Man alleging molestation by a priest says Diocese of Orange officials tried to intimidate him

IRVINE — A man who has alleged in a lawsuit against the Diocese of Orange that he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest when he was 6 years old in 1994 said Monday that Diocese officials have attempted to “intimidate” him.

Last week, a judge cleared the way for the public identification of the priest, Father Edward Poettgen, who was most recently assigned to St. Boniface Catholic Church in Anaheim. The man suing him held a news conference Monday from the offices of his attorneys to say the Diocese has treated him “like an enemy of the church.”

The man, whose name was not released, said he reported the priest in January of 2019 so he could find some sort of healing.

“Instead of treating me with compassion Bishop (Kevin) Vann has treated me as an enemy of the church,” he said. “They served subpoenas on my mother, my girlfriend and my employers, hoping to intimidate me but I will not be intimidated. I find strength in knowing that my actions will protect other children.”

The man told reporters, “I’m not a scared little boy anymore.”

Poettgen has been placed on administrative leave, Diocese spokeswoman Tracey Kincaid said. She added the Diocese would not comment further on the pending litigation.

Attorney Vince Finaldi, who represents the plaintiff, said he deposed Poettgen last month, when the priest said he was still in active ministry at the church.

The plaintiff claims Poettgen molested him while he was enrolled as a student and in the parish of St. Polycarp Catholic Church in Stanton in 1994 and 1996.

“They’ve known about this for over a year and haven’t informed parishioners,” Finaldi said last week. “It’s crazy.”

Finaldi said Poettgen served on a board of consultants that decided to settle all its lawsuits in 2007 alleging clergy sex abuse.

“They say he doesn’t have any other allegations against him, but we’ve heard that before and proven it wrong,” Finaldi said. “We’ll have to see what the discovery turns up.”

A trial date has not yet been set.

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Buffalo bishop under fire for handling of misconduct resigns

VATICAN CITY  — Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone following widespread criticism from his staff, priests and the public over how he handled allegations of clergy sexual misconduct.

The Vatican announced the resignation in a brief statement, adding that Francis had named the bishop of Albany, New York, Edward Scharfenberger, to run the Buffalo diocese temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.

The Vatican’s embassy to the U.S. said Malone offered to retire two years before the mandatory retirement age of 75 after learning the results of a Vatican-mandated inquiry into the western New York diocese and its handling of abuse cases.

In a statement, Malone said he had come to believe “that the spiritual welfare of the people of the Diocese of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed.”

The diocese has been named in more than 220 recent lawsuits by people who claim they were sexually abused by priests.

Many of the claims date back decades, long before Malone’s arrival in Buffalo in 2012. But critics say there have been more recent missteps by Malone, including his decision to return to ministry a priest who had been suspended by a previous bishop for including “love you” in a Facebook message to an eighth-grade boy.

Malone later endorsed the same priest for a job as a cruise ship chaplain, even after he was also accused of making unwanted advances toward young men.

Malone has admitted to making mistakes in cases involving adult victims, but he had firmly refused to resign and insisted he wanted to remain on the job to see the diocese through a process of “renewal.”

Pressure though on him to leave has been intense.

Over the past year, two key members of Malone’s staff have gone public with concerns about his leadership, including his former secretary, the Rev. Ryszard Biernat, who secretly recorded Malone calling a then-active priest “a sick puppy,” but taking no immediate action to remove him.

Earlier, his executive assistant, Siobhan O’Connor, leaked internal church documents after becoming concerned that Malone had intentionally omitted dozens of names from a publicly released list of priests with credible allegations of abuse.

In September, a group of lay Catholics that had been working with Malone to restore trust in the church instead joined in calls for his resignation.

A diocesan priest, meanwhile, has been circulating a “no confidence” letter for signatures.

The Vatican hasn’t released the results of the inquiry into Buffalo conducted by Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.

Malone said he had been made aware of the “general conclusions” of the report and that they had been a factor in his decision to seek early retirement.

“It is my honest assessment that I have accomplished as much as I am able to, and that there remain divisions and wounds that I am unable to bind and heal,” he said.

