Helena Diocese Files for Bankruptcy, Seeks to Settle 362 Claims of Sexual Abuse

Helena Diocese Files for Bankruptcy, Seeks to Settle 362 Claims of Sexual Abuse

 Attorney Dan Fasy to NBC News: The Abuse in the Helena Diocese case was “widespread … (and) some of the most horrific abuse we’ve dealt with.”

 

Editor’s note: On Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, Montana filed for bankruptcy protection in an effort to settle 362 claims of sexual abuse by clergy. It signals the near end of more than two years of litigation and legal talks.

Kosnoff Fasy, together with three other law firms, filed suit against the Helena Diocese in September 2011, alleging that church officials failed to protect hundreds of minor children from clergy and other employees, who were sexual abusers.

The majority of victims in this case came forward to protect future generations of children. As one victim put it: “It’s wrong what happened to me and to other children. People need to know what happened. I don’t want it swept under the rug.”

The plaintiffs’ legal team includes: Kosnoff Fasy of Seattle, Datsopoulos MacDonald & Lind of Missoula, Montana; James Vernon and Weeks of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Joseph Blumel of Spokane, Wash.

Read more: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/31/22524555-catholic-diocese-in-helena-mont-files-for-bankruptcy-to-resolve-sex-abuse-lawsuits?lite – http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/31/22524555-catholic-diocese-in-helena-mont-files-for-bankruptcy-t

Lawsuit Filed Against LDS Church for Covering-up Sex Abuse

Editor’s note: Kosnoff Fasy, together with attorney Robert Fitzsimmons from Wheeling, West Virginia and attorney Carl Kravitz from the Washington, D.C. law firm of  Zuckerman Spaeder, filed a civil lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints on behalf of a dozen sexually abused minor children, alleging that church officials failed to protect them from a known sexual predator they allowed to serve as a babysitter for church families.

The following is an article, which appeared in the Journal-News from Martinsburg, West Virginia.

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“Lawsuit filed against church for cover-up of sex abuse

October 25, 2013
By Edward Marshall (emarshall@journal-news.net) , journal-news.net

 

MARTINSBURG – A lawsuit filed in Berkeley County against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church, and local church officials accuses church leaders of covering up allegations that the son of local church officials sexually abused 12 children over the course of more than five years.

Christopher Michael Jensen, 22, of Cheswick Drive, Martinsburg, was found guilty of one count of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of sexual abuse by a custodian Feb. 6 following a jury trial in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

The criminal charges involved only two of the 12 children suing the church, who were ages 3 and 4 at the time of the abuse.

Jensen was sentenced July 29 to 35 to 75 years in prison. He was the son of a church high priest in the church’s Hedgesville Ward and his mother previously served as a local Relief Society president with the church. The suit accuses church leaders of holding out Jensen as a church member who could provide leadership and counsel to young church members, even though the church was allegedly repeatedly put on notice or had knowledge about allegations that Jensen had sexually abused children of church families. The suit also accuses church officials of recommending Jensen as a babysitter for church families, despite allegedly being made aware of sexual abuse allegations as early as 2007.

The children suing the church were between the ages of 3 and 12 when they say they were sexually abused by Jensen.

The suit names the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the church; Don Fishel, who was the bishop of the Hedgesville Ward for the Martinsburg stake of the church between 2007 and 2013 and a former member of the Stake High Council for Martinsburg; Steven Grow, stake president in Martinsburg; Jensen, who was a member and elder of the Hedgesville Ward of the church; Jensen’s father, a high priest and member of the Stake High Council for Martinsburg between 2007 and 2010;

and Jensen’s mother, a member of the Hedgesville Ward and Relief Society president for the church in Martinsburg between 2006 and 2009.

The Mormon Church is divided into various “wards” and “stakes.” At the local level are wards, consisting of a geographic area administered by a bishop and two counselors. A cluster of eight to 12 wards is grouped into a stake, which is administered by a stake president. The Relief Society is the official adult women’s organization of the church and members are considered to be spiritual leaders appointed by a ward bishop.

