For immediate release: Wednesday, April 16 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 Cleveland prosecutor is asking that a priest, Fr. James McGonegal, be denied entry into an alternate sentence program. We applaud this move. Citizens are safest when predators are locked up.
It seems to us that Catholic officials – both those who commit and those who conceal sex crimes – often ask for and receive special treatment, favors or considerations from many secular officials. That diminishes the faith that many have in our justice system and discourages them from reporting more crimes. That, in turn, makes vulnerable adults and innocent children more apt to be sexually violated in the future.
We also oppose expunging this cleric's record once his sentence is over. People can protect themselves and their loved ones when they have more information, not less, about sex offenders.
Finally, we're skeptical of the claim by the priest's defense lawyer that “We’re working with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office and we’re hoping to resolve it.” Lawyers defending child molesting clerics and complicit Catholic bishops almost always make this claim, and usually, it's deceptive. They often do the absolute bare minimum, just to avoid contempt of court or other formal charges. They rarely take real steps to help police and prosecutors investigate and convict abusive priests, nuns, seminarians, or bishops.
(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)