from the mid-1800s to the end of the 1960s. The first enabling legislation, enacted by the pre-Confederation United Province of Canada in 1857, was called the Gradual Civilization Act. An estimated 160,000 aboriginal children passed through the schools. The Presbyterians and Roman Catholics were also involved. However, only two schools were operated by the Presbyterians; their potential liability is not considered significant. Sixty per cent of the approximately 100 schools were Roman Catholic, but those were run by more than half a dozen separate religious groups, which may insulate the broader church from liability.

    Ottawa as well is facing multimillion-dollar lawsuits. There are 5,800 individual claims against the federal government and the 4 churches. The vast majority of them, 3,900, are in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Not included in those numbers are 4 class-action suits, with well over 1,000 claimants, awaiting certification by the courts in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia. A class-action suit in British Columbia received court certification recently, sending chills along the churches' spines.

    Children as young as 5 were taken away from their families and placed in the schools. They were ordered not to use their mother tongue and ordered to set aside their cultural values and practices. Stories of sexual and physical abuse began surfacing in the 1960s.

    The claims against Ottawa and the churches fall into 3 categories: sexual and physical abuse and failure to provide the necessities of life; cultural deprivation or genocide; and a third type, initiated by the Key First Nation of Saskatchewan, claiming that the residential school "infected" the community by turning out alienated children who were unable to function culturally in a positive and appropriate way. So far, 260 cases have been resolved, most of them out of court. The damage awards — for the most part confidential under the terms of settlement — have ranged from about $15,000 to more than $100,000. According to western news media reports, the average settlement has been in the $100,000 range.

    The churches' liability depends largely on their legal structure and the way they contracted with Ottawa to operate the schools. The Anglicans operated approximately 24 schools. The church is a confederation of 30 separately incorporated dioceses plus a separately incorporated national body. In most cases, it was the national body, through the Missionary Society of the Church in Canada, which contracted with the federal government to operate the schools. The national church thinks it is legally separate from the dioceses — meaning individual church buildings won't have to be sold to pay damages — but this hasn't been tested in court. As assets, the national church has only its headquarters building in downtown Toronto, worth $3-million, and $7-million in investments.

    What hit the Anglicans like a shockwave was last summer's B.C. Supreme Court ruling on the residential school in Lytton. The judge found that former students had been physically and sexually abused - and that the abuse had been covered up in the school while an Anglican priest was principal. She assigned 60 per cent liability jointly to the Anglican Diocese ofCariboo and the national church and 40 per cent to the federal government.

    Church lawyers across Canada are keenly watching the current B.C. Supreme Court case involving the Christian Brothers, who are arguing that their two Vancouver schools should not be sold to pay damages to former inmates of a Newfoundland orphanage run by the Roman Catholic order. The United Church is waiting to hear what damages will be assessed from a sexual-abuse case involving the residential school in Port Alberni, B.C.
    Globe and Mail, 2/21/2000



    GUANGDONG — A 13-member gang has been arrested by the police. The gang's leader, Piao Xuezhe, is a former monk at the well-known Shaolin Temple. Piao trained more than a dozen hooligans in the ways of the underworld. Piao's gang was involved in 11 major gang fights, which caused tremendous social unrest.
    Yangcheng Evening News, 2/19/00



    BOGOTA — Investigators say they have arrested a nun on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a fellow nun whose burned and mutilated body was found dumped on a highway outside the city late last year.

    The arrest of Sr. Leticia Lopez coincided with the murder of a parish priest in a separate incident in central Colombia.

    A spokesman for the chief prosecutor said that Lopez was a member of a Roman Catholic order that helped drug addicts and the elderly in a colonial neighborhood of downtown Bogota. The dead nun, Sr. Luz Amparo Granada was a member of the same order. Her corpse was found in Nov. alongside a highway that connects the capital with the eastern plains.

    Investigators said the nun died from a bullet wound to the head. Her legs had been severed and her corpse partially incinerated. Her remains were covered in plastic and cardboard boxes of the same type as boxes also found in Lopez’s home.

    In a separate incident in the town of Supia, in Caldas province, Fr. Hugo Duque, 43, died from a single stab wound to the chest, police said.

    A police spokesman said Duque had apparently opened the door of the vicarage to his attacker. The motive for the killing was not immediately clear.

