Sunday, May 6, 2012

Theresa Patterson, head of the Parish Twinning Program, enabled and protected a Catholic priest who sexually abused boys.


Patterson did not warn children, parents or law enforcement officials that Ron Voss is a child molester.

For fifteen years, Ron Voss, a Catholic priest who admitted to sexually abusing boys in Indiana, worked as the Parish Twinning Program of the America's chief executive in Port au Prince, Haiti.

In the mid eighties, when allegations of child sexual abuse began to surface against Voss, Bishop William Higi helped Voss slip away to Haiti where he soon went to work for Theresa Patterson, founder and Executive Director of PPTA. Patterson did not warn parents and law enforcement officials in Haiti that Voss is a child molester.
According to the Dallas Morning News:
Ron Voss sought his own expulsion from the priesthood in 1997 and got it a year later. His petition, according to the Diocese of Lafayette, Ind., included this admission: "My sins are too numerous to detail, but the most grievous gather around the sexual abuse of many adolescent boys, including some minors." Yet the defrocking hasn't kept him out of Catholic Church work or away from children. ... He has long been a leader in the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas, through which hundreds of Catholic congregations around the United States assist needy ones in Haiti.
The Indianapolis Star (2-16-97) published a series that included a spotlight on Ron Voss. Some excerpts:
During the 1970s and '80s, [Fr. Ron Voss] ran a family camp in rural Delaware County. The charismatic peace activist sang songs of hope and preached social justice, inspiring adult campers -- and impressing their children.

Brazenly, with adults nearby, Voss invited teen-age boys to his tent or cabin. There, he engaged in "inappropriate touching and sexual manipulation," says the diocese's Vicar General Rev. Robert Sell, who investigates sexual abuse and misconduct cases. While Sell insists those youths were between the ages of 16 and 18 -- past the legal age of consent -- other sources put the victims' ages at 14 and 15. ... Voss alone had eight alleged victims, by the diocese's own count.
No lawsuit flushed out Voss, who received therapy but continued as a priest either in Indiana or Haiti for five years after he was first accused of sexual abuse. They were years of silence by Bishop Higi.
Voss is a respected figure in Haiti. In August (1996), he was honored by a visit from Higi. The bishop spent time with the former priest, who works with the needy, during a trip to the island to inspect church missions. "He is doing magnificent work," Higi said. "It's amazing what the man has been able to do."

Some priests from the Lafayette Diocese returned from trips to Haiti months earlier with a different view. They reported comments from Haitians that Voss still might be celebrating Mass, and possibly even taking children home with him. Their concerns drew a sharp written rebuke from the diocese last March. Sell declared that Voss has stayed out of trouble and "kept constant vigilance over himself." 
Sell also said that since Voss resigned his ministry in 1993, he has not functioned as a priest and "directs individuals to cease from calling him 'Father.'"

Yet, in a 1994 national television appearance about violence in Haiti, a tanned and eloquent Voss was referred to as "Father Voss" and as a "priest from Indiana." On CBS' Eye to Eye With Connie Chung, Voss spoke for his adopted, strife-torn country. Shown strumming his guitar and singing with a group of Haitians, Voss was depicted as a man of conscience who lost a friend to the violence, and who "knows all about the reign of fear."

While sex abuser Voss addressed an audience of millions, the concerned priests in Indiana were silenced. Citing a church canon that defends the honor of priests, Sell ordered them to "cease from jeopardizing the name and reputation of Ron Voss."

First things first, as always. Yet there's one more curious loose end, for which we return to the DMN story. Taking heat from victim advocacy groups, Parish Twinning executive Teresa Patterson claimed ignorance of Voss's sordid history.
The Lafayette Diocese says it fully briefed Ms. Patterson years ago on Mr. Voss' past.Yet in a 2003 e-mail to Paul Kendrick, a Catholic and long time child protection advocate, she wrote: "He was not accused of molesting adolescent boys."


Here's some additional correspondence between Patterson and Kendrick. 


Subj: Fwd: Ron Voss Date: 9/11/2003 11:22:31 PM Eastern Standard Time From: Kendrickpt To: Parishprogram

Dear Theresa,

Each day I am learning more disturbing information about Ron Voss’ sexual abuse history. I am becoming extremely uneasy about your organization. I enjoyed our recent telephone conversation and simply need to be reassured that children in Haiti are safe. Voss has daily access to children,. How am I to feel comfortable about that? How can anyone feel comfortable about that? 

Paul (Kendrick)

Subj: (no subject) Date: 9/12/2003 12:13:38 AM Eastern Standard Time From: Parishprogram To: Kendrickpt

Paul,

This will the last and final word I will write to you about Ron Voss. Please don’t send me anymore ‘stuff’ about Ron. You can’t possibly send me anything that I haven’t already read about Ron. I know Bishop Higi well, his past psychologist in the US, his two priests/spiritual directors in Haiti (one is also a psychologist), and on and on and on. I have known Ron for almost 20 years and have stayed at Visitation House for 10 years. I spend approximately three months a year in Haiti. If I had one iota of doubt about Ron’s present mental state or behavior with children, I would not stay at Visitation House nor encourage others to do so.

And, if you think that I am not concerned about the welfare of children in Haiti, then you are sadly mistaken. I can’t give you any greater assurance than that. If you insist on pursuing your concern, then you need to talk with Bishop Higi again (he has stayed at Visitation House several times and keeps in touch with Ron) or you need to find another focus in your life. I assure you that you are wasting your energy and time that can be better spent on helping the Cathedral.

It has been over 10 years since Ron officially left his Diocese. Have you personally talked with Ron, with his psychologists and spiritual directors, stayed at Visitation House, do you know his present state of mind? I suspect not and I think that you are judging him unfairly based on his past history. Forgive me for being so candid, but when you say “how am I to feel comfortable about Ron’s access to children,” I can only think that if you are sitting in Maine worrying about (and judging) Ron without any knowledge of his present life, then I believe that you have a problem. There is such a thing as compassion, forgiveness and, most of all, understanding that human being can try to change his/ her life and behavior.
If you wish for me to remove your name from my mailing list and you don’t want to be connected with the program because we stay at Visitation House, then that is your prerogative.

(Theresa Patterson)

8 comments:

  1. Kids were past the age of consent? Ha! I was 13 when Ron Voss invited me to his tent. 40 years later, i am still somewhat screwed up. And the description of him being charismatic and leading the parents in song with his guitar at Holy Family Camp, while at the same time messing with kids like me, is a perfect description of the scene. To this day there are not only the Bishop Higi and others in the church that continue to support him, but even the some parents of the abused

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  2. I am so sorry for what happened to you in Indiana. I too went there. I have often wondered how many people he abused. Why it was swept under a rug. I'm writing a paper for college and I'm doing it on the decline of the Catholic schools. One of the reasons has been all the sexual scandals. Which lead me to this article. Family Camp was such a magical time in my life. It angers me that you along with several others endured such horror from someone we all trusted. I'm not sure why I'm writing but I wanted you to know someone is listening. I wish I could reverse time for you.

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  4. I know the whereabouts of Ron Voss

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    1. Where is he? I thought he was one of the best priests at the Newman Center at BSU.

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    2. Where is he? I thought he was one of the best priests at the Newman Center at BSU.

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    3. Will you please contact me privately about the whereabouts of Ron Voss? Hope to know on who's property he lives & their address, if possible. Email: HFC70s@gmail.com

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  5. Will you please contact me privately about the whereabouts of Ron Voss? Hope to know on who's property he lives & their address, if possible. Email: HFC70s@gmail.com

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