Among those who have called for Malone’s resignation is the former dean of seminarians at the diocese’s Christ the King Seminary. In a letter outlining his decision to withdraw from his studies to become a priest, Stephen Parisi called the diocese’s handing of clerical sexual abuse cases “disgusting and revolting” and raised questions about the institution’s academic practices and oversight.

Malone in April suspended three priests after several seminarians complained the older men subjected them to disturbing and offensive sexual discussions during a party at a rectory.

Scharfenberger, the new apostolic administrator for Buffalo, said he plans to visit the eight-county diocese weekly while keeping up with his duties in Albany.

“I will be doing a lot of listening and learning,” he said in a statement, expressing a desire for openness and transparency.

The Buffalo diocese has paid out more than $18 million to more than 100 victims under a compensation program established last year. Since August, it has been named in a wave of new lawsuits under a New York state law that suspended the usual statute of limitations and opened a one-year window for victims to pursue claims regardless of when the abuse happened.

Attorneys general in several states, including New York, have begun civil investigations into how the Catholic church reviewed and potentially covered up abuse.

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Church of Scientology settles LA suit with ex-member claiming coerced abortion and that she had to work as a pre-teen

LOS ANGELES — The Church of Scientology and one of its former members on Monday settled a lawsuit she filed nearly a decade ago alleging she was forced to work long hours as a pre-teen and was coerced to have an abortion at 17.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Mooney met privately with attorneys for the church and plaintiff Laura Ann DeCrescenzo and then announced the settlement in court. Trial was scheduled to begin Aug. 13.

John Blumberg, an attorney for DeCrescenzo, said terms of the deal are confidential. Attorneys for Scientology didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

The church was a defendant along with its Religious Technology Center. DeCrescenzo’s allegations included forced abortion, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unfair business practices and wage and hour violations.

Blumberg said he didn’t know why the defendants decided to settle, but actions by their lawyers in court indicated that they didn’t want the case to go trial.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys subpoenaed Scientology leader David Miscavige, but church attorneys sought to quash orders for him to appear, Blumberg said.

“Based on their actions in trying to prevent David Miscavige from testifying, it would lead one to the inescapable conclusion that preventing an order he testify was very important to them,” Blumberg told The Associated Press.

According to a sworn declaration by DeCrescenzo, she began volunteering to do church work at age 6 or 7 in Orange County. She said that at age 7, she was part of a Scientology group organized to picket the very civil courthouse where trial of her lawsuit would take place, according to City News Service.

She claimed the demonstration showed the church’s ability to “go to every length to bring down people who filed lawsuits” against the institution, whose followers include actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

“I believed that if I took any action against the Church of Scientology — whether filing a lawsuit or even speaking negatively about the Church of Scientology — that I would be subjected to severe retribution, including significant financial penalties and loss of my family,” DeCrescenzo stated.

When DeCrescenzo was 12, she was recruited to join the organization’s elite Sea Org, which she said is responsible for overseeing the delivery of the religion worldwide.

DeCrescenzo alleged she was initially required to work daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and that two more hours were later added to her work day. DeCrescenzo says she remained with Sea Org until 2004, when she was 25.

She says she was told she could not leave Sea Org and was released from duty only after she pretended to attempt suicide by swallowing bleach.

DeCrescenzo alleged she became pregnant in February 1996 and was convinced by the church to abort her fetus to show her allegiance to Sea Org and its long work hours.

The case was previously dismissed by another judge, but a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed the decision in June 2011 and sent it back to the judge to determine whether the church was permitted to raise the statute of limitations as a defense.

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The trial was scheduled to be conducted in two phases, beginning with a non-jury trial before Mooney to determine whether DeCrescenzo acted reasonably in waiting so long to file her lawsuit. If he ruled in her favor, a jury would have decided any liability and damages.

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Thomas S. Monson, president of the Mormon church, dies at age 90

Reports out of Salt Lake City say Thomas S. Monson, president of the Mormon church, died Tuesday night.

He was 90.

Considered a prophet by the church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Monson led a church with 15.9 million members, the Deseret News reported.

TV station KSL reported Monson was known for his charity, humor and faith.

 

 

 

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Children learn about hajj, the Islamic holy pilgrimage to Mecca

Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine hosted a “Learn about Hajj” event for children, on Thursday, Aug. 31, highlighting the importance of the Islamic holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

Children and families who attended the first-time event heard the story of hajj from a Muslim author and learned more through educational games, arts and crafts.

  • Yasmin Osman, 11, center, and Elyas Osman, 8, right, purchase pretend groceries from brother Jannah Osman, 5, left, during a Hajj program at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Kids learned the significance of Hajj through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    Yasmin Osman, 11, center, and Elyas Osman, 8, right, purchase pretend groceries from brother Jannah Osman, 5, left, during a Hajj program at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Kids learned the significance of Hajj through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • Camille Williams, 4, of San Diego, right, gets a henna drawing on her hand from Nurah Hamdi, left, of the Islamic Center of Irvine. Children learned about Hajj at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday August 31, 2017, through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. Children learned the significance of Hajj which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    Camille Williams, 4, of San Diego, right, gets a henna drawing on her hand from Nurah Hamdi, left, of the Islamic Center of Irvine. Children learned about Hajj at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday August 31, 2017, through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. Children learned the significance of Hajj which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • August Jensen, 5, of Costa Mesa, savors hummus provided at the Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Children learned the significance of Hajj through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    August Jensen, 5, of Costa Mesa, savors hummus provided at the Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Children learned the significance of Hajj through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • Yousef Latif, 3, left, and Amir Latif, 5, right, of Irvine listen to Osman Umarji, a UCI doctoral student, from Irvine, reads “If You Take A Mouse To Makka,” a children’s book he wrote during a Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    Yousef Latif, 3, left, and Amir Latif, 5, right, of Irvine listen to Osman Umarji, a UCI doctoral student, from Irvine, reads “If You Take A Mouse To Makka,” a children’s book he wrote during a Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • Mariam Majdy, 3, shows off a henna drawing at the Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    Mariam Majdy, 3, shows off a henna drawing at the Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • Jannah Osman, 5, left, Yasmin Osman, 11, center, and Elyas Osman, 8, right, listen to Osman Umarji, a UCI doctoral student, from Irvine, reads “If You Take A Mouse To Makka,” a children’s book he wrote during a Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    Jannah Osman, 5, left, Yasmin Osman, 11, center, and Elyas Osman, 8, right, listen to Osman Umarji, a UCI doctoral student, from Irvine, reads “If You Take A Mouse To Makka,” a children’s book he wrote during a Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • Osman Umarji, a UCI doctoral student, from Irvine, reads “If You Take A Mouse To Makka,” a children’s book he wrote during programing for Hajj at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Kids learned about Hajj through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    Osman Umarji, a UCI doctoral student, from Irvine, reads “If You Take A Mouse To Makka,” a children’s book he wrote during programing for Hajj at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Kids learned about Hajj through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • Dawud Mujahid, 5, center, and Majdy Muhyieddeen,5, right, became fast friends after meeting at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017, during a program for Hajj. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    Dawud Mujahid, 5, center, and Majdy Muhyieddeen,5, right, became fast friends after meeting at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017, during a program for Hajj. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • A pretend home at Pretend City in Irvine is set up to show a Muslim family living in it. Children learned about Hajj at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017, through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    A pretend home at Pretend City in Irvine is set up to show a Muslim family living in it. Children learned about Hajj at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017, through story-telling, crafts, food, and games. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • Fatah Muhammad, runs a craft table at the Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    Fatah Muhammad, runs a craft table at the Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a holy pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must perform at least once in his or her lifetime. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

  • Mariam Majdy, 3, gets some henna on her hand at the Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

    Mariam Majdy, 3, gets some henna on her hand at the Hajj celebration at Pretend City in Irvine on Thursday, August 31, 2017. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)s

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“We’ve worked hard to ensure the authenticity and integrity of the programming and made sure Muslim community members and influencers are involved in the event,” said Tayyaba Hassaan, development specialist at the museum.

The event, she said, will hopefully send an uplifting message of unity and inclusiveness in Orange County, she said.

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