OH-- Seminarian who tried to buy baby pleads guilty
For immediate release: Thursday, April 14, 2016
Statement by Judy Jones of St. Louis, Associate Midwest Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (636 433 2511, SNAPjudy@gmail.com)
We’re grateful that a sexually troubled Ohio seminarian has pled guilty to child sex crimes and hope, for the safety of children, that he’s given the longest sentence possible.
We also worry there may be other kids he’s hurt and deplore how little his former church supervisors are doing to find other victims, witnesses or whistleblowers.
After initially claiming he was innocent, Joel A. Wright admitted his guilt in court yesterday. Catholic officials who recruited, accepted, taught and assigned him, however, insist they did nothing wrong.
Two Ohio prelates - Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of Steubenville and Bishop Frederick Campbell of Columbus – should do aggressive outreach, using church bulletins, parish websites and pulpit announcements.
Church officials in Kentucky (where Wright also attended a Catholic college) and Vermont (where Wright is from) should do likewise.
Bishop Campbell continues to largely being silent and passive about Wright, even though Wright was a student at The Pontifical College Josephinum, just north of Columbus, and within the boundaries of Bishop Campbell’s diocese. (Bishop Campbell in fact has taught at the Josephinum.)
In cases like this, bishops distance themselves from and pretend to be powerless over Catholic institutions in their dioceses, instead of stepping up, admitting responsibility and aggressively helping law enforcement. (According to Catholic church practice, custom and law, a bishop is responsible for the safety and well-being of his entire flock.)
If Josephinum staff were ripping off Columbus Catholics financially, Bishop Campbell wouldn’t be passively sitting back and keeping quiet. He can and should do more.
The only prudent assumption is that Wright has assaulted or exploited kids elsewhere. And Columbus Catholic officials have the ability and duty to see if that’s true by using their resources to beg others with information or suspicions about Wright to call police.
should do outreach seeking other victims of Wright.
News accounts show that Ohio Catholic officials had at least three warnings about Wright. But it seem clear that they did little or nothing to heed those warnings.
1) An informant for Homeland Security called and wrote to Josephinum staff about Wright and his efforts to buy infants or toddlers so he could abuse them.
2) Franciscan University officials in Steubenville reported to police that Wright had offered to pay $150 to babysit young kids alone (but the university may not have told Josephinum officials).
3) Wright’s mother admits that more than 40 seminaries across the US had rejected her son’s applications for enrollment. (She claims it was because of his physical disabilities, but SNAP leaders don’t believe this is true.)
When he was arrested in San Diego en route to Mexico to obtain youngsters, Wright’s studies were sponsored by Bishop Montforton. Wright spent some time in the Steubenville diocese.
This horrific case shows that the Catholic hierarchy still act recklessly with kids’ safety.
Once again, Catholic officials endanger kids by ignoring clear, repeated warnings about an obviously sexually troubled cleric. And once again, when abuse reports surface, Catholic officials basically clam up instead of aggressively reaching out. They should be using pulpit announcements, church bulletins, parish websites and mailing lists to help find victims, witnesses and whistleblowers who could help law enforcement prosecute and convict Wright so kids will be protected from him for many years to come.
We especially worry that Wright may have molested one or more Ohio children. When asked if he had ever had sex with an infant before, Wright wrote “had made it very close.”
No matter what church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single 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 like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)
Seminarian Pleads Guilty to Child-Sex Charge
By WILLIAM DOTINGA, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
SAN DIEGO (CN) - A former seminary student on Wednesday pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to his efforts to adopt female infants and toddlers from Tijuana in order to sexually molest them, the Justice Department said.
In the plea agreement, Joel Alexander Wright admitted to placing ads on Craigslist Tijuana for the purpose of adopting or buying a baby girl under the age of three because he wanted "to have intercourse with her after I own her."
Wright further admitted that after federal agents took over the email account of the person he had been corresponding with, he wrote that . . .
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.