For immediate release: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Victims write parents & judge about teachers
Both will be in court in Little Rock next week
One of them pled guilty to molesting a student
Another didn’t report the crimes as required by law
Group wants families & school officials to help prosecutors
And it tells Little Rock’s bishop “Do aggressive outreach now”
Parents should “ask their kids if they saw or suspected wrongdoing,” victims say
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will urge local school officials and church officials to “actively seek out” people who “saw, suspected or suffered” crimes by two teachers who will be in court next week.
They will also disclose that they are writing to
--- nearly 400 parents of students at the school where both of the accused worked, and
---the judge in the cases, urging harsh sentences if/when the teachers are found guilty of child sex crimes and/or cover ups.
Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 1:30 p.m.
On the sidewalk outside the Pulaski County Court house, 401 W. Markham in downtown Little Rock (near S Spring Street)
Two members of a support group for clergy sex abuse victims called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including a Missouri woman who is the organization’s long time outreach director.
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging officials with a Little Rock school and the Little Rock Catholic diocese to “aggressively seek out” others who may have “seen, suspected or suffered crimes” by two former Catholic school teachers who will be in court next week on child sex charges. The group is also writing to families who attend the school prodding those with information or suspicions about the crimes to contact law enforcement.
One of the teachers, Kelly Ann O’Rourke, admitted molesting a student. The other, Kathy Gene Griffin, allegedly concealed O’Rourke’s crimes.
Leaders of SNAP are begging Little Rock Bishop Anthony Taylor to use his “vast resources” to persuade others “with potentially helpful details about the two teachers’ crimes” to call police and prosecutors immediately, “so the two might face or be convicted of more charges and be locked up so that kids will be safer.” SNAP also wants Taylor to give the accused teachers’ personnel files to the prosecutors if he hasn’t done so already.
The group sent a letter to Taylor last week about their concerns. He has not replied.
So now, SNAP is writing to some 400 parents whose children attend or attended the school, asking them to ask their youngsters if they witnesses or experienced anything suspicious or illegal by the teachers.
On Sept. 16, O’Rourke will appear in Pulaski County Circuit Court (Room 220) on charges of violating her parole by repeatedly calling the girl she molested, then a teenaged Mount St. Mary (MSM) School student. (The school is at 3224 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, 501-664-8006). O’Rourke is expected to enter a plea.
(See Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 08/13/2013)
The following day, Griffin, who taught at the same school, is scheduled to appear before the same judge on charges that she failed to report the abuse.
SNAP charges that the bishop, “largely by his inaction,” is hurting both law enforcement and O’Rourke’s victim or victims. The group believes both teachers may well have committed more crimes than police know about.
SNAP believes Catholic officials have a moral and civic duty to actively help law enforcement prosecute and convict child molesting church staff through “aggressive outreach” using parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements.
This is especially crucial in Catholic institutions for three reasons, SNAP says. First, because bishops have long ignored and concealed child sex crimes by Catholic employees. Second, because bishops have repeatedly promised to change their ways in child sex cases. And third, because child sex cases are especially difficult for police and prosecutors to pursue, because predators and those who help them - are usually very shrewd, while their victims are often frightened or confused.”
Eleven years ago, SNAP notes, US bishops adopted their first-ever national child sex abuse policy. In it, they promised to be “open and transparent” in church child sex abuse cases. So SNAP maintains that bishops can’t keep quiet and merely suspend child predators and do little or nothing else to safeguard kids.
In the vast majority of child sex abuse cases, SNAP believes, offenders are charged with only a fraction of the crimes they actually commit. So a vigorous public awareness/outreach effort by church employees can make a major difference in how successful prosecutors are in keeping predators away from kids.
The prosecutor is Teresa Ball (501-340-8000) and O’Rourke’s defense lawyer is Jack Lassiter (501-374-9010). The judge is Barry Sims.
SNAP is also writing Judge Sims, urging him to give the teachers the maximum sentence for their crimes, if they are found guilty.
SNAP believes that O’Rourke attended the University of Minnesota. She is a graduate of MSM and now lives at 8 Beachfront Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, FL (in Walton County), according to the Florida sex offender registry.
Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com ), David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com )
Here's the letter sent by SNAP to MSM parents and teachers:
We believe in forgiving wrong-doers, but we believe even more in protecting kids. That’s why we’re asking for your help. We are sorry to intrude with such a difficult subject but we beg you to give this letter serious consideration.
We know that the past months have been a very trying time for your school community. As we are sure you are aware, at least one brave young woman has reported being molested by a Mount St. Mary’s teacher and coach, Kelly Ann O’Rourke. (And O’Rourke pled guilty to the crimes.) We are sure these reports have been stressful and confusing for you and others.
O’Rourke was sentenced to serve four months in jail as part of a plea bargain that requires her to testify against her former boss, Kathy Gene Griffin, who is accused of covering up the relationship.
Both women will be in court next week, so time is short.
We worry that O’Rourke may molest again. (She’s now living in Florida, where virtually no one knows about her crimes.) We are worried about others she may have hurt already (who may still be suffering in shame, silence, and self-blame). And we worry that Griffin - and other current/former MSM teachers or staff – may still be concealing crimes or will do so in the future.
To help heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable, we respectfully ask that you do three things:
1) Please understand that it is very difficult it is to come forward and report child abuse both for victims and their families. It’s even harder when the predator is a trusted teacher and coach. Please offer support to any victims, possible victims, and their families. By coming forward, they may have prevented a child from being abused and made MSM, the church and our society safer. If you know one of O’Rourke’s victims, please treat them with sensitivity.
2) In her role as coach and teacher, O’Rourke had contact with dozens upon dozens of girls. We ask that you talk with students, former students, alumnae, employees and former employees of the school who had contact with O’Rourke. Ask them if they were hurt. Ask if they saw or suspected any wrongdoing. Urge them to spread the word too, and encourage parents of any such girl to be alert for signs of abuse. And urge them to call police or prosecutors immediately, so that these two teachers will be prosecuted effectively and more likely be kept from hurting others.
3) Call or write Bishop Anthony Taylor (501-664-0340, 2500 N. Tyler Street, Little Rock, AR 72207). Ask him to help heal the wounded, and protect the vulnerable, in proven, tangible ways. Ask him – and other church staff - to
-- use his archdiocesan web site, newspaper and parish bulletins to prod victims of O’Rourke to come forward and get help,
-- personally visit Mount Saint Mary and personally beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to speak up and seek professional counseling, and contact law enforcement,
-- remind all Catholics that they have a moral and civic duty to report known and suspected crimes to the criminal authorities.
Again, we apologize for bringing up this painful topic. We know it’s very difficult to read about – much less discuss with others - such sensitive matters. But we believe it is our obligations – as victims of child sex crimes ourselves - to try to make sure other kids and families don’t end up suffering as we have suffered and continue to suffer.
Please feel free to contact either of us. Thank you for reading this and for your consideration.
David Clohessy, Executive Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143 (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Barbara Dorris (Outreach Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
P.S. Here is the letter we sent last week to Bishop Taylor. He has not responded.
And here is our website: http://www.snapnetwork.org/
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