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Why Several Native Americans Are Suing the Mormon Church
Participants in the Church-sponsored Indian Student Placement Program have filed at least three sexual-abuse lawsuits.
Lily Fowler, Atlantic Magazine, October 23, 2016
Native Americans who were part of a little-known Mormon program from 1947 to the mid-1990s share much of the same story. Year after year, missionaries or other members of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints approached these families and invited their children into Mormon foster homes. As part of the Mormon Indian Student Placement Program, Native American children would live with Mormon families during the school year, an experience designed to “provide educational, spiritual, social, and cultural opportunities in non-Indian community life,” according to the Church. Typically, the Mormon foster families were white and financially stable. Native American children who weren’t already Mormon were baptized. And some of them now claim they were sexually abused.
“They knew there were things going on. They just turned around and closed their eyes to it,” said BN, a former participant of the program who has filed a sexual-abuse lawsuit against the LDS Church, and who remains anonymous in court documents, in an interview. So far, three sexual-abuse lawsuits involving four past participants have been filed in Navajo Nation District Court. No criminal charges have been brought against the defendants, who are also anonymous in all pleadings. The alleged victims include a brother and sister who were both in the program. The brother, referred to in court documents as RJ, claims in the lawsuit that he was not only sexually abused, but physically and emotionally abused, and forcibly had “his mouth washed out with soap whenever he spoke Navajo to the other placement children in the home,” according to court documents. A fourth lawsuit is pending, according to their lawyer, Craig Vernon. Read More.
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito reveals she was sexually abused
New York Daily News, October 12, 2016
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito took to Twitter Wednesday to announce she is a sex abuse survivor — and said the furor around Donald Trump’s campaign had set her off. One in 5 girls are victims of sex abuse — and she was among them, Mark-Viverito said. “I’m that 1/5,” she wrote. “Trump’s misogyny & sexual violence has re-opened wounds I’ve tried to heal.” Read More.
Noaker Law Firm Unveils New Jersey Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Page
(October 12, 2016, Minneapolis) Today, attorney Patrick Noaker announced that he has created a page in the Noaker Law Firm website (noakerlaw.com) that is dedicated to identifying Boy Scout Leaders in New Jersey who have been terminated from Scouting because they sexually abused Scouts or other children. This web page will be a one-stop resource for access to all of the public Boy Scouts of America Ineligible Volunteer Perversion files (“I.V. Files). “So often my clients just want to locate information relating to his or her perpetrator. This page provides easy access to that information,” Noaker added.
In addition to the I.V. Files, Noaker writes blogs that compile information from a number of sources about specific perpetrators and regions. The first blog is titled “Sexually Abusive Boy Scout Leaders in Newark, New Jersey” and chronicles the abusive past of a number of Boy Scout Leaders in Newark.
Sexual Abuse Advocates and Attorneys Warn Archdiocese of New York Sexual Abuse Fund May be Bait-and-Switch
(New York, NY – Friday, October 7, 2016) At a press conference in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Sexual Abuse attorneys along with survivors of sexual abuse warned that Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s recently proposed “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program” for those who have survived abuse by priests or deacons of the archdiocese, may be a bait-and-switch that could re-victimize survivors of abuse. Read More.
Is Cardinal Dolan Taking a Page from His Milwaukee Play Book When Creating Fund for Sexual Abuse Survivors?
After years of playing hardball with survivors of clergy sexual abuse by using the antiquated New York statute of limitations to have cases dismissed, today, Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced a plan by the Archdiocese of New York to handle claims of sexual abuse by its clergy. The timing of the Archdiocese’s sudden interest in sexual abuse survivors is suspicious. Read More.
Suspicious Assignment Histories Are Not Just in the Movies: Fr. Thomas Harkin and the Diocese of Camden, NJ
With eight short parish assignments, two leaves of absence, two assignments outside the Diocese, permanent removal as a priest and four sexual abuse lawsuits, Fr. Thomas Harkins has a history right out of the Spotlight movie.
2 Victims Sexually Abused by Minnesota Casting Director Awarded $2.1 Million
July 28, 2016
Jury Awards $2.1 Million to Abuse Victims
(July 28, 2016 – Minneapols, Minnesota) A Hennepin County jury awarded two victims of sexual abuse by local Casting Director Matthew Feeney, $2,073,078.04 for past and future emotional distress and health care costs. The verdict came at the end of a three-day jury trial held in Hennepin County District Court in front of Hon. Thomas Sipkins. Minneapolis attorney Patrick Noaker and St. Cloud attorney Michael Bryant represented the plaintiffs during the trial.
During closing arguments in the case, attorney Noaker acknowledged that sometimes child sexual abusers are often difficult to identify because they possess personality traits, like being funny, silly and warm, that appeal to children without raising suspicion of their parents. That is how Matthew Feeney was able to gain access to these boys.
During the trial, the two boys testified that they were aspiring child actors who met Matthew Feeney when auditioned for parts in movies and commercials that were being produced in Minnesota. After that, Feeney endeared himself to the boys’ parents and other siblings, soon attending family birthday parties and school plays. The boys testified that Feeney’s invasion of their family prevented the boys from being able to tell anyone about the sexual abuse.
Once the boys told their mother about the abuse, attorney Bryant confirmed “this mother did exactly what she was supposed to do, she called the police and got help for the boys.” Matthew Feeney was criminally convicted of sexually abusing both boys in 2014, and he is now serving a prison sentence for his crimes. “Only half of the job has been done,” Noaker argued, “Matthew Feeney is in prison where he cannot hurt any more children, but we still have two very injured boys here. We need to complete the circle and return a verdict that will insure that these boys get the help that they need and deserve in the future.”
After three and a half hours of deliberations, the jury returned a Special Verdict awarding twenty one year-old John Doe 101 the amount of $974,281.05 and sixteen year-old John Doe 102 the amount of $1,098,796.99.
Click Below for Special Verdict Forms
Is the Archdiocese Concealing Jewels and Valuable Art From the Bankruptcy Court?
By Patrick Noaker
In a letter to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota, a former employee of Bockstruck Jewelers in St. Paul reports that in 1996, the Archdiocese had valuable jewelry and 19th century art appraised by the Jeweler. Click below to view the letter.
New lawsuit against LDS Church over sex abuse
Highly Decorated Local Scoutmaster At Center of Sex Abuse Lawsuit
The victim in today’s lawsuit filed in Ramsay County is proceeding under the pseudonym John Doe 156. The lawsuit alleges the Richard “Dick” Carroll was a Scout Leader for a boy scout troop that met at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church located on the corner of Dewey and Marshall in the Merriam Park neighborhood of St. Paul. According to the lawsuit, Richard Carroll used his position of trust as a Scout Leader to sexually abuse one of the young scouts in his troop on multiple occasions when the boy was between 11 to 13 years old. The abuse occurred during Scout camping trips to Webster, Minnesota and Cannon Falls, Minnesota in approximately 1972 and 1973. Read More.
Duluth diocese files for bankruptcy after $8M abuse award
STEVE KUCHERA, AP/DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE Diocese of Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba
The Catholic Diocese of Duluth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday, a month after a victim of priest sex abuse there was awarded $8 million in damages. The diocese was found responsible for $4.8 million.
The northern Minnesota diocese is the 15th diocese in the nation to file for bankruptcy protection after clergy abuse litigation. It follows the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which declared bankruptcy last January. Read More.
Former Columbia HeightsBoy Scouts Speak Out About Filing Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
KSTP – November 29, 2015
Second Victim Comes Forward After BSA Leader Denies Sexual Abuse Charges
A second Minneapolis-area man filed a sexual abuse lawsuit alleging that local Boy Scout Leader, Wallace “Wally” Schrade sexually abused him when he was a Boy Scout. The controversy is that Schrade, who served as the Assistant Scoutmaster for Columbia Heights Troop 162 during the 1970s and early 1980s, boldly and publicly denied the allegations of another man identified as John Doe 157. . . [In] an article appearing on the Pioneer Press website by reporter Elizabeth Mohr, Schrade denied abusing John Doe 157.
Then today, on the heels of Schrade’s public denial, a second member of Schrade’s Boy Scout Troop came forward and publicly accused Schrade of child sexual abuse. Read More
Former Columbia Heights Boy Scout alleges 1970s sex abuse in lawsuit
A former Boy Scout has filed a lawsuit claiming he was abused in the 1970s by a Scout leader for his Columbia Heights troop. John Doe 157’s lawsuit, filed Monday in Ramsey County District Court, accuses the Boy Scouts of America and its local chapter, the Northern Star Council, of negligence for failing to adequately supervise the troop leader. According to the lawsuit, John Doe 157, now 53, was abused by troop leader Wallace Schrade between 1974 and 1979, when he was 11 to 16 years old. . . Schrade, reached by phone Monday, said it was the first he’d heard of the claims and the first time anyone had ever accused him. “I just don’t think it’s true,” Schrade said. “I don’t know where it comes from.” Schrade confirmed that he was a leader for a Columbia Heights Boy Scout troop and said he held many positions over the years he was involved with the Scouts. He declined to comment further. . .
