Second Day of the Hunger Strike for Justice/the Conspiracy of Church Lawyers

The Conspiracy of Church Lawyers

Today is the second day of the restarted Hunger Strike for Justice. It was suspended last year when Holy Cross misled me about “settlement talks”.

I said previously that Holy Cross filed a complaint last summer against a professional license that I earned a few years after I graduated from Holy Cross. I won. The state committee did not even have a hearing. I won on the papers. The new general counsel at Holy Cross had filed the complaint 6 DAYS after he took the job. I saw that it was silly, and I responded.  They closed the case and they told Holy Cross there was no basis for their complaint.

Here is the text of one of the letters I sent to the committee. I am posting this here in case it helps anyone else dealing with the conspiracy of church lawyers. I sent this letter to the state committee after two Jesuit lawyers filed complaints about me.

January 28, 2013

Dear Committee:

I am writing to advise the Committee of a situation that exists that my attorney is not able to become involved in due to a conflict.

In June 2012, I first learned that many attorneys had spoken to each other about me. Each of these attorneys represents a different Catholic institution. One is Thomas Hannigan, who represents both the New England Jesuits and the Archdiocese of Boston, another is the predecessor of Vincent O’Rourke who became acting general counsel of the College of the Holy Cross in July 2012, and a third is ____________, who represents the Diocese of _________ (Omitted for privacy reasons.) Two other church attorneys were involved and so was Mr. O’Rourke later.

Recently, an attorney who I hired to assist me on a matter involving the Diocese of _______ told me that the diocese’s lawyer had threatened to him that he would file a disciplinary complaint against me under a specific rule if I did not desist in communicating with the bishop. My attorney said the rule cited by the diocese’s lawyer did not apply and the church lawyer surely knows that. The bishop and I have communicated back and forth for twenty years and full confidentiality was promised. My attorney saw no issue with that continuing, but we both agreed to see what he could do with the communication on his own (and I started a blog instead). The diocese’s lawyer’s threat occurred after I had complained to the bishop for several months that his lawyer was violating my privacy and engaging in other inappropriate behavior that violated written policies of the diocese.

This incident reminded me of what I had learned in June 2012 — that church lawyers, including the diocese’s lawyer, were talking about me with each other. The shocking fact is that each of their clients had promised me full privacy and confidentiality and none of their clients asked for permission to violate this commitment. My understanding is that when a client has promised confidentiality to someone, his or her lawyer must respect that person’s confidentiality too.

When I spoke privately with other victims and their attorneys in 2012, I learned that church lawyers do this “all the time”. I am not in a position right now to address the evidence about what happens “all the time”, but I know what I experienced. There was no emergency and no other valid reason for my confidentiality to be violated, and for six church lawyers to do this. None of their clients ever asked me for permission.

I decided to return to a public vigil about confidentiality breaches that I began eleven months ago in Worcester, MA. I will continue this public action regarding confidentiality breaches in many places. I will do this my low key way, with occasional media coverage. I will write about it too. My conscience requires me to do this, because I cannot be the only person harmed by church officials and their lawyers given the ease with which they breach privacy commitments just because they want to.

I did not use the word “conspiracy” in this letter, but I believe that is part of what these church lawyers are doing when they violate the privacy and confidentiality promised by their clients.

Sincerely,

Vigil at Holy Cross

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