A Roman Catholic diocese acknowledged Wednesday that it concealed for decades a priest’s admission that he sexually abused dozens of Iowa boys — a silence that may have put other children in danger.
The Rev. Jerome Coyle, now 85, was stripped of his parish assignments in the 1980s but never defrocked. And it was not until this week, after The Associated Press inquired about him, that he was publicly identified by the church as an admitted pedophile, even though the Diocese of Sioux City had been aware of his conduct for 32 years.
The diocese recently helped Coyle move into a retirement home in Fort Dodge, Iowa, without informing administrators at the Catholic school across the street.
In 1986, Coyle reported his “history of sexual attraction to and contact with boys” to Sioux City’s bishop, revealing that he had victimized approximately 50 youngsters over a 20-year period while serving in several Iowa parishes , according to a private letter written in February by the diocese vicar general and obtained by the AP.
The diocese told the AP on Wednesday that it never contacted police or informed the public after Coyle’s admission.
“The diocese admits it could have been handled better,” diocese spokeswoman Susan O’Brien said. But she said the policies in place at the time did not call for notifying police or the public.
Instead, the diocese at the time announced without explanation that Coyle was taking a six-month medical leave of absence. Church officials transferred him to a treatment center in New Mexico, the Servants of the Paraclete, where other accused priests nationwide were once commonly sent.
Coyle was stripped of his ability to lead Mass and otherwise function as a priest. But he never faced further punishment and lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, until recently, retaining the title “father” and collecting financial assistance from the diocese.
In 1986, the diocese was aware of one complaint against Coyle from a college student but did not have that man’s name, O’Brien said. That individual and another now-adult victim have come forward in recent weeks, and their allegations against Coyle will be reported to police, she said.
His total number of victims could be higher than 50 because the diocese remains “uncertain of an accurate number,” O’Brien said.
Coyle is unlikely to be prosecuted for any of his long-ago offenses because the statute of limitation has run out. He has not been named in any civil suits, and O’Brien said the diocese has never paid a settlement related to him.
He has not been publicly accused of molesting any minors in the past three decades, but lawyers and detectives are looking into what he has been up to since 1986. Fort Dodge police interviewed Coyle and searched his apartment last month after being tipped off that he was living near a school.
Coyle declined to comment Friday after answering the door at his apartment.
The bishop to whom Coyle reported his abuse, Lawrence Soens, retired in 1998. A review board later found that Soens himself had abused students when he was a priest and parochial school principal.
As a member of the clergy, Soens was not a mandatory reporter — someone obligated to tell police about child abuse allegations — under Iowa law. But critics said he still should have called authorities, sought to have Coyle defrocked, alerted the public and asked victims to come forward. Soen’s whereabouts are unknown.
Unlike other dioceses, Sioux City has never released a list of priests who have been credibly accused, despite calls from victims to do so.
“The Sioux City diocese covers everything up,” said attorney Scott Rhinehart, who has represented dozens of victims and calls the diocese a “haven for pedophile priests.”
The case has come to light amid a push by prosecutors around the country to hold the church accountable, not just for the sexual abuse of youngsters but for efforts to shield accused priests. In recent months, authorities in at least a dozen states have opened investigations, and federal prosecutors have launched an unprecedented statewide probe in Pennsylvania.
The diocese privately revealed Coyle’s past in a letter to a Catholic couple who had been allowing Coyle to live at their Albuquerque home after he was injured in a 2017 car accident. The letter warned the couple, Reuben and Tania Ortiz, that the diocese “cannot condone the risk you take” in allowing Coyle to live with their three teenage children.
“The letter was very scary for us as parents,” said Reuben Ortiz, who had been friends with Coyle for years and was unaware of the extent of his abuse. He said that he confronted Coyle and that the priest could not guarantee that he would be able to refrain from fondling his son. But Coyle had nowhere to go and continued living there until June, when deacons from Sioux City moved him back to Iowa.
“I was up day and night for days sometimes, patrolling my own house,” Reuben Ortiz said.
In the letter to Ortiz, and a similar one to Coyle, Vicar General Bradley Pelzel tried to discourage the priest from moving back to Iowa. He said the boys Coyle molested would now be men between the ages of 45 and 70, and they “could potentially encounter him and be retraumatized by the memories that would surface.”
The diocese offered to increase Coyle’s monthly retirement assistance by $575 so that he could afford an assisted living home in New Mexico. But that idea didn’t work out, and the church instead helped him move to Fort Dodge, into a care facility adjacent to Saint Edmonds Catholic School, whose students routinely visit.
Lawyers for the Ortiz family said the case illustrates how the church’s secrecy poses a continuing risk to children. They urged Coyle’s victims to share their stories, saying they have been “suffering in silence.”
“This is the time for Father Coyle’s victims to seek justice, and the time for the church to account for its cover-up,” said attorney Levi Monagle.
Experts called the Sioux City letter extraordinary for its written acknowledgment of abuse and continuing concealment.
