MN- Victims urge MN lawmakers to fix adult abuse law
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 8, 2014
In the wake of yesterday's decision in the Fr. Christopher Wenthe case, we call on Minnesota lawmakers to clarify the state law criminalizing the sexual exploitation of adult congregants by clergy.
Something is dreadfully wrong when a powerful, persuasive cleric who allegedly is Christ's representative on earth gets “off the hook” because (according to the Pioneer Press) “jurors must agree on which particular meeting between priest and victim was the one in which she sought or received spiritual advice or aid” and because “the state must prove (a cleric) knew the woman sought or received spiritual advice during the sexually infused meeting.”
These laws – making it illegal for religious figures to have sexual contact with congregants who seek their help – are relatively new. So it's not surprising that there may be loopholes. But those loopholes should be fixed quickly. Clerics are often among the most charismatic, clever and well-educated sexual predators. We must do all we can to prevent them from abusing their power, prestige and positions. And tightening up these laws would be a good start.
We are grateful that Fr. Wenthe failed in his bid to completely overturn this crucial law that helps prevent adults from being sexually abused and exploited. But we hope this setback will give lawmakers the clarity and incentive to improve this crucial law.
(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), Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata (952-471-3422, firstname.lastname@example.org), Frank Meuers of Plymouth (952-334-5180, email@example.com)
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.