For immediate release: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A Venice Catholic official gave a clergy sex abuse victim a damning document about a predator priest, a document which has now been made public. It clearly shows that the victim told the truth and the priest told lies.
We are grateful to the church official who was brave and caring enough to provide this nine-page ruling by a church court to a man who was sexually assaulted as a child by Fr. Jean Ronald Joseph in Ft. Myers. (We don't know the church official's name.)
Fr. Jean Ronald Joseph was accused of molesting a boy and “sleeping with young boys multiple times.” Last year, a church panel found that Fr. Joseph “touched genital area and penis” and “did not cooperate with attempts of reformation by the diocese.”
Not a single Catholic official or employee in the Venice diocese – from bishop to bookkeeper – disciplined or even denounced Fr. Joseph for such a hurtful and intimidating move. Nor did a single church staffer call the police about these alleged heinous crimes. Shame on them.
Venice Bishop Frank Dewane should publicly apologize for tolerating Fr. Joseph's cruel but shrewd media stunt in 2009. He should also personally visit each parish where Fr. Joseph worked, begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call law enforcement. Finally, Bishop Dewane should write to his colleagues in Haiti, where Fr. Joseph allegedly lives now, and insist that they warn their flocks about this dangerous cleric.
(According to the Herald Tribune, Fr. Joseph worked at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach and at St. Francis Xavier in Fort Myers and “has led Haitian ministries in the region and worked at many churches.”)
The panel specifically said there were 'red flags' in Fr. Joseph's behavior before this victim was abused. Fr. Robert Tabbert, the Venice Diocese Vocation Director, testified that he found Fr. Joseph to be manipulative and always having an excuse when the Defendant did not follow either the diocesan guidelines or expectations for seminarians.”
The panel included Fr. Paul Hachey of Atlanta, Msgr. Kenneth K. Schwnager and Msgr. Andrews L. Anderson, both of Miami.
The church proceeding named a number of individuals whose testimony helped corroborate the victim's report. They include Fr. Stan Perog, Fr. Jerome Carosella, Sr. Diane Cupidon, Bonnie LaVigne. Marcie Vernon, Mick Corilon, George Krout (an ex-FBI agent) and Barbara DiCocca (a licensed clinical social worker). We are grateful to each of them for cooperating with this process. (Not surprisingly, Fr. Joseph did not cooperate with this process.)
It's rare that clergy sex abuse victims are ever informed in writing about the outcome of secretive internal church processes in these cases. Again, we applaud the brave Venice church official who gave this document to this brave victim. Such courage is what protects kids. Both men should be very proud of themselves.
We hope that anyone who was sexually assaulted in the Venice diocese will summon up the strength to step forward, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.
(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)