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Catholic League President Bill Donohue Dishes Out Big Bucks for NY Times Ad

14 comments

The target of the ad is clergy sexual abuse survivors. It’s interesting that Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, feels the need to take a shot at my client, Greg Guggemos, in an apparent attempt to make him a victim yet again. In a full page ad in the New York Times today, in section A, Mr. Donohue laments that Catholic priests are unfairly targeted by countless false accusations of sexual abuse. He has the audacity, in one of the world’s most widely circulated newspapers, to question whether it was right for the Church to “dish out” $225,000 to Greg for the inexcusable abuse he suffered as a child. Mr. Donohue, can you say that you know what it’s like to walk in Greg’s shoes? Do you know, like Greg knows, the psychological burden he has carried since being sexually abused at St. Vincent’s orphanage?

I can only imagine what you must have “dished out” to pay for a full page ad in the New York Times. Why? You seem very bitter, Bill Donohue. I wonder how you would feel if you were a victim or one of your children or grandchildren were molested by a priest.

Contrary to Mr. Donohue’s thinly veiled suggestion that Greg’s claim is fraudulent, two monsignors and a review panel of laypeople determined that his accusations were credible. Greg found the courage to stand up to his abusers and say “NO MORE!” When one person is brave enough to take on the Church, an organization that has used fear and intimidation and even outright threats to protect its darkest secrets, other survivors often find this same courage within themselves. After decades of thinking they were alone in their shame, they find hope.

Mr. Donohue, in his defense of strict statutes of limitations, talks about the due process rights of the perpetrators. What about the rights of the victims? He is so quick to point out that most victims were not children, but rather adolescents. Does this make the abuse forgivable? The fact is that young boys and, yes, young girls had their innocence stolen by people in positions of authority. They were compelled by fear of reprisal and, even worse, eternal damnation to keep silent or to bury their suffering. We are not talking about mere carelessness, something that might justify such a short limitations period. We are talking about heinous, unacceptable acts committed by people who should be trusted, and an organization that looks the other way – spending more resources on the abuser than on the victim. The perpetrators should have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives. And by the way, if public school employees commit these acts, they should be held accountable too.

Unlike Bill Donohue’s references to lawyers who hate the Church, I bear no animus against the Church. In spite of my success in Greg’s case, I have not used that settlement to advertise or to actively drum up business. Nonetheless, I have been approached by dozens of people who say they were victims of clergy abuse. The vast majority of these individuals seem exceedingly credible. I am honored to represent them and they deserve to be able to hold their abusers and the Church accountable.

Bill Donohue, before you make any more accusations against Greg Guggemos, I challenge you to meet him face-to-face and make your own determination. If you want, we will come to you. Then maybe you can dish out an apology.

14 Comments

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  1. Lorenzo-NY says:
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    Archbishop Timothy Dolan should explain his recent praise of Donahue. Would Dolan defend the most egregious and hurtful statements that Wild Bill has made? How about his characterization of many survivors as ” professional victims?” His angry, inappropriate and damaging phrases are voluminous. No wonder the networks and cable channels love to invite Donahue to comment on Catholic affairs. He’s sure to deliver a wild and woolly invective sound bytes. His harsh words are often in direct contradiction of the bishops’ own statements. I suspect that his vitriol actually is an accurate reflection of that the bishops actually believe. Maybe smiling Archbishop Tim can examine some of Billy Boy’s shot from the hip missives.

  2. Sister Maureen Paul Turlish says:
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    Church hierarchy tried to blame all the sexual abuse of children on those with a homosexual orientation some time back. I don’t remember if it was before or after the “blame it on the devil” excuse was floated. Neither one floated very well with Catholics
    .
    Are the hierarchs now using What’s his name as their shill? I hope What’s his name had to pay a bundle for his ad in the Times.

    How many times must it be said that the sexual abuse of anyone, and in particular of children, is fundamentally an abuse of power and authority and in the case of religious denominations and organizations it becomes abuse of children, young women, men and vulnerable adults through the spiritual power and authority the individual holds.

    What neither What’s his name nor any of the hierarchs have addressed, at least publicly, is their own and/or their predecessors’ involvement in protecting and covering up for sexual predators while victims got the short shrift.

