April 11, 2012, New York – Today, a survivor-led support group for sex abuse victims, which is under attack by U.S. Catholic officials, submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) new and extensive documentation that the organization says shows ongoing child rape by Catholic clergy and continuing cover-ups by bishops and Vatican officials. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) says the new evidence, submitted by SNAP’s attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights, underscores the urgent need to prevent future child sex crimes and cover-ups and hold church officials accountable for widespread human rights abuses.
Nearly 500 victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and supporters from 65 different countries have reached out to SNAP since September when the organization filed the complaint with the ICC.
“We’re grateful so many brave but wounded and fearful victims across the world are starting to speak up and get help,” said Barbara Blaine, SNAP’s president “But we’re still shocked by how aggressively church officials still hide, ignore and enable clerics to assault kids, escape justice and flee elsewhere while focusing almost strictly on damage control and public relations maneuvers.”
“The documentation we presented today includes evidence that has come to light in the six months since we filed the original submission,” said CCR senior staff attorney Pam Spees. “These developments demonstrate yet again both how widespread this human rights crisis is and how it tragically continues.”
In addition to the new evidence, CCR attorneys alerted the office of the Prosecutor to retaliatory legal moves against SNAP by Catholic leaders in the U.S. Media reports have documented an orchestrated effort by church leaders targeting SNAP. It includes repeated subpoenas seeking decades of confidential documents and grilling by church lawyers in a deposition – all in cases to which SNAP is not a party. The attacks on SNAP have been acknowledged and justified by one prominent Catholic figure who claims that SNAP is “menace to the Catholic church” and who acknowledged that “[t]he bishops have come together collectively. I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough.”
CCR submitted the documents to supplement nearly 22,000 pages of materials filed with a September 2011 complaint urging the ICC to investigate and prosecute Vatican officials for their complicity in crimes against humanity on behalf of SNAP.
The jurisdiction of the ICC includes rape, sexual violence, and torture as crimes against humanity. It also provides for individual criminal liability for those with command or superior responsibility over those who directly commit such crimes.
SNAP is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. It has existed for 23 years and has more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in its title, it has members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Visit www.snapnetwork.org.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org and follow @theCCR.
As horrendous as this as sex abuse towards minors is, it is not the Achilles Heel of the hierarchs. Something much more fundamental is.Â