RI--Predator priest-defrocked by Harrisburg bishop in court today; Victims respond
For immediate release: Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016
A child molesting Episcopalian priest who worked near Altoona and was defrocked weeks ago by Harrisburg’s bishop is in court today.
We applaud the brave victims and law enforcement officials who are prosecuting him. They are reminding all of us of an important lesson – even older child sex crimes and cover ups must be reported to police and prosecutors. And we beg church officials in Pennsylvania and three other states to do aggressive outreach to find and help others who were assaulted by this cleric.
All too often, we all assume “it’s just too late” to pursue those who commit or conceal sexual violence. Increasingly, that’s just not true. Even in decades-old cases, more lawyers, cops and prosecutors are being increasingly creative and aggressive about going after these predators and enablers, a long-overdue move we deeply appreciate.
Rev. Howard J. “Howdy” White Jr., formerly of St. George’s School in Rhode Island, is in court today in Boston. Our hearts ache for those he molested. We hope they take some comfort in the fact that he’s been publicly exposed and faces potential jail time.
We urge all Episcopalian officials in the four states where he worked - North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia and Pennsylvania - to use church websites, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements to aggressively seek out anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered Rev. White’s crimes and beg them to call police. This is the very least that church officials should do.
All too often, when clergy sex crimes emerge, church staff pretend to be powerless. They are not. They have both the resources and the duty to spread the word and actively help police and prosecutors build a strong case against predatory preachers.
Rev. Howard W. White Jr. worked at two places in North Carolina. In the 1980s, Rev. White Jr. was headmaster of what was then the Asheville Country Day School in Asheville, North Carolina and was rector of Grace Church in the Mountains in Waynesville.
More recently, he led St. James Episcopal Church in Bedford, Pennsylvania and also worked at a school called Chatham Hall in Chatham, Virginia. But most of the accusations against him stem from his years in Rhode Island at St. George's Episcopal School in Middletown.
In the years since his alleged wrongdoing at St. George, one wonders how many other possible cases of sexual violence he may have assaulted. If wrongdoing is ignored, wrongdoing is repeated.
A report issued by St. George’s school says that Rev. White — whom it refers to as "Employee Perpetrator #2" — had "inappropriate and potentially sexual misconduct with at least three male students." School officials quietly “fired Rev. White in 1974 after a student's parent reported the misconduct, which Rev. White admitted to the headmaster, but “the school never notified child-protection authorities — as required by the state's 1974 mandatory reporting law,” according to the Providence Journal.
No matter what officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in churches, schools or other institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted 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)