    Perhaps that may change with the calls for the resignation of the Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia. Justin Rigali has managed to show just about all the holes in the Dallas Charter with the release of Philly’s second Grand Jury Report, the five arrests that followed and the almost thirty priests who were taken out of ministry.

    Msgr. William Lynn and the other four who were arrested will have their formal arraignments on Friday, April 15th at 11:00 A.M. in the Criminal Justice Center in center city Philly.

    There will be a rally with protest signs beginning at 9:30 A.M. or so in front along with press conferences outside after the formal arraignments. JOIN US.

    BTW, when is the topic of disciplining complicit bishops and others going to be the subject of the bishops’(USCCB) meetings?

    FYI –

    Also, check your Comcast Network Channel on Wednesday, April 13th at 5:30 P.M. for Larry Kane’s “Voice of Reason” show on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

    I was part of a panel discussion recently on the situation in the Philadelphia Archdiocese that has resulted from the recently released second grand jury report, the five arrests that followed and the suspensions of almost thirty priests.

    Back in March I was invited by PA Representative Michael McGeehan to speak at the March 1st press conference at the state capitol in Harrisburg where House Bills 832 and 878 were introduced. Those bills will, if they become law, (832) remove all criminal and civil statutes of limitation going forward and provide a two year civil window (878) for bringing forward previously time barred cases of sexual abuse by anyone.

    These bills are very similar to the 2007 legislation which provided similar civil legislation in Delaware. The criminal statutes had been removed going forward a few years before that.

    The show, “Voice of Reason” is hosted by Larry Kane of the Comcast Network and was taped a few weeks ago in their Philadelphia studios. In addition to my participation, the others on the panel included an adult “alleged” victim of childhood sexual abuse, his father and Anne Shenberger, a member of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Review Board.

    The show was broadcast on the Comcast Network, CN 8 and 201 on Sunday, April 10th at 9:30 P.M. and will be repeated on Wednesday, April 13th at 5:30 P.M. The Comcast Network is also available on Fios.

    The audio is already available if you click on:

    http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/show/kyw-specials-place/#

    Then click on:

    Sex abuse

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Victims’ Advocate
    maturlishmdsnd@yahoo.com

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    I see the demons mouth is at it again and on top of it he is spending more money than the latest cash stealing church employee was arrested for.

  4. christine says:
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    Recommendation for a great new book, for anyone interested in the Catholic clergy abuse situation:

    Clergy Sexual Abuse Litigation – Survivors Seeking Justice, by Jennifer M. Balboni,
    http://www.FirstForumPress.com

  5. mike ference says:
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    Sadly, the clergy sex abuse scandal will not go away until catholics like Bill Donohue finally admit that crimes against innocent children have been committed for centuries by priest, nuns, bishops, cardinals and popes. Second, that catholic church hierarchy deliberately covered up these crimes. They were simply more concerned about protecting dysfunctional sex freaks than God’s most precious commodity — innocent children.
    Mike Ference

  6. Mike Bryant says:
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    This ad and the hypocrisy is amazing, if you weren’t already aware of this being a part of every day business for them. Keep up the fight David.

  7. Judy Jones says:
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    Has anyone wondered WHY Mr. Donohue has to use someones hard earned donations to ‘buy’ an ad to get his outrageous opinions in the media?

    Could it be that not media will listen to him.. and give him any credibility to cover his news releases?

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    There is a mismatch between the ability of child sexual abuse survivors to come forward and the statutory limit for filing a criminal complaint. Justice would be best served by eliminating the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse completely.

    Melanie Jula Sakoda
    Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)
    SNAP East Bay Director
    http://www.snapnetwork.org/
    melanie@pokrov.org
    925-708-6175

  9. Bob Hope says:
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    It is time for the Catholic Church to allow priests to get married. Priests are not Jesus Christ. http://www.digitalundivide.com/youtube—get-free-auto-car-insurance-quotes-and-compare-rates

  10. peter centorcelli says:
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    Note sent to Catholic League:

