Abuse victims want statewide AG probe of California Catholic Church
Abuse victims want statewide AG probe of California Catholic Church
They also urge police and prosecutors at local levels to "be more aggressive"
Roughly 500 priests in the state have been accused of hurting kids, but statistics indicate there should be 2000 or more
The San Diego Diocese recently admitted it hid files on at least 8 clergymen – including a man who is still running religious retreats out of Sacramento
At least one accused priest was shuffled out of California and first publicly identified in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report
Another clergyman with multiple allegations in the Keystone State was moved to California and worked for years in parishes in this state
“Law enforcement must do more,” survivors group says, “if children are to be better protected”
Holding signs at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and supporters will urge:
--California’s Attorney General to launch a statewide grand jury investigation into clergy sex crimes and cover ups,
-local prosecutors across California to take similar steps, and
--all law enforcement personnel in the state to publicly beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to report known or suspected crimes and cover ups to secular authorities.
They will also hand deliver to the AG's office a letter pointing out the dire need for these actions, along with supporting statistics and other information.
Monday, September 17, 20189
In front of the office of the Attorney General of California,
1300 I Street
Two-three clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters, including a Martinez man who successfully sued his abuser and the Catholic Church, and a Pleasant Hill woman who is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).
According to a Boston-based archive and research group, approximately 510 Catholic clerics in California have been criminally charged, sued or otherwise publicly accused of child molestation.
However, SNAP believes this is the tip of the ice berg and that much remains hidden about these crimes and their cover up in this state. The group will have available at the press conference a statistical analysis of what the numbers should be, extrapolating from the findings of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. They will deliver the same information to the Attorney General and beg him to initiate an investigation.
Across the world, only a small minority of all accused Catholic clergy - and only three complicit Church officials - have ever been convicted. Yet to SNAP’s knowledge no governmental body in California has done a single investigation of this scandal.
It's time to change this, the group says.
Almost a month ago, Melanie Sakoda, the Secretary of SNAP’s Board of Directors, sent a letter to AG Xavier Becerra requesting that he look into the Catholic Church. So far, he has been silent.
In the intervening time, a Buffalo bishop was caught in a lie when he claimed to have named “all” the accused clergy in his diocese – 42 priests – when a leaked document later revealed that there were actually 106, including some still in ministry.
Here in California, the San Diego Diocese last week “found” files on eight accused clergymen that had been “misplaced.” One of those named is still alive and has worked as a spiritual adviser and retreat leader who works out of Sacramento, a position that may put him in contact children. He was accused of abusing two Sacramento-area boys in 2010, but was back leading retreats on both coasts in 2014.
Also last week, the San Jose Diocese announced it was undertaking an internal investigation, but one under the control of the Bishop. SNAP suspects that this is an attempt to preempt a governmental investigation that would have the right to examine the Diocese’s documentation, including its secret archives.
In August, a shocking report overseen by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General was released. It involved hundreds of interviews and examined half a million pages of church records and was the biggest US government investigation into child sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church.
The 1,300-page Pennsylvania grand jury report, which investigated six Catholic dioceses, found that over 300 "predator priests" sexually abused more than 1,000 children in that state. The subpoena empowered examination also concluded that bishops “followed a playbook for concealing the truth” and while “priests were raping little boys and girls, [bishops] hid it all. For decades.” Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, noted “there is evidence that takes this cover-up and what occurred in Pennsylvania directly to the Vatican.”
One of the “predator priests” identified in the report had been accused of abuse in California, but was never been publicly identified until the Pennsylvania report was released.
Another “predator priest” with multiple allegations against him in Pennsylvania was transferred to California, where he continued to work in parishes for many years.
SNAP believes that if the records of the California bishops were subpoenaed, the Attorney General would find that similar acts of recklessness, callousness and deceit have been concealed in this state as well.
Since 2002, when the scandal first broke open in Boston, Attorneys General in just four states — Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts – and a handful of local prosecutors have forced the Catholic Church to turn over their records. In the rest of the states, including California, the crimes and cover up continued unabated.
However, that is beginning to change.
SNAP wants Attorney General Xavier Becerra to add California to the growing group of states investigating these crimes and their cover up.
For examples of more aggressive and creative legal moves by prosecutors against clergy wrongdoers go to:
Joey Piscetelli, Northwest SNAP Leader (925-262-3699, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Melanie Sakoda, Secretary, SNAP Board of Directors (925-708-6175, email@example.com),
Dan McNevin, Bay Area SNAP leader (415-341-6417, firstname.lastname@example.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.