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I was age five when the bishop stood over me and said, "Stop babbling about what the priest did to you." Then, forty years later... I started babbling.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

How to Answer Questions Under Oath Without Revealing Anything: Levada to speak to Cardinals at Vatican today about sex abuse cases

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Asked about a priest who took minor boys skinny dipping, Levada says, "My memory is not that airtight." Another priest was in treatment at House of Affirmation in Massachusetts for sex problems before coming to Oregon; it did not register in the bishop’s brain. Throughout the deposition the cardinal responds “I don't recall,” and “I don't remember.” Only when attorneys put hard evidence in front of the Cardinal does he suddenly have a memory, and then only for that one fact brought out by evidence.

Today at 5 p.m. Rome time Cardinal William Levada gives a speech titled "Response of the Church to Cases of Sexual Abuse" after a day of meetings at The Vatican. "It is unclear whether the format will allow for any back-and-forth among the cardinals, or whether there would be any time for discussion given the limited window allotted," Politics Daily and other news media have reported.

The main skill Levada can demonstrate to the cardinals is “How to answer questions under oath without revealing anything more than what opposing attorneys already have as evidence,” judging from the Cardinal’s own answers in a deposition taken January 2008, about sex crimes of priests in Portland, Oregon, where Levada was bishop before becoming Archbishop of San Francisco and then, just after the deposition, flying away to Rome never to return to American soil and be questioned again. Today Levada heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly The Inquisition).

Cardinal William Levada is an expert on evading the truth in deposition testimony, even after taking an oath on the Bible. Here are excerpts from the January 2008 deposition. (Attorneys Erin Olson, Michael Morey, and Kelly Clark appeared for plaintiffs, Paul Gaspari is attorney for the San Francisco Archdiocese, Jeff Lena and Mary McNamara represent Levada:)

Mr. MOREY: Q: You indicated to Mr. Clark that during your tenure as archbishop of Portland that you met with a number of victims of clergy abuse.
A: I did say that, right.
Q: Can you tell me the names of any one of them.
A: I don't recall that.
Q: Are you certain you actually even met with a victim?
A: To the best of my recollection, I did.
Q: But you can’t remember a single name.
A: Mm-mm.
Q: Can you remember the context of any of the meetings?
A: The context?
Q: Who the priest was, what was the person’s desires?
A: No, I don't.

Q: During your tenure as the archbishop of Portland, were there any reports of the crime of solicitation sent to the Holy See?
A: I think I can answer no because I'm sure I would have remembered if I had done such a report.
Q: I may miss one, but during your tenure, there were reports of sexual abuse of children by priests Baccellieri, Perone, McCray, Goodrich and Also.
Ms. McNamara: Compound.
Mr. LENA: Compound. What is, I'm sorry, I've lost track of the question. [INAUDIBLE DISCUSSION]

***
Q: Okay, let me switch subjects and talk about Father [BLANK]
[Then 28 and a half REDACTED PAGES]

[Then we get to Erin Olson’s questioning of Cardinal Levada:]

Q: How about Father Donald Durand?
A: I received a report of child sexual abuse. I think it would be more inappropriate behavior.
Q: Can you describe the nature of the complaint?
A: I believe the report I received was one of skinny dipping in a river up towards Silverton or Salem someplace.
Q: Skinny dipping alone?
A: With minors, minor boys.
Q: Did you receive that from a known source?
A: I don't recall. But that sticks in my memory for some reason. And my memory is not that airtight, as you know.
Q: Did you take any action in response to the complaint?
A: I'm sure I must have discussed it with Father Lienert.
Q: Would it be documented in a memorandum of sorts?
A: It could well have been. Certainly I think it would have been discussed with him.
Q: With Father Durand?
A: With Father Durand.
Q: Do you have any independent memory of that discussion?
A: No, I don't.

