OH--Vatican claims to speed up sex abuse appeals
For immediate release: Thursday, Nov. 13
Vatican claims to speed up sex abuse appeals
But no word yet on local priest ousted 7 years ago
He faces at least two allegations of molesting girls
Child molesting cleric now teaches in St. Clairsville or Woodsfield
SNAP: “Steubenville Bishop needs to take action and push harder”
Vatican officials claim they’ll soon be taking quicker action to defrock predator priests. And a victims’ support group wants a Steubenville priest – who now teaches at a local college - to be among them.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, say they hope that Fr. Gary Zalenski will soon be ousted from the priesthood. Seven years ago this month, Fr. Zalenski was suspended from active ministry in the Steubenville diocese by then-Bishop Daniel Conlon. The priest is still being paid by current Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton.
“Fr. Zalenski is living and working unsupervised among unsuspecting colleagues and vulnerable students at a college, so defrocking him will help warn others about him and hopefully keep more children away from him,” said SNAP leader Judy Jones, a Woodsfield native. “We urge anyone who may have had contact with Fr Zalenski to find the courage to speak up, get help, expose wrongdoers, prevent abuse and start healing.”
Fr. Zalenski is on the faculty at Belmont College which has branches in the Ohio towns of Cadiz, Woodsfield and St. Clairsville. The school offers classes at the Swiss Hills Career Center, which is part of the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District (740 472 5801). The district is headed by Superintendent John Hall.
The district’s board of education is headed by Ronald Winkler and includes Justin Isaly, Jackie Hupp, Dave Matz and Edward Carleton.
“A school is one of the last places a credibly accused child predator should be working,” Jones said. “Common sense tells us that if Fr. Zalenski is too dangerous to be in a parish, he is too dangerous to be a professor or teacher.”
“How will Belmont College President Paul F. Gasparro feel if months or years from now a young adult says he was sexually assaulted by Fr. Zalenski as a teenager on the school’s campus?” asked SNAP director David Clohessy. “Or how will Switzerland Superintendent Hall feel if a faculty member reports that her daughter was violated by Fr. Zalenski while he was teaching down in Woodsfield? These two men can’t say they didn’t know about the allegations against Fr. Zalenski, because we warned the public about Fr. Zalenski’s presence at Belmont back in June.”
“Even now, despite decades of promises by bishops to better protect kids from predators, Fr. Zalenski roams free,” said Clohessy. “Instead, Steubenville’s bishop should force Fr. Zalenski to live in a remote, secure, independent treatment center far away from families who have come to trust him over the years he worked in the Steubenville area. We fear he may be hurting more children now.
A photo of Fr. Zalenski is available at BishopAccountability.org
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.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
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.