RI--Priest who abused in ND hurt 100s, panel is told
For immediate release: Monday, June 22
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
A priest who molested Rhode Island kids, who “abused hundreds of children over decades” and should have never been ordained, a Northern Ireland government panel.
The testimony comes as part of a week-long inquiry into “what opportunities there were to (stop the priest’s abuse) of children and whether any action, or inaction, amounted to systemic failings.”
At least three abuse and cover up lawsuits (in 2010 and 2008) have been filed in Rhode Island because of child sex crimes by Fr. Brendan Smyth.
One of those victims is Helen McGonigle, a Connecticut attorney, who disclosed in 2006 to the Providence diocese that Smyth had sexually abused her as a child, beginning when she was in 1st grade and attending Our Lady of Mercy School in 1967. She said that Smyth threatened her with death if she told. (WBUR, January 27, 2010)
In 2007, Providence Catholic officials admitted that they had received eight abuse reports about Smyth. (East Greenwich Pendulum, October 25, 2007)
Smyth died in prison after being convicted of indecently assaulting 74 children in the Republic of Ireland and 43 others in Northern Ireland.
We call on Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin and every single diocesan or parish employee in the state to show some courage, break their silence, act with compassion and use every possible means to reach out to and help others who were sexually violated by Smyth and his complicit clerical colleagues. It’s not enough for a church official to say “We’re sorry for his crimes.” Church officials must use their vast resources – parish websites, pulpit announcements, new releases and church bulletins – to seek out and console those who have been suffering for decades because of this predator.
Finally, we commend the brave individuals who were hurt as kids by Smyth and found the strength to expose this pedophile and those who protected him for decades and sought – and won – justice in the courts. We hope his passing brings them comfort, knowing that Smyth will no longer ever be able to assault anyone else.
(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)
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.