The Smoking Gun?
Local survivors of Catholic priest sexual abuse say its the smoking gun: a 40 page document, uncovered by News4 lays out in great detail exactly how the Vatican instructed all of his Diocese world wide to silence all claims of sexual abuse by priests. Texas Attorney Daniel Shea, who is at the center of the legal battle to bring criminal charges against former Archbishop of Boston Bernard Law, provided the document. He says he has been looking for it for over a year after seeing a reference to it in a Bishops letter. Another widely respected catholic priest, Fr. Tom Doyle, found the document, translated it from Latin to English and gave it to Shea late last week. Shea filed it with the US Attorney's office in Boston this week. He is working to legally authenticate it.
The document is dated March 16, 1962. If authenticated, Shea says it could prove all priests were under direct orders from the Vatican to keep secret allegations and investigations of priest sex abuse. The document details exactly how the Diocese was to set up a church tribunal, which priests were to be selected to serve, how the evidence was to be presented, and how the accused priest was to be treated.
The document requires any person who knew about the abuse allegations or the tribunal to take a vow of silence or face ex-communication if they ever revealed what they knew. It orders priests to be transferred if possible. It also directs all record of an accusation that is not proven to be destroyed. According to the document, a single priest could be accused repeatedly, but unless he was ever found guilty by the tribunal of his peers, his record was never to reflect it.
This document could serve as the staple for a criminal case in Boston, Spokane, and cities around the world. In Spokane, the victim's support group, SNAP, will be meeting early next week to decide how to continue legally. If they can build a criminal case it could result in racketeering charges similar to cases built against organized crime.
This policy is no longer in place. The Bishops and the Vatican approved a new policy for dealing with allegations of abuse last year.
News4 made repeated attempts to contact the Diocese of Spokane for a comment. Bishop Skylstad's office was dark and locked and none of our phone messages were returned.