Fire the Judge; Defrock the Priest and Other Necessary Acts
Ladyjustice recently fantasized in a blog comment, what a great moment it would be from the perspective of this homicide survivor, to see none other than Susan Murphy Milano effectively de-throne and ceremoniously remove the judicial robe of the judge who ultimately ordered supervised visits of the Powell children with their father Josh, after he lost custody. What a photo opportunity! This writer would pay money to see that one!
To “be fair,” Ladyjustice is well aware that it was a particular set of circumstances that set the events in motion – like the domino effect… and not one sole person to blame. However, the buck stopped with the judge, regardless of what or was not interpreted as “evidence.”
This brings us to the question(s), can a judge be fired? If so, are they ever carried out?
The answer is yes… According to Susan Smith of www.Fedsmith.com, an immigration judge (Levinsky vs. Department of Justice) was fired by the Department of Justice in 12-2006 for “sexist and ethnically insensitive generalizations and profanity.” The judge presided over deportation hearings of aliens who were previously convicted felons in Fishkill, New York. A trial attorney filed a discrimination complaint against him for inappropriate communications which amounted to a discriminatory hostile work environment in violation of Title VII. In practice, he was cited for “professional misconduct including poor judgment/use of profanity in the courtroom and expressing prejudiced opinions about various ethnic groups.” The Chief Immigration judge recommended Judge Levinsky’s removal, which was altered to a 60 day suspension and then the full Board re-instated his removal. Judge Levinsky attempted an unsuccessful appeal. Admittedly, this is not a “vey juicy” example. Granted, this judge exhibited despicable behavior. However, such behavior was not the direct cause of multiple homicide-suicide….
Very limited information was found on this topic when performing internet searches. Ladyjustice knows there are a least a few thousand drug addicted, alcoholic or mentally deranged judges in our midst. Why do we not hear of these cases at the very least? Are they locked away in some sort of purgatory, perhaps? Judge Kathryn Nelson take note… You are now on the hot seat forever!
Defrocking of Priests
Let’s set the stage…. the serious consequences – that of unpriestly ways resulting in child molestation has been all too common for years. In May 2010, the future Pope Benedict, refused to defrock the late Reverend Alvin Campbell of Illinois, even though Cardinal John Ratzinger followed church law, as “the abuser refused to go along with it.”
As told by Los Angeles reporter, Nick Allen for the Telegraph newspaper, “According to documents obtained by the Associated Press from court records, the cardinal wrote on July 3, 1989: “The petition in question cannot be admitted in as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself.” The decision was in keeping with church law at the time and provides the latest evidence of how the system frustrated US bishops struggling to root out abuse.
Several decades old cases have recently emerged raising questions about decisions taken by Cardinal Ratzinger’s office in abuse cases. The Vatican has denounced what it calls a campaign to smear the pope and his aides.”
In fact, a quick and efficient defrocking was recommended to “spare the victim’s pain while still maintaining church law.” Bishops had the power to exercise various options such as removing abusing priests from the ministry, restricting their activities and/or contact with the public, as well as reporting their crimes to the police. With the explosion of abuse cases in the year 2000 and beyond, the Church shifted the blame to the media and advocates of abortion, characterizing the situation as “sin from outside forces infecting the church.”
Pope John Paul was clear in his belief in 1979 to all priests that “the priesthood cannot be renounced.” [LJ – NO MATTER WHAT!] Attorneys interpreted this to mean that the practice is,… “once a priest, always a priest” for it is so sacred you can’t kick these guys out according to a May 2010 account by Matt Sedensky of the Associated Press. Although it was technically possible, the fact that the offending priest would not accept it carried more weight then the offense! [LJ- ‘To have such power!]
Father Campbell’s History of Misdeeds
- His trial of sexual abuse could be traced back at least 15 years;
- He began his abuse as an Army Chaplin by exploiting his rank and position with a child under 16 whom he was supervising;
- Accounts reveal that Army officials were alerted to Campbell’s molestations but whether the presiding Bishop “was in the dark” is anyone’s guess;
- Campbell was “reprimanded” and left the service of his own volition;
- He returned to the diocese, became a pastor, left at least three assigned positions “for health reasons” [LJ- Creative phraseology for sexual abuse accusations];
- More of his sexual escapades came to light when one of his charges was treated at a rape crisis center. Evidently, Campbell had showered the boys with watches, video games, bikes etc. to entice them to his waterbed;
- The Springfield diocese has earned a reputation in national Catholic circles as a troubled, volatile place. The list of names of local clergy linked to scandals from homosexual and heterosexual affairs to embezzlement is a long one;
- Campbell was arrested, pleased “guilty but mentally ill” admitted to molesting seven boys in Morrisonville Illinois… and perhaps up to 20 in total;
- He was sentenced in 1985 to 14 years in prison, but served only 7 years prior to his release in 1992;
Campbell died late in 2002, with a lawsuit by victim Matthew McCormick’s still pending in Sangamon County court. A year after Campbell’s death, the suit was settled out of court, and McCormick received a financial payment from the diocese.
Bishops “looked the other way” and appeared to be much more concerned with the damage to the diocese and their pocketbooks versus the true victims. Routinely, when they attempted to remove child molesting priests from service, the cases would “stagnate for years” without a church trial and/or the priest’s cooperation.
Church officials continue to defend the status quo by saying that… “Both the criminal justice system and Canon law is complex… and designed to prevent wrongful convictions… But there is always room for improvement.”
Was it a matter of “pass the buck” up the chain of command in this classic case of abuse with Father Campbell? Officials representing a Survivors Network for Abused Priests believe that the ultimate responsibility lies with former Pope John Paul’s policies. Over time, Canon law has undergone policy changes, most recently in 2003.
Involuntary defrocking has not existed since or prior to the 1970’s. However, “if there is overwhelming evidence”, Bishops now have the authority to expedite such requests directly to the Vatican.” How often does this happen? This writer has no clear answer…only speculation that it is far less often than child victims deserve!
And so it is… that whether we speak of judges who make bad decisions following the law or their conscience… or whether we mask criminal acts under robes …“in the name of God,” it’s all the same result.
“One of irony’s greatest accomplishments is that one cannot punish the wrongdoing of another without committing a wrongdoing himself.”
Donna Gore is a champion of victims rights and justice. She is a survivor of homicide and has turned her personal situations into a positive approach to life by participating in several areas of victim services. “LadyJustice” is the host of Shattered Lives, Saturdays at 5pm ET.
- Earlier abuse claims to be allowed at priest trial (sfgate.com)
- Vatican defrocks US priest accused of abusing boy in 1970s (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Earlier abuse claims to be allowed at priest trial (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- 1 trial for Philly ex-church official, 2 priests (goerie.com)