The Roman Catholic hierarchy just doesn’t get it. In a recently released transcript from a clergy abuse case in the Diocese of Syracuse New York, Bishop Cunningham was quoted as saying: “The boy is culpable…….Well, I mean, without knowing the circumstances completely, did the boy encourage (or) go along with (it) in any way?”
Renowned author, former priest, and psychologist who specialize in sexual trauma matters, Richard Sipe says, the child should not be held responsible for the abuse. “That is so absurd,” Sipe said. “It’s like saying a child who’s beaten is responsible for the beating. It’s prehistoric. I can’t believe a bishop in (2011) said this.”
Another former priest who has testified as an expert in clergy sex abuse cases, and whom the author of this blog has had the privilege to meet and work with in dozens of clergy abuse cases in Philadephia, said the bishop’s claims were “preposterous.” “There’s no way, either in law or in moral theology or in canon law, which Bishop Cunningham is trained in, that a child can consent to that crime,” said Patrick Wall, the expert on clergy abuse in the Syracuse lawsuit.
As a crime victim lawyer and advocate in Pennsylvania who has spoken to over a hundred survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I have seen the evolution of sexual assault laws across the country. However, it never ceases to amaze me as a crime victim advocate how victims of assault and battery are themselves blamed for the harms they indure. The law for sexual assault may be confusing in many ways, but blaming the victim has no place in modern jurisprudence.
As an attorney who is devoted to sexual assault law practice and involved in sexual assault activism on behalf of victims, I am appalled how this attitude is still seen in the cases I have litigated against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia whose attorneys will argue that victims are either fabricating that it was a priest who sexually assaulted them or claim that the entire allegation of abuse was fabricated by the survivor. These claims were asserted by Archdiocesan Attorneys repeatedly over the last several years despite compelling evidence from past victims, and subsequent confessions of other sexual assaults by the same priests that were involved in our cases.
If you or someone you know or loved has been sexually abused by clergy, you should contact us immediately. There are time limits to file your claim. Dan Monahan has consulted with hundreds of victims and invites you to call for a FREE, CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION. 610-363-3888