PA--AG: “Credible abuse accusations now come from every PA diocese”
For immediate release: Monday, April 25, 2016
A prosecutor in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office now says that in recent weeks, credible allegations of clergy child sex crimes have surfaced involving “virtually every diocese in the state.”
Meanwhile, it’s been two months since the AG’s office released results of a grand jury investigation showing that more than 50 Altoona Catholic priests molesting hundreds of kids while their church colleagues and supervisors ignored or hid the crimes.
What’s Altoona Bishop Mark Bartchak done over the past eight weeks to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded? Virtually nothing.
He’s taken down a couple of banners in one church that had the names of his predecessors. That’s it.
And meanwhile, over the weekend, we learned about a second convicted US predator priest who has recently and quietly been put back on the job, twice, despite the allegedly “binding” national church “zero tolerance” policy. Two bishops have broken that pledge by letting Fr. Jose Alexis Davila work in their parishes.
In 2012, Fr. Davila was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to stay away from a 19-year-old he victimized in the San Diego Diocese. Catholic officials there were harshly criticized for putting him back in a parish after he admitted his guilt.
But late last month, Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley said he was putting Fr. Alexis Davila at three Oklahoma parishes. Since December 2015, Fr. Alexis Davila has apparently worked at a different Oklahoma parish.
And over the weekend, one of Coakley’s public relations specialists revealed that before being sent to Oklahoma, Fr. Davila worked for the church in Utah.
The other priest is 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.
We hope Pennsylvania victims continue to call the AG’s hotline or seek help from other independent sources like therapists, police, prosecutors and support groups like ours.
And we hope Pennsylvania lawmakers take note of the Davila and Jeyapaul cases and realize that the long-standing practice of bishops hiding predator priests while endangering kids, stiff-arming police and deceiving others is, tragically, alive and well, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
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.