Charles Anderson, 60, a man serving prison term for armed robbery at the Shawnee Correctional Center, Illinois, has filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Holy See, alleging priest child sex abuse in the 1960s.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Charles Anderson says a Maryville Academy priest, who called him to his office for punishment on a minor offense, sodomized him. Chicago Tribune reports, however, that court documents say there are no grounds for suspicion of the priest who left the priesthood in 1971.
Charles Anderson's criminal record may not enhance his credibility and the Counsel for the Holy See, in the United States, Jeffrey Lena, has dismissed the lawsuit as baseless, saying it "does not even merit a response."
Anderson's lawyer Robert Holstein, has, however, said, in support of his client:
"He's lived a life of crime most of his adult life...He would like to have something meaningful result from his life...As time went on and the law developed, mainly with regard to the Holy See's involvement, things changed a little bit."
Holstein explains Anderson's decision to file lawsuit was encouraged by a court ruling two years ago which some legal experts consider pave way for victims of priest sex abuse to file lawsuits against the Holy See.
In recent times, some activist groups, such as Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), have campaigned for prosecution of Pope Benedict XVI, in the International Criminal Court (ICC), for sex abuses by church priests around the world. The Christian Science Monitor says the legal obstacles are daunting, though the campaign may successfully expose the Vatican to negative public scrutiny. SNAP president, Barbara Blaine said,
“SNAP wants to prevent even one more children from being raped or sexually assaulted by a priest and we hope that victims around the world will know today that they are not alone and that it is safe to speak up and report their abuse. We as victims are mobilizing across the globe, and every survivor is invited to join us.”
The Vatican, apparently feeling safe from the threat, has repeatedly reviled the moves. The Christian Science Monitor reports a recent statement by a representative of the Vatican who described moves to initiate lawsuits against the Holy See on priest sex abuse as "ludicrous publicity stunt and a misuse of international judicial processes."
Marquette Tribune reports SNAP filed, at the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, September 20, a complaint with 20,000 pages of evidence, in partnership with Center for Constitutional rights(CCR). One of the cases involves a priest from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Reverend Lawrence Murphy, who allegedly molested about 200 boys between 1974 at St. John's School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. Marquette Tribune reports the Archdiocese of Milwaukee convicted Murphy but the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith responsible for investigating clergy sex abuse, and Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, allowed Murphy to remain a priest.
The Christian Science Monitor, says, however, that legal experts generally agree the Vatican's culpability in priest sex abuses is outside the "remit of the ICC." The Christian Science Monitor quotes British attorney Neil Addison,
"The ICC is supposed to exist for situations of war crime and where there isn’t a legal remedy within the country where the offenses took place. [But] all the child abuse that took place....took place under the jurisdiction of [courts]...In simple terms, to get a prosecution before the ICC you need to show that what happened was part of a ‘widespread and significant attack directed against any civilian population.’ The ICC is not designed for dealing with normal criminality."
But the CCR, in partnership with SNAP, disagrees with this legal opinion. Pamela Spees, senior staff attorney with CCR says:
“We have looked at findings from all over the world and feel it fits the criteria for the court. If nobody ever demands it then it will never happen, it’s certainly not going to happen on its own.”