OK- Court sides with accused predator priest; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Monday, Feb. 3
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Fr. Paul Eichhoff has been accused at least twice of molesting boys (Kelly Kirk and Paul Weber). Kirk has sued Fr. Eichhoff.
Yet Tulsa Bishop Edward Slattery keeps Fr. Eichhoff on the job and lets him sue one of his victims for slander.
Shame on both Eichhoff and Slattery.
Our hearts ache for the brave Kirk family. Kelly and his parents have tireless worked to expose predator priests and their corrupt supervisors. We admire them for their courage and persistence. And we are dreadfully sad that they have been betrayed, first by a child molesting cleric, then by a callous bishop, and now by our justice system. They deserve better.
As best we can tell, fewer than 20 of the more than 6,000 publicly accused US predator priests have sued their accusers. It's an especially hurtful legal tactic. It should not be permitted. And the fact that Slattery let Eichhoff do this, knowing that it would intimidate other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers into silence – is shameful.
Someday, Kelly Kirk and Paul Weber will be vindicated. We can only hope that between this day and that day, Fr. Eichhoff will not have molested other kids.
MORE FACTS ABOUT THE CASE: Eichhoff works at St. Cecelia Parish in Claremore (918 341 2343). We believes this puts kids needlessly at risk and violates the US Catholic bishops’ national sex abuse policy.
We want Eichhoff suspended immediately, for the safety of children. And we want Bishop Slattery to aggressively seek out anyone else who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes or wrongdoing.
In 2002, Eichhoff was accused of molesting then 8 or 9 year old Kelly Kirk of Tulsa when Kirk was in the second or third grade at St. Mary’s school in the 1970s. According to the Associated Press, within 24 hours of Kirk’s abuse report to the bishop, Eichhoff sued Kirk, claiming “slander.” We believe Eichhoff’s goal was to intimidate other victims into staying silent.
In 2004, however, Eichhoff lost his slander lawsuit, however. (The same jury determined that Eichhoff hadn’t molested Kirk. http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_press_releases/2004_press_releases/101804_tulsa_trial.htm
Eichhoff and another priest, Fr. Ken Lewis, were both accused of molesting kids while at St. Mary’s. A lay ministerial worker, Evelyn McMahon, reported that in 1993, Eichhoff had threatened to fire her if she told anyone about seeing associate pastor Lewis in bed with a boy and giving boys “back rubs.” http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2002_07_28_Egerton_AccusedPriest_Kenneth_Lewis_1.htm
In January/February 2010, Paul Weber contacted diocesan lawyer John Jarboe. (Weber's family reported his abuse to the church even earlier, in November 2009.) Weber also filed a police report with Tulsa Detective Darrin Carlot (918-669-6502) of the Child Crisis Unit (Report #2009064227).
Eichhoff has been represented by Tulsa lawyer Ken Brune (918 599 9600). A photo of Eichhoff 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.
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.