PA--Victims blast “irresponsible” prosecutors
For immediate release: Monday, April 4, 2016
We’re stunned by how naïve and irresponsible three Pennsylvania prosecutors are about the continuing abuse and cover up crisis in the Catholic church.
Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin claims Allentown church officials voluntarily turned over files of priests accused of sexual abuse and “religiously sent me reports of anything that smacks of any kind of complaint.”
Really? Martin believes that after decades of concealing child sex crimes, Allentown Catholic officials suddenly did a complete turnaround and are now forthcoming? That’s ridiculous.
Just last year, Allentown officials successfully exploited legal loopholes to evade responsibility in a child sex case.
And Allentown Bishop John Barros is refusing to alert his flock to any of the 50+ Altoona area child molesting clerics, just like he refused to warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about Fr. Gabriel M. Patil, who headed a seminary in New York after reportedly assaulting three Allentown kids or Fr. Felix Owino who was charged with “aggravated sexual battery” of a girl under 13 and worked in the Allentown diocese at St. Peter's in Reading, PA.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala says that Pittsburgh Catholic officials have “never failed to expeditiously and fully provide information to this office that they believe represented a credible claim concerning possible abusive behavior by members of the clergy.”
But just days ago, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik was caught hiding a recent clergy abuse settlement.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said the Harrisburg diocese “has been a leader in dealing with the priest abuse issues and being forthcoming with law enforcement,” he said.
That’s laughable. We challenge Marsico to back up this claim with evidence. We’ve been involved in and monitoring clergy sex abuse and cover up cases for more than a quarter century. We’ve not seen a scintilla of evidence to suggest that Harrisburg is in any way any different from the nearly 200 US dioceses, most of which are still hiding predators and endangering kids.
In fact, Harrisburg Bishop Ronald Gainer has a terrible track record on abuse.
We urge each of these prosecutors to enter the name of their local bishop and diocese into the search boxes of our website (SNAP network.org) and of BishopAccountability.org
We urge them to use common sense and treat statements by Catholic officials on abuse with some healthy skepticism.
Finally, we also disagree with Duquesne professor Wesley Oliver who said “with known cases of murderers and rapists and terrorists, unless you’ve got a reason to think this is going to yield something, it seems like it’s a bad use of resources.”
Leave it to an out-of-touch academic at a Catholic school to claim it’s “a bad use of resources” to expose and punish those who commit or conceal horrific crimes against kids.
Every single investigation into clergy sex crimes and cover ups has “yielded something” – sometimes criminal prosecution, sometimes thorough reports disclosing who has committed or are concealing heinous crimes and sometimes excellent recommendations – that become law - on how to stop such horror in the future.
And there’s no way to determine how many child sex crimes or cover ups are prevented by lengthy, scathing grand jury reports that detail the corruption and complicity of Catholic officials. While we’re convinced few if any bishops are making real changes in dealing with predator priests, vulnerable kids and wounded victims, revelations of church cover ups are forcing other employers and institutions to act more carefully with kids’ safety.
And let’s keep some perspective here. Far more lives are devastated by child sex crimes and cover ups than by murder and terrorism.
But regardless of what Pennsylvania prosecutors 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 journalists, get justice by calling attorneys, and get comfort 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)
Should dioceses use grand jury probes?
April 3, 2016 12:00 AM - By Peter Smith / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In the past 11 years, grand juries in Pennsylvania have investigated two Roman Catholic dioceses and issued reports with the same narrative line:
Dozens of priests molested hundreds of children across the latter decades of the 20th century as their bishops and other higher-ups ignored or downplayed credible evidence of their offenses and even kept predators in ministry assignments with access to children.
That’s what grand juries reported about the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2005 and 2011 and the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown last month.
Because those investigations largely delved far into the past, they yielded thick reports but few prosecutions due to the statute of limitations.
They did, however, yield . . .
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.
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