Litigating Clerical Sexual Abuse

When and Where

Tuesday, April 02, 2024 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
JHB 100A
Jackman Humanities Building
170 St George Street, Toronto ON M5R 2M8


Patrick J. Wall
Levi Monagle
Kevin Lewis O'Neill (Department for the Study of Religion)


This public talk is part of a 2023-2024 Andrew Mellon Sawyer Seminar titled “Evasion: Thinking the Underside of Surveillance.” 

About the talk:

Clerical sexual abuse in the United States first surfaced in Louisiana and then Minnesota in the 1980s. There were others in New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Chicago in the early 1990s, and then a spate of cases in Boston in 2001. Today more than one hundred dioceses and religious orders have released lists of credibly accused priests and dozens have filed for bankruptcy, with the total amount of settlements paid to victims nearly topping $4 billion. The coverage of these events has focused almost exclusively on how bishops across the United States transferred known perpetrators from parish to parish, but the Church also deploys far more sophisticated tactics to evade accountability for their clerics’ crimes. Join Professor Kevin Lewis O’Neill for a conversation with Patrick J. Wall and Levi Monagle to learn more about their years of experience holding the Church accountable.

About the speakers:

Patrick J. Wall

Patrick Wall, a world-renowned expert on the Catholic Clergy Abuse Crisis, has been working on behalf of victims of clergy sexual abuse since 2002. A former Roman Catholic Priest and Benedictine Monk, Wall has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s of divinity degree from Saint John’s University in Minnesota. Wall has also pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, the Gregorian University and Cardiff University in Canon Law. He is now an advocate at Jeff Anderson and Associates in St. Paul, MN, working out of their Los Angeles office.

While a practicing priest in Minnesota, Wall served as a faculty resident, member of the seminary sexual abuse response team, associate pastor, parochial administrator, defender of the bond, advocate, tribunal judge, high school instructor, member of the archdiocesan finance council, and member of the Canon Law Society of America. In these capacities, he became intimately familiar with the day-to-day operations of a parish, tribunal, religious order, and archdiocese. After working as a “fixer” in the church, dealing with the aftermath of sexual abusive priests in parishes and schools, Wall left the priesthood, finding that the only way that abuse survivors would get the help and healing they needed was outside of the church hierarchy.

Wall has consulted on more than 2000 cases of clergy abuse in the United States and has become a leading advocate and expert on the causes and cover-up involved in the world-wide crisis. He is an author of “Sex, Priests and Secret Codes,” a leading book on the 2000-year history of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and has been profiled in numerous national magazines, newspapers and radio and television shows. He has also taught courses and seminar at the University of California, Irvine, and Cal State Fullerton.

Levi Monagle

Levi was raised in New Mexico from infancy, and New Mexico’s people, places, music, food, and culture remain his first love and inspiration. From this love stems a belief in the power of individuals, small groups, and local communities over the impersonal power of economies of scale and their attendant abuses and bureaucracies. From a belief in the power of individuals and local communities stems a deep appreciation of the privilege of counseling and advocating on their behalf.

Levi obtained his undergraduate degree and his law degree from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He joined the Law Offices of Brad D. Hall as a law clerk in 2013 and has been with the Firm ever since. Throughout his time with the Firm, Levi has worked to represent individuals victimized by the abuse of power. He has served as the President of the Board of Directors of the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico, as well as Board Chair for Common Cause New Mexico and a coalition attorney for the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

Kevin Lewis O'Neill

Kevin Lewis O’Neill is the Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies and Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. His work, deeply ethnographic, focuses on the moral dimensions of contemporary political practice in Latin America. To this end, O’Neill has written a trilogy on the politics of Pentecostalism in Guatemala City – City of God (University of California Press, 2010); Secure the Soul (University of California Press, 2015); and Hunted (University of Chicago Press, August 2019). Working across the themes of democracy, security, and drugs, each book explores the waning viability of disciplinary institutions and how new strains of Christian piety have become recognizable modes of governance in Central America.

O'Neill is currently writing two books. The first is supported by a 2021 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. It considers clearical sexual abuse in Latin America, with a focus on U.S. priests who moved (or were moved) to Central America to evade suspicion and, at times, prosecution. The second is an ethnography of traffic in Guatemala City that realigns conversations about security, mobility, and infrastructure in Latin America.

Professor O’Neill is also the editor of a book series with the University of California Press – Atelier: Ethnographic Inquiry in the Twenty-First Century.

Contact Information: Katharine Bell


170 St George Street, Toronto ON M5R 2M8