Changes to Catholic review board

A NYS Supreme Court judge from Queens is among several new appointees to the lay national board that reviews how Catholic dioceses are complying with policies to prevent sex abuse.

Judge Robert Kohm, who serves the 11th Judicial District in Jamaica, is an adjunct assistant professor at St. John’s University. He has served as president of the Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Judge Michael Merz, of Dayton, Ohio, a trial judge for 30 years, has been named chair of the National Review Board. He replaces Patricia O’Donnell Ewers, a former president of Pace University.

I happened to catch Ewers a few weeks ago when she was a guest on the Catholic Channel on SIRIUS satellite radio. She was very positive about serving on the board, which the bishops established after the crisis of 2002.

“My sense is that the bishops knew they had a huge crisis and responded with unbelievable speed,” she said.

Asked if the review board was truly independent in its work, she said:

“It’s really our responsibility to speak our minds. Our obligation in this instance is not to the bishops. It’s to the children and young people.”

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.