OK - Alleged predator priest who lived in OK gets “off the hook"
Two local Catholic bishops should do “outreach,” victims say
Accused in two states, they fear he may have hurt OK kids too
A jury awarded one of his victims $4 million but cleric has paid little
For immediate release: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013
For more information: David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A credibly accused predator priest who allegedly molested kids in two states has apparently lived in Oklahoma but never been accused here. And victims’ group is urging Oklahoma Catholic officials to warn parents, parishioners and the public about him and “aggressively” seek out anyone there who may have be hurt by him.
A child sex abuse lawsuit against Fr. Raymond P. Melville, who allegedly assaulted kids in Maine and Maryland, was tossed out last week by the Maine Supreme Court. Leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, are asking the Catholic bishops of Tulsa and Oklahoma City to use church bulletins, pulpit announcements and parish websites to alert Oklahoma citizens and Catholics about Fr. Melville’s presence here.
Internet sources suggest that Fr. Melville now lives in Elkin, North Carolina
“For the sake of public safety, Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa and Bishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City should use their considerable resources to warn families about this dangerous cleric,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s director. “Catholic officials should not help predators by keeping silent about their crimes and sending them to other places or letting them quietly move to other places after they’ve been credibly accused of hurting kids.”
Clohessy says he doubts that Fr. Melville is working in a church right now, especially because, according to media accounts, he reportedly “left the priesthood.”
“But it’s unlikely Fr. Melville has been defrocked, so it’s possible he still calls himself a priest and uses that title to gain access to unsuspecting families,” he said. “We believe Fr. Melville is still on the church’s payroll.”
“And regardless of whether he’s working or retired, any reasonable person would assume he’s still dangerous,” Clohessy stressed. “He might have babysat for relatives last night, be tutoring elementary school kids this morning, giving private chess or music lessons to middle school kids this afternoon.”
A Maine jury, in 2008, awarded $4 million to one of Fr. Melville’s victims, William Picher.
In Maine, Fr. Melville worked at several parishes including one in Augusta.
In Maryland, Fr. Melville worked at two places: Our Lady of Good Counsel parish in Locust Point (1980 to 1984) and the University of Maryland Hospital (1982 to 1983). He attended the University of Baltimore and St. Mary's Seminary (1979 to 1985).
Fr. Melville is accused of abusing in both states.
“We hope anyone who saw suspected or suffered Fr. Melville’s crimes – in Maryland or Maine or Oklahoma or North Carolina – will find the courage to call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids, deter cover ups and start healing,” said Neal Evans, a North Carolina SNAP leader (firstname.lastname@example.org, 828-299-3972).
The attorney who represents Fr. Melville’s victim is Sumner Lipman of Augusta, Maine.
A photo of Fr. Melville 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.