In "Betrayed by Silence," Madeleine Baran and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) profile the cases of a number of accused priests and suggest, of course, that there is no doubt that all of the priests are guilty.
However, when one actually investigates the charges against the priests, there is good reason to believe that these men have been falsely accused.
No allegation too old
Baran tells of the case of Rev. Gilbert Dutel, who currently serves as a pastor at St. Edmond Church in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Baran reports that an accuser came forward in 1992 to accuse Dutel of abusing him decades earlier in the 1970s. And because Dutel is still in active ministry, Baran concludes that this is evidence that child abusers are still serving in the Church even today.
However, in typical fashion, Baran obscures a few very important and notable facts:
- An independent panel thoroughly investigated the claims against Dutel at the time they were made and concluded they were bogus;
- Dutel has never had another accusation lodged against him in over four decades of active ministry;
- The accuser, an openly gay man, accused not just one, not two, but three different priests of abusing him.
Sadly, we are not confident that Dutel will ever be able to exonerate himself. With the guilty-until-proven-guiltier atmosphere in our culture today against Catholic priests, we expect the wrongly accused Dutel to be out of ministry by the end of the summer. A grave injustice is likely to take place thanks to the recklessness of Baran and MPR.
Yet we hope we are wrong.
Exculpatory evidence ignored by MPR
MPR also trumpets the decades-old charges against Rev. Harry Walsh, which Baran presents as if they were proven undeniably true.
However, Baran makes no mention at all of a recent extensive investigation into the claims against Walsh by the Monticello Times newspaper.
After careful scrutiny, the paper concluded that Walsh did not even reside in the country at the time Walsh's accuser asserts that the alleged abuse occurred!
Once again, those pesky facts come back to bite Madeleine Baran and MPR.
Way, way back
Finally, Baran profiles the case of a man who tells a wildly shocking tale of being sodomized as an 11-year-old altar boy 53 years ago in 1961 in a church basement by a priest named Rev. Patrick Ryan.
The accuser claims that he reported the crime only a week after it actually happened and that a number of church and school employees learned about the episode. The accuser also claims that a "church board" met to assess the case shortly thereafter and determined that the rape never happened.
Decades later in 2002, when the accuser first told his story in the media, Church officials openly admitted that they had no reason to believe that the accuser's story was untrue. But in 2005, when independent Church investigators began to closely examine the accuser's allegations, they found "no credible, corroborating or supporting information" to support his abuse claims at all. Nil. Nada.
And how does Rev. Ryan defend himself from these shocking charges levied against him?
Well, he can't. Rev. Ryan died exactly 50 years ago, in 1964, with not a single other accusation against him.
**Important note** Madeleine Baran from MPR did not respond to repeated requests from TheMediaReport.com to answer questions about her reporting.