A South Korean student attending PiusX High School was being molested by Richard Kim at the Ace Academy, a boarding house where she was staying during the school years. During mandatory confessions, where the kids speak confidentially to a priest inside of a confessional, she reported on four occasions that she was being raped. According to a complaint filed in Northampton County Court, the Diocese of Allentown failed to take any action.
The attorney representing this student argued that the Diocese had an obligation to make sure this child was safe when she left school, hinting that there was some sort of relationship between the school and the boarding house.
Attorney Jay Leeson, representing the Diocese, denied there was any relationship at all. He argued that was is said in a confessional should stay in the confessional. It is absolutely privileged. He referred to a state law that reads as follows:
No clergyman, priest, rabbi or minister of the gospel of any regularly established church or religious organization, except clergymen or ministers, who are self-ordained or who are members of religious organizations in which members other than the leader thereof are deemed clergymen or ministers, who while in the course of his duties has acquired information from any person secretly and in confidence shall be compelled, or allowed without consent of such person, to disclose that information in any legal proceeding, trial or investigation before any government unit.The attorney representing the student (I neglected to get his name) argued she was not confessing or asking for forgiveness of sins. She was reporting a rape.
Was she really speaking secretly and in confidence? Was it really a confession? "Why do you think she was in a confessional?" asked Koury. "Was she going to blast it on the radio?"
The attorney responded she was forced to go to confession.
"What if I have no sins?" asked Judge Koury, who peppered the attorney on just how the student got here from South Korea. Was she sponsored by Pius? The attorney did not know. Leeson doubts it, but does not know for sure, either.
Leeson was challenged with all sorts of "what ifs". What if the student told a priest she was about to kill someone?
He insisted the privilege is absolute. This privilege, incidentally, extends back to the days of William the Conqueror. Pennsylvania law does require that child abuse be reported, but it seems that privileged confidential communications to clergy may supersede these mandatory reporting requirements.
So did a PiusX priest allow a girl to be raped repeatedly? According to The Express Times, it is actually a PiusX priest who did first report the abuse.