Victims want more prosecution efforts
For immediate release Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Statement by Kate Botche, SNAP leader (630-768-1860, email@example.com)
We are here to call on every Chicagoland law enforcement agency within the boundaries of the Chicago archdiocese to simply try harder to pursue Catholic staff who commit and conceal child sex crimes.
Because Catholic officials can't police themselves.
Because few of the 121 publicly accused Chicago predator priests are behind bars.
Because none of the hundreds of complicit church supervisors have ever even been charged.
Because many of the predators now live and work among unsuspecting families and co-workers.
Because some of them have moved or been sent out of Chicago to prey on other children.
And because until complicit church supervisors and co-workers are punished for covering up child sex crimes and held accountable in the future, they will continue to cover up child sex crimes.
Law enforcement officials must take these steps.
First, scour these 6,000 pages of newly-released records looking for opportunities to file charges against anyone.
Second, help victims pressure the archdiocese to turn over records, right now, of the other proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics (whether living or dead, archdiocesan or religious order).
Third, where possible, launch grand jury investigations into this scandal.
Fourth, use their bully pulpits to beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to step forward, especially current and former church employees.
Fifth, be more creative about pursuing ANY charges against the hierarchy, whether it's perjury, endangering kids, committing fraud, obstructing justice, destroying evidence, tampering with witnesses, or failing to report known or suspected child sex crimes to secular authorities.
Sixth, use their clout to reform Illlinois' archaic, predator-friendly statutes of limitations and other laws that make prosecution of complicit employers difficult (like RICO).
– Dozens of prosecutors across the U.S. have strongly, publicly and repeatedly begged those with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes to speak up.
--At least a dozen nations have launched formal, extensive, independent inquiries into clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
– Eight grand juries have been empanelled in the U.S. (While few have led to formal charges, most have issued lengthy, helpful reports exposing those who committee and concealed heinous crimes against kids).
– Several prosecutors have lobbied hard for reforming child safety laws in their states.
We believe that often, “where there's a will, there's a way.” We believe that some in law enforcement are too timid about pursuing investigations into powerful institutions like the Catholic hierarchy. But we believe those hesitations must be overcome if kids are to be protected, wrongdoers are to be caught and punished, and cover ups are to be deterred.
And we know, from 25 years of experience, that often victims, witnesses and whistleblowers stay silent unless they are prodded to act by authorities and unless they feel like there's some hope that justice will be relentlessly sought after if they speak up.
Let's remember a few facts:
--The first predator priest to attracted national headlines in the 1990s was caught and prosecuted under a little known and rarely used law from the 1800s (saying that if a criminal left the state, the statute of limitations stopped ticking)
--Two Chicago child molesting clerics were caught and prosecuted across the state line in Wisconsin.
--Predator priests who successfully “ran out the clock” on their abuse crimes have been successfully prosecuted for providing alcohol to minors,
--Catholic officials talk of “older crimes.” But in many jurisdictions, actively concealing crimes “tolls” or “stays” the statute of limitations (And keep in mind that one archdiocesan priest, Fr. Michael W. O'Connell was removed due to abuse allegations just last month.)
In addition to prodding secular authorities to act, we are also prodding Chicago Catholic figures to act. Specifically, we are calling on Cardinal Francis George to discipline Bishop George Rassas.
Because his wrongdoing didn’t just endanger kids. It led directly to more kids being hurt. And it took place years after Catholic officials pledged to reform.
And while disciplining anyone beasts disciplining no one, if Cardinal George sanctions a low level church employee, it will smack to some of scapegoating.
Besides, Rassas is a well-educated man with lots of resources so is more culpable than a church secretary or parish janitor who may not have called 911 when she or he should have.
(Rassas is named in these files for these predator priests: Becker, Bennett (10 times), Brigham, Craig, Curran, Fitzharris, Kelly, Maday, O’Brien, Stewart, Swade, Turlo, and Weston. Most worrisome is his involvement in the Bennett case (which, like the McCormack case, largely happened AFTER church officials adopted their purported "reforms" in 2002): http://www.bishop-accountability.org/docs/chicago/AOC/001/AOC_000289.pdf )
What kind of discipline?
It matters less to us HOW Rassas and others are disciplined. It matters more to us that they ARE disciplined.
What's the purpose of disciplining Rassas?
Preventing cover ups and showing, as clearly as possible, that endangering kids won't be tolerated.
Should others be disciplined too?
Of course. But Rassas is a good place to start, because his irresponsible actions are clear, recent and directly led to more kids being traumatized.
Is ousting Rassas from the boys' academy sufficient?
Nope. But hundreds of victims and thousands of Catholics are hurting right now. They deserve some justice and some relief. And it's at least a start.
And it would be the first time, as best we can tell, that a Chicago cleric was EVER disciplined for ignoring or concealing child sex crimes. So it would have a strong impact on future behavior by Catholic officials in clergy sex cases.
Let's be honest: kicking Rassas off of one board is a tiny, tiny step. But for the sake of justice, healing and prevention, it should be done. It may just make one victim feel better. It may make one Boys' Academy parent feel more reassured. It may just prod one church employee who's considering protecting one predator priest to do what's right. It may be a welcome signal to the thousands who doubt George's leadership and intentions.
Finally, we want to repeat the pleas we made Monday to all Chicago citizens and Catholics.
1) Please read these documents. Please ignore Cardinal George's hurtful and self-serving spin.
2) Please look for names of enablers. Please urge Cardinal George to punish them, not to be punitive, but to be preventive and to discourage cover ups, now and in the future.
3) Ask your loved ones if any of them were hurt by any child molesting clerics,
4) Please help us track down the dozens of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics who are living with little or no supervision throughout the Chicagoland. One of them might be tutoring your child today as a school volunteer, giving private lessons to your child this afternoon in his apartment, coaching their basketball team tonight or living next door to your grand kids. (Remember, in recent years, suspended predator priests have been found working as counselors, at a health agency, at the Shedd Aquarium, and other places with access to kids.)
Being suspended or defrocked doesn't cure a child molester.
Chicago Catholic officials should help; make sure these dangerous clerics are prosecuted. If that can't happen, church officials should house them in a remote, secure, independent treatment facility. If that can't happen, church officials should at least let us know who and where they are.
Instead, however, church officials are doing only what their insurers, defense lawyers, and public relations professionals insist – merely suspending most of these dangerous clerics from active ministry. That's a smart PR and good legal defense maneuver. But it does little to protect kids.
So please, if you know or suspect where any of these clerics now live or work, contact law enforcement or SNAP.
And we want to again praise and thank the 30 brave men and women who had the strength to step forward, the wisdom to seek justice and their persistence to overcome nine years of archdiocesan delay and legal hard-ball.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by those in positions of authority including priests, nuns, rabbis, bishops, Protestant ministers, Scout leaders, teachers and coaches. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)