The Diocese of Jefferson City

A Case Study of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Childproof 52: Deviant Celibacy or the Angst of Child Pornography, Part IV

 
 
 

Page 52

 

Dear Bishop Gaydos:
 
Henry Scott Tuke:  The Bathers, 1888
The Twin Cities Circus once
known as the Archdiocese
of St. Paul-Minneapolis has
offered up a lot of information
about child pornography (not
to mention child molestation
and pedophile priests).

At least four generations of
church leadership in this
Mississippi River town have
sat on their hilltop bluff in
St. Paul sneering at law
enforcement, the courts,
and the community.  The
Summit Avenue leadership
has had no qualms about
operating the Chancery
in a manner reminiscent
of the Chicago mobsters
who once found a haven
from law enforcement in
the Minnesota wilderness.

And just like the Chicago crowd, we’ve learned a great deal
about how these so-called clergy have engaged in obstruction, evidence tampering, intimidation,
nonfeasance, and abetting predators to pervert the course of justice.  The only difference is that nearly every bad actor under this Big Top of criminal deceit has gone scot free, never to see the inside to jail cell, never to serve a prison sentence.

What we have not seen are the crime scene photos that illustrate the depraved indifference of Nienstedt, Flynn, and Co., i.e. the pornographic images of exploited children that have been squirreled away in their basement archives, file cabinets, and vault.  Partners in this combine are former auxiliary bishops Frederick F. Campbell of Columbus, Ohio (and chairman of the board of trustees of the Pontifical College Josephinum), and Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa. 

Rounding out this group is Robert J. Carlson, archbishop of St. Louis.  The number of child molesters whom they have championed has never been tabulated properly and they prohibited any forensic analysis to disclose in the courts or the public arena.
 
Sally Mann:  Popsicle Juice, 1985
Child pornography and the trafficking of human beings into sexual slavery are difficult to present in visual form.  We cannot provide examples in graphic detail due to subject matter and legal restraints.

But we can offer a modest
glimpse at images that have
been controversial in their
time, but have survived the
“dirty pictures” test through
litigation, critical analysis,
and artistic merit. 

Contemporaneously, we can
review the photography of
Sally Mann and Jock Sturges.  Each has produced work often described as pictorial, surreal, aligned with sensual romanticism.  They tend to work with soft focus so that the subject matter is not highly refined.  They are not avant garde.

Neither Mann nor Sturges can compete with a host of other artists and their expertise at manipulating film, light, and composition.  We refer to the great artists of the 20th Century Edward Jean Steichen, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Brassï, or Alfred Stieglitz.

Both photographers also are far removed from the artistry and expertise of society and fashion (glitz and glam) images of Annie Leibovitz, Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, or Robert Mapplethrope.
 
 
Jock Sturges:  Thomas, c. 1991 

We believe the photography of Mann or Sturges bears some merit beyond good commercial work, despite the gimmicks of their efforts which are much like William Wegman.  Mann turns her camera on her children.  Sturges applies a background of surf and sand populated with pretty boys and girls.  Wegman has made a career photographing his Weimaraners. 

But with Mann and Sturges, the gimmick does not work without the risqué hint of scandal providing a secondary foundation and an applied layer free speech and other related democratic principles.

Mann has been severely criticized, because early in her career she used her camera to sexualize her children for public exhibition.  In the 1990’s, her endeavor was characterized as an aperitif for the child predator:  androgynous, pale portraits somewhat beyond the issues of artistic license or legitimate art.

According the New York Times:

Mann has so far been spared the litigation that surrounded the Robert Mapplethorpe shows.  And unlike Jock Sturges, whose equipment and photographs of nude prepubescent girls were confiscated by the F.B.I., she has not been pursued by the Government on child pornography charges. But a Federal prosecutor in Roanoke, Va., from whom she sought advice, warned Mann that no fewer than eight pictures she had chosen for the traveling exhibition could subject her to arrest.”

In 1991, Mann's exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum was subjected to protest.  Her work attracted the attention of the Rev. Vic Eliason, a fundamentalist preacher who operates a radio and television network in the Middle West, attempt to rally the public against the exhibition.
 

Sally Mann:  Untitled, 2005
 
Child pornography laws, particularly Federal statutes, are designed to hamper the creation and distribution of certain images:  gratuitous or explicit nudity, images of genital and other parts of the body, intercourse between children and adults, and subject matters that can be classified as grotesque and degenerate without artistic merit.

