PA- Priest suspended for child sexual abuse; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Monday, May 19, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
A Pennsylvania priest has been suspended after child sexual abuse allegations surfaced. We are glad action has been taken and law enforcement has been notified, but we are worried there might be other victims suffering in silence and self-blame.
We also worry that Catholic officials may have kept these allegations quiet for weeks or months before disclosing it. The church hierarchy almost always discloses when the abuse allegedly happened but almost never discloses when they got the abuse report. Catholics deserve to know this.
Fr. Michael Lewandowski (who has been at St. Anne Parish in Davidsville since 1997) is accused of sexual misconduct with a minor in the 1980s. The allegation was reported to the Altoona- Johnston diocese from the Franciscan Order that Lewandowski is a member of.
Bishop Mark Bartchak and officials from the Franciscan Order should visit every parish Lewandowski worked and post Lewandowski’s work history and photo on the dioceses website and parish bulletins. Children are kept safe when suspicions about predators are reported immediately.
We hope anyone who saw, suspects or suffered child sexual about by Lewandowski or any other church officials will call police, get help and start healing.
(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)
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.