ME - Maine AG Finds Diocese Put Kids "At Risk of Abuse"
For immediate release:
Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004
For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis MO, National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
Mark Serrano of Leesburg VA, Board Member (703) 771 9606, (703) 727 4940 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago IL, President (312) 399 4747 cell
New Report Says 65 Clergy/Church Workers Were Accused
Bishop's Self-Reported Figures Contradict AG's Findings
SNAP Calls On Witnesses & Other Victims To Come Forward
Leaders of the nation's largest self-help group for clergy abuse victims today asked anyone who experienced, witnessed or suspected abuse by Maine clergy to "somehow find the courage to come forward" in the wake of the state Attorney General Stephen Rowe's new report on the Catholic molestation crisis.
"The AG's single most significant and troubling finding, we believe, is that a 'number of former priests and clergy members may pose a continuing risk to the public,'" said David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). "So it's imperative that anyone with knowledge of these molesters and their activities and whereabouts do the right thing and come forward."
The AG has confirmed what we long suspected and feared," Clohessy said. "His investigation has found that 'the Diocese's failure to notify parishioners (about abusive priests) placed children and adolescents at risk of abuse.'"
"Somewhere out there is a victim, or a victim's relative, or a former church employee who has information about possible crimes but hasn't spoken up yet," Clohessy said. "Now more than ever, it's critical that he or she finds the strength to contact police, prosecutors, therapists, or support groups, so that children are protected from these dangerous men."
No new criminal charges are being filed against abusive priests or their supervising bishops largely because of what Clohessy called "antiquated laws," some of which may still need further reform.
Clohessy is also troubled by the apparent discrepancy between the numbers of accused clerics disclosed by Bishop Joseph Gerry and found by the AG.
"Gerry says there were 41 accused priests, but the AG says there were 58,'" said Clohessy,. "Clearly, the bishop has some explaining to do."
Seven of the accused investigated by the AG were Catholic employees or lay people.
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.
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.