Law and Disorder Radio – Catholic Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group – Court Rules FDNY Liable for Up to $128 Million in Back Pay to Black and Latino Applicants – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group

Earlier last year, we reported on the Vatican revising its laws making it easier to discipline sex abuser priests. This month, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church and priests accused of sexual abuse and pedophilia have used the courts to force the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) to disclose more than two decades’ worth of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists. A Kansas City judge decided SNAP must comply with lawyers because it had relevant information regarding two cases in Missouri.

Attorney Barbara Blaine:

As you know we are a not-for-profit, self-help support group run by and for people who have been victims of clergy sexual abuse. We have been providing support and information to each other since 1988.

The church officials have taken an unprecedented move and they have subpoenaed records from our SNAP leaders.

We are an international group, we have groups forming in other countries as well.

Here in the United States, we have support groups meeting in about 70 cities. In these support groups people share their feelings and tidbits of information on how to cope with the repercussions of sexual violence.

There are subpoenas from 2 different cities, 2 different cases, both from the state of Missouri.

In Kansas City in the past year, a lot of sex abuse by priests has been uncovered, exposed and brought to light. In the process, the Bishop himself was indicted for failure to protect children.

In one particular civil case, the church attorneys have subpoenaed the records of our national director and they are looking for very extreme information.

These subpoenas are not tailored to be helpful to get information for the case. SNAP is not a party to either of these cases. They ask for records with no date, from the very beginning of SNAP, from 1988.

They’re asking for all the information in our emails, in our files, and they’re looking for any information that names any priest from the diocese of Kansas City, St Joseph.

We do believe that the victims who have spoken out in Kansas City have had an impact. I think it’s empowered other victims to come forward. I think they’re trying to shut down SNAP in Kansas City.

The biggest concern we have now is the fear that this is spreading. In many ways, the intended effect has already taken place.

I started SNAP after I was raped and sexually violated by a priest in my parish growing up.

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Guest – Attorney Barbara Blaine, founder of SNAP, the nation’s oldest and largest self-help organization for victims of clergy sexual abuse.

 Court Rules FDNY Liable for Up to $128 Million in Back Pay to Black and Latino Applicants

Last week, a US district judge awarded plaintiffs back pay in a class action lawsuit that found the New York Fire Department to have racially discriminatory hiring practices. US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis also ruled that the City of New York is liable for nearly $129 million in lost wages. This amount will be distributed to Black and Latino applicants, $82 and $42 million respectively. The judge also ordered the FDNY to hire 186 Black firefighters and 107 Latino firefighters.

Attorney Darius Charney:

The Vulcan Society, which is the Black fraternal organization for New York City firefighters, brought a lawsuit in the early 1970s challenging the hiring practices of the department as violative of the equal protection clause of the Constitution, saying that they racially discriminated.

Blacks and Latinos are over half of the city’s population today. If you look at the fire department today, it’s roughly 10 percent Blacks and Latinos combined.

A federal judge in New York found that the hiring practices were discriminatory and violated the 14th amendment; the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision and the Fire Department was ordered to make some changes in 1970s.

As of 2002 when we actually formally brought this case, the department was 3 percent Black and 5 percent Latino, which is not much different than it was in 1970. The city was asked to work out a settlement; the city refused for 2 years.

So, the EEOC referred the case to the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. This was during the Bush Administration and as you know the Civil Rights Division didn’t do much.

We’ve proven discrimination about 3 times over now to the judge. Last year we had a big federal trial in Brooklyn on what relief the court should order because of the discrimination that was found.

If you try to obstruct a federal court order, that could lead to some serious penalties.

Our clients, the Vulcans, first met with Mayor Bloomberg when he first came to office in 2002 about this problem.

We felt it was a purposeful and intentional effort by the city to exclude people of color.

There have been incidents, we think retaliatory incidents, against Vulcan members for there efforts in this case.

The FDNY has really dropped the ball in responding to these acts of discrimination.

The court has to oversee a lot of different aspects of this case. There’s a new test being developed, they’re going to start administering this week. There’s now the piece about the compensation for the plaintiffs.

Federal judges can’t closely supervise the case so they appoint these monitors to simply act in the role of the judge and oversee each of these aspects of the case.

We hope that the city will at some point stop fighting because all the things the judge has ordered for changing, I think benefit the fire department.

A group of women sued in the early 1980s alleging sex discrimination and again they pointed to the test and other aspects of the hiring process.

They were victorious and the court ordered them to hire 50 women, which they did do.

Guest – Attorney Darius Charney, senior staff attorney in the Racial Justice/Government Misconduct Docket at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). He is currently lead counsel on Floyd v. City of New York, a federal civil rights class action lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s unconstitutional and racially-discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices, and Vulcan Society Inc. v. the City of New York, a Title VII class action lawsuit on behalf of African-American applicants to the New York City Fire Department, which challenges the racially discriminatory hiring practices of the FDNY.