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Sociopathic priests and abuse of the spirit

The Reverend Charles Newman, former president of Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia, was sentenced on Friday to three to six years in prison for stealing almost $1 million from the school, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

As if that isn’t bad enough, prosecutors say that Newman gave about $54,000 to Arthur Baselice III, once a student at the school, as “hush money” so he would keep quiet about their sexual relationship. Authorities contend that the abuse began when Baselice III was 16-year-old junior at the school. He graduated in 1996. Ten years later, on November 30, 2006, Baselice III died of an overdose in a drug house.

During Newman’s sentencing, the young man’s mother, Elaine Baselice, addressed the court. “He plied my teenage son with alcohol and drugs so that Arthur could be more easily abused,” she said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. “Newman had me believe my son was full of demons. Standing in the courtroom today, I am faced with the true demon!”

Newman was not charged with sexual abuse because the statute of limitations had expired. He was charged only for the theft. The priest spoke briefly during the hearing in disjointed remarks, but did not apologize to the Baselices or explain what happened to the money. The court didn’t buy whatever he said.

“Your explanations are sorely lacking … and that’s putting it mildly,” Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi said. “Your explanations are bizarre.”

Reading the coverage of this case, it seemed to me that the Reverend Charles Newman fit the profile of a sociopath.

More info:
Philadelphia Inquirer: Ex-principal gets 3-6 years for theft
Philadelphia Daily News: ‘Detestable’ conduct nets priest 3-6 years

Child abuse in Ireland

The Newman case was bad, but not nearly as shocking as another story now in the news—the endemic rape and abuse of thousands of children in Ireland, from the 1930s to the 1990s, by Catholic priests and nuns.

On May 20, a 2,600-page report by Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was released. It found that children in 250 church-run schools, orphanages and other institutions, supported by taxpayer funds, were routinely abused and molested. Catholic religious orders ran more than 50 workhouse-style reform schools. One of the orders, the Christian Brothers, which ran several boys’ institutions, harbored serial child molesters and sadists on its staff.

The report took nine years to complete. Thousands of still-traumatized men and women, now in their 50s to 80s, testified, some traveling back to Ireland from America or Australia.

“A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys,” the report stated. “Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from.”

At the time, however, the religious orders were concerned only about preventing scandal, not the danger to the children. According to the Associated Press, “The management did not listen to or believe children when they complained of the activities of some of the men who had responsibility for their care,” the commission found. “At best, the abusers were moved, but nothing was done about the harm done to the child. At worst, the child was blamed and seen as corrupted by the sexual activity, and was punished severely.”

The report may not lead to prosecution of the perpetrators because in 2004, the Christian Brothers successfully sued to prevent them from being named. “Most leaders of religious orders have rejected the allegations as exaggerations and lies, and testified to the commission that any abuses were the responsibility of often long-dead individuals,” AP reported.

The Irish government has paid 12,000 abuse survivors an average of $90,000 each, a total of more than $1 billion, and another 2,000 claims are pending. But in 2001, Irish Catholic leaders cut a deal with the government that capped its contribution to the claims at $175 million—a fraction of the total cost.

More info:
The Independent, London: Thousands were raped in Irish reform schools
Boston.com: Catholic Church shamed by Irish abuse report
Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse: Executive summary

Betrayal by Spirit

In The Betrayal Bond, author Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D., specifically discusses how abuse by clergy affects victims. “It is generally agreed that the impact on survivors of sexual abuse by spiritual leaders is greater than survivors of other forms of power abuse,” he writes. “Since part of coping with trauma is spiritual, sexual abuse by a spiritual leader further complicates the recovery process.”

Why is this so? Carnes writes:

Every journey or recovery depends on the survivor coming to a point where all that person has gone through means something.

Betrayal by the spirit means that the person who betrays the victim also plays a critical role in the resources the victim has for defining meaning. The victim’s spiritual path is blocked. The fundamental question all victims have to answer for themselves is, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ It is a far more troubling question when the cause of the problem is supposed to be the resource for the answer.

Close to home

For me, all of this scandal hits very close to home. My cousin was abused by a priest. His was one of the early cases—he got a settlement at least 15 years ago. I don’t know how much it was, and I don’t know exactly what happened. According to the terms of the settlement, he’s not allowed to talk about it.

But I do know this: My cousin’s life is a disaster. His marriage fell apart. He was never able to hold a steady job. He spent his settlement money buying drinks for friends in bars. He became addicted to heroin. He assaulted his elderly father. His brothers want nothing to do with him.

