Cardinal hires judge to review church sex abuse policies

Cardinal Timothy Dolan addresses a news conference at the offices of the New York Archdiocese, in New York, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York said Thursday that it has hired former federal judge Barbara Jones, left, to review its procedures and protocols for handling allegations of sexual abuse. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — Hoping to restore the faith of those disillusioned by how the church has handled sexual abuse allegations, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York appointed a former federal judge to review its procedures and protocols.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced the appointment of Barbara Jones on Thursday (Sept. 20), saying many Catholics had told him they were feeling let down by the church’s hierarchy after a “summer of hell.”

The string of bad news has included a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing widespread sexual abuse and systematic cover-up by church officials in that state, and revelations about sexual abuse allegations against a former archbishop, Theodore McCarrick.

The move also comes two weeks after New York’s attorney general announced a comprehensive investigation of how the church and its leaders handled abuse allegations across the state. Attorney General Barbara Underwood issued subpoenas to all eight of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses for documents containing information on abuse allegations and how they were investigated and handled.

Dolan didn’t mention the state investigation during his news conference, instead citing pressure from ordinary Catholics.

“If I lost the trust of my people and this community, I don’t have a lot left,” he said.

He told Jones, who appeared alongside him at the news conference, that he was praying her “careful review and hard questions will help my good people renew their trust in the church they love and the leaders they want to believe.”

The step is the latest the Manhattan-based archdiocese has taken to assure the faithful that it is serious about reform — while simultaneously opposing proposed changes to New York law that would ease certain time limits on civil lawsuits and make it easier for people abused a long time ago to sue the church.

Two years ago, the archdiocese announced it was creating an independently administered compensation fund for victims of clergy sex abuse willing to forego lawsuits. It has paid out about $60 million so far.

The system has been copied in other dioceses. Earlier this week, four men reached a $27.5 million settlement with the neighboring diocese of Brooklyn over their allegations of being sexually abused as boys by a teacher at a Catholic church.

The New York Archdiocese covers Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island in New York City, as well as the state counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester north of the city. It is the nation’s second-largest archdiocese after Los Angeles.

Jones, 71, who has repeatedly served in roles calling for an outside independent monitor or arbiter, said she has already begun an initial review of archdiocese efforts going back over 25 years.

“Based upon this review I certainly see a robust infrastructure in place with the archdiocese,” she said. “But my job now will be to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing programs and policies in that infrastructure.”

Jones said her purview would include policies on workplace harassment and abuse of authority involving adults in addition to the sexual abuse of minors.

Jones, who left the Manhattan federal bench in 2013, finished her work only weeks ago as a court-appointed special master who helped review millions of documents and files seized by the FBI from President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Her role was to referee disputes over which documents were protected by attorney-client privilege.

Jones was an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan and chief assistant to former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau before she was appointed a judge in 1995 by President Bill Clinton. As a federal prosecutor, she served as chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force Unit.

After leaving the bench, she joined the law firm Bracewell, where she has specialized in white collar defense and internal investigations.

In her role as an arbitrator, she ruled in 2014 that former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice could play football again after concluding that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had made an “abuse of discretion” in suspending Rice indefinitely after video emerged of him beating his wife into unconsciousness in an elevator.

She also has served on a panel reviewing the New York City Police Department’s discipline policies and was appointed at the University of Michigan to review disciplinary actions against students accused of sexual or gender-based misconduct.

(Karen Matthews writes for The Associated Press)

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  • Cardinal Dolan has a lot to live down ever since he transferred nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of clergy sexual abuse who were demanding compensation while he was Archbishop of Milwaukee.

  • So this appointment is suppose to make everyone feel like they are doing something about the abuses and its coverup? Well it seems Ms Jones has been educated by catholic institutions and is therefore in my opinion biased in favor of the church and her wants. Her credibility is highly suspect and any conclusions she puts forth will need to be scrutinized extensively.

  • That’s an inaccurate presentation as to what happened.

    The $57 million should never have been in the diocesan funds. It was supposed to be transferred to a trust fund for the sole and only purpose of providing perpetual care for the graves in the archdiocesan cemeteries.

    Unfortunately during the 25 year mismanagement of the archdiocese by Rembert Weakland, who resigned in disgrace after being discovered making a $400k plus payment to a boy toy to be quiet, the trust fund was never set up.

    Dolan took over in 2002, The Catholic Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust was finally created in 2007, and the Vatican approved the transfer of funds that were being held for that purpose in 2008, and Dolan left in 2009.

    The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, 2011.

