DC--Victims call for removal of Hastert’s portrait in Congress
For immediate release: Thursday, June 4
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
To help abuse victims and deter cover ups, we call on House speaker John Boehner to take down the portrait of Dennis Hastert in the Capitol.
Hastert’s name is being taken off of a campus building and a high school wrestling tournament.
Illinois lawmakers have reversed their plan to honor him with a statue.
It’s time that Congress take a simple but similar step toward healing and prevention, by removing the painting of Hastert.
To deprive an accused child molester of his liberty, a criminal conviction is needed.
To deprive an accused child molester of his honors, however, the bar is understandably and appropriately much lower. And one quick, easy way to discourage adults from committing or concealing heinous crimes against kids is to withdraw honors they may have achieved.
There are hundreds of thousands of adults who were assaulted as kids by predators. Many of them feel utterly hopeless about ever being able to expose their perpetrators. Predator-friendly laws, overworked police departments and politically timid prosecutors mean that few of their tormentors will ever face justice.
It rubs salt into their wounds when other predators are publicly honored. The least that politicians can do for these still-suffering victims is to stop giving accused child molesters public honors.
“You’re rushing to judgment,” some will say. We disagree. If we’re “rushing,” it’s to ease the pain of those who are struggling and to create a more welcoming and less oppressive climate for those who might be willing to report more child sex crimes and cover ups. This not about hurting Hastert himself. It’s about helping victims.
If somehow, down the road, it become clear that Hastert did not molest a child, the portrait can quickly be put back up. But history, psychology and common sense – plus the actions of the FBI, a US prosecutor and Hastert himself - all strongly suggest that he exploited his power over a youngster to sexually gratify himself. He does not deserve a place of honor in our nation’s Capital, even a symbolic one.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)