AZ--Victims urge response to today’s Feit developments
For immediate release: Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, firstname.lastname@example.org)
We’re disappointed but not surprised that
--John Feit says he’ll fight extradition
--staff at a Phoenix charity knew Feit was a suspected murderer but kept him around vulnerable families anyway,
--Brownsville’s bishop is trying to distance himself from this horrific while apparently doing nothing to help solve it.
And we’re grateful that a Maricopa County judge sent a $750,000 bond for Feit.
We hope that
--Feit will reverse his decision to fight extradition,
--his former church colleagues and supervisors will try to persuade him to reconsider,
--officials at the Phoenix Catholic charity will aggressively seek out anyone among their staff and clients who may have been hurt by Feit, and
--Catholic bishops in four states (TX, NM, AZ, and MO) will show leadership and do outreach to any others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Feit.
St. Vincent de Paul executive director Steve Zabilski said Feit worked with and trained volunteers at “many food pantries around Phoenix.” How could they be so reckless? Feit pled no contest to assaulting one young woman. He was suspected to have murdered another one. So how can Catholic officials justify giving him access to thousands more young women, especially vulnerable, needy ones who go to a charity seeking help
Remember, Feit wasn’t even given a desk job. He had a training position. He was given a leadership role that mandated his involvement with perhaps thousands of individuals.
And shame on Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores. Instead of praising those who exposed or investigated or warned others about Feit, he stressed that the case “dates back to 1960.” How’s that help? What purpose does that already-widely-known fact serve other than promote complacency?
This is what bishops do in child sex abuse and cover up cases. They emphasize how long ago the crimes happened, in a blatant attempt to mollify their flocks. Instead, they should be motivating their flocks and staffs to help law enforcement resolve these cases.
We also hope that bishops in every place where Feit worked or lived – Missouri, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico – will do their moral and civic duty by doing all they can to find other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers who can enable law enforcement to successfully prosecute Feit.
Accused priests often get top notch lawyers who exploit legal loopholes, evade justice, and get little or no jail time even if convicted. So now is not the time to get complacent. It’s the time to work harder to find and help those with information or suspicions about clergy crimes and cover ups in Texas, Missouri, Arizona or New Mexico.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)