PA--Victims group to Greensburg Bishop: Turn over secret files on arrested priest
The nation’s largest support group for survivors of sexual abuse in institutional settings today is demanding that the bishop of Greensburg, PA turn over all secret files pertaining to a priest arrested yesterday for sexual abuse.
That priest, John T. Sweeney, was criminally charged for sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy in the 1990s.
Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network, (SNAPNetwork.org), believe that Greensburg Bishop Edward C. Malesic may be withholding evidence, hidden in secret files otherwise known as Canon 489 files. These files, that every bishop must keep according to church law, outline abuse allegations and include letters, memos, reports from parents and victims, psychological reports, witness accounts of abuse, and other important evidence that law enforcement can use to help bolster their case.
“Sometimes, dioceses will hide these files in their lawyers’ offices under attorney-client privilege so that they can’t be subpoenaed,” said Judy Jones, Midwest Regional Leader, SNAP. “Other times, they just don’t turn them over. These files are so secret and so protected that law enforcement has to know exactly what they are asking for. Otherwise, men like Bishop Malesic are only going to turn over a sanitized file and then issue a statement saying that they knew ’nothing’ about allegations.”
Jones says that until now, Malesic’s efforts as well as the efforts of other bishops to be forthcoming about abuse have been failures.
“Internal programs, reforms, and prayers have done nothing to expose abuse. The only thing that will hold people accountable allowing abuse and cover-up to continue is changing the law and turning over files,” she said.
“Let’s see if he is the reformer he claims to be."
Contact - Judy Jones, (636-433-2511, SNAPjudy@gmail.com) Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org )
(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 25,000 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.