IL- Another Belleville predator priest suit filed; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Wednesday, April 2, 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)
Another person who was sexually assaulted by Belleville's Fr. Robert J. Vonnahmen has filed a civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit against Catholic officials.
Vonnahmen is one of Illinois' worst child molesting clerics. And like so many of his abusive associates, he walks free today with no supervision thanks to dozens of current and former Belleville Catholic church staff and members who, for decades, ignored or hid his crimes.
We applaud this brave victim and hope his legal action brings him some degree of healing. We know it will help ease the burdens of others who were violated by Belleville priests. We hope it will inspire even one church employee – past or present – to show courage and become a whistleblower. And we hope it will deter one employer, secular or religious, from concealing heinous crimes against kids.
(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 15,000 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.