Action Alert!

Pilot error

By Diogenes (articles - email) | May 07, 2003

Boston's archdiocesan newspaper, the Pilot, has been a staunch defender of the bishops' conduct in the sex-abuse scandal, and a vociferous critic of the bishops' critics. Fair enough. But when a Pilot editorial suggests that other American institution need to learn from the bishops' example, things are getting ridiculous.

A bit of background: In September 2000, in a Boston courtroom, Judge Maria Lopez gave nothing more than a slap on the wrist-- probation-- to a cross-dressing man who sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy. The Pilot would now have us believe that "this highly publicized case gives us a glimpse of how influential institutions in our society were reacting to the scourge of sexual abuse of minors  not in the 1960s or the 1970s, but in 2000."

That's true-- but not in the way the Pilot implies. When her sentence was brought to public attention, Judge Lopez instantly became the focus of angry, unrelenting criticism. There were loud calls for her immediate removal, an investigation was begun, and now-- after a long legal process-- she faces suspension from the bench. When Judge Lopez called violent sexual assault a "low-level" crime, she was not expressing the general view of society; on the contrary, society reacted violently against her judgment.

No matter. The Pilot argues that because a single misguided, unpopular judge let a sexual predator escape punishment, "Apparently, the Church is not the only institution that needs to evolve its response to the crime of sexual abuse of minors."

It gets worse. The Pilot editorial concludes: "Indeed, the Church has already experienced a dramatic change in awareness. Let us hope the other institutions in society catch up soon, without the need for additional tragedies."

What?!!? Society should "catch up" with the enlightened behavior of the Boston archdiocese?!

Judge Lopez herself is not accused of sexual assault; she is accused of helping a predator to escape real punishment. How many auxiliary bishops of Boston, how many employees at the chancery, could be charged with the same offense?

But here's the difference: Judge Lopez is facing suspension. Those chancery officials are still at their desks.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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