FL- Historic verdict in Baptist child sex abuse case
For immediate release Thursday January 23, 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 Florida jury has awarded $12.5 million to a man who, as a child, was sexually abused by a Baptist minister. Earlier, another Florida jury found the Florida Baptist Convention liable for the crimes because it refused to take minimal prevention steps.
Despite widespread child sex crimes by Baptist ministers, relatively few civil lawsuit have been filed against Baptist churches. Ever-so-slowly, that's beginning to change, thanks in part to brave individuals like this victim who found the strength to step forward and seek justice. We applaud him for his courage.
Just like Catholic bishops, Baptist officials have erected strong walls of secrecy, deceit, denial and legal defense to protect their jobs and reputations in clergy sex abuse cases. And just like Catholic bishops, Baptist officials are slowly but surely seeing those walls being demolished by brave victims, smart lawyers, determined prosecutors and compassionate juries. The self-serving claim by Baptists that every church is independent so no one can be held responsible for ignoring or concealing child sex crimes is on its way out.
We believe others who have been sexually assaulted as children by Baptist ministers and rebuffed as adults by Baptist officials will be inspired by this victim's courage and this jury's compassion to come 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. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by those in positions of authority including priests, nuns, rabbis, bishops, Protestant ministers, Scout leaders, teachers and coaches. 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.