PA--2nd Catholic cleric commits suicide; Victims respond
For immediate release: Wednesday, July 1
Statement by Judy Jones of St. Louis, Midwest Associate Midwest Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (636 433 2511, SNAPjudy@gmail.com)
For the second time in less than three years, a Catholic cleric has committed suicide in a central Pennsylvania church facility run by the Third Order Regular Franciscans. We urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or other misdeeds in the Altoona area to speak up, call police, protect others and start healing.
The Altoona Mirror and WJAC TV report that Rev. David Kaczmarek died at the Immaculate Conception friary.
In Jan. 2013, Brother Stephen Baker, accused of molesting dozens of boys, also took his own life at a similar facility, run by the same religious order, about three miles away.
Last week, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office began searching this Catholic institution. We applaud that move. Current and former monastery staff and students – and local diocesan and parish staff – who have information or suspicions of wrongdoing by clerics should pick up the phone and call secular officials, not church officials.
I agree with SNAP Director David Clohessy who said “Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Mark Leonard Bartchak has a dreadful record on safeguarding kids, ousting predators and helping victims. We hope law enforcement officials at the local and state levels will more aggressively investigate crimes and cover ups in his diocese.”
Clohessy also said “Catholic officials quickly distance themselves from institutions like the St. Bernadine Monastery and Bishop McCort Catholic High School. But that’s disingenuous. Priests, nuns, brothers and other clerics at these institutions operate with the permission of the local bishop. So Bishop Bartchak should stop splitting hairs and start reaching out. He should care less about helping his reputation and more about helping his flock. Every Altoona-Johnstown church staffer and member should focus now on protecting the vulnerable and exposing the guilty instead of on preserving their comfort and ignoring these crimes.”
Remember: Silence helps only the wrongdoers. Please, if you know or suspect anything, now’s the time to call the independent, unbiased professionals in law enforcement.
NOTE – We have 12 statements on our website about Bishop Bartchak and how he deals with abuse and cover up cases. And a list of 27 accused Altoona area child molesting clerics is at BishopAccountability.org
(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)
Friar commits suicide at Blair County province
Updated: Wednesday, July 1 2015, 11:22 AM EDT By: WJAC Web Staff
HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. -- WJAC-TV is working to learn more on the details surrounding the death of another friar at the Immaculate Conception Province in Blair County. The state Attorney General’s Office is investigating the death, which authorities said was a suicide. The Blair County Coroner told the Altoona Mirror that Rev. David Kaczmarek died at the province’s friary Saturday evening. Kaczmarek was at the center of an investigation last week, but little details are being released on what the investigation was about.
A second member of the order, Brother Stephen Baker, also committed suicide . . .
Priest sex abuse allegations lead to Pa. AG agents' monastery search
By Andrew Conte and Brad Bumsted - Thursday, June 25, 2015, 3:24 p.m.
HOLLIDAYSBURG — The only way to stop Catholic clerics who abuse children is to prosecute the people who oversee them and let it continue, said an Altoona lawyer who has successfully represented dozens of victims across Pennsylvania.
Attorney Richard Serbin said he thinks agents with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office were pursuing a broader investigation Thursday near this Blair County borough when they raided St. Bernardine Monastery, where a Franciscan friar accused of molesting children killed himself two years ago.
“If they knowingly allow children to be abused or place them in situations where they were likely to be abused, they should be . . . .
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.