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Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio and attorney Archie Lamb discuss the latest in the grand jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania which was released in an interim, redacted form — detailing decades of alleged misconduct and cover-ups in six of the state’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses.


Mike Papantonio: For decades the Catholic church has been battling allegations it become a haven for pedophiles and sexual predators. Last week, a grand jury report from Pennsylvania was released that blew up the massive coverups and corrupt behavior the church officials and clergy members had helped engage in to keep these scandals completely from becoming public. What we know right now is that more than 300 different members of the Catholic church in Pennsylvania, over the course of seven years, sexually abused more than 1,000 individuals, nearly all of them young children. The church helped to cover up this criminal behavior with a playbook that helped individual churches keep these dirty secrets while violators were just handed off to a different parish to abuse again.

Joining me now to talk about this grandeur report and the Catholic church’s disgusting history of abuse is attorney Archie Lamb. Archie, start by telling us how widespread is this abuse problem? It seems like every year we hear this story, the media pays attention to it, and then it disappears. You’ve handled these cases, you’re a bit of an expert in this area. Give us your take. How widespread is the problem?

Archie Lamb: Well, it’s all over the world. We looked at Ireland, Australia, Chile, Dominican Republic over the last 10 years all had these massive discoveries of child abuse, pedophilia, in the Catholic church. The playbook that they had to hide is obviously working. Only two cases out of these thousand victims, only two priests have been held accountable.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah you’ve seen the playbook. You’ve actually had to cross examine about that playbook and some of the issues in the playbook. I want to read something. I think this is important. This came from the report. This is just a part of the report. It said, “Despite a priest’s admission to assaulting at least a dozen young boys the Bishop wrote to thank this priest for all that he’s done for God’s people.” Really? Have we gotten to that point to where the church has created a culture that has such little self-awareness that this has been perpetuated not just for decades, for a century. Tell me about your reaction to that? Here again, a priest admits to assaulting dozens of young boys, mostly under the age of seven and the next thing we see is that the Bishop is saying, “Thanks, for all you’ve done for God’s work.” What’s your take?

Archie Lamb: This has been nothing but, throughout the centuries, protection of property and money. That’s it. They knew that they would be embarrassed in the community. They knew in the United States they’d be subject to civil and criminal punishment. You know that hurts? That hurts them at their core financial underpinnings. This is all this plan was, to protect the money of the Catholic church from being held accountable for these crimes.

Mike Papantonio: Okay let me tell you the reaction that I’ve noticed over the years. When you talk to people that have been say to the Sistine Chapel or they’ve been to Rome and they’ve seen this grandiose exhibit of the Catholic church. I mean this is Exhibit A of the Catholic church. They walk away and I’ve heard this so many times, and I’ve been there several times. I ask myself the same question, what is this about? You’ve got something billions and billions of dollars pumped into this culture. The house of the Pope, the Sistine Chapel, all of those trappings. You ask yourself, “Where does that money come from?” Part of the answer is, the goal is to keep that money. You handled a case I recall years ago over in Mobile. I recall in your discussion on that when we talked about it you said, “They just kept throwing money, after money, after money to keep it quiet. Talk about that just a minute.

Archie Lamb: Well what it is, it is indeed a systemic plan to hold off, cover up, in terms of the archbishop in that case came in to defend the priest that was clearly a pedophile because he didn’t want to have to pay money in the case. When they do get caught they will come into confidential settlements. They will not disclose anything at all about those amounts of money they pay. The tragedy here is there were a thousand children abused, that they knew about, that are documented. Only a couple of the priests got caught. We know from having studied pedophilia that if you had a thousand victims named, they’re multiple thousands of victims out there that have still yet to come forward as a result of this Pennsylvania debacle.

Mike Papantonio: Look, explain this playbook. I mean you’ve crossed examined about it, you’ve seen, it really is a playbook. If we find a priest that has sexually assaulted a parishioner these are the things we do. Step one, step two, step three. It begins by discredit, discredit the child who’s been abused. Take it from there.

Archie Lamb: What they do first is, they don’t hire investigators, they don’t do any sort of legitimate investigation of the priest, number one. Number two, they put the blame on the victim. Number three, they refuse to use terms like rape or oral sex in any of the descriptions of the reports that they do. Number three they ship them off to Catholic owned and run recovery places. So that they refurbish the priest and then they will send him to a different parish, and don’t tell that parish of the proclivities of this priest to be a pedophile.

