CA- Pastor deemed guilty of abuse by jury gets a new post, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Friday, July 11, 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)
A California priest, found guilty of child sexual abuse by a jury, is being promoted. We are deeply concerned about this move and urge Catholic officials to reconsider.
Fr. Eric Swearingen is the new pastor of a Catholic church in Visalia. He will oversee four parishes and a school. This is a dreadfully irresponsible decision.
No one knows more about the child sex abuse charges against Fr. Swearingen than the 12 impartial jurors who listened to days of evidence and testimony. By a 9-3 margin, they voted that it was "more than likely" that he molested a boy. So parents can choose to believe a charming accused child molester or his boss. Or they can choose to believe unbiased citizens who looked closely at all the facts.
You can choose to be prudent and keep your kids away from Fr. Swearingen. Or you can choose to be reckless.
Because Fr. Swearingen is charismatic and eloquent, we worry that parents will not be vigilant about protecting their children around him. We beg parents to exercise caution.
We urge Fresno Catholic officials to reverse this dangerous decision and tell parishioners about the allegations against Swearingen and the jury's decision. We also urge parishioners to be compassionate and support victims instead of predators.
We hope anyone who was hurt by Fr. Swearingen or any other Catholic official will find the courage to come forward, call police and start healing.
(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.
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.