PA- Pittsburgh Catholic officials must do more
For immediate release: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
We admire and appreciate the courage of North Catholic alums who are reporting having been sexually assaulted as children by four Catholic clerics. Their bravery is to be commended. Because they spoke up, three names of predators have now been exposed.
While we are glad Pittsburgh Catholic officials did outreach to alums, diocese staff should immediately:
– disclose the name and whereabouts of the fourth accused cleric, and
– post on their website the names of dozens of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics – especially those who are still living and may be hurting other kids right now.
It's easy to disclose allegations against deceased child molesting clerics. It's much harder-and more important-to disclose who and where living child molesting clerics are. Pittsburgh's bishop should do this immediately, and post this information on his website, as 30 of his colleagues have done.
One of the accused from North Catholic allegedly now lives in Australia. He almost certainly lives or works among unsuspecting and vulnerable families (because child molesting clerics are rarely jailed or kept away from kids). We urge Pittsburgh Catholic officials to use every means possible to warn those parents about this cleric. The first step in this process is simply to disclose his name.
It's worth noting that this action by Pittsburgh Catholic officials was taken only after SNAP publicly prodded them to reach out to victims of Brother Hartman.
Before we raised concerns and contacted journalists, the bishop and the diocese apparently said and did nothing about Brother Hartman.
We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups in Pittsburgh – whether in a school or parish 0 – will come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers and start healing.
Finally, we find it very hard to believe that Pittsburgh Catholic officials had no records about the conviction of a child molesting cleric in their diocese.
A copy of the most recent letter sent by the Diocese of Pittsburgh is below.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 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)
Dear Alumni of North Catholic High School,
On March 28, 2014, I sent a letter to the alumn of North Catholic High School who were enrolled in the following years, 1961-1965, 1979-1984, and 1986-2001. My reason for writing was to inform them of an allegation of sexual abuse that has been lodged against Brother Bernard Joseph Hartman, who was assigned to North Catholic during those years. I asked the alumni to inform the diocese and/or civil authorities if they were aware of any abuse by Brother Hartman.
While my letter of March 208, 2014, did not result in any additional allegations against Brother Hartman, information concerning three other Marianists who served at the former North Catholic High School was brought to our attention. Those former staff members are: Brother William Charles Hildebrand, who was at North Catholic from 1951-1961, and died on October 6, 1979, Brother Francis Meder, who was at North Catholic from 1952-1967 and 1970-1976 and died on June 10, 1076, and Brother Ralph August Mravintz, who was at North Catholic from 1960-1964 and died on May 23, 2006.
As the diocese deeply regrets the harm that was done to anyone, we also commend the courage of those who have brought this important information to light. In doing so, they have helped protect others.
In the case of Brother Hildebrand and Brother Meder, there is no record of anyone bringing allegations of inappropriate behavior before my March 28, 2014 letter. However, on April 10, 2014, an alumnis directed the diocese to newspaper accounts of the 1985 arrest of Brother Mravintz for fondling a 15-year-old student and his subsequent guilty plea to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct. I wish to thank the alumnus who brought this to our attention. The diocese had no record of this charge.
If you or anyone you know has been harmed by Brother Hartman, Brother Hildebrand, Brother Meder, Brother Mravintz...or by anyone who worked at North Catholic or by anyone representing the Church...please call the Diocesan Victim Assistance Hotline at 1-888-808-1235, or the Pennsylvania State Abuse Hotline at 1-800-932-0313.
While the diocese notfies the civil authorities of all criminal allegations it receives, you should also notify local civil authorities. As a diocese, our goal is to ensure that no child in the Church's care come to harm. When you speak up, you help to create a culture in which noone remains silent about child abuse.
Thank you and God bless you,
Dr. Michael Latusek
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.