IL- University piano quartet is criticized
For immediate release: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014
University piano quartet is criticized
Group was to help convicted child molester
Professors had planned to perform at fundraiser
It's unclear whether event has been postponed or cancelled
School official claims he "cannot forbid our faculty from performing"
Four Illinois Wesleyan professors and musicians were set to perform at a fundraiser for a convicted child molester. But yesterday, protests by a victims group led to the event's cancellation or postponement.
Members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, were upset about a planned March 5th fundraiser to benefit Archbishop Seraphim Storheim, once the top Orthodox official in Canada, who was found guilty last month of sexually abusing an altar boy.
Yesterday, SNAP wrote to IWU provost Jonathan D. Green (309-556-3101, email@example.com), asking him to stop The Illinois Wesleyan Piano Quartet from agreeing to perform at the event or at least denounce the quartet for doing so.
SNAP sent similar protest letters to four other groups, asking them to block the fundraiser from happening.
Within hours, the pastor of the Ottawa church where the event was to be held, told SNAP it has been cancelled. Rev. Jan Lougheed (613-722-9250 ex. 226, 613-799-6238, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com), also told SNAP that she was not aware that the concert was to support Storheim. A cancellation notice subsequently appeared on the event organizers’ website.
SNAP is disappointed, however, in Green's response. In an email yesterday to SNAP, the IWU provost claimed that “We cannot forbid our faculty from performing in other venues.”
(The full text of the email is pasted below.)
"We were bitterly disappointed by the 'we're powerless' response of IWU," said Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP. “The provost could at least have forbidden the quartet from using the name “Illinois Wesleyan Piano Quartet” when or if they perform at any future benefit for this convicted pedophile.”
“What kind of message does this send to students at IWU about accountability?” asked Cappy Larson, also of SNAP. “While the university obviously can’t prevent people from supporting the archbishop privately, they can and should denounce damaging public support for a criminal. They can and should use their power to make sure that the name of IWU is not used in connection with raising funds for a convicted child molester.”
SNAP believes the benefit concert “hurt at least one child sex abuse victim and deterred other child sex abuse victims from speaking up.”
Storheim is free on bail until his sentencing.
From: Jonathan Green [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2014 2:21 PM
To: Elizabeth Fahling
Cc: IWU President; Provosts Office Org Account; Mario Pelusi
Subject: Re: Fundraiser for Archbishop Seraphim Storheim
Dear Ms. Fahling:
Thank you for contacting us about this matter.
According to the website linked in your email, the benefit concert to which you referred has been cancelled.
We cannot forbid our faculty from performing in other venues, but I will be sure that they are made aware of the issues you have raised and trust them to make good decisions.
(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)