Our Boosters are matching gifts up to $45,000. We have $33,972 to go. Your gift today will count twice!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Please: prosecute abusers, but also false accusers

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 06, 2011

Pittsburgh’s Bishop David Zubik “no factual basis for the allegation.” But that’s not all.

The bishop’s accuser apparently has a long criminal record. He has made questionable accusations in the past, and the prosecutor reports that in the Zubik case, “I’ve never heard of a more convoluted series of stories.” But that's not all either.

The district attorney has already concluded that the accusation against Bishop Zubik is unfounded. That conclusion raises another question: Is it a deliberate false accusation? Because a false accusation is itself a crime.

Thousands of abuse allegations have been leveled against Catholic priests in the past decade. Surely some of them—we don’t know how many—are false. Unscrupulous individuals have an obvious incentive for filing charges. There should be at least some countervailing pressure: some deterrent against false accusations. The prospect of being prosecuted for filing a false claim would force opportunists to think twice.

Prosecutors are ordinarily reluctant to bring charges on false claims for two reasons. First, they do not want to discourage legitimate whistle-blowers. Second, it is difficult to prove a negative—that an alleged event never happened—and to confirm malicious intent. Still in some cases the facts seem clear.

The public statements by Anthony Berosh, the Pittsburgh district attorney, create the impression that this could be one such clear-cut case. The prosecutor may not be inclined to pursue Bishop Zubik’s accuser; he has described the man as “a tortured soul.” In this case, prosecution might only add to the miseries of the already unhappy life of a man who is no real danger to society.

But is that really the case? Because of what appears to be a baseless allegation, Bishop Zubik is also a tortured soul, too. The same man has accused other priests, and their lives have been made miserable as well. False accusations are a danger to society.

We do not know the specifics of this case. The facts may be more complicated than they appear; the compelling evidence may be hard to find. But sooner or later, a bold prosecutor must bring criminal charges against someone for a false accusation of sexual abuse. Otherwise Catholic priests will be at the mercy of a secular witch-hunt.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($120,151 to go):
$150,000.00 $29,848.98
80% 20%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: jheiman3693 - Oct. 10, 2011 12:27 PM ET USA

    Amen and Amen! Someone should have brought false accusation charges a LONG time ago!

  • Posted by: mamato085337 - Oct. 07, 2011 5:31 PM ET USA

    That this is happening to Bishop Zubik and nothing may be done against his accuser is absolutely outrageous! Charges must be brought immediately against the tortured soul accuser! I'll be glad to sign the papers. Please, do you have the email address for the Bishop's office so I can write him? Thank you

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

And here's another very old story: the secular media don't understand Catholic affairs 20 hours ago
How not to be persuasive 20 hours ago
Francis the Man, Francis the Pope October 28
Clarifying what it might mean for a pope to wish to change Catholic doctrine October 28
Does the Kasper Proposal make Pope Francis a heretic? Invalid marriages and mortal sin October 28

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6