MO - Amidst Controversy, Missouri Center Takes in Abusive Brother
For immediate release:
Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2004
For more information:
David Clohessy, SNAP National Director (314) 566 9790 cell
Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Coordinator (314) 862 7688
Mary Grant of Long Beach CA, SNAP Southwestern Regional Director (626) 419 2930
For 2nd Time in 2 Weeks, A Molesting Cleric Moves Here
Both Men Have Admitted Molesting Boys
For the second time in two weeks, a notorious admitted abusive Catholic cleric has landed near St. Louis at a church-run center for molesting clerics.
According to today's Los Angeles Times, after weeks of controversy in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Brother Gerald Chumik has been sent to a facility called RECON. Chumik is a Franciscan friar and an admitted child molester who has been a fugitive from his native Canada for 14 years.
Two weeks ago, another admitted repeat sex offender, Fr. Mark Roberts of Las Vegas, quietly moved into a the same facility, which is headed by a priest. Roberts pled guilty in May 2003 to sadistically abused at least five Nevada boys. He now lives just 20 miles from the 21 year old man who first reported Roberts to the police.
"It's one thing to hide child molesting priests of your own. It's worse to import them from elsewhere," said St. Louis SNAP leader Barbara Dorris. "But this is precisely what Archbishop Burke is permitting. It's frightening."
SNAP suspects that dozens of abusive Catholic clerics are living just outside St. Louis, at two facilities operated by Catholic religious orders:
-- St. John Vianney Renewal Center in Jefferson County near Dittmer, which is run by Fr. Peter Lechner (636-274-5526). Lechner is with the Servants of The Paraclete.
-- RECON in Franklin County near Dittmer, which is run by Fr. Bertin Miller (636-285-7304, 636-274-1733). Miller is with the Franciscans.
(Stories about the two facilities can be found in:
-- a St. Louis Post Dispatch story in March 2002 by Tim O'Neil, and
-- a Kansas City Star story several months ago by Kevin Murphy.)
For at least the last year, Chumik has lived in a picturesque religious complex overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony could have ordered Chumik to leave his archdiocese, but Franciscan leaders say Mahony "understands" the molester's living arrangement and hasn't objected to it.
Chumik also worked as a jail chaplain in California for many years.
Chumik's status and living arrangements were first disclosed three months ago in a multi-part Dallas Morning News investigative series which found 200 suspected and known abusive Catholic clerics who moved across national boundaries, often to escape criminal prosecution.
SNAP has criticized St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke for accepting Roberts. Their concern is the physical safety of nearby children and the emotional well-being of Roberts' victim, who moved to this area to put memories of the abuse behind him and live with his father.
"This has been terribly difficult on my son," said the young man's father. "It is an outrage. It's almost as if this predator is stalking my boy."
Three times in the last three days, SNAP members have gone to public events where Archbishop Burke has appeared. They've handed out flyers urging Burke to move Roberts.
"We will be going wherever Burke goes until he does the right thing," said St. Louis SNAP leader Bob Swart. "This brave but wounded young man did everything right: he told his parents, reported to police, helped the prosecutor, and is basically being punished and victimized all over again."
"Over the past few years, dozens of known sex offending clerics from all over the country have been quietly been sent to two church-run centers near here," said Swart. "Church leaders have been very secretive about this."
"Instead of being in prison, the abusers are essentially in a country club. Instead of being supervised by parole officers, they're being supervised by a fellow priest. There's no barbed wires, guards, locked gates, or even electronic ankle bracelets. It's a tragedy waiting to happen," he said.
SNAP has also written Burke and Governor Bob Holden asking that Roberts be moved out of Missouri.
"We simply can't let innocent kids be put at risk, noT let this wounded young man suffer any more. That's the bottom line," said Swart.
For today's LA Times story on Chumik, see:
For more on Chumik, see:
For more on the other admitted perpetrator who just arrived here, Fr. Mark Roberts, see:
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.