Sexual Abuse—Western US
The sexual abuse within the TLRC and CMRI should be seen as part of the wider sex abuse crisis throughout the Western US in the 20th century. This sexual abuse involved the Jesuits West, Archdiocese of Seattle, and the Diocese of Spokane.
Sexual Abuse—Jesuits West
Abuse Summary & Bankruptcy
The Jesuits West agreed in 2011 to pay $166 million to about 500 people abused by Jesuit priests. The settlement was part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The sexual abuse occurred throughout the 20th century, notably at Jesuit schools & on native American reservations:
- The West Coast was seen as a dumping ground for abusive Jesuit priests. They would send sexually abusive priests from other parts of the country to the west coast, where the priests would be sent to schools and native American reservations.
- 55 of the nearly 650 Jesuits buried at Mt. St. Michael cemetery in Spokane, Washington were accused of sexual abuse. That’s 8%. The rate of sexual abuse within the Jesuit West province is higher than anywhere else.
In The Silence, FRONTLINE producer Tom Curran and reporter Mark Trahant examine the legacy of abuse by a number of men who worked for the Catholic Church along Alaska's far west coast in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Why I Left
When people ask why my kids never made their First Communion, or why I don’t go to church anymore, I tell them the story of a disillusioned woman in her twenties who went to Alaska to find something besides herself, not even knowing what the word “disillusionment” could mean.
Sins of The Fathers
The Center for Investigative Reporting (Reveal) released a podcast in December 2018 about sexual abuse within Jesuits West, with a focus on Gonzaga University. The podcast largely centers on sexual abuse committed by James Poole, SJ against natives. The reporters visited Mt. St. Michael cemetery in Spokane.
Reveal—Sins of the fathers—December 14, 2018 (link to original):
Sexual Abuse—Archdiocese of Seattle
Sexual Abuse—Diocese of Spokane
For their list of credibly accused, go here. The Diocese of Spokane declared bankruptcy in 2004 due to numerous sexual abuse claims.
Sexual Abuse—Francis Schuckardt
For sexual abuse involving Schuckardt, both as victim and perpetrator, refer to the main Bishop Schuckardt page.
The CMRI & TLRC have inflicted severe physical abuse & torture upon children & adult members since 1967. This physical abuse created deep intergenerational trauma that exists among current & ex-members. Even with therapy, it's unlikely that ex-members will be able to heal from their traumatic experiences.
Research has shown (source) that "corporal punishment" (a euphemism for physical assault) changes development of the brain, and the brain response is equivalent to that of sexual assault.
Ingenerational trauma is deeply embedded within current & former CMRI members, and it will likely take generations to heal the trauma that the CMRI has caused. The trauma will continue so long as the CMRI exists.
- CMRI leaders would routinely physically & sexually assault children with torture devices such as paddles and leather straps. The CMRI would euphemistically refer to this as "spanking" or "corporal punishment";
- Teachers & clergy would slap children across the face if they felt "disrespected."
- Jalapeno peppers were forcibly shoved down childrens' throats as a method of torture;
- Girls would have their heads shaved by Denis Chicoine for talking with boys;
- On October 26, 1976, a religious teacher in the school, Paul Welsh, was sentenced to serve five days in jail in Kootenai County, Idaho for excessive "spanking" of a 10-year old student.
- A student was told to crawl across a concrete parking lot on their knees, causing severe damage;
- Nuns would be locked in attics as a method of torture for long periods of time;
- A nun required a girl to eat her own vomit, punching her in the face when she refused. Humiliating forms of torture were common in the group until the late 1980s;
- Schuckardt encouraged people to physically abuse themselves as a form of penance;
- Members were encouraged or forced to stay up late at night for Mass;
- Nuns & children ate severely unhealthy meals with a forced lack of fruits, vegetables, & protein;
Numerous bishops, priests, nuns, and lay members have been accused of involvement in sexual abuse of children including anal rape of prepubescent children. Abusive priests have been part of the group since its founding up to the present day. Bishop Pivarunas has covered up sexual abuse for decades. The priests, including Fr. Denis Chicoine, refused to listen to Fr. Kubesh in the 1980s about Schuckardt's sexual abuse, thus allowing sexual abuse to continue. The full extent of abuse is unknown by the public. New waves of accusations have come out since 2018.
