MO- 2 KC Catholic teachers fired in “odd” case
For immediate release: Friday, March 28, 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)
No one should be satisfied with the firing of two credibly accused child molesting KC Catholic school teachers. This is a disturbing case of continued irresponsible behavior by church officials with many unanswered questions.
Kids are of course a bit safer now that Gregg Briggs and Tod Barnard will no longer be at St. Thomas More Elementary School. (Barnard faces criminal charges, Briggs does not.)
But as we pointed out weeks ago, one of the teachers (Briggs) was apparently quietly removed and the teacher who replaced him (Barnard) is now charged with child sex crimes.
Catholic school officials admit they were told on March 3 that the police were investigating an allegation about a school employee. But twice, Catholic officials apparently choose secrecy over openness. First, they kept the allegation hidden from parents and the public for almost two weeks. Second, they apparently quietly suspended the accused and kept the suspension hidden from parents and the public for almost two weeks too.
Shame on them.
Those ten days of secrecy gave a potential criminal plenty of time to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten whistle blowers, discredit witnesses, fabricate alibis, “lawyer up,” and molest more children.
Finn and his top aides are being careful to try and distance themselves from this latest in a long string of child sex crime and cover up cases in the KC diocese. But in a rigid hierarchy like the Catholic Church, it's virtually certain that St. Thomas More principal Brian Borgmeyer did not unilaterally decide to suspend a teacher for alleged child sex crimes, bring in a replacement, and hide the allegations for days, weeks or months. It's virtually certain that he consulted with diocesan headquarters staff before he opted to quietly sit on the first set of allegations and the suspension.
In the first news stories about all of this, Catholic officials engaged in odd hair-splitting when they said “Barnard was not paid by the diocese, but paid by the man who is on paid leave because of the second incident.”
First, what school or institution asks or lets a suspected child molester pay his replacement? And second, does it matter who signs an alleged predator's paychecks when he's around kids? This sounds like a desperate public relations and legal defense maneuver by Finn's spokesman to deter lawsuits. (“Don't sue us, we weren't paying that guy.”)
We hope that every single person who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by either teacher – or cover-ups by school or church staffers will find the courage to call law enforcement immediately so that kids can be protected and so that the truth can be revealed.
(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)
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.