Thursday, January 29, 2009

U.S. Investigates Los Angeles Archdiocese Officials

JANUARY 29, 2009


LOS ANGELES -- Federal authorities are investigating the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to see whether top church officials tried to cover up the sexual abuse of minors by priests, said a person familiar with the matter.

A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas and begun calling witnesses in the probe, which began late last year, said this person. The investigation is still in its early, fact-gathering stage, and it isn't known whether any criminal charges will result.

Thomas O'Brien, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the investigation.

J. Michael Hennigan, a lawyer for the archdiocese, said in an email on behalf of church officials: "The Archdiocese has received requests from the U.S. Attorney's office for information about a number of individual priests, two of whom are deceased; none of whom remain in ministry. We have been and will continue to be fully cooperative with the investigation."

Cardinal Roger Mahony, who heads the archdiocese, the largest in the U.S., has been criticized by victims' groups for his past handling of sexual-abuse allegations against priests. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has been investigating allegations of such abuses for several years.

District Attorney Steve Cooley criticized the archdiocese in 2007 for its "institutional moral failure" to "supervise predatory priests." A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office said their investigation is still open.

Catholic Church leaders said they have done much to address the priest sexual-abuse problem. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, set up a national review board in 2002 aimed at "preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church," according to the organization's Web site. Individual dioceses "have made significant strides to instill practices that will ensure the safety of children in the church," said the organization's Web site.

The district attorney's investigation began in 2002, around the same time that internal archdiocese emails about priests accused of abuse surfaced in the media.

Over the following two years, dozens of alleged victims stepped forward, with many filing lawsuits. They claimed the archdiocese shielded priests accused of molestation by keeping the allegations secret and allowing them to keep working, sometimes moving them from one parish to another.

In 2004, the archdiocese, which covers three Southern California counties containing more than four million Catholics, issued a report on the priest sex-abuse scandal. Cardinal Mahony apologized to victims and acknowledged "my own mistakes during my 18 years" as the archdiocese's leader.

In 2007, the Los Angeles archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to 508 alleged victims, among the largest settlements in the U.S. priest scandal.

No senior Catholic Church officials have been criminally charged in the national scandal. But representatives of abuse victims alleged that senior officials helped perpetuate the crimes by ignoring or covering up evidence of misdeeds. They have argued that prosecuting senior church officials would help stop future abuse.

"Everything else has been tried with minimal impact except charging an individual bishop. That would have to an impact," says David Clohessy, national director for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a nonprofit victims-advocacy group based in Chicago.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic bishops conference said her organization has seen no evidence that senior church officials were involved in criminal acts. "Enormous strides have been made" in recent years by the Catholic church in dealing with the priest-abuse problem, she said. More than 1.8 million clergy and other church personnel have been trained to create a safe environment for children and to prevent abuse, she said, and a similar number of background checks also have been done on clerics and other church workers.

The federal investigation in Los Angeles is the latest chapter in government's efforts to grapple with the priest-abuse scandals in the Catholic Church that have struck in waves over the past three decades.

{"OY! Such a headache - much bigger than the first one!"}

Numerous individual priests have been criminally charged and convicted in abuse cases, and Catholic dioceses around the U.S. have agreed to settle civil lawsuits.

While most of the investigations have been done by state and local officials, federal investigators also have gotten involved at times. In 2005, the Archdiocese of Boston resolved a federal criminal investigation into whether the church officials had withheld information about an allegedly abusive priest. The archdiocese, which denied any criminal wrongdoing, agreed to new disclosure requirements and audits regarding its child-protection practices.

Write to John R. Emshwiller at john.emshwiller@wsj.com


Regarding Vicki Polin said...

You are exactly correc, UOJ.

Nocody has claimed that anyone must believe Vicki on anything at the Awareness Center just on her say so. She has her standards as does UOJ, as do newpapers etc.

But why is it that when someone donates money to a yeshivah, it is taken no matter what the ethical/moral character of its donor. But when someone is actively saving innocent Jewish children, (Vicki, UOJ, Cov Hikind, the Kolko victims and other victims)we are told to "check his tzitzis" to see what his agenda is?
If a fireman came to put out a fire in your house, would you analyze his moral character first or help him help you?

Jerusalem Post said...

Petah Tikva, Israel - A pedophile with a record of sexual offenses dating back to 1994 was able to rape and sodomize three brothers repeatedly in recent months because the Petah Tikva religious boys' school that employed him as a maintenance worker failed to run his name by police as required by law, police say.

The suspect, Avraham Pikraz, 45, of Petah Tikva, had been tried three times in the past for sexual offenses involving minors, but psychiatric evaluations found him unfit to stand trial on each occasion.

