NY- Albany Catholic deacon sentenced; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Thursday, September 18, 2014
The sentencing of an Albany Catholic deacon for child sex crimes shows again that church officials continue to side with accused clerics over innocent children and, as a result, more children are hurt.
Albany Catholic officials defrocked Angel Garcia after reports that he sexually abused a minor in the early 1990s. We suspect that's all they did. We strongly doubt that they gave full information to and worked hard to help police and prosecutors. We strongly doubt that they held a news conference to announce that accusations against Garcia were founded or begged victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police. We strongly doubt that they aggressively warned parishioners about Garcia on parish websites, church bulletins and pulpit announcements. We strongly doubt that they put and kept Garcia's name and photo on their diocesan website so that moms and dads would know to keep their kids away from him.
And we strongly suspect, in this case like thousands of others, Catholic officials did the bare minimum – at best – and may not have even met that very low bar.
Had they acted with courage and compassion, Garcia might have had a tough time getting access to more kids. He might have even been prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned, years ago, so that he could not have assaulted another child.
But this didn't happen. And the result is that at least one more family has been devastated by the horror of child sexual abuse.
The question is: what will Albany's bishop do now? Now will he be brave and caring enough to really seek out others who were hurt by Garcia and help them. Will he instruct his employees and flock – especially former church members and church staff – to ask everyone they know “Did Garcia harm you?” Will he give more information about Garcia to police and prosecutors?
Sadly, we doubt it.
(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.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
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.