In August, 2011, Father James (aka Jaime Duenas) of Nativity of Our Blessed Lady Catholic Church in the New York City borough of The Bronx, was arrested on allegations that he had repeatedly molested a 16-old girl working in the rectory.
Prosecutors say Duenas told them the girl was “wearing short skirts” and that she didn’t mind “the massage.”
Wouldn’t you think that given the Catholic Church’s notorious history with child sex abuse, orders would have come down from on high that in no circumstance whatsoever was any employee of the Church to blame a victim, or even an alleged victim?
Yet prosecutors say Duenas told them that the alleged victim “liked it” and that she was wearing “short skirts.”
A victim advocacy group attempted to educate the community about the realities of how sexual abusers operate. But many in the community circled wagons in defense of their priest, with an implied negative judgement about the complaining witness in the case, the 16-year-old girl.
The complaining witness alleges that the sexual abuse occurred over a three day span. Dolan’s blog mocks her as a liar, says that she “voluntarily” returned to work on days after she claims Duenas molested her, and states furthermore that Duenas has never previously had an allegation made against him.
Firstly, if Dolan wants to convince the public that he is serious about protecting the well-being of young people in the Church, he will not disingenuously publish that an accused priest has had no prior allegations made against him. It is well-known that abusers inculcate fear in their victims and that victims generally are 1) extremely fearful of coming forward and 2) full of ugly uncomfortable emotions such as shame shortly after the abuse.
Secondly, for Dolan to publish to his blog insinuations that the 16-year-old complaining witness is lying — (this blog written by a Catholic Church kingpin and read by many in the Catholic community, including some that were circling the wagons to protect Duenas and to scorn the girl) — is a form of attempted witness intimidation. Dolan should have allowed the criminal justice process to function — without insinuating that the 16-year-old witness is lying.
Dolan’s attempted witness intimidation went further. The statements from the Catholic League’s Bill Donahue impugned the integrity of SNAP (Survivors Network of People Abused by Priests) calling it a “phony victims’ group.” If SNAP is a “phony victims’ group” as Dolan published, then why was SNAP involved when the Catholic Church paid a $7 million settlement to Church sex abuse victims in Delaware? And why was SNAP involved when the Archdiocese of Los Angeles reached a $600 million settlement with Church sex abuse victims?
If these were “phony” victims, why did the Catholic Church pay them a $600 million settlement?
Dolan actively communicated anti-SNAP propaganda at a time that SNAP was involved in trying to secure — for young people’s safety — the places where Duenas had been working. One of SNAP’s criticisms of Dolan is that he did not inform the communities of Duenas’s arrest; that he left them to learn of it through the media. A SNAP press-release said, “We call on Dolan to stop acting passively and secretly, and start acting compassionately and aggressively. We urge him to personally visit every parish where Duenas worked, begging anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes to contact police and prosecutors.”
Instead of doing that, Dolan published an anti-SNAP smear calling it a “phony victims’ group.” There is an appearance that the material Dolan published calling SNAP “a phony victims’ group” while also insinuating that the girl is lying was thusly contrived to create a reader take-away that the girl is — however loosely– to be associated with a “phony victims group” and therefore is herself a “phony victim.”
Shame on Archbishop Dolan for publishing such vile and despicable dreck. Double shame on him for publishing it under the title “Gratitude to the Catholic League” beside a photo of his bloated smiling face as though there were nothing conniving and hideous about the press release.
To sum up what is wrong with Dolan’s blog post; 1) The whole thing is calculated to put the screws to the 16-year-old alleged victim and to show other eventual victims that the screws will be put to them in this way too, should they ever dare to come forward; 2) Dolan published that Duenas never before had child sex abuse allegations made against him, as if that proved that Duenas could not possibly be guilty of child sex abuse; 3) Dolan published a defamatory smear against SNAP, which at that time was providing advocacy services in the community. Dolan’s published anti-SNAP smear indirectly encouraged members of Duenas’s parish to circle their denial wagons more tightly. To see how low the Catholic Church stoops in smearing SNAP, look at this Catholic League anti-SNAP screed with a cartoon image of a diapered baby crying. The Catholic League intended to mock the advocates by depicting them as a crying baby, but I dare say that is not the imagery to use if you do not want people associating your Church with child sex abuse.
Any decent human being would acknowledge that it was monstrously indecent for Dolan to publish the insinuations that the 16-year-old girl was lying.
Because Dolan engaged in this attempted witness intimidation, it would be urgently important for New York City government officials to speak up and to denounce Dolan’s blog post and to tell him that witness smearing of a 16-year-old who is alleging sex abuse is completely unacceptable, that society just will not stand for it. The criminal justice process should be allowed to run its course without the Archbishop aggressing the witness on his blog.
Yet, apparently, no New York City government official has the guts to denounce Dolan for the smears he published against the alleged victim and SNAP. I contacted New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in an e-mail copied to most Council members; Quinn did not reply. I called and e-mailed her press contact Jamie McShane and explained that I wanted comment from Quinn about Dolan’s blog post. I said that I did not expect the comment immediately but that I wanted to know by the end of the day whether I could expect comment from Quinn at all. He said OK, but did not follow up. I also called and wrote my NYC Council Member Gail Brewer; no response. I called and e-mailed the press contact for New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; (the post of NYC Public Advocate is comparable to a Deputy Mayor). The press contact took my questions but provided no follow-up.
Really, New York City Council — really? If this 16-year-old girl were your daughter, you would be totally cool with the smears Dolan published against her?
Remember — the point in this is not whether Duenas is guilty, but that Dolan’s blog post is unconscionable no matter the final disposition of the case. Besides its direct smears against the girl and the victims’ advocates with a demonstrated track record of working for community safety, it conveys improper messages to eventual additional abusers, victims and to the Catholic community in Duenas’s parish as a whole.
Meanwhile, what is in the criminal Complaint against Duenas? Two counts of forcible touching (a DNA Qualified Offense), Endangering the Welfare of a Child (a DNA Qualified Offense), Two counts of Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree (a DNA Qualified Offense) and Three counts of Harassment in the Second Degree.
Duenas is alleged to have repeatedly groped the girl’s buttocks without her permission while she was on the job in the rectory, to have made lewd suggestions to her, to have put her hands under her shirt, unclipped her bra and told her “Don’t tell your parents.” He also is alleged to have pulled her by her arm into his lap and molested her.
With Dolan’s behavior in this matter so unambiguously wrong, wrong, wrong, why will nobody in NYC government say a peep about it? Why is the New York City Council so afraid of Dolan that it will not tell him he is wrong when on his blog he trashes a 16-year-old female Church employee and a Church child rape victims’ advocacy group? In a more recent smear against SNAP, the Catholic League’s Bill Donahue said “Catholics are talking about the announcement that Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Edwin O’Brien will become Cardinal Dolan and Cardinal O’Brien next month—they’re not interested in wallowing in negativity.”
Evidently, New York City government officials have no scruples or pangs of conscience about making it so easy for Archbishop Dolan not to “wallow in negativity.” Dolan has his techniques down for trashing alleged Church child sex abuse victims in his blog, and he can rest assured that no NYC government official will criticize him for that appalling misdeed that endangers young people in the city. If any NYC officials want to give me an interview, proving me wrong in that, they know where to find me.
New York City– based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT– interest by– line has appeared on Advocate .com, PoliticusUSA .com, The New York Blade, Queerty .com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.