Hobart College- A Story that Both Saddens and Infuriates Me

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/us/how-one-college-handled-a-sexual-assault-complaint.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=LedeSum&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

I am a 1973 graduate of Hobart College and have always thought of it as a nurturing place. It was very supportive of me and let me tailor my course of study to fit my interests. In return, I have been a loyal supporter and encouraged high school students to consider the Colleges.

In recent years ,at the invitation of the colleges, I twice returned to campus to discuss some issues related to sexual abuse with both faculty and students. I’ve met President Gearan on a number of occasions and believed he was a unique individual who would continue to improve the colleges.

All that has now changed as a result of this front-page article in the New York Times. If Hobart’s goal was to create a model of how not to handle sexual abuse claims, they have succeeded. .

It is readily apparent that every stage of this process was seriously flawed and exhibited profound ignorance of sexual abuse .

There are two aspects of this matter that I feel compelled to comment on.

The first is the fact that the school sent letters to various members of the academic community in which the intentionally revealed the alleged victim’s name. To compound their cruel “mistake”, they protected the alleged perpetrators by refusing to release their identities to the academic community. Everyone who works in this area, knows that other victims are more likely to come forward, once they learn that accusations, similar to their own, had been reported. Educated people surely also understand that corroboration of a pattern of behavior by a perpetrator, often makes the difference in whether an accused will be prosecuted, or even question the events in question.

the statement posted on the college’s website by President Gearan misses the point and blames the reporter. The fact that four students were expelled for sexual misconduct in the past two years is irrelevant. The real issue is how many complaints of sexual misconduct/abuse were made within that time and whether athletes or sons of prominent donors were treated differently.

Hiding behind lawyers and risk managers is a far different matter than providing leadership and acting in a moral way. Of course President Gearan cannot comment on the specifics of a pending case, but he ought to be publicly leading the colleges to a complete reevaluation of the existing procedures.

I know that Hobart wanted to raise the public profile of the College. They could not have chosen a worse way to do so. Hobart and William Smith Colleges have long struggled with an inadequate endowment     and competing with the many fine private liberal arts colleges in the Northeast. Their abysmal handling of this sex abuse claim puts the survival of the colleges at risk.

Seth H. Langson, Class of 1973

Attorney and Advocate for Victims of Sex Abuse

Is Pope Francis Parsing Words

Is the Pope Parsing Words?

Pope Francis told an interviewer that two percent of Catholic Priests were “pedophiles”. For decades Dioceses around the country have routinely claimed in priest sex abuse cases that they had absolutely no idea that the abusing priest was a “pedophile”. Of course, they never informed the public that pedophilia is defined as the fantasy or act of sexual activity with prepubescent children..

If a priest was attracted to, or abused older children, he would be accurately described as suffering from ephebophilia. This term applies to adults whose primary sexual interest is in children between fifteen and nineteen years old. This often meant that the Church’s pronouncements on the lack of knowledge of the priest being a pedophile was often technically correct.

Studies by the Catholic Church and data collected by Bishop Accountability show that the percentage of child molesting priests was significantly higher than two percent.

Is the pope relying on flawed data or merely continuing the Catholic Church’s long history of parsing words? Will Pope Francis state that the number of priests who are child abusers, pedophiles or suffer from ephebophilia, was also two percent. I will not hold my breath.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28282050

Seth H. Langson, Attorney
A Voice for Victims of Sexual Abuse

Charlotte Diocese Says it Settles and Pays for Counseling for Victims of Priest

This comes from a story on WSOC-TV.

http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/local/group-urges-charlotte-diocese-apologize-abuse/ngbYr/

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Members of a support group for people abused by priests want the Charlotte Diocese to admit two priests molested children. Monday, the diocese applauded Pope Francis’ personal apology to four European victims. Pam Wennersten Laico became incredibly emotional as she spoke about how she said a local priest sexually abused her brother. “I can’t believe this one priest destroyed our family, destroyed our entire family,” she said. She and others are now calling on Bishop Peter Jugis to help the four Charlotte area men they say were sexually abused more than 30 years ago. “What has Bishop Jugis done for those four men to help them rebuild their lives and put one foot in front of the other?” Laico said. David Hains, a spokesman for the Charlotte Diocese, said they have made court settlements and paid for counseling. He said the diocese is also taking steps to prevent further abuse. “We have done 37,000 training sessions and 46,000 background checks in the last nine years. We do take it seriously,” Hains said. A judge recently threw out a civil lawsuit against the Charlotte Diocese. The accusers claimed they were abused by two local priests more than 30 years ago. The lawsuit was thrown out because the statute of limitations ran out. A criminal case against one of the priests was also dismissed because he was found to be incompetent to stand trial. Both priests were removed from ministry, but Laico said that isn’t enough. “I would like the Bishop Jugis to personally apologize to these victims and be held accountable,” she said. Hains said the bishop has apologized. Channel 9 obtained a letter from Jugis dated February 2004. It reads, in part, “I express my profound sorrow. [Sex abuse] is a crime.” READ the full letter here. Channel 9 asked to speak with Jugis on Tuesday, but as told he was unavailable for comment. Members of the support group say they will continue to fight, until they feel the victims receive what they deserve, and the diocese is held accountable.

