News & Events

Nov 07, 2011: Scandal at Penn State Evokes Familiar Patterns

The parallels between the cover-up of an authority figure sexually abusing children at Penn State University and the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church are clear and disturbing.This weekend, Jerry Sandusky, former defensive coordinator of Penn State’s storied and successful football team, was arrested following a grand jury investigation into Sandusky’s sexual abuse of young boys. The grand jury indictment includes over 40 criminal counts involving the sexual abuse of eight boys between 1994 and 2009. According to the grand jury report, the University’s athletic director, Tim Curl…

Oct 26, 2011: Young Survivor Moves Civil Lawsuit, Adds Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat

Today a young survivor takes a courageous stand for herself and on behalf of other kids as she again confronts her abuser and holds him accountable in court. Jane Doe 134’s case, which was originally filed in Federal Court, was re-filed today in Minnesota State Court in Becker County in order to add a new defendant. Jane Doe 134 was 11 years old in 2007 when Gerald Derstine groomed and began to sexually abuse her when she was a camper at a retreat center in Northern Minnesota. Derstine continued to abuse her every summer in his office on the retreat property until 2009. The camp, Strawberry La…

Sep 12, 2011: From Darkness into Light: Megan Peterson’s Case of Triumph

When I first met Megan Peterson in 2007 she was a scared child on a path toward destruction. Life had left her so scarred that she couldn’t even meet my gaze. She was self-loathing and in a deep depression; she now admits that she had no intention of living. Recognizing the potential for further trauma to Megan if litigation ensued, we approached legal action cautiously.  We also knew it couldn’t get much worse for Megan, so with hope of a positive outcome, we filed a lawsuit using the pseudonym Jane Doe 121.

Aug 18, 2011: Ireland Prime Minister calls on Vatican to come up with $2 billion for abuse survivors

Ireland has been abuzz with news in the last few weeks. First, after sharply denouncing the Vatican’s response to clergy sexual abuse in Ireland, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is now calling on the Vatican for money. In support of a compensation bill that would create a fund to compensate victims of child sexual abuse, many of whom were abused in Catholic schools or homes, Kenny is asking the Vatican to contribute close to $2 billion.

Jul 28, 2011: Denial Extends to UK: Diocese Asks High Court for Unprecedented Absolution

The UK’s high court heard the case of a woman this month, “JGE,” who was six years old when she was sexually abused by a priest at a children’s home in Portsmouth, England. “JGE” was abused by Father Wilfred Baldwin, a priest in the Diocese of Portsmouth, who visited Firs children’s home regularly. In addition to her negligence claim against the nuns who ran Firs, “JGE” and her attorneys say that Fr. Baldwin was working as a priest in the Diocese, so the Diocese is also responsible.

Jul 25, 2011: It’s About Time-Irish Prime Minister Denounces Vatican; Vatican Responds by Withdrawing its Irish Ambassador

News headlines resounded last week as Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny attacked the Vatican over its response to clergy sexual abuse.  Reacting to the Cloyne report, which exposed the Vatican’s cover-up, failures and astounding mishandling of child abuse by Irish clergy, Ireland’s Prime Minister expressed unprecedented public fury.   Kenny’s harsh words for the Vatican and top church officials revealed sentiments that are rarely, if ever, heard from civil leaders.  It’s about time.

Jul 19, 2011: Rigali and Chaput: Iron Fists in a Velvet Glove

This morning Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Philadelphia Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali.  This news comes only five months after a grand jury condemned Cardinal Rigali, Monsignor Lynn, and other top officials in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for not only failing to address the child sex abuse crisis but for their roles in concealing predator priests. While people have called for Rigali’s resignation since the issuance of the grand jury report, his departure is nevertheless abrupt and sooner than expected. 

Jul 14, 2011: Ireland report on Catholic clergy sex abuse: deceit and deception continues

With every new revelation of Catholic Bishops conspiring with the Vatican to cover-up the sexual abuse of children by priests, my heart gets more and more heavy. Today, it is a report of an Irish government investigation that revealed Catholic Church officials in Ireland (including a Bishop who had previously served as personal secretary to three Popes) covered up the sexual abuse of children over many years—and as recently as 2009 blatantly disregarded the Irish Bishops’ policies that required reporting to law enforcement. Similarly, in January of this year, a Philadelphia Grand Jury grand …

Jun 23, 2011: Chicago Judge’s latest order acknowledges hurt and destruction caused by Jesuit officials in cover-up

I praise Chicago Judge Jeffrey Lawrence for his latest order and commend him for acknowledging the hurt and destruction caused by Jesuit officials in their cover-up of Fr. Donald McGuire’s predatory actions.  Judge Lawrence ruled yesterday that survivors John Doe 117, John Doe 118, and John Doe 129, all of whom were sexually abused by Fr. McGuire as minors, can seek punitive damages in their lawsuit against the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus.  Greater than actual damages, which account for a plaintiff’s losses from harm caused by the defendant, punitive damages are int…

Jun 23, 2011: CHICAGO JUDGE’S LATEST ORDER ACKNOWLEDGES HURT AND DESTRUCTION CAUSED BY JESUIT OFFICIALS IN COVER-UP

I praise Chicago Judge Jeffrey Lawrence for his latest order and commend him for acknowledging the hurt and destruction caused by Jesuit officials in their cover-up of Fr. Donald McGuire’s predatory actions.  Judge Lawrence ruled yesterday that survivors John Doe 117, John Doe 118, and John Doe 129, all of whom were sexually abused by Fr. McGuire as minors, can seek punitive damages in their lawsuit against the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus.  Greater than actual damages, which account for a plaintiff’s losses from harm caused by the defendant, punitive damages are int…

Jun 23, 2011: The Jesuit Officials Gave Cover to a Known Pedophile for Decades

I praise Chicago Judge Jeffrey Lawrence for his latest order and commend him for acknowledging the hurt and destruction caused by Jesuit officials in their cover-up of Fr. Donald McGuire’s predatory actions.  Judge Lawrence ruled yesterday that survivors John Doe 117, John Doe 118, and John Doe 129, all of whom were sexually abused by Fr. McGuire as minors, can seek punitive damages in their lawsuit against the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus.  

Jun 10, 2011: The Latest Disappointment from Kansas City

Last week Attorney Pat Noaker and I held a press conference in Kansas City announcing a lawsuit against the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph and Father Shawn Ratigan.  The lawsuit accuses Fr. Ratigan and the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph of violating federal child pornography laws after the Diocese discovered child pornography on Ratigan’s computer and did nothing for months.  Pat Noaker wrote more about the case in his blog last week.

Jun 10, 2011: The Latest Disappointment from Kansas City

Last week Attorney Pat Noaker and I held a press conference in Kansas City announcing a lawsuit against the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph and Father Shawn Ratigan.  The lawsuit accuses Fr. Ratigan and the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph of violating federal child pornography laws after the Diocese discovered child pornography on Ratigan’s computer and did nothing for months.  Pat Noaker wrote more about the case in his blog last week.In the decades that I have been bringing cases against officials and various arms of the Catholic Church I’ve found that it is typical for Dio…