A stake, including the wards within a stake, is governed by the stake president and the Stake High Council, a body of 12 high priests.

In 2007, before the alleged abuse of the children suing the church began, Martinsburg’s Stake High Council – whose members included Grow, Fishel and Jensen’s parents -held a meeting, during which the alleged sexual abuse of two children by Jensen was allegedly discussed, a copy of the suit reads.

The council allegedly failed to report the allegations of abuse to authorities, as required by law, and Fishel denied the allegations as hearsay. Jensen’s parents allegedly learned that their son was sexually abusing at least one child sometime between 2006 and 2007.

After learning of the abuse, Jensen’s parents allegedly banished him from the family home and made him sleep in the backyard but, at the time, allegedly encouraged church families to use their son as a babysitter, the suit reads.

In early 2008, one of the victims suing the church, a 4-year-old boy, told Jensen’s mother that Jensen had sexually abused him. In 2008, Fishel, who was also allegedly already put on notice that Jensen had been accused of sexually abusing children, was told by the mother of another alleged victim that Jensen had abused her younger son.

The suit alleges that instead of reporting the abuse to authorities or taking action to warn or protect other children, the church, through its agents, took the opposite approach. The suit accuses the church and church leaders of actively covering up the abuse and assisting Jensen in committing further acts by enabling him to babysit for and live with other church families with young children. The pattern allegedly continued for more than five years until Jensen was indicted in 2012 in Berkeley County.

The suit says the church has not accepted responsibility for what it allegedly did or failed to do, despite allegedly being confronted with information about the alleged abuse on several occasions.

The suit also alleges that the church has continued its cover up, sending emissaries from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Martinsburg to instruct witnesses not to talk with attorneys representing the children suing the church.

In addition, the suit alleges that the church, through its leaders, has tried to intimidate the families of the children suing the church and has allegedly directed fellow church members to try to convince them to abandon their claims “lest they run afoul of church teachings regarding forgiveness,” a copy of the suit reads.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages. The Mormon Church receives $5 billion to $7 billion per year in tithing from members and Time magazine estimated in 2001 that the Mormon Church owned financial assets and real estate in excess of $120 billion, according to the suit.

“Punitive damages, in addition to compensatory damages, are not only warranted in these circumstances, but also are necessary to send a message to this institution and its agents that abusing young children is not acceptable, that compliance with secular laws requiring that sex abuse be reported to the authorities is mandatory and that the church’s self-interest cannot be elevated over the needs of young children,” a copy of the suit reads.

On Aug. 18, the Martinsburg Stake High Council excommunicated Jensen from the church.

-Staff writer Edward Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 182.”

FOR FURTHER READING:

Read the lawsuit here: 2013-10-24 — Jane Doe-1 et al v LDS, Berkeley County, West Virginia, Civil Action Number 13-C-656

http://journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/600380/Lawsuit-filed-against-church-for-coverup-of-sex-abuse.html

 

 

 

Time for Boy Scouts of America to confront the difference between pedophilia and homosexuality, says Kosnoff Fasy

“SEATTLE, May 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Attorneys suing the Boy Scouts of America for child sexual abuse and failing to protect children said Thursday that today’s vote to remove a ban on gay scouts will clarify the sharp difference between homosexuality – a preference for members of one’s own sex – and pedophilia, a major crime.

Today’s vote could lead to better safety for children, if the Boy Scouts learn from past mistakes, said Tim Kosnoff , a Seattle attorney who has represented more than more than 100 boys and men sexually victimized within scouting. Kosnoff and his law partner, Dan Fasy , now represent more than 80 clients nationwide suing the Boy Scouts for sexual abuse.

“Parents should not fear gay scouts. They should fear the organization’s refusal and failure to protect their boys from the real threats – sexual predators and an organization that has routinely covered up and not reported crimes to law enforcement.”

