OH--Victims want college to oust child predator
For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014
For more info: Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Judy Jones, (636-433-2511, SNAPJudy@gmail.com)
Victims write college trustees
They want controversial professor ousted
He's a twice-accused child molesting ex-cleric
Most board members have ties to Catholic college
SNAP urges them to recuse themselves on the issue
A support group for abuse victims is urging trustees of a local college urging them to fire a professor who has been defrocked recently from the priesthood. They also want trustees to recuse themselves from the matter if they are Catholics.
On Sunday, members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, disclosed that, after at least two credible allegations of child sexual abuse, Gary A. Zalenski was permanently removed weeks ago as a priest by Vatican officials. But he remains on the staff of Belmont College, which SNAP says, recklessly puts students and staff at risk of abuse.
"Catholic officials in Rome have finally and formally kicked Zalenski out of the priesthood, which tends to happen with the most egregious child molesting clerics," said Judy Jones of SNAP. “We fear for the safety of those at Belmont. How will trustees feel if the college is sued down the road because Zalenski sexually assaulted a student or a staff member’s child?”
SNAP is writing to all six of the Belmont trustees, prodding them “for the safety of students, staff and the public” to fire or at least suspend Zalenski. The group wants college officials to hire an outside firm to conduct an independent investigation into whether Zalenski has molested others on or off campus since he was removed from active ministry in 2007 and whether he poses a current risk to college personnel.
SNAP’s concern extends beyond the college. Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton could have and should now do more to protect others from Zalenski, the group says.
Despite repeated pledges to be "open and transparent" about clergy sexual abuse, SNAP says Monforton
-- kept the Vatican's defrocking decision secret for more than a month,
-- disclosed it only to the local Catholic flock, not to the Steubenville area public,
-- put a tiny, two sentence notice about it in a church publication and,
-- made no mention of why Zalenski has been defrocked.
Bishop Monforton should hold a news conference to warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about Zalenski and explain, clearly and completely, why Zalenski was defrocked, SNAP contends.
In his own diocesan newspaper, Monforton admits that the Vatican's defrocking of Zalenski happened on Oct. 30.
"So why did Monforton choose secrecy over openness and delay over promptness?" asked Jones. "Every day Catholic officials hide evidence of a credibly accused predator priest's guilt, they help that predator fool unsuspecting families and be near children he can molest."
Unless Monforton "comes clean" and explains that Zalenski is a twice credibly accused child molester, Zalenski will keep finding positions where he has access to and authority over vulnerable children and teenagers, SNAP maintains.
"It's callous for Monforton to tell only Catholics that Zalenski can't work as a Catholic priest," said David Clohessy of SNAP. "It's as if Monforton doesn't care at all about the safety and well-being of non-Catholics."
SNAP says Monforton should warn as many people as possible about Zalenski's crimes.
"But if for some inexplicable reason Monforton can't bring himself to do that, he should tell the public not the Catholics - about Zalenski's crimes," said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. "Because that's where Zalenski is now: among the public, not in a Catholic parish."
"It's irresponsible for bishops like Monforton to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, train, transfer and protect predators like Zalenski and then when they're finally exposed cut them loose on society with little or no warning," said Dorris. "The Vatican doesn't defrock priests willy-nilly. It's a long process. It's usually not done unless the cleric's crimes are many or very well-documented. So once Rome has defrocked a priest, it's very clear he is in fact guilty of molesting children."
More information and documents about Zalenski are posted on this link. http://www.steubenvilletruth.org/Gary_Zalenski_Pg1.html
"We beg Monforton to use his vast diocesan resources, parish bulletins, church web sites, and pulpit announcements to protect kids and warn parents about a potentially dangerous child predator," said Dorris. "And we beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Zalenski, or cover ups by Monforton or his colleagues to speak up, call police, protect others, expose wrongdoers and start healing."
A copy of SNAPs letter to each Belmont trustee, sent today by email, is below. According to the trustees on-line biographies, most of them, SNAP says, are either Catholics or went to Wheeling Jesuit, a Catholic college.
Dear Elizabeth Gates,
After credible allegations of child sexual abuse involving two girls, Catholic officials in Rome have finally and formally kicked Gary A. Zalenski out of the priesthood. So why is Belmont College paying him and letting him be around largely unsuspecting students, staff and families?
We urge you, for the safety of the vulnerable and the healing of the wounded, to fire him or at least suspend him and conduct an independent investigation into the accusations against him, accusations that were deemed serious and credible by Catholic officials in Steubenville and the Vatican.
A man too dangerous to be in a Catholic parish is also, in our view, too dangerous to be on a college faculty.
For more information about allegations against Gary Zalenski's, click this links to police documents released to public and take special note of second rape victim's file.
We believe Zalenski is a very cunning and dangerous man who has done great harm to the vulnerable and is capable of doing again.
We await your response,
Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, (636-433-2511, SNAPJudy@gmail.com)
David Clohessy, SNAP Executive Director, (314-566-9790 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org )
Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director, (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
SNAP will be Representing Clergy Abuse Survivors in Rome!
We are taking the fight to Rome and are standing up for all survivors on a world stage! From February 19-25, Board President Tim Lennon, Seattle Leader Mary Dispenza, Los Angeles Leader Esther Hatfield Miller and Austin Leader Carol Midboe will be traveling to Rome for Pope Francis' Papal Abuse Summit.
If you are a member of the media and looking to get in touch with these survivors while in Rome, click here for our media advisory and contact information. If you are interested in connecting with a survivor in the US from your area of coverage, please contact one of the SNAP leaders in the US listed below:
- East Coast/DC: Becky Ianni (SNAPvirginia@cox.net, 703-801-6044)
- Midwest/Chicago: Zach Hiner (email@example.com, 517-974-9009)
- Midwest/St. Louis: David Clohessy (firstname.lastname@example.org, 314314-566-9790)
- West Coast / San Francisco: Melanie Sakoda (email@example.com, 925-708-6175)
If you are looking to help spread the word about the importance of this summit and for survivors to be heard, add your voice to the conversation on social media using the hashtag #PBC2019. Be sure to follow SNAP on twitter and Facebook and share our posts, add your comments, and let the world know that we are watching!Learn More