MO- Victims demand real action from archbishop
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
We're here today for three reasons: to warn the public about a defrocked predator priest's current and recent whereabouts, to prod St. Louis' archbishop to disclose the names of 63 credibly accused child molesting clerics, and to denounce the archbishop for his mean-spirited actions last week in attacking a child sex abuse victim.
1) A pro bono professional investigator tells us that the now-defrocked Fr. Joseph Dixon Ross lives at 5321 N. Highway 94, St. Charles (Three others live at that address including a Patrick Ross Wehmeier and a woman we suspect is Fr. Ross' sister.) His phone numbers are believed to be 636 250 3723 and 314 289 9545. His last known Arkansas address was 501 Napa Valley Dr., Apt. 216 in Little Rock.
We make this public for the safety of children. We believe Ross' neighbors in St. Charles deserve to know they have a serial child predator in their midst. We can't help but worry that he may worship in and befriend families with kids at nearby Catholic parishes in St. Charles.
We hope that St. Louis families will spread the word about Ross' presence back in the metro area.
2) One of Ross' victims, Jane Doe, settled her lawsuit against the archdiocese last week. Because of her courage and persistence, Archbishop Robert Carlson was forced to admit that the archdiocese has gotten 240 credible child sex abuse reports against 115 priests and other church employees. (These figures, we suspect, are lower than the true numbers. The judge told church officials they only had to include allegations that they deemed “credible.”)
A trustworthy Boston-based archive group lists 52 publicly accused St. Louis child molesting clerics (including nuns, priests and seminarians).
So this means three things;
First, the sheer number of proven, admitted and credibly accused St. Louis Catholic clerics is at least twice as high as anyone knew previously.
Second, we now know that fewer than half of these abusers have been publicly identified.
We call on Archbishop Carlson, for the safety of kids, to release these names. If he's uncomfortable releasing all of them, he could start with those who have admitted child sex crimes, or those who are still alive, or those whose whereabouts are unknown, or those who have the most allegations against them. (The Post Dispatch reports that 16 of them have five or more accusations against them.)
There are many ways to approach this. Only one of those ways is dead wrong: doing nothing.
Some of these predators – even if they've been suspended or defrocked – are likely around kids right now. Because their identities are hidden, parents likely trust them with their kids. We see articles from across the globe every day or two about coaches, teachers and therapists - who were once priests, seminarians and deacons – molesting children. Carlson's secrecy about these 63 proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics is simply inexcusable.
3) Watching the video of Archbishop Carlson's top PR flak Katie Pesha on Monday, we were reminded of courageous remarks made 60 years ago by Joseph N. Welch, the head counsel for the United States Army while it was being attacked by the disgraced Senator Joe McCarthy.
Walsh said: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. Have you no decency, sir. At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
We ask the same question of Archbishop Carlson today: “Have you no sense of decency, Archbishop?”
“Defend yourself in clergy sex abuse suits, Archbishop, if you must. Defend your complicit colleagues too. But find the decency, please, to do so without publicly and viciously attacking your accusers.”
For the record: This victim has, and has always had, the full support of her whole family. If she had or has a mental illness, that's not your business. It's not the public's business either.
During her seven year ordeal seeking justice, she's graduated from high school and college and gotten a teaching certificate and a teaching job. She has achieved everything we hope for our children. The public picture Carlson painted of her last week, besides being cruel, is inaccurate.
What possible benefit could come from talking about another person like this – especially an alleged child sex abuse victim – in public? If she did or does have some kind of adverse medical condition, it is simply cruel to disclose that.
We've tried and tried to imagine another explanation or rationale for Carlson's cruelty. But we're left really with only one purpose behind his hurtful actions: He wants to scare others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups into staying silent.
It's the same rationale, we strongly suspect, behind his similarly hurtful moves several months ago, when a Fr. Joseph Jiang was arrested for the second time in two years on child sex charges.
Carlson chose to publicly cast doubt on and violate the privacy of the second alleged victim's family. He issued a statement claiming that the victim's family supposedly didn't mention child sex abuse until recently.
Everyone knows that the overwhelming majority of child sex abuse victims can't understand and disclose their trauma until decades later. So delays in reporting child sex crimes are not unusual or relevant at all.
But by mentioning the alleged delay, Carlson deliberately cast doubt on the victim's family.
(What's ironic here is that in many cases, Carlson and other Catholic officials question and criticize victims who step forward decades after their abuse. Now, a victim reports promptly, while he is still a child, and Carlson attacks him too for his timing. When exactly does Carlson feel it's appropriate for those who are raped, sodomized or fondled by priests to speak up?)
Carlson also publicly violated the privacy of this courageous family when, in the same statement, he claimed this family raised concerns about bullying in their parochial school.
Because parishes and parochial schools are usually “tightly-knit,” by publicly disclosing that the alleged bullying, Carlson is basically “outing” the victim's identity to perhaps dozens and dozens of people with whom the victim and his family goes to church and school.
Neither of Carlson' s claims – even if they are true - have any bearing whatsoever on whether these new criminal charges are valid. And Carlson knows that by making both of these claims public, he may well be able to scare or discourage others with information about predator priests from stepping forward.
So twice in about two months, Carlson has publicly made hurtful, intimidating remarks about alleged young clergy sex abuse victims, in cases where one priest is a twice-arrested predator and another is an already-convicted predator. It's crystal clear to us that Carlson has chosen to ignore the largely compassionate tone set by Pope Francis and opted instead to act like a streetfighter rather than a shepherd.
Archbishop Carlson has made and kept one promise. When she was hired in 2011, Carlson said that Katie Pesha “will help move our communications to a new level.” She has done that: she's gone down into a gutter, and she is using – with Carlson's obvious approval - the kind of attacks desperate politicians use. As we said last week, she should be ashamed of herself. Not even under Archbishop Raymond Burke – with Jamie Allman as his mouthpiece – has this archdiocese been so mean-spirited.
In the early 1990s, a brave young woman named Kathy filed a lawsuit charging that Fr. John M. Kilcullen molested her. Catholic officials claimed that her family didn't support her allegations either. So the cruel actions last week by Carlson and Pesha are not entirely without precedent. But it's the most cruel we've seen St. Louis archdiocesan officials be in about two decades, especially since the church hierarchy pledged to be “compassionate” towards victims in the 2002 national abuse policy church officials claim is binding.
We urge Catholics to ask themselves the questions we've repeatedly asked ourselves: Who benefits from Carlson's mean-spirited words about alleged clergy sex abuse victims? The answer: only he does.
To us, his cruelty is a sign that he knows his complicity in clergy sex abuse cases is making him vulnerable. But no matter what Carlson's motives may be, his hard-hearted comments about alleged victims undermines any claim he once had to be a spiritual leader. He's just another corrupt politician battling in any and every way he can to protect his reputation and his job.
(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 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)
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.