    U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa ruled against the creditors claiming the 2008 transfer was fraudulent who appealed to the 7th Circuit.

    A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit found Randa applied the wrong law and also left an appearance of non-impartiality because he has relatives buried in archdiocesan cemeteries.

    It ordered a new proceeding with a new judge. The bankruptcy hearings continued.

    There was NO finding of fraud, ill intent, or anything of the sort. Bankruptcy courts routinely examine sales, transfers, and other disposals of assets in the years prior to a filing.

    As the audited 2014-15 Financial Statements of the Archdiocese show:

    the cemetery trust fund remained separate and did in fact fund part of the settlement.

    It is now fully protected as a freestanding trust fund which it should have been in the first place had Rembert Weakland been paying attention to running the diocese instead of the other items – disagreeing with the Pope, destroying vocations, wrecking the cathedral, and chasing boys – that he did spend his time on.

    None of this is to Dolan’s discredit.

  • I suppose this means you will turning in your resignation from the Catholic Church.

    Oh, you did that some time ago.

  • Either all those pedophiles are in prison, or someone has been protecting them. If you or I sexually abuse children, we should rightfully be caged. We have even a higher expectation from clergy, police, doctors, teachers, etc.

  • I think it is always good to thoughtfully examine a process so important as the protection of young people from abuse. Seems like a good idea from Cardinal Dolan.

  • “David Clohessy, former director of SNAP – a network of clergy-abuse survivors – was skeptical of Dolan’s announcement. ‘Until secular authorities start charging, convicting and jailing bishops who enable abuse, little or nothing will change, especially if Catholic officials keep claiming they can handle these crimes and cover ups internally,” he said.”

  • This story has a stunning omission: it does not say if Judge Jones is a Catholic! If she is, there is little chance the investigation will be honest, or at the very least, regarded as fully honest.

  • While she does appear to have been raised Catholic based on her undergrad degree, she is merely the partner in charge of the investigation at a large multinational law firm. Her religious identity alone should not bar her from leading the investigation. In fact, such attempts to get judges to recuse themselves generally fail. In any event, Jones ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, the lesbian widow whose lawsuit brought down the Defense of Marriage Act. Jones is not a knee-jerk defender of the Church.

  • OK, good stuff to know. If she is a partner at a large multinational law firm, my hunch is that her partners will not let her slant or omit anything relevant.

    All that info notwithstanding, nevetheless, thinking only in terms of the quality of the post, I think the post should have included info about her religion.

  • It has vastly more credibility than the priests and bishops, who for years have been lying to their congregations, shuffling abusing priests around with no explanation to congregations, covering up, etc.

  • You are unwittingly contributing to the problem by focusing exclusively on homosexuality. If you sit down and do some honest, unbiased research, you will learn (1) that there is plenty of abuse of adolescent and post-adolescent women, and (2) that a good deal of the problem is that the priests had far more access to young MALES than females.

  • When we solve 80-90% of the problem by wittingly focusing on degenerate homosexual priests, then we can focus on the lesser problem.

    The “availability” hypothesis ran out of intellectual gas with the introduction of altar girls many years ago.

  • I’d sure love to know why you’re so focused on homosexuals. And it’s fascinating as well that you use the term “degenerate”, since the overwhelming amount of the data shows that they are born that way, IOW, made that way by god.

    I regard ALL Catholic clergy as degenerate. What kind of person gives up all sexual activity? (Promises to, anyway…)

  • Because they’re at the root of 80-90% of the problem.

    Why are you so interested in insinuating freudian like motives, well away from the problem of abuse?

    So anyone who gives God a great gift of himself of herself is suspect?

    Do you want to have them pscych eval’ed?

    What a miserable little understanding of love? Hanging out in a religious forum with no sense of what true love is?

    You think love is mere sexual attraction and consolation. Pitiable.

  • In fact, there is no such data. to say it’s overwhelming is intellectually dishonest.

    The lobby used that point several years ago, but it petered out when the data didn’t measure up.

  • Aaah, it is so nice to see, once again, for the 10,678,479th time, folks who regard themselves as “true Christians” showing their understanding and respect for the teachings of Jesus regarding judgementalism, honesty, respect for others, and so on.

    With folks like you speaking out, us heathen hardly have to say a word to help others see what we regard as the (many) failings of Christianity.

    Here are links to two of many–? thousands?–of pieces of evidence that show how wrong you are:

  • Jesus didn’t say we should have a sexual free for all, and that despite His design of our bodies, that we could stick our reproductive organs up other people’s digestive systems.

    Sodomy is a sin.

    Sorry for every link you send I can send 3 others.

    We know very little about our sexuality.

