KS-- Big KC church denies trying to “out” young victims; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Friday, July 8, 2016
Officials at a Kansas City church are bullying two girls – ages 11 year old and a 13 year old and their mom. Now, the church’s lawyer is trying to deny the bullying.
A mother and her daughters are suing Westside Family Church in Lenexa. The mom wants to continue protecting the privacy and recovery of her daughters who were sexually violated by a serial predator who helped with Vacation Bible School.
But Westside wants a judge to “out” them and prevent them from moving forward as “Jane Does.” For decades, however, judges in the US have let crime victims seek justice while safeguarding their anonymity. This is especially true when kids are involved.
The church’s motion, filed in Johnson County Court, starts with this phrase: “Westside requests that this Court deny the plaintiffs’ motion (for) a pseudonym.”
It ends with this phrase: “Westside requests that this court deny the plaintiffs’ motion (for) a pseudonym.”
In between, the church’s motion says the alleged victims “should not be able to hide behind pseudonyms.”
Pretty clear, right?
But now Westside’s lawyer claims – in today’s KC Star - that church officials do NOT want to force these girls and their mom to put their names out there in public.
“We’re not looking to out these girls,” said Brad Russell, a lawyer for Westside.
Here’s what we said last week about this disturbing case, and why this hardball tactic
-- hurts this already wounded and still suffering family,
-- intimidates other victims from reporting child molesters who are still hurting children, and
-- deters witnesses, whistleblowers and others who suspect child sex crimes from calling police and other authorities.
There are really two options here: Let the girls and their mom seek justice while protecting their privacy, like courts have done for decades. Or force them to reveal their identities to the public. If Westside Family Church wins their motion, this already wounded family will have to decide – comply with the court order and the church’s wishes by disclosing their names or stop their effort to expose and deter wrongdoing.
For the sake of these girls, their mom, and others who see, suspect or suffer child sex crimes, we beg Westside to withdraw their hostile, intimidating motion.
We ask the public to consider this: What do you believe? What church officials put on paper in a written court document? Or what the church lawyer says later when facing criticism?
And we ask every single person with information or suspicions about child sex crimes and cover ups in churches or institutions – especially at mega-churches where there’s little or no oversight – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
Here’s what others are saying about this troubling case:
(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 20,000 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)
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.