CT--Predator priest case goes to Supreme Court
Predator priest case goes to Supreme Court
Cleric claims 15 year old basically consented
Victims group deplores “mean-spirited legal hardball”
SNAP also prods archbishop to post pedophiles’ name
About 30 US Catholic officials have taken this “safety step”
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will disclose that
--an unusual clergy sex case has been accepted by the CT Supreme Court,
--it’s against a never-before-accused priest who lived in CT for 65 years, and
--it focuses on whether a 15 year old victim “consented” because he didn’t fight back when he was being assaulted.
The victims will also
--call on Hartford Catholic officials to post predator priests’ names on church websites, and
--beg anyone “who saw, suspected or suffered” clergy sex crimes in Connecticut to “call secular authorities, not church officials.”
Thursday, June 9 at 2:30 p.m.
On the sidewalk outside the Cathedral of St. Joseph, 140 Farmington Ave. (near corner of Sigourney) in Hartford CT
Three-four victims of clergy sex abuse and their supporters who belong to a group called SNAP, the Survivors network of those Abused by Priests, including a Missouri man who is the organization’s long-time director
1.Connecticut’s highest court has agreed to hear an appeal by a man who says he was repeatedly molested by a Hartford priest who has never been publicly accused of abuse before. Despite a full trial, the case has attracted no public or media attention thus far.
A Hartford archdiocesan priest, Fr. Peter G. Mitchell, who passed away just last month, reportedly sexually violated young “Edward Doe” from 1980-1981 in a car, his house, and a parking lot near a school in New Haven. Fr. Mitchell passed away just last month.
In June 2015, after a trial, a New Haven County jury found that the priest molested the then-15 year old boy. But the judge inappropriately applied a criminal standard to a civil case, SNAP says. And since Connecticut’s “age of consent” was 15 at that time, and the victim didn’t physically resist, he lost his case.
“The court should recognize that sex abusers carefully groom and choose those who can’t or don’t fight back, which is usually the case,” said New Haven attorney Tom McNamara (203-782-9241, firstname.lastname@example.org), who represents the victim in this case. Since 1992, he’s handled dozens of abuse cases against institutions and predators.
“It’s shameful that this priest is exploiting technicalities and playing legal hardball against a deeply wounded man who was manipulated and victimized as a vulnerable youngster,” said David Clohessy of SNAP. “Well-educated, well-spoken and shrewd predators like Fr. Mitchell skillfully select victims who are usually already in pain or simply cannot resist their often cunning and subtle maneuvers. Any reasonable justice system must recognize this sad and painful imbalance of power and make allowances for suffering victims to expose dangerous child molesters in court despite not having physically fought back during the horrific crimes.”
The case, which SNAP says has statewide impact was filed in the Superior Court of New Haven in 2012. Judge John J. Nazzaro presided over the trial. The victim filed a motion for a new trial in June 2015 and last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
Fr. Mitchell is represented by attorney Hubert Santos of Hartford. Copies of the victim’s lawsuit will be available at the news conference.
Fr. Mitchell was born in White Plains, New York, went to seminaries in Bloomfield and Baltimore and was ordained in 1951. He worked at the following churches: St. Patrick Church in Mystic, St. Mary Church in Derby, St. John the Evangelist in West Hartford (1957-1961), St. Aedan Church in New Haven (1961-1968), Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Woodbridge (1968-1979), St. Clare Parish in East Haven, St. Mary Church in Branford and St. Mary Church in Derby (1997 until his retirement in 2001). Fr. Mitchell was also chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford where he passed away on May 20.
The Hartford archdiocese is not named as a defendant in the case because the perpetrator and victim met outside of a religious setting or context.
2.For “the protection of kids, the healing of victims and the health of the church,” SNAP is also urging Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair to post on church websites the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics who live/lived or work/worked in the Hartford area. About 30 US bishops (including Bridgeport’s) have done this.
In January, Seattle’s archbishop posted names of 77 predator priests.
Last month, bishops in Altoona PA and Baltimore MD posted predators’ names.
According to an independent archive of the Catholic abuse crisis called BishopAccountability.org, there are 37 publicly accused predator priests in Hartford (not counting Fr. Mitchell), 36 in Bridgeport and 19 in Norwich. SNAP suspects the real numbers are considerably higher.
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.