For immediate release: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
We applaud these compassionate men of the Horace Mann Action Coalition who are devising a system of rating New York private schools on how they handle child sex crimes.
For far too long, private institutions – both religious and secular – have evaded scrutiny on child safety issues. Many of these institutions do little to prevent abuse and cover up but spend lavishly on defense lawyers and public relations consultants when abuse reports surface. Many of them write nice-sounding policies but then ignore them.
We offer one caution, however. We urge the group to pay more attention to officials' behavior and less attention to the formal, written abuse policies of these schools. Over the past 25 years, we've seen that such policies almost always sound good on paper but are usually ignored in reality. Most private institutions are answerable to almost no one. So they often not only break secular laws, but also violate their own stated policies.
These brave, wounded men were denied justice by New York's archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations, which was repeatedly exploited by callous Horace Mann officials. These victims were betrayed three times – once by predatory teachers, again by selfish school staff and again by lawmakers who refuse to reform the state's outdated child safety laws.
Many victims would have given up. But these men are not. They are heroes for turning their horrific experiences into something positive – an effort that will make kids safer and deter future cover ups.
(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)