MN - Predator priest now teaches sex ed; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A credibly accused predator priest now teaches sex education for Wright County (according to Minnesota Public Radio). We call on county officials to immediately fire him. And we call on St. Paul/Minneapolis Catholic officials to explain why they continue to keep silent about the allegations against him.
Fr. Harry Walsh reportedly molested at least two kids. A settlement was paid to one of them. He studied to become a “sexologist” and had a lengthy “affair” with a married parishioner (such conduct is now illegal in Minnesota).
Yet until a brave church whistleblower pushed him, St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt did nothing. And until MPR’s report this morning, no one knew that Fr. Walsh shouldn’t be around kids.
For nine years after Nienstedt, Archbishop Harry Flynn and nearly 200 US Catholic bishops pledged “zero tolerance,” Minnesota Catholic officials endangered kids, broke their promises and hid the accusations against Fr. Walsh, letting him work in a parish and giving sex education.
Shame on these two men, on Fr. Kevin McDonough, and on every single Catholic employee who aided and abetted this predator and knowingly put children in harm’s way.
For more than a year, possibly much longer, Bishop Piche knew of the child sex abuse allegations against Fr. Walsh. He too kept silent. Shame on him. He must answer for his complicity.
We do question one sentence in the MPR report: “Nienstedt finally asked Pope Benedict XVI last year to oust Walsh when he learned of the abuse allegations in documents hidden in church archives, as well as an old internal investigation that determined Walsh had an affair with a married parishioner.” We have no proof but we suspect that Nienstedt actually knew about Fr. Walsh’s alleged crimes long before that.
Finally, In Nienstedt’s letter to the Vatican, notice that he expresses two/three concerns about Fr. Walsh: his “scandalous living arrangements,” his “endorsement of ‘optional celibacy’ for clergy” and “the allegations regarding possible sexual abuse of minors.” He mentions child sex abuse allegations last.
We hope every person – in Minnesota, Chicago, Davenport, Detroit and Ireland – who saw, suspected or suffered Fr. Walsh’s crimes – or cover ups by his church supervisors – will call St. Paul Police. And we call on Wright County officials to fire him immediately and aggressively reach out to anyone he may have hurt while on the payroll of taxpayers.
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Bob Schwiderski, SNAP Minnesota director (952 471 3422, firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.