Attorney Patrick Noaker said in a statement Monday: “It was no coincidence that Schrade targeted John Doe 157. The boy’s father was very ill, and Schrade took advantage of that vulnerability. We believe the evidence will show that Schrade used the Scouting program to gain the trust of Doe 157’s mother, to spend time alone with the boy, and eventually to sexually abuse him.” Noaker said the boy’s father died after the abuse began and the “abuse escalated from there.” Read More
New Suit Identifies Columbia Heights Scout Leader as Sexual Abuser
Scout Leader Wallace Schrade Sexually Abused Boy Scout When Boy’s Father Was Too Sick to Protect the Boy
(Minneapolis, Minnesota—November 23, 2015)
The victim in today’s suit – referred to as “John Doe 157” – was approximately twelve years old when he says he was first sexually abused by Scout Leader Wallace “Wally” Schrade. According to court documents, Schrade met the victim while serving as the Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 162, which met at the Community Methodist Church near Central Ave NE in Columbia Heights.
“It was no coincidence that Schrade targeted John Doe 157. The boy’s father was very ill, and Schrade took advantage of that vulnerability. We believe the evidence will show that Schrade used the Scouting program to gain the trust of Doe 157’s mother, to spend time alone with the boy, and eventually to sexually abuse him,” said Patrick Noaker, one of John Doe 157’s attorneys. “Shortly after the abuse started, the boy’s father passed away. And the sexual abuse escalated from there.” Read More.
New Boy Scout Lawsuit Filed
Victim Told the Boy Scouts About Abusive Leader – But Where’s the Secret File?
(St. Paul, Minnesota—November 05, 2015)—Yet another Minneapolis-area man filed a civil lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the St. Paul-based Northern Star Council for alleged sexual abuse committed by his Scout leader.
Steven Parker was only eleven years old when he says he was first sexually abused by his Scout leader, Andrew Momont. According to court documents, the boy met Momont when he joined Troop 17, which was based out of the Olivet Baptist Church in Robbinsdale. Andrew Momont was the troop’s Assistant Scoutmaster. Andrew Momont’s father, Phillip Momont, was the Troop 17 Scoutmaster. Read More.
When Is It Constitutional to Purge Black Jurors in a Criminal Case?
“I don’t think it was unfair, it was unfair” James K. Batson, after a criminal prosecutor struck all of the African Americans from his jury, leaving an all-white jury. The United States Supreme Court agreed. See Batson v. Kentucky.
In the Georgia case, Foster v. Chatman, now before the U.S. Supreme Court and set for argument on November 2, 2015, the Court will have an opportunity to confirm and possibly clarify its 1986 Batson decision. In Foster, the prosecutor in a death penalty case against Tyrone Foster, who is African American, removed all of the African American members of the jury panel. When Foster’s attorney cried foul and cited to Batson, the prosecutor proffered inaccurate, but racially-neutral explanations for their removal.
Nearly two decades after the trial, Foster’s lawyers obtained the prosecution’s notes for jury selection. The state’s lawyers had marked each black juror’s name with a “B,” and a state investigator had specifically ranked each “B” juror in order of preference if “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors.”
Scout Leader Allegedly Made St. Paul Boy Sniff Glue Before Abuse
The sexual abuse lawsuits keep piling up against Boy Scouts of America and its local Northern Star Council wing. On Friday, the sixth Minnesota claim in the past four months was filed in Ramsey County court.
Between 1968 and 1969, a St. Paul boy was allegedly sexually assaulted multiple times by a scout leader identified only as Mr. Hamper. According to the complaint, the abuse occurred when the boy was 12 and 13 years old at various scouting events in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Now 59, the unnamed victim has come forward with his claims in hopes of preventing similar abuse, says his lawyer Patrick Noaker, who believes Hamper assaulted three or four other boys. Hamper’s signature move was allegedly getting his victims high by sniffing glue or paint before assaulting them. Read More.
