Many Sexual Abuse Stories in the News Leaving Us All Shaking Our Heads

| Mar 30, 2020 | Catholic Church

Many stories in the media about sexual abuse leave us sometimes shaking our heads. From time to time on this blog, we’ll mention some of those stories under the headline “How come?”

—A Texas man pleaded guilty to child sex crimes back in the 1990s when he worked for the Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene.

According to news accounts, Jeff Berry “has been sentenced to ten years probation, a $2,000 fine, 180 days in jail, and “has to turn himself in on or before September 20.”

Six months? That’s a long delay, especially for an admitted abuser. How come?

— A California megachurch recently put its pastor on leave after learning he let a volunteer who admitted an “unwanted thought pattern of attraction to minors” to keep working with kids for about a year and a half.

Rev. John Ortberg admits he “offered prayers and referrals for counseling” to the volunteer but didn’t consult anyone else at the church – about the situation.

But officials at Menlo Church re-instated Ortberg three months later.

How come they think a three month suspension – probably with full pay – will deter other church staff from behaving so irresponsibly?


—A Buffalo pastor let his parish be used recently for a controversial Mass at which several credibly accused child molesting clerics participated.

That pastor – Msgr. Robert Zapfel of St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Amherst NY – may regret his decision.

Fr. Thomas Gresock was at the Mass, even though Zapfel himself investigated a child sexual abuse report against Gresock by a then-14 year old and deemed them to be credible, according to the WKBW 7 Eyewitness News I-Team.

Zapfel “never publicly revealed his role in the Gresock case and other cases while he worked at the diocesan headquarters as the vice-chancellor,” the station reported.

The priest did not respond when WKBS gave him a chance to comment on why he let Gresock to celebrate the Mass in his church.

Zapfel has also come under fire for allowing Fr. Joseph C.  Gatto,  accused by several young men (including Gene Walczak and Marty Lougan) of sexual misconduct, to return to ministry at St. Leo’s several months ago.

How come Msgr. Zapfel is acting so recklessly? How come Bishop Edward Scharfenberger is LETTING him act so recklessly?