After recently "turning religious," Pikraz found a job at the religious school, where he proceeded to sexually assault three brothers aged 9, 11, and 15 on several occasions, after gaining their trust.

Pikraz will be indicted on Thursday, but will not be required to appear in court, for his own protection, Petah Tikva Magistrate Nahum Sternlicht ruled on Wednesday.

"By law, the responsibility for identifying sex offenders falls on their employers," Supt. Guy Jacobson, the Youth Officer at the Petah Tikva police department, said.

"Every employer is required, on his own initiative, to obtain police approval for all employees who have access to children. Police are not called on to do this, the employers are.

"Theoretically, if a yeshiva which teaches children under the age of 18 employs a renovation team, they must run the names of each employee past the police to ensure that they are not sex offenders," Jacobson said.

It was too soon to say whether police would arrest the head of the religious school for not seeking police clearance for his employees, but failure to comply with the Child Protection Law is a criminal offense, Jacobson noted.

While placing the blame squarely on the school, Jacobson also hinted that previous court dealings with Pikraz had failed to protect children.

"This started in '94 and here we are in '09," he said.

Pikraz's lawyer, Ein Tzvi, seemed to be leaning towards the psychiatric line of defense once again, telling the court on Wednesday that his client "had been hospitalized at a psychiatric clinic in the past," and requesting further evaluations.

"Let's assume for the sake of argument that he is mentally ill," Jacobson said. "A court can demand that he be locked up in an institution for the mentally ill for 10 years or more.

"It is the allocated time period inside the institution that is important," Jacobson said.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

The public has spoken - I removed the Zahler letter.

Anonymous said...

Anon Passaic from the Fifi thread.

Thank you so very much!
Kol Hakkavod.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

From bad to worst!

ROME – A priest in an ultraconservative society recently rehabilitated by Pope Benedict XVI has defended a bishop in his group and joined him in expressing doubts about the Holocaust.

While making more cautious remarks than Bishop Richard Williamson, the Rev. Floriano Abrahamowicz echoed, in an interview published Thursday by an Italian daily, the prelate's doubts that Jews were gassed during World War II.

"I know gas chambers existed at least to disinfect, I can't say if anybody was killed in them or not," Abrahamowicz told "La Tribuna di Treviso," a newspaper in northern Italy.

Contacted by phone in Treviso, Abrahamowicz said the report of his interview was accurate, but declined to comment on his remarks.

Benedict lifted Williamson's excommunication and those of three other members of the Society of St. Pius X last week as part of his efforts to bring back into the Church the group, which opposes many of the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Williamson's superiors at the society have distanced themselves from his comments.

Asked for comment about Abrahamowicz' remarks, a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, noted that Benedict had warned Wednesday against any denial of the full horror of the Nazi genocide and had expressed his unquestioned solidarity with Jews.

The spokesman also reiterated the Holy See's position that rehabilitating Williamson by no means implies that the Vatican shares his views.

On Thursday, the Vatican cardinal in charge of negotiating with the society was quoted as saying that no one at the Vatican knew about Williamson's views until after the decree lifting excommunication had been signed.

"We absolutely didn't know anything about this Williamson, I really think that no one was aware of it," Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos said in an interview published in Corriere della Sera.

Asked why the Vatican went ahead with the public announcement of the rehabilitation after Williamson's views were publicized, he said the decree was already in the hands of the society.

"We did what we had to do," the cardinal was quoted as saying.

Jewish groups denounced Benedict for embracing Williamson, who denied during an interview broadcast last week on Swedish state TV that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. The bishop said only about 200,000 or 300,000 were killed.

In Thursday's interview, Abrahamowicz defended the bishop, saying Williamson had not denied the Holocaust but had only questioned the "technical aspect" of the gas chambers.

The priest, who heads the society in northeast Italy, said in the interview he did not doubt that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, but then added that the figure may have been "exaggerated."

He compared the Holocaust to the Allied bombing of German cities in World War II and the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Abrahamowicz also referred to Jews as being "the people of God who then became the God-killing people" — a remark that contradicts the Vatican II teaching that Jews as a people cannot be held responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Williamson and three other bishops were excommunicated 20 years ago after they were consecrated by the late ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal consent — a move the Vatican at the time called an act of schism.

Former Supporters of Rav Fuerst said...

Ex-Governor Blagojevich's impeachment should serve as a warning that NO ONE is above the law. Regardless of political alliances, etc. it all catches up to you in the end.

A rav can be removed from office and power, despite feeling he has support up and down the aisle. Once a person who exerts power, manipulation, and threats over other people have the greatest falls. Power can be wrested from EVERYONE.

