IL - Predator priest is teaching sex ed
He worked in at least 1 Chicago parish
But several bishops hid abuse allegations
SNAP: Catholic officials still “endanger kids”
Their “continued secrecy” violates church policies
Those who “saw, suspected or suffered abuse must speak up,” group says
For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013
A twice accused predator priest, who was sent to a Chicago parish after molesting in Detroit, now teaches sex education to youngsters in Minnesota. Until today, Catholic officials in several dioceses succeeded in keeping the allegations against him secret.
According to a lengthy Minnesota Public Radio investigation, Fr. Harry Walsh worked at St. Michael’s parish in Chicago in 1968.
He also worked in the 1960s in Detroit, “where he would later be accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl. She reported the abuse to the Diocese of Detroit in 1994,” according to MPR.
Later, in Minnesota, Fr. Walsh was also accused of molesting a boy.
MPR reports that he now “teaches sex education to troubled teenagers and vulnerable adults in Wright County, an hour west of the Twin Cities.”
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Chicago Catholic officials to “aggressively reach out” to any others Fr. Walsh may have hurt in Illinois.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, say that Fr. Walsh “likely can be put behind bars” for his crimes, but little will happen “unless Catholic officials in Chicago, Davenport, Detroit and St. Paul act responsibly and shout from the rooftops about this dangerous man and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police right away.”
“Chicago Catholic officials let Fr. Walsh work there and have access to kids there and hid his crimes there,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “Now, they have a civic duty to help police see if he can be prosecuted and kept away from kids. And they have a moral duty to seek out others Fr. Walsh may have assaulted and offer them help.”
“The odds are that there’s at least one person in Illinois who was wounded by Fr. Walsh,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s outreach director. “That person may well be struggling today with suicidal thoughts, addictions, shame, isolation, depression or self-blame. He or she needs to be found and helped and reassured that the abuse wasn’t their fault and that healing is possible.”
SNAP leaders suspect that Fr. Walsh molested in Chicago in part because he was transferred out of state after just one year in the archdiocese.
St. Paul/Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt told the Vatican in March 2012 that the alleged abuse of the Detroit girl included "kissing, sexual touching, and simulated sexual intercourse.”
MPR reports that “Fr. Walsh was ordained a priest in Ireland in 1960 by a Catholic religious order called the Redemptorists.”
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.