AR--Group challenges LR bishop on abuse
Group challenges bishop on abuse
They’re worried about recently ousted priest
SNAP: Catholic officials should seek out other victims
Predator’s whereabouts should be disclosed, group says
And victims want diocese to post predators’ names on websites
Holding signs and children’s photos at a sidewalk news conference, leaders of a support group for clergy sex abuse victims will prod Arkansas’ top Catholic official to take more action about a recently-ousted priest who engaged in sexual misconduct. Specifically, the group wants Arkansas’ bishop to use church resources to
-- more aggressively seek out others who may have seen, suspected or suffered the cleric’s misdeeds,
-- warn prospective employers and others about him,
-- educate parishioners about adult clergy sexual misconduct, and
-- permanently post on his church websites the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.
Saturday, November 8, at 2:00 p.m.
On the sidewalk outside the Little Rock Catholic diocese headquarters (“chancery office”), 2500 N. Tyler St. (near Hawthorne Road) in Little Rock (501-664-0340)
Two-three members of an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Missouri man who is the organization’s long time director. (He and his brothers were molested as a child by a priest. One of them grew up to become a priest and molested children himself.)
Copies of a bishop’s message about the case & an Arkansas Democrat story about it will be available.
Five weeks ago, Arkansas’ top Catholic official disclosed that a priest would be permanently defrocked because he committed “predatory” sexual misconduct with several adults and violated the sanctity of the confessional.
On Sept. 27-28, at churches in Russellville, Dardanelle and Danville, Bishop Anthony Taylor announced that Fr. James Melnick would be “laicized” or kicked out of the priesthood. Taylor said that Fr. faces “credible allegations of sexual misconduct” by “multiple adult victims” and that his actions seem “predatory.”
But that’s not enough, SNAP says. Taylor should give more details about when abuse reports first surfaced against Fr. Melnick, so parishioners and the public know whether church officials addressed the matter promptly or tried to keep it quiet for weeks or months, the group says.
And Taylor should disclose where Fr. Melnick is now, SNAP says. Since he has not yet been defrocked, church law and practice dictates that Taylor must keep paying Fr. Melnick, the group asserts, so Taylor knows where Fr. Melnick is now and should make that information public.
In 17 states, it's illegal for any clergy to have any sexual contact with congregants (adults or children). If Fr. Melnick cannot be criminally charged, SNAP says it’s possible that other Catholic employees might be prosecuted on charges of witness tampering, destruction of evidence, intimidation of victims, obstruction of justice, etc.
So SNAP wants Taylor to urge “anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered” misconduct by Fr. Melnick to contact law enforcement.
Fr. Melnick has been replaced by Fr. Mauricio Carrasco. Fr. Melnick is a Cabot native who graduated from Holy Trinity seminary in Irving Texas and a 2009 graduate of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He was ordained 2009.
2) For the safely of innocent kids and vulnerable adults, SNAP wants Taylor to permanently post on the diocesan and parish websites the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics who have lived or worked in Arkansas. Over the past 12 years, roughly 30 bishops in the US have done this (almost always when facing harsh public criticism for proven or admitted cover ups.)
This is the “bare minimum” bishops should do, SNAP says, to “protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded” especially since bishops “recruit, educate, ordain, train, transfer and shield predator priests” and then often “cut them loose when they’re caught molesting kids but refuse to adequately warn the police, prosecutors or the public about them.” It is a “simple, inexpensive, common sense way to safeguard kids,” SNAP says.
According to a Boston-based independent research group called BishopAccountabilty.org, there are two publicly accused Arkansas Catholic clerics. SNAP notes that the actual number of area pedophile priests is likely much higher because BishopAccountabilty.org lists only those clerics against whom allegations have been lodged in the public domain in civil lawsuits, criminal prosecution or news accounts.
In 2002, Baltimore became the first US diocese to disclose predators’ names. A good current example is the Philadelphia archdiocese: http://archphila.org/protection/Updates/update_main.htm .
Here’s a list of bishops who have posted predator priests’ names:
There are at least two publicly accused Arkansas priests who reportedly molested children: Fr. Nicholas Fuhrmann and Fr. Vance Zebulon Thorne. There are others, like Fr. Melnick and Fr. Charles Kanu (who worked in Helena, Marianna, Mountain Home, Tontitown, Huntsville and North Little Rock), who are accused of abusing adults.
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.
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.