CA- Almost 3 dozen victims come forward in Stockton
For immediate release: Tuesday, Sept. 16 2014
Statement by Tim Lennon of San Francisco, Bay Area Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (415-312-5820, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Stockton Catholic officials disclosed today that 34 victims of predator priests have come forward in recent months. We suspect this number – 34 victims of Stockton predator clergy - is a drop in the bucket. The real total, we believe, is much higher.
Our hearts ache for all of these victims, especially those who were not able to come forward by the Stockton bishop's callous and arbitrary deadline.
Even predator priests who are “not in active ministry” are still dangerous, which is why it is crucial that Stockton's bishop lets parishioners, police and the public know who and where they are.
A judge required Stockton Catholic officials to do “extensive outreach.” How could the Stockton diocese brag about this same “extensive outreach” if they were compelled to do it by the court?
Stockton church officials claim that a court order means “all information about these claims is confidential.” That does not, however, prevent Stockton Bishop Blaire from publicly disclosing the names, whereabouts and work histories of the proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics. Stockton's bishop should do this, for the protection of the vulnerable and the healing of the wounded.
We note that the Diocese is not interested in “resolving outstanding claims as fairly as possible.” It's interested in avoiding embarrassing child sex abuse and cover up trials. Church officials are interested in avoiding depositions at which they and other church officials will face tough questions on why they acted recklessly, deceitfully and callously with clergy sex predators.
The high church officials are interested in focusing public attention on those who commit child sex crimes, not on those church officials who conceal them. These officials are interested in protecting the careers and reputations of past and current officials. Their actions are not focused on the healing of the wounded and the protection of the vulnerable. And they’re interested in focusing on money, not corruption.
Finally, at a bare minimum, Stockton church officials should disclose how many of the 34 complaints of sexual abuse involve priests who have not yet been publicly identified as abusers. All US bishops have repeatedly pledged to be “transparent” about clergy sex crimes. Few bishops honor this pledge. But it's the least Catholic officials can do to help prevent future child sex crimes and cover ups.
We beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups in Stockton – regardless of whether the wrongdoers are deceased or alive, diocesan or religious order, still in the area or elsewhere – to speak up, get help, contact the police and appropriate secular authorities. We need to work together to protect kids and help those who have been harmed on to a healing path.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have 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)
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.