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Monday, September 16, 2013

Archbishop Robert Carlson: Old Files Shed Light on Long History of Handling Sex Abuse Scandals

Posted By on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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See also: Fr. Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang: Archbishop Robert Carlson Subpoenaed in Priest Sex Abuse Case

In the Jiang case in St. Louis -- in which Carlson is soon to be deposed -- the archbishop is accused of attempting to take back money that the priest had given to the family in an effort to keep the parents quiet. This move, the family says in its lawsuit, is clearly a move to tamper with incriminating evidence. The Archdiocese, in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, says that Carlson vehemently denies this allegation.

click to enlarge Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. - VIA NHEYOB
  • via Nheyob
  • Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Given that Carlson has experience on the ground dealing with these kinds of cases, he should have known better in the St. Louis case, Clohessy argues.

"Literally thirty years ago, he was dealing, as these letters suggest, in a fairly hands-on, detailed way with one of the very first publicly exposed predator priests," he says. "It points out just how long he has been concealing these crimes and how knowledgeable he is about the details of the statute of limitations."

It is rare that victims do sue and bring to light these kinds of internal documents in this manner, Clohessy notes, adding that it's shocking to see how problematic the church's approach was decades ago. "You should've seen almost nothing but concern for the victim and yet even 30 years ago, you'll see in these documents that the focus is always what do we do about the father?"

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis sends Daily RFT this lengthy rebuttal from SNAP, which we've printed here in full:

In the last two decades Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has become a voice for transparency in clergy sex abuse cases. The experiences he had with reporting clergy misconduct to church leadership in the Archdiocese of St. Paul - Minneapolis in the early 1980's have influenced the way he handles these cases today as an archbishop. By the time clergy sex abuse unfolded on a national scale in 2002, then Bishop Carlson led the way in South Dakota where he worked with the state's attorney and offered to open up the church's files. Bishop Carlson also required local, state, and national background checks for priests who came in from other dioceses along with other diocesan workers.

Fr. Kevin McDonough, Director of Safe Environment for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, previously stated, "As frequently as possible in public forums, I credit Archbishop Carlson for taking steps in the 1980's to break the culture of clerical secrecy in our Archdiocese. The work of Bishop Carlson as early as the first half of the 1980's in St. Paul-Minneapolis is still a model of responsible citizenship of honest, open cooperation with public officials and especially concern for the safety of children thirty years later."

In June of 2002 the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) established the Dallas Charter, a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the requirements of the Dallas Charter are fulfilled by our Safe Environment Office and the Office of Child and Youth Protection. Since 2002, one-hundred thousand people have completed this program. Any adult who is employed by or volunteers in our parishes and institutions who works with minors is required to complete the "Protecting God's Children" program, which teaches how to recognize questionable behavior, to implement practices for the safety of children, and to take necessary steps to address even the suspicion that a cleric or Church worker has done something inappropriate.

Today, under Archbishop Carlson's leadership, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has cooperated fully with law enforcement and prosecutors involved in any abuse matters that have risen locally. The Archdiocese of St. Louis maintains a Child Safety Committee and an Archdiocesan Review Board in addition to the measures mentioned above. This Committee and Board include lay professionals from the community who review the child safety policies of the Archdiocese as well as each and every allegation of clergy sexual abuse. Any reports of abuse of a minor can be made to law enforcement officials, the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800.392.3738, or Deacon Phil Hengen, Director of Child and Youth Protection for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, at 314.792.7704.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis did not respond to Daily RFT's request for comment.

Here are the full documents in question:

Bishop Carlson

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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