“The letter shows in black and white that the system of covering up continues to this day, even after everything that’s occurred,” said attorney Craig Levien, who has represented dozens of abuse victims.
With President Donald Trump getting a cool welcome from the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Israel’s envoy to the memorial ceremonies for the synagogue shooting victims has come to his defense, saying it was “unfair and wrong” to link him to the tragedy.
Trump was greeted by hundreds of chanting protesters Tuesday, many accusing the president’s fiery rhetoric for contributing to the climate of violence and emboldening extremists to act.
Donald and Melania Trump (Photo: Reuters)
Pennsylvania’s governor and the mayor of Pittsburgh declined to join Trump during the visit, and one of the families of the 11 victims of the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history asked not to meet him. Adding to the anger was the shooting suspect’s apparent targeting of a synagogue because of his outrage over a Jewish refugee agency that has become a target of conspiracy theories among Trump’s nationalist base. However, Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett took issue with those he said were “using this horrific anti-Semitic act to attack President Trump.” “This is unfair and wrong,” said Bennett, who rushed to Pittsburgh after the shootings to offer Israel’s support to city’s Jewish community. “President Trump is a true friend of the State of Israel and to the Jewish people. With President Trump we never have to worry if he has our backs.” Israel’s envoys to the United States and the United Nations have also tried to distance Trump from the attack.
Their defense of the president has added another element to the growing divide between Israel’s leadership, which hails Trump for his staunch political backing and tough stance against nemesis Iran, and the more liberal American Jewish community, whose members are among Trump’s toughest domestic critics.
Jared Kushner(L) and Ivanka (Photo: Reuters)
Trump visited the Tree of Life synagogue and lit candles for the victims before visiting survivors in the hospital. He was accompanied by his daughter Ivanka, a convert to Judaism, and her Jewish husband, Jared Kushner, as well as Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.
Dermer also backed Trump, saying he was “not aware of a single non-Israeli leader that has made such a strong statement in condemning anti-Semitism.” Nancy Bernstein, co-chair of J Street Pittsburgh, a liberal American Jewish group, said that many American Jews accuse Trump of contributing to the polarized atmosphere that led to the shooting and were unhappy about Israeli leaders being so close with the president. She took particular aim at Bennett, who has been a visible presence in Pittsburgh after the shooting attack. “He has a history of inciting against refugees in Israel, and this was the very reason that 11 people were murdered in our synagogue here,” she said, referring to the shooter’s anger toward a Jewish group that assists immigrants in the US.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett in Pittsburgh (Photo: AP)
“As Jews, we were once refugees and immigrants,” she added. “We understand what it’s like to be turned away and not taken care of. Most of us get it.” The Israeli government’s consistent support for Trump has far less to do with his controversial domestic policies and more with the blanket international support he has granted Israel. Fulfilling a campaign promise, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US Embassy there. In a break from previous administrations, he has placed the blame for failed peace talks solely on the Palestinians and refrained from criticizing Israeli settlement activity. He also pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, a step welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has also angered the liberal Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism, which represent the majority of affiliated Jews in the US, by siding with Orthodox rabbinical authorities on issues of recognition and pluralism in Israel.
Jonathan Turley wrote a column for the Hill yesterday about cultural appropriation and how concerns about that topic seem to peak each year around Halloween. Has the holiday become a net negative? Is it now just an “orgy of cultural appropriation?”
“Cultural appropriation” has become a common term on campuses and is receiving broader meaning with each passing year. In Utah, a high school student was denounced for wearing a Chinese dress to her prom. White students wearing hoop earrings or dreadlocks have been denounced, while there have been protests over serving sushi at Oberlin College, holding yoga classes at the University of Ottawa or having a “Mexican food night” at Clemson University. The reason behind such limitless forms of cultural appropriation is its limitless meaning. Fordham University law professor Susan Scafidi has defined the term as encompassing the “unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols” and more.
That makes Halloween a nightmarish orgy of cultural appropriation. Colleges and universities now post warnings not to dress as Native Americans, geishas, samurai, or other images. Syracuse University even threatened a few years ago to have its campus police force students to remove “offensive” costumes. There is remarkably little debate over such directives because many faculty members fear being labeled as racist or insensitive. What is increasingly rare is any dialogue or willingness to accept that people can hold good faith views on both sides…
A New York Times column gave a tortured account of whether parents could allow their children to dress as Black Panther…
An article by Sachi Feris explored her struggle with her young daughter who wanted to dress like Moana or Elsa last year. She wrote, “I had some reservations regarding both costume choices” and about cultural appropriation, noting the “power” and “privilege” carried by “whiteness” and the standards of beauty that go along with it.
Amazingly, some of the people involved in these films have rejected the hand-wringing and even criticized those who want to make the innocent fandom of children into a racial issue. Last week the actress who voiced Moana in the film said she hopes kids feel free to dress up as the character:
“I think it’s absolutely appropriate,” Cravalho said. “It’s done in the spirit of love and for Disney and for the little ones who just want to dress up as their favorite heroine, I’m all for it.” She added, “Parents can dress up as Moana, too.”
