After what might be called a shaky start (the damn membership pin box fell open again) we registered 43 WVRC members in attendance, including several guests.  President Dee Menzies got us started, and the song was America, led by Herb Roney and accompanied on the piano by Carol Jackson.  These Santa Monicans sing pretty good.  I didn’t get the name of the person who led the Pledge, but they did well, also.  The Invocation was by our own Prexy, PETER MORE. “Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world, who live and die in poverty and hunger.  Give them through our hands this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy”.  PETER then gave a brief history of the founding of WVRC, noting that is was first called WLA Rotary, but later changed when we founded that club and took the Westwood Village name.  Santa Monica Rotary was our sponsor, and they helped us all along the way – and we thank them, once again.


President Dee Menzies responded, saying what a pleasure it was to have both the Mother and Daughter clubs together, which drew some mutterings about this sexual classification – but the idea was certainly well received. Chris Baker introduced Santa Monica Rotary guests, including several widows of past members.  PDG ANDY ANDERSON introduced Pat, who was the only WVRC spouse present.  All were then serenaded with a Hello Rotarians and Guests song.  This was followed by “Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie” which in turn was aided somewhat by abbreviated song sheets left on the tables.

A couple of members were recognized for community awards they had received.  Pres. PETER came forward to announce that PDG BILL GOODWYN had joined Rotary thirty years ago!  There followed a touching reminder of the journey one of the Santa Monica Rotarians (Jerry ?) had taken over the last several years.  He was suffering from complete kidney failure, and a local family, whose young son had just died in an accident, donated a kidney to save his life.  These two families have stayed in touch, and recently met face-to-face for the first time.  It was a meaningful time for all of them.  And this, of course, is a reminder to all of us to sign up for the Organ Donation program – you can save more than one life by taking this step.


There was a nice tribute to Esther Johnson.  Esther was the long-time Executive Secretary of the Santa Monica Club, because it’s first female member, and was the long time accompanist on the piano during the Song.  When she passed away recently, the Rotarians who attended the service gathered together the comments made at that time, and these were presented to her daughter, Sharon.  She responded by thanking all for this gesture, and reminding everyone that Esther truly enjoyed all her Rotary associations.   


Roderick Eric MacLeish Jr was the speaker of the day.  He was introduced by a member of Santa Monica Rotary, Tom Lieu, who is a partner in the Speakers firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP. Our own member, SEAN McMILLAN, is also a member of the firm, and he was instrumental in arranging this program.  Mr. MacLeish arrived from Boston on a motorcycle (yes, that’s right) just yesterday, and spent some time on arrival with the Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times.  He received his J.D. degree cum laude from Boston University School of Law, where he edited the Law Review, and his bachelors with general honors from Vassar College.  His grandfather, Archibald MacLeish, publicly denounced the McCarthy hearings, and his father was a well known radio commentator.


Mr. MacLeish began by admitting that he had no experience in representing abuse victims.  His field of expertise is Administrative litigation, and he was one of the partners who helped start their Boston office.  But when he got a call from abuse victims involving the Archdiocese of Boston, a three hundred year old fixture of the city, he became interested.  He first had to have the permission of Caesar Alvarez, Chairman of Greenberg Traurig, who is Catholic and whose mother was raised in a Catholic orphanage.  The basic conflict here was that the firm would be adverse to the Archdiocese – a first for any major firm with over one thousand attorneys in twenty offices around the world.  Alvarez asked, “Are there things the Church has done that are wrong?”  “Yes”.  “Then go ahead”.


A woman who had been abused as a child came to him in 1997.  She had attended the same school he had for three years.  The Headmaster there had expelled him – days before graduation.  Needless to say, he got some satisfaction out of pursuing this particular case.  The abuser there was Father Porter, and eventually Greenberg Traurig’s suit included 101 clients, over a seven year period.  They found that Father Porter had been transferred to a hospital in N. Attleboro, Mass. But his behavior had not changed.


Another case involved Father John Gavin, who had been transferred several times, over three decades – this case had 340 plaintiffs.  MacLeish eventually obtained a court order to turn over “protected” files.  Father Paul Shanley was the main culprit here, and the Archdiocese had fifteen lawyers, who argued that these files were protected by the First Amendment. Father Shanley even founded a group that espoused sexual abuse, and spoke publicly about why it was OK. In a deposition from Bishop Daily, the Archdiocese finally agreed completely, and after eight days of testimony they released 177 files. There were perhaps 60 more that came to them later. Based on these files, MacLeish estimates that 4% of the Priests in the Boston Archdiocese have engaged in pedophilic behavior.

The church had become a sanctuary for them. 


The allegations of sexual abuse beginning in 1960 and continuing through the 1980’s continue even today (February 2004).  The leadership failures were very broad.  In 2002, he learned of the activities of Father Foley.  After the loss of her first child, the 19 year old mother went to Foley for counseling, and Foley fathered her next child.  She then had a lobotomy, and Foley fathered a second child.  She is now dead, but DNA proves parentage.  This was disclosed to Cardinal Law in 1993, and somehow another Cardinal, in Rome, said such behavior was acceptable.


MacLeish is not having the same success in Los Angeles as he had had in Boston.  LA is the largest Diocese in the United States but there has been almost no opening up of records.  He estimates that there are at least hundreds, and maybe thousands of cases here, but Cardinal Mahoney resists.  There must be recognition of what has happened.


In a very brief Q&A, Are there any rules from Rome?  No.  During the early stages of his work in Boston, MacLeish’s home was fired on from a passing car, and he had a bodyguard who accompanied him.  Apparently the current official attitude in LA is, “Well, I guess you could say we have a problem” – but that is as far as it has gone here.  Note, these results in Boston and elsewhere are fully confirmed – and it is a shocking story which we all needed to hear.  We thank SEAN McMILLAN and Tom Lieu for arranging this special report.


Apropos of nothing – Westwood Village Rotary will be meeting at the Luxe Hotel on June eighth and June fifteenth – mark your calendars now, please.

                                                                                              YOE, Ernie Wolfe