    In Aug. of last year, two nuns shot to death an intruder at a convent in the central city of Tunja. Both admitted taking turns firing the .38 Smith and Wesson revolver but were cleared of murder after a judge ruled they had acted in self-defense.
    Reuters 3/30/2000



    NICOSIA — A Cypriot bishop pleaded not guilty to charges of trying to swindle a British businessman out of $3.7 million in a get-rich-quick scheme. The bearded, soft-spoken Bp. Chrysanthos appeared in flowing black robes to answer the charges in a stuffy courtroom in Nicosia crammed with journalists, well-wishers and other people awaiting trial.

    Such a trial of a member of the influential Greek Orthodox clergy is unprecedented in modern Cyprus and the bishop, identified on the charge sheet by his layman's name Chrysanthou Chrysostomou, could go to jail for up to 3 years. He is accused of conspiring to defraud businessman Gerald Chambers in a suspect investment scheme. One of 12 prosecution witnesses is an officer of Britain's Metropolitan Police fraud squad.

    Chrysanthos quit his post as bishop of Limassol 14 months ago under pressure from the church but still retains the title of bishop. Addressing the court without taking off his priest's hat, he answered simply "no" when asked if he admitted the charges. "I am innocent and the truth will shine," he told journalists.

    The court ordered him to stand trial on June 5. Prosecutors did not ask for bail. An indictment prepared by the church's ruling body when the accusations emerged accused Chrysanthos of abusing his position and associating himself with suspect people for personal profit. It also accused him of damaging relations with the Russian Orthodox Church by misappropriating money initially donated for the construction of a chapel.
    Reuters, 2/16.2000



    CAIRO— A Coptic priest who was among about 160 people being investigated for their alleged role in Egypt's worst communal violence in decades has been exonerated due to lack of evidence, Egypt's State Security Prosecutor said in a report.

    Fr. Gabriel Abdel-Masih, along with at least 15 others, escaped charges for the Dec. 31—Jan. 2 violence in the southern Egyptian towns of el-Kusheh and Dar el-Salam. 23 people died, mostly Christians, after riots erupted following an argument between a Muslim customer and a Christian shopkeeper.

    The report, released a day after Egypt's chief prosecutor charged 136 people for the violence, said the accused were being referred to criminal court in Assiut, 180 miles south of Cairo.

    The charges ranged from murder, grand theft and looting to arson, destruction of property and ownership of an unlicensed weapon, the report said. Many of the charges carry the death penalty. At least 16 people, including Abdel-Masih, were not charged due to lack of evidence. He had earlier been accused of "leading a gang which attacked a section of the population, a criminal conspiracy to kill and destroy properties, attempted murder and possession of firearms.'' The priest said he was innocent.
    AP, 3/12/2000



    TOULOUSE — A French court sentenced 71-year old Abbot Jean-Lucien Maurel to 10 years in prison for raping and sexually abusing 3 boys. The assaults dated back to 1994-96, when Maurel was head of a school in the south of France. The 3 pupils who levelled the charges were aged between 10 and 13 at the time.

    Maurel had denied the accusations, but at the end of a week-long trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict in the early hours of morning.

    It was the latest blow to the Roman Catholic church in France, which has seen the number of assault charges levelled against its priests rise sharply in recent years.

    Police launched an investigation into Maurel in 1996 after receiving anonymous letters about him. Three of his pupils then stepped forward accusing him of forcing them to perform sexual acts — including during a school trip to the US.

    Maurel, who showed no emotion as he was led from the court in handcuffs, tried to interrupt his former pupils while they gave evidence, accusing them of lying. ``I was certainly too paternalistic. But I know the difference between that and sexual acts,'' he told the court.

    Another priest is due to stand trial in France later this year on child abuse charges, with a second facing trial in 2001. In all, around 15 churchmen are being investigated for sex-related crimes.
    Reuters, 3/1/00

    PARIS — A French bishop has been placed under judicial investigation on suspicion of failing to warn police that one of his priests had sexually abused young boys, the bishops' conference said.

    It is the first time magistrates in France have moved against a church figure in this way, raising legal questions about the traditional secrecy surrounding the sacrament of confession.

    Bp. Pierre Pican of the northern city of Bayeux was being investigated in connection with ongoing investigations into Fr. Rene Bisset, who has been accused of the rape and abuse of several boys between 1985 and 1996. Pican "believes that he has not committed any criminal offence while carrying out his duties as a bishop,'' the diocese said in a statement.

    Bisset, who has admitted to charges of sexual abuse, is due to stand trial later this year.

    The head of the French Bishops' Conference, Bp. Louis-Marie Bille, threw his weight behind Pican, saying that there would have been strong religious grounds for the Bayeux bishop to have remained silent on the affair. "I am confident that if ... Pican kept quiet about these things, then he would have done so because he believed that his conscience demanded that he was bound to keep a secret,'' he told French Christian Radio.

    His comments indicated that Pican might have heard Bisset's confession — something the Bayreux bishopric also alluded to.

    Lawyers for the families of the boys believe Pican knew about Bisset's sexual problems in 1996, two years before the priest was finally arrested. Bisset was in charge of a parish near the northern city of Caen until 1996, when he was suddenly relieved of his duties after meeting Pican and sent to a religious retreat. Six months later he was given a new parish, where he had contact with young people — although none of the abuse charges relate to this period.

    Being placed under investigation may, but does not automatically lead to trial. If Pican were found guilty of failing to denounce a crime and failing to denounce sexual abuse he could face up to 3 years in prison.
    Reuters, 2/1/00

    RENNES — A fundamentalist French priest convicted of manslaughter in the drowning of 4 boys at his summer camp has been sentenced to 18 months in jail and banned from running any more youth activities.

    Fr. Jean-Yves Cottard, who admitted he had no training to teach sailing, also got a further suspended sentence of 2 1/2 years, the court in the Breton town of Guingamp announced.
    Reuters, 12/6/99



    GUATEMALA CITY — Authorities again want to arrest a priest who was implicated and then released in the slaying of a Roman Catholic bishop and human rights leader. The warrant for Fr. Mario Orantes, 40, comes after weekend arrests that indicate possible military involvement in the slaying of Bp. Juan Gerardi. Police did not clarify the renewed interest in Orantes.

    Gerardi was bludgeoned to death in his garage April 26, 1998,two days after presenting a report blaming the military and pro-government death squads for most of the deaths during Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996. It was the first slaying of an activist since the government and leftist guerrillas signed the peace accords.

    Orantes, who was Gerardi's assistant, was jailed for 7 months but was released last Feb. after protests that investigators had overlooked possible military involvement. Orantes' family members said that authorities may have trouble tracking down the priest, who received permission to travel to the US in Oct., citing anonymous threats and health reasons.

    Police also arrested a church cook and two men with army ties, and said Jose Obdulio Villanueva, a former presidential guard who is serving time for the murder of another priest, had a possible role in Gerardi's death.

    The intense movement in the case came barely a week after new president Alfonso Portillo took office. Portillo, a former Marxist scholar, vowed during the campaign to clear up the case.
    AP, 1/25/00



    GALWAY — A former Franciscan brother who went to confession to confess that he had been sexually abusing young boys was himself then abused by his confessor, a Franciscan priest, a trial in Galway heard. Robert Keoghan, 50, of Waterford, pleaded guilty to 8 charges of indecently assaulting 8 boys aged between 9 and 16 on various dates between 1969 and 1972.

    Keoghan, who is currently serving an 18-month sentence for two similar offences, told the court that after a complaint was made by the father of one of his victims, he was sent on a retreat by his superiors. While on this retreat in the early 1970s, he went to confess his abuse. The confession, he said, took place in a room and not a confessional and his confessor abused him.

    The judge said he was "flabbergasted" to hear the accused had been abused while in the process of making a confession. The court had heard earlier that Keoghan was sent to a Franciscan seminary at the age of 13. He was illiterate and from the moment he entered the seminary he was systematically abused by other brothers, most of whom were in their 20s.

    Since leaving the Franciscan Order 23 years ago he never abused another child and said it never entered his head to do so. His lawyer said Keoghan had been assessed by clinical psychologist, who felt there was a low risk of him abusing again so long as he stayed away from young children.

    The judge imposed a term of 2 years in prison, to run concurrently, on all 8 charges before the court.
    Irish Times, 2/20/00



    L'AQUILA — Siding with annoyed residents, a court in this mountain town has convicted a stubborn parish priest of disturbing the peace by hooking his church bells up to an electronic amplifier. The conflict started two years ago after the cleric rigged up an amplifier in the parish's bell tower. Local media quoted the priest at the time as dismissing opponents of the amplified clangor as "communists."

    The court ruled on complaints brought by residents of the parish of St. Stefano di Pizzoli, and ordered Fr. Paolo Piccoli to pay a $200 fine. Police seized the bells in Jan. and placed the bell tower amplifier under seal.
    AP, 2/29/00

    ROME — Italian magistrates have asked that Card. Michele Giordano of Naples, one of Italy's leading churchmen, stand trial on charges of criminal association and complicity in loan sharking, lawyers said. If the case goes to trial it could be one of Italy's most sensational, involving a senior Catholic Church leader who is one of southern Italy's best-known figures.

    The magistrates suspect Giordano of funneling the equivalent of some $500,000 to his brother and nephew, who then used it to demand exorbitant interest rates from southern Italian businesses who were in debt with a local bank.

    Giordano has denied all accusations against him in the course of a two-year investigation by magistrates in the southern city of Lagonegro. The cardinal is also charged with misappropriating funds deriving from the sale of property connected to a church institution, according to Italian media reports. The decision on whether to hold a trial or shelve the case will be made in the next few months by a judge.

    In their formal request, the magistrates also asked that some 20 others stand trial on the same charges. They included Giordano's brother Lucio, his nephew Nicola and the manager of a local branch of a bank. Magistrates using wire taps said they suspected that money that belonged to the Naples diocese and its related institutions found its way to Giordano's relatives. According to Italian media reports the magistrates found a number of checks from Giordano written to his brother and some of them were believed to have false signatures.

    Giordano has denied any wrongdoing and said he is only guilty of helping his cash-strapped brother, who spent several weeks in jail last year as part of the investigation.

    The case brought relations between Italy and the Vatican to their lowest point in years in 1998 when police searched Giordano's residence in Naples.

    The Vatican said the search violated a pact on church-state relations relating to the extra-territorial nature of church property because police did not seek permission to enter.
    Reuters, 11/18/99



    KHARTOUM — Sudan has freed two Catholic priests held on bombing charges after they won a presidential pardon, church officials said.

    President Omar Hassan al-Bashir pardoned Frs. Hilary Boma, 57, and Lino Sebit, 33, along with 18 other southerners being tried in the same case. The priests were set free the same day, the officials said.

    They were among 26 people charged, 5 of them in their absence, with involvement in a campaign of bombings in Khartoum and elsewhere in June, 1998. The blasts caused no casualties.

    The defendants were being tried in a military court and could have faced the death penalty if convicted.

    Prison officials said 18 other defendants in custody would be released later. One defendant, who is in the military and is in hospital with tuberculosis, was still held.

    Christians in Sudan have welcomed the releases, but the circumstances surrounding the presidential pardon have caused some embarrassment to the Roman Catholic Church. State radio broadcast an exchange between Bashir and Boma in which the priest requested pardon. Church officials say Boma's request for pardon could be taken as a confession of involvement in the explosions.
    Reuters, 12/7/99



    CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez stepped up his attacks on the Roman Catholic Church's hierarchy, saying the Vatican's former representative in Venezuela is allied with the country's corrupt political elite.

    Chavez criticized Card. Rosalio Castillo Lara after a newspaper quoted the cardinal assaying Chavez's aggressive campaign to win approval for a new constitution is immoral as Venezuelans prepared to vote on whether to approve the constitution, the centerpiece of Chavez's attempts to clean up some of the world's worst corruption.

    Speaking on his weekly radio program, Chavez said Castillo Lara was an intimate friend of former Venezuelan presidents Rafael Caldera and Carlos Andres Perez, whom Chavez called symbols of a bankrupt political system.

    He accused the cardinal of failing to speak out against a host of injustices, including the 1989 killing of hundreds of people by soldiers putting down mass riots and a 1994 banking scandal that nearly crushed the country's financial sector.

    Chavez, a former coup leader, has called church leaders who oppose the constitution "degenerate priests" and has attacked the country's "rancid oligarchy" for resisting his reform plans.

    His harsh rhetoric has provoked criticism that he is polarizing the nation and trying to intimidate his detractors. Msg. Baltazar Porras, the country's top Church leader, said that Chavez is fomenting "fear and hate".
    AP, 12/12/99



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