USA: more abuse allegations as church brings in tough new policies

 In the past week, several more allegations of clerical child sex abuse have emerged across the USA. In Boston, 13 people added their names to a lawsuit against the archdiocese, bringing to 53 the number of plaintiffs who allege they were assaulted by the late Fr Joseph Birmingham. The suit alleges that after parents raised concerns about Birmingham, church officials shuffled him from parish to parish. The suit is one of the largest in the abuse scandal involving the archdiocese. The case of former priest John Geoghan, which sparked the current crisis, has 86 plaintiffs. In Cleveland, a commission reviewing the diocesan policy on sex abuse wants any priest accused of abuse to be immediately removed from the ministry. Priests would be allowed to return only if they are exonerated after an investigation. The policy is stricter than the one endorsed by US bishops. The panel - including attorneys, abuse victims, police officers and parents - was established by Bishop Anthony Pilla, who said its suggestions will be considered before a final document is written. In Kentucky, a state appeals court ruled that a lawsuit alleging the Diocese of Lexington didn't do enough to halt sexual abuse by priests, can be made public. The suit was filed by four unidentified men and one woman. The court said the church did not show there was a compelling public interest in keeping the suit secret. The diocese has seven days to appeal. The material will remain sealed until then. A priest who had served in Richmond, Virginia, since 1963 has been forced to resign for sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy two decades ago, the diocese said. Over the weekend, the bishop of San Diego sent a letter to parishioners in his diocese appealing for any victims to come forward if they were abused by retired priest, Mgr Rudolph Galindo. He has admitted that allegations of childhood abuse made recently by three men were true. The confidential information is now being reviewed by the San Diego County district attorney. Galindo, who retired in 1986, was living in a retirement home in Texas, but has since been transferred to an undisclosed psychiatric facility for evaluation, said Bernadeane Carr, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of San Diego. In 1985, Galindo, former rector of the San Diego cathedral, denied molesting an altar boy but the diocese agreed to a $75,000 settlement with the child's family. Because of health problems, Galindo had not been performing any priestly duties in San Antonio, Carr said. She explained that he will now be prohibited from pastoral work or identifying himself as a priest, in keeping with the zero-tolerance policy against abusive priests adopted in June by US bishops. * The American Conference of Major Superiors of Men has just voted to set up review boards to monitor how their communities handle priests who abuse children. The religious orders promised that such clergy would undergo treatment and be placed under close watch, while being allowed to remain within the priesthood. They also said that priests who violated the restrictions imposed on them could be dismissed. (See Letters Page: ICN 12 August 2002: We have two victims of Church abuse)

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