- Victims blast Catholic bishop
- Parents were asked to sign away their legal rights
- Once exposed, church officials reversed themselves
- But flock deserves “explanations & assurances,” SNAP says
- And group blasts Fall River bishop for silence about 2 predators
- In last 6 months, one was accused and the other was suspended
- And in neither case, SNAP says, has diocese done any real outreach
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will blast Fall River’s Catholic bishop for
--requiring that parents who attend a Catholic school sign a liability waiver, and
-- being silent about two credibly accused Fall River predator priests who were publicly “outed” in the past six months.
-- urge the bishop to reach out to others who may have been hurt the predators, and
-- urge anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered clergy sex crimes in the Fall River area to come forward, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing.
Friday, September 28 at 1:00 p.m.
Outside the Catholic diocesan headquarters (“chancery office”) at 47 Underwood Street (corner of Highland) in Fall River, MA
Two to three members of an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Earlier this week, a Boston TV station reported that a Fall River Catholic school required parents to sign an unusual waiver protecting Catholic officials from repercussions if students are abused or harmed. SNAP harshly criticized church and school authorities. The next day, diocesan staff claimed that the form was “being reviewed” by church lawyers but would no longer be used.
SNAP feels these claims are inadequate. The group suspects that diocesan officials, not school officials, drew up the form and that it may have been used at other Catholic institutions across the diocese.
Regardless, victims want Fall River Bishop George Coleman to explain how this happened, discipline any wrongdoers, and pledge – in writing – to not use the form anywhere ever again.
SNAP also wants Coleman to use his diocesan website, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements to seek out anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by two recently accused child molesting local clerics: Fr. James Nickel and Fr. Joseph F. Byrne.
In April, Fr. Nickel, was "outed" by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who disclosed that church officials paid a settlement to a man who was sexually violated as a child by Fr. Nickel.
In May, Fr. Byrne was suspended from his parish because of credible child sex abuse allegations.
Nickel, a Sacred Heart priest, worked at parishes in Fairhaven and Cape Cod. Bryne, a diocesan priest, worked at parishes in the Boston area and, most recently (until he was suspended) at St. Patrick's Church in Falmouth.
Nickel is deceased. Byrne is still alive. Several months ago, news outlets reported that Boston police were investigating the child sex abuse allegations against him.