MI--Victims blast Saginaw bishop over “missing” priest
For immediate release: Thursday, March 3, 2016
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003 cell,bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
Saginaw Catholic officials are keeping secret the whereabouts of a priest who’s been deemed guilty of sexual harassment and is accused of sexual exploitation. Because of this secrecy, Bishop Joseph R. Cistone is breaking his promises and the US church abuse policy.
NOTE – One newspaper is blasting Cistone on its editorial page:
When he became the head of the Saginaw diocese, Bishop Cistone told the Midland Daily News he would not approve the transfer of any priest, accused or known to have committed sexual abuse, to anywhere within the diocese.
"I assure you this will not happen. Priests can only be transferred with permission and approval of the local bishop," he said. "It absolutely will not happen during my time as Bishop of Saginaw."
But Cistone is now apparently letting a credibly accused cleric, Fr. Denis Heames, move elsewhere and is telling no one about the priest and refusing to talk to reporters about this troubling case.
Shame on Cistone for calling Fr. Heames' sexual abuse, manipulation and exploitation a "boundary violation." A boundary violation is when someone on an uncrowded bus sits too close to you or a stranger drinks from your cup uninvited. But when a highly-educated, allegedly-celibate, popular priest who is your employer uses you for his selfish sexual gratification, that's no "boundary violation." That's sexual abuse.
Because of Cistone’s continued secrecy, it will be much harder to get to the truth about Fr. Heames’ serious misconduct. So we repeat our plea to anyone who saw, suspected or suffered Fr. Heames’ wrongdoing: please speak up, get help and protect others by exposing those who commit or conceal sexual violations against the vulnerable
And we repeat our plea to Cistone: be open, honor your promises, obey church policy, and “come clean” about what you and your staff know and suspect about Fr. Heames and his sexual exploitation.
(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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, firstname.lastname@example.org)
National expert: 'The sin is his' in Heames case
By Sydney Smith | Published 13 hours ago
A therapist who has sex with a client could lose their license. The same goes for a doctor who has sex with a patient.
In some states, it's illegal for a priest to have sex with a parishioner. Michigan is not one of these states.
In June 2015, former St. Mary's University Parish priest Denis Heames was placed on leave for "boundary violations" related to his priestly conduct, said Bishop Joseph Cistone of the Saginaw Diocese.
A complaint about Heames by a Central Michigan University faculty member launched . . .
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.