 

Seth H. Langson, Attorney and Child Advocate

 

Representing and Advocating for Sex Abuse Victims for Thirty Years

Charlotte Observer on Dismissal of Father Kelleher Criminal Charges

Charlotte Observer article about the Father Kelleher Dismissal.I encourage anyone who thinks prosecuting admitted sex abusers is important to speak out. Let Bishop Jugis, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and your representatives in the legislature know how you feel. Let us hope that some day all convicted sex abusers have to spend some time behind bars.
 
Father Joseph Kelleher

Former Iredell County Teacher and Pastor Criminally Charged

Pastor Glen McCoy

Another clergyman  got criminally charged today, Pastor Glen McCoy. This time, the alleged abuser was not a priest. I wonder how many victims are out there. Hopefully, this case will be aggressively prosecuted.

http://www.wbtv.com/story/25907326/former-iredell-statesville-school-employee-facing-sex-charges-involving-minor

 

Seth H. Langson, Attorney and Child Advocate

A Pioneer in Sex Abuse Litigation in North Carolina

 

CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST FATHER KELLEHER DISMISSED

CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST FATHER  JOSEPH KELLEHER DISMISSED

As I expected,the child sex abuse charges to which Father Joseph Kelleher had confessed, were dismissed today, due to his alleged health problems. This action took place nearly four years after Father Kelleher was first charged and after other victims came forward. This was one of, if not, the oldest criminal case, pending in Stanly County, NC.

Justice delayed was justice denied.

 

Seth H. Langson, Attorney

Dedicated to Advocating on Behalf of Sex Abuse Victims

Update on Father Joseph Kelleher

FATHER JOSEPH KELLEHER UPDATE

Today I learned that Father Joseph Kelleher’s criminal case in Stanly County will be heard at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. The stated reason is that it is on for hearing to consider the report to the Court that Father Kelleher was unable to stand trial. It remains my belief that the case will likely be dismissed tomorrow, nearly four years after charges were brought.

 

Seth H. Langson, Attorney

Representing Sex Abuse Victims for Thirty Years

Why All Sex Abusers Need to Spend Time in Prison

This disgusting story about child sex abuse and child pornography in Harnett County, North Carolina shows a system that repeatedly failed. This perpetrator did not even receive an active sentence on his second offense against children. When will District Attorneys and judges take these crimes seriously?


http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/region-state/you-can-t-trust-nobody-five-now-charged-in-harnett-child-sex-abuse-case-1.337496

 

Seth H. Langson, Attorney and Child Advocate

Thirty Years Experience in North Carolina Representing Victims of Sex Abuse

Court Dismissed Sex Abuse Cases Against Charlotte Docese Because of the Statute of Limitations

Diocese Sex Abuse Cases

Today the trial judge ruled that our clients had waited too long to bring their claims for sex abuse against the Diocese. It is critical to remember that this ruling did not have anything to do with whether the Diocese had covered up and concealed sexual abuse by priests or whether Father Kelleher and/or Father Richard Farwell had abused our clients.

We were looking forward to presenting our case to the jury and introducing all of the evidence about how the Charlotte Diocese has acted no differently than many other dioceses across the country in dealing with such allegations.

Despite the Judge’s ruling, I encourage anyone who was sexually abused by a priest of the Charlotte Diocese to come forward.

This case also should motivate people to demand that our legislatures extend or abolish the civil statute of limitations for sex abuse.

Please pray for the brave survivors who came forward.

We have thirty days from the filing of this Order to appeal.

 

Seth H. Langson, Attorney and Child Advocate

A Pioneer in Sex Abuse Litigation

CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST FATHER KELLEHER SUDDENLY ADDED TO COURT CALENDAR FOR NEXT WEEK

Late yesterday, I learned that the criminal case in Albemarle against Fr. Kelleher was placed on an “add on” calendar for next week. This addition was made yesterday afternoon. Shockingly,The District Attorney’s office did not notify any of the victims nor their attorneys of this action. On Monday, they will set the time for the hearing. It could take place as early as Monday.

I believe that the Judge will likely approve the dismissal of the criminal charges against Fr. Kelleher on the grounds that Father Kelleher is “incapable to proceed”. A two sentence report from a Ph.D at Buttner dated June 9, 2014 used those words.

If this occurs, I will have much more to say about Father Kelleher.

 

Seth H. Langson, Attorney and Child Advocate

Representing Sex Abuse Victims for Thirty Years