American Samizdat

Tuesday, November 21, 2006. *
Yet another American bishop has avoided jail time in connection with the sex-abuse scandal.

Sonoma County (California) DA Stephan Passalacqua has announced that Bishop Daniel Walsh of Santa Rosa will not face formal charges if he enters a state counseling program. The bishop - who faced a slam-dunk conviction carrying a 6-month prison term, for failing to make a prompt report on a priest who admitted to child abuse - is ready to take the deal.

"We certainly hope that our decision involving Bishop Walsh will send a clear message to all mandated reporters of the importance of immediately reporting to law enforcement any child abuse or elderly abuse any injury of an assault," said Passalacqua.

A clear message? Not likely, pal. Nearly 20 years after the Gilbert Gauthe scandal, 15 years after the Porter case, 4 years after the Dallas meeting, 1 year after the Portland bankrupcty... After all that, if an American bishop still doesn't get the message, you can't seriously expect 4 months of counseling to do the trick.

Meanwhile readers might be wondering about the priest whose dalliance with a teenage boy got the ball rolling. Francisco Xavier Ochoa faces 10 felony counts of child abuse, but first the California authorities will have to catch him. Those crucial hours between his (non-sacramental) confession to Bishop Walsh, and the bishop's required report to police, gave the accused molester time to go on the lam. Ochoa is believed to be hiding now in Mexico. He got the message.

[The message for the rest of us? If you say an invisible monster that lives in the sky gave you permission to do something, you are above the law.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 1:09 PM
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