Affiliation with Telshe, Chicago Community Kollel or Agudah are meaningless. If the individual is a bulvan, actively encourages criminal activity, or is a menace to society their power and prestige will be stripped from them.

Nobody is such a SPECIAL ASSET that the community can't replace. The days of the thugs dominating Judaism are over. The days of "pay to play" dayanus is over. We cannot, will not support, nor condone such outrageous behaviors.

Anonymous said...

KJ highest US poverty rate, census says
Expert on Hasidic communities says large families, poverty linked
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Census Bureau data say more than two-thirds of Kiryas Joel residents live below the poverty line.Times Herald-Record/DOMINICK FIORILLE
Matt King
By Matt King
Times Herald-Record
January 30, 2009

KIRYAS JOEL — This village has always had the distinction of being a cultural and religious enclave, but now it can add another:

Kiryas Joel is the poorest place in the country.

According to the latest round of U.S. Census figures, released late last year, the village has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and the largest percentage of residents who receive food stamps. Only one other place in the 50 states has a lower median income. The median household income in Kiryas Joel is $15,848; in Carbondale, Ill., it's $15,799.
Poorest places in the country and local results

Poverty rate

Kiryas Joel: 68 percent

Athens City, Ohio: 52 percent

State College, Pa.: 50 percent

Newburgh: 28 percent

Kingston: 19 percent

Middletown: 17 percent

Sullivan County: 13.9 percent

Ulster County: 11.6 percent

Orange County: 10.9 percent

Food stamp usage

Kiryas Joel: 41 percent

East St. Louis, Ill.: 40 percent

Prichard City, Ala.: 38 percent

Newburgh: 20 percent

Kingston: 12 percent

Middletown: 9 percent

Marriage rate of women ages 15-50

Kiryas Joel: 80 percent

Linton Hall, Va.: 78 percent

Fort Bragg, N.C.: 77 percent

Middletown: 42 percent

Kingston: 42 percent

Newburgh: 35 percent

Median age

Kiryas Joel: 14.4

Lakewood, N.J.: 20.4

Fort Hood, Texas: 20.6

Newburgh: 26.4

Middletown: 30.4

Kingston: 35.7

Source: American Community Survey, www.census.gov/acs/www/

More than two-thirds of Kiryas Joel residents live below the federal poverty line and more than 40 percent receive food stamps, according to the American Community Survey, a U.S. Census Bureau study of every place in the country with 20,000 residents or more.

That makes the village poorer than crumbling big cities like Detroit and noted slums like East St. Louis, and by far the poorest place in the mid-Hudson.

The poverty rate in Newburgh, the next-poorest place, is 28 percent. Regionwide, it's about 11.5 percent. Places in the country with poverty rates similar to Kiryas Joel are mostly college towns with large populations of students who don't have full-time jobs.

Village officials did not return calls seeking comment, but an expert in Hasidic communities said the poverty figures are tied strongly to the village's religious culture and mores.

Pressure to have many children and the demand to send them to expensive private schools, combined with a low number of people who go to college or leave the village to get higher-paying jobs, produces a static and poor society, said Samuel Heilman, professor of Jewish studies at Queens College.

"This is a population that sees childbirth as a sign of high status and for women a fulfillment of their divine and socially sanctioned role in life," Heilman said. "They are also an insular community that see life on the inside superior to the outside."

The tendency toward large families is borne out in the American Community Survey data.

The median age in the village is 14.4, meaning half of its more than 21,000 residents is 14 or younger.

Also, the village has the highest marriage rate in the country, with 80 percent of women ages 15 to 50 being married.


Anonymous said...

More from R' Jacobovits w/some commentary;


UOJ Gets Results said...

Gov't launches criminal probe in peanut recall

FDA: Feds open criminal investigation into Georgia plant that shipped tainted products
Sharon Theimer and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press Writer
Friday January 30, 2009, 3:51 pm EST

WASHINGTON (UOJ) (AP) -- The government has opened a criminal investigation into the Georgia peanut-processing plant at the center of the national salmonella outbreak, federal officials said Friday.

Stephen Sundlof, head of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety center, said the Justice Department will join FDA investigators in looking into possible criminal violations. The Peanut Corp. of America plant shipped allegedly tainted products to dozens of other food companies.

"It is an open investigation at this time," said Sundlof. "We can't really talk much about the investigation itself."

More than 500 people have been sickened as a result of the outbreak, and at least eight may have died because of salmonella infections. More than 430 products have been pulled off the shelves in a recall that reaches to Canada and Europe.

In another development Friday, officials urged consumers to be cautious about "boutique" brands of peanut butter, which had not previously figured in the recall.

Although national brands of peanut butter are unaffected, some smaller companies may have received peanuts from the processing plant in Blakely, Ga., the FDA said.

Meanwhile, the White House pledged stricter oversight of food safety.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that President Barack Obama plans to name a new FDA commissioner and other oversight officials in coming days. Gibbs said they will establish a "stricter regulatory structure" to prevent breakdowns in food safety.

"I think the revelations have no doubt been alarming," said Gibbs. That a company which found salmonella in its own testing would continue to ship products "is beyond disturbing for millions of parents," he added.

FDA officials said they last inspected the Blakely facility in 2001, when it wasn't being used to make peanut butter.

It did not get much attention from the federal government again until earlier this year, when a shipment of peanuts from the plant was returned from Canada because it was contaminated with metal fragments. The FDA then asked Georgia authorities to inspect.

But the state inspections did not detect what FDA officials say was a salmonella problem at the plant dating back to at least June of 2007.

The return of the contaminated shipment of peanuts was first reported by the Associated Press and UOJ.

Anonymous said...

I might be blind but lakewood isn't on the poverty list. doesn't that shlug up UOJ?

Anonymous said...

Troubled peanut firm’s chief also an industry quality adviser

By BOB KEEFE/Cox Washington Bureau

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The president of the peanut company linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak serves on an industry advisory board that helps the U.S. Department of Agriculture set quality standards for peanuts.

Stewart Parnell, president of Peanut Corp. of America, based in Lynchburg, Va., was first appointed to the USDA’s Peanut Standards Board in July 2005 and was reappointed in October for a second term that runs until June 2011, according to the USDA.

The outbreak of salmonella linked to peanut butter made at the Peanut Corp. of America plant in Blakely, Ga., has sickened more than 500 people in 43 states and may have caused the deaths of eight.

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it is working with the Department of Justice on a criminal investigation of the Peanut Corp. of America.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation also is looking into whether the company may have broken any state laws.

steve said...


A source tells me that Rav Belsky convinced the KAJ and just about every other kashrus agency to change their minds and fully approve raisins. Only the Nirbater is holding out as requiring checking.
Gil | Homepage | 01.31.09 - 8:28 pm | #


While we stand behind the notice posted on the internet, the notice was not meant for the public. It was meant to be posted in shul for the benefit of our members. Someone posted it on the internet without asking us, which made it seem that it was our intention to publicize it.

Various brands of raisins were checked and found to be infested, including some originating from abroad. Our rabbinate has spoken to experts in the field who have checked raisins here and abroad, including samples we sent them.

Pursuant to these investigations and after discussing the matter with other poskim, our rabbinate decided that the problem is prevalent enough to warrant notifying our membership, as well as establishments under our supervision, that they refrain from using raisins until further notice.

I believe that in the future supervision on the production of raisins will -as a matter of course- include checking for infestation by many kashrus agencies. Why not? Isn't that what they get paid for? Given the recent publicity on the matter, it is likely that raisins will become standardized as an item checked for infestation in line with strawberries and vegetables which need checking, for instance.


The OU has long maintained that raisins packed and stored under normal industry conditions do not pose a halachic infestation concern and may be consumed without further checking on the part of the consumer.

Recent public reporting of widespread infestation in packaged raisins has led the OU to reexamine its prior held position vis-à-vis raisins. Following careful investigation, extensive testing and consultation with our halachic authorities, the OU upholds its original position that raisins, when stored under normal conditions (cool, dry and clean environments) do not require checking for the presence of worms or insects. (See Taz, Yoreh Deah, 84:12) Especially when it involves hefseid merubah to the OU coffers

Sad in the "Holey Land said...

Who is going to come and protect the innocent children still under the care of Akiva Kagan in Ramat Bet Shemesh?

The assinine school that chose to employ him, the city rabbonim and the parents themselves seem to care less.

Even id something would happen, Chas Vçhallila, no one will know because of the cover up machine in the charedi community.

Rabbi Malinowitz...you had fortitude to fight for Nate Slifikin...where are you now?

Rabbi Kornfeld..you pride yourself on bringing children into the bris of Avrohom Avinu as a mohel. How many children have you driven away from this bris becuase of your obsession in "protecting"the monsters in the charedi community at the cost of Jewish souls.

Rabbi Eidensohn...you refer to yourself as a well known mechanech in RBS. You knew about the monster Kagan and have done nothing to stop him. What chinuch.

Gottlieb and Taksha...there is a special place in hell (and hopefully jail) for evil idiots such as yourselves.

UOJ...please help us oust Kagan the way you did with Kolko and Mondrowitz.

