AK--Victims’ group blasts victim-shaming in clergy abuse case
For immediate release: Friday, March 27, 2015
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are seething over the content of a letter to the editor of the Kodiak Daily News, which calls into question the testimony of students abused at Saint Innocent’s Academy (SIA).
(The complete text of the letter is pasted below.)
The victims’ group believe it is the type of victim-shaming that occurs when charismatic leaders are accused of abuse in tight-knit communities.
The Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia (BOD) announced on its website on Saturday, March 21, 2015, that Archpriest Paisius DeLucia, the founder and head of the academy, would be defrocked.
The Kodiak Daily News ran an article that same day that quoted Samuel Dank, a former student at the academy and one of the publishers of a website where 18 former students posted their testimony against DeLucia.
In response, Mike Roshad, a former volunteer English teacher at the academy, wrote a blistering letter to the editor saying that Dank had only positive things to say about SIA when Roshad knew him. “I am not trying to minimize the serious allegations that resulted in Paisius's termination as a priest, but if Sam Dank is a ‘star witness’ to his alleged brutality; then I must question at least some of the charges that have been leveled against him.”
“It makes me so angry to have Mike Roshad essentially ignore the findings of the spiritual court because of what Sam said while still under the thumb of Father Paisius!” said Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP. “It’s not unusual for children in abusive situations to speak positively about their attackers. It takes time, distance and growing up for kids to fully appreciate the harm that has been done to them. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t telling the truth when they finally do make an out-cry!”
“It’s also not unusual for congregants, colleagues and friends to leap to defend the accused predator,” added Cappy Larson, also of SNAP. “Unfortunately, this reaction often scares other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers and discourages them from coming forward.”
“There are appropriate ways to support someone who has been accused of abuse,” said SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy. “But letters like Mike Roshad’s are hurtful and intimidating to all victims, not just the ones in this case.”