But the big question this Halloween has been about another character who had a huge year at the box office. Is it okay for kids who aren’t black to dress up as Black Panther? Yesterday the Post published a story in which the film’s creators said the answer was yes:
In interviews with The Washington Post, several creators who have helped shape the Black Panther character, along with other prominent authors who have written characters of color, are adamant: Any kid can dress as Black Panther.
“The idea that only black kids would wear Black Panther costumes is insane to me,” said Reg Hudlin, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker who has worked on Wakanda-set projects for both the page and screen, including the animated TV miniseries “Black Panther.” “Why would anyone say that?”…
Ruth E. Carter, the Oscar-nominated costume designer (“Malcolm X,” “Amistad”), created the beautifully intricate attire for Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” drawing inspiration from not only the comics but also from real-world designs in Africa.
She says the point in creating such Afrofuturistic art is to build not barriers but, rather, cultural bridges — and so fans should embrace that the world of Black Panther is “taking its royal place in the vast Comic-Con and cosplayer universe.”
So why are people posing this question over T’Challa now, Carter says rhetorically.
“The only reason we’re asking that question now is because the Black Panther is a black man. And I think that’s what’s wrong with people — that’s what’s wrong with parents,” Carter said.
It was only last week that NBC fired Megyn Kelly over her comments about blackface. She was also talking about Halloween costumes, suggesting that it might be acceptable in cases where the desire is to show affection or respect for the character in question, i.e. like Black Panther. Nearly everyone said that was over the line because of the ugly history of blackface stereotypes. So blackface is definitely out but Black Panther masks are in, at least for some people. Clearly there is disagreement over exactly where the line is at the moment.
And this is not a new phenomenon. Four days before Halloween in 2015, Erika Christakis, a Yale professor, wrote an email suggesting students should be trusted to make responsible choices about Halloween costumes. That led to black students on campus demanding Nicholas Christakis, Erika’s husband and the head of Silliman, one of Yale’s 12 colleges, apologize for her comments and the harm they had allegedly caused. Nicholas seemed prepared to do that but when the students suggested the comments in question were racist he refused to accept that characterization. That refusal only served to infuriate the students more and, as the discussion devolved, students began to demand Christakis be fired. This was, in many ways, the prototype of what happened at Evergreen State two years later and it happened over a discussion about Halloween costumes.
For the moment, it still seems to be a relatively small but vocal minority who think Halloween is cultural appropriation nightmare. As you can see above, even people working in Hollywood find some of these complaints strange and off-putting. But the generation that is now in college or grad school, i.e. the one complaining about serving Sushi or Mexican Food Night, is the one that is pushing this most forcefully. In 10 or 15 years when those social justice warriors are in positions of influence I suspect we’ll hear a lot more about how Halloween is a deeply problematic holiday.
Montana Libertarian Candidate Drops from Race — Supports Matt Rosendale Over Liar Jon Tester
Democrat Jon Tester is a liar.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) was Democrat point person behind the smears and destruction of Trump VA pick Admiral Ronny Jackson in April.
Tester accused Admiral Jackson of being repeatedly drunk while on duty “where his main job was to take care of the most powerful man in the world.”
Tester also told CNN that Jackson was known as “the candy man” inside the White House and that during official overseas trips he would hand out drugs to passengers to “put them to sleep and then give them the drugs to wake them back up again.”
Admiral Ronny Jackson was the physician for George W. Bush, Barack Obama and then Donald Trump for one year.
Jackson received excellent reviews by the Bush and Obama administrations.
Tester’s accusations were complete garbage but Jackson was forced to resign from his promotion because the damage by Jon Tester and the Democrat media was too extensive.
That’s what Democrats like Jon Tester do. They lie and destroy good men.
Senator Jon Tester is up for reelection this year in Montana.
On Wednesday Republican Matt Rosendale got some good news.
Libertarian candidate Rick Breckenridge dropped from the race and threw his support behind Rosendale.
Real Clear Politics reported:
The Libertarian candidate in Montana’s U.S. Senate race threw his support behind Republican Matt Rosendale on Wednesday in response to an election mailer from an unknown group that appeared aimed at undermining Rosendale’s support among conservatives.
Rosendale, Montana’s state auditor and insurance commissioner, is in a tight race against two-term Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, with the balance of power in the closely divided Senate potentially at play.
Libertarian Rick Breckenridge has virtually no chance of winning. But his participation has threatened to peel away votes that might otherwise go toward the Republican and boost Tester’s chances next week.
The mailer comes two days before President Donald Trump plans to hold a campaign rally in Bozeman supporting Rosendale — the president’s fourth visit to the state and an indication of how much the White House wants to unseat Tester. Trump has blamed the Democrat for derailing the nomination of his first choice to head the Veterans Affairs department.