Jeremy Leatherby: Particulars of costs in opposition to excommunicated clergymen
Readers should be cautioned that this story contains potentially disturbing details about allegations of sexual abuse.
The Catholic Herald learned that the Sacramento Priest, who was excommunicated for schism earlier this month, has been charged with serious crimes including the sexual abuse of at least one adult woman, spiritual and psychological abuse, abuse of the sacrament of Confession and other sacraments, and multiple violations against the seal of confession.
Church officials in Sacramento and Rome declined to comment on the investigation or canonical trial, but the nature of the allegations the Catholic Herald heard from one of his victims is that, under canon law, the crimes of Fr. Jeremy Leatherby of Sacramento is charged with trial before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Tribunal.
The Catholic Herald has received multiple documents in support of her construction of events, showing that Church officials, including Bishop of Sacramento Jaime Soto, believe she has suffered serious abuse and are deeply concerned about the delay in justice in her Case are.
The accuser – who, as a victim of sexual abuse, asked for anonymity and because she and her family were supported by followers of Father Dr. Leatherby – claims that Ms. Leatherby first invited her to a "spiritual friendship" with him, modeled on the friendship of Sts. Francis and Claire of Assisi used this relationship to manipulate them, threaten their marriage, and change their lives. She claims Leatherby used her frequently as an instrument of his own gratification, sexual and otherwise, over a period of roughly six years from 2008 to 2014.
The allegations in brief
The prosecutor alleges that P. Leatherby once dismissed him from a vow of obedience that he received in a ritual replacement ceremony. The victim claims Leatherby shaved her hair in another pseudo ritual in which Leatherby asked her to take off her shirt.
The most bizarre pseudo-ritual the Prosecutor described was what she called the "Mary Magdalene Routine," in which Father Leatherby asked the victim to kiss and caress his feet first and, in subsequent iterations of the ritual, his body. At least once, Leatherby brought in oils for the routine – supposedly blessed – that the victim claims anoint his feet with.
She claims that sometimes he only wore his pants and was visibly aroused.
"On 'special occasions," she told the Herald, "he would take off everything but his boxers, and the Mary Magdalen routine became something even more troubling." When asked to describe Leatherby's reaction to performing the routine on these special occasions, his victim said "He would get an erection" and explained that he would ask her to "come up to his groin," which she did also did, although she says she never touched his genitals on purpose and he never enjoyed himself while in the room with her.
“His birthday was a special occasion,” she said. “Christmas was a special occasion. When he cut my hair off, it was a special occasion. “The last – the scissors – was what she called a" sacrifice for his priesthood. "
Father Leatherby's victim prosecutor also alleges that the priest gave her the sacrament of the sick and sometimes asked her to remove her outer garments and basic clothing and to unbutton and lower her pants. He massaged her with copious amounts of holy oil – at least once on her breasts and very close to her groin – and said things like, "These are not my hands, these are Jesus' hands that touch you and heal you."
One text of the vow of obedience that Father Leatherby's accuser received from him reads: "I surrender myself wholeheartedly to your priest, Father Leatherby" and "I put my soul in Father's hands."
The victim's accuser said Father Leatherby had told her that during some of the performances of the Magdalena Routine he could "see that she was growing in purity" and "would become a great saint and mystic."
The accuser of the victim told the Catholic herald that she was almost invulnerable of the particular holiness of her perpetrator. "He isolated us from each other", i.e. H. The many women – inside and outside the church – whom he "served" and offered his particular spiritual direction. “I couldn't process it, mainly because he told me I couldn't tell anyone about our 'special relationship' because no one would understand. He told me it was my job to protect his priesthood. "
Father Leatherby answers
Ms. Leatherby has admitted "violating boundaries" with his prosecutor and another woman. He says he "deeply regrets" the pain he has caused, but denies the more serious allegations.
"(W) although I acknowledge that I was wrong and wrong," wrote Leatherby in a letter to the priests posted last week on the website of an organization called the Saint Joseph Battalion, "I also categorically deny a and would like to refute this. " Number of allegations made against me. "He said," Some are such that I can't bring myself to believe that she even claimed them. "
In the letter, Father Leatherby addressed his accuser directly and said, "I hope you will forgive me the pain I have caused you, and I pray that from this moment on we can both let this rest rest."
"I categorically deny all sexual acts between me and my accuser," stated Father Leatherby in his response to the Catholic Herald. "The reference in my letter (another letter he wrote" to Bishop Soto, the priests and believers of the Diocese of Sacramento and beyond "before Bishop Soto published the excommunication) to crossed lines does not apply to sexual acts." Leatherby told the Herald, "I respectfully decline to go into any detail or to go into the sensitive allegations in the press, as this is not fair to any of the parties involved and the matter with the diocese is still open."
“Believe me,” Father Leatherby wrote in the letter, “there is another side. I could suspend a lot, but I haven't done it all the time. I don't want to ruin other people's lives, marriages, or families. "
In response to email inquiries from the Catholic Herald, Father Leatherby continued: "Even as a Catholic priest, I refuse to publicly disparage anyone."
Now Father Leatherby says he is preparing a petition for release from the obligations of the Holy Order – "voluntary secularization," as it is sometimes called.
Earlier this month, Bishop Soto told Father Leatherby that he had suffered an excommunication with Latae Sententiae when he denied Pope Francis' legitimacy and stated his belief that Benedict XVI. Be the real Pope. Leatherby also admitted to celebrating the sacraments, which was against the restrictions Bishop Soto had placed on him.
