For immediate release: Friday, February 28, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
A conservative Christian official from Illinois is on administrative leave following allegations that he sexually harassed women and didn't report suspected child abuse.
This is the bare minimum. More must be done to protect the vulnerable and expose the truth.
In the charges recently brought by a sexual abuse victim against Bill Gothard, director of Basic Life Principles, we see a very disturbing, but recurring pattern. We have a young person, working for someone that is supposed to be of high principles and above reproach. This responsible person then allegedly violates the trust of the young person, and uses his position of authority to abuse both this victim and others.
We commend the board of this organization for their recent actions; however, we question where they have been on this since the first revelations came forth in 2011.The whistle blowing website Recovering Grace reported that an underage girl was harassed by Gothard in the early 1990s, but was afraid no one would believe her so did not report the crime then.
Were officials unaware all this time of these victims and their claims? Did they notify authorities at once as dictated by civil and moral law? It is unclear in their statement whether Bill was forced to resign, or if he just chose to step aside from his position of power due to the forces that now make the pressure too great to not react.
What we see here is an unfortunate action, and reaction, by those entrenched in positions of trust and power, and how they go about protecting their turf, and the organization, with no regard for the victims and their needs. Where is their outline of action? Where is their plan to address the needs of the victims? Where are their efforts to find others who may have seen suspected or suffered Gothard's wrongdoing and beg them to call police?
(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)