    We do know about the formation of habits and about how reinforcement works.

    70 years worth of behavioral psychology can’t be overcome with two equivocally speaking urls.

  • 1. Show me where Jesus said anything about homosexuality./

    2. If you believe that god designed our bodies, you’ll have to explain why he made sex such a prominent feature of almost all human beings–and particularly in adolesence.

    3. I happen to know a fair amount about psychology, and almost anything written more than 20 years ago is virtually worthless–or worse. (And “behavioral psychology” is redundant.)

    4. Your comments reveal a lot about your sex life.

  • God designed our bodies, and designed our will and our intellect too.

    He gave us the wherewithal to be free….not to be slaves to our emotions and passions, which are lesser faculties, compared to our intellect and our will.

    Our will and our intellect and other gifts God gave us (the Sacraments, the heroic example of others, prayer, the ability to form habits, etc) allow us not to be slaves to our appetites.

    Some people misuse or underuse these gifts, these faculties, and they become slaves to their appetites…

    Most fat people, alcoholics, workaholics, and all the sexual disorders and deviants.

    Most psychology today is totally worthless. You can find 50 psychologists with 50 different ideas about some matter of behavior.

    Psychology abandoned the notion of the human will. Oddly, some are now beginning to rediscover it (the whole mindfulness movement, most of which is still superficial and prone to fad-ism.).

  • The Word of God is more than a few sentences from Jesus. Some liberal is always trying to shrink the Word of God, down to a few sentences we have from Jesus.

    They do this to find “openings” for their disordered desires.

    So let’s look at the word of God.

    1 Cor 6: “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God….”

    If you want to see more. Deuteronomy 23:17, 1 Kings 14:24, 1 Kings 15:12, 1 Kings 22:46, 2 Kings 23:7, Deuteronomy 23:18

  • It’s interesting that you speak of “Freudian motives”, since the overwhelming number of psychologists and psychiatrists regard Freud as something of a crackpot.

    Interesting as well –indeed, fascinating–that you are so good at mind-reading, that you are so confident of what I think about love.

    Why on earth would any normal individual want to become a Catholic priest? Cutting yourself off from all normal life? An individual who is so focused on somehow pleasing god, doing god’s work, etc etc, can find plenty of opportunities that will let the individual lead a normal life and still contribute.

    My best guess is that lots of folks who enter the Catholic priesthood, do so for one or more of these reasons: life will be simpler (fewer choices), and entering the priesthood will help them control their (unacceptable, to them) sexual urges.

    How do you explain the fact that so many priests are involved with women–and sometimes, young girls?

  • Your ignorance of human behavior and biology is simply staggering.

    That explains probably 99% of what you believe about god.

  • Most adults with a formed intellect would provide counterpoints and assertions, substantiated by real facts, wound together with some logic. I’m not expecting Aquinas from you but something fitting for an adult would have been an act of courtesy.

    You chose to spray filth.

  • Please explain how or why it is filth.

    Your observations said to me you have very little knowledge of behavior, or biology. You regard that observation as filth?

  • You missed my own dismissive point about Freud in the larger thread. I think nearly all psychologists today are far worse than even Freud! They just throw and generate new jargon at each other.

    The Church hierarchy in the 60s and 70s turned to psychologists for help with all these gay men chasing after post-pubescent males, and the psychobabblists spewed Freud to them!

    The reason we should do anything is out of love of God.

    Some people freely choose to give God their whole life and all their faculties.

    To you, sex is mere animalistic urges that need to be met. What a sad and low view.

  • 1. If you are citing scripture from Deut., does that mean you agree with ALL of it? Or only selected portions?

    2. Ri-i-i-g-h-t, it’s always the “liberals” who are trying to shrink the word of god…and find “openings for their disordered desires”….

    You don;t understand what your statement reveals about you, do you? About your fears?

    3. How do you know the bible is the word of god? How do you even know god exists?

    What other claims do you accept without evidence?

  • There was a Chicago priest several years ago who missed Mass and when the Deacons went to the rectory found a locked door to his bedroom.

    They broke in and found him DEAD, hooked up to some sort of orgasmatron, sex machine.

    They also found about 2 closets full of gay porn.

    That some priests have given in to sin is no surprise. How many lay people are in the same and even worse state?

    The clarifying and good news of this whole sordid mess these last few months is indeed that we have a much bigger problem with gay priests chasing post-pubescent young men than we have priests abusing 2 year girls.

    Now, we know that homosexuality is tied up in the largest part of the problem.

    That’s no help to the psychological community. The data are from the legal system.

