Sunday, November 11

Abuse of young people is not an outrage that's limited to certain members of the Catholic priesthood. Protestant ministers, teachers, scout leaders - anywhere you find adults working with kids, you're going to risk finding potential or actual molestors.

Here's a very interesting article from the Los Angeles Times about a case there involving a very prominent, widely admired go-getting type priest. One theme that emerges through the story is something that should always be a red flag to parents, but isn't, for some strange reason. A couple of quotes:

Mike Carpenter, who played on the Santa Margarita basketball team, took a houseboat vacation on Lake Shasta with Harris, along with four other boys, four girls and two parents.

Harris treated the students as if he were a best friend, even water-skiing with them on the lake.

Carpenter, who now works in commercial real estate in Orange County, said he was struck by how eager the priest was to bond with the teens.

and...

.But the publicity brought forth a third accuser, Mark Curran of Santa Ana. Curran said that when he was 13, he and Harris were watching a Gene Kelly movie at Harris' diocese-provided home in Orange when the priest leaned over and fondled him.

and....

In 1991, when DiMaria was a sophomore at Santa Margarita and despondent over a friend's suicide, his parents had asked Harris to counsel the boy and help him cope with his grief.

Ryan said that Harris took him out for dinner and a performance of "The Phantom of the Opera" in Los Angeles before returning to the priest's house, where the boy spent the night...

Note to parents: Do not, ever, see the prospect of a non-related adult wanting to socialize with your child alone as a good thing. It's not a sign of compassion or care. It's a sign of arrested development and possibly something worse. Do you want to take teen-age kids out to dinner or have them over to watch movies at your house alone? I didn't think so. If you did, there would definitely be something wrong with you, right? It's no different for a priest, minister, scout leader, coach or teacher. Normal adults (and yes, I'll use the forbidden word) don't socialize with teens and preteens.

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