Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Bigger Picture in Sexual Abuse Stories Inside One Institution After Another: How Does Everyone Know, but Nothing Happens?

There's a recurring pattern here, isn't there, as if each individual story — spanning different faith communities and other institutions that are not faith communities — is part of a larger story? What is that larger story, and what can those of us concerned to shift this narrative do, so that fewer hapless human beings are victimized in this way within faith communities or other institutions?

Fr. Philippe Lefebvre on Msgr. Tony Anatrella's sexual violation of men doing therapeutic work with him: 

They weren’t surprised at all. Everyone knew about it! 

And more from Lefebvre making the same point:

[A]ll those religious officials with responsibility to hear this case in Paris and Rome have known the facts about Anatrella for at least two decades and did nothing at all except cover up, deny, bully, and attack those who sought in every way possible to alert them to the situation.*  

Laurie Goodstein and Sharon Otterman on Cardinal Theodore McCarrick:

But while the church responded quickly to the allegation that Cardinal McCarrick had abused a child, some church officials knew for decades that the cardinal had been accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching adults, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times. ... 
At least one priest warned the Vatican against the appointment. The Rev. Boniface Ramsey said that when he was on the faculty at the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in New Jersey from 1986 to 1996, he was told by seminarians about Archbishop McCarrick’s sexual abuse at the beach house. When Archbishop McCarrick was appointed to Washington, Father Ramsey spoke by phone with the pope's representative in the nation's capital, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the papal nuncio, and at his encouragement sent a letter to the Vatican about Archbishop McCarrick’s history.

Tara Isabella Burton on the McCarrick story: 

What makes the McCarrick case particularly striking is the degree to which his alleged sexual harassment of adult seminarians (not his abuse of minors) appears to have gone largely unchecked despite documented complaints. And despite widespread awareness of his behavior, McCarrick advanced to the highest echelons of the Catholic hierarchy. Action against him appears to have only been taken once his child victims came forward.

Julie Zauzner and Chico Harlon on the McCarrick story, citing Irish abuse survivor and former member of the papal commission on abuse Marie Collins: 

McCarrick was a high-profile figure whose behavior was probably known by many, said Marie Collins, a former member of the Vatican  Commission for the Protection of Minors who resigned last year, citing a reluctance among Vatican administrators to implement the commission’s recommendations.

Jerry Small on Larry Nassar and Michigan State University: 

This is another scandal of Penn State proportions where everyone knew what was going on and yet the victims were left with no help and no sense of anything being done in their behalf…SOONER. ... Every level up the ladder at Michigan State knew that Larry Nassar was wrecking havoc on young women yet did nothing about it.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro asks John Barr how Nassar's abuse could have gone on so long, when so many people knew: 

So I think the question on everyone's mind is, how was Nassar allowed to keep working and getting referrals? There were investigations over the years. There was even a Title IX investigation at Michigan State. Athletes began telling officials at the school about the abuse beginning in 1997. And yet here we are.

Ron Maxey on Pastor Andy Savage of Highpoint Christian church in Memphis: 

In Memphis, Savage joined Highpoint Christian Church, where his title is teaching pastor. Lead Pastor Chris Conlee and the church leadership say they knew about the encounter in Texas [i.e., Savage's assault of Jules Woodson] and expressed support for Savage.

What do you think? Is there a bigger picture to be seen here than the one we see when we focus on a single story or a single institution? If so, what is that picture, and how can those of us concerned about the victims in these stories act to change that picture?

* This is my tranlsation of Lefebvre's statement reading, "[T]ous les responsables religieux concernés à Paris et à Rome connaissaient les faits depuis au moins deux décennies et n'ont rien fait sinon cacher, nier, agresser et menacer ceux qui ont tenté par tous les moyens de les alerter."

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