OK--Victims blast OK City archbishop over convicted priest
For immediate release: Monday, April 25, 2016
Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley is both endangering and misleading his flock and the public. Over the weekend, Coakley released and factually wrong, incredibly deceptive and hurtful statement about the convicted cleric who assaulted a teenager but is being promoted to head three Oklahoma churches.
Here’s where Coakley is factually wrong.
--He claims the crimes happened at the priest’s office when they did not.
--He claims others were present when they were not.
Here’s where Coakley is deceptive and hurtful:
--He writes of “Father Davila’s actions,” not crimes.
--He describes a 19 year old as “an adult parishioner.”
--He says “those actions were perceived as inappropriate,” rather than “were criminal and hurtful.”
--He describes Fr. Davila’s deliberate crimes as a “lapse in judgment.”
Finally, in a startling act of hypocrisy, Coakley writes “It is important that we operate in an open environment.” Yet he secretly imports a convicted criminal into his archdiocese and gives him access to unsuspecting families, then quietly promotes him, all with virtually no warning to parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners or the public.
But put aside Coakley’s words. Look at his actions. He’s putting innocent people at risk of sexual violence because he claims he wants to give a convicted sex offender a “second chance.”
We hope Oklahoma Catholics and citizens won’t stand for this. We hope they speak out and insist that this repeated recklessness stop. We hope demand an open public meeting with Coakley about Fr. Davila. And we hope they beat the bushes looking for current or former Lawton church staff and members who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds by Fr. Davila and beg those individuals to call police, prosecutors and independent groups like ours.
Sadly, Coakley is no outlier. The overwhelming majority of bishops often publicly pledge to protect kids while privately continuing to protect predators. At least ten proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesting clerics are still on the job in the US:
And consider this very recent example: A priest pled guilty last year to sexually assaulting a younger girl. Yet weeks ago, Catholic officials lifted his suspension and he’s expected to be reassigned next month.
In 2015, Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul admitted sexually abusing a Minnesota girl (after having fought extradition back to the US for years). Then, he was deported to his native India where his bishop said he’ll be put back on the job in May.
One news outlet in India recently reported that this bishop “shows no signs of ousting” Fr. Jeyapaul.
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.