Leatherby told the Catholic Herald that he had "ceased services since he was excommunicated". He also stated that he “began these services around Easter Sunday to provide the sacraments, especially the celebration of Mass.” Father Leatherby said, “There was such hunger and thirst from devoted Catholics, Holy Communion and the Sacrament to receive confession because they consider it more essential than anything else in this world. "
"These Catholics," he told the Catholic Herald, "did not feel that the bishop was really fighting for their faith and their constitutional rights of worship." If dozens of people could go to the Dollar Store, Home Depot, or grocery store, hold press conferences, or protest en masse, it would not be right (with common sense precautions) to deny believers what spiritually supports them. "
It is unclear what effect the secularization petition will have on the canonical process, but the Catholic News Agency has reported that the Diocese of Sacramento has informed the service that they would support Father Leatherby's petition.
Justice is delayed
Father Leatherby has been in the canonical process for more than four years. “For the past several years I have waited and waited and waited for an opportunity to defend myself against the charges brought against me. I was told that I would finally be heard "next week", "the week after", "next month", "next …" for almost four years. All to no avail. "
"I just wanted a fair, full, and quick hearing," Leatherby told the Herald. "I have not yet met a Vatican representative to present my case," he replied to the Herald's questions. "I don't know why the process took so long."
The victim's accuser gave detailed evidence to diocese investigators in her original report more than four years ago, but informed the Catholic herald that the judge in her case had asked her very specific questions about things she had told Father Leatherby in confidence , sometimes under the seal of confession. The correspondence between the victim and the judge received by the Catholic Herald is consistent with the record of their transactions.
The interview with the judge in the case took a long time.
The victim's accuser did not meet him until January of this year. “When I was talking to (the judge),” she said, “I asked him, 'Why did it take so long? Why are we here right now? "And he said," That's a question I asked. I wanted this off my plate forever. "
The interview with the judge also took place after a man who was aiding Father Leatherby called the prosecutor's family early Saturday morning saying he “just wanted to talk,” she remembered, because he said the Blessed Virgin had Done told him to drive six hours across state lines and face them. This man had established the prosecutor's identity, new address, and other highly sensitive personal information. He had threatened both Bishop Soto and Father Leatherby's accused with "disclosure" in the press.
Shortly after the victim's prosecutor reported the incident to the local police and the Diocese of Sacramento, she finally received a phone call asking her to testify to the CDF-appointed judge. The victim's accuser said she believed "that got the ball rolling again".
Regardless of the reasons for the lengthy process, the defendant and the victim's accuser, with whom the Catholic Herald spoke, agree that its duration is intolerable. The Bishop of Sacramento recognized the significant burden of the situation for all parties. In a letter dated July 22, 2019, Bishop Soto wrote: "I am embarrassed and frustrated that I have not been able to find a quicker resolution in the canonical process regarding Father Leatherby."
Bishop Soto wrote his letter in response to a correspondent with intimate knowledge of the matter who had requested public disclosure of relevant facts, including the nature of the allegations against Father Leatherby. The Catholic Herald also received the letter that Soto replied to. The original letter read in part:
You most likely know, like both the victim's accuser and I, that there are other victims of him. They too need and deserve pastoral and therapeutic care, but they are silent, alone and neglected. Why? Because each of them either thinks they are the only one because they don't even know they are a victim or because, even if they know they are a victim, they fear retaliation from the Leatherby family.
In fact, there was only one reason (the victim's accuser) who had the courage to face the slander and shunning that awaited – and indeed received – them by reporting on their abuse, and that was the revelation of one Another victim, she too was used and deceived in the same way. These two women marveled in mutual disgust at how he had used the same lines, the same “saintly stories” and the same manipulations to make them feel special and loved like no other woman. It was this revelation and this revelation alone that compelled them to put an end to this man and keep him from hurting others.
And so I ask you, in the interests of the other victims out there, past and maybe even present or future, to make the public known what you know about him. The silence from the diocese is not only a source of persistent pain for (the accuser of the victim), but also encourages other victims (Father Leatherby) to remain silent and enables him to continue his manipulations in silence.
Bishop Soto's correspondent had said that Diocese officials in Sacramento had led him to believe that there were concerns about the Diocese of Sacramento's compliance with the data protection provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to divulge details.
In his reply, Bishop Soto cites "other considerations" including "privacy considerations pertaining to (the accuser of the victim), Father Leatherby and others". Bishop Soto wrote: "I have resigned myself to this powerless position in the hope of protecting the good name of others."
"I have asked my legal vicar to keep me informed of any communication with the Holy See regarding the canonical procedure," continued Bishop Soto. He undertook to keep his chancellor in contact with the victim's accuser on a more regular basis. "I ask the grace of God to support her by waiting and to heal her from the abuse that has been inflicted on her."
On this point – healing – the victim's accuser said the Diocese of Sacramento was very supportive: from the moment the Diocese received its allegation and found it credible, it offered consistent and full financial support for the cost of therapy Weeks after she gave them her report.
"I have come to rely on the promise of the Lord," said Bishop Soto at Mt. 10:26, "There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nor a secret that will not be known." Bishop Soto continued, "I am grateful for the courage (of the accuser of the victim) to cooperate with our investigation and I encourage them to tell their story for the good of the Church."