Civil Lawsuits Help Criminal Prosecution
Florida’s most notorious predator priest, Fr. Neil Doherty, pled no contest on January 14 to molesting kids. Police and prosecutors built a strong case against him, in part, because of evidence unearthed in more than 20 civil lawsuits against Doherty over the years.
It’s a part of the clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis that few people are aware of: the fact that civil lawsuits can lead to criminal prosecution of predators. Civil litigation enables victims and their advocates to expose long-secret church records as a part of the “discovery” process (including critical evidence—documents, photos, depositions, personnel files—that criminal investigations often overlook). The result: more predators are convicted and kept away from kids.
Civil litigation has led to the arrests of other predators, including Fr. Bruce MacArthur, Fr. A. J. Cote, and Fr. Donald McGuire (the Jesuit who was once Mother Teresa’s confessor). It’s happened at least six times in California alone (with Fr. George Neville Rucker, Fr. Denis Lyons, Fr. Michael Wempe, Fr. Michael Baker, and Fr. Edward Anthony Rodrigue).
Law enforcement authorities are human. They’re often overworked and underpaid. They always have plenty on their plates.
But when an abuse victim or his/her lawyer walk into the police station with dozens or hundreds of files about a credibly accused child molester, it makes the job of secular officials considerably easier.
So remember this the next time you hear a church official or congregant say “these victims, these lawsuits, it’s all about the money.” That’s what many who help or enable child molesters want you to think. But it’s about prevention too, by both deterring future crimes and cover ups and by locking up the predators.
Join us at the 2019 SNAP National Conference!
The annual SNAP National Conference is your opportunity to connect with other survivors and advocates from around the country for a weekend of learning, healing and fun. This year's conference will be held from July 26-28 at the Westin Alexandria Hotel. Don't wait! Register for the conference today and be sure reserve your room at the Westin using our special discounted rate!
Stay tuned for more details included keynotes, workshop highlights, and more.Register Today