A recent sex abuse case in Long Island shows that the Catholic Church still has a problem with abusive priests in the United States:
A former president of a prestigious Catholic high school on Long Island has been suspended from practicing as a priest after an investigation found allegations he sexually abused a student were “credible.”
Father James Williams was the president of Chaminade High School in Mineola from 1999 until 2011, CBS New York station WCBS reported.
The Marianist order, also known as the Society of Mary, said Friday it conducted a “comprehensive investigation” into alleged sexual abuse in 2011 involving a Chaminade student who was age 18 or older.
What makes this case ironic is that this abuse apparently occurred within the last seventeen years. This is the period of time when the sex abuse scandal made news. The Catholic Church has stated over this time that they developed methods of identifying and treating abusive priests. It would appear, however, that whatever internal methods they have to detect abusers did not work in this case.
I have another explanation for this: it appears victims such abuse tend to take about ten to fifteen years to come forward. It is 2016, so it is not surprising that we are now seeing accusations about abuse that occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I think over the next five years we will see more cases from this period, proving that the Catholic Church does not have as much control over the rampant abuse in their organization as they claim.
To a certain extent this is already obvious. Some of the recent cases come from Latin America and Africa. These are countries with large Catholic populations that seem to be havens for wayward clergy members.
There was a response to the allegations:
In a letter posted on the school’s website, the order said Williams denied anything happened, but that it forwarded the information to the Nassau District Attorney’s Office.
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office told WCBS it received a letter in February 2015. He described the act as a misdemeanor sexual abuse, but said the statute of limitations for such a crime expired in 2013. The spokesman added that the alleged victim did not want to pursue criminal charges.
That is rather convenient. That is an observation, not an attack. It benefits Williams that the person who accused him neither wants to or can file charges. That may not be the case with other victims. The article does not state that anyone else accused Williams of sexual abuse, although it is possible that more can come forward. The situation and power Williams had certainly offered more opportunities to abuse children, assuming he did it.
However, I think this case shows that the Catholic Church attempted to clean up its public image, but likely has not done the work to make sure abuse does not happen. In fairness, there is little that they can do in many cases. Every offender is not obvious or prolific. Contrary to what people may think, many of those who prey on children have enough control to not do it. Some of them will abuse for a while and then stop. If they do not abuse again, there is a good chance no one will know they abused anyone at all.
That said, the Catholic Church is not doing the best job of weeding these people out. Sending them to Spanish-speaking countries or tucking them away in African countries is not a solution. They are still likely to abuse children. The Church needs to do better to make sure that this does not happen.
This does not mean they should suspect all priests or prevent priests from being alone with children. Most priests and clergy do not abuse and it would be unfair to treat them as if they do. It is also unfair, however, that there does not appear to be much done to help those who are preyed on or stop those who commit such acts.