  • Even the Bible warns against self-interpretation.

    The Church for Catholics provides the received interpretation about what should be “bound and what should be loosed”.

    Some Biblical writing is in fact historical, some is allegorical. The Church decides how it all should be synthesized, even as She decided what should be considered part of the Bible (recognizing that there were many letters and Gospels being circulated).

    So the Church “closed” the canon of Scripture authoritatively and it also provides the full interpretation of it.

  • Read the preface to the Pennsylvania report about church sex abuse. That preface makes abundantly clear the tactics the church was using, and why. It’s goal was protecting the church, nothing more.

    As to psychologists generating jargon, etc., I guess you never heard of research.

    And re your comment that men enter the priesthood (et al) because they choose to give god their whole life etc…I suppose that’s basically correct, but it overlooks the motives people have for their choices and actions.

    Of all religious organizations, the Catholic church is probably second (behind Mormons) in its lust for power and control of the lives of people.

  • And the point of your anecdote is what, exactly?

    Did you read the material at the link I sent you, regarding how much of priestly sexual activity is about men, how much about women, and how much about children? It would appear that you (conveniently) overlooked that.

  • “So the Church “closed” the canon of Scripture authoritatively and it also provides the full interpretation of it.”

    Gee,. how convenient…

    And when it decides it’s wrong…as in, say, the case of Galileo….it only take a few hundred years for it to apologize.

    It’s clear to anyone who understand human and organizational behavior, and who takes a clear-eyed look at the RCC, that it’s goal is the accumulation of power and control over EVERYONE.

  • You might want to read an actual history of the Galeleio affair. It’s irksome to run across people who type and can’t read substantial histories.

  • I don’t stoop to reading articles from psych, much less from pop psych.

    It’s been shown that upwards of 70% of pscyho journal “findings” aren’t repeatable…and you’re pointing me to a lesser publication from the same field?

  • I agree with almost everything you say, except for 3 points:

    1. Yes, a mass market magazine like Psych Today is by no means a high-credibility source.

    However, did you notice the qualifications of the author? As you are obviously aware, the background and education of an author are critical, and in this case the author has some good credentials, wouldn’t you say?

    2. The author is referring to data that have been published elsewhere–most notably, I believe, the research done by the late Richard A. W. Sipe, a monk-turned-psychologist who was hired by the Catholic church (1990 or so) to survey non-celibacy among clergy. The findings cited by this author are close to what others have found.

    The RCC hired Sipe, and did not challenge his findings. To me, that gives Sipe’s findings high credibility.

    3. Yes, it is sadly true that lots of research published in “high quality” journals cannot be replicated. (Sadly, this is true of medicine as well as psychology!) But that does not mean that all research is bogus, which seems to be what you are suggesting.

  • My info on this matter comes exclusively from mass market info sources, and I am normally (in other matters, e.g. reporting on economics, science, technology, etc) a strong critic of those sources.

    I am entirely ignorant of more scholarly sources for this kind of info. Where would you suggest I start?

  • I believe it was the journal Nature which has one of the highest impact factor scores across all fields of science.

    2015 ish…if you google for Nature, psychological, studies, replication.

    One of the contributors to this work was a fellow by the name of Nosek I think, or maybe Nosik.

  • I’m familiar with at least some of the work of Nosek (and please note, I did not dispute that there were very serious questions about replication of major psychological studies), but your comment above, to which I was referring, mentions Galileo, so I thought you were referring to “the history of the Galileo affair” as discussed in scholarly journals.

    Was that incorrect? Or do you accept that it took the church hundreds of years to “come clean” about what it did (wrongly, of course) to Galileo?

    (One of the things I recall reading about the church’s original actions to silence Galileo was that church leaders at that time believed privately that Galileo was correct, but feared the impact of his work on the sheeple.)

  • PC??? “Political correctness”? “NMot accepted”? What on earth are you talking about???

    I said Sipe’s work WAS accepted by the church. I will repeat: WAS NOT QUESTIONED by the church leaders who commissioned his work.

    As I’ve noted here and elsewhere, Sipe found that 50% of all clergy were non-celibate. Of those, 50% were non-celibate with women, 50% with men. The church, ttbomk, did not dispute Sipe’s findings.

    How do you see that as having anything to do with political correctness????? Are you saying or suggesting that church leaders practice(d) “political correctness”?

  • In at least some of our exchanges, I suspect we may have been talking at cross-purposes.

    May I suggest that in the interests of advancing our conversatins, and learning more, we both try to be a bit more careful in language?

  • The whole of his work – which also pointed to over-representation of homosexual priests – was not accepted.