***
Q: What did you do when you received the report about Father Goodrich?
A: Well, as I recall, he was not in a condition to be interviewed himself. But I'm not absolutely sure whether someone didn't attempt to interview him. You know, I don't know. There should be something in the record about it.
Q: Do you recall having a meeting with Father Lienert, Tom Selliken, and counsel for the archdiocese about how to proceed with that investigation?
A: I don't recall such a meeting but that would be the normal thing.
Q: Okay, let’s talk a little bit about that. When a complaint against a priest was received by you during the course of your tenure as archbishop, what would be your first reaction in terms of what you would do?
A: If it came to me directly, I would call in the vicar for clergy and share this complaint with him, ask for any information and background and ask him to go through files. And then we would meet about what next steps to take.
Q: Was it always the case, with regard to the seven priests you've identified about whom you received complaints during your tenure, that you would convene a meeting to discuss how the investigation would proceed?
A: It would not necessarily- we would- the people that were mentioned, the archdiocesan attorney, oftentimes the risk management person, all of those persons would be involved in consultation. But whether we would always meet together, it's not- I don't recall that being the case.
*****
Ms. OLSON: Q: In Paragraph 3, exhibit 41 describes Father Grammond being upset because he’s being treated so harshly and I'm sort of summarizing it. In it he says: “Father Jim Harris was accused of child abuse fifteen years ago and nothing has happened to him.” Were you familiar with the prior allegation against Father Jim Harris?
A: No.
Q: Did you know Father Harris simply as his supervisor or more as a passing acquaintance?
A: No, I knew him as his bishop. I think Harris was already retired by this time.
Q: Did you receive information from Father Lienert, [Vicar for Clergy] after he got this rant from Father Grammond, that there had been an accusation made against Father Harris?
A: I don't recall having that information before, before this indication, before hearing from, I'm sure I heard from Father Lienert about developments in the Grammond case.
Q: Do you recall learning from Father Lienert in 1992 that a prior accusation of child sexual abuse had been made against Father Jim Harris?
A: All I recollect is what's in this memo.

[COFA: They never admit to anything more than what's already in evidence.]

Q: Did you take any action following up that there’d been accusations against Father Harris?
A: I don't recall it.
Q: You don't recall directing Father Lienert to investigate further?
A: I don't recall it, but it would be the normal thing to do.
Q: Do you remember any allegations against REDACTED?
A: I don't remember hearing any allegations. I think he was the director of the ST. Mary’s Home for Boys, or chaplain there or something?
Q: I believe that's correct, but you recall no allegations against him?
A: I don't recall.

****
Q: We've talked briefly about Father Jacobson. And I want to ask you in more general terms about how you came to learn that Father Jacobson had been accused of sexual misconduct. [Church lawyers object, some discussion ensues]
MR. CLARK: Let me just, not to shoot from the peanut gallery, but I'm quite familiar with Father Jacobson’s file. The allegations involved- I think it mentioned women, young women and girls, almost interchangeably all through the file.
THE WITNESS: Apart from what we have reviewed here, I don't really recall, have a real recollection of anything other than that in regard to Jacobson.
MS. OLSON: Do you recall evaluating his suitability to return to some sort of limited ministry while you were archbishop of the archdiocese of Portland?
A: Yes I do.
Q: What do you recall about that process?
A: I'm sorry I don't recall any details about it.
Q: Do you recall returning him to some sort of ministry during your tenure?
A: My recollection is, is not good here. But there should be some record in the, in the personnel files of the archdiocese about whether I did or didn't.
Q: Well there’s lots of stuff but we're limited in time, So tell me what your memory is of Father Jacobson during your nine years at the archdiocese.
THE WITNESS: Father Jacobson was an affable, gregarious priest. I often ran into him on assignments, priest gatherings, meetings. And I recall some of the situations that are described in the memoranda we've reviewed being brought to my attention and trying to deal with them in an appropriate manner.
MS. OLSON: Do you recall him being at the House of Affirmation in Massachusetts?
A: No.

[Paul Gaspari, attorney for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, questions William Levada next:]

MR. GASPARI: Who succeeded y you as archbishop of Portland?
A: Archbishop Francis George.
Q: Did you meet with Archbishop George before you left Portland?
A: I don't recall that.
Q: Do you recall having any communicates with him about ongoing problems that he would encounter upon his arrival in Portland?
A: It's quite possible, but I don't recall anything specific.

