IL--Victims want pastor disciplined for helping sex offender
For immediate release: Thursday, July 16
For more information: Cappy Larson of San Francisco, California, Orthodox Christian Director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) (firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-637-2006); Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, California (email@example.com, 925-708-6175)
Episcopal priest publicly backs convicted pedophile
Victims write to his superior denouncing this “hurtful” move
Bishop should severely reprimand the priest, support group says
SNAP: “He should also use this opportunity to educate his clergy”
A Springfield-area priest has taken to the internet to publicly back a convicted child molesting cleric and a victims’ group wants Springfield’s Episcopal bishop to discipline the priest.
Father David M. Baumann of Centralia, Illinois, claims, on a website, that Orthodox Archbishop Seraphim Storheim of Canada is innocent of child sex crimes. But in January of 2014, a judge in Manitoba found the archbishop guilty after a 7 day trial.
“Without having attended a single day of the archbishop’s trial or even reviewing the transcripts of the case, Father Baumann is questioning the decision of the judge who heard all the evidence,” said Cappy Larson, the Orthodox Christian Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “When clergy back child molesting clerics, it sends a very chilling message to those who have been abused and are considering coming forward.”
Storheim, formerly the head of the Orthodox Church in America’s Canadian diocese, is currently serving his sentence.
Larson and another member of SNAP, Melanie Jula Sakoda, are writing to Fr. Bauman’s supervisor, Springfield Episcopal Bishop Daniel Hayden Martins (217-525-1876, firstname.lastname@example.org), begging him to discipline Baumann for his actions.
“While we understand that Fr. Baumann and Archbishop Seraphim are old friends, as a minister Fr. Baumann should support his former classmate privately, not on the internet,” said Larson, “No clergyman should use his prestige and his position to praise a convicted pedophile and deter victims of sexual violence from reporting predators”
Sakoda added, “Many abusers tell their prey that no one will believe them over a respected man of the cloth. Two brave survivors reported that Archbishop Seraphim molested them. He was found guilty and that verdict was affirmed on appeal. For Fr. Baumann to say that he still believes in the archbishop’s innocence discourages other victims from coming forward and rubs salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of other victims.
Larson agreed, “Unfortunately, when survivors are scared into silence, not only do they continue to suffer alone, but their abusers are also free to continue to hurt other kids.”
SNAP is asking Bishop Martins to discipline Fr. Baumann for his actions, and to order him to stop publicly supporting the Canadian archbishop. The group also wants Bishop Martins to order all the clergy under his authority to not participate in any public events with the disgraced Canadian archbishop.
Finally, SNAP encourages Bishop Martins to use this situation as “a teaching moment.” The group suggests that he forbid his clergy from publicly supporting anyone accused of child sexual abuse.
“I hope Bishop Martins will severely reprimand Fr. Baumann,” continued Larson. “What he has done is inexcusable and sends a very chilling message to other abuse victims, both minors and adults.”
“Fr. Baumann has misused his position,” concluded Sakoda. “It’s up to his bishop to use his power to correct the situation.”
Fr. Baumann is with Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 700 E. Broadway, Centralia, Illinois (618-532-3767).
Bishop Daniel Hayden Martins
821 South Second Street
Springfield, Illinois 62704
SENT BY FAX and EMAIL
July 15, 2015
Re: Father David M. Baumann’s Support for Convicted Child Molester
Dear Bishop Martins,
We are members of a victims’ group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We are writing to you today because we are concerned over the actions of one of your priests, Father David M. Baumann, and we would like you to use your authority to discipline him.
Father Baumann has publicly supported Archbishop Seraphim Storheim, a hierarch in the Orthodox Church in America who has been convicted of child sexual abuse and is currently serving his sentence.
While we understand that Father Baumann and the archbishop are old friends, as a minister he should support his former classmate privately, not on the internet. No clergyman should use the power of his position to praise a convicted pedophile and to question a criminal judgment. Victims who read Father Baumann’s words can only feel horribly discouraged: even a guilty verdict will not guarantee that they will be believed over a respected man of the cloth! As a result, they will be less likely to seek help, and they will continue to suffer alone and in silence, and their abuser will go on to hurt more children.
As Father Baumann’s bishop we ask you to use your authority to help remedy this deplorable situation. We would like you to do three things.
First, we beg you to severely reprimand Father Baumann for his hurtful actions. We also ask that you order Father Baumann to cease supporting the archbishop publicly and to request that his posted comments be removed from the internet.
Second, we ask that you make sure that all of your clergy know that they must not participate in any type of public event with this disgraced Orthodox archbishop.
And finally, use this debacle as a teaching moment for your priests. Remind them that as religious leaders, it is never appropriate for them to publicly support a minister accused of child sexual abuse, much less one who has been convicted.