For immediate release: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)
Bishop Leonard Blair has done a poor job dealing with the church’s on-going child sex abuse and cover up crisis in Toledo. We are disappointed that, once again, Pope Francis has promoted a prelate who has failed to show real courage and compassion and refused to adequately protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
In 2010, Toledo Catholic officials kept quiet about and wanted six months to investigate alleged sexual misdeeds by a Catholic school counselor
Kevin Yeckley, a counselor and coach, admitted “periodically” hugging a girl, hiring her, working “alone for several consecutive Saturdays” with her and telling her “he was . . .having uncomfortable feelings for her.”
Toledo Catholic officials admit that in March 2009, a victim told a teacher about Yeckley’s alleged misdeeds but they started to investigate in October, some six or seven months later. Delays like this endanger kids and enable predators to intimidate victims, threaten whistle blowers, discredit witnesses, destroy evidence, fabricate alibis and keep hurting children.
(According to The News-Messenger newspaper, two top chancery office staffers - Frank DiLallo and Toledo diocesan human resources director Greg Reed – met with the predator months later.
Yeckley eventually resigned his position at a school in Fremont. State officials sanctioned him for "failing to maintain appropriate student-teacher boundaries." Still, a Catholic principal (Mike Gabel) deceitfully urged a public school to hire him, putting innocent kids at risk of child sex crimes. (Gabel also just resigned. Blair refused to denounce or discipline any of the Catholic school employees who were involved.)
Blair’s irresponsible handling of this case shows Catholic officials putting their reputations and careers above the well-being of children.
Blair’s first job in Hartford should be to post the names, photos and whereabouts of every child molesting cleric on the archdiocesan website and in all parish bulletins. He should aggressively reach out to anyone who may have seen suspected or suffered crimes or cover up by the 32 publicly accused, admitted and proven Hartford area predator priests and nuns.
And he should especially beg anyone with information or suspicions about Fr. Arthur Perrault to call police. Fr. Parrault is accused of abusing at least ten boys and girls, fled the diocese in 1992 and is believed to be in hiding.
Some may be tempted to give Blair “the benefit of the doubt” in clergy sexual abuse and misconduct cases. We urge them not to. We hope Hartford citizens and Catholics will continue to act prudently and report any known or suspected clergy sex crimes and cover ups to secular officials, not church officials.