Saturday, October 23, 2010

Website Suggests GOP Candidate Link to Priest Sexual Abuse Without Actually Saying So

The candidate is Ed Martin, challenging Democratic incumbent Russ Carnahan from Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District. The website is titled “The Real Ed Martin.” It suggests that while Mr. Martin was employed by the St. Louis Archdiocese as Director of the Office on Human Rights he was in a position to have knowledge of accused pedophile priests being transferred from parish to parish.

The website contains supporting materials, facts, documents, background information, but no smoking gun, no definitve proof Ed Martin had personal knowledge of pedophile priests. It was created by a New Mexico private investigator, Michael Corwin, and a well-credentialed former network TV producer, Jeannine Dillon. The site states:
“This is not a smear campaign against Candidate Ed Martin. It is a three-month investigation revealing important, relevant, and previously unreported facts that raise serious concerns about Candidate Martin’s integrity, judgment, and ability to serve the public as a United States Congressman. The investigation focuses on the role Candidate Martin played as a member of the St. Louis Archdiocesan Curia, the policy it had of moving accused and convicted pedophile priests from parish to parish, and the trail of molested children left behind.”
Here’s the crux of the issue: During Martin’s tenure, the Archdiocese approved a settlement between Fr. Leroy Valentine and the Scorfina family, in a case that was reported nationally. The family was paid a sizable sum and agreed to remain silent about the case with the understanding Fr. Valentine would be excommunicated. Fr. Valentine was not excommunicated.

This is not a “palling around with terrorists” guilt-by-association smear. The fact Martin was employed by the Archdiocese in an official capacity while a possible coverup of sexual abuse was in progress is a serious matter. It goes to the candidate’s character and judgment. The public has a right to know what Martin knew about the Fr.Valentine case.

Whether or not the website is directly connected to the Carnahan campaign, it still strains credulity that Martin was unaware of what was going on. He denies any knowledge and blames Carnahan. Standard denial. Given its ultra-conservative bent, the Church’s enforced prohibition on clergy serving in political office, on balance, is a good thing. It’s unfortunate the same restrictions, even if voluntary, do not extend to lay employees — past and present — of the Catholic Church as well.

No comments: