The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports today:
The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld an appellate court ruling that the Vatican can be sued for sexual cleared the way for St. Paul lawyer Jeff Anderson to sue Pope Benedict on behalf of sex-abuse victims when it refused Monday to hear the Vatican’s appeal of an Oregon lawsuit. …
In declining to hear the case, the court upheld an appeals court ruling that the Vatican can be sued for sexual abuse if church officials knowingly reassign priests who have been accused of such acts in their previous parishes. The Vatican appeal had argued that the U.S. courts lacked jurisdiction over the Rome-based church.
This is great news — but it comes too late for countless youths who have been sexually abused by the likes of ex-gay activist Mike Jones — whose Michigan-based Corduroy Stone ministry was a veteran member of Exodus International. Truth Wins Out exposed Jones’ wrongdoing last year — but Exodus did not sever ties with Jones until nine months later. Not only has Jones not faced justice; Jones’ abusive activities have been hosted for free on Michigan State University’s web site. Like other member abusers, Jones was sheltered by Exodus long after his abuses were publicly exposed.
And the Supreme Court decision also comes too late for countless youths who were detained by Exodus’ flagship Love In Action-Refuge boot camp in Tennessee. For years, LIA reportedly exposed youths to potential predators during counseling sessions and hired untrained amateurs to control youths’ access to vital medications. By 2005, Tennessee regulators became alarmed by these reports and sought to take action. But in 2007, state officials — who again are funded and kept in office by Christian Right lobbies — overruled the regulators, effectively determining that the “religious freedom” of Christian Rightists serves as an absolute defense against Christian Rightists’ felony abuse of youths and against the freedom of religious minorities. To this day, LIA’s “Families and Friends Weekends” train relatives and peers to stubbornly trust in defamations about their loved ones despite all factual evidence to the contrary.
In both situations, government officials — intimidated or funded by Christian Right lobbyists — failed to prosecute and convict sexual, physical, and religious abuse.
The latest Supreme Court ruling gives hope to hundreds of thousands of clergy sex abuse victims. But until state and federal officials shed their financial and political ties to the Christian Right, victims of “ex-gay” abusers will continue to watch Exodus shield its abusive counselors. These victims also will continue to be shunned by the public officials who were elected and employed to ensure freedom, safety, and justice for all — not just for the Christian Right.