- Church officials push for more from support group
- They file new motion seeking more records & deposition
- And for 1st time, they also want info on bishop’s criminal case
- Victims also blast Finn for trying to “gut” state mandatory reporting law
- SNAP: “Both church legal moves have “far-reaching” impact & hurt non-Catholics too”
Holding signs and childhood photos at a news conference, clergy sex abuse victims disclose that lawyers for Kansas City Catholic officials are
-- ratcheting up their efforts, in a new 33 page court filing, to get more of their support group SNAP’s records, and
-- trying, for the first time, to get info from SNAP about the criminal case against KC’s embattled bishop.
The victims will also
-- blast KC’s Catholic bishop for his new defense maneuvers last week that will, if successful, gut Missouri’s law that requires certain professionals to report suspected child sex crimes to state authorities, and
-- warn other organizations – especially those dealing with rape, domestic violence and other crime victims- that their privacy may be violated and their records may be sought by defendants in future sex cases.
TODAY, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 1:30 p.m.
Outside the KC Catholic chancery (diocesan headquarters) 20 West Ninth Street (at Baltimore) in KC MO
Two-three child sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a St. Louis man who is the organization's long-time director
SNAP will provide copies of a new 33 page court filing by church defense lawyers. It seeks to force the support group to turn over records going back 23 years to defense lawyers for several KC area predator priests. And the motion asks a judge to order SNAP's director to sit for another deposition.
In January, in response to a subpoena, SNAP’s director was questioned under oath for 6+ hours by five church defense lawyers. The organization also turned over hundreds of pages of its records but withheld many more, citing Constitutional guarantees of free speech, freedom of expression and privacy. It was the first time in SNAP’s 23 year history that Catholic officials tried to get records from the organization.
In the new motion, church lawyers claim that Missouri’s rape crisis center “shield” law does NOT protect the privacy of a wide range of individuals who seek SNAP’s help. If successful, accused and/or suspended child molesting clerics could get hundreds (potentially thousands) of private correspondence and emails between SNAP staff and volunteer victim support group leaders and police, prosecutors, journalists, victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and concerned Catholics. The ruling also has implications for many types of organizations, SNAP maintains.
SNAP will also make public a letter it received last week from the diocese’s law firm Lathrop & Gage (signed by attorney Robert Rooney). In it, for the first time, church defense lawyers contend that SNAP must preserve records it may have that are “related in any way” to the case of “State of Missouri v. Robert F. Finn and the Kansas City Catholic Diocese.”
The group suspects that Finn and his lawyers will soon claim that somehow SNAP, prosecutors, journalists and victims’ lawyers are all “conspiring” against Finn in the criminal case involving Fr. Shawn Ratigan.
In that criminal case against Finn, initiated by a Jackson County grand jury, the bishop claims that Missouri's law requiring many professionals to report possible child abuse is unconstitutional. SNAP is highly critical of Finn's move. If Finn prevails, he could overturn the long-standing law that makes kids safer.
Finn also claims that he essentially has no duty to call authorities about suspected child sex crimes because he “delegates” that responsibility to others. SNAP thinks that claim is morally irresponsible.
Church defense lawyers involved in the SNAP deposition include James R. Wyrsch (816 221 0080, firstname.lastname@example.org, representing Fr. Francis McGlynn and Fr. Thomas Cronin), Gerald McGonagle (816 221 2222, representing Monsignor Thomas J. O'Brien), Martin Meyers (email@example.com, 816.444.8500, representing Fr. Cronin), Brian Madden (firstname.lastname@example.org, 816 701 1100, representing Fr. Michael Tierney), and Mara Cohara (email@example.com, 816 460 5760, representing the diocese).