A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Catholic bishops in California and Texas to warn their flocks about a priest who is accused of attempted rape.
In June, Lt. Cmdr. Fr. Steven Hicks was suspended from his post at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentypine, CA after allegations of sexual abuse were made by a sailor in the United States Navy.
Fr. Hicks has worked as an armed forces chaplain for almost twenty years, beginning with the Air Force in 1993 and then transferring to the Navy two years later. He was ordained in the San Angelo Diocese but has worked for many years within the San Diego Diocese too.
Leaders of SNAP, the Surivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are urging San Angelo Bishop Michael Pfeifer and San Diego Bishop Robert Brom to “do everything in their power” to see if there are other victims of Fr. Hicks within their dioceses.
“Sex crimes are very rarely a one-time occurrence,” said SNAP director David Clohessy of St. Louis. “It is possible that there are others who are suffering in silence, and we want them to know that they don’t have to suffer alone anymore.”
SNAP wants Pfeifer and Brom to use diocesan resources such as websites, parish bulletins, and pulpit announcements to reach out to parishioners and encourage others who may have knowledge of Fr. Hicks’ crimes to come forward.
“We just want to find these other victims and help them in their healing process,” said Clohessy. “Their burden will be much easier to bear if they share it with others.”
Fr. Hicks is currently under a restraining order forbidding him to come within 100 yards of the victim. This was granted because of threats that Hicks allegedly made to the victim. SNAP says this makes him even more dangerous.
“If he’s intimidating witnesses and whistleblowers now, our guess is that he’s done it before,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director. “It’s safer to assume that there are others who have been intimidated into silence and take steps to find them than not.”