- On August 25, 2022, Francie Urban Radecki (ex-member) stated that she was aware of two religious priests/brothers who sexually abused girls. She noted that one left many years ago and that one is a priest who currently works with the CMRI. She refused to name the priests. She noted, "I can't believe they ordained him." (read extracts here)
- In 2022 it was revealed that Pope Pius XII covered up sexual abuse of children (source) & (source) and ordered records be destroyed: "It is now clear that the Secretariat of State, then under Cardinal Pacelli’s direction, had indeed taken immediate action. A folder in the Secretariat’s files from the previous year is labeled “Vienna: Order to burn all archival material concerning cases of immorality of monks and priests.” To date, historians have largely dismissed police investigations of clerical sexual abuse in Nazi Germany as evidence of the National Socialist regime’s anti-Catholicism and homophobia. But there were reasons the Church was so vulnerable to this variety of blackmail."
- Archbishop Thuc covered up sexual abuse of children in Vietnam prior to 1963. Thuc had these abuser priests decide their own punishments, often sending them on retreats or moving them to another parish, where sexual abuse likely continued. Thuc bragged about his cover-up in his 1982 memoir.
- Fr. Mario Porras Blanco was a serial child rapist (source) operating out of an independent sedevacantist chapel in Tacoma (he also traveled to Redding, Calif., Spokane, Tucson, Ariz., Denver and Los Angeles) in the mid-1980s to 2000s (he died October 14, 2008). He was accused of molesting at least 21 (or 22) children, with numerous accusations of anal rape of children under age 14. The media had first reported on his sexual abuse by at least 2002, so his abuse was known before his death. His funeral Mass (link) was said by former CMRI priest, Fr. Adam V. Cyr.
- As an aside, in a 2005 article (link) member Milton Fabre defended Mario Blanco after the Diocese of Sacramento settled 16 cases against Fr. Blanco. Fabre later murdered his daughter in 2015 (link) and is in prison.
- Mark Pretz raped his daughter and is still active in the Mary Help of Christians parish in Colorado Springs. He still regularly leads the rosary on Sundays. Before he was exposed, every Christmas he dressed up and acted as the parish's St. Nicholas (think, "mall Santa", but Catholic). Since then, the scandal was never remotely acknowledged by the clergy. The only change was his quiet replacement as St. Nicholas. It's not a stretch at all to say that there are parishioners who have no idea what he did. The victim, his adopted daughter, was friends with many of the girls in the parish, and watching families simply turn a blind eye to her absence, as well as the horrors inflicted on her by her father, was disgusting.
- Fr. Burton J. Fraser, S.J. (an early CMRI priest) was named publicly as accused by the Jesuits Central Province on its list December 7, 2019 (see details). The allegation of abuse was in the 1950s and the accusation was made after his death in 1971. It’s unclear where the abuse occurred.
- Fr. Joseph Pineau (an early CMRI priest) was credibly accused in 2003 of sexual misconduct with an adolescent (see details). The alleged abuse occurred around 1967 and involved an adolescent in counseling. He had retired as a priest from the Diocese of Spokane in 1968.
- Fr. Lawrence S. Brey (an early CMRI priest) was accused in December 2018 of ritual sexual abuse of a child at the Holy Innocents Catholic School in Waite Park, MN in the 1970s and 1980s (see details). The Diocese of St. Cloud has stated that this school was not part of the diocese, but was operated independently by Robert and Bernice Sis, who were also accused as part of the lawsuit regarding the ritual sexual abuse with Fr. Lawrence S. Brey. This school was not operated by the CMRI or TLRC.
- In 2005, three members (Steve A. Belzek, Justin Kirkland, and Michael W. Muratore) of the TLRC under Schuckardt were found guilty of sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy beginning in 2000 (see details). This abuse is very likely intergenerational trauma, since the perpetrators were probably victims of child sexual assault.
- Sister Solange claimed in the early 1990s she was sexually abused by a nun at the Villa Maria boarding school in 1979 operated by the TLRC in Coeur d’Alene. Sherri Schettler (daughter of Jopseh Urann), a former CMRI nun and boarder in the late 1970s, claims in a 2014 book (see details) that the abuse was covered up by Rev. Mother Ludmilla, Bishop Pivarunas, and other nuns in the convent. This abuse claim has not been made public through the media or law enforcement and the nun who is alleged to have committed the abuse has not been named.