Michigan Victims Group Demands Transparency From Bishop

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 8, 2019   

The Daniel Coalition's statement on Fr. Pat Egan

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Church Militant broke the news Thursday that Bp. Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan sat on a credible allegation of sexual misconduct against a priest for four years before removing his faculties, only doing so last year after the victim threatened to go public. The report also featured an audio recording of Boyea making light of concerns that the priest might still be meeting with minors unaccompanied.

A day after the report, the Daniel Coalition, a Lansing-based group that works on behalf of abuse victims, issued a statement with a list of demands for the bishop, including the need for a new investigation into a 1990 allegation of abuse against Egan deemed not credible by a review board compromised by bias.

The sex abuse crisis has been devastating to us.

Dr. Janet Smith, professor of Moral Theology at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary and a member of the board of the Daniel Coalition, hopes the statement will elicit the proper response.

"I believe the Daniel Coalition speaks for a large number of Catholics, both laity and priests," Smith said in comments to Church Militant. "The sex abuse crisis has been devastating to us. I hope Bishop Boyea and others will take our concerns seriously and do the right things."

The coalition's statement shows special concern at Boyea's dismissiveness when faced with the possibility that Egan was still meeting with minors.

Bishop Boyea's remarks to the victim's advocate (published by Church Militant on March 7) did not reflect serious concern about the possibility that Fr. Egan might still have contact with minors. Bishop Boyea should have assured the victim's advocate that he was greatly disturbed that minors were still at risk and that he was going to act immediately to determine what more might be done to protect potential victims. Bishop Boyea should invite previous victims of Fr. Egan to meet with him, parents whose sons have boxed with Fr. Egan and local educators to determine what further measure might be appropriate and possible.  

In a comment to Church Militant Thursday, Bp. Boyea clarified that Egan was not in fact meeting with minors, as the bishop had claimed in a Feb. 23 audio recording. But Boyea's explanation fails to justify his dismissive attitude during the conversation, when he believed Egan was in fact meeting with boys. 

 

The coalition's statement also addresses Fr. Mark Inglot, a longtime priest who was a member of the dissident Dignity community for many years, and openly promoted homosexuality. The diocese suspended him last year after a credible allegation of sexual harassment. The coalition, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the diocese's statement at the time, saying it "misrepresented Fr. Mark Inglot's offense" — which later reports made clear involved harassment of a much younger priest, a detail that had been left out.

The Daniel Coalition describes itself as "a not-for profit advocacy organization formed by concerned laity in the Diocese of Lansing, dedicated to supporting victims of clerical sexual abuse, calling for transparency and accountability, and advocating for effective change." Since its founding in August, two predatory priests have been removed from active ministry.

"I have been aware of the corruption in the Church for decades but I had no idea how bad it is. I probably still don't," Smith told Church Militant on her reasons for agreeing to work with the Daniel Coalition. "I thought the bishops surely know what I know (for it has been widely reported) and thought they must be doing something about it."

Unfortunately the episcopacy for many decades has participated in or covered up for horrifying abuses.

"Unfortunately the episcopacy for many decades has participated in or covered up for horrifying abuses," she said. "It is time the laity stepped up to try to restore goodness and respectability to our Church."

"I hope the Diocese will make its first priority compassionate and just care to victims and the protection of all from predatory priests," Smith added.

Below is the full statement from the Daniel Coalition:

Statement regarding Fr. Pat Egan:

While we appreciate that Bishop Boyea removed the faculties of Fr. Pat Egan last September, we have concerns about how the Diocese handled this case. We have been in the process of gathering information on this situation for the purpose of contacting the Diocese of Lansing directly. Because of the recent article published by Church Militant, the Daniel Coalition, in support of the victims of Fr. Egan's predatory sexual behavior, makes the following observations and requests:

  1. The Diocese needs to investigate the claim that the Diocesan Review Board's decision in 1990 that found another accusation against Fr. Egan "not credible" was compromised by the bias of one of its members (who was apparently the superior in a community to which Fr. Egan belonged).

  2. There should be an investigation into why documentation concerning the accusation was not found in Fr. Egan's file. A policy should be put in place to ensure that a record of all accusations, credible or not, should be preserved. Later allegations often give credence to earlier ones.

  3. The official statement from the Diocese in respect to Fr. Egan's offense should have contained a more accurate description of the offense: it should have indicated that the sexual activity for which he was punished was not consensual. The Diocese also misrepresented Fr. Mark Inglot's offense (see the Daniel Coalition Press Release of February 17, 2019). It is vital that the Diocese give accurate and transparent information about the nature of offenses, for the sake of the victim, the predator, and the public.

  4. Since Fr. Egan's sexual misconduct took place during a boxing session, and since Fr. Egan for decades had boxed with hundreds of young men, when the Bishop learned of Fr. Egan's sexual misconduct he should have taken steps to inform all parents of minors who may have boxed with Fr Egan. Indeed, he should make a statement now since it has been learned that Fr. Egan has attempted to meet with a minor since his faculties were removed.

  5. Bishop Boyea's remarks to the victim's advocate (published by Church Militant on March 7) did not reflect serious concern about the possibility that Fr. Egan might still have contact with minors. Bishop Boyea should have assured the victim's advocate that he was greatly disturbed that minors were still at risk and that he was going to act immediately to determine what more might be done to protect potential victims. Bishop Boyea should invite previous victims of Fr. Egan to meet with him, parents whose sons have boxed with Fr. Egan and local educators to determine what further measure might be appropriate and possible.  

The Catholic bishops have lost much moral authority over their mishandling of sexual abuse cases. We call upon Bishop Boyea to review the 1990 Diocesan Review Board decision, to formulate and execute policy that would preserve evidence of accusations, to correct the public statements regarding both Father Mark Inglot and Father Patrick Egan, and to take concrete steps toward protecting everyone.

The Daniel Coalition offers its services of advocacy to victims and also expresses it desire to work with Bishop Boyea to ensure compassionate care and justice for victims.

The Daniel Coalition is a not-for profit advocacy organization formed by concerned laity in the Diocese of Lansing, dedicated to supporting victims of clerical sexual abuse and advocating for effective change. It was originally formed as No More Victims, but recently changed their name to reflect the Biblical story of young prophet Daniel, who intervened in a case where respected religious leaders had engaged in serial sexual predation and cover-up (see Daniel 13). In a case of sexual harassment and attempted rape, the victim, Susanna, was at first not believed and was even shamed and blamed, but through Daniel's courageous help she was supported and ultimately vindicated, and the perpetrators were brought to justice. Their website is www.danielcoalition.org.
 

 

 

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