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HUFF: Friar Claims Teens Seduce Priests

Father Benedict Groeschel, American Friar, Claims Teens Seduce Priests In Some Sex Abuse Cases

The Huffington Post  |  By Meredith Bennett-Smith

Posted: 08/29/2012 6:00 pm Updated: 08/29/2012 8:08 pm

In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Father Benedict Groeschel, of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, said that teens act as seducers in some sexual abuse cases involving priests.


It's been close to decade since an investigation into clergy sex abuse cases by The Boston Globe unearthed a shocking scandal and cover-up that rocked the foundations of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and around the world.

Ten years may have passed, but the wounds have yet to fully heal in America, especially in light of the recent Penn State allegations, as well as the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary for the clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In light of this, the recent comments by Groeschel seem both puzzling and jarringly out of step with current sentiments.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register posted this week, Groeschel was asked about his work with the very conservative Friars of the Renewal, a breakaway order he founded 25 years ago. The conversation took an interesting turn, however, when the editor asked about the 78-year-old's work with sexual abuse perpetrators.

"People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath," Groeschel said. "But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer."

Pressed for clarification, the New York State-based religious leader explained that kids looking for father figures might be drawn to priests to fill a hole.

Furthermore, Groeschel expressed a belief that most of these "relationships" are heterosexual in nature, and that historically sexual relationships between men and boys have not been thought of as crimes.

"If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way... And I’m inclined to think, on [a priest's] first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime."

The fact that the interview was published, without comment, in the National Catholic Register was significant due to the publication's affiliation with disgraced Legion of Christ religious order.

In 1995 the legion was part of a group of investors who saved the National Catholic Register from closing. The powerful clerical order was also part of one of the most damaging scandals, involving its one-time leader, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, the highest-profile Catholic clergyman ever to be accused of sexual abuse, according to Time magazine.

In 2005, the Vatican scrambled to try to minimize the damage done by revelations that the extremely influential Mexican priest had been abusing seminarians for year.

Groeschel is an influential voice in the American Dioceses and continues to maintain a high-profile in the church, writing several books and appearing weekly on a religious television network.

The priest received a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University in 1971 and now lives in Larchment, N.Y., where he assists with Trinity Retreat, a center for prayer and study for the clergy he founded.

Trinity House stirred controversy in 2006 when the press learned that New York priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children, but not legally convicted, had the option of a life-long close supervision program that began with a stay at the retreat. In the wake of community objections, the Archdiocese later removed Trinity House from the list of program's offered facilities, according to the Larchmont Gazette.

Groeschel is also a professor of pastoral psychology at St. Joseph’s Seminary of the Archdiocese of New York.


WSJ: Lawyers Say Ruling Allows Abuse Suits

August 30, 2012 -- The Wall Street Journal

Lawyers Say Ruling Allows Abuse Suits


New York state has one of the country's strictest statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims, despite lobbying by advocates who say the law can stymie victims who come forward too late.

Now some attorneys believe that legal framework may be shifting after a federal judge this week allowed a lawsuit detailing decades-old sexual abuse to go forward against one of Brooklyn's elite prep schools.

"Frankly I'm going over my files right now to see if there's anything that could be done," said Michael Dowd, an attorney specializing in abuse cases. He plans to review some 300 suits.

"It's the best news out of a court for the victims of sexual abuse this year, and probably in a number of years," he said.

U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block ruled Tuesday that the statute of limitations didn't automatically disqualify a case against Poly Prep Country Day School, even though some allegations date back to 1966.

Twelve alumni of the Brooklyn private school and its summer program claim they were raped and abused by Philip Foglietta, a revered football coach whose 25-year career at the school started that same year. Mr. Foglietta died in 1998.

The plaintiffs argued that the statute of limitations shouldn't apply because Poly Prep knew about the abuse and covered it up—continuing to publicly celebrate Mr. Foglietta as an upstanding member of the school. As a result, the plaintiffs say, they were prevented from promptly filing their lawsuit.

