July 01, 2005

Still Partly Cloudy: 'Clearing' of diocese doesn't tell whole story

The Dallas Morning News

12:10 AM CDT on Friday, July 1, 2005

A Dallas County grand jury found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the Dallas Catholic Diocese's reporting of child abuse allegations. All of us, Catholics or not, concerned over how the troubled diocese has handled clerical sexual abuse should be comforted by this conclusion. The city owes a debt of thanks to District Attorney Bill Hill for his willingness to look into this politically dicey situation.

Happily, the investigation appears to vindicate Bishop Charles Grahmann's claims that the diocese has learned from its past mistakes. The bishop says that "the findings confirm our position that there has been no wrongdoing by the Diocese of Dallas or its officials in reporting cases of child abuse."

Well, yes ...but. The grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing in its narrowly defined investigation, but that's not the same thing as saying there's nothing worthy of concern. The DA's probe was sparked by two events last winter: the arrest of the Rev. Matthew Bagert on child pornography charges and the resignation under fire of the Rev. Bill Richard.

Father Bagert, whose case awaits adjudication, was not called to testify before the grand jury. His attorney, Patrick McLain, told The Dallas Morning News that this story of diocesan corruption might not be over because "I know they haven't gotten to

Posted by kshaw at July 1, 2005 07:22 AM