OH--In rare move, archbishop sues flock; Victims respond
For immediate release: Thursday, June 2, 2016
In rare move, archbishop sues parishioners
Child sex victims welcome “more aggressive action”
But they blast Catholic officials for ignoring abuse “enablers”
SNAP: Prelate should sue or discipline those who hid child sex crimes
“Why is church money more important than our kids?” support group asks
Organization writes to head of Cincinnati archdiocese urging pursuit of “enablers”
In what’s being called “an unprecedented move,” Cincinnati’s Catholic archbishop is suing local parishioners and parish staff because they allegedly kept silent about their pastor’s theft of $1.5 million. And a victims group is urging the prelate to file similar suits against church employees who ignored or hid child sex crimes.
In March, Fr. Earl Simone pleaded guilty to aggravated theft of $1.5 million from St. Peter Church in Huber Heights. On Sunday, an apology from him was read at the parish.
And on Monday, a local television station disclosed that Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr is suing ten “John Does” at the parish who reportedly knew of or were involved in the theft but kept silent.
Leaders of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests say they have never seen Catholic officials defrock, demote, discipline - much less sue - a single church official or member for hiding child sex crimes. (In Cincinnati, there are almost 30 publicly accused predator priests, SNAP says, which likely means that dozens or even hundreds of church staff might be guilty of ignoring or concealing abuse and should, if the archbishop’s new approach is consistently applied, be sued.)
“We’ve long said bishops refuse to punish church staff who hurt others. So at one level, we’re glad to see a tougher approach by Archbishop Schnurr,” said Dan Frondorf, SNAP’s volunteer Cincinnati leader. “But this aggressive approach should be applied to those involved in child sexual abuse, not just theft.”
“When our kids are at risk, Cincinnati Catholic officials ignore, tolerate or ‘forgive’ wrongdoers. But when it’s their money at risk, Cincinnati Catholic sue wrongdoers,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s executive director. “If the archbishop wants to get tough, he should do so against those who hid child sex crimes.”
At the very least, SNAP says, Schnurr should hire independent investigators to determine exactly which church employees should be disciplined or sued.
SNAP is especially concerned about current and former church staff and members who may have turned a blind eye to crimes by two clerics:
-- Fr. Allen Tarlton who, according church abuse records released earlier this year, went on to work in the Cincinnati archdiocese after being accused of abuse in another state. As best SNAP can tell, there’s been no public attention or media coverage of him in the Cincy area.
--Brother Bernard Joseph Hartman who was working near Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton when child sex abuse allegations against him. Last year, he pled guilty to molesting kids at a school in Australia. Hartman was called “a sadist” in court and accused of abusing a girl with a turkey baster. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-08/catholic-brother-a-brazen-offender-who-grossly-abused-trust/6604270
Another “enabler,” SNAP says is Bishop Daniel Conlon, a Cincinnati native and former archdiocesan chancellor who was promoted to head the Steubenville diocese and now heads the Joliet diocese. He once also chaired the US Conference of Catholic Bishops sex abuse committee.
Fr. Simone was ordered to serve five years in prison and repay $1.9 million to the parish. His attorney is David Williamson. Fr. Simone also worked in the Marines and in Springfield, Ohio.
According to the independent group BishopAccountability.org, there are 29 publicly accused Cincinnati area predator priests: G.R. Keith Albrecht, John B. Berning, Thomas J. Brunner, George Cooley, Ronald C. Cooper, Stanley D. Doerger, Tomas F. Feldhaus, Ellis N. Harsham, Norman Heil, Thomas R. Hopp, Walter (Vaclovas) Katarskis, David J. Kelley, James G. Kiffmeyer, Thomas A. Kuhn, Raymond E. Larger, Francis (Frank) A. Massarella, Michael Montgomery, Michael Paraniuk, Daniel Pater, David F. Reilly, Albert E. Schetter, Kenneth J. Schoettmer, Robert W. Schutte, Donald E. Shelander, Charles F. Stephney, Robert A. Stricker, Lawrence Strittmatter, Richard M. Unwin and David P. Vincent.
SNAP also says that Ohio lawmakers should reform the state’s “archaic, predator-friendly” statute of limitations, and
--beg every person “who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups.”
St. Peter priest issues apology amid civil suit
By Kelley King - Published: May 31, 2016,
HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WDTN) — A Huber Heights priest has issued a letter of apology for stealing more than a million dollars from his own parishioners.
The letter was inserted in the St. Peter church bulletin over the weekend from former pastor Father Earl Simone. He pleaded guilty in March to aggravated theft after millions of dollars came up missing over a period of 20 years from St. Peter Church.
In the letter, Simone addresses . . .
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.