It is no secret that clergy sex abuse and coverups are on the rise. In response to the hundreds of lawsuits filed regarding Catholic Church corruption and sexual abuse, Bishops are touting their screening process of new hires, claiming “We do much more now to screen our seminarians to stop predators from becoming priests.” But we are skeptical, as predators are still getting into the priesthood.
If you’ve followed the clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis, you’ve seen some variation of this many times over the past 20 years. . .But here’s what you have NOT seen over those years:
- “School districts adopt Catholic abuse screening”
- “On abuse, Protestant officials are learning from Catholic ones”
- “Summer camps, learning from the church, weed out molesters”
- “Daycare centers emulate Catholic dioceses on abuse”
The obvious point here is, that if Catholic bishops are doing such a great job of preventing abuse and “screening out” molesters, officials in other institutions and denominations would be beating down their doors to learn how bishops are making such phenomenal progress. There’s no evidence, however, that this is happening and we still see Catholic Church corruption.
Evidence Suggests That Catholic Officials Are Still Ordaining Molesters
In fact, the evidence suggests that Catholic officials, sadly, are STILL ordaining sexually troubled men.
Fr. Bryan W. Medlin of Gaylord, MI, ordained in 2013, came under investigation by the state attorney general just three months ago because he allegedly sent inappropriate texts to high schoolers. At the time, he was the assistant director of vocations for the diocese, which of course put him in close contact with devout teenagers and young adults, many of whom no doubt felt ‘called’ to become priests and realized that Fr. Medlin could make or break their potential careers in the church.
Fr. Kevin Lonergan of the Allentown PA, ordained in 2014, the diocese was charged with molesting two girls, one of whom he abused in 2018.
Also ordained in 2014, Fr. David Marcotte of the Indianapolis archdiocese was charged with child sex crimes in 2019. In his relatively brief priesthood, Fr. Marcotte has worked at more than half a dozen churches across Indiana.
Ordained in 2015, Fr. Geoffrey Brooke of Jefferson City MO diocese was put on leave in 2019 for “possible boundary violations.” Also, Fr. Charlie Richmond, a former chaplain for a middle school and high school in the LaCrosse WI diocese, has since been charged with repeated sexual assault of a child.
Ordained in 2017, Fr. Marcin Nurek of the Paterson NJ diocese, has since been “accused of groping a 13-year-old girl’s buttocks under her skirt.”
Ordained in 2018, Fr. David Huneck, a former high school chaplain in the Ft. Wayne-South Bend IN diocese, has since pleaded guilty (just weeks ago) to two felony charges of child seduction and sexual battery after six allegations were brought against him for sexual crimes against teenaged girls.
And in perhaps the most alarming case, a one-time Knoxville, TN is being sued for reportedly abusing and harassing a young church employee in 2019. Knoxville’s Bishop Richard Stika has also been named in the lawsuit which alleges that sexual abuse allegations against a former employee weren’t investigated properly. The lawsuit claims that Stika overreached in his response to the abuse complaint. It says the diocese hired an outside consultant to investigate the claims, but the bishop replaced the initial investigator with someone who only interviewed the former assistant and not the employee who made the allegation.
We at Horowitz Law are realists. We believe it is tragic, but not necessarily shocking, that predators still getting into the priesthood. Let’s admit two sad and scary realities.
- Child predators always have and always will seek out positions of power and trust so they can assault kids.
- There is no sure-fire test, process, or diagnostic tool that is really effective at identifying, in advance, adults who may later prey on children.
What IS, however, a real scandal and tragedy are how most Catholic officials continue to respond to these realities. Many of them, hoping to mollify their parishioners, keep claiming they’re doing what most can’t be done: screening and rejecting predators before they get ordained. They are still reacting slowly, recklessly, and callously when recently ordained abusers are caught. (See the Knoxville case mentioned above.)
We all abhor abuse. We want to prevent it. We want to believe, despite plentiful evidence to the contrary, that we’re smart enough to spot the bad guys before they get access to our kids. But that’s wishful thinking. Catholic bishops should admit this. And they should focus on what they CAN do: quickly oust potential predators at the very first ‘red flag,’ fully cooperate with law enforcement and widely publicize allegations so that others who may have suffered abuse can begin to recover from their horrific experiences.
Horowitz Law represents children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by a priest, minister, rabbi, deacon, nuns, or other clergies in civil lawsuits. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an email to [email protected].