For immediate release: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
More clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuits against the scandal-ridden Los Angeles Catholic diocese will be disclosed tomorrow.
Our hearts ache for each one of these brave victims and for millions of LA parishioners who continue to be deceived and betrayed by a corrupt Catholic hierarchy.
We are convinced that Archbishop Jose Gomez agreed to these settlements because he dreaded the devastating disclosures of church complicity that would have happened had any of these gone to trial. In each of these cases, we firmly believe that several Catholic officials knew of or suspected these clerics' crimes long ago and kept them hidden for years, leaving unsuspecting families and vulnerable children at risk of tremendous harm.
Few cases more clearly show the recklessness, callousness and deceptiveness of top Catholic officials than the Fr. Nicolas Aguilar Rivera case. LA Cardinal Roger Mahony and Mexico Cardinal Norberto Rivera both acted selfishly and deceitful throughout that case.
We are grateful to these courageous men and women for finding the strength to speak up, the wisdom to seek justice and the persistence to endure long delays by Catholic officials.
We are especially worried about families who are now around Aguilar. He is such an aggressive and shrewd predator.
And we are especially worried about victims of Rene Valmonte who died of AIDS and who, we believe, has never been publicly exposed until today. It's hard for all victims to heal, but it's even harder when there's no public acknowledgement of the predators' crimes.
We desperately hope that anyone who saw, suspected and suffered these clerics' crimes will step forward. Even if the predators cannot now be prosecuted, we hope that at least some of the many Catholic employees – past and present – who ignored or concealed these crimes might face criminal charges. That's the best way to deter future cover ups.
(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 15,000 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)