- Child sex victims want two new abuse grand juries
- SNAP: “Such widespread wrongdoing merits a 2nd look”
- Group shows examples of excessive archdiocesan redactions
- Victims say Catholic officials are still protecting other Catholic officials
- Police probe is good but grand jury subpoena powers are better, group says
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will urge:
-- local and federal prosecutors to launch new grand jury investigations into the LA Catholic archdiocese, and
-- victims, witnesses, police, prosecutors, church employees and lay Catholics to come forward, “now more than ever,” so that at least a few men who hid predator priests might face criminal charges.
They will also provide 10-20 pages of documents that show how Archbishop Gomez’ lawyers have excessively redacted information about complicit church officials in the thousands of recently released LA abuse files
Wednesday, February 6 at 11:00 a.m.
Outside the US District Attorney’s office, 312 North Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles, CA
Four-to-five victims of child sex abuse and their supporters who are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including one Spanish-speaking victim and a former priest and cannon lawyer who is an expert witness in clergy sex case (and has examined the recently–released documents in detail).
SNAP members are urging US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to convene new grand juries to investigate possible criminal charges against current and former LA Catholic officials for committing perjury, obstructing justice, destroying evidence, and similar offenses.
The LAPD has announced it is combing through the files, and SNAP has confidence in the police.
But SNAP believes a grand jury may be a better approach because of its subpoena powers. The group also feels that if a grand jury is empaneled, other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers (including some with information about more recent wrongdoing by church officials) may voluntarily step forward.
In 2011, a grand jury in Philadelphia released a report that resulted in criminal charges against three priests and one teacher for sexual assault, and a high ranking church official for child endangerment. In 2012, former Philadelphia Vicar General Msgr. William Lynn was convicted of child endangerment. Last month a priest and lay teacher also indicted by the grand jury were convicted of child sexual abuse.
In six other US dioceses, grand juries have looked into local Catholic dioceses, been unable to issue indictments, but have produced long, scathing reports that detail widespread clergy sex crimes and devious cover-ups. SNAP believes those reports have helped educate the public and deter future cover-ups. They have also prompted lawmakers to reform archaic, predator-friendly laws so that more victims and more prosecutors can expose and pursue child molesters and their enablers in court.
Over the past decade, there have been statewide clergy sex abuse and cover-up investigations by attorneys general in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, plus local investigations by prosecutors in Philadelphia, Westchester County NY, and Suffolk County NY. All have culminated in lengthy public reports.
Several years ago, the U.S. attorney’s office investigated the archdiocese but brought no charges. Some speculated that alleged violations of the federal “honest services” law were being considered but the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the potential use of that statute.
A canon lawyer and ex-priest, who has thoroughly studied the just-released records, will give out copies of 10-20 pages of documents showing how Archbishop Jose Gomez’ lawyers are continuing to hide the identities of corrupt church officials by excessively and inappropriately redacting their names.
According to the independent website BishopAccountability.org, there are 260 publicly accused child molesting clerics in the LA archdiocese. SNAP believes the actual number is considerably higher.