Mike Papantonio: Archie, they even have talking points for the parents don’t they. They even have talking points where they’re pleading with the parents, don’t hurt the church. You’ve been a member of this church for so long, you’re three generations in this church. You’ve always given money to the church. Let us take you to Rome to remind you. Let us have you walk around Sistine chapel to remind you what you’re putting at risk if you don’t get this under control. Get this under control means tell your child to hush. Haven’t you seen that-

Archie Lamb: That’s exactly right. You see in many of the reports where the parishioners are interviewed. You don’t see the outrage of what’s happened to these children. What you see is the defense of the church. They say, “Well the Catholics aren’t the only ones that are doing this.” There are pedophiles outside the Catholic church there’s no question about it, but it’s an institution of pedophilia in the Catholic church and at some point, they have to face that.

Mike Papantonio: It’s become cultural. I almost look at this men in black robes, men in white robes with pointed hats and you go, “Has this become a cult?” If you open up and you say, “Sometimes we have to talk about religion. Sometimes we have to abandon this fear that we have where it comes talking about religion. See, we’re quick to call the Mormons a cult in Utah. For some reason we aren’t willing to say that this whole Catholic church thing, this little club of priests that don’t get married that now we find abusing young children. We’re afraid to say, “Has this become cultish in nature?” When you handled these cases, what’s your reaction? Am I overstating this notion of a cult?

Archie Lamb: No, they use the people’s faith to beat down objection institutionally and they get away with it. It’s worked. Honestly, the tenor of the report of the grand jury as they write and I’ve read most of the 800 pages, is “Well, in 2002, they changed their ways. They kind of have a handle on this now.”

Mike Papantonio: Did you buy that then? I didn’t buy it then.

Archie Lamb: No.

Mike Papantonio: Now we see that was a total lie too. I want to read … this grand jury is incredible. “The grand jury notes example after example where child sexual abuse perpetrated by priests within Allentown,” they said, “These examples highlight the wholesale institutional failure that endangered the welfare of children throughout this whole process in Allentown.” You’ve got the say, the people who are still defending this, these are the faithful followers, they’re still defending it and what they’re doing is, they’re putting these characters, these abusive psychological led characters, that they’re putting them above the health of those children. They’ve been doing that now for decades. They’ve been doing it for a century and we have to say at some-

Archie Lamb: Two centuries.

Mike Papantonio: Two centuries. We have to say, “What does it take? Does it take more criminal prosecutions?” I don’t know how else to solve it.

Archie Lamb: There’s a self analysis done by those in the Catholic church. Critics have had to deal with it and are trying to do something about it and they say that the Cardinals need to be flushed out of the system and start over.

Mike Papantonio: Okay. Rather than flushing out the system, the Catholic church right now, they’re saying that their membership is dropping. That’s what’s happening to the Catholic church. Membership is dropping. They’re seeing that the people who are willing to go into the priesthood are dropping. What they’re finding is, if you really read between the lines is, we’re willing to tolerate almost anything and as you put it, it’s all about the dollar. It’s all about business isn’t it?

Archie Lamb: No question.

Mike Papantonio: The type of abuse that just happened in this church was also, the entire church had to be complicit and what was happening in Pennsylvania. This doesn’t happen and everybody say, “Gee wiz, we had no idea this was going on.” How do you get there?

Archie Lamb: Their recovery centers are in Baltimore, they’re in New Mexico. They go to the same recovery center and then they’re shipped out to a different diesis in a different state whether it’s Texas, New Mexico, many of the priests that had perpetrated these crimes in Pennsylvania had been send to New Mexico and to Texas and performed the same way there because this is a disease.

Mike Papantonio: Right. Okay, there are places around the country, you know the places, when you handle these cases, you go to a place like Boston, it’s such a huge, huge Catholic influence. You go to places like Pennsylvania, huge influence. What’s happened, what’s very apparent is, this is something that actually infects the politics, it infects law enforcement, it affects local politics all the way down to commissioners to all of these people that are willing to say, “Gee wiz, they made another mistake. We caught another sexual abusing priest who’s been abusing children, from what we can see, for decades, they caught another one but you know what? We have to stand tall for what they’ve done because they’ve built this memorial. They’ve built this school.” We see that and you saw it in the case that you handled right there in Mobile didn’t you?

Archie Lamb: Yeah. It’s politically influenced. In other words, there’s a reason that the statute of limitations give them so much freedom to go so long until the witness and the evidence is stale. Mean, the one gentleman’s 83 years old, he’s finally coming forward now. They keep them paralyzed emotionally and culturally with the religion and the faith and shame and it infects law enforcement, it infects politics and the way the people look at them and the stigma associated with their church culture. I mean, it is a very thorough propaganda and a plan, a secret plan that has worked.

Mike Papantonio: All I can tell you Archie is, it’s going to take some people engaging in a perk walk. Law enforcement has got to get tough on this issue before anything really happens.

Archie Lamb: I agree.

Mike Papantonio: Thank you for joining me.

Archie Lamb: Thank you.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.