During the past decade, Kosnoff studied the Boy Scouts’ historical records, more than 30,000 internal files documenting allegations of child sexual abuse by adult scout volunteers. Kosnoff spent years compiling a database of sex-abuse claims using records from court cases.

Kosnoff found among nearly 50 years of the so-called “perversion files” or “ineligible volunteer” files:

* The problem of sexual abuse in scouting was not related to homosexuality but pedophilia – a completely unrelated phenomenon.

* The overwhelming percentage of files revealed that married men, outwardly “heterosexual men,” are responsible for the vast majority of child sexual victimization within scouting.

* Abusers often had a past history of being abused themselves as children.

* Teenage gay boys represented a miniscule threat, something found in academic research, as well.  (The Boy Scouts themselves consulted four experts in the field of child sexual-abuse prevention, and all four conveyed a nearly universal opinion that homosexuality is not a risk factor for the sexual abuse of children, the Associated Press reported in April.)

“The Boy Scouts have evaded analyzing their own files, to the detriment of children’s safety,” Kosnoff said, noting that pedophiles with prior abuse records were allowed to return to serve as scout leaders.

“The real issue is the Boy Scouts’ refusal and failure to implement reasonable safeguards that will protect all boys from sexual victimization by anyone.”

For years, Kosnoff has advocated for criminal background checks for adult scout volunteers, a “two-deep” leadership rule – mandatory two adults present at all times – and swift reporting of abuse claims to police, rather than self-styled investigations or no investigation by the Boy Scouts.

Gay boys should experience the same benefits that scouting offers to all scouts: honor, dignity, respect, patriotism, and the opportunity to learn leadership and outdoor skills, said Dan Fasy , Kosnoff’s law partner.

Fasy noted that the Boys Scouts of America was chartered by Congress in 1916 and today still receives substantial federal subsidies. Fasy called upon the Boy Scouts of America to stop discriminating or forego taxpayer subsidies.

“It is fundamentally un-American to deny opportunities to some boys,” Fasy said. “It’s just wrong.”

Tim Kosnoff is a former deputy prosecutor and longtime trial lawyer.  In the past 16 years, Kosnoff has represented more than 1,000 victims of childhood sex abuse. He has secured over $250 million in settlements and judgments for abuse survivors.

Dan Fasy is a partner at Kosnoff Fasy and has represented hundreds of injured clients.

Contact:
Tim Kosnoff , child sexual-abuse attorney/legal expert: 425-830-8201
Dan Fasy , child sexual-abuse attorney/legal expert: 206-462-4338″

Source: PR Newswire  

Kosnoff Fasy welcomes Kara Tredway, our newest associate

By Dan Fasy

Tim Kosnoff and I are extremely please to announce the arrival of the newest member of our firm, Kara A. Tredway. She is a 2011 distinguished graduate of the McGeorge School of Law at University of the Pacific, Sacramento.

Kara will be particularly valuable to our firm as we take on clients from California, where she is a bar association member, as she is here in Washington state.

To give readers an idea of Kara’s background and aspirations, we posed a series of questions:

Why did you decide to go to law school?

I decided from a very young age that I wanted to become a lawyer. My parents were always supportive but also told me to keep an open mind about finally deciding on a career path.  Throughout high school, college and beyond I continued to hold fast to my dream of becoming a lawyer.  In all that time, I never once truly considered any other path for myself, so I decided to fulfill my dream and entered law school in 2008.

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Washington State Extends the Statute of Limitations for Filing Criminal Charges in Child Sex-Abuse Cases

“This is a very significant development because it will protect children. The new changes in the law will enable victims to bring criminal actions against their abusers when they’re adults — when they’re better prepared emotionally and psychologically to assist in the prosecution.”Tim Kosnoff

http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/spincontrol/2013/apr/18/child-sex-abuse-prosecutions-extended/

Our attorneys are highly experienced in childhood sexual abuse law and offer free initial consultations to potential clients. We are also willing to assist other attorneys in sexual abuse cases. Please call 206-257-3590, or email us directly. Conversations will be kept confidential, and even if you are unsure about a lawsuit, often we can direct you to the assistance you need. You will be treated with compassion and respect.

Toll free: 855-529-4274
Tim Kosnoff, direct: 425-837-9690
Dan Fasy, direct: 206-462-4338

Kara Tredway, direct: 206-453-0579
Kosnoff Fasy, Seattle office: 206-257-3590

The Next Frontier of Scholarly Study: Sexual Abuse in Puerto Rico

By TIM KOSNOFF

We often broach the notion of statutes of limitation, typically within the context of how such time constraints serve the purposes of certain pedophiles and hinder the ability of the abused to seek damages in civil litigation.

Let’s look at the notion of time limits in a different way and ask rhetorically: Is there a built-in time period after which the effects on the victim miraculously just disappear?
Common sense tells us such a supposition is ridiculous. Anecdotal evidence continually reveals to those of us who litigate against accused abusers that the devastating effects on victims can linger for entire lifetimes.

An ongoing scholarly study seems to show precisely how observable the damage to victims can be. It’s being conducted among subjects in Puerto Rico: interesting given that the Caribbean island probably isn’t the first place many think of when the topic of child sexual abuse is brought up. Here, then, from a 2011 article in the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times, is a refresher:

“SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico  — A lawsuit filed Monday in a Puerto Rico court accuses a St. John’s Abbey [a Minnesota institution] monk of sexually abusing a teenager in 1978 at a boarding school in [the Puerto Rican city of] Humacao.
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New International Effort to Stem Child Sexual Abuse a Positive Step, but a Small Victory Given the Suspected Number of Pedophiles

January 2, 2013

By TIM KOSNOFF

Those wishing an international alliance to help stop the scourge of child sexual abuse, may find hope in a Dec. 4 document released by the U.S. Department of Justice. Yet, while the prospect of the United States attorney general partnering with leaders in 48 other countries would seem to be encouraging, the “fine print” of the DOJ’s own official statement indicates just how futile such a broad effort may be.

The D.O.J. official statement notes that Attorney General Eric Holder and European Union (EU) Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom launched the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online at a Dec. 5 conference in Brussels. The initiative is intended “to unite decision-makers all around the world to better identify and assist victims and to prosecute the perpetrators. Participants at the launch included ministers and high-level officials from 27 EU member states, who are also joined by 22 countries outside the EU.”

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From India to Africa, Ireland to Australia, Child Sexual Abuse is a Global Problem

Posted on Dec. 3, 2012

By DAN FASY

Although the focus of our law firm is providing a service to American and Canadian survivors of sexual abuse, we are constantly reminded of the problem of child sexual abuse that is pervasive throughout the world.

The crime of pedophilia, of course, is scarcely restricted to the United States, even though such domestic abuses fittingly get the bulk of the attention in this country. Perhaps this gives some American news consumers the impression that the scourge of such abuses is more prevalent in this country. That being the case, perhaps we would do well to acknowledge the abundance of child-sexual-abuse news emanating from countries around the world.

A sampling of news items from the past month includes the following:

A recent report in The Herald Sun, a major newspaper in Australia found that a decision by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to establish a royal commission into child sexual abuse “has the backing of almost every Australian.”

A well-regarded pollster asked some 1,400 Australians about the prime minister’s initiative, and 95 percent said they support the move, with just 3 percent opposed to it.

The director of the poll later said he couldn’t remember any issue ever receiving such near-unanimous approval.

Beyond that, the news account observed that the royal commission, which will inquire into all institutions, not only churches, “has the support of all political parties, state and federal.”

In contrast to such enlightened poll numbers, a few weeks prior to the above the Daily Observer in Africa actually carried an opinion piece headlined: “Gambia: Say ‘No’ to Child-sex Tourism.” One wonders: as opposed to say “yes” to such an abomination?

Coincidentally, a few weeks ago The Times of India reported that a campaign under the banner of “say no to child abuse” would soon be launched by a group of non-government organizations. The campaign is the work of officials at an advocacy group called Childline.

One advocate, Dr. Jagmeet Chawla, said: “This should be made a mass movement and the issue should not be kept under wraps.”

Several days prior to the above dispatch, CNN carried a brief item with information similar to what tragically has become all too familiar to news consumers and criminal-justice officials:

“London (CNN) — A retired bishop and a retired priest have been arrested by British police on suspicion of sexual offenses against boys and young men — one as young as 12 — in the 1980s and 1990s.

“The 80-year-old former Church of England bishop, from Somerset in south-west England, was questioned in connection with eight alleged offenses before being released on medical advice.

“Police say the man — the highest-ranking church official to be arrested on abuse allegations — will be questioned again at a later date.

“His former colleague, a 67-year-old retired priest from West Sussex, in southern England, was questioned over two alleged offenses before being released on bail pending further inquiries.”

 

From the Nov. 6 edition of the Irish Examiner:

“The vast majority of sex-abuse survivors who sought help in rape-crisis centers last year were attacked as children, it was revealed today.

“Of the 2,308 people who went for counseling, 53 percent of the women and 84 percent of the men reported the violence occurred when they were children only. Some 65 percent of survivors said they were abused aged younger than 12.

“The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI) revealed that those who came forward last year had waited on average 25 years to access its services.”

 

From BBC News, Nov. 5:

“The prime minister is appointing a ‘senior independent figure’ to look into the way allegations of sexual abuse at north Wales children’s homes in the 1970s and ’80s were dealt with.

“Victim Steve Messham has said that the Waterhouse inquiry of 2,000 only covered a fraction of the alleged assaults.

“Another of the homes’ residents says [officials] did not hear all of the abuse claims.”

Tragically, such also could be observed by those of us in many other parts of the world.

Our attorneys are highly experienced in childhood sexual abuse law and offer free initial consultations to potential clients. We are also willing to assist other attorneys in sexual abuse cases. Please call 206-257-3590, or email us directly. Conversations will be kept confidential, and even if you are unsure about a lawsuit, often we can direct you to the assistance you need. You will be treated with compassion and respect.

 

Toll free: 855-529-4274
Tim Kosnoff, direct: 425-837-9690
Dan Fasy, direct: 206-462-4338
Kosnoff Fasy, Seattle office: 206-257-3590

US – Scouts Abuse Scandal-Where’s The Action?

Editor’s note: The following is a statement published by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

BY BARBARA DORRIS

It’s been a week since BSA abuse and cover up files were released. It’s been more than a week since BSA officials pledged to “notify law enforcement of any allegations that have not already been disclosed.”

So is this happening? If so, where’s the proof?

And if not, why not?

Every day that information about known and suspected child sex crimes stays hidden, kids are needlessly and recklessly and callously put at risk. Every day this information stays hidden enables child molesters to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, fabricate alibis, and flee elsewhere. Every day this information stays hidden, the chances increase that statute of limitations.

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The Boy Scout ‘Perversion’ Files: They’re About Combatting Pedophilia, Not Bashing Gays

By TIM KOSNOFF

Claims that pedophiles are predominantly homosexual or that homosexuality leads to child molestation are scarcely new. They continue courtesy of, among others, the hierarchy of the Boy Scouts of America, an organization with rampant documentation of pedophilia among its past and present leadership.

Contradicting a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia also is nothing new. Indeed, one of the most compelling studies debunking a causal relationship between same-sex preference and sex crimes against children is from oft-cited scientific research published in 1994 in “Pediatrics.” The latter is the official journal of the American Society of Pediatrics.

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