Sunday, June 29, 2008

McCann, "Sr. Predator", and the Archdiocese

Jessica McBride wrote a lengthy article in the current edition of Milwaukee magazine about the abuse of boys by the Sister of Mercy, Norma Giannini. It is not very pretty. Link here, (HT: Terry Berres)

There's a sidebar of interest.

"When asked why the Archdiocese didn't refer the Giannini case for prosecution back in the 1990's, spokesperson ...Hohl did something local church officials have never done before: she blamed the ...DA's office.

"In Wisconsin, the 6-year [S.O.L. stops tolling] on crimes like sex abuse when a suspect leaves the state. [A practice about 100 years old.] But Hohl said the archdiocese concluded back in the 1990's that the DA's office wouldn't "apply" that provision to church sex abuse cases in which a suspect--like...Giannini--hadn't left the state specifically to flee prosecution."

IOW, Mike McCann was slicing and dicing the enforcement policy very thin, indeed. When a suspect leaves the State, their INTENT or reason for leaving determines whether the DA will prosecute. An interesting way to play prosecutor, no?

[Giannini was transferred, and the story does not indicate that she requested the transfer.]

Not to worry. There's plenty of blame to spread around:

"Since Giannini hadn't [fled to avoid prosecution] Hohl says, the Archdiocese believed the DA wouldn't prosecute and therefore didn't contact the office....The Church created its own secret investigative panel."

There is relevant nuance here. Sr. Giannini was a member of a religious Order--meaning that the Archdiocese did not direct her activities--unlike Diocesan priests (who are NOT members of religious orders.) Were the Archdiocese to "step up to the plate" on Giannini, it's likely they would be exposed to another damages lawsuit. The Archdiocese didn't report, leaving Sr. Giannini to possibly continue her abuses.

That makes an interesting moral question, no?

The article, by the way, is well-researched and documented although McBride encountered a lot of people who would not talk--on or off the record.

Among other oddities, the Milwaukee Police Department managed to "lose" a file on the case; the Archdiocese extracted a confession from the nun (followed by their non-contact of the DA); and Bishop Sklba plays dumb, even though he knew about it. Neither he nor Abp. Weakland could be reached for comment, either.

One minor complaint I have about the article: Jessica writes that 'St. Patrick's was founded to give the Irish a parish in which they could go to Mass in English.' Not true. They could hear the SERMON in English--the Mass was in Latin at that time. The German and Polish parishes also had Mass in Latin--but the sermons were in the language of the old countries.

Good work, Jessica!!

No comments: