LOS ANGELES, January 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - LA attorney Donald H. Steier has filed a declaration with the Los Angeles County Superior Court stating that a large number of sex abuse claims against priests are false or heavily exaggerated, according to a report by TheMediaReport (http://www.themediareport.com/jan2011/special-steier-declaration.htm)
In his declaration Mr. Steier states: “One retired F.B.I. agent who worked with me to investigate many claims in the Clergy Cases told me, in his opinion, about ONE-HALF of the claims made in the Clergy Cases were either entirely false or so greatly exaggerated that the truth would not have supported a prosecutable claim for childhood sexual abuse.” (emphasis is Mr. Steier’s)
“In several cases my investigation has provided objective information that could not be reconciled with the truthfulness of the subjective allegations. In other words, in many cases objective facts showed that accusations were false,” Mr. Steier writes.
Mr. Steier, who reports in the declaration that he has taken part in over 100 investigations involving claims of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in Los Angeles, says that many plaintiffs had come forward only after hearing about lucrative settlements from an abuse claim.
“I am aware of several plaintiffs who testified that they realized that they had been abused only after learning that some other person - sometimes a relative - had received a financial settlement from the Archdiocese or another Catholic institution,” Mr. Steier states.
He describes plaintiffs’ testimonies changing over time, resulting in increased settlement pay-outs.
“In my investigation of many cases, I have seen the stories of some accusers change significantly over time, sometimes altering years, locations, and what activity was alleged - in every case, the changes seemed to have enabled or enhanced claims against my clients, or drastically increased alleged damages,” the veteran attorney declares.
In addition, Mr. Steier claims that many priests under investigation willingly undertook, and passed, lie-detector tests, while their accusers refused the test.
“I have had accused priest clients take polygraph examinations performed by very experienced former law enforcement experts, including from L.A.P.D., the Sheriff Department, and F.B.I. In many cases the examinations showed my clients’ denial of wrongdoing was ‘truthful,’ and in those cases I offered in writing to the accuser to undergo a similar polygraph examination at my expense. In every case the accuser refused to have his veracity tested by that investigative tool, which is routinely used by intelligence agencies,” Mr. Steier reports.
Mr. Steier implicates the victims’ advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) for their part in making it a simple matter, by means of their website, for anyone wanting to make a false claim of clerical sexual abuse to find the information they need.
“They maintain an interactive Internet website with a user ‘Forum’ and ‘Message Board,’ among other features, where people can share detailed information between alleged victims pertaining to identity of specific alleged perpetrators, their alleged ‘modus operandi,’ and other details of alleged molestation,” Mr. Steier says.
“In effect, a person who wanted to make a false claim of sexual abuse by a priest could go to that website and find a ‘blueprint’ of factual allegations to make that would coincide with allegations made by other people. Law enforcement also uses the S.N.A.P. website to attempt to locate new victims and allegations against Catholic priests.”
In a press release, SNAP denounced Steier’s report as “among the most outrageous and hurtful ever made by a church defense lawyer,” and indicates it will file a California Bar Association complaint against him.Images of Mr. Steier’s declaration, filed with the LA County Superior Court on December 15, 2010, are available through TheMediaReport website here.