AR--Abuse victims blast AR state board of ed

AR--Abuse victims blast AR state board of ed

Group blasts state board of education

It gives convicted teacher a chance to teach again

She knew about but delayed reporting a colleague’s crimes

Organization urges officials to reconsider their recent decision

Group also urges “victims, witnesses and whistleblowers” to “speak up”

WHAT

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, members of a support group for clergy abuse victims will

--blast the Arkansas Board of Education for giving a convicted teacher a chance to teach again,

--urge the board to reconsider its decision, and

--beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes or cover ups in schools to “come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers and protect kids.”   

 WHEN

Thursday, July 23 at 11:00 A.M.

WHERE

On the sidewalk outside the Arkansas State Board of Education, Four Capitol Mall in downtown Little Rock

WHO

Two-three members of an independent, non-denominational and confidential self-help and advocacy group for those abused in churches called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

WHY

A victims group is blasting the Arkansas Department of Education over its recent ruling in the case of a teacher who delayed for weeks telling law enforcement about a colleague’s child sex crimes.

SNAP is calling on the state board to reverse its decision to give Kathy Gene Griffin a chance to teach again in one year. http://bit.ly/1IeWzIj (7/10/15 Arkansas Online)

Two weeks ago, the board suspended Griffin’s teaching license because she was convicted in September 2013 of delaying for weeks to report abuse by Kelly O’Rourke, another teacher. (O’Rourke pleaded guilty to abuse in January 2013.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-vqq1FBA8Q

Both worked at Mount St. Mary Academy (3224 Kavanaugh Blvd, 501-664-8006,http://www.mtstmary.edu/) in the Little Rock Catholic diocese, which is headed by Bishop Anthony Taylor(501-664-0340.)

“Child predators like O’Rourke are rarely deterred by penalties. But abuse enablers like Griffin can be deterred, but the penalties have to be severe, not light, like a one year license suspension,” said Bill Lindsey of SNAP. “The state board is saying ‘If you do little or nothing about suspected abuse, that’s no big deal here.’ That’s dreadfully reckless and callous.” 

“Kids were put in danger by Griffin’s irresponsible secrecy,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis. She’s the outreach director for SNAP. “The state board could have deterred future cover ups of child sex crimes. But this ‘slap on the wrist’ won’t do it. So we hope they’ll reverse themselves and send a powerful message to educators across the state that calling police and prosecutors is crucial.”

“Unfortunately, the institutional wrongdoers – the Little Rock Catholic diocese and Mt. St. Mary’s School – continue to escape consequences for their reckless, callous and deceitful behavior in this case,” said Dorris. “Neither school nor church officials made any real effort to help police and prosecutors pursue these criminals. They minimized the crimes by O’Rourke and Griffin and refused to lift a finger to help find more victims, witnesses or whistleblowers.”

“We hope others who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by O’Rourke or Griffin – or any other Catholic employee – will come forward, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing,” Dorris said.

Griffin’s attorney is Clayton Blackstock (501 378 7870info@mitchellblackstock.com). Education Department attorney Jennifer Liwo (Jennifer.Liwo@arkansas.gov) presented the case against Griffin to the board.

O’Rourke also lived in Florida. Griffin recently worked (and may still work) for the Southwest Arkansas Development Council in Texarkana (headed by Sandra Patterson, http://swadc.com/contact/). SNAP believes she lives in Hope, Arkansas.

https://docsdms.pulaskiclerk.com/DocsDMS/Default.aspx?A=3/ck_image.present?DMS_ID=ZO7Q9EJPBS9N15MDKQ2ENP1C86SY74

“We worry that O’Rourke may have hurt kids in Florida too,” said Dorris. “We hope Arkansas Catholic Bishop Andrew Taylor will aggressively reach out to others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by O’Rourke or cover ups by Griffin. And we hope Taylor will beg his colleagues in Florida to do the same.”

Griffin’s sentence, levied in September 2013, was a year’s probation and $2,500 fine. O’Rourke’s sentence, levied in October 2013, was ten years in prison.

ttp://edboard.arkansas.gov/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=248

ftp://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/acts/2009/Public/ACT1173.pdf

Here’s a video of the Board of Education meeting about Griffin (start at 3:04:30)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-vqq1FBA8Q

CONTACT:

David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com), Bill Lindsey(501-993-7933wdlindsy@swbell.net), Stephen Schafer (501-993-7931), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)  

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