We need you NOW!

Anonymous said...

the simple reason why u can't check raisins is because you have to cut them open to check them. there4 any raisins you will eat will be unchecked but permissable with a "ROIV". all the ou is saying now is they have a roiv already...

I'm all 4 bashing them when they're wrong but a little intelectual honesty when calling them to task does seem to be in order b/c otherwise your critisism is worthless.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

UOJ...please help us oust Kagan the way you did with Kolko and Mondrowitz.

We need you NOW!


The success of bringing child rapists to justice has only been due to the cooperation of the victims, their families, and members of their respective communities.

RBS has not, unfortunately, assisted me in my efforts, with the exception of a very few people.

As some people may know, I have been there, used my contacts in the police department, in the legal community, in the media, and in the government -- but ultimately, the community at large has been uncooperative.

If the present attitude that UOJ can do this by himself - will change, the RBS community knows how to contact me --- I will then pull out all the stops. Until then, I am powerless to help, as much as I want to.

Anonymous said...


As a member of the RBS community I am ready and willing to assist.
I know one of the victims and his family and know that they went to the police and proper authorities.

What can I do as "John Q. Public"to help this along?

Kagan is a danger and so are his enablers.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

What can I do as "John Q. Public"to help this along?


For starters, kindly take the known victims and their parents to meet with Tamar Rotem at Ha'aretz and Matt Wagner at the Jerusalem Post. Their confidentiality and yours are guaranteed. Let me know please when the meeting will happen. I will advise you further - every step of the way.


Shidduch Crisis said...

Rabbi Emmanuel Yegutkin has admitted to molesting boys. As more victims have come forward, and support in the community waned, he came clean with an admission of guilt. Rumors aboutt his behaviors were known for more than a decade.

A true pity on his wife, who the information was hidden from. The shadchan should be proud of his accomplishment. This is the true shidduch crisis.

VIN said...

Brooklyn, NY - On his weekly radio show this just-past Motzoei Shabbos, Assemblyman Dov Hikind revealed that according to his information, [confirmed by VIN News] another victim has come forward with allegations that he was abused by the disgraced former principal of Elite High School of Brooklyn.

On the show, Mr. Hikind also discussed the accused principal's admission of guilt.

Most significantly, Hikind announced a major yom tefilah to be held on March 1, 2009 in front of the Borough Park "Y" on 48th Street to demonstrate a communal request for forgiveness from Hashem for not doing enough to protect our children from, and inform our community of, heinous crimes that have been occurring over the past decades in which we turned a blind eye to abuse victims.

Mr. Hikind said that he would continue his crusade, and said "those who are upset with what I do, I ask them: 'Take over what I do.' I even offered one of the biggest Chasidic institutions many months ago, when they were upset at my work, to take over—and I never heard back from them."

Finally, Mr. Hikind applauded Hatzolah leader Heshy Jacobs for coming forward this past week to express willingness to help Hikind "in any way, shape or form and be at the forefront to see how I can help the holy work you do."

Wolfie said...

Regarding the raisin infestaton: please Internet links to the KAJ and OU statements.

Anonymous said...

not doubting it but do we have any confirmation of yegutkin's admission besides hikinds say so?

Tom Daschle, another Obama Tax Cheat Putz said...



Tom Daschle, President Barack Obama's choice for secretary of Health and Human Services, paid about $140,000 in back taxes and interest after questions surfaced during the vetting of his nomination, according to documents being prepared by the Senate Finance Committee.

Mr. Daschle made the payments to cover a luxury car and driver provided to him by an investment firm where he was an adviser after leaving the U.S. Senate in 2005, but which he didn't report as income, people familiar with the report said. The payments also covered unreported consulting income and unwarranted charitable deductions. The tax period covered 2005 through 2007.

Some senators have also raised concerns about two vacation trips Mr. Daschle took aboard a corporate jet belonging to nonprofit lender EduCap, which faces a separate probe by the Finance panel into its tax status.

The changes reflected unreported income from the use of the car service valued at $255,256 for those three years, according to the Finance Committee report. He also amended his returns to cover $83,333 in unreported consulting income for 2007. And he reduced his charitable contributions by $14,963.

Michael Phelps said...


The Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps quickly acknowledged his poor judgment after a photograph showing him inhaling from a marijuana pipe was published Sunday in a British newspaper.

This is not the first time Phelps has been compelled to issue a public apology for his behavior. In 2004, a few months removed from winning six gold medals and two silvers at the Athens Olympics, Phelps, then 19, pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge.

steve said...

Regarding the raisin infestaton: please Internet links to the KAJ and OU statements.



bankman said...

great letter related to phelps above....