OH - Victims want grand jury probe of Diocese of Youngstown
- Victims want grand jury probe of diocese
- They hand deliver letter to district attorney
- Group discloses that just “outed” cleric was at another school too
- SNAP: Two other accused child molesting cleric are still on the job
- “How many other secret settlements has the bishop made?” group asks
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will hand deliver a letter to the Mahoney County District Attorney urging him to investigate the Youngstown Catholic Diocese for clergy sex crimes and cover ups. They will also disclose that
--they believe at least two more credibly accused predator priests are still being kept in ministry, and
--a just “outed” credibly accused child molesting cleric worked at another Catholic school.
And they will
--urge victims to contact secular authorities, not church officials, and
--beg anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered clergy crimes in Youngstown to come forward, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.
Tuesday, January 22, at 1:00 p.m.
Outside the Mahoney County District Attorney’s office, 21 West Boardman St. (corner of Phelps) in Youngstown, OH
Two members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP is urging Mahoney County District Attorney Paul J. Gains to investigate the local Catholic diocese, where they allege “perpetrators are still being protected and kept on the job around kids.”
The group will hand delivering a letter to Gains in which they detail accounts from survivors of clergy abuse who say that the diocese is ignoring the victims of abuse and keeping credibly accused predators in ministry. In the letter, they ask Gains to step in, convene a grand jury, and find out exactly what is going on within the diocese.
Since 2002, there have been eight grand jury investigations into six different Catholic dioceses. The first was in 2002 in the Westchester County, New York (available here: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/reports/2002_06_19_Westchester_NY_Grand_Jury/). The most recently one was in 2011 into the Philadelphia Archdiocese. (available here: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/reports/2011_01_21_Philadelphia_Grand_Jury_Final_Report_Clergy_Abuse_2.pdf).
Each report was highly critical of Catholic officials.
“This bishop continues to act recklessly, callously and secretively,” said Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director. “Only vigorous efforts by law enforcement can fully find and expose the truth so that kids can be safer, predators can be pursued and victims can truly heal.”
Last week, Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian (617-523-6250, 866-345-2214, firstname.lastname@example.org) disclosed that he settled 11 child sex abuse cases last year against Baker who worked in the Youngstown area as a religion teacher, sports trainer & baseball coach. Diocesan staff learned of the allegations in 2009 but kept quiet for years, even after the cases were resolve.
SNAP believes such silent violates the US bishops national abuse policy which mandates “openness and transparency” in clergy sex cases. It also gives wrongdoers – like Baker and his supervisors who concealed his crimes – ample opportunity to intimidate victims, threaten whistleblowers, discredit witnesses, destroy evidence and fabricate alibis.
SNAP has also just learned that Baker also worked in Norfolk VA at the James Barry Robinson Home for Boys, which later became a high school http://jamesbarryrobinson.org/id20.html
SNAP is encouraging all those who have seen, suspected, or suffered crimes - in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia - to report to police officials, not to church officials.
“We know it’s hard to find the courage to come forward,” said Jones. “But it makes a huge difference. Please, speak up, get help, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.”
Jones continued: “Silence is a predator’s best weapon.”
Based on reports from victims, SNAP also believes that at least two credibly accused child molesting clerics are still on the job today, and are around kids.
Baker now also faces allegations in Johnstown PA at another Catholic school, Bishop McCort High. Some of the Johnstown victims are represented by Altoona attorney Richard Serbin (814-944-6111, email@example.com).
A photo of Baker is available at BishopAccountability.org, along with information about six other proven, admitted or credibly accused Youngstown area Catholic clerics.
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.
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.