Bankruptcy judge in Milwaukee
Blasts Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s program for sex abuse victims
Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director contact 414.429.7259/
On Wednesday, June 1, 2011, Judge Susan Kelly told attorneys from the Milwaukee archdiocese that the church’s so-called victim “mediation” program
established by archbishop Timothy Dolan in 2004 to address child sexual abuse by priests was “completely inept” and “not at all what had been described to
her” by archdiocesan officials. The archdiocese was asking Kelly to allow the program to continue while they seek bankruptcy protection from the federal court.
Dolan testified before state lawmakers before leaving Wisconsin in 2009 to become the archbishop of New York that his mediation program, which had never been reviewed by outside investigators, rendered changes in the Wisconsin sex abuse statutes under the proposed Child Victims Act, and other institutional reforms, completely unnecessary. Under Wisconsin law, until recently, any civil claim against abusive clergy and their bishops have been barred due to a set of controversial state supreme court decision in the mid 1990’s, which ruled any such case filed against clergy violated the 1stamendment of the US constitution. Wisconsin is the
only state with such a provision.
Shielded by these rulings, Dolan and his attorneys devised the mediation program criticized by Kelly today, where victims received a nominal financial settlement in exchange for signing a release and dropping any chance, no matter how remote, of legally obtaining information, records, and testimony concerning the clergy who sexually assaulted them as children or what church officials knew about the abuse.
Clergy sex abuse survivors who testified before Kelly detailed how, instead of receiving healing and assistance from Dolan’s program, they were re-traumatized by it. One victim, for instance, described in painful detail how, if she was to receive any assistance through Dolan’s program, she was forced to travel to the church grade school where she had been repeatedly sexually assaulted and point out to a diocesan official each room and every hallway where she had been molested by the priest.
Dolan conveniently brokered his promotion to New York just in time to leave Milwaukee before the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy. Now that we are beginning to see the results of his seven years as CEO of the archdiocese, the questions Dolan needs to return to answer under oath in Milwaukee are mounting, including evidence that he moved at least 130 million dollars into bogus financial entities before the bankruptcy filing and claiming that he was selling the archdiocesan headquarters while concealing its ownership under a school that has not operated for 30 years. Now, as Judge Kelly has determined, we can add a bogus mediation program to this
growing list, where abuse victims had no choice for desperately needed therapy and assistance but to crawl back to their abusers and those who covered up
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