Mann’s works has survived these challenges, we should note.  Much of her work pretty and whimsical is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, among others.

Jock Sturges, 67, uses a large format camera to photograph subjects at nudist beaches in northern California and France.
He is in the limelight of controversy for producing distinct kind
of photography.



Jock Sturges:  Antoine et Julien, Montalivet, France, 2002 (Detail)
 
His work has been often criticized as being a medium of young people’s pornography veiled with a blanket of fine art.  Others point to his focus on his subject’s own sexuality in a non-voyeuristic way.  The images that Sturges produces are unquestionably erotic rather than treating the human body as
an abstract structure.

In 1991 the FBI raided his studio, confiscating his work and equipment.  He was charged with the manufacture of child pornography, but federal court dismissed the case after a
two-year investigation.
 

Jock Sturges: Tristan, La Jenny, France

In November 1997, Barnes & Noble was indicted on obscenity charges in Williamson County, Tenn., for selling two books by Sturges and one by David Hamilton that contain photographs of nude children at its store in Brentwood, Tenn., a Nashville suburb.
 
The books received critical praise, but a grand jury contended that the literature violated state obscenity laws.  The indictment in the accused the New York-based company of violating Tennessee's obscenity law by displaying: “The Last Day of Summer” and “Radiant Identities” by Sturges and “The Age of Innocence” by Hamilton.  Distributing material deemed obscene by local standards or displaying such material in places visible or accessible to minors, is a misdemeanor in Tennessee, punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a $50 fine.


Sally Mann:  Candy Cigarette, 1985

His works are in the collection of many places, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art;  the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Musée de la Louviere, Brussels; the Milwaukee Museum of Art; and the Portland Museum of Art.
 
While Mann and Sturges provide a 21st Century observation of this topic, historically, we are more familiar with the problems faced by Michelangelo, Goya, and, perhaps, lesser known artists such as the Victorian painter Henry Scott Tuke.

The human form uncovered has been subject of artistry for centuries.  The three-dimensional antiquities of Greece and Rome gave way to the mastery of Michelangelo and Caravaggio as they captured the male form as both heroic and youthful.  The Titian and Botticelli gave us the feminine form idealized by many as a “golden age” of classical inspiration.


Francisco Goya’s “Naked Maja” (1800) is said to be the first painting to display
the female pelvis with pubic hair (confiscated by the Spanish Inquisition in 1813).

But the Council of Trent condemned Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, a fresco commissioned for the Sistine Chapel by Pope Clement VII.  The unclothed figures incited controversy throughout the creation that forms the reredos of the altar.  The Council, within days of the death of Clement, condemned nudity in religious art:  “all lasciviousness is to be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or adorned with a beauty exciting to lust.”

In 1565, the year after Michelangelo’s death, Clement’s successor, Pius IV, ordered the genitalia exposed in the fresco draped with over-painting.  Daniele da Volterra was assigned the tasked, and is known to historians as Il Braghetonne, “The breeches-maker.”  Da Volterra also repainted the figures of Catherine and Blaise, whose positions were considered unseemly. Further coverings were added in the 17th  and 18th centuries.


Henry Scott Tuke:  The Sunbathers

Some art historians believe that da Volterra also scraped away the offending parts and painted on top of freshly-applied plaster.  Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, afraid that the original was going to be destroyed, commissioned Marcello Venusti to paint a copy of the Last Judgment in 1549.  This tempera painting on wood is provides a historical narrative of the censored fresco.

In 1504, Michelangelo’s David created a stir in Florence: the locals pelted the statue with rocks.  Leonardo da Vinci is recorded to have said the statue needs “decent ornament” to cover the penis out of respect for Christian modesty.  Pope Innocent X (1644-1655) started the original fig-leaf campaign, chiseling the exposed phalluses off Roman statues and fitting each sculpture with a more ‘modest’ leaf. The systematically defacing of art for religion continued through Pope Pius IX (1846-1878).


Henry Scott Tuke:  “Charlie Mitchell,” Boy on a Beach
 
By 1857, a copy of Michelangelo’s “David” was presented to Queen Victoria by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum.  A plaster cast of a fig leaf 19.68505 inches
in length, was made in London soon after the statue’s arrival and attached to the statue to spare the blushes of visiting female dignitaries. 
Tin fig leaves had been used on other nude male statuary during the early years of the Museum.
 
