RI--RI elite school settles
For immediate release: Wednesday, Aug. 3
Statement by Ann Hagan Webb, Rhode Island director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
We applaud the brave, compassionate and persistent victims at a Rhode Island for being smart enough to unite, brave enough to share their pain, wise enough to consult attorneys and strong enough to endure a long process of justice, prevention and healing. Their success should deter would-be wrongdoers and inspire suffering victims.
A settlement like this usually only happens when school or church officials are sitting on mountains of evidence that they repeatedly and callously put kids in harm’s way. Terrified of having this incriminating information surface in court or in public, they eventually pull out their checkbooks and so do their insurers.
We suspect that there are others who were molested at St. George’s who are still suffering in shame, silence and self-blame. We hope they’ll be inspired by the courage of their former colleagues and step forward now so they can recover and so that others can be spared.
We also suspect that criminal charges against some of the wrongdoers are still possible. And we remind everyone that it’s our duty to share what we know or suspect about child sex crimes and cover ups with law enforcement. It’s their job to determine whether formal charges can be filed.
We call on Episcopal bishops in New England – where most victims and most of those who committed and concealed these crimes are apt to be living - to use their vast resources to seek out and help other victims of St. George predators. They should use parish bulletins, church websites, pulpit announcements and news conferences to beg anyone with information or suspicions about these predators to step forward. And they should use these same resources to warn families who are near these predators about them.
Now is no time for complacency at St. George’s. Complacency endangers kids. Vigilance protects them.
No matter what school officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in schools, churches or 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)