MN- Twin Cities church authorities attack victim's mom; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
St. Paul Catholic officials are basically defending their wrongdoing by blaming the mother of a child sex abuse victim. Shame on them.
Bishop Piché and Bishop Cozzens should fire the lawyer who made this attack and the church official who approved it.
There has long been an enormous gap between what Catholic officials say in public and what Catholic officials do in court. The only silver lining here is that, because this mom is bravely speaking out, the continuing callousness of Twin Cities Catholic officials has been exposed.
The Star Tribune reports that, in a Feb. 7 court filing, church officials said that the mother “was aware of the time one of her boys was spending with (now convicted predator Fr. Curtis) Wehmeyer” and that “she knew that such interaction was contrary to established Archdiocese policy.”
Does it get much more despicable than blaming a mom because her son was sexually assaulted by a priest, an allegedly trustworthy, holy and celibate man of God?
And remember: this isn't an “off-the-cuff” insensitive remark by a low level church employee who was caught off-guard by an aggressive reporter who jumped out of the bushes. This is a carefully-crafted legal document that was no doubt thoroughly discussed and vetted by several high ranking church officials and church lawyers.
Again, shame on every archdiocesan staffer who played a role – large or small - in this mean-spirited attack. And shame now on every archdiocesan and parish staffer who does nothing in light of this attack.
Bishop Piché and Bishop Cozzens, through one of their public relations staff, claim that the attack is in “an early filing, written before any legal fact-finding in the case.”
So? If anything, that makes it worse, not better.
One might be able to understand such inexcusable cruelty LATE in a case, if church officials are really desperate and no settlement seems possible (But even then, frankly, it's hard to imagine how men who profess to be caring shepherds could possibly justify blaming a mom for her child's victimization by a shrewd and cunning predator priest.)
And maybe one might be able to understand such inexcusable cruelty if FACTS emerged that warranted it. But to do so before “any fact-finding” makes it even more cruel.
But the bottom line is that when you attack the mom of a child sex abuse victim, it doesn't matter when it happens or on what it is based. It is simply wrong. It is vicious to rub even more salt into the already-deep and still fresh wounds of a family whose children were sexually assaulted by a cleric.
But the cruelty of archdiocesan staff doesn't stop there. They have also delayed paying for therapy for the same family. And the boy's mom says she's “so exasperated” by how church officials are treating her family.
Bishop Piché and Bishop Cozzens claim, again through a public relations staffer, that “any delinquencies were due to a temporary staffing change in the chancery office.”
Sorry, we don't buy that.
Time and time again, when Twin Cities Catholic officials are found acting irresponsibly, they claim it's some misunderstanding, miscue or mistake. But those claims have long worn thin.
There's an easy fix here. Twin Cities Catholic officials could just make public a list of other expenses that allegedly 'fell through the cracks' during an alleged staff transition. If there are many of them, then we'll apologize for our skepticism and then parishioners and the public will know that church officials were not retaliating against this brave, wounded family.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 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, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Frank Meuers of Plymouth (952-334-5180, 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.
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.