Clergy sex victims lose ruling, but case moves forward
Two child sex abuse lawsuits against the Providence Catholic diocese are still moving forward despite a judge’s decision in favor of the defendants. The cases involve alleged child sex crimes by Fr. Brendan Smyth and alleged recklessness by the Providence diocese. In the 1960s, Smyth worked at Our Lady of Mercy parish in East Greenwich RI.
Though they are taking legal action decades after they were allegedly hurt, the victims argued that the statute of limitations should be suspended because they repressed their memories of the abuse and because Catholic officials “fraudulently concealed” their knowledge of Smyth’s crimes.
Last week, Judge Netti Vogel ruled against the fraud claim. The repressed memory argument will be heard later.
“We think it’s reprehensible when Catholic bishops, who purport to be caring shepherds, act in court like cold-hearted CEOs,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “If Bishop Tobin honestly believes this once-imprisoned priest is innocent, Tobin should defend the case on its merits, not by exploiting legal technicalities.”
Smyth, who has spent time in both Rhode Island and in Ireland, previously spent four years in jail in Ireland in 1995 after being found guilty of 17 counts of molesting nine children (five girls and four boys) between 1964 and 1988. In 1997, while he was still in prison, Smyth was sentenced to an additional 12 years behind bars after being convicted of molesting at least twenty other children. A month after that sentence was handed down, Smyth died in prison. He is believed to have molested at least 50 children between the two countries.
One of the alleged victims, Helen McGonigle, is an attorney and lives in Connecticut.
The victim is represented by attorney Mike Reck 714 742 6593, 651 227 9990, MReck@andersonadvocates.com,
The lawsuits were filed in August 2008 in Providence Superior Court.
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.