DC--Victims urge action on predator priest who worked in DC
For immediate release: Tuesday, July 28
Statement by Becky Ianni of Burke VA, DC area director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (703 801 6044,SNAPvirginia@cox.net)
Newly-released information shows that a credibly accused serial predator priest headed a DC area HIV/AIDS non-profit before he quietly passed away a few years ago.
The work history of Fr. James "Jim" R. Nickel has just been posted on line. From 2004-2008, Fr. Nickel ran Damien Ministries, an HIV/AIDS organization in Washington DC, despite facing at least three accusers. One of them received a six figure settlement. The other two filed civil abuse and cover up lawsuits with an experienced clergy sex abuse attorney.
But as best we can tell, Washington area Catholic officials did nothing to warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors or the public about Fr. Nickel. Nor have they, since Nickel’s passing, taken any steps to find and help others who may have been hurt by him.
Shame on Cardinal Donald Wuerl, his predecessor Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and their staffs.
Common sense tells us that there are almost certainly other victims of Fr. Nickel suffering in silence. The official national Catholic church abuse policy tells us bishops are to “reach out” to the wounded. The Bible tells us to “leave the 99” and go out into the cold searching for the one “lost sheep.”
But this isn’t happening with Fr. Nickel. And it’s not happening in DC or in virtually any diocese on the planet with virtually any predator priest.
Again, shame on every staff member of the Washington DC archdiocese who timidly tolerates such irresponsible and self-serving secrecy. If one DC area man or woman who was assaulted by Fr. Nickel commits suicide, the blame lies squarely with every current or former Catholic staffer here who knew about or suspected Fr. Nickel’s crimes and kept silent.
We beg every single person who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Nickel or cover ups by archdiocesan staff to step forward, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect others, deter cover ups and start healing. We especially beg them to seek out independent sources of support and to call secular authorities not church bureaucrats.
Fr. Nickel was a priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary He was ordained in 1970, died in 2008, and worked in California (La Puente in the Los Angeles archdiocese), Minnesota (Winona in the Winona diocese and Minnieska in the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese) and in Massachusetts (West Harwish, Fairhaven and Dennisport in the Fall River diocese) and in the Bahamas (in the Nassau diocese)
(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)
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.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
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.