PA--Victims applaud AG probe of monastery
For immediate release: Thursday, June 25
We’re glad law enforcement are searching a Catholic institution where a serial child molesting cleric spent time. We hope current and former monastery staff and students with information about the predator will pick up the phone and call the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office immediately.
We also hope sources who talked with the Tribune-Review are correct and that today’s action “may be part of a larger investigation of child molestation over nearly three decades involving more than 20 priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese.”
Beyond the Brother Stephen Baker cases, 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.
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.
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
If you saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in central PA, now is the time to step forward, expose wrongdoers, protect kids, deter cover ups 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. 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)
Priest sex abuse allegations lead to AG search of monastery
By Andrew Conte and Brad Bumsted 0Thursday, June 25, 2015, 3:24 p.m.
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Agents with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office on Thursday searched the grounds of St. Bernadine Monastery near this Blair County borough, where a Franciscan priest accused of molesting children killed himself two years ago.
The search may be part of a larger investigation of child molestation over nearly three decades involving . . .
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.