ME - Victims Urge Maine Review Board Member to Resign
For immediate release:
Thursday, August 19, 2004
For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director 314 566 9790
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP Founder and President 312 399 4747
They Also Seek Chance To Speak To Maine Parish
Former Chancery Official Is At Center of Controversy
He's Accused Of Covering Up Molestation Charges Against PriestLeaders of a support group for clergy sex abuse victims are urging a Diocese of Portland, Maine Clergy Review Board member to resign. At the same time, they are asking permission to speak with parishioners at a Wells, Maine parish whose pastor has been accused of covering up molestation charges against another priest.
In a letter sent today to Dr. Anne Pulsifer of Wells, Maine, leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) expressed concern about her recent public comments defending Msgr. Joseph Ford. Those remarks, printed in last Sunday's St. Mary's church bulletin, "will be perceived as prejudicial and biased by men and women molested by clerics and lay Catholics as well," claim SNAP leaders.
In a church document recently made public, Ford acknowledged having "serious concerns" about the Rev. Raymond Melville even before Melville was accused in 1990 of sexually abusing a teenager. Memo a 'smoking gun' in church sex abuse case
The document was first disclosed in a July 16 Portland Press Herald article. But church officials kept those concerns about Melville quiet, fearing "liability and . . . scandal." They then transfered Melville to two new parishes in three years, according to records which were recently uncovered by a lawsuit.
In Ford's parish bulletin, Pulsifer called the Press Herald report "less than careful journalism" and claimed it could "mislead people and result in undeserved damage to a person's good name and reputation."
"Review Board members must show they are independent of church authority. Only then will victims of clergy sexual abuse feel safe enough to report their abuse," said David Clohessy, SNAP's National Director.
"Unfortunately, Pulsifer will now be seen as being biased towards priests. If board members are not viewed as credible and independent, they can't be effective and win the trust of victims and Catholic laypeople," said SNAP founder and president Barbara Blaine of Chicago. "For the good of everyone involved, Pulsifer should step down."
In a separate letter sent today to Monsignor Ford, SNAP leaders ask for an opportunity to meet with St. Mary's parishioners to discuss the controversy.
"Documents show that Ford's concern was to minimize scandal," said Clohessy. "We fear his parishioners aren't getting the full story. All we want is a chance to present our point of view."
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is the oldest and largest support group for clergy sexual abuse victims in the country. It is based in Chicago and has just over 5,000 members.