For immediate release: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
For more information: Barbara Blaine, SNAP Founder and President (312)399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com and David Clohessy, SNAP Executive Director (314) 566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com
Pedophile priest worked in 3 Illinois dioceses
He was publicly exposed two weeks ago for first time
Sex abuse victims seek help from Cardinal George
Group blasts “bare minimum” approach by Catholic officials
A credibly accused predator priest who was exposed for the first time two weeks ago, worked for years at St. Augustine's school in Chicago. And a support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Chicago Catholic officials to “aggressively seek out others who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes.”
Because of a court order, St. Paul Minnesota church officials revealed that Fr. Kenneth Gansmann was removed from active ministry because of allegations that he molested a child. Fr. Gansmann, who is now deceased, also worked in two other Illinois dioceses: Springfield and Joliet.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are asking Cardinal Francis George to "use his vast resources to seek out any others who may have seen, suspect, or suffered abuse." Cardinal George should visit every parish were Gansmann worked and beg victims or witnesses to come forward, they say.
Gansmann worked in Chicago at St. Augustine’s school from 1936 until 1945.
“He had access to hundreds of children every year. It is never too late to report abuse,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “We hope those who are suffering in silence will find the courage to speak up. And we hope Chicago church staff will gently but firmly prod them to do so.”
“It's difficult for some people to understand this, but often, victims stay silent unless someone in a position of authority – a prosecutor, a bishop, or even a parent – begs them to step forward and get help,” said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP’s founder and president. “Fr. Gansmann's victims are likely getting older. They were children in a time when children were expected to never question adults, so it's likely they're still carrying this horrible burden alone. Catholic officials can and should gently but firmly prod them to break their silence and start healing.”
SNAP leaders are critical of bishops who suspend “proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesting clerics” but stop there.
“It's not enough just tell a predator 'Hey, don't show up for work anymore.' That's just smart public relations and legal defense,” Clohessy said. “Bishops recruit, educate, ordain, train, hire, and transfer pedophile priests. They can't just oust them when their crimes become known. Bishops have a moral and civic duty to warn the public about them, seek out their victims and help law enforcement prosecute the molesters and other church staff who ignored or hid their crimes.”
A photo of Gansmann and his full work history are available at BishopAccountability.org
(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)