LA--Lawmakers & prosecutors must do more in New Bethany child sex case
For immediate release: Thursday, Jan. 8
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org )
Now that child sex crimes at the New Bethany Home for Girls in Louisiana won’t be pursued, legislators, prosecutors and others must step up to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
Specifically, we beg Bienville Parish District Attorney Jonathan Stewart (and prosecutors in nearby parishes) to use his bully pulpit and his resources to launch an aggressive outreach effort to find anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Mack W. Ford of Arcadia
We also beg Louisiana lawmakers to 1) pass legislation that would compensate these brave, wounded women and 2) make it harder for child molesters to exploit legal technicalities in the future. There should be no statute of limitations on child sex crimes, civil or criminal.
Finally, we beg New Bethany victims to keep fighting. Some of the crimes happened outside of Louisiana. So we hope victims who were abused elsewhere contact law enforcement in those jurisdictions about possible criminal charges there under different state laws. And we urge them to also prod legislators to pass bills that help victims and punish wrongdoers.
Our hearts ache for Simone Jones, Jennifer Halter and all those who were assaulted by Ford. These are incredibly brave and resilient and caring women who deserve respect, gratitude, compensation and healing. They have done more than 99% of child sex abuse victims, most of whom remain trapped in shame and secrecy for decades, and sometimes for their entire lives.
We hope they will take some comfort in knowing that they have helped expose a dangerous child predator, an inadequate justice system and dreadfully outdated and harmful state laws about children’s safety
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have 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.