Sixth Man in Four Months Sues Boy Scouts
(St. Paul, Minnesota-October 9, 2015)–A sixth St. Paul-area man on Wednesday filed a civil lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the St. Paul-based Northern Star Council for sexual abuse committed by his Scout leader during Scouting events in Minnesota and Wisconsin. According to Court documents, John Doe 155, now age 59, was twelve years old when he says he was first sexually abused by his Scout leader-a man he knew only as “Mr. Hamper.” The abuse occurred during 1968-1969 at Scouting activities in St. Paul and other locations in Minnesota, as well as at the Fred C. Anderson Scout Camp near Houlton, Wisconsin.
“The abuse in this case was severe and went on for nearly two years. Our client has suffered in silence for decades. Our team is proud to stand by him and fight for him as he breaks that silence,” said Minneapolis Attorney Patrick Noaker. Noaker is a key member of an attorney team representing sexual abuse survivors throughout the State. Read More
Witnesses Reveal Widespread Sexual Abuse by Fr. Michael G. Skoblik
By Attorney Patrick Noaker, October 8, 2015
Investigation by attorneys for a victim of sexual abuse by priest Fr. Michael G. Skoblik at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Silver Lake reveals evidence of widespread sexual abuse of parish children as nuns turned a blind eye. Recently, Patrick Noaker, an attorney for a man who was sexually abused as a boy by Fr. Michael G. Skoblik, filed court documents revealing additional information about sexual abuse by Skoblik. According to the Second Amended Complaint filed in Brown County District Court, Fr. Skoblick sexually abused John Doe 116 beginning in 1968 when he was only 10 or 11 years old. The sexual abuse continued until 1973. According to the court documents, a portion of the sexual abuse occurred during school hours, while John Doe 116 was a student at St. Joseph’s School.
According to attorney Noaker, a witness confirms that while he was a student at St. Joseph in the late 1960’s, he noticed that a few of his fellow classmates were absent from class. When the witness asked the teacher/nun why, the teacher/nun told him that the boys were with Fr. Skoblik to talk about becoming priests. The witness learned later that Fr. Skoblik sexually abused the boys during those meetings. Read More.
Suit Claims Scout Leader was pornographer
KARE-11 July 28, 2015
Former adult leader again named in sexual abuse lawsuit against Boy Scouts
Yet another man is charging the Boy Scouts with failing to protect him decades ago against a former St. Paul adult scout leader who allegedly abused him dozens of times when he was an adolescent and took naked photographs of him.
The scout leader, Leland “Lee” Opalinski, has been named in three other civil suits against the Boy Scouts of America since late June, when Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough announced he was seeking damages from the Scouts and the local Northern Star Council for four years of sexual abuse by Opalinski. . .
Doe 153 is haunted by the possibility that the pictures of him, which he never saw, might still exist, Minneapolis attorney Patrick Noaker said. Opalinski shot them with a 35-millimeter camera but didn’t have a darkroom, which suggests he had help in making them, he said.
Local Boy Scout Leader Engages Scout in Child Pornography
Third Lawsuit Against Boy Scouts, Northern Star Council this Summer, Attorneys Say Fourth to be filed Soon – July 28, 2015
Report of child pornography appear in the third lawsuit since mid-June against the Boy Scouts of America and a local council by a 54-year-old St. Paul man and former scout identified in court papers as John Doe 153 who was sexually abused by Leland “Lee” Opalinski.
The abuse occurred at scout meetings, events, and outings in and around St. Paul, including Opalinski’s home and First Covenant Church, as well as camping trips in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“This scout leader — and pedophile — abused our client in the most horrible way imaginable and then violated him further by taking pornographic photos of him,” said Patrick Noaker, victim’s attorney. “Our client has lived in fear that these photographs will someday resurface. He wants them destroyed.”
“The Boy Scouts child protection system continues to be as broken today as it was in 1967, when this boy was victimized,” said Patrick Noaker, referring to recent cases where Boy Scout Leaders have produced child pornography using Scout troop members as victims: Daniel Huzinec (Buffalo, NY 2015), Dennis Mischler (New Orleans, LA 2015), Ian F. Burow (Jefferson City, Missouri 2012), James McCullars (Huntsville, AL 2013), Ryan Bieler (Evansville, IN 2012). Read More.
Another suit charges sex abuse by Scouts volunteer
Third Boy Scout Abuse Survivor Hears Call for Justice; Steps Forward, Files Suit
(Minneapolis, Minnesota-July 14, 2015) Three weeks after Ramsey County Commissioner and sexual abuse survivor Jim McDonough made an impassioned appeal for Boy Scout abuse survivors to come forward and seek justice, a third victim has emerged. “John Doe 151” alleges abuse by the same Scout volunteer who abused McDonough, Leland “Lee” Opalinski.
