For immediate release: Monday, March 24, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A Dayton pastor has failed in his bid to persuade an Iowa judge to avoid jailing a child molester. We're glad the pastor lost and think he should be ashamed for his effort.
The pastor wrote to a Des Moines judge who was handing Ryan McKelvey’s child molestation case. He asked that McKelvey's sentence be suspended so he could move back to Ohio. The pastor is apparently close to McKelvey's father.
Kids are safest when predators are imprisoned. During and after a molester's incarceration, pastors can and should provide support. But they should not intervene in judicial proceedings and seek special favors for their congregants or colleagues, especially special favors that leave children at risk for being sexually assaulted.
No matter what the relationship, it is wrong to ask that an admitted sexual predator be given special treatment. He belongs in prison where he has no chance to hurt another child. It is especially wrong for the pastor of a church to make a request like this. His concern should be the safety of children, not the comfort of a predator.
The pastor should apologize for his irresponsible behavior.
We hope that anyone who may be struggling in shame, silence and self blame will find the courage to speak up, report to police and start healing.
(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)