Friday, April 26, 2002
Further evidence that the church has been aware of the extent of the problem for 16 years and failed to take action.
"Moreover, say church officials, clergy and lay observers, disclosure now of the "Confidential Crisis Proposal" raises significant legal issues for the church. Especially in terms of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, cases because it, as an organization, was presented with evidence of child abuse by clergy and failed to alert the public, let alone develop well-articulated rules to at least alert authorities of child abuse. "They [church officials] failed to protect the children and, when confronted, have done everything possible to minimize the situation and cover it up," says one lawyer familiar with such cases. "It's been criminal."
A suit filed by a minnesota lawyer:
The suit identified every bishop in the United States as unnamed conspirator, and cited them under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which is aimed primarily at organized crime but includes provisions for civil cases.
"All the bishops were engaging in concealment of criminal conduct to avoid prosecution, to obstruct justice, in particular to use the wires to commit fraudulent concealment of criminal wrongdoing by reason of the maintenance of secret files," Anderson told CNSNews.com. Anderson, who has represented hundreds of people in similar cases, also cited the Catholic hierarchy for "engaging in secret bribery settlements with victims in a pattern that causes them to remain in silence."
Now one Attorney General thinks they have the evidence to make a RICO case stick.
It all depends on how the courts interpret the RICO statute. There's statutory law and there's case law (aka what the law says and how it's been interpreted.) The RICO statute has been interpreted pretty broadly in the past. The RICO Act was originally aimed at organized crime, but it includes provisions for civil cases when someone is harmed by a pattern of illegal activity. Even the church admits there's been a pattern of illegal activity.
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