MN--Victims to bishop: Don’t appeal $8 million abuse verdict
For immediate release: Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015
We fear that Duluth’s bishop will appeal an $8 million jury verdict or use it to justify seeking bankruptcy protection. We hope he’ll do neither. Both are irresponsible.
A Pennsylvania bishop once appealed a jury verdict for an abuse victim for more than a dozen years. Instead of paying the original $1.5 million, the diocese ultimately paid $2.569 million http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news5/2001_10_17_Gibb_DioceseFinally.htm
More recently, an Illinois bishop appealed a $5 million jury verdict for years, and ended up paying $ 6.3 million (because of the interest that had accrued).
Appeals like this are mean-spirited and often financially dumb. They delay long-deserved healing for everyone involved.
We also fear that Bishop Paul Sirba will also now claim “We must seek Chapter 11 protection.” We hope this doesn’t happen.
Bishops declare bankruptcy for selfish reasons, not financial ones. They want to keep their reputations, not their assets. They want to keep their cover ups covered up. Bankruptcy brings an abrupt halt to disclosures about which clerics committed and concealed child sex crimes.
That’s a self-serving strategy for a prelate. It’s a hurtful strategy for parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners, the public and of course victims. It’s morally wrong.
Two months ago, during his US visit, Pope Francis made strong promises, including that “abuse cannot be kept secret any longer,” “all responsible will be held accountable," and that church officials will provide "careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected.”
This brave victim and this wise jury have done this. Duluth’s bishop shouldn’t try to reverse this progress.
(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, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, firstname.lastname@example.org), Frank Meuers of Plymouth MN, SNAP director Southern Minnesota (952-334-5180,email@example.com), Verne Wagner of Duluth, SNAP director Northern Minnesota (218-340-1277, 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.