Over time artists have displayed nudity to create public scandal.  Goya’s “Naked Maja” (1800) is said to be the first painting to display the female pelvis with pubic hair (confiscated by the Spanish Inquisition in 1813).  Rodin’s 1898 bronze of Balzac was reviled and did not achieve acceptance until 1931 when the monument was dedicated at the corner of the Boulevards Raspail and Montparnasse.


Henry Scott Tuke:  Noonday Heat

 
Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929), a member of the British Royal Academy, specialized in nude adolescent boys doing everyday activities.  His images were not overtly erotic, nor did he usually display the genitals of his models.  Nonetheless, some critics considered his work objectionable during his lifetime, and today some view Tuke as the Mapplethorpe of his day.

Tuke began painting the nude outdoors as a professional artist in 1886, when he moved to Falmouth in Cornwall.  Walter Shilling, a model from London was his original muse for his early nudes.  But he soon turned to local boys primarily Albert Pidwell (1877-1936) and Willy or Bill Rolling, born c.1868, (the brother of Tuke's most frequently used model at this time, Jack Rolling, born c.1870).  Albert Pidwell would have been 13 years old in 1890.  Will Rolling would have been 20.  Tuke’s works sell in the six-figure range today.


Henry Scott Tuke:  Lovers of the Sun
 
When we mention Nienstedt, Flynn, and Co. alongside the issue of child pornography we also have to remind ourselves that we don’t need is the hectoring of a compromised bully.

It appears that Nienstedt is resuscitating career of the Rev. Robert J. Altier as a moral educator.  Flynn, a shoddy and disgraceful clergyman himself, censored this so-called preacher and teacher in 2004 because he campaigned against the Charter to Protect Children and Young People and tried to broadside the Virtus sex education program, using his national pulpit at the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) to promote these attacks. 

Rev. Robert J. Altier
St. Paul, Minn.
Indeed, Altier is no friend of children
or parents.  He is the first of many
so-called preachers to be removed
for their unsavory work as quacks
and con artists:  e.g.
John Corapi
(alleged womanizing),
Thomas
Euteneuer
 (sexual assault), Ken
Roberts
(who was discovered hiding
out in the Diocese of Jefferson City),
Frank Pavone (alleged embezzler),
Francis Mary Stone (now Dave
Stone, alleged groping scandal
and now, apparently, married),
and
Benedict Groeschel.
 
We know that organizations like Nienstedt, Flynn, and Co. traffic in fear and shame.  And if they can keep us afraid and we live in shame and silence, then they can control us.

As victims, we no longer need men like these to shape our response to their misdeeds or suppress their secrets.  Secrets are the source of our weakness.  If we live with secrets, we live in shame.  We live in silence.  We live in fear. 

Instead, we should consider the source.  Obviously, they live private lives and hold private beliefs that are much different than those they parade in public.  We have enough evidence to this face in the Twin Cities alone:  it precludes any further discussion.
 
This is the ultimate con.


Henry Scott Tuke:  Under the Western Sun, 1918

Why should Altier be allowed to undermine the safety of our children with a phony message?  Why should Altier be allowed to apply another layer of secrecy on to the pedophile mindset that has corrupted the office of the archbishop and the senior management of the Twin Cities?

We cannot allow another systematic campaign to protect pedophile priests and other sexual predators.  Otherwise we will end up with another generation of leaders like Anthony J. O’Connell, the former bishop of Knoxville, Tenn., and Palm Beach, Fla., who created a collage of clergy abuse as the rector of St. Thomas Seminary, Hannibal.  Feel free to refresh this case in Childproof 20, Childproof 21, and Childproof 30, and Childproof 18.
 
Anything else is a mistake.
 
 
Further Reading:
Number of Alleged Child Predators Greater than Nienstedt Will Admit
Popular Catholic Priest John Corapi Calls It Quits, Blasts Church Leaders
Priest Accused of Molesting Woman During Two-Year Exorcism
Virginia Woman Claims Exorcism by Priest Turned to Sexual Abuse
Virginia Lawsuit Claims Exorcist Sexually Assaulted Woman
Pope Promotes Burke; Sex Abuse Victims Respond
Fr. Francis Mary Stone; EWTN Priest Steps down






1 comment: