Canadian Friar Accused of Sex Abuse Hides in California
A Dallas newspaper recently brought to light a case in which a Canadian priest accused of sexually abusing minors was moved by the Catholic Church to the United States. This case is the latest reported by the Dallas News, which is publishing the results of a special year-long investigation of priests accused of sexually abusing minors, and the Catholic Church’s implications in moving them abroad to avoid prosecution. In the fourth installment, the News revealed that Friar Gerald Chumik of Canada, a member of Catholicism’s second largest order, the Franciscan brotherhood, stands accused of forcing a boy at ages 12 and 15 to perform oral sex in the 1970s in New Foundland. Chumik was moved to California soon after Canadian police charged him and asked Church leaders to hand him over, and he has lived there for the past 14 years despite the fact that Church and state authorities had full knowledge of his whereabouts, according to the Dallas News.
The Dallas News reports that the Church was unwilling to order him back to Canada and face justice, and cites church officials as saying they have a “familial obligation” to Chumik. Though Church officials claim Canadian authorities were never interested in extradition, law enforcement officials had inquired about extradition at the time they filed charges in the late 1970s, and were told by local prosecutors that the US-Canada extradition treaty did not cover the crime of gross indecency. However, due to The Dallas News’ investigation, police are seeking a new legal opinion about whether Chumik can be forced back to Canada according to the revised 1991 treaty that specifically covers gross indecency.
An earlier story by the Dallas News investigated Reverend Frank Klep of Australia, who after facing five counts of indecent assault against a 15-year-old boy was moved by his order to Samoa in 1998. After the publication of their June 19 article revealing Klep’s disappearance and the larger issue of the Church’s practice of transferring accused priests country to country to avoid law enforcement, Samoan authorities deported him back to Australia, where he now faces 10 years in prison if convicted, reports The Guardian.
Media Resources: The Dallas News 7/12/04, 6/19/04, Feminist Newswire 6/21/04, The Guardian 7/9/04