*********
[CofA: Oh, come on, we're talking about priests buggering boys, how do you forget a conversation like that?]
*********

Q: Do you recall having any communications with him about ongoing problems he would encounter upon his arrival in Portland?
A: It's quite possible, but I don't recall anything specific.
[Gaspari’s questions spark the cardinal to talk on for paragraphs about friendships with bishops and meetings and he has no trouble remembering them, as long as they don't have anything to do with child sex abuse.]
A: Archbishop George and I have known each other pretty well since we were both bishops in the northwest. He was in Yakima. And we have had frequent conversation in person and over the telephone. I don't recall any specific conversation, but my practice would be to let my successor take the initiative and not to try to impose upon him any vision of things.
Q: And you don't recall any conversation you had with Archbishop George about the problem priests that you had received accusations against during your tenure as Archbishop?
A: Certainly not that'll. That would be something he would be well informed about by Father Lienert.
[CofA: Oh the buck passing they do.]

*****************

Ms. OLSON: Q: Did you review the sub secreto files when you would enter a new position? Let me be more specific. When you came to Portland, did you go in and look at the sub secreto files?
A: I don't recall doing so.
[CofA: Oh, come on]
Ms. OLSON: Okay, back to Father Jacobson. You testified that you didn't recall that he had been at the House of Affirmation. Does the first page of Exhibit 42 refresh your memory as to that subject?
A: No, but I take it for- on face value here that he- such an inquiry was made, so-
Q: Do you know of any other priests during your tenure as archbishop of Portland who were at the House of Affirmation in Massachusetts?
A: No.
Q: The second page of that exhibit, which is Bates- marked Jacobson 4356, appears to be a memorandum to you from a nun.
A: Yes.
Q: do you have any independent memory of that document? Does it appear to be a request to have Father Jacobson assigned to the- to her institution for at least a part-time position.
MR. LENA: Document speaks for itself.
THE WITNESS: It seems to be.
Q: Okay, if a priest has been seriously accused of molesting a child and he were being considered for a return to some sort of ministry, would a ministry assignment that didn't involve access to children have been something you would have considered before one that did?
Mr. LENA: Calls for speculation.
THE WITNESS: Yes.
Q: What sorts of ministries would you consider, did you consider, while you were archbishop of Portland, assigning priests you were considering returning to parish ministry in some fashion?
A: But I didn't want to assign them to a parish, is that what you mean?
Q: Correct.
A: Well, you know, there could be assignments at, for example, cloistered monasteries of sisters. Some positions in the Chancery Office itself would not involve contact with children.

Q: The first thing I'm going to do is go through and ask you about priests, whether you ever heard, during your tenure as Archbishop of Portland, an allegation that any of these named individuals had committed an act of child sexual abuse. Joseph Henry Arata.
A: No.
Q: Father Edmund Boyle?
A: I don't recall hearing that priest’s name.
Q: Ernesto Guzman-Chavez?
A: I don't recall receiving complaints.
Q: How about father BLANK BLANK BLANK
A: I don't recall any, I don't recall
Q: Father Gerald Dezurick?
A: No I'm not familiar with that name.
Q: Father Martin Doheny, Father BLANK

****************

On and on ad infinitum. The only time the Cardinal remembers anything is when plaintiff attorneys put blatant evidence in front of him. Then all of a sudden it's, “oh, yes, now that you mention it, I do recall Father BLANK skinny dipping with little boys," etcetera. But when the attorney for archdiocese of San Francisco asks Levada questions, the cardinal suddenly has a crisp clear memory for everything.

And American judges and news media went along with the whole charade.

That's all the deposition I've got, have to go back to the job I do that supports this blog. You can help these efforts by sending high fives through PayPal or Western Union.

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Want some rejuvenation? I listen to this song over and over, among others:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjDpAwG3Lts

"I am Healed" by Donald Lawrence

(Wish I had grown up in an African American Gospel church...)

1 comment:

city of angels lady said...

Jenny wrote this comment:

You wrote:"Today Levada heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly The Inquisition)"

... And that makes him now the final authority adjudicating child abuse cases for the entire catholic church!!

As cited at the following:

"Sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric is a crime in the universal law of the Church (CIC, c. 1395 §2; CCEO, c. 1453 §1). Because of the seriousness of this matter, jurisdiction has been reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Motu proprio, Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, AAS, 93, 2001). "

(article 5, CHARTER FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE, US catholic bishops)

Or in plain English;

"When Pope John Paul II promulgated the norms on priestly sex abuse in 2001, he gave the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith juridical control over such cases."
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1002793.htm

(Email comments to: cityofangelslady@yahoo.com )