In a 40-page ruling, Judge Block dismissed some claims—including racketeering charges against Poly Prep—but allowed substantial portions of the case to move forward.

"Any person who was sexually abused by an institution that covered it up should look very carefully at the specific facts of his or her case before making a determination on whether or not to try and seek legal relief," said the plaintiffs' attorney in the suit, Kevin Mulhearn. "They shouldn't automatically assume that the case is too old and they can't do anything about it."

Poly Prep officials downplayed the decision. The school "believes the claims will ultimately be dismissed following a hearing," said spokesman Malcolm Farley. "We are still hopeful that the case may be settled."

Some legal experts said that the ruling was a significant victory for the plaintiffs—as well as other litigants whose sexual-abuse cases have been blocked by the statute of limitations.

"Generally in the state of New York the courts have been relatively hostile to these kinds of claims," said Marci Hamilton, a Cardozo Law School professor specializing in sex-abuse cases. "So this is a very noteworthy case because a judge has approved a theory that would permit individuals who are older than 23 years of age to still be able to sue."

The case has attracted widespread attention in the wake of local sexual-abuse cases at Horace Mann, an elite Bronx prep school, and within New York City's Hasidic community, as well as high-profile cases involving Penn State University and the Catholic Church.

Messrs. Mulhearn and Dowd represent five of the plaintiffs in the Horace Mann case, which also involves decades-old abuse charges.

Mr. Mulhearn combined several cutting-edge strategies being used in other sexual-abuse cases, many of which had previously failed in New York courts.

One claim relied on the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO. Although Mr. Mulhearn and his co-counsel brought RICO claims on behalf of all 12 plaintiffs, only two claims survived in the judge's ruling.

Still, that result may be unprecedented in the context of sexual abuse, he and other experts said. In the surviving RICO claims, both plaintiffs donated money to the school after administrators allegedly covered up their knowledge of the abuse.

Mr. Mulhearn also invoked Title IX, more widely known for providing parity for women's sports programs.

The law can apply in abuse cases if a predator exclusively molests children of one gender.

Mr. Farley, spokesman for the school, noted that "nearly all of the RICO claims" had been dismissed, with the rest now subject to an evidentiary hearing.

New York judges have largely resisted both theories, experts said, preferring to defer to lawmakers.

But advocates pointed to a potential breakthrough.

Assemblyman Vito Lopez, a powerful lawmaker widely seen as blocking legislation in Albany to extend the statute of limitations, was censured last week after an ethics investigation substantiated sexual-harassment complaints made against him.

If the scandal results in Mr. Lopez's departure from the Assembly, "that removes someone who has been a major factor in opposing revision of the New York state statute of limitations for sexual abuse," said attorney Ed Wilson, an advocate for people who claim to have been abused by the Catholic Church.

Mr. Lopez could not be reached for comment.

Write to Sophia Hollander at

A version of this article appeared August 30, 2012, on page A17 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Lawyers Say Ruling Allows Abuse Suits.

Judge Will Allow Poly Prep Sex Abuse Law Suit to Proceed: Daily News

U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block wrote - in what could be considered as a legal victory for the victims of abuse - he would green-light the case because officials may have lied about knowledge of the alleged actions.

NYTIMES: School Abuse Case May Proceed

August 28, 2012
School Abuse Case May Proceed, Judge Says
A top-tier Brooklyn private school cannot automatically use New York State’s statute of limitations to prevent a case involving sexual abuse allegations against a former football coach from proceeding, a judge ruled Tuesday, because of the possibility that the school may have engaged in a scheme to cover up decades of abuse.

THE OBSERVER: Riot in Riverdale: Will a New Foundation Insulate Horace Mann from Costly Molestation Suits?

Riot in Riverdale: Will a New Foundation Insulate Horace Mann from Costly Molestation Suits?
How to infuriate alumni and alienate victims
By Daniel Edward Rosen 8/21 6:48pm
“There is no book on how to handle a situation like this,” Steven Friedman, the chairman of the board of trustees for Horace Mann, told the school’s Alumni Council at a meeting in an auditorium at the school’s hallowed Riverdale campus last week.

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