CT- Victims urge archbishop to drop his appeal
For immediate release: Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014
Statement by Claudia Vercellotti of Toledo, Northern Ohio leader of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (419 345 9291, SNAPtoledo@aol.com)
For years, in Ohio, Leonard Blair succeeded in keeping child sex abuse victims from gaining the chance to expose predators in court. Now, in Connecticut, he is trying to revoke the chance that child sex abuse victims here have long had to expose predators in court. Like hundreds of others who care about vulnerable children and wounded adults, I sorely hope he doesn't prevail. If he does, Connecticut may as well roll out the red carpet for those who would sexually assault youngsters.
I'm honored to be here today with men and women who are abuse victims and members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including an Ohio woman who exposed clergy sex crimes and cover ups by Hartford's archbishop when he headed the Toledo diocese for a decade (2003-2013).
Hartford's Catholic archbishop wants the Connecticut Supreme Court to make it much harder for victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to protect children, inside and outside of the church. He wants the court to toss out a widely-praised 12 year old state law that gives victims more time to expose those who commit and conceal child sex crimes through civil litigation.
He also wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to claim he's not coddling child molesters. But he wants to roll back Connecticut law so he can keep coddling child molesters. He wants to pretend he doesn't protect predators any more. But he wants the law help him protect predators. He wants to say he cares about kids. But he wants courts to enable more pedophiles to hurt more kids.
Here's who loses if Blair wins:
Innocent kids will lose, because more child molesters will hurt more kids.
Concerned parents will lose, because fewer of them will learn about adults who commit or conceal child sex crimes.
Wounded adults will lose, because fewer of them will get the healing and validation they need and deserve.
Catholics will lose, because their church will be more unsafe.
Employers will lose, because more of them will inadvertently hire child molesters who will remain under the radar.
And of course the brave victim of Fr. Ivan Ferguson will lose. He found the strength to speak up, seek justice, endure delays and persist through what must have been a very painful public trial. All that hard work and courage will no doubt feel like a terrible waste should Blair prevail. And it will be a third betrayal for him, having been betrayed first by a sex offender priest, then by a callous church hierarchy, and finally, again, by our justice system.
I'm not from Connecticut. But I strongly suspect that most citizens here, if asked, would say the state has become safer for children over the past dozen years or so. That begs the question then: Why turn back the clock? Why fix what's not broken?
Keep in mind, Blair doesn't want to make church policy worse. He wants to make secular policy worse. If he wins, he won't make just the church a more dangerous place. He will make Connecticut a more dangerous place.
Shame on him for trying.
But there's still time for him to reverse course. He could drop this appeal. He could admit that it's better for everyone if Connecticut law remains the same. He could opt for child safety, instead of child endangerment.
We call on him to stop throwing good money – parishioners' money - away. We call on him to stop his selfish move to protect archdiocesan secrets and start to protect Connecticut children instead.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have 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)