OH--Victims blast Catholic officials
Church officials ignored warnings on seminarian
Man was reported rejected by 40+ schools
SNAP: “Ohio church staff didn’t heed ‘red flags’”
But he was accepted & backed by Steubenville’s bishop
"Why do Catholic institutions still put kids at risk?” group asks
All priests should “reach out now to any local victims,” SNAP says
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and supporters will blast Ohio Catholic officials for apparently doing little or nothing about a sexually troubled seminarian even though they were warned that he was
--offering $150 to babysit Ohio kids, and
--was trying to buy infants and toddlers for sex.
Both of these facts were reported to church staff and law enforcement, yet church officials kept him in school and preparing for the priesthood in Steubenville.
The group wants church staff in Columbus, Steubenville and Vermont to “prod anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds by him to call police.”
Monday, Feb. 8 at 1:00 p.m.
On the sidewalk outside the Steubenville Catholic diocese headquarters, 422 Washington Street, in Steubenville, Oh
Two-three members of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Missouri woman who is the organization’s associate Midwest director
A Columbus TV station reports that Ohio Catholic officials had at least three warnings about a now-arrested seminarian who has been studying for the priesthood for the Steubenville Diocese. But it seem clear that those officials did little or nothing to heed those warnings, SNAP says.
10 TV News has revealed that an informant for Homeland Security called and wrote to church staff at a Columbus school about seminarian Joel A. Wright and his efforts to buy infants or toddlers so he could abuse them.
The station has also reported that Franciscan University officials reported to police that Wright had offered to pay $150 to babysit young kids alone, but reportedly may not have told Josephinum officials.
And 10News also reports Wright’s mother admitting 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.)
In any case, Wright was attending the Pontifical College Josephinum when, on Jan. 29, he was arrested in San Diego en route to Mexico where he’d arrange to buy, adopt and rape youngsters. At the time, his studies were sponsored by Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton.
Law enforcement was told about Wright’s plans by an informant in Mexico. That informant says he also called Josephinum vice president Fr. John Allen (614 885 5585, firstname.lastname@example.org), saying "I need to talk to you because there is one of your seminary students who is asking me to find him an infant to molest in Mexico,” according to 10 News in Columbus. The station reports that “Allen confirms receiving a phone call, and tells 10TV he briefly put the caller on hold” but the caller hung up.
But the informant said he also sent Father Allen an e-mail explaining his story.
This “horrific case” shows that the Catholic hierarchy still act recklessly with kids’ safety, SNAP says.
“Once again, Catholic officials endanger kids by ignoring clear, repeated warnings about an obviously sexually troubled cleric,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s director. “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.”
SNAP is especially worried 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.”
“The only prudent assumption is that Wright has assaulted or exploited kids around here,” said Judy Jones, SNAP’s assistant Midwest director. “And Steubenville’s bishop and priests 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.”
Wright is originally from Vermont. A photo of Wright is at BishopAccountability.org
Judy Jones (314 974 5003, SNAPjudy@gmail.com), David Clohessy (314 566 9790, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.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.