Edited by Greg Cahill
THE LATEST BLOW to the Diocese of Santa Rosa comes from an Oakmont priest arrested and charged this weekend with using the Internet to send pornography to children. The Rev. Carl Anthony Schipper, academic dean at St. Patrick's Seminary, the Bay Area training ground for many Northern California Catholic priests, was arrested at his home and booked into Santa Clara County Jail.
The San Jose Police Department's high-tech crime unit had been watching Schipper since being alerted to possible abuse of the Internet in September, and issued an arrest warrant after the investigation revealed that Schipper allegedly sent pornographic material to several juveniles over the Internet.
Schipper has posted bail, and was ordered to appear for arraignment on Thursday, March 16.
His arrest comes eight months after the diocese was rocked with a massive sex and financial misconduct scandal that resulted in the downfall of Bishop Patrick Ziemann and former diocese finance manager Monsignor Thomas Keys. In recent years, at least five diocese priests have been accused of sexual misconduct, including the Rev. Gary Timmons, who is serving a prison sentence for molesting boys.
The Santa Rosa diocese admits to paying out $5 million in claims since 1995 against priests charged with misconduct. Those settlements were part of the reason the diocese exhausted an estimated $16 million in parish funds.
"This is, again, a classic scenario of how endemic the problem is. Here you have someone who is the leader, an instructor training the next generation of priests," says Santa Rosa accountant Don Hoard Jr., referring to Schipper. Hoard was one of several local youths molested by Timmons, leading to large undisclosed settlements.
"People who have their sons being altar boys," he says, "they're nuts."
His father, Don Hoard Sr., adds: "I don't understand how Catholics can sit back and let these guys lie to them. This kind of behavior by a staff member at a seminary here does not surprise me at all. It's an ongoing problem in the Catholic Church.
"The sexual, the financial [abuses], the men's club power thing are so entrenched, it's never going to stop. If you look at what they do, they go along to get along.
"Either they are players themselves, as Ziemann was, or they go along for the power trip."
THE 1999 ABDUCTION of a newborn placed under police hold by Child Protective Services as sparked the second report in two years critical of security at the publicly owned Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa.
A state Department of Health Services investigation conducted immediately after the November abduction of Jordan Dunn by her parents Julie Ann Bard and Jason Dunn concluded late last month that the hospital had failed to develop a plan to ensure the safety of newborns removed from their parents.
Bard, who apparently had two other children permanently removed from her care because of negligence and heroin use, and Dunn were sentenced in January to a year in jail for removing the electronic security band from their baby's leg and taking her past an electronic monitoring system.
The state report, released last week in published reports, concluded that Sutter's lax security contributed to the couple's success in maneuvering the baby out of the hospital.
In response to the report, Sutter officials outlined several policy changes to address the needs of infants and children placed under protective custody, including providing constant supervision, securely attached electronic transmitters, a night-time check-in process for visitors, and an alarm system with camera surveillance, and locking the main door to the pediatrics ward.
Yet this is not the first time Sutter has come under fire for security issues. In January of 1998, the Department of Health Services extensively investigated the care of mothers and newborns at Sutter and found that newborn babies were left unattended at a nurses station accessible to the public.
The ensuing report charged that Sutter was guilty of numerous violations of state health regulations. It confirmed findings first reported in the Sonoma County Independent several weeks earlier after complaints from patients and staff about diminished perinatal services, particularly the closure of Sutter's well-baby nursery.
At the time, Sutter CEO Cliff Coates denied reports that babies were being taken care of at the nurses' station or that the well-baby nursery was closed.
But according to that 1998 report: "The facility failed to provide care to newborn infants with appropriately licensed and trained nurses in an area approved for patient care (newborn nursery) and failed to implement policies to ensure the security of infants."
In 1996, the county Board of Supervisors awarded Sutter the contract to manage the ailing Community Hospital, claiming it was going bankrupt.
Voters approved the contract that same year and administrators assured the public and county officials there would be no reduction in services for patients.
Paula Harris contributed to this report.
DÉJÀ VU: Tanya Brannan of the Purple Berets, Dr. Terry Kuypers, author of Prison Madness, and Dr. Cory Weinstein, prison medical consultant, will be getting together Sunday, March 12, at 12:30 p.m., to discuss allegedly poor health conditions at the Sonoma County Jail.
An event scheduled with the same three folks, sponsored by the Santa Rosa Democratic Club, was canceled in October after organizers said they couldn't find a panelist to represent the county's view.
At the time, Brannan charged that Judge Pat Gray, an influential Democratic Party member, had put the kibosh on Brannan's appearance.
Gray denied any involvement.
Still, Brannan cried censorship, charging that county health and law enforcement officials refused to be on the panel with her because of her zealous campaign for better conditions at the jail--a facility that has been tainted by inmate suicides and deaths, pornography-peeking guards, a botched hostage-training episode, and more grand jury probes than any other agency or issue in the county.
Panel organizer Dr. Richard Redalia found a new venue for the discussion--the Unitarian Fellowship Hall in Santa Rosa--and gave up on attracting a county official to participate. Instead, Redalia will be the fourth panelist.
From the March 9-15, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
© Metro Publishing Inc.