    Was it just happy coincidence that the home page of your site had a “More hypocrisy” link alongside your defense of child rape by priests? It seems that since 3/4 of the victims were post-pubescent that this lessens the magnitude of the horrific act. That somehow forcing sexual contact on a 13 year old is so much less heinous than if the victim was only 11. And let’s have a cheer that the poor 13 year old was most likely a boy because that makes it so minor to hardly be worth mentioning.
    You laud the fact that only 8.3 reported cases per year for a recent 5 year period. So since only 43 children (‘cause pre or post puberty, they are still children) were reported molested by priests, that is an accomplishment in which to be proud. And you count all 40,000 priests to show how small that number really is. Well, Mr. Donohue, how many of those priests are realistically working in an environment where they have ease of contact with children? Half of them? Less? Who knows because you couldn’t be bothered to put that number together because it makes your case that much weaker.
    Now let’s talk about that 8.3 average you throw out. Wow, that’s almost nothing isn’t it? Hmmm, it seems to me that I have recently looked up the suspected percentage of under-reporting of rape (which is what this is since a child cannot give consent.) For male to female rape it is estimated that only 39% of the victims ever report it. For male to male it is only 10%!! So based on your rosy, only 43 children’s lives were ruined, the more likely numbers are:
    (Based on the articles, 60% homosexual, 30% heterosexual and 10% involve pedophilia)
    26 victims were same sex so based on under-reporting percentages, one would expect 260 victims!
    13 victims were male to female so based on under-reporting, one would expect 33 victims.
    4 victims were children. I couldn’t even find a figure for that under-reporting so we’ll just leave it at 4 for this discussion.
    Suddenly your 8.6 child rapes a year is now nearly 60. I bet you wouldn’t be crowing over that number.
    And let’s wait a few years until those traumatized children get older and reach a level of maturity (not counted as growing some hair on their private parts as you would have us believe.) How many of those will decide they are ready to report their abuse. But of course, you would just label them as money hungry parasites looking to feed off the teat of mother church.
    Frankly, this entire article is a shining example of the hypocrisy of your church. Instead of admitting a problem had existed and you were doing everything in your power to combat it, you worked to shift offending priests from one location to another, allowing them to destroy more innocent lives. Your idea of facing the problem is to point to other groups that have had similar issues and then pat yourself on the back for being just as good as (fill in the blank) in hiding , I mean handling your problem.
    Oh, it’s not rape, its “inappropriate touching”. What exactly does that entail, Mr. Donohue? I suppose the child can take comfort he wasn’t raped but rather that he was only inappropriately touched. Or he can take comfort in knowing had he been a year or two younger it would have been far worse but the maturity he gained by undergoing puberty made him so much more resilient.
    And to cap off this entire pile of refuse that I am sure would have Jesus hanging his head in shame, you link all your woes to abortion, gay marriage and women in the clergy. How blind are those who refuse to see, Mr. Donohue.

  11. Bruno/Ellen A. Chmiel says:
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    Few priests have been accused compared to number of abused. Cardinal Bernardin’s accuser recanted and begged forgiveness.
    Four lawyers who investigated ALL lost their faith. Ten-year-old boy buried his underpants so his mom wouldn’t see the blood. And consider the pimp priests who passed victims around!

  12. Carrie says:
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    News Flash Donahue:

    President of the Catholic League for Religious Cult Leaders and Their Predators.

    Put the those shoes on Donahue, they are just your size and brand.

    Why pretend you are flying around via a halo? Did you think no one would recognize you?

  13. donniem23 says:
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    I saw the ad and re-read it with increasing incredulity. The priests were not pedophiles because the kids were post-pubescent — are you kidding me.

    There was no rape cause the kids were just touched? does the term sexual assault mean anything to Donohue.

    It’s not a pedophilia problem – it’s a gay thing.

    It’s not a priest thing, cause a rabbi did it too.

    I was shocked he did not call for the imprisonment of those pesky victims — defaming the church, it’s priests and the enabling bishops by talking about their abuse.

    To quote (or paraphrase) one of my heroes – Lou Gehrig, “I thank the good Lord every day for making me an atheist.”

  14. tom gillespie says:
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    Bill Donohue your comments in the N. Y. times ad are offensive, biased and without compassion for those who were abused by catholic priests or by anyone. You minimize the effects of sexual abuse on minors by some one in power as well as minimize the crime the perpetrators committed. To suggest that an adult in power who has sex with a teenager as opposed to a younger child is less consequential is so ignorant and insensitive that it makes me wonder about you. You really believe that lawyers are seeking out people to lie about being abused for money. Your comments are absurd. Your a slap in the face to anyone sexually abused by a priest or by anyone else for that matter and you choose to be blind to the effects it has on someone’s life. Shame on you. The catholic church would be wise to shut you up.