Priest abuse victims demand Jarrell, Harson release names
By Claire Taylor
August 13, 2014
A national group of priest sex abuse victims is calling on Bishop Michael Jarrell and District Attorney Mike Harson to release the names of 15 credibly accused priests.
The Daily Advertiser was first to report that Jarrell, bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, refused to release the names of the 15 priests.
Jarrell acknowledged in 2004 and again to The Advertiser on July 31 that the Diocese and its insurers had paid $26 million in settlements to the victims of 15 priests. But he told The Advertiser he "sees no purpose" in releasing the priests' names.
The Advertiser asked Harson last week if he would request, demand or subpoena the names from the Diocese. In a response Monday, Harson said he would not investigate unless a victim stepped forward who was willing to pursue the case.
"What an irresponsible decision by both men," David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement today. "We hope both men will reconsider."
The Advertiser also asked District Attorney Earl Taylor of St. Landry Parish, which is part of the Diocese of Lafayette. He said his office does not investigate cases. It only prosecutes cases the police provide
District Attorney Phil Haney, who serves Iberia, St. Martin and St. Mary parishes -- parts of which are included in the Diocese of Lafayette -- did not return The Advertiser's call for comment on this topic last week.
The purpose of disclosing the names of those Jarrell admits there were credible accusations of child molestation against is "to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded," Clohessy said.
Knowing the names and whereabouts of these men will allow parents to better protect their children, he said.
When pressed by The Daily Advertiser, Jarrell -- in a written response Aug. 4 -- said of the 15 priests: "I believe that six are now deceased, one is no longer a priest and none of the 15 is serving in ministry. They do not have an assignment and they do not celebrate Mass or perform any ministry in churches in the Diocese or elsewhere."
"Another reason Jarrell should disclose the names: a dozen years ago, all U.S. bishops pledged to be 'open and transparent' in clergy sex cases," Clohessy said. "Roughly 30 U.S. bishops have posted on their websites the names of predator priests ... The least Jarrell can do is disclose them."
SNAP has seen cases where authorities convinced victims to call police and help prosecute predators, Clohessy said.
If Harson obtained the 15 names, he might find one of the men coaching soccer, teaching school, volunteering as a tutor or living next to a day care center, he said.
Jarrell also told The Daily Advertiser in his Aug. 4 statement: "No additional priests have been accused in recent decades. I stand by my 2004 statement: 'The Diocese knows of no act of abuse by a cleric that may have occurred since 1984."
It was 1984 when an Abbeville judge ordered unsealed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Lafayette involving child sex abuse by a priest, a case that made national news.
Shortly after that, a 15th Judicial District grand jury indicted Gilbert Gauthe, a priest in the Diocese of Lafayette whose victims the Diocese and its insurers paid millions of dollars and who was convicted and served time in jail for child molestation.
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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.