CA--Diocese featured in today's NYTimes keeps guilty predator on the job
For immediate release: Tuesday, Sept. 22
A page one New York Times story today reports a priest shortage in the Fresno Diocese.
That shortage is likely one reason that found guilty in a civil trial of molesting a boy but remains in a parish there.
He's Fr. Eric Swearingen. He heads four Catholic churches in Visalia, a town mentioned in the Times article.
And he’s one of about a dozen proven, admitted or credibly accused US priests who are still on the job in the US now. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/10/pope-francis-remove-the-usas-predator-priests/
A 2006 jury voted 9-3 that Fr. Eric abused Juan Rocha. But they deadlocked on the second question facing them: whether diocesan officials should have known about and prevented the abuse. So technically, it was a mistrial. But an impartial panel heard the evidence and decided, by a sufficient margin, legally speaking, that Fr. Eric had molested a boy.
Yet he’s still in parish work, despite thousands of “zero tolerance” abuse pledges by US bishops over decades.
Bishop Armando Ochoa is not only keeping Fr. Swearingen on the job around largely unsuspecting families. But last year, he promoted Fr. Swearingen. (Ochoa is the second Fresno bishop to keep Fr. Swearingen around kids. His predecessor, Bishop John Steinbock, did as well, even after the court decision.)
Lately, there’s been considerable attention on predator priests – proven and accused – being sent to the developing world from the developed world and still ministering. But this isn’t just a “foreign” problem. Proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests are still in parishes in the US as well.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, email@example.com)
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.