A major newspaper in Ohio conducted a three-month investigation into the priest sex abuse cover-up in Ohio, finding that in many cases police and other authorities were complicit. The Toledo Blade investigation found that there was an “unwritten policy” under which police officers treated priests accused of molesting children differently than other pedophiles. Priests accused of sex abuse were sent to treatment centers rather than jail, or were not investigated by the police at all, allowing church leaders to move the priests to different parishes. In three cases that did receive formal investigations, the case files were blocked to the public, so the abusive priests could pass background checks and obtain access to children, the Blade reports. In other instances, the investigations by police and child welfare agencies were delayed, even as recently as May, 2004.
“Now that the church has been dealt with, it’s time to deal with the agencies and the people who let it go on in the communities,” George Keller, a victim of priest sex abuse, told the Blade. Catherine Hoolahan, an attorney in Toledo representing victims, said, “You can’t separate police from the issue. Too many times, they could have arrested priests and sent a message to the church. You have to wonder that if the police did their jobs earlier, the church may have had to deal with cases more in the open.” One former police officer told the Blade that under Police Chief Anthony Bosch, who headed the Toledo police force from 1956 to 1970, “you would have been fired” if you arrested a priest, even for child abuse.
Priest pedophilia was also dealt with more leniently in the court system. In one case, a police officer arrested a priest after witnessing him receiving oral sex from a 16-year-old boy who said he was forced to perform the act. Not only did the priest receive no jail time, but a judge agreed to seal the record on the case, including the priest’s arrest and charge, according to the Blade.
In other news, the Vatican has defrocked two priests in Massachusetts, Eugene O’Sullivan and Paul E. McDonald. O’Sullivan was given probation and prohibited from working with children in 1984 after confessing to sodomizing a 13-year-old boy. However, he was transferred to four New Jersey parishes by Cardinal Bernard Law, who was then Archbishop of Boston, according to the Associated Press. Law has since resigned as archbishop but was transferred to the Vatican in 2004 by the late Pope John Paul II and given the honorary position of archpriest of St. Mary Major, one of Rome’s four main basilicas. Law defended his transfer of O’Sullivan in 2003, saying he wanted to give the abusive priest a chance at “redemption,” AP reports.