When my cousin and two other men first pursued their claims against the priest, his mother, my aunt, took the word of the church over the word of her son. She went to her grave believing that my cousin lied about the entire thing.

I wonder if my aunt could believe today’s news.



78 Comments on "Sociopathic priests and abuse of the spirit"

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  1. OxDrover says:

    While I was in Texas I watched some of the news coverage about this on CNN (I don’t have cable at home so haven’t seenn any more about it) and there was something about the leader’s actions, something—I can’t say exactly what—but it made my P-dar go off.

    I thought right then that there was a rat in the corn crib some where. Prosecuting them in Haiti will be difficult, and prosecuting them in the US (witnesses all in Haiti) would be as or more difficult, and I am of the OPINION (nothing to base it on except my gut) that most of the people were innocent victims of whoever planned this thing and recruited dupes to help them. What was the “propose” or “motivfe?” I think it was “aggrandizement for the leaders for being such saviors of these children, most of which didn’t apparently need saving.”

    What would have happened to the kids if they had gotten them out? God alone knows.

    I’m like EC, what would the news media have to report without psychopaths and their con jobs and robberies? Oh, yea, once in a great while there is a big earthquake, and the confusion gives a great opportunity for psychopaths to exploit it for themselves.



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  2. Elizabeth Conley says:

    “I am of the OPINION (nothing to base it on except my gut) that most of the people were innocent victims of whoever planned this thing and recruited dupes to help them. ”

    I’m with you Oxdrover, up to a point. The 8 or so dupes were well prepared by their church conditioning programs to be cult drones. While probably high functioning outside of their religious lives, they seemed excessively maleable to unethical leadership.

    Their church leaders are partly to blame because they conditioned these dupes to follow a supposed “leader” without practicing any common sense, much less discernment.



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  3. JaneSmith says:

    So, what was their purpose in abducting the children? To have them set up for adoption? That doesn’t make sense.

    Do you think that maybe they were going to sell these little babies for a profit in the US?

    Sheesh, I know that’s a chilling and disturbing thought but it materialized in my mind while I was reading the articles EC supplied and her and Oxy’s comments.



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  4. Elizabeth Conley says:

    JaneSmith,

    It’s hard to know the intentions of people like Silsby and Puello, but it’s fairly certain there was a profit motive for those two.

    The 8 volunteers plus maybe the 1 nanny were almost certainly typical dupes. I have a lot of sympathy for them, even though it infuriates me that they imagined for a second that breaking up Haitian families and spiriting their children far away was an ethical plan. They were simply blinded by their very narrow world view, established in the extremely narrow world many American Christians deliberately choose to live in.

    These people can live beside the rest of us, go to work beside us and shop in the same stores, while living a totally different reality. Try reading the “news” at “World Net Daily” and you’ll start to realize just how out of kilter their frame of reference is. If you receive nothing but Christianist filtered information, you can be simultaneously “well informed” and completely ignorant.



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  5. hurtinglady3 says:

    My ex-boyfriend is a preacher in the AME Church of Asbury Park, NJ There’s a long list of women he’s mistreated, four children he’s molested, a couple of ex-wives and three baby mamas. I’m glad I’m baptist. They overlook his behavior because he dresses nice and pays people off with his money. But what will make it end? I’m speaking up for other people and myself. As for me, he took my money and would not pay me back even though the judge ordered it. (Monmouth County Court, NJ Dec 2010) I paid money for his trip, child support and his campaign for a bishop. I want my money back!!! He’s a serious offender and I think other people should know. I was a girlfriend for a year and i was sad when it ended but I probably would have been much much worse if it was longer. He owes me $5000



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  6. Ox Drover says:

    Dear Hurtinglady3,

    I wish you luck in getting your money back….maybe a $1 invested in the lottery is a better bet! 13 million to one?

    It is obvious that the man is a FAKER and a totally immoral man, not a man of God, only pretending to be…

    Jesus warned His followers that there would be many wolves in sheep’s clothing who would come in pretend to be ministers and lead the faithful away into false doctrine. This is the kind of man (*and women) I think that Jesus was warning against.

    Just be glad that it wasn’t more money than it was, and realize that just getting AWAY from these people is enough of a positive that whatever money we lost is beside the point. Chalk it up to tuition to the SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS and learn the lesson from it.

    Glad you are here. Focus on healing yourself, there’s nothing can be done for him on this earth to make him a better man. He’s decided what he wants to be and has made his choices. In the end, he will eventually get his just reward. God bless.



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