OK--SNAP to prelate: “Disclose other imported predators”
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Oklahoma’s top Catholic official should tell his flock if he’s imported other proven, admitted or credibly accused predator priests into his archdiocese. And an Oklahoma pastor should apologize to his flock for three self-serving or misleading comments he made about a proven predator.
Both should also urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered any misdeeds or crimes by the convicted criminal, Fr. Jose Alexis Davila, to call police.
Fr. Michael Chapman pastors Blessed Sacrament parish in Lawton, where Fr. Alexis Davila has been worked.
About Fr. Alexis Davila, Fr. Chapman said he “believes Davila when he tells him the contact was inadvertent,” “believes Davila pleaded guilty to minimize embarrassment to himself and the church” and should be given “a second chance,” according to KFOR TV.
This kind of reckless attitude – believing a criminal’s “spin” and giving every conceivable benefit of the doubt to a proven sex offender – is a key reason why priests keep assaulting kids, teens and adults and keep getting second, third and fourth chances to hurt others in the church.
Would a woman, the police and the prosecutors pursue criminal charges over “inadvertent” contact? Would you plead guilty to two sex charges just to “minimize embarrassment” to yourself and your colleagues? That defies common sense.
In fact, a San Diego prosecutor said in court that Fr. Alexis Davila is accused of “touching the victim in three areas against her will when they were alone. He reportedly touched her buttocks, her breast and “put his finger in her vagina.”
Fr. Chapman’s comments rub even more salt into the already-deep and likely still-fresh wounds of the 19 year old Fr. Alexis Davila assaulted in San Diego.
He should apologize for his insensitive siding with an admitted criminal over that criminal’s victim and for making comments that will likely deter others who see, suspect or suffer child sex crimes and misconduct from reporting to authorities.
But the bigger culprit here is Archbishop Paul Coakley.
We fear that if Coakley let Fr. Alexis Davila into his jurisdiction, he may have secretly welcomed other sex offender clergy into his parishes. We call on him to disclose whether he has done or is doing this. And we call on current and former church staff to disclose the same.
Coakley is no stranger to clergy sex abuse and cover up scandals.
--In 2013, Coakley ignored us when we asked him to reach out to others hurt by Fr. Raymond P. Melville.
--In 2010, when he headed the Salina, Kansas diocese, we criticized him for secrecy about Fr. Finian Meis and other child molesting clerics.
--He’s also been secretive about credible child sex abuse allegations against Fr. Steven D. Cude, who faced a civil lawsuit.
--He and his Oklahoma City colleagues did anything substantive to reach out to others hurt by Fr. Thomas Benke, who worked there for at least eight years and molested several boys. Ditto with Fr. Dave Imming, Fr. Daniel Keohane, or Fr. Robert L. Foster, all of whom are accused of sexually assaulting kids.
No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is 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.