FL--Abuse victims "out" new Tampa predator priest
Abuse victims “out” new predator priest
Church officials have settled at least one case against him
Now, a second accuser, a retired cop, is stepping forward
Crimes happened at now-closed a Catholic school in Tampa
At least four other credibly accused clerics worked there
SNAP: “Other victims, witnesses & whistleblowers should speak up”
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, two clergy sex abuse victims will
--expose, for the first time ever, a priest who has been accused of molesting kids,
--disclose that Catholic officials have settled with at least one of his victims,
--give copies of a legal document, dated last year, about the predator priest,
--read a short, anonymous statement by a second accuser, and
--beg anyone who has seen, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in the Tampa/St. Pete area to “come forward, call police, protect kids, expose predators, and start healing.
Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 2:15 p.m.
Outside the now-closed Mary Help of Christians parish/school, 6400 East Chelsea Street (813 626 7588) in Tampa FL
Two-four abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
Copies of a 2014 abuse settlement will be released along with a photo of one of the victims as a child.
Last year, Catholic officials quietly paid a settlement to a man who was sexually abused as a child by a priest at a Tampa school. The priest has never before been publicly accused before. But now, a second alleged victim of his is stepping forward.
For years, Fr. Innocenti Clementi worked at Mary Help of Christians School in Tampa. (It’s now closed but was run by a New Rochelle NY-based Catholic religious order called the Salesians). Fr. Clementi was removed from the school in 1974 and was then sent to the Salesian Boys & Girls Club in Boston.
SNAP just learned of the settlement and believes Catholic officials are “acting selfishly, recklessly and callously” by keeping it secret. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops have pledged to be “open and transparent” in clergy sex cases. In 2002, they adopted a formal nationwide policy that allegedly mandates such “openness.”
“But Catholic officials are still making secret settlements and hiding the identity and whereabouts of proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “We can’t help but wonder how many other child molesting clerics have worked and lived – and perhaps STILL work and live – in the Tampa/St. Pete area and whose crimes and identities are being shielded by the church hierarchy.”
“We call on the Salesians and other Catholic officials to publicly release the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of each abusive priest, nun, brother, seminarian and church employee who has hurt kids in this area or has spent time in this area,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s executive director. “Wounded victims should not have to bear the burden of warning police, prosecutors, parents and parishioners about sex offender priests.”
The second alleged Fr. Clementi victim now lives out of state, came from a lower-income, single-parent home and is now in 71 years old. He has not taken legal action but shares SNAP’s goal of reaching out “to anyone who was sexually assaulted and now suffers in shame, silence and self-blame.”
Fr. Clementi’s alleged crimes took place in the 1950s and 1960s.
Information from the Official Catholic Directory shows that Fr. Clementi was ordained in 1951. His whereabouts are unknown. SNAP believes (though isn’t sure) that Fr. Clementi may have worked at St. Anthony's Church in Paterson NJ (in the Paterson diocese) and at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in New Brunswick NJ (in the Metuchen diocese).
Other proven, admitted or credibly accused predator priests who worked at the school include Fr. Jorge Acosta (sued by two men in 2005, admitted crimes against three kids in 2007), Fr. Terence O’Donnell (who was sued in 2003 for molesting boys in the 1990s), Fr. Kevin O’Brien (a former principal of the school who was sued in 2005) and Brother William Burke (who faced at least two allegations and may have moved to Virginia in 2005).
At least one of Fr. Clementi’s victims was represented by Pinellas Park attorney Joseph H. Saunders (800 748 7115, 727 579 4500, Joe@saunderslawyers.com). The Salesians are at 914 633 8344 and Tampa/St. Petersburg Bishop William Lynch is at 727 344 1611.
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.