For immediate release: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A week after returning a troubled priest back on the job, Springfield’s Catholic bishop is letting another priest who’s accused of child sex crimes temporarily resign. But the bishop sat on the accusation for weeks, keeping it secret. And the bishop continues to use misleading language and doing the bare minimum.
Today, Bishop Thomas Paprocki temporarily let Fr. Robert “Bud” DeGrand resign from his posts at Catholic parishes in Sigel, Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville.
First, Paprocki should suspend Fr. DeGrand. That’s what the US bishops pledged to do when credible child sex abuse reports surfaced. That’s what the US bishops’ official sex abuse policy mandates. There’s a difference between someone stepping aside and someone being TOLD to step aside. To let a credibly accused child molesting cleric decide whether to temporarily step down minimizes the horror he or she allegedly committed.
Second, Paprocki admits his hand-picked abuse panel quietly urged him to oust Fr. DeGrand almost a week ago. But he kept silent and delayed. Worse, Paprocki admits getting the allegation ten days ago. In that time, he again kept silent and delayed.
Why does that matter? Because every day a child sex abuse report is kept hidden, a child sex abuser is free to keep abusing. And every day of secrecy and delay gives those who commit and conceal child sex crimes more chances to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, fabricate alibis and even flee the country. Every day of secrecy and delay makes it harder for police and prosecutors to pursue child predators.
Third, Paprocki should stop using vague, misleading language. These are alleged child sex crimes. They are not “misconduct.” The word “misconduct” is intended to soften the horror of sexual assaults on children by clergy.
It’s “misconduct” when a priest shouts or curses or insults an adult. When a priest sexually victimizes a child, however, it’s not “misconduct.” It’s child rape or child sodomy or child sex crimes. Paprocki is a lawyer. He has a public relations team. He knows words can clarify or obscure. And he chooses to protect himself, his reputation and his priests by deliberately using misleading and mischaracterizing words like “misconduct.” Shame on him.
Fourth, Fr. DeGrand reportedly molested a child – either a boy or a girl. Again, Paprocki chooses to use the vague and sanitized term “minor.”
If Paprocki really “takes such allegations seriously” (as he claims), he’ll personally go to parishes in Jacksonville, Winchester, Bluffs, Granite City, and other places where Fr. DeGrand worked. He’ll beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police immediately.
We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by DeGrand or cover ups by Paprocki will step forward, protect kids, call police, expose wrongdoers, deter wrongdoing and start healing.