- Photograph of the Northern Star District Office and
- Photographs of First Covenant Church in St. Paul [Front, Rear, Sign]
Legal Expert: Lawsuit Filed against Boy Scouts ‘Eerily’ Similar to Archdiocese Complaints
By: Joe Augustine KSTP Ch. 5
Allegations of sexual abuse, an institution accused of failing to protect children, adults emerging from the shadows to take legal action decades later—it all sounds too familiar to Dr. Charles Reid.
“There’s an eerie similarity,” Reid, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, said Tuesday hours after a lawsuit was filed against the Boy Scouts of America.
In that lawsuit, Jim McDonough, chairman of the Ramsey County Commission, claims he was sexually abused by a scout leader from 1967 to 1971 and accuses the Boy Scouts of negligence for failing to protect children from known predators.
“This shame is no longer mine,” McDonough said. “This shame belongs to the perpetrator. This shame belongs to the Boy Scouts of America.”
McDonough filed the lawsuit under the Minnesota Child Victims Act.
That law opened courtroom doors – and church documents – to a long list of victims who used a temporary window outside the original statute of limitations to file civil complaints against the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis decades after they were allegedly abused by catholic priests.
“It begins to look an awful lot like the complaint originally brought against the archdiocese,” Reid said.
“This could be a replay of what we’ve seen with the archdiocese,” Reid said, adding, “It’s too early to say.”
Reid says that will depend on if other victims come forward and what is found in discovery.
Patrick Noaker, the attorney who filed the lawsuit against the Boy Scouts, claims the organization acted negligently because it “kept track of pedophiles operating its own youth programs” with files known as the “Perversion Files” but still allowed predators to supervise scouts.
Noaker also filed lawsuits against the archdiocese under the state statute, another similarity not lost on Reid.
“It could begin to look like a very sad sequel.”
Ramsey County Official Sues Boy Scouts for alleged sex abuse – MPR News, June 24, 2015
Ramsey County official sues Boy Scouts over sex abuse – Pioneer Press, June 24, 2015
Boy Scouts Sued for alleged abuse – Mankato Free Press, June 24, 2015
St. Paul Man Files Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against the Boy Scouts of America
(Minneapolis, Minnesota—June 23, 2015) St. Paul native, Jim McDonough has filed a civil lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America (“BSA”) and its local Northern Star Council for child sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of an adult Scout leader years ago.
McDonough was repeatedly sexually abused from age 12-16, from 1967-1971, by his adult scoutmaster, Leland “Lee” Opalinski, who was also a serial sexual abuser. Opalinski died in May 2014.
“This predator stole four years of my life. I lost another 15 years to self-destructive behavior,” McDonough said. “For years, this was my shame. “It’s no longer my shame – it’s the Boy Scouts’ shame.” Read More.
- Complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court 6/23/15
- Help Brochure for Victims of Child Abuse (Office of Victims of Crime) .pdf (348kB)
- Help Brochure – What Adults Need to Know About Child Abuse (Office of Victims of Crime) .pdf 491 kB)
- Jim McDonough 1968 Photo .jpeg (370kB)
- First Class Scout Card .pdf (148kB)
- Order of the Arrow Certificate .pdf (190 Kb)
- First Covenant Church, St. Paul Front Photo .jpeg (4MB)
- First Covenant Church, St. Paul Sign Photo .jpeg (4 MB)
- First Covenant Church, St. Paul Rear Photo .jpeg (3MB)
- Tomahawk Boy Scout Reservation Camp Sign .jpeg (2 MB)
- Fred C. Andersen Scout Camp Sign Photo .jpeg (4MB)
- Northern Star Council Sign/Building .jpeg (4MB)
Creating Safe Environments for Kids, Employees and Volunteers
By Attorney Patrick Noaker, June 18, 2015
Operating an organization that serves kids can feel like a very complicated endeavor these days. With criminal charges filed against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for mishandling child sexual abuse reports and multi-million dollar punitive damage verdicts against the Boy Scouts of America for its handling of sexual abuse and abusive leaders, every organization has to be thoughtful in the way that it protects the children they serve. This article discusses the CDC publication titled Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures and ways that organizations can protect children from childhood sexual abuse. Read More.